An Optical Illusion: Jobs for??

An Optical Illusion: Jobs for??

A French epigram, “Plus Ca Change, Plus C’est la Meme Chose”, which means, “the more things change, the more they remain the same”, captures the essence of India’s far right nationalist party, the BJP. Substance is lent to this assertion by the BJP’s latest “bombshell” regarding Kashmir: the far right party wants to engage with a section of what it calls “stakeholders” by offering them jobs in the police, paramilitary forces and so on. In effect, this proposal means and entails creating a militia to counteract protesting youth and other forms of protests in Kashmir. But broadly speaking, the BJP’s proposal suggests that the party either does not understand the nature of the dispute or conflict in and over Kashmir or it is in truculent denial. (In reality, perhaps, it is a combination and synthesis of the two). A cursory reading of the modern history of Kashmir reflects poignantly the fact that “patronage driven development” – jobs or other favors/incentives against disavowing rights and aspirations- has not worked in Kashmir. Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad- held by some to be a quisling- perfected the art of patronage and indulged in this dark craft, left, right and centre. But what was the consequence of this? An illusory peaceful interlude during Bakshi’s reign followed by a widespread and deep insurgency in Kashmir. If history is any guide, then powers that be in India choose to elide over it and maintain a stoic denial of reality.  Moreover, in a way, the BJP’s proposal also appears to entail pitting Kashmiris against Kashmiris by exploiting the diversity and the attendant faultlines – ethnic, religious, in Kashmir. Again, if the past is any guide, this approach- taken from the old manuals of counter-insurgency- failed in Kashmir. The sentiment in Kashmir has only grown stronger and more tenacious with the passage of time. All this must or should, ideally, concentrated the minds of powers that be, about the nature of the conflict in and over Kashmir and induced sober conclusions. But this has not happened. In this sense, these powers, seem to live or choose to live in an alternate reality mode where denial and truculence are the operative words and ideas. Kashmir is at a critical point. It may even be called an “inflection point”. Key to peace, tranquility and normalcy( broadly defined) in Kashmir is grasping the nature and essence of this inflection point and guiding it towards salubrious ends. Decoded, it means resolving the conflict. Period.

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