Vantage point

Monday, December 11, 2006

Reasons Behind India's Dogmatic Status-Quo-ism

Have you ever wondered something? India is not exactly and completely a "soft state". It is more of a semi-soft state. Secessionists who have suffered atrocities in kashmir and North-East will hardly call us a soft state. Yet look at how the Pakistanis were creatively iron-handed in dealing with their half of J&K. They happily ceded a large part of it to China. They ensured that a lot of Punjabi Pakistanis bought property in and settled in their half of J&K. The Northern Areas still don't have any sort of representative democracy. Look at China. They filled up Tibet with non-Tibetans. They literally de-Tibetised Tibet. Now those are 2 really hard states.

But not us. We gave J&K a special status under Article 370. Non-Kashmiris still can't buy property in J&K. They still have a different administrative set-up. And it is still a Muslim-majority state. We have been very accomodating and nice in some ways. But not completely. We ever gave them the plebiscite they were promised.

India has vaccilated somewhere between soft and hard, and thus attracted all possible problems of both the divergent stands, while not getting the benefits of either. Why are we semi-soft and status-quo-ist?

This article by Mukul Kesavan does a good job of trying to understand why

China solved its Tibet ‘problem’ by repopulating it with Han Chinese. It did this without embarrassment because its claim to Tibet was historical and frankly hegemonic. The nature of Indian nationalism and the structures of its constitutional democracy don’t allow ‘solutions’ of this sort. The history of republican India is the history of a state which, when pushed, will recognize every sort of identity — linguistic, tribal even religious — for the sake of pluralist equilibrium and political peace. You can see this happen in the formation of linguistic states, in the creation of a Muslim majority district in Kerala, in the segmentation of the North-east into tiny states. But when it comes to its borders, India is dogmatically, even violently status quoist. It will deface every map that shows Kashmir with its ears missing, it will defend a glacier down to the last soldier, it will go to war with China (and endure humiliating defeat) in defence of a colonial border and it will inflict sickening violence upon insurgent nationalists in the north-eastern states. Every secessionist movement and every disputed border is, for this insecure heir to the Raj, a domino. Committed to the principle that the diversity of the subcontinent can be housed within a democratic state, it will let no one leave home.

Read the whole thing. It brings to my mind an oft-occuring thought - India needs a secular-right government.

Link courtesy - Confused