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It's Not About Economics, Stupid: Why Development Isn't The Panacea To Kashmir Conflict

27/02/2016 8:14 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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Hindustan Times via Getty Images
SRINAGAR, INDIA - FEBRUARY 23: The damaged exterior of the Entrepreneurship Development Institute building in which militants were holed up during a gunfight on February 23, 2016 in Sempora, Pampore on the outskirts of Srinagar, India. Three militants barged into the institute building on Saturday soon after attacking a convoy of security forces, leaving three CRPF jawans dead and eight injured. One civilian, Abdul Gani Mir died after sustaining a bullet injury later. (Photo by Waseem Andrabi/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The encounter at Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI), Pampore, stands eerily as a metaphor for why development cannot be a panacea for conflict. The encounter which has claimed nine lives, including three militants, is testimony to the nature and denouement of the conflict in and over Kashmir. The conflict is essentially in the nature of contending and competing sovereignties and territorially informed nationalism(s). In this matrix, what is involved is an emotional schemata which defies "rational" courses of dispute and conflict resolution. 'Logic' would suggest that the conflict over and in Kashmir can be sublimated by the forces of development or get collapsed in the vortex of development. But the ongoing conflict, of which the JKEDI encounter is a component, suggests this is not the case.

'Logic' would suggest that the conflict over and in Kashmir can be sublimated by the forces of development... But the ongoing conflict suggests this is not the case.

The question is why?

If I may make a digression here. This will be in the nature of briefly dwelling on Platonic discourses. Plato, in his famous Politeia, disaggregated the human soul into three components: thymos, logos and eros. Dwelling on thymos and logosmay help us arrive at a schemata that may throw some light on the conflict in and over Kashmir. Plato described thymos and the attendant "thymotic pride" as that part of the human soul which pertains to pride, shame, indignation and the need for recognition. Thymos, in the schema of Plato, co-exists with logos -- reason or rationality -- in the human soul. George Wilhelm Hegel took it further and asserted that the quest for "thymotic pride" was the motor of history. (Obiter dictum, this was developed into a thesis termed The End of History and the Last Man by the American political philosopher Francis Fukuyama).

Delineation of thymos, its corollary, "thymotic pride" and "logos" is not merely an academic exercise. It has a searing resonance and salience to the conflict in and over Kashmir. The conflict, to repeat, is a clash of sovereigntism and territorial nationalism between India and Pakistan and the peoples caught in the crucible of this conflict, the Kashmiris. All these are powerful, emotionally laden, charged and vested themes. It is here that thymos enters into the picture.

What is needed is a hybrid approach which privileges the emotive, "thymotic" and "irrational" dimensions of the conflict...

Historical grievances, the prolongation of the conflict, its trajectory and permutations and combinations render it open to "thymotic" themes: pride, indignation, desire for recognition and even shame. It is this "irrational" side of the human soul (or psyche) that explains the ferocity of energy and recidivism that defines the conflict. Sovereignty is related to national pride and nationalism and these feed the psychical and emotional dimensions of the conflict.

In this sense, thymos or thymotic pride displaces "logos" or "rationality".

To return to the encounter at the JKEDI, it is a metaphor for the privileging of "thymos" over "logos".

The JKEDI is a developmental organization whose foundational premise is to promote entrepreneurship in Jammu and Kashmir and thereby catalyze development. It may be safe to posit here that "progress" and prosperity are also themes that most human beings pursue -- rationally speaking. But, thymos and "thymotic" pride enter the equation here and displace the "rational" paradigm.

What then does all this tell us about the conflict in and over Kashmir and its resolution?

The answer is obvious.

The conflict cannot and will not collapse in the vortex of "development". If development is viewed as the antidote to conflict in and over Kashmir, it can perhaps only lead to recrudescence of the conflict. Development as the panacea to conflict is then a mug's game, both in general and specific terms.

What is needed is a hybrid approach which privileges the emotive, "thymotic" and "irrational" dimensions of the conflict where the "rational" can be ancillary to the "irrational". Specifically, in the context of Kashmir, it means addressing the dimensions of sovereigntism, nationalism and territory in a manner that is satisficing to all stakeholders in the conflict. (Satisficing is a heuristic device that entails probing and looking though alternatives until an acceptable threshold is reached.) It is this approach more than pedestrian and prosaic ideas like development and economics that could lead to a lasting and enduring conflict resolution paradigm to the vexed conflict in and over Kashmir. And this may be the implicit message of the encounter at JKEDI, Pampore. Mulling over this message and heeding it would be more prudent than "sabre rattling", the rhetorical extravagance that will follow the incident.

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