Sardar Babur Hussain is a political economist working in the areas of political economy of development, agrarian transition, and border capitalism. I am at the last stage of my submission of doctoral thesis in Development Studies at the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bengaluru, India. I completed my Masters in Economics from University of Kashmir and M.Phil in Economics from Central University of Kerala. My ongoing PhD project examines the post 1947 political economy of development of Kashmir. I have presented my PhD work in international universities such as Columbia University, Manchester University, De Montfort University and Institute of New Economic Thinking.
From autonomy to integration: Political economy of agrarian change in Kashmir
Economic development as a solution to the ‘Kashmir Problem’ has been the main discourse propagated by the Indian State since the abrogation of region’s autonomy in August, 2019. The abrogation of region’s autonomy allows outside capital to acquire large scale land for developing private industries. The development approach followed, drawn from neo-liberal development paradigms with central focus on attracting private sector investment through the development of efficient capitalist markets, has shaped much of the conflict dynamic in the region since the last two years. This narrative based on the notion of ‘Economic Peace’, which ignores the inherent unequal power structures, is widely used to undermine and negate the basis of Kashmir as a political problem. This paper critically focuses on the production of the central-federal government’s and the state’s developmental policy towards Kashmir by looking at how the policy was produced and why it was shaped in the way it was, looking at policy discourse (how the neoliberal development model is worded and played out in the policy documents and in policy practice) and constellation of actors or their being invested in a property and land-based accumulation model. Focusing on the New Industrial Policy of 2021 which aims to create a large industrial land bank in the region, this paper argues that forced dispossession of the farmers for the creation of new industrial estate s helps strengthen the state’s power and its sovereignty over the locals, and in turn has severe repercussions on the local economy. The neoliberal policy framework has had two major implications for region’s development. It abandoned the project of integration of agriculture and industry on a regional basis, promoting instead their integration into national/global markets, and it also intensified land grabbing and resource extraction and created a deepening pattern of dependency. This approach to development in the region ignores the structures of power and dominance that are inherent in the process of development. The paper is based on critical review of policy reports and field interviews with several policymakers, academicians, civil society and human rights activists, owners of industrial units and visits to construction sites, and others.
Affiliation: Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), India