The Puzzle of Insubstantive Democracy and the Kashmir Conflict

The Puzzle of Insubstantive Democracy and the Kashmir Conflict
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Fayaz Ganie

The first and foremost objective of democracy as a form of government is the welfare of the ruled and development of the State. Towards this, the government makes all the efforts to achieve high standards of various human development indices. Besides this, emancipation of the exploited and discriminated and fulfillment of other societal and cultural needs of people go a long way towards getting the first objective, and all other objectives accomplished.
This clearly indicates that in a democracy, the interests of the popular sovereign, the people, are supreme and the governing class cannot go against these interests and objectives; if it does, it cannot sustain for too long. Every activity is carried out, every policy formulated and implemented and every legislation passed with the primary objective of the welfare of the people, their security and safely, and the development of the people. In case the activities, policies, programs and legislations are not helping to meet the objectives, they are modified or abandoned and new ones formulated. To govern this way should be the preference and priority of every democratic state.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir, on paper, is a democracy. Here too, the interests of the ruled should be given their due place. But, on the ground, the situation is diametrically opposite. The interests of the ruled are at the back seat (if , at all, they hold any seat). Their interests are sacrificed at every instant and place. In every sphere of governance, it seems that the interests of the people are given the least consideration.
Since the time of the tragedy of partition of the subcontinent – for it has proved a tragedy at least for the people of Kashmir – the extent and magnitude of the suffering of Kashmiris has increased. There is no respite and if the prevalent situation is any indication, there is no hope, at least, in the near future. These facts and conditions make the interests and welfare of the people last priority of the people in power, for the people who should have made it their first.
The division of historical India, and the conditions thereafter, divided the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two parts which are held by India and Pakistan. A portion is also under the occupation of China. The division of the state exists currently in the form of a dispute where none of the countries involved are ready to move even an inch from the territories they hold and they are not ready to shift their policy preferences even a bit. The rest of the story is that the people of Kashmir are suffering and they keep suffering without any end in sight.
Blaming the entire gamut of government for always lacking sincerity and will to resolve the issue and lessen the sufferings of the people is not a wise thing to do but it seems that agents, and agencies, are there in the corridors of power who get pleasure from the suffering of the Kashmiris and who get personal benefits in the continuance of the issue. Sincere and people centric governments should first of all make the institutions of the government as means for the betterment of the people and not detrimental to that which nowhere in the last more than 70 years seems to have ever been done.
The government at New Delhi has remained satisfied with the conduct of elections; once the elections are over, the democratic government according to them, stands established. This is the weakest point which has taken the people of Kashmir. Had India moved as per the promised stand, the conditions might have been totally different. India persisted with the attitude of manipulating things and establishing rulers whether the rulers were liked by the people or not.
Performance of these rulers never remained a matter of concern for India. She remained content with the people who they gave power and never think of making them accountable. The situation was such in the 1947 and it is exactly the same in 2018. They never take into account the personal interests of the ruling classes and the interests of the entrants in the political and administrative spaces of the state. These people advocate decimating a house, turning it into rubble, without giving a thought about the conditions how the militants entered into the house. Regarding the militants no thought is invested about the conditions and circumstances which led a bright and brilliant student to turn into a militant and why they are ready to sacrifice their lives.
The persistence of Kashmir issue has remained a paying enterprise for few people in the corridors of power and in the current times, it is more so. That is the reason these people advocate irresolution of this issue and the government follows the suit. They suggest military solution and lo the government is ready. Never a sincere and workable approach is adopted to see things as they should be.
So far the suggestions and operation of the power hungry people in Kashmir have earned India a bad name. The country which was loved by all is looked down for violating the rights of Kashmiris. The country which has witnessed the pain and sufferings of foreign occupation is inflicting pain and suffering to the poor people of Kashmir without gaining anything in return.
This attitude has never helped the interest of India by no means and no way. It will never help in the current circumstances, in the circumstances when unarmed people are risking their lives to save the armed ones. The Indian state needs to make a complete overhaul of the policies programs and actions at the level of civilian government and military part of the government. It must begin by making governance in the interests of the people in the state and holding deliberations with the people, and the genuine representatives of the people.
Indian democracy is the largest as they say it is but the need is to make it the best. The beginning should be made from Kashmir which raises many questions about the democratic credentials of the country. For Indian rulers the welfare of people should be the paramount and by resolving Kashmir dispute surely all the poor people of the country would surely get benefited and their welfare ensured.
Make democracy real by resolving Kashmir conundrum; otherwise the conditions are turning grimmer and bleaker.

—The author can be reached at: fayaz.greatstep@gmail.com

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