There is a pointer in the recent history of the Prairies and the Pampas that the government of India can use to integrate, to the extent the majority of the population in India desires, Kashmir with India. The pointer is derived from a comparison of the incentives of immigration in two economies, the United States and Argentina, that were rivals in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Dr. Subramanian Swamy advocates an approach of encouraging ex-military men to settle in Kashmir, the reason being that the men are already trained in combat and can protect themselves, and the people they live around.
The U.S. government, during the period, had the landownership essentially democratized; any immigrant who seized a specified maximum area of land had the property rights to the land acknowledged by the government. When the news spread, aspiring farmers from around the world started pouring in and by 1850, the U.S. was pulling in close to 250,000 immigrants annually. In contrast, during the same period, the government in Argentina, which until the early 1900s was considered an economy equal to, if not bigger than, the U.S., followed a heavy-handed approach and sold large plots of land, leaving aspiring small families with little or no incentive to immigrate. Only rich landlords bought the land and later realized that they had no labor to work on it. It is believed that this difference in incentives of immigration played its part in making farming in the U.S. much more productive than in Argentina. This difference also points to an approach that the government of India can adopt to address the problem of domestic migration in Kashmir.
Dr. Subramanian Swamy advocates an approach of encouraging ex-military men to settle in Kashmir, the reason being that the men are already trained in combat and can protect themselves, and the people they live around, relieving the government of the resources it needs to protect the residents. This approach can be complemented by the economic incentives of the Prairies. Majority of the military men in India come from farming families. If the title to the land of their choosing is granted by the government, these men and their families can put their farming skill-sets to use. If the government follows the heavy-handed Pampas approach of applying its own mind in selecting the plots of land to distribute, it will inevitably trap itself in the pretense of knowledge.
Relying on the vast knowledge base of immigrants is the approach of the Prairies. This can take various forms; a Kashmiri Pandit, who can find, an ex-military person to settle with her/him, can partner and move in. A Sardar with an unemployed son, and means to defend himself, can move in. A small farmer in Bihar who learns about it in Mann Ki Baat, and dreams of having his own land one day, can move in. With relaxed gun control rights in Kashmir, for the Kashmiri Pandit, the soldier, the Sardar, and the dreamer from Bihar, to be able to defend themselves, this strategy rooted in the Risk-Reward system has the potential to integrate the people of Kashmir with India.
It is for the legal experts to decide whether Article 370 is a roadblock; how many Articles of the South were violated in the American Civil War not long ago? Another roadblock and the more formidable one is the army of bureaucrats in India that wants everything to be under their control and can think of nothing but wise-ass tricks to treat the symptoms, and not the disease. If Modi can overcome these two roadblocks, he can solve the Kashmir Problem and have this under his belt.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
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