Kashmir Needs An Intellectual Discourse
Kashmir Central Conclave 2022 Sets The Ball Rolling
How has the abrogation of Article 370 impacted the Kashmiri economy? This was the question from a Kashmir University student to the panelists at the Kashmir Central Conclave 2022 organized on October 1 at Hotel Taj Vivanta in Srinagar.
The question caught the panelists off guard, since the ongoing discussion was largely academic and scholarly. The speakers were hesitant to address a question that had political dimensions. The speakers were perhaps hesitant because they were seriously engaged in an intellectual discourse beyond politics and political narratives.
Meanwhile, everybody sitting in the hall was curious and waiting for an appropriate response from the speakers.
Prof Gul Wani’s Appropriate Response
At this juncture, renowned academician and political scientist Prof Gul Mohammad Wani, who was seated among the audience, got up. Seeing that the panelists were hesitant to answer the question, Prof Wani rose to the challenge. He went to the podium to respond to the question which was required from an intellectual of his stature.
Prof Wani answered the question in a scholarly manner. He said, “To be honest, there is no scholarly analysis of whether the economy has got a boost or not, post the abrogation of Article 370. There is no consensus on the subject, and this is perhaps because the subject has not been debated so far. There are claims and counter claims from the political class. Those who claim that Article 370 was a hindrance in the economy development of the region need to prove that the abrogation has helped the economy of Jammu and Kashmir,” Prof Wani said.
Prof Wani added that there are many other regions and states which enjoy such kind of constitutional arrangement and legal frame work. Till now, it has not come to the fore whether such kind of legal and constitutional framework has in any manner hindered the economic growth of that particular region.
On one side, Prof Wani’s response to the question bailed out the panelists. On the other side, his response was received well by the scholars, students and other sections of Kashmir society present at the Conclave. The audience was fully involved throughout the day in the proceedings of the Conclave, and this question from a university student was the highlight of the day.
Graceful Conduct Of All Participants
Throughout the proceedings, the speakers and also the participants conducted themselves gracefully. The conclave was about setting and starting a discourse in Kashmir which is purely academic and scholarly.
It is for the economists and political analysts to analyze the economic indicators post the abrogation of Article 370 and study how the economy has been impacted by the abrogation. As Prof Wani said, there is substantial evidence on how the abrogation of Article 370 has impacted the Kashmir economy. What is evident, encouraging and fascinating is the change of behaviour and conduct of the people, particularly the younger generation.
It is notable that the same question would have created a furor about three to four years ago. There would have been disruption in the proceedings of such a high-profile event, which would have forced the organizers to suspend the proceedings by hours till order was restored in the conference hall.
It must also be observed that the question was posed by a student. It was not motivated, as was the practice in the past. It was just an intelligent question from a participant who was involved in the proceedings. He had no political or ideological baggage. It was question from a student to his teachers.
Genuine Questions Deserve Answers
There are questions posed by the youngsters which deserve answers by the people in the establishment, and by those who provide policy inputs to the state. Questions should be appreciated, and response to the questions should be based on facts and figures. People have every right to ask questions. Those at the helm of affairs are duty bound to provide answers to the questions posed by the people.
The question brought forth the anxiety of the people on vital issues facing Kashmir. We need to provide answers to such questions. As far as the politics, law and order situation and other aspects are concerned, much has been said and debated. Certain issues are beyond politics, and people need a dialogue around them. In a healthy democracy, questions need to be asked and answered for the satisfaction of the people.
Healthy Academic Discourse
The Kashmir Central Conclave got a huge appreciation and an overwhelming response from the intellectual class from Kashmir for setting a healthy academic discourse. It was amazing to see the students of all the three universities showing deep interest in participating in such a scholarly discussion at the Conclave.
We are convinced that more than politics and hollow political sloganeering, Kashmir needs an intellectual discourse which is in the larger interest of both the union territory and the people. The saner voices seem drowned in the din of the political rhetoric.
Such noises have polluted the minds for too long. People are fed up with political narratives on both sides of the ideological and political divide. Being an intelligent race, Kashmiris have the potential to grow if a congenial environment is ensured to them.
As rightly pointed out by Prof Imtiyaz ul Haq of Kashmir University, Kashmiris have the guts and the potential to compete in academic and professional fields globally. We need to channelize their energies in a positive manner. An honest and unbiased discourse can go a long way in creating positivity and provoking the thinking minds. The Kashmir Central Conclave has sincerely laid a foundation for such a discourse. We need to provide the younger generation a platform to discuss and debate the issues faced by us.