ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Kashmir: Questions of Political Economy

Moreover the counterfactual has to be taken into account. What would have Kashmir: Questions of happened if the land reforms had not been implemented? Who were the landlords and who the tenants? Just as the imple- Political Economy mentation of land reforms, and the sub- SANJEEV CHOPRA Siddharth Prakash is to be complimented for bringing in the

Siddharth Prakash is to be complimented for bringing in the ‘political economy’ dimension to the Kashmir situation. His assertion that the discourse on Kashmir must be seen not just from the pro-India or pro-secession perspectives, but also from the way in which the Indian state, and the province of J and K have functioned over the last 50 years is valid. His suggestion that further studies should be done to measure both the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the reasons for alienation and the growth of militancy also becomes very significant in the light of the current developments in the state, and the numerous ‘quick-fix’ and ‘instant’ solutions that are being suggested by every editor, columnist and expert. So while agreeing with the general tenor of his arguments, I would like to raise a few questions, some of which have also been touched upon by Prakash, but which in my view, need to be examined at further length.

First things first. Prakash’s argument that the government in J and K has to be seen more as a predatory state where the state is subjected to pushes and pulls of interest groups, whose main interest is in redistribution rather than growth is not borne out by the facts. He has admitted that the concentration of wealth has actually increased in the last two decades. In fact, except for the land reforms legislation and implementation, there have been few interventions by the state to ensure redistribution. Therefore, while in the fifties and the sixties, J and K does exhibit the features of a benevolent state, the change in the nature of the state can be directly linked to certain political events, which started in the mid-seventies, including the dynastic politics of the Abdullah family, and the direct intervention by the then prime minister’s office in the state politics of J and K. From the early eighties the political dynamics of J and K cannot be understood in the paradigm of either a ‘predatory’ or a ‘benevolent’ state but has to be seen in the context of a Machivellian upmanship.

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