ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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The Idea of ‘Second Thought’ and Article 370

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Biases and prejudices in judgment and decision-making often arise at the level of the first thought, which occurs rather intuitively without much rational thinking. In the issue of the abrogation of Article 370 in relation to Kashmir, there are smaller parties such as the Janata Dal (United)(JD[U]), which on second thought has decided to support the central government’s decision. It is also interesting to note that some ­individual members of the Congress party, also on second thought, decided to support the decision in question. Smaller parties such as the Aam Aadmi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, which claim to be political opponents of the central government, have on second thought extended their support to the government on its decision to do away with the special status for Kashmir.

These new supporters of the decision, in their own cognitive right, seem to have demonstrated the capacity to overcome the deficiencies in their first order thoughts which were in favour of the special status for Kashmir. These new supporters may show the propensity to self-doubt and subsequent self-correction, and hence the need for second thought. Such supporters might then feel infallible about the correctness in their reconsidered stand on Article 370. What is common to all these new supporters is the following: In their first order thoughts they (the JD[U] and some members of the Congress party) find the decision to ­support the special status for Kashmir problematic, a mistake, which, on second thought needs to be corrected. Reflective ­endorsement is based on the condition that the second order thought contains infallible knowledge of political judgment. The question that can be raised here is, does one find the infallible knowledge on the decision to drop crucial parts of Article 370? What is the moral strength of such a decision taken as an exercise in self-correction?

On second thought, we need to assess the decision of these new supporters too. One would have expected these parties to alert the government to the fact that its decision has the possibility of giving rise to worse and, perhaps, long-term consequences for not only tourists and the Amarnath pilgrims, but for the entire population living in the Valley. These parties may have their own reasons to support the central government’s decision. However, the supporters of the decision in general do have much larger humanitarian and universally defensible grounds that would morally force them to reason out with the government about the consequences of its decision. Based on such universal grounds, one would expect the parties and the individual members to adopt and maintain a morally consistent stance in their political practice. That is to say, physical security has to be a paramount concern that a government has to consider before taking a sensitive decision such as the abrogation of Article 370.

We seem to have entered a new phase of pragmatic politics where parties that have a far greater responsibility to progressively firm up their thoughts in favour of the embattled sections of society fail to achieve this aim. Put concretely, such parties fail to continuously monitor their political judgment, thus ­failing to ensure constitutional protection to their legitimate democratic aspirations. In contemporary politics, such smaller parties, unfortunately, demonstrate far greater uncertainty that effectively harms their ability to make firmer judgments favouring the embattled groups from every nook and corner of India.

These parties, which claim to represent social groups facing democratic deprivation, fail to realise that the aspirations of the marginalised sections cannot be and must not be constrained by any ruling combination that claims to possess the “wisdom” to take decisions without deliberation. On good second thought, such parties fail to realise that a strong government of which they are a direct or indirect part, draws its strength by subsuming in its authorial voice the voices of the marginalised. Discreet if not good second thought accounts for the awareness of the logical link between the strong state and subservient parties and politicians.

Good second thought, which proceeds through discreet monitoring of political judgment, is indeed enabling to the extent that it aids the parties and public representatives to make the government accountable to govern the country in accordance with the democratic principles in the Constitution. But, good second thought faces constant challenge from the first order thought, which, on account of its being “infallible” to ideolo­gical correctness, does not allow space for good second thought that seeks to suggest constant modification in ill-informed ­political judgment. This process is crucial for steady improvement in sociopolitical conditions, thus guaranteeing rule by a democratic constitution.

Updated On : 13th Aug, 2019

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