Amit Varma is a writer based in Mumbai. He worked in journalism for over a decade, and won the Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2007. His bestselling novel, My Friend Sancho, was published in 2009. He is best known for his blog, India Uncut. His current project is a non-fiction book about the lack of personal and economic freedoms in post-Independence India.
If so, indulge me and try the following exercise:
1] Frame an argument, or even your position on the subject, that states why Kashmir should remain part of India.
2] Then replace the word ‘India’ with ‘the British empire’, and ‘Kashmir’ with ‘India’.
I suspect that your sentiments will then appear rather similar to those expressed by Winston Churchill when he opposed India’s independence. The principle that our freedom fighters fought for then was that Indians alone should be in charge of India’s fate, and not the British; it could similarly be argued today that Kashmiris alone should be in charge of Kashmir’s fate, and not other Indians. Anything else is imperialism.
I write this post because of heated discussions on a couple of email groups about two articles that appeared this weekend:
1. Independence Day for Kashmir by Swaminathan Aiyar.
2. Think the Unthinkable by Vir Sanghvi.
“As a liberal, i dislike ruling people against their will,” writes Aiyar, and suggests a plebiscite in which “Kashmiris decide the outcome, not the politicians and armies of India and Pakistan.”
Sanghvi writes: “If you believe in democracy, then giving Kashmiris the right to self-determination is the correct thing to do.”
I agree with both of them—and my concern extends to the North-East, where we treat the people as badly as the British once treated us, if not worse. Of course, given the imperatives of Indian and Pakistani politics, a plebiscite is impossible, and no solution to Kashmir exists. The wound will fester on. Nationalists need not worry.
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