Kashmir northern most geographical region of the Indian subcontinent. Snow-capped mountains, mountain lakes, and fields of flowers–Kashmir is known far and wide as the “Heaven on Earth”. Kashmir was an independent country till 1947. But today, India and Pakistan occupy Kashmir in two parts. While Kashmir remains a bone of contention to both countries for decades, Pakistan and India, to the people of Kashmir both countries are illegal occupants of their land. Known to the world, the people of Kashmir introduce themselves as Kashmiri, not as Indian nor Pakistani. This sense of nationalism is gradually looming in the public affairs of Kashmir ever since it lost its independence. Neither India, nor Pakistan could assimilate Kashmir into their greater social and political dominance. This staggering fact is resulted from the experience that Pakistan did with the Bangladesh before 1971 and the oppression India is imposing on the people of Kashmir ever since it occupied the land. While the country is already a burnt place with hundreds of thousands of death tolls fighting for its independence and a multiplied number injured or displaced, India has recently waged the fire by revoking Article 35-A and 370 of its Constitution–a constitutional provision granting the region a special status in their administered territory. This led Kashmir to a proxy battlefield between India and Pakistan and, as many believe, Kashmir is the next nuclear battlefield. The story goes deeper–in order to increase the influence of India, India is pushing in a considerable number of its Hindu population to the region so that Hindu becomes the majority in Kashmir. This strategic push in may bring some drastic never-ending consequences in the region.
How Kashmir lost its independence?
Kashmir dispute dates back to 1947 during the partition of the Indian subcontinent along religious lines that led to the formation of India and Pakistan. However, there remained the problem of over 650 states, run by princes, existed within the two newly independent countries. In theory, these princely states had the option of decide which country to join, or of remaining independent. At that time, three of these states did not want any country India nor Pakistan. They wanted to live independently. One of which is Jammu and Kashmir. The other two were Hyderabad and Junagadh. Junagadh quickly joined India in Under pressure. Hyderabad was a very wealthy state. Most of the people of this state were of Hindu religion, but its king Nizam was Muslim. Nizam wanted to merge with Pakistan. But the people wanted to join India. At that moment, India made Hyderabad a part of itself. The Jammu and Kashmir was remained. The situation there is just the opposite of Hyderabad, the ruler was Hindu but the majority of the people are Muslims. However, this Hindu king Hari Singh wanted to remain independent from the beginning, neither Pakistan nor India wanted to merge with themselves. But as the force started by Pakistan, they began to infiltrate a large number of people as well as the army into Kashmir. Maharaj Hari Singh saw that even though he did not want, the state was gradually becoming part of Pakistan. Then he sought India’s help. He had an agreement with India then. It’s about October 26 in 1947. This contract is known in history as the ‘instrument of accession’. The first war between India-Pakistan because of Kashmir. This matter goes to the United nation. The UN Security Council says that the people of Jammu and Kashmir will decide whether they merge or they get remain independent. There will be a referendum, it will be determined the fate of Kashmiri people.
However, The UN gave a condition, two countries will have to withdraw their forces. But they never withdrew their army. So the referendum did not occur. As a result, India occupies 45 percent of the valley which name is Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Siachen Glacier. Pakistan occupies 35 percent which name is Azad Kashmir, Gilgit and Baltistan. The remaining 20 percent was Aksai China, which is now occupied by China. Thus, Kashmir valley divided three parts.
In fact, India has given the state some special advantages in keeping Kashmir with itself. The issues have been included in the Constitution since the Constitution of India was introduced in 1950. Then, in 1954 dr. Rajendra Prasad issued it as a presidential order.
What is Article 370?
Article 370 was the basis of Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to the Indian union at a time when erstwhile princely states had the choice to join either India or Pakistan after their independence from the British rule in 1947. The article, which came into effect in 1949, exempts Jammu and Kashmir state from the Indian constitution. It allows the Indian-administered region jurisdiction to make its own laws in all matters except finance, defense, foreign affairs and communications. It established a separate constitution and a separate flag and denied property rights in the region to the outsiders. That means the residents of the state live under different laws from the rest of the country in matters such as property ownership and citizenship.
What is Article 35A?
Article 35A was introduced through a presidential order in 1954 to continue the old provisions of the territory regulations under Article 370 of the Indian constitution. The article permits the local legislature in Indian-administered Kashmir to define permanent residents of the region. It forbids outsiders from permanently settling, buying lands, holding local government offices or winning education scholarships in the region. The article, referred to as the Permanent Residents Law, also bars female residents of Jammu and Kashmir from property rights in the event that they marry a person from outside the state. The provision also extends to such women’s children. While Article 35A has remained unchanged, some aspects of Article 370 have been diluted over the decades. Critics of Article 35A say the provision did not have any parliamentary sanction, and that it discriminates against women.
The Masterplan of Hindu Settlement and its impact:
While Article 370 and Article 35A were in action, it was literally impossible to penetrate the barrier of outside settlement in the region. But the discreet masterplan of the current ruling BJP, which is no longer discreet its drastically biased activity, is to raise the Hindu nationalism throughout the country. That includes the settlement of Hindu population in Hindu minority regions. As Kashmir remains a crucial region where the national inclusion policy fails over decades, this prompted the BJP government to initiate a discreet settlement program in the region. When Article 370 and Article 35A are no longer in place that means no more barrier to implement the plan. As a result, Hindu population from other states can buy lands and settle their businesses in Kashmir. Settlement is the first footstep to occupy Kashmir and it’s an achievable target for India within less than a decade provided the geographical and geopolitical nature of the region. Like all other settlers around the world in the Americas, Africa, Australia, if you need to occupy any nation you need to puss-in people there, rape, marriage and finally occupy the lands. India took this policy to extend its full control over the Muslim populated Kashmir. Nearly 7 million people live in the Kashmir Valley, 97% of them Muslim, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of Indian troops and armed police deployed to quell an uprising against New Delhi’s rule.
Geographically, Kashmir is a highly fertile land with abundant natural resources, and rich terrain and hilly landscape–one of the most lucrative tourist destinations in South Asia. Overnight, outside investments will flow in its tourism and resource incursion sectors. Industries will settle in abundant cheaply priced lands. The prospect of new employments will bring millions of mainstream Hindu population to permanently settle in the region. Of course, Hindus will be preferred in granting in an outside-controlled job, not local people. The region is also lucrative for industrial settlement for its closest route to many regions of China and Pakistan. Geopolitically, the region is a center of three conflicting countries, India, Pakistan and China. More control over the region means a strategic win in the geopolitics.
This resettlement policy is very similar to the Chinese government’s policy with the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang and the Philistine Muslims by Israel. But the BJP also knows that India is not a one-party governing country that must depend on its almost 21 percent non-Hindu votes. It is interesting that, reportedly, many local Hindus in Kashmir are also fighting for independence along with Muslims.
The ghost of British bipartisan theory still remains. Kashmir is now called Palestine in South Asia. Both territories are dominated in the same year in 1947. The main ringleader was the British and India is going to run a robust settlement program in Kashmir that the people of Palestine has been facing since 1947.
Revoking Article 35-A and 370 has fulfilled the long aspirations of Hindu nationalists. They have been wanting this change since the 1950. However, the situation can be dire in the region and for the whole country as a consequence. Revoking article 370 is a red alert in India. There has been increasing concern in the northeastern states of the country since the central government of India lifted up Article 370 of the Constitution. They are worried about Article 371 of the Constitution. Several states have been given special protection in different paragraphs of Article 371 of the Constitution. According to the central government’s announcement on August 5, these states are in fear of losing that special protection. The provisions contained in those paragraphs, in most of the northeastern region, speak of protecting tribal communities and their culture. It has decentralized administration and a certain level of administrative autonomy in those states. In addition, local laws have the advantage of settling cases. Some of these laws prohibit the transfer of land to a non-state citizen. These rules are applicable in Mizoram, Nagaland and parts of Assam, Manipur and Meghalaya. Likewise, Kashmir, over times northeastern region are also bumped with the rise of separate nationalism other than Indian.
India’s next target will be the occupation of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. Recently, a minister of the country Jitendra Singh said this in Lok Sabha (the lower house of India’s bicameral Parliament). The Indians think Kashmir is their own land, while Pakistan thinks the Muslim majority valley is part of their country. By this conflict a major war will began between the two countries, Analysts predict. The fear of this conflict is even greater as both countries are nuclear-powered countries.
Instability and oppression will raise terrorism in Kashmir valley. No one Pakistan nor India can stop terrorism in this territory. Al-Qaeda’s South Asia branch and the Middle East IS have already increased their operations in the Indian subcontinent. They made their presence through the attacks in Sri Lankan churches by killing of 25p innocent people On 21 April 2019. But Now naturally Kashmir will focus.
‘External forces’ won’t decide the actions of New Delhi
India’s farmer’s protest is in the news for a while for the obvious reasons. In a democracy there should be protests, it keeps the power balanced. However, in India, the protestors and the government are both facing a common challenge, that is the external influence. To which, Indian External Affairs Minister and other government wings already made public statements. Before understanding the external factors, one needs to look into the farmer’s protest.
What are the farm laws?
Last year Government of India passed three laws in order to bring a reform in the agriculture sector in India, which are:
- The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act – provides for setting up a mechanism allowing the farmers to sell their farm produces outside the Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs). Any licence-holder trader can buy the produce from the farmers at mutually agreed prices. This trade of farm produces will be free of mandi (marketplace) tax imposed by the state governments.
- The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance – Allows farmers to do contract farming and market their produces freely.
- Farm Services Act, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act – amendment to the existing Essential Commodities Act. This law now frees items such as foodgrains, pulses, edible oils and onion for trade except in extraordinary (read crisis) situations.
According to the government – the new laws will help to strengthen basic farm sector infrastructure through greater private investments. Successive governments have found financial constraints in investing in farm and rural infrastructure. It is argued that with food markets growing exponentially in India, private players would make agriculture profitable for the farmers.
Why farmers are protesting?
It’s been around 3 months since the Farmers are protesting in North India, on the highways en-route Delhi. Despite having rounds of talks between the government and the farmers, they’re yet to find a common understanding.
Farmers are worried as they feel this may impact the existing structure and lead to the corporatization of the agriculture sector in which the big corporations will exploit the farmers. Moreover, the new farm bill talks about the establishment of the private Agriculture Produce Market Committee, which in turn will end the role of middleman involved in the market, However, the middleman is seen by farmers, not as one exploiting them but one who provides services to them. Their number in two states – Punjab & Haryana could cross 100,000. So, farmers and middleman fear that this will ultimately result in huge job loss and impact the structure.
Another point farmers fears that from individual-to-individual relation, these bills will change the market into the individual to corporate relations. With a changed dispute settlement mechanism the farmers also are worried that their pleas could not get the desired settlement.
MSP – Minimum Support Price is another demand forwarded by the farmers, which they apprehend that allowing outside-APMC trade of farm produces would lead to lesser buying by the government agencies in the approved Mandis (marketplace). The protesting farmers say the new laws would thus make the MSP system irrelevant and they would not have any assured income from their farming. Right now, the government announces fixed MSP for around two dozen crops.
The working of the MSP system has been such over the years that it benefits only a handful of farmers at the all-India level. The Shanta Kumar committee set up by the Modi government in 2015 says that only six percent of farmers benefit from the MSP regime.
The catch here is that for farmers of some states such as Punjab and Haryana, the MSP system has worked well. In these two states procurement of paddy and wheat range around 75-80 per cent.
So, the fear that the MSP system may crumble and get dismantled after the new farm laws are implement has become a very emotive issue for the farmers of Punjab and Haryana. And, that is why they are the ones who are most vocal in their protest against the farm laws and demanding that the MSP should be made mandatory for both APMC and private Mandis (marketplace).
The government, however, is constantly in touch with the farmers and trying to resolve the issues through dialogue and till then the laws have been kept on hold while talks are held.
External group’s interference
Many external elements are interfering in the protests and challenging the government, including a few fringes and notorious separatist organisations which are based and nurtured by the West during the days of the cold war days for the obvious reasons. In the garb of human rights and democracy, they know it very well that how to destabilise a nation. There are many examples in front of us, the Russian protests being one of them.
The world has seen how after the new U.S. government’s arrival in the United States set the narrative for the socialist lobby around the world. President Trump very well assessed the threats of such groups and kept them in check but the new administration seems to propagate their ideology as the state policy.
When President Biden said, “We must meet the ‘new moment’ accelerating global challenges” it indicates toward continuing the policies of Obama administration with new added ‘Biden’ characteristics.
The tweets by American celebrities and people with clear political leaning are not about the protests, they in fact, do not know much about the protest, and their idea is to attack the ideology which doesn’t meet theirs. India is a land of protests, revolution, ideas and ideologies and both the Government of India and Indians respect the thoughts across the spectrum.
One of the American Congresswomen said that she will continue to monitor this situation closely and another expressed the solidarity but their thoughts are not driven by the plights of farmers, rather a particular ideology.
Recently, the State Department welcomed the reforms by the Indian government and also advocates for the protests. Which is contradicting in itself. India as a bearer of an Independent Foreign Policy should avoid any validation by any foreign government and let not the tweets by a particular mindset decide the course of protest or government actions.
India as a democracy respect different ideas but can’t allow any ‘vested interest’ groups influence any actions by New Delhi.
From our partner International Affairs
Forced Cremation: Another bout of marginalisation in Sri Lanka
The agony of the Sri Lankan civil war is not worn off from history as yet. The 26-year war decimated the foundations of the country and highlighted the separatist fragment of the society. The massacre of the Muslim community and the wounds left to fester since 1990’s riots have still not subsided even after three decades. While the clash of the Sinhalese and Tamils climaxed in 2009, the violence against the Muslim minority never ceased. The recent strike over the rights of minorities is the forceful cremation of the deceased in the line of Covid prevention adopted by the Sri Lankan government. Regardless of the religious doctrines guiding the final proceedings of the dead, the Sri Lankan regime continues to ploy to utilise the pandemic as a tool to forcefully cremate the deceased Muslims irrespective of the sentiments of the Muslim families.
Sri Lanka, officially known as the ‘Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka’, is a South Asian country forming a tear-drop below the Indian subcontinent and located at the southwestern edge of the Bay of Bengal. The country was bloodied by the infamous civil war that incited in 1983; claiming mounds of lives and consuming countless communities. The 1990 Massacre was the flash point of the civil war; mosques attacked in the town of Batticaloa resulting in 300 Muslims brutally slain as a drive against the Sinhalese government. The end of the civil war should have marked an end to the inhumanity bestowed upon the Muslim minority given the fall of the ‘Tamil Tigers’; the main culprits of the 1990 massacre. However, the religious violence exponentiated instead of contracting under the Sinhalese dominated Sri Lanka as the anti-Muslimism campaigns picked up pace over the last decade, leaving the Muslim minority, making only 9% of the total population, insecure with respect to safety of life and prosperity.
Over the course of the decade, the spree of violence and discrimination against the Muslims transitioned into bloody chaos claiming mosques, shops and even crippling entire towns dwelled by the Muslims. The anti-Muslimism rhetoric led by the extremist Buddhist group ‘Bodu Bala Sena (BBS)’, backed by the Sinhalese government, paved the riots against the Muslim community in the form of mobs ravaging the Muslim towns during systematic protests. The repeated calls for protection went unheeded by the Sinhalese Buddhist Revivalist Groups, further nudging and encouraging the extremist monks to spread hatred against the Muslim community which came across as the mobster mentality boldly continued to oppress the Muslims.
The Human Rights abuse under the regime of president Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother, the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, has surpassed all the records of injustice etched in the Sri Lankan history. His promises to bring back the Muslims displaced amidst the civil war went in vain and he proved to be as much of a biased leader as his brother. When Gotabaya came into power in 2019, the Sinhalese Buddhist Nationalist Party (SLPP) had been mongering extremism under the pretence of mob-attacks while backing groups like BBS to simmer hatred and prejudice against the Muslim community. The Rajapaksa brothers are notorious of their Burma-like mentality of ethnic cleansing, rumoured to be following the footsteps of Myanmar to thin the Muslim minority in a similar exercise of genocide as against the Rohingya Muslims. Though the ‘ethnic cleaning’ allegations have been repeatedly put down by the SLPP leaders, the historical bloodletting of the Muslim community and the irrational policies adopted under the charter of litigation point to a very different and bleak picture of politics in Sri Lanka.
Since the Sri Lankan government adopted the mandatory cremation policy in March 2020, more than 80 deceased Muslims have been forcibly cremated against the will of their families. While the Rajapaksa-regime uses forced cremation as another tool to torment the Muslim community by trampling on their basic rights in the guise of Covid-prevention, World Health Organisation (WHO), along with the Sri Lankan doctors, has rejected the justification provided by President Gotabaya for adopting cremation as a safety procedure to prevent water contamination due to rituals related to burial. Despite of the assurance of WHO, the Sri Lankan government not only refused to consider burial as an accepted method but even the Supreme Court expended no time to shun the petitions filed against the forcible cremation law, pushing injustice in the face of the Muslim minorities. The UN experts remarked on the systematic persecution of the Muslim community: “We deplore the implementation of such Public Health decisions based on discrimination, aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism amounting to persecution of the Muslims and other minorities of the county”.
It is clear from the stern attitude of the Rajapaksa-regime that it aims to undermine the voice of the minorities by crushing the rights and subsequently silencing the protests that ensue from the inhuman treatment. Though the global political circles have responded strictly to the ghastly abuse of power in Sri Lanka; UK being the prime country to hold active protests against the violation of human rights and even UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, threatening sanctions on Sri Lanka for proactively transgressing the rights of minorities. However, despite of the pressure building up, the spokesperson of the Sri Lankan government, Keheliya Rambukwella, rebutted the allegations by stating: “We do things only on expert advice and cannot take ad-hoc decisions”. The juvenile statements followed by the aggressive attempts to subterfuge the global community are enough to expose the extremist mindset of the Sri Lankan government. The debacle that is to follow, in retrospect, could be far worse than the civil war since even the dead are not spared of the tyranny in today’s day and age.
From Gandhi to Modi: Exploitation of Svadharma
Hinduism is depicted as the world’s oldest religion, with roots and customs dating back to more than a 4,000 years. As of now, it constitutes of around 900 million followers, and is the 3rd most practiced religion after Christianity and Islam. In essence, Hinduism carries main concern over the mind, spirit and body of individuals, where non-violent actions that result spiritual peace of these identities are idealized. Moving forward, the central notion of Hinduism revolves around dharma, which can be associated with the overall duties and responsibilities of individuals in society, with accordance to ethical and moral practices that highlight non-violence. Notwithstanding, Hindus are also disposed to choosing their individual dharma in accord with their consciousness, intellect, and circumstances. This is coined as svadharma, and includes the duties and responsibilities of Hindus in relation to fellow beings and the total environment they reside in. Consequently, the attainment of peace is promoted through fulfilment of life goals, and the abandonment of stormy conditions. Since Svadharma as a concept is up for interpretation, it varies from individual to individual. In fact, due to its subjective nature, it also leaves room for religious exploitation in the lust for political objectives. This essay will aim to put forward the true depiction of svadharma through analyzing Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s Satyagraha; adding on, the exploitation for political incentives shall be explained through BJP’s Hindutva ideology.
To begin, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s interpretation of svadharma resulted in Satyagraha, which can be portrayed as a revolutionary step towards non-violent non- cooperation against the British rule in India. Gandhi’s philosophy of Satyagraha was a natural outcome of the supreme concept of truth. According to which, if the truth can be deemed as the ultimate reality, its protection is critical. Hence, Satyagraha refers to the exercise of the truth against all injustices, oppressions and exploitations; which ultimately results in peace on an individual and societal level. It essentially embodies the notion of peace from Hinduism. To add on, for the attainment of fighting oppression through non-violent means, he embraced yogic strength to endure the most intense physical pain, including food and sleep deprivation without any flinching or any fear. Gandhi served as an influence to millions of his unarmed followers, through serving as a symbol of divine strength and passion. Consequently, a mass revolution was launched against the then British Empire, formally regarded as the non-cooperation movement.
In order to stay true to the divine and peaceful teachings of Hinduism, he commanded individuals to undertake the process of obeying the civil and moral laws of the state, while simultaneously resisting laws that were oppressive and barbaric. As a result, Gandhi laid down certain standards of moral discipline for the Satyagraha process, which were: complete faith in God in order to calmly bear the physical barbarisms directed towards individuals by the British forces, not yearning after wealth and fame, submitting to the leader of the Satyagraha unit, absolutely fearlessness and firmness against brutality, single-minded purposefulness, and individuals losing sight of their duty through the virtue of anger or any other passion. Thus, Gandhi wanted to incorporate attitudes penetrating towards toleration and acceptance of the hardships that came along with this movement. Overall, Gandhi’s svadharma allowed him to attain political gains without resorting to violence, which resulted in peaceful change. In Gandhi’s words, complete civil disobedience through refusing to serve compliance to state- made-law can be an extremely powerful movement. In fact, it can become more effective in comparison to than an armed rebellion; as, it does not include the suffering of the innocent individuals on a wide scale.
Satyagraha was a peaceful and inclusive movement that arose of svadharma; nevertheless, the concept of svadharma also introduced Hindutva, which is an extremist ideology with aims to disintegrate India’s secular outlook through transforming the country into a Hindu Rasht (a majoritarian Hindu religious-nationalist state that directs its 200 million Muslims and 30 million Christians into second-class citizens). In theory this concept goes against the very teachings of Hinduism, which revolves around peace and non-violence. Nevertheless, the concept of svadharma has been exploited and misused; as, Hindu extremists incorporate this notion to justify their horrific acts to attain political interests. The word Hindutva was introduced by the 20th century ideologue V.D. Savarkar, and it literally means “Hinduness.” The central concept was the embodiment of religious nationalism with territorial belongings and citizenship. Meaning, being an Indian was equated to following the religion of Hinduism; as, India was the spiritual motherland of Hindus. This was a problem for Indian Muslims and Christians; as, their holy lands were constituents of other states. Therefore, Hindutva followers disregarded Muslims and Christians as citizens of India. The current Indian government Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been assimilated under the ideology of Hindutva, and this notion has brought them popularity in India. In fact, this ideology was incorporated by them to come into power, which highlights the exploitation of svadharma. As a result, forcible integration into an outward Hinduness is being conducted in India. In recent years, India has witnessed Hindutva extremists killing Muslims due to various reasons ranging from consumption of beef to failing to chant the slogan “Jai Shri Ram” to hail a Hindu deity. Such actions are being conducted in order to compel the non-Hindu population into embracing Hinduism. However, at the end of the day, Hindutva is simply an exploitation of svadharma; as, it does not acquire to its peaceful and non-violent requirements. Moreover, svadharma aims to bring about peace on an individual and societal level; and, Hindutva is simply leading to chaos and riots in India. Through this the fact that Hindutva was a political goal for Modi to come into power is highlighted.
In conclusion, Hinduism is a religion that promotes the concept of non-violence and peaceful co-existence. Over the years, svadharma has been carried out by multiple personalities across India, in order to highlight their roles and responsibilities in insuring a peaceful through their personal interpretation, most notable of which are Gandhi and Modi. Nevertheless, the difference lies in their intentions and ultimate goal. While Gandhi carried a goal of attaining interests of the Indian population through non-violent means, Modi carried the aim of coming into power. Thus, Modi did not follow the true essence of svadharma and simply exploited.
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