Article 370: The Road Ahead

11 September 2019
Article 370: The Road Ahead
FULL VIDEO OF PANEL DISCUSSION AND CURATED COMMENTARY BY CPR FACULTY

Watch the full video (above) of the panel discussion on ‘Article 370: The Road Ahead' featuring Tilak Devasher, Member of the National Security Advisory Board and Consultant at Vivekananda International Foundation; Ambassador Shyam Saran, Senior Fellow at CPR and former Foreign Secretary; moderated by Yamini Aiyar; President and Chief Executive at CPR.

The panel examined the implications of the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A in early August on domestic and international politics. It explored questions related to national security, centre-state relations, geo-politics in South Asia, and Indo-US relations. It concluded with a discussion on the road ahead for India.

The question and answer session that followed can be accessed here

Over the years, CPR faculty has closely studied the history and politics of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Former Senior Fellow, Late B G Verghese’s scholarship on J&K brought nuance and clarity to the complex discourse around the region. A primer written by him presents the story of Jammu and Kashmir post 1947, contextualising various events and issues, to help better understand the history of the region. The primer can be accessed here

Against the backdrop of the contemporary political moment, CPR scholars have been closely watching and studying the implications of the Government of India’s recent move to abrogate Article 370 and Article 35A. Read the analysis in the curated media commentary below:

Ambassador Shyam Saran writes in Business Standard about the implications of abrogating Article 370, highlighting that ‘things may not go according to the government script’ and hence there is a need to evaluate and minimise risks. Saran sheds light on the risk of increased militancy and violence in the Valley and chances of the situation being exploited by Pakistan, leading to an increase in cross-border terrorism. He further highlights that downgrading Jammu and Kashmir’s status to a Union Territory, albeit temporary, will be seen as ‘demeaning and humiliating’ by the Valley’s population. 

G Parthasarathy writes in Livemint about the international response to the abrogation of Article 370, shedding light on the immediate diplomatic offensive New Delhi launched to pre-empt any possibility of major power centres like Moscow, Washington, Beijing, Tokyo, London and Paris, issuing ill-advised statements like Donald Trump’s comments offering mediation during his meeting with Imran Khan in Washington. Against the backdrop of diplomatic pressure from Pakistan, Parthasarathy highlights that ‘India can tackle an international diplomatic offensive around Kashmir, but sensitivity on the ground is crucial’, given that what the region requires most of all, is ‘effective, sensitive, and corruption-free governance.’ ​

Brahma Chellaney writes in Hindustan Times about how ‘India will need to display political will to tackle Pakistan — which is emboldened by US support.’ Chellaney sheds light on Donald Trump’s Faustian bargain with the Taliban and Pakistan’s role in extricating the US from Afghanistan. Chellaney writes that through the abrogation of Article 370, India ‘has pre-emptively sought to safeguard its security before America hands Afghanistan back to the same terrorist militia it removed from power in 2001.’ 

Sandeep Bhardwaj writes in ThePrint about how successive governments since the 1950s have eroded Kashmir’s autonomy and taken greater control of its governance structure. Bhardwaj points that the people of the state have been denied their democratic voice and highlights that ‘the ‘integration’ process has less to do with winning the trust of Kashmiris and more to do with finishing the nationalist project.’ He further explains that the Centre’s move will ‘undermine mainstream Kashmiri leadership; further alienate Kashmiri people; give a new propaganda tool to the militants; and offer diplomatic ammunition to Pakistan.’ 

Yamini Aiyar writes in Hindustan Times about how the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A has substantially weakened India’s federal aspiration, a dangerous development for Indian democracy. Aiyar points to how federalism is now positioned as an impediment to development and the undermining of the moral authority of regional parties to safeguard India’s federal system. Aiyar writes that ‘India is now firmly on the path to centralisation of power and may well be inching toward transforming into a unitary rather than federal state.’ 

Ambassador Shyam Saran writes in India Today about the domestic and international repercussions of India’s decision to abrogate Article 370. He points to the concern of the northeastern states regarding Article 371, which confers special status on northeastern states. He explains that downgrading Jammu and Kashmir’s status to a Union Territory could set a dangerous precedent and constrain the autonomy of states. Saran also highlights that widespread violence in the Valley and heavy-handed pacification will turn the international spotlight on the troubled region and diminish India’s standing, and thus the situation must return to relative calm soon, with heavy security presence thinned out. 

G Parthasarathy writes in The New Indian Express about how in abrogating Article 370, India’s bold action directly challenged China’s control over territory ceded to it illegally by Pakistan, in Jammu and Kashmir, through reviving claims on Aksai Chin. Parthasarathy highlights that ‘Beijing now realises that India could well use this in future negotiations.’ 

Brahma Chellaney writes in Open, the Magazine about how the constitutional change of abrogating Article 370 can enable India to tackle the Pakistan-China nexus more ably. Chellaney highlights that Beijing views the Indian portion of Jammu and Kashmir as India’s Achilles heel and Pakistan saw Article 370 as Indian acceptance that Kashmir is a disputed territory. He highlights that while in the short run, the security situation in the Kashmir Valley could worsen, over the longer term, the region’s greater integration and development are likely to contribute to the normalisation of the situation in the Valley. 

Brahma Chellaney writes in Project Syndicate about how China and Pakistan have consistently undermined India’s territorial sovereignty in Jammu and Kashmir by defying fundamental international rules and norms. He highlights that while neither country has granted autonomy to its portion of the region, they have hypocritically protested India’s revocation of its special status. Chellaney states that until China and Pakistan change their ways, ‘India will have little choice but to take all necessary steps to protect itself.’ 

G Parthasarathy writes in The Hindu Business Line about how a combatant Pakistan will make the road to normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir doubly hard. Given the failure of efforts by Imran Khan to internationalise the Kashmir issue, Parthasarathy predicts that Pakistan could foment and revive violence in the region once curbs are eased.

Neelanjan Sircar writes in Hindustan Times about the health of Indian democracy in the light of the government's Kashmir decision. Sircar highlights that 'the litmus test for a democracy is not whether policy decisions have popular support. It is whether the policy decisions themselves are made through democratic procedure.' He warns that democracies break down when masses start exhibiting anti-democratic preferences and when courts abdicate their constitutional responsibilities to block centralisation. 

The views shared belong to individual faculty and researchers and do not represent an institutional stance on the issue.