Shutting down Geelani’s Grievance Factory

Jammu & Kashmir needs a guerilla development plan

Excerpts from my DNA column:

The business of manufacturing grievances, operated by the likes of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, involves both FDI and FII. Provocateurs and hardcore separatists act as the focus of violent unrest, mobilising young people using old methods and new. Motivated or excitable sections of the media add tickers, employing terms like “intifada” and “Jasmine” (or heaven-forbid, “Gandhian”), to describe the proceedings.

The separatist game plan is to prevent the state, especially its Kashmir region, from returning to what we all like to call “normalcy”.

To halt this cycle, it is necessary to both raise the costs of protesting and the benefits of not protesting. While the political and security machinery —wiser from handling last year’s stone-pelting experience — can well reduce the attractions of a summer job as a street-protester, the state has been less successful in creating alternative occupations.

The main reason New Delhi’s outlays fail to generate outcomes is because there is a lack of capacity in the state and local administrations. Even if it didn’t make its way to the wrong pockets, it is difficult to spend that much money simply because the Jammu & Kashmir doesn’t have sufficient numbers of competent officials who can implement programmes. It takes years to raise these numbers in the best of circumstances. The problem is, young people have to be kept off the streets right now.

Kashmir needs a guerilla development plan, using unconventional tactics to quickly create an economy that engages its youthful population. According to the Economic Freedom of the States of India 2011 report Jammu and Kashmir stood 9th (out of the 20 states studied) in terms of economic freedom, moving up from 15th position in 2005. It scores better than even Maharashtra, Punjab and Karnataka. So a plan that exploits and enlarges economic freedom might do the trick.

It should create zones in urban areas where entrepreneurs can move in and start business in a matter of days. Instead of waiting for training institutes to be built, it should facilitate skills training in small batches. It should avoid handouts, and inject resources into microfinance institutions for them to lend more and to younger people.

Such a plan stands a good chance of strengthening social capital and cultivating a sense of individual responsibility. This spring’s narrative can be different if Geelani’s “Grievance Factory” is made to suffer a labour shortage. [Read the rest on DNA]

7 thoughts on “Shutting down Geelani’s Grievance Factory”

  1. Victimhood is the binding factor that brings Islamists and Marxists together. The business of manufacturing grievances is not new. It has been their life support ever since they came into existence.

  2. “Even if it didn’t make its way to the wrong pockets, it is difficult to spend that much money simply because the Jammu & Kashmir doesn’t have sufficient numbers of competent officials who can implement programmes. It takes years to raise these numbers in the best of circumstances.”

    I think this being overly pessimistic. The situation there is no way near the state of collapse and non-governance that Bihar was afflicted with when Nitish Kumar took over. Yet, it didn’t take him long to start a celebrated recovery with amazing success. I think what is lacking in J & K is basic political will and the utter apathy of governance. What they need is a man with a mission and zeal and the basic intelligence to generate ideas and oil a rusty, creaky machinery. It only reacts, it has forgotten what it means to be pro-active

    J&K is suffocated by stagnation of political thought and absence of any implementation. If things are quiet and relatively under control, Delhi and Srinagar resume their slumber. Like right now. Nothing is moving because everyone has the excuse of waiting for the interlocutors to submit a report, when it is received it will first be studied, then a GoM will be formed, comments will then be asked for and an EGoM will be constitued to consider those comments and recommend action – and so another frustrating year would have gone by…………

  3. No sustainable industry today can depend only on the locals for employment, is it possible for some non-kashmeeri person to go there and settle?

  4. Kashmir is not an economic problem, never was. To think that a better economic options would keep kashmiris off the streets is honestly a little optimistic and unrealistic.

    I have no sympathy for the ‘azadi’ movement of kashmir’s muslims, to say the least, but to think it can be undone with money is unreasonable. The passion for independence is real and motivated by deep seated hatred for everything non-muslim plus a certain level of inexplicable uniquely kashmiri communal delusion. You have to live in kashmir to understand the magnitude of this sense of hatred and separateness, mixed in with a superiority complex which sees even non-kashmiri muslims as inferior and dirty. The idea that stone pelters in kashmir do it just for money, as tempting as it maybe for us, is plain untrue. And kashmir if anything has too much money. You only have to visit some houses in kashmir to see that they live better than most people in delhi.

  5. You are following Dr Manmohan Singh’s line! If economic packages could help, entire valley would have been full of patriots now.
    Half the money sent from Delhi is pocketed by local politicos and babus.Other half is pocketed by millitants.In fact we should dry up this source to hammer home the need for a proper give and take.
    We should also senitise minimum 50 sq mtrs area in the valley, and build a walled city in this zone to house all Pandits and other Hindus.This city will also house security personnel and their cantonments for the entire valley.
    Time has come for jihadis in the valley to be properly left alone, without power, money and other essential supplies.Armed forces should interfere only when there is incidence of armed infiltration from across the border.Other wise they can relax in this protected zone along with Hindus.

  6. Dear Nitin, To understand Geelani’s game plan is not easy. He himself is a relic of the past, carrying huge amounts of unwanted baggage, angrily confused and floundering to come up with any sort of workable line of action. To unravel his motives and ideology would entail reading his Books. Yoginder Sikander has done a commendable job in the Economic and Political Weekly. I enclose a link. Regards Ajit

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