Aditya Sinha

From The Indian Express: “PM’s butt-numbing Speech

“When I read the prime minister’s speech this week on Kashmir, I too wanted to pick up a stone and hurl it at the government. Not because the speech was, as with most of Manmohan Singh’s speeches, butt-numbingly boring. Not because it was, as a Kashmiri facebook friend put it, “the same old rhetoric”. It was because the prime minister, being the head of the government of the second largest population on the planet, speaks for that population with a certain gravitas; and all that this well-respected mild-mannered academic could think to do was offer the Kashmiris a bribe. It wasn’t an original brainwave at that; prime ministers since Jawaharlal Nehru have adopted bribery as their Kashmir policy. Kashmiris gave their verdict on the speech by returning to stone-pelting. That boys are picking up stones at the risk of catching a bullet (fired in warning) with the middle of their foreheads tells you how hoary the bribery-policy is. That youngsters continue to retaliate to bullets with stones instead of crossing a hill and picking up an AK-47 tells you a lot about self-restraint. If events during the past few weeks in Kashmir weren’t so pessimism-inducing, one might say the boys were Gandhians with stones.”

The Kashmiris wouldn’t care a toss if Manmohan Singh had at least hinted at the beginning of a political roadmap to sort out their grievance. Instead, he made only one specific announcement, of the constitution of an expert group to find jobs for Kashmiris, comprising worthies like C Rangarajan, N R Narayana Murthy and Tarun Das. This is laughable because it implies that the reason boys are on the streets risking paramilitary bullets is because they don’t have jobs. It is sad because Manmohan Singh is either unmindful or, worse, deliberately ignoring the fact that Kashmiris with jobs — not just in the Valley but outside as well — are among those on the streets. We can safely say that the stone-pelting has nothing to do with employment opportunities. This gives Manmohan Singh’s speech a sinister character: for, by inference, it would appear that he has utter disdain for the Kashmiri political aspiration.”

He’s not alone in this disdain. An example of the avoidance of this simple fact is what one former top espiocrat has written on the protests: like many wonks who sit comfortably on their butter-chicken-fed-backsides in the imperial capital, he ascribes the stone-pelting to a well thought-out Pakistani policy; and further, he blames Mufti Mohd Sayeed’s PDP for fanning the flames by pushing an extreme autonomy position instead of swooning at Delhi’s pseudo-autonomy promises (which are about as genuine as promises of full employment or total eradication of poverty). Firstly, “well thought-out Pakistan policy” is not just an oxymoron but a logical impossibility. Secondly, the PDP is a political party that responds to issues that through its cadres it recognises as relevant to its people. A party that addresses issues relevant only to Rome does not remain a relevant party for long. If a Tamil party invokes issues of Tamil pride, a Kashmiri party will do the analogous. The PDP is not being irresponsible — to its people. It knows that soft autonomy isn’t going to cut it now. The only way to get people interested is to talk hard autonomy. Give the PDP credit for at least keeping within the mainstream, even if it doesn’t look that way to a bunch of North Block whiz-kids.”


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