Many of the conflicts dotting the world’s political landscape, particularly the ‘internationalized internal conflicts’ are seen as violent manifestations of the political grievances of the populations against the state or the ruling elites. But they are also about the economics. Thanks to the globalization, and the pressures it has been and is putting on the nations and societies across the globe, impacting not only people’s behaviors but their thinking as well, the mutual interdependence of countries and peoples has only been increasing. No wonder the boundaries and borders between the nation-states have become increasingly permeable allowing to-and-fro traffic of goods and ideas with greater ease.
However, it is not the case within the nation states itself, particularly when it comes to the social and economic boundaries between the rich and the poor. Take the world’s most populous countries — China and India. For instance, in China, the gleaming sky-scrappers pierce the skies in some coastal provinces and cities, like in Beijing, Hong Kong and Singapore, making them the models of progress and development. But over 800 million people among the China’s over 1.8 billion population are still poor peasants in the interior. And what makes this contrast all the more ugly is that the political elite and Communist functionaries and the rich have successfully “plugged themselves into the global economy”, there is also a substantial chunk, the poor peasants, who under the conditions of wretched poverty are “still scrabbling at the soil” but are unable to feed their children whose “swollen bellies are still all too visible amid shacks and other marks of misery.”
The situation in India is far worse than in China. Here again the political elite have secured itself against any kind of socio-economic upheaval, the ordinary have-nots have learned to live with less than a meal a day and be content with the slogans like “shining India” hoping that their luck too may shine some day. But it hasn’t so far, and the way the country is growing — notwithstanding what the BJP-led dispensation at the Centre wants people to believe, the likelihood of any major turn-around in economic situation for the ordinary people, the have-nots looks very bleak.
China has again been fortunate that the ‘uncomfortable’ gap between its rich and the poor has not manifested itself into violent conflict so far (even though signs of deep and growing resentment are overly visible). But not every other country is able to keep its disgruntled populations at bay. India has certainly not been able to do so. Much of its mainland is torn apart by the naxal insurgencies, which is basically a perennial battle between the rich and the poor, privileged elite and disadvantaged majorities. With state having sided almost entirely with the rich and the powerful, the wretched people have taken it upon themselves to challenge the state with their full might.
Conflict in Kashmir too, although primarily political in nature, shows the dynamics that are not much different than the situation elsewhere. In Kashmir also the gap between the rich and the poor, between the ruling elite and the citizenry both in the rural and urban sectors has increased tremendously over the years owing to varied factors including the disparity in terms of access to economic opportunities. While as the ordinary masses, have been, and still are, the major contributors to the overall economic output, they have not received the ‘fruits of development’ in the same proportion as those wielding political power, wealth and influence, have. For instance, while the rural areas are comparatively rich given their contribution to the state income, the populations are not “rich” in terms of access to avenues of progress and development. Be it the pitiable condition of agriculture in the state or for that matter other rural activities like horticulture or raring of animals for mutton and milk, everything has been happening in traditional style without anything worthwhile being done to put it on modern scientific lines. In such a case, obviously the huge population is at a perennial disadvantage vis-à-vis their access to better economic avenues.
In such a case, it is unimaginable to expect and headway in the overall economic condition of the state when a majority is disadvantaged, and as such disgruntled. But then the political elite never misses an opportunity of talking about its so-called “historic initiatives”– although common people have neither seen them nor do they hope of being benefited by them. When government functionaries promise progress and development to this disgruntled lot, the recipients of this ‘rhetorical garbage’ shrug off in disbelief. For they know that the promises that are made will remain only promises!