August 20, 2008economic freedomIndiaJammu & KashmirKashmirPublic PolicySecurity

The answer is good governance, not secession

Reversing alienation is difficult, but not impossible

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

At a time of crisis, the UPA government’s abject lack of leadership shows. In the absence of a resolute voice and action from the national leadership, the punditry in New Delhi has gotten into tailspin of defeatism. So it is good to see a timely editorial in Mint that helps put things back in perspective

India is no stranger to secessionist movements and Kashmir is no different in this respect. India has had to weather insurgencies in many states in the 20th century and has always succeeded in stemming this tide. There has been no exception.

The events of the last one month have, however, made commentators think otherwise. It is now being openly argued that such is the extent of alienation in Kashmir valley that, except for letting it go, there is little else that can be done. We believe this is a misreading of the situation and there is little to theories of Kashmiri exceptionalism.

Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), more than any other state, has suffered from a deficit of good governance. Since 1953, when autonomy of the state was greatly whittled down, most elections have been rigged there. This has deprived the people living there of precious public goods such as uncorrupt public representatives, equality of opportunity in public employment, and finally security. New Delhi’s preoccupation with security fundamentally eroded what it sought. This has greatly fuelled alienation.

But there’s more to this story. There is no way of providing public goods efficiently in a centralized manner. As a result, border provinces have problems in getting the right quantity of these goods. Punjab and states in the North-East have seen separatism. So, in that sense there is nothing exceptional to Kashmir’s current woes. This is where the Left (and now liberal) opinion misreads the situation. [Mint]

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