Sunday, August 12, 2018

Why Rahul Gandhi would be a greater disaster than Manmohan Singh as PM?

I begin this piece with a quote from the Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset, who wrote in “The Revolt of the Masses” that was published in 1929, that “The characteristic note of our time is the dire truth that the mediocre soul, the commonplace mind, knowing itself to be mediocre, has the gall to assert its right to mediocrity, and goes on to impose itself where it can.” When the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the other so-called spokespersons of the Congress keep repeating the mantra that Rahul Gandhi has “outstanding credentials to be nominated” as the Prime Minister of India, it validates Ortega’s observation about the commonplace mind trying to impose a mediocre soul on the country.  What are these outstanding credentials that are being touted by the Congress leaders? Apart from him being born in the Family with its appurtenances of abundant wealth and privilege; as also the fortuitous circumstance of a respected surname, Rahul Gandhi “partially” typifies Ortega’s mass man who “is the self-satisfied specialist in a post-industrial society who knows expertly his own corner of the universe but is ignorant of the rest: a ‘learned ignoramus.’ The mass man is interested in automobiles, anesthetics, and all manner of sundries. And these things confirm his profound lack of interest in civilization itself. For all these things are merely products of civilization and the passion he displays for them makes more crudely obvious his insensibility to the principles which made them possible.” Why “partially?” - because he does not qualify to be called an expert knower of the corner of his own universe. The Congress has only two power centers – and he happens to be one of them. Yet, he comes up, at metronomic regularity, with absurdities that confirm his profound lack of knowledge about anything. Be it the latest allegation against the Modi government on the Rafaele deal with Dassault in France, or the ridiculous question as to why BHEL was not commissioned to manufacture mobile phones. From wanting to see Barack Obama’s bed sheet marked Made in Uttar Pradesh (“I want to see the day when bed sheet used in Barack Obama’s house will have Made in Uttar Pradesh mark,” Rahul Gandhi said in a rally in Ghaziabad during UP assembly elections) to aloo ki factory and aloo se sona, Gandhi displays complete insensibility to that corner of the universe to which he apparently belongs. He fails even by Ortega’s definition of  “a learned ignoramus.” The BHEL absurdity is so beautifully captured in this tweet:

Rahul Gandhi does not know what he is expected to do. It seems he is much more comfortable in the role of a vigilante, one of those comic-book superheroes, who suddenly appear on a scene, perform their acts, and vanish into thin air. Whenever some responsibility, like leading the election campaign in a state, has been assigned to him, he has inevitably come a cropper. His academic credentials remain shrouded in mystery and controversy. When Manmohan Singh was appointed as the Prime Minister, a series of e-mails was doing the round of the web highlighting his academic qualifications, calling him the highest qualified Prime Minister in the world. It is a different matter that this highly educated and vastly experienced bureaucrat presided over the most brazenly corrupt and inefficient government in the history of independent India. But, at least, he had a resume that could impress leaders of the international community who would find it hard to deny him an audience. On matters relating to the economy, he would be familiar with all the terminology and jargon that passes for high thinking. Rahul Gandhi, I am afraid, would find it hard to explain the difference between fiscal and revenue deficits.

The shrill Indian media continuously barrages and harangues Narendra Modi and the BJP to explain their visions for the future, deriding them on Swachh Bharat, Go-Rakhsha, Digital India, Make in India, and every other scheme that the Government announces for bringing some equity in the lives of the common people. Modi has not given them the free rides that they had become accustomed to with Manmohan Singh. English language TV channels and newspapers are especially virulent in their unveiled hatred for Modi. Some discredited celebrities have found channels for venting their spleen abroad in such papers as Washington Post and New York Times, in a post-Obama era. These newspapers are equally opposed to both Donald Trump and Modi. Every two-bit anchor feels supremely entitled to roar his or her questions at Modi and the BJP, but when it comes to asking a question of Rahul Gandhi they behave like mice in a biologist’s laboratory. And when it comes to having an audience with the Divine Mother herself, like what happened to Aroon Purie at the India Today conclave, they just curl up and die. This tribe of obnoxious and supremely opinionated news anchors has questions of all and sundry, in pompously named programs like “the nation wants to know” or “left, right, and center” but has no questions for Rahul Gandhi. The electronic media today is increasingly adopting the aspirations of the mob. The mob like the TV camera has no historical memory - it considers only what is within its immediate field of vision, not the complicating facts beyond it. The Economist, in a leading article in its 14th December 2013 publication headlined “Would Modi save India or wreck it?” wanted “an unambiguous public demonstration that he abhors violence and discrimination against Muslims” as “a bare minimum.” “Otherwise,” the author had the audacity to add, “This newspaper will not back him.” Nowhere have I read that Narendra Modi had requested The Economist to endorse him for the Prime Minister’s post at any time.

One does not have to look too far to see how Rahul Gandhi would perform if he were to become the PM of the country. Just look at the state of Uttar Pradesh, where another scion of a political dynasty had been the Chief Minister for full five years before the people sent him packing rather unceremoniously. Both Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav come from almost similarly privileged backgrounds, appear to have similar intellectual capabilities, and have lived lives that require no effort. The British novelist John Fowles, in his book of essays titled “Wormholes” wrote, “A life of entertainment and convenience produces ever-shallower leaders. Nor are such leaders well advised. Such shallow and childlike leaders and advisors would, by the very virtue of their lack of wisdom and experience, eventually commit the kind of ghastly miscalculation that would lead to general catastrophe of some kind.” Countries with young populations are subject to political violence. With Third World populations growing dramatically, and becoming increasingly urbanized, leaders have to become increasingly ingenious in resolving crises that are inevitable due to an ever-increasing demand for basic necessities, jobs and services. They have to have the ability to negotiate with an increasingly complex web of international corporations and markets that are becoming the real arbiters of power in the current world. Jeffrey Sachs, the well-known professor of international trade writes “good government means relative safety from corruption, from breach of contract, from property expropriation, and from bureaucratic inefficiency.” The UPA government, led by the “highest qualified Prime Minister in the World” failed in all the above criteria. What are those “outstanding credentials” that people like Manmohan Singh, Shashi Tharoor, and the rest of the rump that passes for leadership in the Congress party, see in Rahul Gandhi that are, until now, completely hidden from our view? Arthur Koestler writes, “To create innocence, one must have awareness of guilt.” But when the Congress continues to behave without any awareness of guilt, how does it expect to create innocence for its assumed leader?

A captive print and electronic media, a compromised academia, and a plethora of foreign-funded NGO’s that have the mandate to “Break India” along the various fault lines that they think are vulnerable, have taken it upon themselves to prop up this shadow warrior, better expressed as “Kagemusha” by the Japanese, to face the challenge of Narendra Modi and the so-called right wing. I am reminded of Erasmus who had accused the academic mediocracy of “looking in utter darkness for that, which has no existence whatsoever.”

Arthur Koestler, in a paper titled “The Poverty of Psychology” published in 1961, wrote, “The rearguard is still firmly entrenched in university chairs, the editorial offices of technical papers, and other positions of power. In the period of scholastic decline, the orthodox Aristotelians had occupied similar key positions…. ‘They are Folly’s servants,’ declared Erasmus, denouncing the sterile pedantry and grotesque academic jargon of his time.” One wonders how he would react today to the definition of the mediocracy that has taken over most of the “free” academic world.

Robert D. Kaplan”s succinct statement that “avoiding tragedy requires a sense of it, which in turn requires a sense of history” encapsulates the tragedy of the Congress party that has got itself trapped in a time warp where the beginning and the end of everything is contained in the Gandhi surname.

To conclude with another quote from Jose Ortega y Gasset: “An ‘unemployed’ existence is a worse negation of life than death itself.”

Vijaya Dar

August 12, 2018

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Reclaiming India from Macaulay’s Legacy

In early 2014, a Hollywood film “The Monuments Men” was released in theatres across India. It was just before the general elections that hopefully, changed the course of Indian history. The film, as reported in the blurbs, was based on the true story of “the greatest treasure hunt in history.” An action drama narrating the heroics of a World War II platoon, headed by George Clooney as Frank Stokes that had been tasked by the US President to go to Europe and rescue the great works of art that the Nazis had stolen during their occupation of France, and shipped to unknown destinations within Germany. Stokes assembles a team of seven art experts, with no military experience: they are museum directors, curators, art historians, who can easily identify a Renoir or a Michelangelo, but will have difficulty in recognizing a weapon. With the masterpieces trapped behind enemy lines and with the Fuhrer having ordered their destruction as the German defences are crumbling, Frank Stokes and his band are involved in a race against time to save from certain destruction a thousand years of culture. With a cast including Matt Damon, Cate Blanchet, and Jean Dujardin (who had earlier won a Best Actor Oscar for “The Artist”), I was expecting a lot from the film. But, while the story held a lot of promise, somewhere George Clooney failed to get his act together as the Director of the film. The narrative is jumpy and whimsical; the pace pedestrian and lacking any sense of urgency or drama. Saving priceless works of art from an implacable enemy is no mean task, but Clooney failed to inject any sense of excitement or adventure in his narrative.
This piece, however, is not a critique of the film or of George Clooney’s rather lacklustre performance as actor-director. It is about, possibly, the only worthwhile quote from the movie’s script. When he gets his team together, Frank Stokes tells his men: “You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they’ll still find their way back. But if you destroy their history, you destroy their achievements and it’s as if they never existed. That’s what Hitler wants and that’s exactly what we are fighting for.”
That statement, I thought, explained so completely the civilizational predicament India had been going through for over a thousand years. Throughout the history of the occupation of this land by foreign adventurers and imperial powers there have been incidents when entire generations were wiped out; where their homes were burnt to the ground; but as Frank Stokes says, they still found their way back. 800 years of Islamic rule followed by 200 years of British occupation could not destroy the ancient culture of the land, notwithstanding the Aurangzebs and the Macaulays of their times.
Of late there has been an attempt by some anglophiles at resurrecting the reputation of Lord Macaulay, and a speech, which he is supposed to have given in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835, has gone viral on social media. Macaulay’s statement is printed on the appended clipping from an Indian newspaper that is frequently found navigating the social media currents:
Research shows that this speech is but a figment of someone’s imagination and cannot be found anywhere among the writings and speeches of Lord Macaulay. One has to just check the Internet to find scores of articles confirming this fraud on the English reading public in India. Macaulay’s contempt for the Orient and its achievements is best summed up in the statement: “a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia.” It was Macaulay who encapsulated Imperial Britain’s policy towards education in India when he said:
We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect. To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population.”
However, among the British civil servants who came to India as masters, there were quite a few who were intrigued and beguiled by this ancient civilization, and went to great lengths to recover its past that had been covered by centuries of neglect. Sir William Jones, who founded the Asiatic Society in January 1784 and James Prinsep, the decipherer of the Kharoshthi and the Brahmi scripts, (that brought Emperor Asoka’s rock and pillar edicts to life) are, to my mind, two of the most prominent of these Indophiles. Though not entirely free from the prejudices of a Colonial master, especially with reference to William Jones, the Orientalists tried to fabricate an impression that it was Jones who brought learning and letters to the pundits of India. A marble frieze in the chapel at University College, Oxford shows him sitting at a desk, writing on some paper, while three Indian pundits are sitting below at his feet as students would, looking at a closed book, or listening with great attention to what they are being taught.
The attempts to reinterpret our history that would fit preconceived colonial notions, as averred by the Macaulayists, were thwarted by other Europeans like Charles Stuart (c. 1758 – 31 March 1828) an officer in the East India Company Army, well known for being one of the few British officers to embrace Hindu culture while stationed there, earning the nickname Hindoo Stuart. Unfortunately, those who found much to admire and love in the ancient wisdom of India are not too many, though not quite negligible.
The great Nigerian writer Ben Okri explains this colonial agenda perfectly in one of his most memorable quotes. Okri says: “To poison a nation, poison its stories. A demoralised nation tells demoralised stories to itself. Beware of the storytellers who are not fully conscious of the importance of their gifts, and who are irresponsible in the application of their art. Stories can conquer fear, you know. They can make the heart bigger. The best writing is not about the writer, the best writing is absolutely not about the writer, it’s about us, it’s about the reader.”
Here, in a very few words, is the entire Colonial agenda, spelt out by one of the great minds of our times.
Macaulay, however, was successful in creating “a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect.” This class included the Nehruvian socialists consisting of Nehru and his followers and the so-called leftists who said that they took their inspiration from the Bolsheviks, but in fact were no better than any other political opportunist looking for a way to climb up the ladder of power and get aboard, what the Washington Post’s India bureau chief, Steve Coll called “The Great Indian Gravy Train.” One would easily be able to recognize these children of Macaulay even in our present times. People like Shashi Tharoor, Mani Shankar Aiyar, Ramchandra Guha, Amartya Sen, Arundhati Roy, Aruna Roy, Shekhar Gupta, etc., are just a handful of names from a passenger list that still tries to ride on this gravy train. By flogging the much-abused word “secular” in their writings these Macaulayists keep misleading the readers just like the others who are communal in concept and represent narrow, sectarian views. Similarly, leaders of political parties started using the word “socialist” while naming their outfits, spouting secular homilies, fooling the masses with soporifics while amassing huge personal fortunes. Once in power, these creations of Macaulay lost no time in “secularising” the state and the system of education. Sanskrit and the classics of Indian literature were no longer prescribed studies in schools and colleges; ancient Indian history became fair game at the hands of committed historians like Irfan Habib, Romilla Thapar, R. S. Sharma, and many more, who were ready to toe the official line in return for positions of prestige and lucrative professional assignments abroad. Education became subservient to vote-bank politics. Pressure groups of all shades came into existence promoting agendas close to one political dynasty or another. Religion and caste were exploited for personal gain while religious conversion suddenly became the chief agenda of many foreign NGO’s working in the country under humanitarian pretexts. There are many “scholars” of dubious distinction who have become willing tools in the hands of these agencies and are actively promoting their agendas. In 2011 Rajiv Malhotra and Arvind Neelakandan, published “Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines” a book that painstakingly details the international conspiracy aimed at just that: “the breaking of India.”
Today, when I look at the society we have evolved into, it fills me with great despair. In our wholesale adoption of a Westernized lifestyle we have completely lost touch with our traditional culture and history. We have grown into a nation-state that is ashamed of its past, and try to disown most of our traditional learning as folklore, superstition and mythology. Contact with other humans has become minimal as we become mechanized introverts. Our dependence on gadgets for entertainment has replaced field sports, making most of us spectators rather than participants. As contact becomes minimal, hostility fills the vacuum. We are immediately suspicious of strangers and like animals exude a hostile scent when we encounter one. Our tolerance for conflicting views has shrunk and we are ready to explode at the slightest provocation. There is very little sympathy for those who do not come up to our standards, be they intellectual, financial, or physical. Disputes are not resolved with the objective of reconciliation, but for revenge.
It was not so when I was a young schoolboy in Srinagar, Kashmir. Our school syllabus included a study of elementary Sanskrit and textbooks had chapters on the ancient cultural and literary heritage of India. We had teachers who, apart from teaching the prescribed texts, would also remind us of our cultural heritage and impart values consistent with that legacy. A lot of what I learnt in school has stayed with me – a lot more than what I learnt later in college and IIMC. That is not the case today. Education has become a business and profit is the only motive. Teachers have no time to go beyond the prescribed syllabus as most of them are engaged in private tuitions away from their institutions. Most of our graduates and post-graduates today would have been considered illiterate a half-century ago. Yet government statistics would have us believe that a huge pool of talent is being churned out by the system every year.
The exponential increase in crime, the daily news of rapes and murders, the abysmal decline in morals, and the failure of governance, all are indicative of the malaise that has struck the youth of India. We have lost our cultural and historical moorings and are adrift in a sea of corruption. How do we pull back from here? How do we stop the destruction of our achievements and avoid the fate of civilizations that have become extinct? I think the answer lies in the restructuring of our basic education by de-Macaulaying it and introducing young minds to the rich and glorious culture of the land. We need to regain our pride in India and not become a clone of the US. When Narendra Modi, in his first Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi, spoke about saving and educating the girl child and building millions of toilets, these leftovers of Macaulay’s legacy lost no time in deriding his choice of projects for a country that was supposed to be a powerhouse of youthful energy unleashed by a technology-driven consumer society. But Modi was fully aware of the real challenges that faced India – an India that was not on the screens of the TV sets in urban homes, but appeared to have fallen completely off the radar. Public health; sanitation; smokeless fuel for the millions of kitchens using coal, wood, and other organic materials to burn for cooking; crop insurance; medical insurance; cheap, easy, small loans to energise entrepreneurship; Direct Benefit Transfer eliminating the grasping hands of petty Babus; massive investments in infrastructure; and many other schemes too countless to record here, have been so transformational that four years later today India looks poised to become a 10 trillion Dollar economy in 5 years. Could anyone have even dreamt of such a figure at the end of UPA-II?
The area that appears to have escaped PM Modi’s immediate attention is reform in the education sector. Perhaps he believes that reforms in this sector can wait while the other areas need immediate and quick remedy. Education reform, especially Sonia Gandhi’s regressive RTE Act, is crying for attention, but PM Modi has not so far turned his gaze in this direction. It is possible that he thinks that reforming the education sector is a long-drawn process where results will be seen only after decades. Perhaps by fixing the economy and governance Modi believes he would have earned the right for a second term when he would turn his full attention to fixing the educational system. I hope I am right in both these assumptions!
At the end of the movie the American President asks Frank Stokes if putting one’s life in jeopardy for saving a piece of art was worth it. My answer would have been an emphatic YES!
Vijaya Dar
August 8, 2018

Myths & Facts about Articles 370 & 35A of the Indian Constitution

When the BJP won a clear mandate in the 2014 General Elections, sweeping all the three seats from the Jammu region, a number of voices from within the party began a clamour for the repeal of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Social Media also erupted into frenzy with many supporters of the PM demanding that he set into motion the process of repealing it. Dr. Subramaniam Swamy lent his considerable legal expertise to the discussion stating that a mere Presidential order would be sufficient to abrogate the Article. He did not feel that the Government needed to go to the Indian Parliament for its approval in this case. Minister of State, Dr. Jitendra Singh, had also stirred the hornets nest by remarking that the government was in some kind of a discussion with the stakeholders and that the process of repealing Article 370 had been initiated. The then CM of J&K, Omar Abdullah was quick off the block with a tweet: Mark my words & save this tweet - long after Modi Government is a distant memory either J&K won't be part of India or Art 370 will still exist. The TV channels were quick to jump in the fray and the different stakeholders were shouting and screaming in the studios and outside, adding their two-bits to the already raucous cacophony. One thing that stood out sharply from all this noise was that most of the panelists had no idea about the Article, its origins, and its place in the Constitution of India. A lot of myths that have ossified into belief continue to befuddle the perceptions of people, including senior and seasoned politicians and constitutional experts. It is, therefore, appropriate and necessary to revisit this Article, its genesis, and its position within our Constitution, unemotionally and rationally.
The British ruled over India in two different ways. The first was direct rule through the British Parliament represented by the Viceroy and it extended over almost 60% of the geographical extent of the country, known as British India. The second was through the different princely states, totaling 562, known as Indian States nominally ruled by the titular Nawab, Raja, Maharaja, etc., but owing allegiance to the British Crown. The Indian States were allowed freedom to govern their territories in internal matters, while matters relating to defence, communications and foreign policy were under the British rulers through treaties of paramountcy that were individually signed with each local ruler. The citizens of these princely states were not British subjects but British protected persons unlike the citizens of British India. The princes were protected from their neighbours by the presence of British troops in the capital of the state under the control of a Resident. This served the dual purpose of keeping the activities of the prince under constant watch as also providing him protection from his enemies.
On 20th February, 1947 the British government announced that it would be giving freedom to British India by creating two independent dominions of India and Pakistan based on the Hindu and Muslim majority areas of the various provinces that constituted British India. However, with regard to the 562 princely states, the British announced that the political arrangements under the treaties of paramountcy would no longer be valid and the powers that the states had given to the British would revert to them. In other words, the Indian States would become independent states on their own and the communal basis of the partition of British India would not be applicable to them. True to their imperial colours, the British had attempted a fragmentation of the subcontinent too mind-boggling to comprehend. With 562 independent countries scattered all across the length and breadth of the country, the British had sowed the seeds of future civil wars and ethnic conflicts. It is pertinent to note that out of the 562 fragments only 14 would have been within the geographical extent of Pakistan, while the remaining 548 would lie within India. Imagine the administrative chaos of dealing with such a large number of independent entities!
The solution to this problem was found in the Instrument of Accession proposed by Sardar Patels secretary, V. P. Menon, under which the states would hand over the same three functions; namely defence, foreign affairs and communication, to the Central Government, while retaining the other rights that they had under the treaties of paramountcy. The draft instrument of accession was circulated among the princes by the Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten on 25th July 1947, whom he also advised that though legally they were independent, they should accede to one of the two dominions before the official transfer of power, keeping in mind the geographical contiguity of their States. They would be surrendering to the Central Government only three subjects: defence, external affairs and communications. He also warned the States, If you do not link with one or other of the dominions, you may be cut off from any source of supply. In return, the Government was prepared to allow them to keep their titles, palaces, privy purses, and their right to British decorations and other privileges. By August 14, 1947 Sardar Patels basket of apples was almost full, and only three States had not signed the Instrument of Accession. These three were: Hyderabad, Junagarh, and Jammu & Kashmir.
How the first two apples fell into the basket is another story and not relevant here. The third apple, which at that time comprised of the largest (in area) of the princely states, had a Hindu Maharaja ruling over a large majority of Muslims, with Hindus and Buddhists forming the rest of the religious entities. Maharaja Hari Singh, a vainglorious individual, had dreams of remaining independent of both India and Pakistan, and therefore held out against signing the instrument. The Pakistani attempt to annex J&K by force through its sponsored tribal invasion in October 1947 forced Hari Singhs hand and he had no choice but to sign the Instrument of Accession on 26th October 1947, when the raiders were almost at the gates of his palace. The Governor General of India accepted it the next day thereby legally bringing the state of Jammu & Kashmir within the Dominion of India. The Indian armed forces, with a legal mandate to stop the aggression of the invaders, swung into action and were driving the Pakistanis back into their territory when the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, without consulting Sardar Patel, decided to announce a unilateral cessation of hostilities, and internationalized the dispute by bringing the United Nations in its midst. Within days of signing the Instrument of Accession, Nehru betrayed the Dominions commitment to the State to defend its territories against external aggression. (Pakistan was still in control of 115,669 Sq. Kms. of Indian Territory (of which it subsequently ceded 37,555 sq. Kms. to China), while India had only 106567 Sq. Kms., or only 48% of the original 222,236 Sq. Kms. of the princely state. This betrayal of Nehru not only lost India a substantial part of the state, but also created a problem of intractable proportions that has bedeviled it ever since.)
Perhaps Indias acceptance of the ceasefire line as the effective boundary between India and Pakistan may have resulted in permanent peace, but for the fact that of all the Indian states that signed the Instrument of Accession, only the state of Jammu & Kashmir under the leadership of Sheikh Abdullah and the inept governance of the Sadr-e-Riyasat, Yuvraj Karan Singh, chose to create a separate Constitution for itself that would define its relationship with India.
Though a large number of the Indian States had their representatives in the Constituent Assembly, and the Instrument of Accession gave them the power to draft a separate constitution for internal administration, none of them, barring Jammu & Kashmir, chose to exercise this option, as it was seen as a Legacy from the Rulers polity which could have no place in a democratic set-up. The rulers of these States issued proclamations making the Constitution of India operative in their States.
Jammu & Kashmir decided to invoke the terms of Clause 7 of the Instrument of Accession under which the State was not obliged to implement the Constitution of India in full. Instead, it decided to draft its own separate constitution. The Yuvraj of Jammu & Kashmir, on the advice of his Council of Ministers of his States Interim Government led by Sheikh Abdullah, told the Indian Constituent Assembly that the Jammu & Kashmir States association with India would be based only on the terms of the Accession; that the States government did not accept the Constitution of India as a Constitution for the State, and that, despite accession, the State was still to be governed by its old Constitution Act of 1939.
Why the Prime Minister of India and Sardar Patel did not pressurize the Sheikh to do what the other States had done, and instead acquiesced to his demand is a mystery for which there are many conspiracy theories but no definite answer? Nehrus softness towards Sheikh Abdullah is very well known and there are some who believe that Nehru did not want to thwart the Sheikhs ambition of becoming a Prime Minister instead of a Chief Minister. Another school is of the opinion that Nehru acted under the influence of Lady Mountbatten.
However, as a result of this situation, when the Constitution of India was going to be operative in the entire nation, a special provision had to be made for the State of Jammu & Kashmir. This is the genesis of Article 370.
Sir Gopalaswami Ayyangar, Minister without Portfolio in Nehrus Government, moved a Draft Bill labeled Article 306-A in the Constituent Assembly, making a special Constitutional provision for Jammu & Kashmir. Ayyangar had already served as the Prime Minister of Kashmir from 1937 to 1943, and had received multiple honours from the British Government, culminating in a Knighthood in 1941. As Maharaja Hari Singhs Prime Minister for seven years he was fully conversant with the State, and it is quite possible that he may have nursed the ambition of returning to the state as its Prime Minister when the British departed from the subcontinent, and titular rule reverted to the Maharaja. Taking advantage of the prevailing hostilities with Pakistan in the area, Gopalaswami Ayyangar made the following argument in favour of his Bill:
Till India became a Republic, the relationship of all the States with the Government of India was based on the Instrument of Accession. In the case of other Indian States, the Instruments of Accession will be a thing of the past in the new Constitution; the States have been integrated with the Federal Republic in such a manner that they do not have to accede or execute a document of accession for becoming units of the Republic. It would not be so in the case of Kashmir since that particular State is not yet ripe for this kind of integration due to special conditions prevailing in Kashmir. In the first place there has been a war going on within the limits of Jammu and Kashmir State part of the State is still in the hands of the enemies, and in the second place, the Government of India have committed themselves to the people of Kashmir in certain respects. They have committed themselves to the position that an opportunity will be given to the people of the State to decide for themselves the nature of their Constitution.
The Constituent Assembly recorded that since the debate regarding Jammu & Kashmir had reached a stalemate in the United Nations, it was decided to have an interim arrangement in the Constitution of India regarding Jammu & Kashmir. Sardar Patel, the then Minister of States in India, declared in the Constituent Assembly, In view of the special problem with which the Jammu and Kashmir Government is faced, we have made special provisions for the continuance of the State with the Union on the existing basis. Draft Article 306-A was subsequently added to the Constitution of India as Article 370. It is worth noting that the debate never became heated and even though Mahavir Tyagi wanted to move a couple of amendments, he never pressed them. Maulana Hasrat Mohani of U.P. was the only one who spoke that while he was not opposed to all the concessions being granted to my friend Sheikh Abdullah, he wanted to know why make this discrimination about this ruler? If you grant all these concessions to the Maharaja of Kashmir, you should give all these and more concessions to the Baroda ruler.
However, within the Congress Party there was a lot of dissent and members expressed their opposition to the Draft Article 306-A in no uncertain terms. A strong opinion existed against any suggestion of discrimination between Jammu & Kashmir State and other States as members of the future Indian Union. The party was not prepared to go beyond certain limits in making the special provision for Jammu & Kashmir. Cleverly, Nehru had entrusted this task to Gopalaswami Ayyangar at a time when he would be out of the country. When Ayyangar saw the opposition to his proposal, he went to Sardar Patel for help. The Sardar too had seen the draft proposal only in the meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party. Although he was of the same opinion as the majority, being a gentleman, he is reported to have said: Gopalaswami had acted under Panditjis advice. How could I have let him down in the absence of his Chief? L. K. Advani has recorded in an article published in The Indian Express of 17th February 1992 that Patel asked the Congress Party Chief Whip to convene a Party meeting to discuss the matter. That meeting was stormier than the earlier one. Opposition was forcefully and even militantly expressed. It was left to the Sardar to plead that because of the international complications, a provisional approach alone could be made. The Congress Party reluctantly fell in line. Article 306-A was to be allowed to go through by Patel against his better judgment and because of his belief that the future would depend on the strength and guts of the Indian Government. This very article was reprinted in the fortnightly magazine “BJP Today” of August 1-15, 2000.

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, the architect of the Constitution too had his reservations about this provision. Initially Nehru had sent Sheikh Abdullah to Dr. Ambedkar to explain to him the position and draft an appropriate Article for the Constitution. He is reported to have told him, Mr. Abdullah, you want that India should defend Kashmir, India should develop Kashmir and Kashmiris should have equal rights as the citizens of India, but you dont want India and any citizen of India to have any rights in Kashmir. I am the Law minister of India. I cannot betray the interest of my country. It was only after Ambedkars refusal that Nehru approached Ayyangar to draft the proposal.

With Article 370 embedded in the Constitution of India, Jammu & Kashmir announced the formation of a State Constituent Assembly to draft a Constitution for the State. The Drafting Committees report was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 15th February 1954. The report embodied the ratification of the States accession to India. The State Constitution was formally established on 17th November 1956 and came into full force on 26th January 1957. It consisted of 158 Sections, of which Section 3 says, The State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India. Further, in Section 147 of the Constitution that deals with amendments, it is made quite clear that Section 3 is not amenable to any change. Yet, there is hardly any mention of this section in national debates.
Labeled as Temporary provisions with respect to the State of Jammu and Kashmir right from the time it came into effect, the mischief lies in the interpretation of Sardar Patels statement in the Constituent Assembly regarding special provisions for the continuance of the State with the Union. The article continues to be temporary in our Constitution and Patels use of the word special does not confer any permanence to it. Actually, it is Article 371 that specifies any Special Provisions and not Article 370.  Even Nehru had declared on the floor of the Parliament on 27th November 1963 that Samvidhan ki dhara 370 ghiste ghiste ghis jaayegi. (Article 370 of the Constitution would disappear by being eroded progressively.)
Ayyangars draft of Article 370 contains one major blunder that seems to have escaped all the legal luminaries who finally approved it. After drafting the States Constitution and its adoption, the Jammu & Kashmir State Constituent Assembly was disbanded. However, Article 370 states that, Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this article, the President may, by public notification, declare that this article shall cease to be operative or shall be operative only with such exceptions and modifications and from such date as he may specify: Provided that the recommendation of the Constituent Assembly of the State referred to in clause (2) shall be necessary before the President issues such a notification.  (This is where this author has a disagreement with Dr. Swamy, and would like his learned opinion on it.)
This exception gives permanent life to an extinct body while it leaves no other mechanism for change. The far-reaching meaning of this blunder is that the President of India can make any amendments to the provisions of Article 370 only with the permission of a long defunct and impossible-to-revive State Constituent Assembly. The introduction of the State Constituent Assembly instead of the State Legislative Assembly in the Article makes its repeal or amendment not only impracticable, but also impossible. So, before any attempt is made at repealing or amending Article 370, the Government should first correct this lacuna. How that can be done is for constitutional experts to determine!
The resultant consequence of this defective Constitutional Article has, over the years, created a vast gap between the laws of our Republic and the state of Jammu & Kashmir. To list just a few of them:
1.     As per the Third Schedule mentioned in Article 188 of the Indian Constitution, the oath sworn by every member of the State Legislature before assuming office requires the member to "bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India." This is true of the affirmation by every High Court and Supreme Court judge as well. In Jammu & Kashmir however, every legislator and every judge, including the Chief Minister and the Chief Justice, is required to swear only by the Constitution of the State as mandated in the Fifth Schedule referred to in Sections 64 and 97 of the Jammu & Kashmir State Constitution.
2.   While Article 172 lays down five years as the normal duration of a State Legislature, that stipulation is six years in Jammu & Kashmir as laid down in Section 52 of its State Constitution.

3.   Jammu & Kashmir is excluded from the application of Article 360 under which the Union Government can give directions to that State to observe canons of financial propriety and such other measures deemed necessary when a Proclamation of financial emergency is issued under that Article.

4.     Any law, if and when enacted about a Uniform Civil Code, will not be applicable to the State.

5.     A law passed by the Parliament on Family Planning is not applicable to the State.

6.     The state is exempted from the law that requires a legislative assembly to not have more than 15% of its strength as ministers. Omar Abdullahs cabinet consisted of 24 members when it should have had no more than 13.

7.   Refusal or failure to comply with any direction given by the Union Government under any provision of the Constitution of India applicable to Jammu & Kashmir will not be held as a misdemeanour by that State because the relevant Article 365 has not been extended to that State.

A detailed study of the relationship of the state with the Union will reveal many more areas of divergence that are only possible in other states as special provisions. Only in J&K the temporary Article 370 has become immortal due to the deliberate or genuine mistakes of the framers of our Constitution. M. P. Jain, a constitutional expert has neatly summed up this special relationship: The two characteristic features of this special relationship are: (1) the State has much greater measure of autonomy and power than enjoyed by the other States and (2) Centres jurisdiction within the State is more limited than what it has with respect to other States. The state has its own flag and an anthem called Qaumi Tarana, It is perhaps pertinent to point out here that the word secular that was added to the earlier Preamble of the Indian Constitution by the 42nd Constitutional amendment in 1976, has been omitted in respect of Jammu & Kashmir State. The latters Constitution of November 1956 therefore does not proclaim the States basic structure to be secular in nature.

Jammu & Kashmir is the most autonomous of all the states in India, and one cannot understand the clamour for Azadi from the disgruntled Kashmiris. It is not as if Jammu & Kashmir is a very prosperous and financially robust state. The British, who had sold the state to Gulab Singh for Rs. 75 Lakhs in 1846, extracted an annual payment from the Maharaja in return for giving him protection against external enemies. The state was poor and the Maharaja taxed his subjects to the utmost. Under the Instrument of Accession, the Government of India was obliged to provide all the facilities at no cost to the state. Jammu & Kashmir depends heavily upon the Government of India for financial assistance, and yet it cannot be questioned for any profligacy. It is the most pampered state in the country. Thus, as calculated by Arun Shourie in 2000, the Central per capita assistance to Kashmir was 14 times that to Bihar, 11 times that to Tamil Nadu and 6 times to beleaguered Assam (Interview in The Times of India, July 8, 2000). V. Shankar Aiyar, writing “The Great Sop Story” in India Today of 14th Oct. 2002, says: “For all that talk of autonomy or azadi the fact is that Jammu & Kashmir cannot sustain itself without the Centre’s support.” According to him 3.48% of people of Kashmir are living below the poverty line, as against 26.10% across India. This, he avers, is because of the extraordinary amount of financial assistance the Centre gives to the state. Kashmiris have been surviving and living a rather luxurious life compared to the rest of India solely due to the largesse bestowed upon them by a munificent Centre. The statistics in Aiyar’s article make for some very disturbing reading.

Coming back to Article 370, there is a misconception among a number of people that this article prevents people from the rest of the country to purchase immovable property within the state. There is nothing within the article that specifies this restriction. The truth is that Article 370 is just the enabling Constitutional Article that allowed the State of Jammu & Kashmir to frame and adopt its separate Constitution, and it is that instrument that has these restrictions imposed upon the citizens of India.

Coming to Article 35A of the Indian Constitution, this Article specifically deals with laws with respect to the permanent residents of the state and their rights. Contrary to many beliefs, this Article is not a modification of an existing Article, but a malevolent addition built into the Constitution to drive a permanent wedge between the citizens of Jammu & Kashmir and the citizens of the rest of India. While the Presidential Order of 1954 extended Indian citizenship to the residents of the state, the purpose of inserting Article 35A into the Indian Constitution was to enable the State legislature to define the privileges of the permanent residents of the state. Permanent residents, defined as State Subjects were set out in the State Maharajas Notification of 20th April 1927 read with the Notification of 27 June 1932. They were chosen on the criteria of year of birth in the State, on the period of permanent residence in the State, and on the acquisition of immovable property in the State. It is Article 35A that forbids those who are not permanent residents from:

a)     Acquiring immovable property.
b)     Securing employment with the state government even though they may be citizens of India.
c)     Becoming a member of a village Panchayat.
d)    Being eligible for a State Government scholarship.
e)    Being eligible to vote in the Assembly elections, even though they may vote for the Lok Sabha in their constituencies.

This perverse article of the Indian Constitution was added without any debate or discussion in the Parliament and was presented as a fait accompli to the people of India. It has now been challenged in the highest courts as a violation of the basic structure of the Constitution, as any addition or deletion of an Article could only be approved by the Parliament, as per procedure laid down in Article 368. It is also in violation of Article 14 that covers equality before the law.

Apart from the above exceptions, Article 35A also decreed that a woman of Jammu & Kashmir would lose her state subject status if she married a non-state subject. The children of this union would also be excluded. Conversely if a state subject male married a non-state subject woman, she would be entitled to the privileges of a state subject, and so would be the children.

Worse still, it condemned workers and settlers from SC/ST categories, who have lived in the state for generations, to a life of permanent servitude. The Valmikis who were brought to the state during 1957 were given Permanent Resident status on the condition that they and their future generations could stay in the state only if they continued to be safai karmacharis, i.e., scavengers. Even after 60 years of service in the state, their children continue to be scavengers, having been denied the right to move up the social ladder and look for other professions.

West Pakistani refugees, though citizens of India, are not given permanent resident status by the state and so remain bereft of the privileges enjoyed by the state subjects of J & K.

Even admissions to state colleges are restricted only to children of state subjects.

With this rather unavoidably long background history into the genesis and development of Articles 370 and 35A, I hope the reader is more enlightened about their role in our polity. The contingency of vote bank politics has put personal and party interests above national interest, and permitted the continuance of this fraud upon the poor people of India. No doubt the Government of India honoured the Instrument of Accession in both letter and spirit, but even after six decades, we are continuing to permit a temporary measure to hold us to ransom. The attitude of the powerful people in Kashmir and the general public is one of supreme disdain for India and it is doubly galling to see them extending their begging bowls expecting Indias largesse as some kind of divine right. They have forgotten that it was they who in 1947 had implored India to save them from the marauding Pakistanis who were pillaging the countryside, burning, looting, raping and destroying the very culture of Kashmir. The arrogance with which Omar Abdullah, his father and the various two-bit politicians and bureaucrats like Shah Faesal of Kashmir speak is totally dependent upon the undeserved support they have received from successive governments at the centre. Jammu and Ladakh have already distanced themselves from the valley in the manner in which they have voted in the last general and assembly elections. But as things remain, it is the valley that continues to call the shots in the State.

If Narendra Modi and his government wish to remove this dichotomy and fully integrate the state within the Union of India, he will first have to amend the provision that requires the concurrence of the defunct Jammu & Kashmir Constituent Assembly to make any changes in Article 370. To expect that the State Government will cooperate in this endeavour is but a dream. There is no other alternative but to use coercive methods like the trifurcation of the state. In a separate article I have already listed it as the one permanent solution for the Kashmir problem. All the talk about the resettlement of Pandits in their original homes is so much baloney. The Pandits will not go back as there is no guarantee of their safety as also of employment. Too much water has flown down the Vitasta since the last exodus. The Pandits have built their lives elsewhere. Their children, born in refugee camps, are now adults with no memory of Kashmir or what is euphemistically called Kashmiriyat. Even prosperous Muslims of the valley have found greener pastures outside Kashmir, and though they may still have their links with the valley, they are spending more and more time away from it. Lack of educational infrastructure is taking most young people away from the valley. Lack of employment opportunities will perforce make them settle elsewhere. Also, to think that the mere removal of Article 370 will lead to a rush of immigration from the mainland into Kashmir is downright foolish. The religious demography is not going to change and Kashmir will remain a Muslim majority state. However, it is certainly desirable and advantageous for all to revoke Articles 370 and 35A and bring the state into the Indian Union as an equal and full partner.

Now that the Supreme Court has summarily adjourned the hearing on petitions challenging the validity of Article 35A on grounds that preparations for local body elections were under way, it is almost certain that the Modi Government is wary of starting something that could soon spiral out of control, just a few months before the next general elections in 2019. The thinking appears to be, let us first make sure that we are there for a second term, hopefully with a larger majority, and then undertake this exercise in full integration.

As of now, I would leave Articles 370 and 35A where they are because the current timing for tinkering with them is not right. Emotional integration must precede any political integration. However, to revive the economy of the state, massive investments will have to be made by the Centre. These investments should not be left to the mercy of the corrupt state bureaucracy but be disbursed and supervised by a competent Central Ombudsman, someone like the erstwhile British Resident, who would be responsible for the deployment of central funds within the state but have no political role to play. Development projects in Jammu and Ladakh could be implemented with speed and with a higher allocation of funds. The valley will have to wait till it shows that it has retracted from its belligerence and separatism. Narendra Modi is perhaps the best person to undertake the task of reviving the economy of Jammu & Kashmir because he does not subscribe to vote bank politics and is personally incorruptible.

The way forward, now that the PDP-BJP government has fallen, should begin with the dissolution of the current Assembly, with the state being put under Governors rule. A change of guard in the Governors office is long overdue. A new Governor, preferably a retired senior military officer with a first-hand knowledge of the state, would be ideal. A Central Financial Ombudsman would be one of the frontline advisers in the team assisting the new Governor. Normalization could begin with the lifting of the state of siege by sending the security forces into their barracks and by strengthening the military presence on the Line of Actual Control. A sealed border should prevent Pakistani desperadoes from stealing into the state unchecked, and ensure that most of them are terminated before they cross into Indian Territory. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act also must be gradually withdrawn. As a confidence-building measure, this is of paramount importance. No doubt Pakistan and its sympathizers within the state will try to disturb the peace but the state police and central paramilitary forces should be able to anticipate and deal with them without letting them go out of hand.

Indians, in 2014, gave themselves a chance to redeem the freedom they won at such a heavy cost 70 years ago. It is now for Kashmir and especially for the residents of the valley to understand that history has given them a chance to jump back from the brink and to make that leap of faith.

Vijaya Dar
August 07, 2018