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Kashmir: Achieving Fiscal Autonomy

The PDP-Congress government presented its first budget aimed at achieving fiscal autonomy. Remarkable as this is in Jammu and Kashmir, the government cannot see this alone as sufficient condition for peace in the state without addressing the issues that have made for unrest.

Kashmir: Political Economy of Fiscal Autonomy

In its maiden budget, the PDP-Congress government in Jammu and Kashmir has laid much stress on 'fiscal autonomy' for the state. However, the counter-insurgency regime in the state remains in place, and expenditure on this account will enormously increase the financial burden in the coming years, even as the real sources to make J and K self-sufficient remain blocked. While fiscal autonomy can be read as an expression of a desire to be free, it cannot become a substitute for addressing the fundamental issue of the people's right to decide their own destiny.

POTA: Freedom to Terrorise

In more than 19 months of its existence POTA has established itself as a piece of legislation that is meant to terrorise precisely those sections of the population that are vulnerable and are victims of gross injustices. Not surprisingly, the maximum numbers of those charged under POTA are landless or land-poor dalits and adivasis accused of being Naxalites, Kashmiris fighting against oppressive Indian rule or Muslims accused of working in tandem with Pakistan's ISI.

National Security: Prisoners of Rhetoric

A close look at the Indian government's defence budget and related reports on military matters shows that while external security preparedness has slipped over the years, the Indian army has become one of the busiest peace time forces fighting its own people. This also impacts on the morale of the armed forces and creates opportunity for the emergence of particularist biases and prejudices within the forces. The changing geopolitical context of India's neighbourhood determines security perceptions and is a factor in deciding defence spending.

Nepal: From Battle of Arms to Battle of Ideas

The ceasefire has been welcomed by the people and the Maoists - sincerity is demonstrated by the fact of the large-scale mobilisation taking place in support of an elected constituent assembly. How patient all the other parties concerned will be with the process of dialogue is dependent on the various foreign influences that Nepal has always been vulnerable to, not least of which derives from New Delhi.

Naga Peace Process

Much as many sections in the north-east and in the union government would like to subvert the Naga peace process the fact is that India's economic diplomacy in south-east Asia would suffer grievously if the current sensible approach to a long-standing issue is allowed to be frittered away.

Security Policy: Enemy of Democracy

In its response to recent events in Kashmir and elsewhere, the Indian government's security policy reveals a distorted approach. In its bid to end terrorism, a heightened perception of threat has seen an ever-increasing budgeting on security and defence. Ironically, it has also fostered a scenario when the state itself turns persecutor, making victims of its own citizens.

Kashmir: Putting Politics in Command

For all the opprobrium that the All Party Hurriyat Conference has earned for its lack of action on many counts, it is a valuable platform. This is why its recent announcement that it would hold three-stage elections under a people’s election commission needs to be appreciated and supported. The move is the strongest evidence of change at the ground level placing politics over the gun and selfdetermination over the moth-eaten autonomy/plebiscite paradigm.

POTO: Taking the Lawless Road

Criticised for its blatant violations of rights, TADA did little to combat the menace of terrorism. Under POTO a crime is defined first and foremost on intent and the actions designated as crimes are all encompassing. Since the intent is to be judged and the prosecution launched by a corrupt and malleable law-enforcement machinery, use and misuse of the law will coalesce.

War as Failure of Imagination

The war against terrorism threatens to make reason its first casualty and demands for justice are in danger of being reduced to thirst for revenge.

Kashmir: The Moment of Truth

As we near the endgame in Kashmir, the choice before all those who believe in people's right to a life of dignity and freedom is simple: to regain their humanity by asserting their opposition to oppression so that silence can no longer be a tool in the hands of the government to carry on brutalising a people.

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