The future of Kashmir

14 Aug 2019

India has recently revoked a special status that Kashmir held and had been granted under Article 370 of the Constitution of India.

The most important element included in Article 370, in my opinion, was that anyone living outside Kashmir could not acquire land or property in Kashmir. So, what motivated India to decide to revoke Article 370? We will need to have a look at international precedents to understand this phenomenon.

The most important aspect that must be recognised is that when a political group or a government, anywhere in the world, seeks to dominate the population, they deploy different tactics. While the economy is sometimes used as a tactic, at other times, power and ideology are deployed. Sometimes, any combination of these three tactics is used.

To begin, it would be helpful to look back at some specific instances where just ideology was applied as a tactic. Cuba is a clear example of such a situation. Fidel Castro controlled the Cuban people using the communist ideology for several years. Despite the US’s attempts to counteract this ideology, it remained unable to bring a regime of its liking into power in Cuba. But it is worth noting that during this entire era, the Cuban people never experienced the prosperity that could be seen in many of the non-communist states. In the end, that ideology was lost somewhere in the shadows. The former Soviet Union is the second example of a government built on a foundation of communism. But its collapse was a bigger disaster than that of Cuba. A time came when the communist ideology failed and the Soviet Union was split into pieces.

North Korea is an excellent example of the use of both ideology and power. Here, the people suffer in very poor conditions. This ideology could be failing in this case as well. There is also the example of the regime of Saddam Hussain, which was considered a symbol of power in Iraq. The Iraqi people feared Saddam immensely, who completely destroyed the Kurds using his power. But this use of power could not save his government. Gradually, the people’s hatred for Saddam started to intensify until the US took advantage of the situation and, after some time, Saddam’s regime collapsed. One additional example of this kind of situation is in Libya. In the end, Muammar Gaddafi’s regime and his government shared the same fate as that of Saddam. Thus, the formula of attaining dominance through the use of power seems to also end in failure.

Article 370 will potentially allow the rich private sector in India to acquire land in Kashmir and then evict Kashmiris from their land

Now comes the third tactic: money or the economy. To understand this tactic, it is important to first understand the ideology of Karl Marx. He posits the economy is the foundation for all affairs in the world and that the lust for wealth is embedded within the fundamental nature of humans. To apply this ideology to concrete examples in the world, we must look for a capitalist society. The US defeated Russia only because the US was a capitalist society where human nature could express its innate love for money. Thus, communism was defeated by the capitalist system. There are many examples like this, but in the context of the recent incidents in Kashmir, the clearest example can be found in Israel. Wealthy Jewish people acquired land in the region and then established their government by buying large swaths of land. There can be no doubt that Israel has exercised a lot of oppression as well, but the fundamental modus operandi was to purchase land and then establish dominance.

Returning to Kashmir, under Article 370, a non-Kashmiri could not buy property in Kashmir. This is the reason that India was unable to deploy the instrument of the economy to gain dominance, the way Israel did. But it seems that the current government has decided to deploy the economic tactic anyway by revoking Article 370. This will potentially allow the rich private sector in India to acquire land in Kashmir and then evict Kashmiris from their land, as happened in Palestine. This tactic is definitely more powerful than the instruments of ideology and power.

Prime Minister Modi has very shrewdly planned to make use of his economic power. He knows India has many business tycoons who can offer such high prices that it will be difficult for the Kashmiris to decline. The ideological Kashmiris will face real challenges in the time to come. On one side, billionaire Indian businessmen will be offering them attractive sums of money for their land while on the other side lie their ideological foundations. Which will win out in the end: ideology or money? Only time will tell. But, based on what has happened historically, we can anticipate future events pretty clearly.

Published in “Daily Times” on dated 14th Aug 2019.

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