protectionism does not pay

I would not call article 370 and 35A as special provisions. I would call them protectionist principles. And in this era of globlisation, excess protectionism does not pay.

Like many Indians and non-Indians, I too had not expected this. It was only a couple of days back that in my blog post – A trip to Amarnath – I had expressed my doubt as to whether Kashmir would ever regain its lost glory of being the erstwhile heaven on earth.

Since last Monday, when the proposal to remove the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and turn the state into two union territories were put in motion in the Parliament, millions of words have been written and spoken in all forms of media and meetings. So much have spoken about the legality, illegality, rationality, effectiveness and imperatives of the move to amend the constitutional provisions of article 370 that whatever we write henceforth will be repetitions of something already said inside or outside the Parliament.

Most of the groups and supporters have behaved on predictable lines. The self styled secular- liberal groups of India, as usual, made it a Hindu vs. Muslim issue and argued that Muslims have been wronged ignoring the fact Jammu and Kashmir has a large population of non-Muslims. It is ironical how the self styled secular groups of India invariably assume that secular developments in terms of local economy and education do not mean anything to Muslims.

Modi haters cried foul over the issue. As usual, it was an occasion for them to babble out their hatred without discussing any of the merits of the issue. So were his die hard fans in ignoring the pro and cons of the case. This time there were some exceptions. A few non-NDA parties came in support of the issue and prominent members of the principal opposition party opposed their party’s stand and joined the patriotic fervour gripping the nation.

I would not call article 370 and 35A as special provisions. I would call them protectionist principles. And in this era of globlisation, excess protectionism does not pay.

No doubt a small plant needs protection. But when the protection is long term and is hard and fixed one, we know what happens to the plant. Examples of overt protectionism hurting the protected in the long run are plenty. Till 1991 India was a protected economy. Then came the duo of Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh. India was opened up. Had it not been so, our economy would be rubbing its shoulder with Afghanistan, in stead of giving a stiff competition to China.

Come election time and local parties in various states demand various types of protection for their targeted vote banjks. Local political parties of Maharashtra want all the non-Maharashtrians to be driven away from their state. Imagine all the mega stars of Bollywood, 99% of whom are non-Maharshtrians in origin leaving the city of Mumbai. Or, Gujarat origin industrialists like the Ambanis leaving the city. In no time Mumbai will lose the status of being the financial and entertainment capital of India.

Will Bengaluru be able to sustain its status as a global hub of IT industry if companies and individuals are debarred from purchasing property here? At present 80% of state’s revenue comes from Bengaluru. In case of the industrial collapse of Bengaluru, the state’s economy too will take a hit. Same would be the case for any other state where the restrictions and the situation of unrest neither encourage the moneyed to invest nor the talented to work.

Same thing can happen even at the global level. After Trump became president, America seems to be getting deviated away from its culture of openness and liberalism. If this continues, in the long run America will lose its place as a global leader.

Artcle 35A debarred outsiders from taking out permanent residence or getting a job in the state. Ironically, it is the Kashmiri pundits who were vocal in bringing in article 35A. A time came when they lost their footing in the Muslim majority areas of Kashmir. In the height of militancy many of them were killed. The remaining were driven away. They wanted to protect local areas from being owned by outsiders. There came a time they did not have anyone to protect them from their neighbours. There came a time when they were not able to use the land they wanted to protect by a constitutional provision.

Irrespective of the controversies surrounding the technicalities of the presidential order, the full integration of J&K seems to be a step in right direction for the people of the region provided their leaders shun inciting religious fanaticism to continue their foothold in power. Alternately, the people must shun such leaders and work hardheartedly with those who are interested in peace and prosperity of the region.

(In response to Indispire Edition 286)

8 thoughts on “protectionism does not pay

  1. Repealing of the nonsensical provisions such as those is a body blow to the entrenched parochialism that was stunting the growth of the region and affecting the entire nation. The comparison to Trumpism is an eye-opener.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So far J&K has been quiet. But it takes one explosion to alter the calm. Common people probably do not know how to react. Who shows them leadership, government or opposition politicians or terrorists. The information clamp down though making life difficult, I think it is important to stop spreading of rumours and creating a situation for violence.

    Liked by 1 person

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