Kashmir Curse:Uncertainty over Govt Formation will only fuel the larger Uncertainty


 A common refrain in Kashmir is that “democracy stops at Banihal tunnel when it comes to Kashmir”. This refrain suggests and reflects the weary cynicism that the people of Kashmir have developed in Kashmir about politics of all kinds. The prolonged hiatus in Kashmir over Government formation may be a case in point. People in the vale are so indifferent about Government formation that they do not seem to care about who and when the government will be formed. In fact many people seem to root for Governor’s rule. All in all then, this suggests apathy towards politics and the political process in Kashmir.

 This apathy stems from the transactional nature of politics here and the instrumentalism inherent in it. Transactionalism in the context of Kashmir means that the relationship between the governed and the governors is merely instrumental; and both sides recognize this. This transactionalism is defined by a certain asymmetry wherein the governed accept and are resigned to their lot. There are hardly any great expectations from the government. The electoral cycle and saga has not yielded any change or transformation in the lives of the people. In a way, elections are seen as another rite of passage in Kashmir. All these cumulatively have rendered the people of Kashmir inert and cynical.

 The government, society interface is a critical interface and impinges on the material welfare of people. Under normal conditions, the state or/and the institution of Government is embedded in society and state society relations if not aligned are in harmony. However, in Kashmir, the converse appears to be true.

 The state is disembedded from society and certain adversarialism defines the relationship between the two. The state sits atop a disenchanted society which is characterised by a certain anomie- not along the lines adumbrated by Weber but its obverse. This percolates to Government and processes and procedures of Governance in the vale. All these factors added up , besides the sentiment that obtains in Kashmir make the people, government and politics relationship dour.

 The political class appears to recognize and understand this and does not appear to shy away from taking advantage of this condition. This cuts across regimes but its salience is underscored by the prolonged absence of or any indication of government formation in Jammu and Kashmir. But people have a right to know. The institution of Government and the processes of Governance have a bearing on peoples’ lives and their trajectory. But the political class is strangely and curiously remiss in thwarting political uncertainty regarding Government formation in the state. (Obiter Dictum, the more the political class delays and dilly dallies, the more difficult it will be to present any decision to the people).

 One outcome of this dilly dallying is that people will lose any residual interest in Government and Governance in the state. The instrumentalism and clientism that the government and Governance paradigm of yore begat will only intensify. Clientism favors only a select group of people and excludes many. The exclusion of many from public goods but election of few to patronage goods will further intensify resentment and alienation in Kashmir. The gulf between people and the government will only widen till a critical threshold of alienation is reached. Once this threshold is reached, things could very well be back to square one in the vale.

 The uncertainty that defines the state contemporarily is in the nature of a vacuum. Nature, as the saying goes, abhors a vacuum. This vacuum may be filled by what political scientists call “ stable instability”- that is, a certain instability that becomes entrenched and path dependent. What this would mean for peace and stability in Kashmir is that the vale will oscillate between periods of calm and violence. All this does not augur and bode well. 

What can be culled from these set of conditions that obtain in the state is that political uncertainty in the state will endure. It will be the constant wherein the variable is the uncertainty induced by the current impasse and stalemate in government formation. This is and will, alas be the sad and prosaic reality of Kashmir- a region and a peoples stricken by what has rightly been called the “Kashmir Curse”.

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