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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 9 New Delhi February 17, 2018

Nothing Succeeds like Failure

Saturday 17 February 2018, by Badri Raina

The Fidayeen attack on the Brigade Headquarters in Jammu City is barely over when news of another daring attack comes, this time from the heart of Srinagar City in the thick of the Karan Nagar colony, a walking distance from the S.M.H.S Hospital from where an LeT terrorist escaped from police custody a week ago.

But, not to worry: the official discourse continues to be that the more we fail in Kashmir and vis-a-vis Pakistan, the more we are actually succeeding.

That oxymoron may of course be too much for some of us morons. We are invited to understand that the greater the savagery of the firing from across the Line of Control, greater the number of dead and wounded—soldiers and civilians—, greater the misery of marginalised inhabitants along the border to and froing from homestead to bunker to homestead, greater the damage done to school-going children’s education, greater the number of militants surfacing anywhere and everywhere through the length and breadth of the State, more acute the alienation of the people of the Valley and the more stern their resolve to be seen standing next to the attackers, even perhaps of some “mainstream” politicians who have sworn allegiance to the Constitution of India, the more demonstrable the success of Mr Modi’s policy vis-a-vis Kashmir and Pakistan. And if you wanted to know how or why, the answer is that with each new assault, Pakistan is only exposing itself more and more grievously, and being isolated in the international community.

We may be excused for saying “Wah! Chappan Inch”, we would never have suspected such subtle thinking had not your spokes-people told us so—and without batting an eyelid. Repeat: in our failure resides our success, even if in the operation of this chanakya ki niti we also succeed in isolating the people of Kashmir, man, woman, and child, beyond the point of no return.

After all, it is not the people there who constitute India, but it is the territory; and that we will never let go. Think that only this day the chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has offered to put up an Army within days since it takes the Army months to do so. Do not think for a minute we are going to be allowed to construe that remark as an insult to the Army, or a dampner to its morale. Give or take, the emphasis is on the military route to somewhere, we do not know where. We only see General Bajwa and company chuckling at what inevitably seems our impotence, however laced with bravado and disingenuous palaver. The “enemy” seems to know that “Chappan Inch” can neither go to war, nor does he have the Fidayeen that Bajwa has. Nor will he rethink his boast and turn policy towards conciliation and talks. Bajwa sits pretty with a doughty China at his beck and call whenever needed, while India pats herself on the back at drawing politic statements from “world leaders” against “terrorism” and Pakistan’s unprincipled support to it.

Try telling the Indian policy-maker that the best way to defeat Bajwa and the ISI is to take the Valley away from them by for once admitting our sins in refusing to honour the covenant the Indian state had solemnly made with the Kashmiris at the time they negotiated their Accession to the Union of India, and the deep failure of our democratic promise in Kashmir. And then by treating our Muslim citizens and our syncretic and pluralist history in which their part in the making of our civilisation is indelible and ubiquitous, however our rulers of today may seek to erase the same, with a felt equality of attitude, purpose and action, so that Kashmiris are enabled truly to answer the old question as to what stake they may have in a “Hindu-majority” India. And one thing is for sure: no brigades or battalions,, whether they come from our regular garrisons or from Nagpur have the right answers to that troubling question.

And, one more thing also is for sure: we haven’t got much time.

The author, who taught English literature at the University of Delhi for over four decades and is now retired, is a prominent writer and poet. A well-known commentator on politics, culture and society, he wrote the much acclaimed Dickens and the Dialectic of Growth. His book, The Underside of Things—India and the World: A Citizen’s Miscellany, 2006-2011, came out in August 2012. Thereafter he wrote two more books, Idea of India Hard to Beat: Republic Resilient and Kashmir: A Noble Tryst in Tatters.

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