No more symbolism - There will be peace in Kashmir

Unfortunately, the very institutions that profess this belief are the ones blocking its realisation. Consider the recent prime ministerial visit to the state. Vajpayee went, he saw, he wished to conquer the media. He spoke about unemployment, and promised 1 lakh jobs. But he never said: there will be peace in Kashmir

 
Last Updated: Sunday 07 June 2015

-- there will be peace in Kashmir.

Unfortunately, the very institutions that profess this belief are the ones blocking its realisation. Consider the recent prime ministerial visit to the state. Vajpayee went, he saw, he wished to conquer the media. He spoke about unemployment, and promised 1 lakh jobs. But he never said: there will be peace in Kashmir.

He could not have. The Indian state's politics is a very narrow one: it merely seeks to reproduce itself in its gargantuan entirety. It forgets that the way out of exhaustion -- pure social grief; an entire civil society has lost a generation to violence, and 1,60,000 youth are now milling about in confusion, trying to wean themselves away from the dread grasp of the Kalashnikov -- is to enable people to trust in their own sense of freedom, and the will to make things happen.

For this to happen, the very notion of 'handling' the Kashmir 'problem' will have to be jettisoned. In its place, must emerge an emancipatory political ecology that begins at the beginning: survival, opportunity, choice, enterprise, kindness and peace.

A desperate state finance minister says, "My bureaucrats are writing fictions in the name of development." The state, emanating a genuine desire for peace, must seek a change in its destiny. The economy is the instrument of peace, the political leadership must realise. Conventional modes of fiscal management (borrowing, or pleading for central grants) will not do. Kashmir must turn to its mountains, forests and lakes. The lucre lies here. The potential is enormous.

This is the need of the hour. Let people sensibly exploit its natural resources, as they used to before the advent of democracy in the state, in a renewable way. The political ecology of the state has to change: the leadership must possess an environmental vision. Chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed wants to deliver a healing touch: he can, but only if he also becomes the chief environmental officer of the state.

(see also: "Peace isn't elusive")

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