1. India must seize the opportunity to start a political dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue
- Source: The Hindu: Page 6/Editorial - Life after death
- GS 3: Internal Security
Syed Ali Shah Geelani was more an Islamist than a Kashmiri nationalist, and his demise at the age of 92 brings down the curtain on a phase of separatist politics in the Valley.
- He represented a strident pro-Pakistan stream of Kashmiri separatism. He inspired armed rebellion and remained a steadfast barrier for any potential political dialogue between New Delhi and Kashmir separatists.
- He opposed a settlement of the Kashmir question that the former dictator of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, had helped formulate. Geelani’s recalcitrance only hardened with age.
Reaction to his death: his death did not stir any public outpouring of Kashmir grievance even when heavy policing and communication restrictions in the Valley are accounted for.
Decline of Geelani's Brand of Politics:
- Loss of local support: People in Kashmir have grown wary of the relentless cycle of conflict. Geelani’s brand of politics was losing mass support even before the Indian crackdown on separatists acquired a new aggressive edge after the Pulwama suicide attack in February 2019.
- Lack of engagement: The Narendra Modi government abandoned negotiations in Kashmir, not only with separatists but even with mainstream political parties, save a half-hearted initiative in June this year.
- Decline of Separatists: After the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir was stripped of its autonomy and reorganised into two Union Territories in August 2019, the decline of separatists including Geelani was evident.
Challenges in the way forward:
- Attitude of Taliban: The volatile situation in Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s euphoria about the return to power of the Taliban in Kabul will have an impact on the situation in Kashmir. The Taliban have said they would ‘raise voice for Kashmir Muslims’ and Pakistan has always maintained that peace in Afghanistan is connected to a resolution in Kashmir.
- New terms of Engagement with Pakistan: With Pakistan emerging as a key influencer in Kabul, the U.S. will have to seek new terms of engagement with it.
- Ignorance: New Delhi has been in self-congratulatory mode over Kashmir. Even autonomy questions have been rendered irrelevant in conversations on Kashmir, which now revolve around restoration of its full statehood. However, the relative calm and silence in the Valley should not be mistaken for acquiescence.
- Lack of engagement: Political parties have expressed frustration over the fact that the June dialogue with the Kashmiri leaders last month was aimless and not followed through. The political dialogue with mainstream parties must be carried ahead in full earnest.
Way forward: Geelani’s death could be an opportunity to set the stage for new conversations with various Kashmiri outfits. The Government must use this moment to initiate a comprehensive dialogue to find a way forward for a future of the people of Kashmir as an integral part of India.
Expected Question: What are the determinants of insurgency in Kashmir? Draw its comparison with the insurgencies of the North-Eastern India. (250 Words)
2. India needs to develop infrastructure and improve access for differently-abled athletes
- Source: The Hindu: Page 6/Editorial - True Mettle
- GS 2: Vulnerable sections
In Tokyo, after a recent success at Olympics India’s differently-abled athletes extended this tale of excellence into the Paralympic Games.
About Paralympics or Paralympic Games or Paralympiad:
- It is a quadrennial event, which concluded at the Tokyo on Sunday.
- These are a periodic series of international multi-sport events involving athletes with a range of physical and Mental disabilities, including impaired muscle power (e.g. paraplegia and quadriplegia, muscular dystrophy, post-polio syndrome, spina bifida), impaired passive range of movement, limb deficiency (e.g. amputation or Dysmelia), leg length difference, short stature, hypertonia, ataxia, athetosis, vision impairment and intellectual impairment.
- There are Winter and Summer Paralympic Games.
- The first Paralympics were held in 1960 in Rome. These are held almost immediately following the respective Olympic Games. All Paralympic Games are governed by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
- This year these were held in Tokyo.
- Witnessed an exemplary show by these athletes representing 2.2% of India’s population, who are differently-abled.
- India finished 24th in the table with 19 medals that featured five golds, eight silvers and six bronzes.
- This was India’s finest outing at the Paralympics and eclipsed the previous best of four medals at the Rio de Janeiro edition in 2016.
- Despite hardships the paralympians strove towards excellence, be it athletics, where javelin throwers are the toast of the month, or badminton or shooting.
- The five gold medallists — Sumit Antil, Pramod Bhagat, Krishna Nagar, Manish Narwal and Avani Lekhara — led from the front, and the last named 19-year-old shooter also won a bronze.
- The coaches, the Paralympic Committee of India and Sports Ministry played their parts while India excelled in a championship held in the shadow of a pandemic. Since its first medal at the 1972 Paralympics, India was a marginal presence until now.
Limitations of India's sporting culture:
- Lack of sporting culture: Academics are preferred more over the other aspects of knowledge and skills.
- Infrastructure deficit - Accessibility Challenge: A simple access-audit of India’s urban buildings would reveal how even a ramp essential for the differently-abled is either missing or added as an after-thought. In 2016, an audit initiated by government agencies did not find a single building that was completely accessible to the differently-abled.
Expected Question: What makes a person disable is lack of accessibility of opportunities in the society. Comment. (250 Words)