J&K: Pro and anti-secession

The J&K crisis has led to a renewed debate on whether the State deserves independence from India. Apologists for independence include Arundhati Roy, Vir Sanghvi and S.S.A.Aiyar. Those who argue against independence include Manoj Joshi, K.Subrahmanyam and V.P.Malik.

My heart lies somewhere between these two extreme positions. But it seems to me that analysts like K.Subrahmanyam confuse (read this)the republic’s basic responsibility to sustain the fundamental ideals that make India such as secularism, with the perceived imperative to use force against what in reality, are aspirations for genuine autonomy, masquerading as azadi.

One can see similar contradiction in Malik’s article. Malik invokes the French philosopher Ernest Renan to suggest what constitutes a nation: it is not speaking the same tongue, or belonging to the same religion or ethnic group, but having accomplished great things in common in the past, and the wish to accomplish them again in future.

Renan’s lecture on nationalism needs to be read in full to understand this 19th century philosopher. He said: “A nation’s existence is, if you will pardon the metaphor, a daily plebiscite, just as an individual’s existence is a perpetual affirmation of life. That, I know full well, is less metaphysical than divine right and less brutal than so called historical right. According to the ideas that I am outlining to you, a nation has no more right than a king does to say to a province: “You belong to me, I am seizing you.” A province, as far as I am concerned, is its inhabitants; if anyone has the right to be consulted in such an affair, it is the inbabitant. A nation never has any real interest in annexing or holding on to a country against its will. The wish of nations is, all in all, the sole legitimate criterion, the one to which one must always return.”

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  • Mukul Kesavan has an interesting article in The Telegraph on the
    ambivalence of liberals in this
    issue.Harish Khare’s article in
    The Hindu is a pragmatic response
    to the issue.His assessment of
    the views by Roy is apt. Those who want India to leave Kashmir are responding to a crisis without understanding the larger implications of that suggestion. Look at the small nations in Africa and elsewhere and see how many of them are being torn asunder by one form of conflict or another after becoming independent nations.Roy is either naive or is playing to the gallery.Jayalalitha
    or Karunanidhi can mobilize much bigger crowds demanding that their
    leader should be chosen as PM of India.Can that justify the implmentation of that demand.

  • VV,

    Why do you believe that the protesters in reality aspire for genuine autonomy and not independence? None of the Hurriyat leaders have suggested that, have they? It may well be that autonomy is what the Indian government can shoot for but the fact that the Hurriyat has long held out for something outside the purview of the Constitution, it is hard to believe that their supporters are not seeking what they are explicitly asking for.

  • Dilip,
    I agree that the quest for independence cannot be equated with genuine autonomy, although it is possible to suggest that the absence of the latter may lead to the former. At the same time, I am unable to understand why we should assume that a solution in the form of genuine autonomy must be found within the purview of the Constitution. Merely because a solution lies outside the purview of the Constitution should not mean secession.

  • Why UK faught the norhern Ireland and even the Falkland war? Why Canada has not given independence to Quebec? Or lankans fighting the LTTE? Infact Muslim minority in every state of the world like thailand,philipines,China have this problem.
    Just imagine if we have given independence to nagaland, Mizoram,?Assam or even Dravidanad when demanded by CN annadurain in 1962 in Indian parliament?
    People can have grievances and asking for Independence just because they are getting money from Saudi Arabia is seditious and must be forcefully putdown.Nobody stops them from going to pakistan if they think it gives more freedom and happiness.
    If once kashmir breaks away then the backlash on Indian Muslims will be so severe that indian balkanisation will happen.We must extend the war to Azad kashmir and this proxy war by pakistan will stop.this is the right opportunity to scrap art 370.