Scrapping J&K’s special status is the wrong way to an end

Scrapping J&K’s special status is the wrong way to an end

The special status of J&K was never meant to be permanent, but it should not have been scrapped without wider consultations
Jammu and Kashmir has been a theatre of muscular Hindutva nationalism, in the early(शुरुआती ) decades (दशक)in script and since 2014 in performance. Adopting(अपनाना) a highly militarist(सैन्यवादी ) approach(दृष्टिकोण) to separatism(अलगाववाद ), and shunning (दूर करनाबहतरीन )political process entirely since 2014, the BJP has now delivered on a promise it has long made, by abrogating( निरस्त करना) the special status that Jammu and Kashmir had enjoyed in the Constitution(संविधान ) through a combination(मेल/संयोजन) of executive(कार्यकारी ) and parliamentary measures(उपायों ). Additionally(अधिकतर), the State is being downgraded and divided (विभाजित किया)into two “Union Territories(केंद्र शासित प्रदेश।). The mechanism that the government used to railroad its rigid(कठोर ) ideological(वैचारिक) position on Jammu and Kashmir through the Rajya Sabha was both hasty(जल्दबाजी) and stealthy(गुप्त). This move will strain(तनाव ) India’s social fabric(निर्माण) not only in its impact(प्रभाव) on Jammu and Kashmir but also in the portents(पूर्वसूचना/चेतावनी) it holds for federalism(संघवाद), parliamentary(संसदीय ) democracy(लोकतंत्र) and diversity(विविधता/विभिन्नता). The BJP-led government has undermined(कम से कम) parliamentary(संसदीय ) authority(प्राधिकरण) in multiple ways since 2014, but the passing of legislation as far-reaching as dismembering (अंगों को अलग-अलग करना)a State without prior(पूर्व) consultations(परामर्श) has set a new low. The founding fathers of the Republic favoured a strong Centre, but they were also prudent(विवेकी) in seeking the route of persuasion (प्रोत्साहन/मनाना)and accommodation(आवास/सुविधा) towards linguistic and religious(धार्मिक ) minorities(अल्पसंख्यक) in the interest of national integration(एकीकरण). The centralising tendencies( प्रवृत्ति) increased(बढ़ी) in the following decades, but Hindu nationalists always argued(तर्क दिया) for stronger unitary provisions and viewed all particular(विशेष ) aspirations(महत्वाकांक्षा/आकांक्षा)_ with suspicion(संदेह/शक). For them, Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status was an impediment(बाधा/स्र्कावट), not an instrument(साधन ), for the region’s integration(एकीकरण) with the rest of the country.

The entire exercise of getting Article 370 of the Constitution effectively(प्रभावी ढंग) abrogated(निरस्त) has been marked by executive excess. The first step was to declare by a “presidential decree”(राष्ट्रपति द्वारा पारित कानून) that the ‘Governor’ — without regard to the fact that he has no Council of Ministers now to aid and advise him — can speak for the State government and give his concurrence(सहमति) to any modification(संशोधन ) in the way the Constitution of India applies to Jammu and Kashmir. Second, on the basis of this ‘concurrence’, the latest Presidential Order scraps the previous one of 1954, abrogating the separate Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. Third, the fact that the State is under President’s Rule has been used to usher in a new dispensation(व्यवस्था/वितरण) under which Jammu and Kashmir becomes a Union Territory with a legislature and Ladakh another such territory without a legislature. In sum, a purported process to change the constitutional status of a sensitive border State has been achieved(हासिल किया) without any legislative input or representative contribution from its people. The bifurcation(विभाजन) of States in the past cannot be cited as a binding(अनिवार्य/बाध्यकारी ) precedent as, under Article 3 of the Constitution, the President seeks the views of the legislature of the States concerned, even if concurrence is not mandatory. In the present scenario, J&K has been represented by an unelected Governor appointed by the Centre, while Parliament has ventured(जोखिम उठाना) to ratify(पुष्टि करना ) the conversion of a State into two Union Territories without any recommendation(सिफारिश) from the State.

If there is a legal(कानूनी ) challenge(चुनौती) to these measures, it would centre around whether such far-reaching steps could be achieved in the absence of a representative government by assuming (मानते हुए)that its gubernatorial administrator is constitutionally capable(सक्षम) of using his consent(सहमति /अनुज्ञा) as that of the entire(संपूर्ण ) State. Further, there is a self-enabling(आत्म-सक्षम ) aspect(पहलू) to the Presidential Order. It performs a hop-step-and-jump feat. It hops over the requirement of the State government’s consent by declaring (घोषित )that the Governor is the State government. It steps over the need for aid and advice by the ministerial(मंत्री ) council(परिषद) by saying the Governor’s opinion is enough. And it jumps over the fact that there is no constituent assembly now by merely reading the term as ‘legislative assembly’, and letting Parliament perform the role of the State legislature. Thus the President’s power under Article 370 has been used both to create an enabling(सक्षम करने) provision(प्रावधान) and to exercise it immediately to modify the Order, thereby dispensing with the role envisaged(परिकल्पना ) for the State Assembly. While it is true that in 1961 the Supreme Court upheld the President’s power to ‘modify’ the constitutional provisions in applying them to J&K, it is a moot question whether this can be invoked to make such a radical change: a functioning(कामकाज) State has now been downgraded and bifurcated into two Union Territories. It is inconceivable(समझ से बाहर) that any State legislature would ever have recommended its own demotion in status.

True, the special status of J&K was meant to end, but only with the concurrence (सहमति) of its people. The Centre’s abrupt(आकस्मिक) move disenfranchised(बेदखल) them on a matter that directly affected(प्रभावित) their life and sentiments(भावनाओं). Moreover, that this was done after a massive(बड़ा/विशाल) military build-up and the house arrest of senior political leaders, and the communications shutdown reveals (प्रकट करना )a cynical(निंदनीय ) disregard(उपेक्षा) of democratic(लोकतांत्रिक ) norms. It appears that the current government values J&K for its demonstrative impact before the rest of the country, as a place where a strong nation and its strong leader show uncompromising (सीधा/असम्मत)political will. But that may have other unintended(अनायास ) consequences(नतीजे). Geographically and metaphorically, Jammu and Kashmir is the crown of secular India — a Muslim majority(बाहुल्य) region(क्षेत्र) in a Hindu majority country. Its people and leaders had chosen secular India over Islamic Pakistan, a fact that Islamists never reconciled(स्वीकार करना/संधि कराना) with. The BJP’s adventurous(साहसिक ) route also has as backdrop an impending U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan that will trigger an unforeseeable(अप्रत्याशित ) churn(मंथन) in Islamist politics in the region. Islamists have always viewed Kashmir as a component (अंग) of their global grievances(शिकायतें।). Whatever its intent(इरादा) in enabling(सक्षम) the full integration of Jammu and Kashmir with India, Monday’s decision to alter the State’s status could have unintended and dangerous consequences.

Important Vocabulary

1. Adopting(अपनाना
Synonyms: accept, approve, embrace, endorse, follow
Antonyms: deny, disagree, disallow, disapprove, discard

2. Combination(मेल/संयोजन)
Synonyms: combo, consolidation, merger, mix, sequence
Antonyms: division, parting, separation, disconnection, detachment

3. Rigid(कठोर )
Synonyms: adamant, austere, definite, exact, fixed
Antonyms: broken, easy, flexible, gentle, imprecise

4. Dismembering (अंगों को अलग-अलग करना)
Synonyms: cripple, dismantle, maim, mutilate, sever
Antonyms: aid, combine, help, repair, connect

5. Prudent(विवेकी
Synonyms: careful, cautious, discreet, economical, frugal
Antonyms: careless, expensive, foolish, hasty, inattentive

6. Aspirations(महत्वाकांक्षा/आकांक्षा
Synonyms: aim, ambition, desire, dream, eagerness
Antonyms: apathy, dislike, hate, hatred, indifference

7. Tendencies( प्रवृत्ति)
Synonyms: bias, inclination, leaning, movement, shift

8. Persuasion (प्रोत्साहन/मनाना)
Synonyms: seduction, alignment, blandishment, brainwashing, cajolery
Antonyms: disability, impotence, incompetence, ineffectiveness, weakness

9. Fabric(निर्माण)
Synonyms: fiber, goods, textile, texture, bolt

10. Abrogating( निरस्त करना)
Synonyms: abolish, annul,invalidate, nullify, quash
Antonyms: approve, enact, pass, permit, sanction

11. Shunning (दूर करना/बहतरीन )
Synonyms: despise, disdain, eschew, neglect, pass up
Antonyms: accept, admire, allow, approve, cherish

12. Impediment(बाधा/स्र्कावट)
Synonyms: barrier, bottleneck, burden, defect, deterrent
Antonyms: advantage, aid, assistance, benefit, blessing

Synonyms: abolish, annul, invalidate, nullify, quash
Antonyms: approve, enact, pass, permit, sanction

14. Ventured(जोखिम उठाना
Synonyms: adventured, attempted, chanced, dared, experimented

14. Consent(सहमति /अनुज्ञा)
Synonyms: acquiescence, approval, assent, authorization, blessing
Antonyms: denial, disagreement, disapproval, dissent, prohibition

Synonyms: anticipate, behold, conceive, conceptualize, contemplate

16. Provision(प्रावधान)
Synonyms: arrangement, plan, accouterment, catering, emergency
Antonyms: removal, taking

17. Grievances(शिकायतें
Synonyms: grief, hardship, injustice, objection, outrage
Antonyms: delight, happiness, joy, advantage, aid

18. Churn(मंथन)
Synonyms: boil, bubble, simmer, swirl, agitate
Antonyms: freeze.


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