Reaction feeds Reaction

A Correspondent

Across the world the set of economic ideas and policies that have dominated global politics for the past 40 years are rapidly losing legitimacy in the face of multiple, interconnected crises.

From stagnant living standards and sharply rising inequality, to financial fragility and environmental breakdown—it's clear that prevailing economic system is no longer fit for the purpose.

Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, has long been a disputed region between India, Pakistan and, to the north, China. Its limited autonomy included the right to its own constitution, flag, and internal laws. It was able to determine rights to residency and property ownership. No longer.

Modi proposes to create two new regions: Jammu (Hindu majority) and Kashmir (Muslim majority); and Ladakh (Buddhist majority). Historically, Kashmir's syncretic culture draws on all these groups. He presents this repression as a step toward incorporating Kashmir into his vision of a capitalism with roots in ancient religious texts of high-technology gods.

This move shocked many around the world. But it has its basis in reactionary historic developments, from the Bosnian genocide of the 1990s to Russia's genocidal bombing of Syria's Idlib today; from Communist China's concentration camps for Uyghurs to the acceptance of these camps by all "Muslim" state powers.

As for the major world powers, Russia has largely taken Modi's side. China has taken a hands-off approach that amounts to tacit acceptance. Trump has offered his own services as mediator between India and Pakistan. In other words, he has asserted his own, and US imperialism's, centrality to this changed world.

The incomplete nature of Kashmir's self-determination is what was enshrined in the Indian Constitution, a document drafted by B R Ambedkar, a Buddhist opposed to the caste system. Its abrogation is one aspect of Modi and the BJP's effort to transform India along the lines of Hindutva.

Indian feminist scholar Banu Subramaniam describes this mutilation of history using a surgical metaphor: "Hindu nationalists bring the past and present together into one seamless story of a past sutured to the present, with a firm excision of the middle years of colonialism and conquest, in particular the histories of Islam" (Holy Science: The Biopolitics of Hindu Nationalism, 2019).

What is thus excised is the actual history of Indian struggles for freedom and self-determination, along with the multicultural creativity that accompanied them. It is the kind of ever-shrinking story the bourgeois world, in its intractable crises, tells itself as it circles the abyss.

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Vol. 52, No. 27, Jan 5 - 11, 2020