Sunday, March 19, 2023
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With Kashmir move, Modi has ensured map-making comes to an end in subcontinent

Modi has made clear that India will not venture beyond LoC to take territory, like the Pakistanis, but it will defend its own, no matter the price.

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Two years ago, Kashmir was on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mind as he spoke from the ramparts of the Red Fort.

Na gaali se, na goli se, Kashmir ki samasya suljhegi galey lagaane se.”

The Kashmir problem will not be solved either by hurling abuses or by killing people, but by embracing Kashmiris, he had said.

What changed this week was Modi’s huge May mandate that enabled him to push the abrogation of Article 370 in Parliament like a knife through hot butter. What changed was the complete collapse of a disunited opposition, shamefully willing to be divided and ruled by the BJP.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad put up a valiant fight in the Rajya Sabha in an attempt to tell Modi that he should go slowly into the Kashmir den, but Azad’s party clearly has far graver problems to deal with, including a crisis of leadership where no one seems interested in the top job.

Also read: By scrapping Article 370, Modi is going for a failed European model of nation building

Complete erasure of Nehru

Thursday evening, PM Modi offered a full explanation of Monday morning’s political earthquake. He shied away from nothing. From Syama Prasad Mookerjee to B.R. Ambedkar to Sardar Patel to Atal Bihari Vajpayee, said Modi in his speech, every leader’s dream has come true. Of course, he left out Jawaharlal Nehru.

Modi is nothing if not a political animal. The taking back, the abrogation, the finishing off, the stamping out, the deletion of Article 370 from the annals of history, belongs to him alone – the erasure of Nehru is now complete.

India’s most eloquent leader can only be shown up to be a bumbling figure paralysed by his own eloquence. The man of action was the Sardar – and Modi his protégé.

Equally interesting this week has been the sharing of the PM’s limelight by Home Minister Amit Shah. For the first time, Shah got much more airtime than Modi or any other leader in the Kashmir debate as he rammed the House resolution through both Houses of Parliament. This week, a new star was born in the BJP, standing shoulder to shoulder with the Prime Minister.

Also read: No, Modi’s Kashmir policy isn’t new. He’s only continuing what Nehru started in the 1950s

Vajpayee’s way is not the Modi way

Certainly, the element of surprise was as complete as the Kargil invasion 20 years ago, when Pakistani soldiers dressed up in shalwar-kameez lay in wait to slice off Jammu and Kashmir from the rest of India. In a sense, Modi has completed what Vajpayee began, which was to ensure that the last Pakistani soldier return across the Line of Control where he came from, before a conversation could be started with Pakistan.

Modi is younger, and tougher. He doesn’t brook conversations, especially not with Pakistan. Even with his own people, like those in Jammu and Kashmir, Modi believes he knows best. That was not Vajpayee’s way, but it is Modi’s.

The only way, then, to abrogate Article 370 was to have President’s Rule in place so that no noisy assembly in which the BJP was not in a majority could say a big “No” to the proceedings. Chaotic democracies must be shaped into an instrument of control – this has been Modi’s experience in Gujarat and he has successfully applied it in Delhi for the last five years.

Still, the deed is done. The world is reacting carefully, so far. Apart from China, which told India not to change the status quo unilaterally, no one has said anything – Britain’s silence is especially interesting, given its historical role in dividing and ruling India, especially during Partition.

As for China, it’s a fine one to talk, given its own “strike hard” policies in Tibet and Xinjiang province, where demographies have been changed to curb restive indigenous populations.

If you listened to PM Modi’s address to the nation Thursday, you will find something similar. There are olive branches for all constituencies – women, safai karamcharis, scheduled tribes, etc – but what is notable is the appeal to J&K Police, naturally, because it is the one largely maintaining peace and will be instrumental in holding it in the days and months ahead.

Also read: Kashmir Banega Pakistan: A dream sold to brainwash us since childhood now lies in tatters

An end to map-making

The demolition of Article 370 – the culmination of RSS thought since 1947 – is the thin edge of the wedge that will be used to change the demography of the state, over a period of time. With non-Kashmiris now allowed to buy land, a beginning has been made this week.

This is also why India is ignoring Chinese criticism. President Xi Jinping is expected in Delhi and Varanasi this October, and Modi certainly doesn’t want to wreck that trip by responding to Beijing’s catcall. So, Modi will treat it with the contempt it deserves. One strongman looking into the eyes of another is what India-China relations will be made up of.

As for Pakistan, it may be time to recall former external affairs minister Jaswant Singh’s memorable words after the end of the Kargil conflict: Map-making in the subcontinent must come to an end.

What Modi has done this week is to consolidate that statement. India will not venture beyond the Line of Control to take territory, like the Pakistanis have done time and again, but it will defend its own, no matter the price.

Also read: Modi reaches out to youth, women & govt employees of J&K, Ladakh with promise of jobs, benefits

 Sequel to Toba Tek Singh

This week, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and his much-vaunted generals, army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI head General Faiz Hameed have reacted to Modi’s decision on Kashmir with the frustration of a favourite toy being taken away – closing down airspacebanning Hindi films and leaving in the lurch 110 passengers Thursday afternoon on the Samjhauta Express at the border town of Wagah.

This was pure Saadat Hasan Manto. Watching the absurdity of poor people from divided families flailing around for help in Wagah until Indian Railways sent a rake to collect the Indians among the crowd, was like watching a sequel to ‘Toba Tek Singh’, Manto’s most famous short story.

As for Modi, he has offered a truce in the promise of a normal Eid Monday to the people of Jammu & Kashmir. This weekend, that constitutes the next 72 hours, will be crucial.

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  1. I get an impression that the writer and his entire team, including their editor, would be very happy if there are troubles in Kashmir. That , they think will put Modi in a bad light, and will help Congress back in power. By 2024, Modi will ensure Congress is a signboard party and if Sonia dies in the next few years, Congress will die its natural death along with her.

  2. Jyoti calls Modi a political animal.

    What she means Modi is true patriot, straight talker, knows and does the right thing for India.

    Thanks for acknowledging Modi is the protege of Sardar Patel. Due to the duplicity of Mohandas, Nehru was made the PM even though Patel had more party and public support.

  3. Another brainless article from Jyoti. I don’t think she is even paid to write what she writes. She is happy being around in studios offering her gems of insight in her anti Modi cause. Just by getting rid of Art 370, the mistakes of Nehru have not been undone yet fully. Modi has to get border settlement sorted out with China and get out of that quagmire. Only then we can fondly remember Nehru for his contribution of science, education, steel mills, Bhakra Nangal dam etc!! We have to look at Punjab situation in 80s and 90s as similar to J&K UT now and until Central government has full levers of control in the area, the terrorism and militancy cannot be controlled. Like Nehru said about Art 370 that it will get corroded and eroded with effluence of time, unpleasantness of Valley will get corroded and eroded but sooner once situation normalizes and vested political interests are made irrelevant in the new order.

  4. If Jyoti Malhotra really thinks that Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has put up a valiant fight in the Rajya Sabha, she is proclaiming her anti-national mind set. It’s not the first time, she has been writing nonsense and perhaps encouraged by Shekhar Gupta who is expert in firing from other’s solders.

  5. The other day this writer was interviewing Shekhar Gupta. While talking about kashmiri pandits, she said they “left” the valley; as if they got bored there and went elsewhere for a picnic. She could not even get herself to say that they were driven out under threat to their lives. This is the true face of Indian liberals. We should view them and their articles like zoo animals – for their entertainment value only.

  6. Any article explains the purpose and details of job by Modi is branded as paid article. Anything, against welcomed as if great analysis was done. There are people and there are people who still believes that others are fools.

  7. Two areas of concern remain. To the rest of the world as well. No large loss of life in the demonstrations that will follow. No outbreak of hostilities with Pakistan. 2. With a large state becoming a Union Territory – in my mind Ladakh qualifies for that honour, not Jammu or Kashmir – the Centre is taking on very onerous responsibilities for governance. That will also include spending more money on economic development and job creation. A lot has been bitten off. 3. What happens to our claims over PoK and Gilgit – Baltistan, the constraint to India joining the BRI, and Aksai Chin, where famously not a blade of grass grows. Have childhood memories of reading foreign magazines where the map of India would have a rubber stamp discounting its validity. 4. We are in uncharted waters. According to Cut the Clutter, 96% of Indians are happy with what is happening.

    • This is a beginning. Whether India will go one to make the map to its own choice remains to be seen. After all the Indian map (and its legally binding right as the successor state to the British Indian protectorates which acceded to India) still has a shortfall of 105 thousand sq. km. All of it was legally part of the Princely state that the Dogras administered, and legally acquired from the British in 1846, after the Anglo-Sikh War of 1845-46.

      We will see how the creation of the polity of Akhand Bharat proceeds since its inception in the minds of the geographical Hindus of the Sangh in the 1920s. At the very least they didn’t lack a vision for the Indic civilization’s territory.

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