The ethnoreligious conflict in the Indian state of Kashmir is a challenging case study not only for the region of South Asia but for world diplomacy, as the policy choices available to India and Kashmir have implications for other separatist regions worldwide. In short, "Can India give up Kashmir?" This research studies the historical experiences of Kashmiri Hindus and Muslims under the rule of each other, the roles that their religions have played in shaping their histories (and the current state of affairs), and the main issues that make the conflict-rife region such a challenge presently (including politics, civil society and religion). Kashmiri Hindus and Muslims co-existed with little or no inter-communal interaction for more than 500 years, a reality Kashmir's Hindu and Muslim rulers galvanized by poor governance that promoted protective practices to guard against the other religion. Also, a weak Kashmiri civil society over-emphasized intra-communal relations, thereby fostering fragile social networks and mutual mistrust. In time, the weakened civil society and long-standing religious persecution from both Kashmiri Hindus and Muslims culminated into the modern conflict and Kashmir coming apart at the seams. This fact is highlighted by the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits (Hindus) in 1989 and 1990 due to the ethnic violence against them. With Kashmiri history as a potent backdrop for the present, all of the options for Kashmir which have been discussed within the realm of international relations are considered: Kashmiri secession and independence, militarization of the state as a protective barrier against unfriendly neighbors, and engagement and cooperation with the Indian national government in an effort to resolve the discord of Kashmiri citizens democratically under the provisions of the Indian constitution. In conclusion, the modern Indian state was formed on the principle of being a diverse, multi-cultural, secular society. If India lets go of Kashmir, India will be forced to question its founding principles and risk losing other states if they each claim to have unique ethnoreligious identities like Kashmir. That India cannot give up Kashmir is not an issue of the uniqueness of Kashmir, rather the considerable threat that less compatible ethnoreligious groups can fragment or even cause the disintegration of India and perhaps other secular states in the world.
|School Location:||United States -- District of Columbia|
|Source:||MAI 49/03M, Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||International Relations, Ethnic studies, South Asian Studies|
|Keywords:||Civil society, Ethnic conflict, Nationalism, Refugees, Religion, Separatism|
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