No doubt, by the virtue of being the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi is among the top global leaders. In spite of its nagging problems back home, India is among the few countries that are going to matter in the global order for coming decades.
Because, after China, India is the next big thing to happen to the global economy. And it can provide the much needed succour to the global economy without any of the compromises that any sort of tie with China invites – the world is doing business with China ignoring its autocratic rule and human rights suppression. India is the largest democracy in the world and is a functional one, in fact a robustly functional one. And the whole world is looking towards it.
That provides it the might, in fact an unparalleled potential that even China didn’t have – becoming the world economy’s pivot with biggies of the world – sans the baggage of negativities that a China mention generates.
That might also require India to set its house in order first. And the biggest policy hurdle towards it is Kashmir. Before we proceed further, let’s be clear about certain inevitabilities. A free Kashmir is a mirage.
Suppose India accepts Kashmir as independent country. What would happen after it?
Would then Pakistan and China follow the suit, by freeing Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Aksai-Chin and the part of Kashmir that Pakistan gave to China?
Would China and Pakistan shed the much hyped China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CEPC) that passes through parts of occupied Kashmir?
The only answer to that is a NO. So if China and Pakistan cannot do it, it is foolish to expect that India would let Kashmir go, especially when Kashmir constitutionally merged into India and when Kashmir has been bleeding India for decades. It is true Kashmir didn’t see the kind of development it needed but it doesn’t mean there was any sort of discrimination with the state. In fact, in terms of resource allocation, Kashmir is one of the most pampered states of India.
It was the mess created by the central governments in India, state governments in Jammu & Kashmir and the politics of J&K that led Kashmir to where it is standing now. And there is no other way out but a tough stand now – no to accommodating ‘soft secessionist’ approach – and a big YES to better manage resources to put the valley on the track of development. Politicians and people of Kashmir will have to understand this. They have to decide about their future and the future of their coming generations. And the time is now. They have to decide if they want to run foolishly after that mirage or it is now time to return back to the basics of pragmatism.
They will have to revisit India remembering their days before terrorism crept in, a time when Kashmir was synonymous with heaven on earth. Kashmir has, all along, been a part of India – during its good days – and its bad days with the heap of self-inflicted pain. And it will remain a part of India.
It is true Narendra Modi government has failed so far in its experiments with J&K. But he should be given benefit of doubt. He has tried to intervene in Kashmir through soft measures so far, a hallmark of India’s democracy. He tried to mend ties with Pakistan. He formed a coalition with a Kashmiri party to form the government there. He has visited the state many times and development projects are coming there. India is as much of Kashmiris as it is of any person from any other Indian state, provided Kashmiris also understand and reciprocate it. And this sentiment now is not limited only to the power corridors of our country. Its echoes have started coming from every part of India.
After seeing the outcome of his efforts so far, the Modi administration has only one left to proceed in the valley – tough on them who are inimical to India’s interest and going out of the way to assuage and heal them who have got into the crossfire – an approach that should have been adopted much earlier, in fact in early 90s when Pakistan sponsored militancy in Kashmir Kashmir’s started spiralling out of control. Every subsequent union and state government is responsible for ignoring this and thus creating the mess Kashmir now has become.
Going by the recent developments, it seems this, indeed, is going to be the approach of the Modi government now. Appointing an Indian Army chief who believes in taking tough decisions on Kashmir, stiff principled opposition to CPEC, strict no to government initiated talks with the so-called separatist leaders of Kashmir, flow of ample funds and resources in Kashmir, continued people outreach through the state and central government agencies including the security forces in spite of the irresponsible behaviour by a section of Kashmiri propagandists and Pak stooges who, somehow, have been able to influence a section of Kashmiri population, albeit a small one, just because of the mess created by the governments.