Too little, too late!

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This Sunday, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his measured silence on Kashmir when he came here to inaugurate some developmental projects. He talked tough about militancy, asserting that his government would do whatever it takes to end trouble here. Prime Minister didn’t say a word to signal some regret or remorse over what has been happening under his very nose. He didn’t talk about the civilian deaths, nor was there a word of sympathy for hundreds of those who have been blinded and maimed for life.

If one is to objectively analyse the PM’s speech, there is not much in it worth comment, except for the fact that he talked about the developmental projects he inaugurated. However, given that the assertions came from the highest political figure, one can’t brush it aside as a non-event. Before speaking on Kashmir unrest, PM must surely have sought counsel from his strategic and political experts. It seems that he has yet again, much like his predecessors, including Vajpayee, received reassurance, suggestions for patience, or at best, for minimalist movement. This is exactly what his speech conveyed – hardly a thing about any possible movement forward which could deliver Kashmir from the cruel clutches of the overly disconcerting status quo.

Times change, and with it states are also supposed to change and evolve better understanding about the problems confronting them. However, in case of Kashmir, over the years there seems to have been no change in Delhi’s child-like Manichean thinking. Despite all the catchy phrases thrown out at the people here from time to time, Delhi’s obsession with smooth waters and the appearance of continuity in its policy of containment of popular anger through deft management and a regular stream of promises and pledges, have kept it from dispassionately looking at the machinations which have in reality damaged the lives of real people here.

Today when Valley is in the midst of yet another spiral of deadly violence, and people despite knowing the costs of involving themselves in sure-loser confrontations are paying through their life and limb to see some headway towards the resolution of political questions concerning their lives and life situations, all they are getting are lectures on development economics. Like in economics, the managerial ethos is wedded to the idea that problems are not solved; they are managed. This is exactly what Delhi has been doing in Kashmir. It is plagued by a visible incapacity to admit errors, and the same has also translated into its incapability to fixing the problems. This is the easiest take from the PM’s speech. Let things be the way they are; there are police and military structures in place to take care of country’s interests and the political establishment has no reason to harass itself into believing otherwise, or rushing into something that would show it as buckling under pressure, particularly at a time when far bigger political stakes are staring in the face by way of forthcoming general elections!

Those rejoicing over the PM’s assertions have their own political expediency for it. They are the bonafide beneficiaries of this megalomaniac managerial tinkering, even though in their public posturing they always extol the virtues of political engagement even with the adversary. The discourse emanating at the top, both in Srinagar and in New Delhi, is in reality a soliloquy. They say things they didn’t really mean; only concerned is their selfish interests, political and other. This is yet another indication of growing divorce between the governments and the people, which has not only produced a governance-deficit but a policy paralysis too. People of Kashmir are suffering the consequences of both.


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