[Editorial Analysis] Vajpayee 2.0: New Kashmir needs a consensus that builds on legacy of former PM

Mains Paper 2 : Polity

Prelims level : Vajpayee 2.0

Mains level : Kashmir Problem and its solution

Context

• We need, today, a national framework on Jammu and Kashmir, based not on positions of the past or manifestos articulating absolutist ideas, or national security doctrines that conflate nationalism with religion.

• We need a policy outlook, which we term as Vajpayee 2.0, that builds on the imagination and legacy of the former prime minister and his vision for the state.

• Consider the intellectual and bureaucratic bankruptcy that has resulted in one of the most bizarre policies being currently implemented in the state.

• A policy tailor-made for GHQ Rawalpindi, capping four years of doing the wrong thing in Kashmir.

• The bi-weekly closure of National Highway 44 from Udhampur to Baramulla until May 31, to civilian traffic, is short-sighted, counter-productive and defies explanation.

• It will distance, in every sense of the word, the people of Kashmir from the rest of India.

Background

• Since 1947, Kashmir has remained India’s foremost national security challenge, the nature of the challenge changing with the decades.

• After the dark 1990s, when India struggled to re-establish its writ in the Valley as it battled militants, both indigenous and Pakistani exports from across the Line of Control, came efforts at building peace through talks with various “stakeholders” in the Valley, and with Pakistan.

• This was also the most peaceful period in Kashmir since 1989, even though tensions continued to simmer underneath the apparent calm.

Recent situations

• According to sources, the first three months of 2019 alone saw 162 killings in incidents across the state.

• The toll included 21 civilians, 58 militants, and 83 security forces personnel, including the 40 who were killed in Pulwama.

• There is a separate count of casualties on the Line of Control, and there it is mostly security forces personnel.

• There can be no count of the mental costs of living in conditions of constant conflict, as the people of J and K have done over the last years.

• More Kashmiri youth are taking up arms today than 10 years ago, or even five years ago by some counts, there was a 800 per cent increase in 2018 over 2012 belying the claim that a “no-nonsense approach to militancy” has succeeded.

Five-pronged strategy towards Jammu and Kashmir

• Atal Bihari Vajpayee built his track record on a five-pronged strategy towards Jammu and Kashmir. This must be the foundation to build a new consensus on Jammu and Kashmir.

• No compromise with terrorism and extremism and anyone who preaches violence or is a party to it.

• The dialogue with anyone willing to abjure violence and enter into a meaningful trust-building process for sustainable peace in the state.

• To enriching and strengthening democracy by ensuring free and fair elections, at every level, and by decentralising power to the grassroots. And by respecting the rights of every Indian citizen.
• To creating a better regional balance to ensure that the feeling of discrimination in Jammu and Ladakh is stemmed. Simultaneously, to create the conditions for the return with dignity and honour of the Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley.

• The fast track development to create institutions of academic and extra-curricular excellence.

• Implicit in the Vajpayee vision was the promise of no restructuring of the constitutional framework that governs the Centre’s relation with the state through Article 370 and attendant articles and clauses.

Conclusion

• Engaging with Pakistan is a whole different ballgame and that is best undertaken once we have the internal situation in order and Islamabad lives up to its promise to not allow its territory to be used by terrorist groups against India.

• Reimagining Kashmir as something other than real estate ripe for demographic engineering will require more than outsize chest measurements, but it will lead to a more secure, more inclusive and less paranoid nation.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) The Chisti sufi order is distinguished from other Sufi orders
by

1. Keeping a distance from ambitions of worldly power

2. Emphasizing that music cannot help one connect to the
almighty God

Which of the above is/are correct?

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) None

Answer: A

Mains Questions:

Q.1) Since 1947, Kashmir has remained India’s foremost national security challenge, the nature of the challenge changing with the decades. Comment.

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