Chimerical and Illusory

Chimerical and Illusory
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The overtones and undertones of Narendra Modi’s address and the tonalities thereof remain the same. That is, “development” is the solvent to and panacea to the conflict in and over Kashmir. The zeal with which this facile mantra is repeated by powers that be in India suggests that these powers even believe it! This is not to imply or suggest that development has no role in Kashmir; indeed, it has but development cannot be and should not be a priori here. That is, it cannot precede and assume primacy over the conflict (doing so amounts to putting the proverbial cart before the horse). All this is not in the nature of a morbid fascination with the conflict but rather it is to help gain a perspective. Conflict(s), generally speaking, eat up and consume the vitals of society and its energy thereof. And, there is also the ideational and emotional aspect to conflicts which do not allow the prosaic and the “normal” latitude. This, general theory, also has a natural resonance and application in Kashmir. The conflict in and over Kashmir is the dominant reality of the region which also has two nation states, India and Pakistan, caught in the wider crucible of this conflict. It has become so entrenched and path dependent that any talk of development or themes like this become academic and superfluous before this all pervasive reality. The first premise then, if Kashmir, is to have development in the comprehensive and real sense of the term, is to make attempts to resolve the conflict. The rest are mere corollaries that will follow. If the conflict is actually resolved, (in the interests of all stakeholders), what will naturally accrue is a peace dividend which can be turned into a development dividend, redounding to the benefit of not only the people of Kashmir but South Asia, at large. Bringing about this condition would mean and entail prudent and dexterous statecraft, and a non zero sum nationalisms and approaches to conflict resolution. All this is in the domain of the possible and as the wit has said, “politics is the art of the possible”. What is needed is the requisite will and sincerity, both of which are ,missing in the calculus of powers that be. Unless and until, the basics of conflict resolution are not adopted and a robust conflict resolution paradigm developed, all talk of development will remain a chimera and whatever will go by the name of development in Kashmir will constitute an illusion that might be comforting to some but will not detract from the larger reality that defines Kashmir.

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