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Secession & System




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Postings not related to the writing of the Manifesto or policy chapters
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Now that there is a slight lull in the discussion over secession, I
thought I will raise a point that I realised only recently while reading

through these IPI debates on this issue.

One of the main objectives of IPI, as I understood, was to try and bring

about systemic reform. So could there be a systemic issue involved in
the question of secession? For instance, could it be that if such a
provision existed in some form, and if the overall system supported _a
free and domocratic polity_, then the presence of such a provision might

actually induce the central leaders not to pursue policies that give
rise to separatist tendencies. This in turn may help douse the
chauvinistic flames that some local leaders try to promote.

The point is that, although it is undoubtedly true that many of the
separatist movement in the world has had racist, linguistic, ethnic,
religious underpinnings, there is not much ground to conclude that such
chavunistic sentiments cannot necessarily be countered successfully by
broader political / intellectual principles.

So much for my hypothesis. Now here is my evidence. The Quebec province
of Canada has been going through referenda on separation about every ten

years for the last thirty years and has failed each time, while the
federal govt. has tried to maintain as much protection to Quebec's
sensibilities. Result, Canada has expereinced perhaps the most peaceful
of secessionist movements. And today, many from Quebec realise the
benefits of staying with Canada, and advantages of free trade and
movement with US.

Likewise, the Scots and Welsh in UK have consistently refused to accept
separation as the answer. And increasingly there has been a greater
devolution of authority in UK.

Now an aside on Kashmir. I understand the issue is quite sensitive. But
I would like to be _corrected_ if I am making any mistake. One of the
instruments by which the Indian claim over Kashmir is based is the
accession deed signed by the then Maharaja of Kashmir, the late Hari
Singh. A hindu ruler in a muslim majority province. This, of course,
impiles that the Kashmiris had the option to go the other way. Secondly,

India had accepted the UN resolution on plebicite (we now oppose it
because the Pakistanis have failed to implement the UN resolution over
Kashmir.) Nevertheless, the bottom line seems to be that if Pakistan
followed or follows the UN resolution, then plebicite would be
acceptable. Finally, do we fear a plebicite because we have so
mismanaged affairs of Kashmir, and alienated a large section of people
there that we fear a plebicite will go against India?? The late Minoo
Masani, one of the members of the constituent assembly, and a very
prominent parliamentarian and at one time the leader of the opposition,
was of the view that we should not fear plebicite, because if we really
trusted Kashmiris, and treated them well, and did not look at Kashmir as

a prime real estate sans its people, then there is no reason to think
that Kashmiris will vote against a democratic and free India.

Another aside. It was said during this dicussion, that India looks like
a number of nations stuck together, and we as people hardly work
together as one nation. It was also said that the same Indians when they

go abroad do quite well, and get along with the other nationalities
without much difficulty. Perhaps this is because, those who go abroad
have a choice - to stay abroad or return to India - the choice of
secession, so to speak, at least as an individual. While many who have
remained within India, are mostly there out of circumstance, not so much

out of choice. Perhaps, this factor plays a role in determining the
outcome.

Comments are most welcome - personal or public. And I sincerely hope
that this mail will not raise a new storm in IPI. My prior apologies to
all who may take offence to this submission. That was not my intention.

Barun






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