Hope never dies in the breast of man; It may slumber and sleep for a while,
Then wakes up refreshed, all its troubles to scan,
And meets them half-way with a confident smile.’
—T. Augustus Forbes Leith
The change of Government at the Centre in 2014 and a new dispensation in power in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in 2015 is the result of a deep seated desire of the people for change. For nearly three decades now, the state of J&K has been beset with a raging insurgency, brought on initially by poor governance, but thereafter sustained, exploited, aided and abetted by Pakistan to suit her geo strategic designs. The violence generated over the last nearly three decades has led to an entire generation losing out on their childhood and growing up in the shadow of the gun, most not even knowing what normalcy even means. But now a light beckons, which can break the shackles of systemic deficits in the political and administrative fields and bring a new beginning for the people of the state.
The pitfalls are many. A moribund bureaucracy, set in its ways and resistant to change. A whole range of political actors, many of whom with vital stakes in the existence of the old order, an order that promotes mediocrity and flourishes on vote bank politics; an order that promotes regional satraps, who exploit regional sentiments like language and caste, and economic issues like sharing of natural resources. An order where patronage and favouritism in contracts has led to immense fortunes being made out of nepotism. A system so pervaded with corruption, that it has grown deep roots much akin to what Harold Macmillan referred to, when talking of English politics as one of “casino capitalism” by the “aristocracy of second class brewers and company promoters.” Indeed, borrowing from another phrase by MacMillan, the previous dispensation resembled a “disused slug heap.”
The challenges indeed are immense, but the people want change, want development, want peace and most importantly, want a chance to be part of the India growth story. And it is because people are becoming increasingly aware of their power, that hope beckons.
This issue talks about what needs to be done to restore normalcy in the State of J&K. What interventions are required in the political, administrative and security domains are covered by experts in the field, who have hands on experience of the subject. The wealth of articles in this issue focus on terrorism, the dynamics and challenges of the Line of Control, Pakistan’s proxy war and various conflict resolution mechanisms to include perception management to show a new road to the youth of today. Indeed, the articles also make one ponder and think as to why we allowed ourselves to get in this situation in the first place.
India is no longer a wounded civilisation, to quote from the words of Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, the well known Trinidad-born Nobel Prize-winning British writer. What we are seeing now is an aspirational India. An India that is free, democratic, strong and waiting in the wings for finding its rightful place in the world. An India where the word impossible has ceased to exist, where every Indian now has the faith that big dreams can be realised.
It is indeed a season of hope. Happy Reading.