Grand Tamasha

Salman Soz on what the abrogation of Article 370 means for Jammu and Kashmir—and for India

Episode Summary

We continue our exploration of the events unfolding in Jammu and Kashmir by speaking with Salman Soz, who offers a very different perspective than the one Rahul Pandita shared on last week's episode.

Episode Notes

Last week on the podcast, Milan talked with journalist Rahul Pandita about the Indian government’s decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution, which grants the state of Jammu and Kashmir semi-autonomous status. According to Rahul, while many Kashmiris are up in arms over the government’s decision, many residents quietly support the move.

This week, we continue our exploration of the events unfolding in Jammu and Kashmir by speaking with Salman Soz, who offers a very different perspective on the actions on the ground. Soz is an international development expert who hails from Kashmir and a member of the opposition Indian National Congress. He is also the author of a new book, The Great Disappointment: How Narendra Modi Squandered a Unique Opportunity to Transform the Indian Economy.

Salman believes the scrapping of Article 370 will have serious, adverse consequences for the state and for Indian democracy on the whole. Milan and Salman discuss the latter’s personal ties to the state, when a return to “normalcy” might be possible, whether Article 370 can be linked to the state’s troubles, and what state politics looks like in the future.

Episode Transcription

Introduction: 00:00 "Unabashedly" "The most unpredictable" "becomes a headline." "The most volatile" "outrageous behavior." “Unsubstantiated narratives" "A battle of personalities."
Milan Vaishnav: 00:12 Welcome to Grand Tamasha. I'm your host Milan Vaishnav of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Last week on the podcast, I sat down with Rahul Pandita, the Kashmiri journalist at Open Magazine to discuss the Indian government's decision to gut Article 370 of the constitution, which grants the state of Jammu and Kashmir semi-autonomous status. Rahul recently spent 10 days traveling across the state and told me that while many Kashmiris are up in arms over the government's decision, many residents quietly support the move. This week on the show, we continue our conversation on Kashmir, but this time from a very different perspective. My guest today is Salman Soz, an international development expert and a member of the Indian National Congress who hails from Kashmir. He's also the author of a new book, "The Great Disappointment: How Narendra Modi Squandered a Unique Opportunity to Transform the Indian Economy," published by Penguin earlier this year.
Milan Vaishnav: 00:59 Salman has been critical of the government's handling of the Article 370 issue. And I'm sitting down with him in Washington today to discuss his views in greater detail. Some on welcome to the show.
Salman Soz: 01:08 Thanks for having me, Milan.
Milan Vaishnav: 01:09 So, Salman, you listened to our podcast with Rahul Pandita from last week and we'd exchange a couple of notes about it. And you made the case that you have a different perspective and I thought, why don't we have you in let's get it on the table and provide that perspective to our listeners? And before we get into the current events that are happening in Kashmir, I want to start a little bit by talking about you. Tell us about your background and your personal connection to the state of Kashmir.
Salman Soz: 01:33 Well, actually I'll start in 2011 because until that time I lived very close to where we are recording the show. And I used to work at the World Bank. And at that time I convinced my wife that it would be a good idea to move to India because having worked in development at the World Bank I thought that I could contribute in Jammu and Kashmir because I felt that development - we needed more you knowdevelopment - and I thought that would be a good idea. And we did. And I, the way I entered Kashmir at that time was through politics. I joined the Congress party. My father was a member of the Congress party, and I thought that was a good way of taking what I had learned and implementing that in practice we, you know over time I became a spokesperson of the Congress party.
Salman Soz: 02:26 And I typically dealt with economic affairs. I've I worked extensively for a couple of years in Kashmir. Of course, I was born in Kashmir. Lived there for many, many years. And also spent some years working there. Then I worked at the national level for the Congress party and continue to do so. But my views on Kashmir of course are not necessarily congruent with what the Congress party's position is. So I have my own views on Kashmir. I, I did hear Rahul's podcast with you and I felt that there are, there's a different perspective to what Rahul put forward and I thought that that should be shared with your listeners. So, yeah, I mean, I, you know, I've always been interested in trying to figure out how Kashmir can get out of this 30 years of conflict. Unfortunately I feel that it is not going to get out of conflict anytime soon. So I guess we'll talk about that.
Milan Vaishnav: 03:23 As most of our listeners will know, the Modi government announced that it was abrogating Article 370 of the constitution on the morning of August 5th. Where were you when you took in this news?
Salman Soz: 03:33 So in the Congress Party Waiver Department for Professionals and Entrepreneurs. I had a North India kind of part of that. So we had a day long conference of state leaders in Delhi on August 4th. In fact, I had gone with my family to India because my wife and kids live here. I shuttle between India and the US so they - the kids - have to see their grandparents. We went on August 1st, August 3rd, I came to Delhi. August 4th. We had this meeting and on after that- we went to the Congress headquarters to have a press conference, at which point some of my colleagues came to me and to warn me and said that there's a cabinet meeting the following date on August 5th, and they're going to most likely do something with Article 370. They advised me not to go to Kashmir.
Salman Soz: 04:22 And of course, I said, that is not possible because my parents, my family, my wife and kids were there. So there was no question of not going on August 5th, I went back to Kashmir as scheduled, early in the morning, and in fact was talking to some TV channels before I boarded the flight and tweeted out saying, "see you whenever." So I had no idea when I would be out of there again. But so August 5th, I landed there and after that communications were cut off as you know. And on that very day, my father was placed under house arrest. He's he's a senior Congress leader not as active as he used to be, but there was basically our guards came to us. We, you know, we have security guards provided by the government. Because, you know, because of my father's politics I guess, and they became our jailers in, in fact, because they said that there's an order for my father not to move out. Two days later, I was told that I should also not be moving out. So effectively without any written order, without any explanation, except that the orders are basically from New Delhi so to speak. So I guess that's how they've dealt with everybody.
Milan Vaishnav: 05:36 And tell us about the events that unfolded after that. What was your original feeling when you heard that Article 370 was being abrogated by the central government?
Salman Soz: 05:48 Well, obviously people who belong to mainstream politics - what mainstream politics means is essentially those who work on you know, within the framework of the constitution of India for those of us who do that, you know, Article 370 is an article of faith. This article provides constitutional guarantees or did provide constitutional guarantees to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. And you know, when we talk about Kashmir - it's actually Jammu and Kashmir: Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh and there are divisions within that. Or there are regions within that - So I felt that this was going to obviously cause a lot of harm. That's what I felt at that time. But it also felt disempowering. It felt like a betrayal. It felt like what India's founders and Kashmiris leaders had come up with. It was done away without without you know, asking us what we wanted to do. So, the announcement was a dispiriting and I think of course it also aroused feelings of anger in me. And I'm sure in you know, most people in Kashmir.
Milan Vaishnav: 07:07 Now you managed to return back to the States with your, your wife and kids. And this is, in some sense, you know, a primary residence, but your father is still under house arrest. Tell us a little bit about what his status is these days.
Salman Soz: 07:22 He remains under house arrest. He you know, he's a 80 plus years old and but his spirit is strong. So I obviously he also feels in many respects betrayed. He's a former union minister -what is a cabinet minister and there are two cabinet ministers, former cabinet minister Dr Farooq Abdullah being one of them. We're both under house arrest chief ministers under house arrest or former chief ministers, ministers, former ministers, legislators. Pretty much the entire mainstream leadership is under detention and so that, you know, so when you're in that position, I guess you know, what can you say? You just you just are looking forward to an opportunity where perhaps everybody gets together and decides what to do next.
Milan Vaishnav: 08:14 And are you able to communicate with him?
Milan Vaishnav: 08:16 I mean, have you heard from him?
Salman Soz: 08:17 Well, you know, our landline is working now, so we can call. I mean, I call them regularly, every day just to see how they are. And I think I keep asking them, have things improved? And they say it's basically the same as it was. Whereas if you look at the media coverage you know, domestically the national media especially will say that everything's working out fine and things are improving. I don't really know because it's hard to communicate. When I was there, you know, we had no way of knowing what is happening with anybody else. Our relatives were allowed to meet us those days and they would come and tell us what's going on in the streets and but but I don't really see you know, it's hard to see how there's going to be improvement. Of course, you know, when you have such heavy military presence, you can you know, have a pacification kind of strategy it can work maybe for some time, but you know, the anger is probably it now resides deep inside hearts -. So I think that is going to be a problem. I think that's going to be a long-term problem.
Milan Vaishnav: 09:27 The government has said that it's committed to gradually easing the communication's lock-down. That's currently in order. The foreign minister this weekend in an interview to Politico spoke of a gradual easing of restrictions on movement, on mobility, on information. Have, we started to see some kind of return to "normal life" in Kashmir from your perspective?
Salman Soz: 09:49 I don't really know what normal life is like in Kashmir anymore. You know, for a lot, for the last 30 years, we've had this kind of normal where you go on with your life and every now and then there's some blow up and things recede again. I suspect that whatever the new normal is going to be is going to be worse than the previous normal. And so yes, there will be, you know, people will go to markets. You know, I, I've heard that a market's open early in the morning and then they shut down and then then they again open for sometime later in the evening. So I think, and by the way, the other thing to keep in mind is that say the government eases restrictions then, you know, you would have, people themselves kind of, you know, imposing a kind of a blockade.
Salman Soz: 10:32 So it's almost like "Oh, you're trying to show the world that this is normal. Let us show you that this is not normal." And I think that that kind of I don't know whether that's passive aggressive or whatever it is, but it is, it is an expression of I think anger. And I think we'll see more of that. Now. One thing that I do I mean, I don't, obviously people back home are not going to listen to this one. But you know, I do hope that violence remains you know violence is kind of taken out of the picture. Although I'm not really you know, optimistic that there'll be no violence, but I hope because you know, violence is something that actually has hurt Kashmiris the most in these last 30 years. Disproportionately so. And I hope that people remain calm and when, once our political leadership comes out, is allowed to express themselves, maybe then they can come up with a strategy as to what to do.
Milan Vaishnav: 11:25 On the information blackout specifically. And this links to violence. The government has made clear that restrictions have been put into place in order to disrupt any planning and communication on the part of terrorists or militants. Does the government have a point when it says it needs to curtail the flow of information to keep ordinary Kashmiris safe?
Salman Soz: 11:44 The government has been telling us for a long time that there may be, what, a couple hundred militants, terrorists, whatever. I don't really know how you take the entire population of seven or 8 million people and just say that, you know we're just worried about some people trying to create problems. This is in some ways I think maybe a form of collective punishment or maybe a strategy by which you kind of break the resolve of people because you know this is not going to make the hearts grow fonder. There is no question of that. I mean, I, I can tell you that I am one of those people who are in some ways you know I live a more fortunate life than most people in Kashmir. If I'm feeling this imagine what ordinary Kashmiris are feeling.
Salman Soz: 12:34 You have people who cannot, you know, who have to go out and work during the day so that they can feed their families, you know, and and they can't do, haven't been able to do that for just about a month now. So I don't really see how you can take people and say, "we will not let you communicate because we're worried about terrorists influencing everyone." I think what has happened here is: forget the terrorist. I think this is, this is a grenade, political grenade in some ways thrown by the Government of India. So I think the biggest disruption has been caused by the Government of India. And now you can cage people in some ways. You can kind of create this information black blackout. But I don't think this is going, this is not really good. For the long-term, not for the people of Kashmir, not for, for the people of the entire former state, not for India.
Milan Vaishnav: 13:24 I mean I think the government's response, Salman, would be a, in the court of public opinion across India in so far as one is able to ascertain that in the absence of hard data that seems to be a move that is generally supported by non-Kashmiris. That's one claim. The second is that if you look at Jammu itself there is support. If you look at Leh in Ladakh, there is support. So we're really talking now about the Valley. And so is this something that essentially affects a relatively small number of people? I mean I think that's some of the, some of the, some of the arguments that have been put forward.
Salman Soz: 14:02 Well, let me talk about the state first. Yes Kashmiris are upset, no doubt about it. I'm sure there's going to be a lot of anger there. But Jammu is also not uniformly happy about this thing because there are regions in Jammu - we're not hearing from those people yet because there's a blockade there as well. And in parts of Jammu, I'm sure people are not very, very happy with this. In Ladakh you have two regions. One is Kargil and one is Leh and Leh people celebrate it. In Kargil, people protest it. And by the way, people in now you were hearing from people in Jammu proper who initially supported this move and also in Leh who now want you know, to protect their identity. They want domiciles certificates of some sort.
Salman Soz: 14:49 We, they want jobs, reservations, some sort, some things that, you know, things that Article 370 provided. Now they're, they, they worry that, you know, maybe there's going to be some sort of a resettlement program and they'll, you know, lose out in that. So I think as people begin to understand in other parts of the state or the erstwhile state, what's happening, I think there's gonna be more kind of hand-wringing. There's going to be - people are going to be more upset as far as the rest of the country is concerned. Yes, of course. I mean, we've seen it. People are generally very supportive of Prime Minister Modi's move. But you know, I think this is where you take a majority know, kind of a majoritarian instinct and say, you know, everybody's happy with it. Why can't we just do something?
Salman Soz: 15:35 Why can't we just basically take the constitution and do whatever we want with it? Right? And if you can do this, you can do anything. You can basically interpret the constitution in a way that it is not supposed to be. And basically say that, "Hey, everybody's celebrating what's wrong wi-?" You know, in some ways, you know, I, I'm reminded of some polls that some agencies did about how, how in India many people feel that a dictatorship of some sort would be good for the country. This cannot be, you know, if you take the constitution and pretty much subvert it and that is not good for the country. In some ways, I feel that yes, Kashmir has been injured. There is no doubt about it. And I think this was going to extend this conflict for many, many years, perhaps throughout my lifetime.
Salman Soz: 16:25 But I think this was also a grievous kind of injury to India when you hurt the constitution, you hurt India. And I think this government has hurt India and I think this is going to have a major ramifications for the country. If people do not watch out. I think it may be already too late. People are celebrating, but what they may not know is that they're celebrating something that will ultimately, perhaps, come to harm them as well. So I hope it doesn't come to that, but I think the, the, the train has left the station.
Milan Vaishnav: 16:54 So, Salman, let's stop and maybe step back for a second and I think, you know, maybe just breakdown for some of our listeners what Article 370 actually means in a kind of meta sense, right? Because I think there are many Indians who say for 70 years there was this kind of temporary constitutional autonomy that was given it was never meant to be permanent. It exempted the state from many aspects of the Indian constitution. It prevented many non-Kashmiris from owning land. It had all kinds of special status given to this state and it's time finally to incorporate it more broadly into the Indian Union. So from your perspective, you know, when, when someone says, you know, Article 370, what does that mean to the average Kashmiri?
Salman Soz: 17:40 Well, Article 370 is essentially a mechanism by which you know a mechanism that defines the, between the Indian Union after, you know, it came into existence in 1947. The relationship between the union and the state of Jammu and Kashmir was the only state that it had a relationship like this. Initially it was for a limited, a number of areas like defense and foreign affairs and such. But over time, a lot of the provisions of the Indian constitution have been extended into Jammu and Kashmir. Now, Jammu and Kashmir had its own constitution. Now when people say that this is a temporary provision, what a, even a cursory reading of the history of that period will tell people that it was temporary til the Jammu and Kashmir constitution would be finalized by the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir. And that happened in 1956 when the Constituent Assembly ultimately dissolved itself.
Salman Soz: 18:39 So the J&K Constitution came up. Now, no leader from Kashmir at that time would have said that, you know what, we want limited time autonomy. And nobody said that. Nobody wanted that. So this, this idea that this is temporary, it's just a very convenient kind of way of people who want to promote this kind of fake news. It was not temporary because it had to be abolished. It was temporary, so that it would basically a, you know, the, a new constitution would come into existence, the J&K constitution, and then that would be permanent. That was the idea. And now in terms of people saying that, you know why have these special provisions in J&K you know, people can't buy land if they're not residents of this state, et cetera, et cetera. Jammu & Kashmir is not special in that sense.
Salman Soz: 19:26 There are many states in in India, which which have special provisions of some sort of the sort or the other. This is about, you know the States provide a, you know you know, that try to protect the identity that, you know, maybe they have linguistic differences, they have cultural differences religious differences, whatever don't, so this is not the only state.
Milan Vaishnav: 19:47 Many states: hill states, northeastern states,
Salman Soz: 19:49 Hill states, yeah, northeastern states. If indeed, if indeed this is about saying that this is one India as Prime Minister Modi says it is, then why not just abolish a, there's these special provisions for all states? Then we can talk. But that is no - they never talk about that -. They always talk about Jammu and Kashmir, never about the other states. Why is that? I think people have to ask that question is Jammu and Kashmir, - was this the only state where there were restrictions on purchasing land?
Salman Soz: 20:20 No. Then why not the other states? So that's a question. The other thing is that there's a lot of propaganda about you know. I saw a video clip by an Indian American a young Indian American man, a very articulate, talking about how a women would lose their inheritance rights if they married. If Kashmiri women married outside the state. That's fake news. It's, it's a lie. The 2000, there's a 2002 judgment by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, which says that, no, that is not the case. That is not not, you know, this would be a wrong interpretation of the special status of the state. Women can inherit. They can marry anybody and they can inherit, which, which actually is kind of a, you know, a, you know, there's a, there's a concerted propaganda effort by the government of India, by the RSS which is the parent organization of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, the BJP,
Salman Soz: 21:14 And supporters of of the BJP to kind of create this narrative. You know, this young man asks "how would people feel in Texas if there was gender discrimination of this sort?" Of course they feel upset, but the probably probably be more upset if they found out that people are lying to them to further an agenda. I think that's - you know, that we cannot, you know -. We're a small community, but we will not be lied about. I think that is wrong.
Milan Vaishnav: 21:42 On August 23rd, you penned an open letter to the prime minister that was published in the Wire and we'll link to that in the show page in which you write quote, "talk of bringing development to the people of Jammu and Kashmir reminds me of British colonialists who wanted to 'civilize the natives in India.' That didn't turn out so well."
Salman Soz: 21:59 In this piece, you point out that the government has advanced three specific reasons Article 370 has held Kashmir back one as regards to development, terrorism and corruption. So can there in fact be a link drawn from 370 to these three factors which have held Kashmir back? You know, I think part of the debate that's going on in India today is if you fully incorporate Kashmir into the Indian Union, that the state could see increased development, that it'll allow the central government to stamp out the remnants of terrorism, which we know have been supported across the border from Pakistan and that there'll be progress on cleansing government by which they mean reducing the amount of corruption. Right? And 370, essentially has been the impediment between the stated aspiration and the end state is, can we make those arguments?
Salman Soz: 22:56 Absolutely not. You know, that's why I wrote a letter to the prime minister. Absolutely not. You know, I'm, I'm a, a development professional myself. I'll take that part first. If you look at data: the government's own data, Jammu and Kashmir on on a both kind of pure economic indicators and human development indicators is not a laggard state in that sense. You know, there are many States in India that are far behind, you know, poverty rate is very, very low in, in our state. You know, in terms of per capita income, yes, below the national average, but there's so many other states that have far behind a Jammu and Kashmir. On human development: our state outperforms many, many states in India, including the prime minister's own state of Gujarat. So I think this idea that we will do development to you is I think outrageous.
Salman Soz: 23:49 You know, please nothing for us without us. That is what I say. Nothing for us without us. Please don't do development to us. That is that, that is why I wrote the final line of you know, it reminds me of what the British colonialists were doing. On terrorism in Kashmir. We've had a massive decline in terrorism, but remember that until 1988, 89, there was no terrorism. Article 370 was there, but there was no terrorism. So it has, you can't really link that to terrorism. In fact, in the last 10 years, in fact, since Prime Minister Modi came terrorism, and violent incidents related to terrorism have increased significantly. More soldiers, more Indian soldiers died in 2018 than in any of the years,uin any of the preceding 10 years. Does that mean that we should ask Prime Minister Modi to - that his government should be dismissed? As far as this corruption argument is made,
Salman Soz: 24:49 That there are a few families basically pointing out at the two prominent families in Kashmir, the Abdullah family and the Mufti family, that there is corruption, large-scale corruption in Kashmir. All you have to do is look at, I mean, you're a, you're a researcher yourself. You've written about this politics in India is far more corrupt in the rest of the country, is far more corrupt in this election. In 2019, political parties spent about 8.6 billion dollars according to an estimate by a reputable agency. In the U S presidential and congressional election of 2016, only 6.5 billion dollars were spent. And by the way, the most money is with the BJP, the ruling party who gives them this money? Where does it come from? It is totally unaccounted for. We have no idea. So please don't tell me. Nobody should tell me that Kashmiris and the, you know, Kashmiri politicians and some are more, I'm not saying that there's not a corruption problem.
Salman Soz: 25:49 I'm not saying there's not a development problem. There is. But then to say that Article 370 has held a, you know, has done this, what Article 370 exists in the rest of the country. There must be something like an Article, I don't know, 740 or something out there that that has led to such corruption in the rest of the country. You know, for you, you know, that how much money the people spent in the, in the other parts of the country for elections. Kashmiri politicians are small fry by that, by the, I've seen, I've seen politics very closely in India now. So, yeah, I mean, that's a, I think that's why I called the prime minister out on those issues. It's just a red herring. Nothing else.
Milan Vaishnav: 26:29 Salman, I want to ask you, what happens next to Kashmir insofar as politics are concerned? You know, what kind of future do you see for opposition politics in Kashmir? At some point, the information blockade will be curtailed. At some point. Those members, whether it's from the Congress, from the National Conference, from the PDP, others will be released from house arrest. Can we say anything about the future trajectory of politics within the, the union territory, I guess I should say of Jammu and Kashmir?
Salman Soz: 26:59 It really hurts when you say "union territory."
Milan Vaishnav: 27:00 Well, I mean, I think I, you know, it's something that we didn't get a chance to talk about thus far, but obviously there - in addition to changing the status - the state was demoted from being a full fledged state to a union territory and split into two, obviously with Ladakh being separated
Salman Soz: 27:17 I think you know, politics for people like myself was already very tough in Kashmir because you have to walk a very fine balance because obviously there people have you know people are generally upset with the government and you're trying to kind of you know, you, you, it's, it's a very complicated way to do politics or, you know I by comparison, I think the rest of the country has it very easy. But now I think it's going to be almost impossible for people to do regular development oriented politics because this Article 370, the special status and this protection of identity this, this had very special meaning. This is what was at the heart of Kashmiri politics, the preservation of whatever remained of Article 370.
Salman Soz: 28:15 Now that the government of India has done this. And I don't really know what the Supreme Court is going to do, quite frankly. I mean, if the Supreme Court really stands firm, and even though this government has a huge majority and they have this political mandate, so to speak, but that doesn't mean that a Supreme Court should just sit idly by. They should just strike this law down. I can tell you that if the Supreme Court strikes this law down then I think the environment in Kashmir is going to be very, very positive for, for kind of a time that we saw during Prime Minister Vajpayee's time or Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's time things were a little bit better. I think there's a chance of going back there if the Supreme Court strikes in doubt, if the Supreme court strike does not strike this law down, then I think we're in trouble.
Salman Soz: 29:01 I think if you've seen 30 years of turmoil, I think I can say that it could be another 30 years and we'd still be talking about this. And I think that would be a very, that's a very devastating kind of prospect for us. We are a small community. Our kids, you know, their education gets hurt. Our businesses are hurt. People have to make a, a living and you know, you need some, you need peace of mind. There's a lot of it's, Kashmir is like a pressure cooker. I feel right now when I talk about Kashmir, I feel I'm in a pressure cooker. I, I think you can see it on my face. I mean I can't really explain it through a podcast I guess. Kashmiris have had it really tough and what this has done is going to make it even tougher for our people.
Salman Soz: 29:45 And it's easy for people to celebrate in the rest of the country. Perhaps. It is really sad when I've seen some videos of including you know, BJP leaders saying that "now we can go and we can marry Kashmiri women and we can do this and that with them." And it's, it's so, it's horrifying. It's disgusting. That kind of stuff that you see. And you know, when you see people celebrating your, your misery that that is not a, that is not a good relationship. That is not I, I don't think that that's the way you build relationships. So I think we're in trouble. There are, there are, there are some people who think perhaps people on the the Hindutva Brigade, so to speak, a prime minister Modi's a party. And the RSS who feel that maybe the demographics should be changed.
Salman Soz: 30:37 Like what China's done in Xinjiang to some extent. I think that is very tough. I think that will be resisted. And I think I hope that is not the idea, but I think many people think that that is the idea. It's a very complicated thing to do. It's very tough to do and I think is going to create a lot of bad blood. I just hope that the country doesn't go in that direction because that would strike at the very heart of India, secular democracy. And I think if that were to happen, then basically what the government is going to do is basically validate the creation of a theocratic Pakistan.
Milan Vaishnav: 31:18 So let me just end, Salman, by asking you what you'd like to see happen next. Let's just assume for a moment that the court does not strike down,uthe government's move. So we're living in a post-Article 370 Kashmir,uand uupost-Article 370 India. Uwhat steps would you like to see the current government take in order to,umove on and normalize,uthe state of affairs within that framework? Right? Because I think if I were to take a bet,ujust based on conventional narrative that exists,uin India today, we're likely to remain in this world.
Salman Soz: 31:54 We're going - Yeah. I think that that's the thing. I think you know Indian democracy is in trouble. So if Indian democracy is, democracy is in trouble you know, forget forget what's going to happen in Kashmir. I don't really, I, you know, I think, I think what'll happen is that perhaps people will you know, I've been in this war of attrition, the government typically wins out because there's more staying power and people have to ultimately start living. But I think it's going to be whatever peace, if there is peace comes about, I think it's going to be a tenuous peace. I think there's going to be a difficult time for our, you know, for Kashmiris is going to be very, very tough time. And I think this one also perhaps you know take some energy away from where the country needs to be.
Salman Soz: 32:39 The country has a huge issues, especially on the economic front. I think this, this, this is the kind of stuff that causes such a distraction that you're not able to focus on those things. I think that is why I feel it's not good for Kashmir and I don't think it's good for the rest of the country. And I think it's going to show now this may carry on for a long time. But I don't really see how we come out of it, frankly. I mean, I, I mean, it depends on what our political leadership does, but I don't know with what face they go to the people and say, okay, let's just take this and do nothing about it. I don't think that's possible.
Milan Vaishnav: 33:12 Salman Soz is an international development expert and a member of the Indian National Congress who hails from Kashmir. He's also the author of a new book, "The Great Disappointment," which looks at the last five years of the Indian economy. It's published by Penguin earlier this year. Salman, thanks so much for coming on the show today.
Salman Soz: 33:27 Thank you, Milan.
Outro: 33:33 The Grand Tamasha is a co-production of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Hindustan Times. You can find us on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Don't forget to rate and review. It helps others find the show more easily. For more information about the show and to find the writing we referenced on this week's episode, visit our website Production assistance comes from Megan Maxwell and Rachel Osnos. Tim Martin is our audio engineer and Lauren Dueck is our executive producer. Thanks for listening and see you next week.