Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Home Variety Books Kashmir is integral to India’s civilisational heritage, given its Hindu and Buddhist history: Excerpt...

Kashmir is integral to India’s civilisational heritage, given its Hindu and Buddhist history: Excerpt from ‘A New Idea Of India: Individual Rights In A Civilisational State’

As the title suggests, the authors argue that post-independent India must correct its foundational principles and begin with individual rights. Towards that end, the authors lay great emphasis that India is a civilisational state and not merely a post-colonial entity.

A New Idea Of India: Individual Rights In A Civilisational State is a recently published book, written by Harsh Madhusudan and Rajeev Mantri, published by Westland. As the title suggests, the authors argue that post-independent India must correct its foundational principles and begin with individual rights. Towards that end, the authors lay great emphasis that India is a civilisational state and not merely a post-colonial entity.

The authors rely on their personal experiences in both their personal and professional life to recommend a series of policy prescriptions that would set the stage for an overhaul of the narrative about the idea of India dominates discourse today. Following is an excerpt from the book that has received much appreciation from intellectuals across the political spectrum.

On Kashmir, Pakistan and Karl Popper

The philosopher Karl Popper wrote in his classic work The Open Society and Its Enemies that if we want to see tolerance thrive, it is very important that we do not tolerate intolerance beyond a point. 

I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. 

There is an inherent tension between, for example, support for absolute free speech and other liberties and the dystopia that may be caused by irrational and possibly violent intolerance of the chronically intolerant. Ideally, we would not like this tension to exist and prefer individual rights to be fully guaranteed by the State at all times. But there are cases where the exercise of such individual rights can lead to the demise of the very State that is supposed to protect these rights. How then does one square the circle once again? 

Let us go from the abstract to the specific and consider the case of Kashmir. The issue there is much less complicated than has been made out by umpteen talking heads and commentators, who cannot see the obvious reality right in front of them due to their desire for political correctness. 

The Kashmir valley, an area of about 4,000 square kilometres, has an overwhelming demographic dominance of Sunni Muslims, a dominance that was secured by the violent and brutal expulsion of Kashmiri Hindus from there in 1990. The area being adjacent to Pakistan, a few want to secede from ‘Hindu’ India in the name of their religion.

The media often conflates this relatively small area with all of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, which has a total land area of over 222,000 square kilometres. There are obviously geographical, historical and legal factors that can be debated about this region until the cows come home, but the fundamental sore point for Pakistan is, how can a Muslim-majority border region be a part of India and not of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan? 

How should India react to Pakistan’s revanchism? One school of thought says let us not hold any people, even if within a small valley, against their will. But then, what would be the implications of a second religious partition for India? It would imply that a minority that becomes a majority in an Indian state can never be truly Indian, and this may cause further fissures within the rest of India. 

This is not just a hypothetical scenario. Demographic changes in Kerala, West Bengal and Assam are moving in that direction, as census data from 2001 and 2011 show. In West Bengal, the Muslim population increased by 21.8 per cent between 2001 and 2011, compared to 10.8 per cent for the Hindu population. In Kerala, the Muslim population increased by 12.8 per cent between 2001 and 2011, compared to 2.2 per cent for the Hindu population. In Assam, the Muslim population increased by 29.5 per cent between 2001 and 2011, compared to 10.9 per cent for the Hindu population. 

Should India just wait for that to happen? Obviously not. No State would tolerate that, and the civilisational state of India, that is Bharat certainly would not. For Bharat is nothing without Dharma, as Sri Aurobindo said in his 1909 Uttarpara speech80 before he retired to a life of spiritual exploration. 

It is important to contrast the secessionist demands of the Sunni Muslim Kashmir Valley with such demands in, say, Catalonia (Spain), Scotland (United Kingdom) or Quebec (Canada). Any successful secession in the latter cases would result in a new nation–state within the broader West. In the first two cases, the new countries would be within not just the West but also within the European Union. Even a free Quebec would almost certainly be absorbed into NAFTA’s successor trade framework and the NATO security grouping. There is a civilizational logic to these inclusions and exclusions. Turkey, for example, could never enter the European Union and is plausibly going to leave NATO as well. 

The renowned British philosopher Roger Scruton remarked while building on the work of constitutional jurist Jeremy Rabkin, ‘The nation–state has been the greatest guarantor of freedom in the modern world, precisely because it establishes a territorial, rather than religious, jurisdiction. It is this that enables the nation–state to treat citizenship, rather than creed, as the criterion of membership.’81 Still, his view must be seen in the European historical context of medieval religious wars. 

It is important to belabour this point—if Northern Ireland unites with the Republic of Ireland and breaks with Union of England and Wales (and perhaps Scotland), as is plausible in the next few years,82 it is partially because of demographic changes (for the first time in centuries probably Catholics outnumber Protestants), but also because of ideological changes, namely, the Republic of Ireland as part of the larger civilisational entity of the European Union and in keeping with the zeitgeist of secular modernity, has given up draconian restrictions on abortion and has had a mixed-race prime minister from the LGBT community.

No heretics are of course being killed, and there is no de facto concept of religious speech being declared as blasphemous by the State. With the sharp edges gone, the two Irelands can focus on the commonalities of their shared ethnolinguistic, Christian and now liberal heritage, egged on by the decision of Brexit. 

Seen from this civilisational framework, any new Western country would simply mean a rearrangement of internal civilisational boundaries akin to the creation of a new state such as Telangana or Jharkhand within India. On the other hand, the so so-called freeing of Kashmir—whether through ‘azaadi’ or formal merger with Pakistan—would mean the loss of territory to a hostile civilisational unit. That is the reality. 

Let us, for a moment, see Kashmir as Northern Ireland, Pakistan as the Republic of Ireland, and India as the United Kingdom (in which case, the rest of India is Great Britain). Some people can argue that for demographic and geographical reasons, Kashmir (more specifically the Valley districts) should go to Pakistan. But there are many objections to this. First, the Partition was never about a one-to-one mapping to religious demographics even though that was the broad principle. Second, Pakistan is not like the Irish Republic in this thought experiment.

Pakistan has not even remotely experienced any period of secular–liberal Enlightenment which would make the minorities, including many Shias and Muslim liberals, in the Valley comfortable about joining that setup (and even independence would be practically joining Pakistan, given the Valley’s landlocked geography). Third, even if Pakistan were to miraculously go through a genuine secularisation process, the principle of self-determination applies significantly less to a democratic, pluralistic setup such as India’s as compared to a theocratic or authoritarian one.

If the United States can sacrifice around 6,00,000 of its young men in the sparsely populated 1860s and temporarily suspend civil liberties to preserve the Union and break the back of slavery, India can, and will, fight to keep the Union and defeat theocracy. Finally, quite simply, Kashmir is integral to India’s civilisational heritage, given its millennia-old Hindu and Buddhist history. 

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Searched termsHarsh Madhusudhan
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

Related Articles

Trending now

Yogi Adityanath to visit Maharashtra to attract investments to UP, Uddhav Thackeray says will not let anyone forcibly take away businesses

Yogi Adityanath will meet several industrialists and celebrities during his visit to Maharashtra to encourage them to invest in UP

After brutally suppressing protests by indigenous tribes in Canada, PM Justin Trudeau pontificates over farmers’ protests in India

Even though Canadian PM Justin Trudeau expressed his "concern" over the farmers' protest in India, Canada had last year moved WTO against India for high MSP rates

Farmer protest: From celebrity protestors hijacking the ‘protest’ to AAP and Congress fighting for credit, the circus is here

The farmers protests in Delhi have turned into a Shaheen Bagh redux with the same usual suspects coming together.

PFI is using ’72 hoors in Jannat’ concept to lure Muslim men into Jihadi activities, running terrorist schools: Sufi Islamic Board

PFI and SDPI are under scanner after the anti-Hindu Delhi Riots and Bengaluru riots earlier this year.

Maharashtra: Farmers in four districts record Rs 10 crore out-of-mandi trade with the help of new farm laws

FPCs in four districts in Maharashtra have made about Rs 10 crores from trade outside mandis after the laws were passed

Instead of answering allegations, Shehla Rashid decides to run away from a live show, calls her father ‘greedy’

Shehla Rashid, JNU student leader, has been accused by her biological father Abdul Rashid Shora, of taking Rs 3 crore from terror funding accused Zahoor Vatali and Rashid Engineer.

Recently Popular

Indian man proposes to his Australian girlfriend during Ind vs Aus cricket match, here is what happened next

While India's performance has been below par, netizens found happiness in the unusual proposal that became the highlight of the match.

Shiv Sena to organise Azaan recitation competition, party leader calls it as important as ‘Maha Aarti’

Shiv Sena is to bear the cost of the event and will also reward the contest winners.

SFJ ads appear on YouTube offering $10m support for farmers, in return, wants Sikhs to join ‘Khalistan movement’: Details

Amid ongoing farmers’ protests in Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi, it is evident that Khalistani supporters have hijacked the protests and now, they are running ads on YouTube

Indian Idol contestant reveals how she faced opposition from conservative Muslim society as singing is ‘not allowed’

The Indian Idol contestant revealed how women in her society are looked down upon if they try to excel in any field.

Wife of late Wajid Khan writes on her sufferings in an inter-faith marriage, says anti-conversion law should be nationalised

Wife of late music composer Wajid Khan wrote how her husband and his family had been forcing her to convert to Islam after their marriage

Yogi snubs Trudeau, deputes bureaucrats to welcome the Canadian PM

The Canadian PM seems to be getting differential treatment

London: South Hall’s Havelock Road, named after British general who fought Sikhs, renamed as Guru Nanak Road

The name change of a part of Havelock road in London's Southall district will come into effect early in 2021

Yogi Adityanath to visit Maharashtra to attract investments to UP, Uddhav Thackeray says will not let anyone forcibly take away businesses

Yogi Adityanath will meet several industrialists and celebrities during his visit to Maharashtra to encourage them to invest in UP

Blocked roads, shut shops, water scarcity: Delhiites suffer due to farmer protests while the state govt welcomes the protesters

Several roads connecting Delhi with nearby states have been blocked by police due to farmer protests, increasing traffic on other ones

As Justin Trudeau interferes in India’s internal politics, ‘liberals’ invoke ‘Howdy, Trump’ event to again spread lies on PM Modi

Leftist liberals started hoping on one leg after some social media users slammed Justin Trudeau for interfering in India internal matters

Indian security forces entered 200 meters inside Pakistan to unearth starting point of the tunnel used by JeM terrorists

On November 22, a 150-meter tunnel used by terrorists was detected by security forces in Samba sector of Jammu and Kashmir

‘Sanitary Panels clearly implies that SC is biased towards BJP’: Attorney General slams comic artist for assault on courts, allows contempt proceedings

Webcomic Sanitary Panels founder Rachita Taneja is known for her controversial, hateful and often Hinduphobic Tweets

Meerut: Communal tension after members of Muslim community create ruckus over Facebook post ‘insulting’ Prophet Muhammad

Police force from several police stations was reportedly called in to control the situation in Meerut.

Uttar Pradesh: Case under new Love Jihad law filed against two men for trying to convert a married Hindu woman to Islam

Case filed against Nadeem and Salman for trying to convert their Hindu co-worker Akshay's wife to Islam by regularly visiting her

After brutally suppressing protests by indigenous tribes in Canada, PM Justin Trudeau pontificates over farmers’ protests in India

Even though Canadian PM Justin Trudeau expressed his "concern" over the farmers' protest in India, Canada had last year moved WTO against India for high MSP rates

After creating trouble during Delhi Riots and Hathras, Bhim Army chief reaches the farmer protests site, now hijacked by Khalistanis

The so-called farmer protests have already been marred by the presence of Khalistani elements.

Connect with us

245,563FansLike
491,871FollowersFollow
20,300SubscribersSubscribe