The Truth About The Abrogation Of Article 370
Former judge of the Indian Supreme Court Justice Markandey Katju discusses how the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A was a ploy by India to distract attention from the economic crisis facing the country.
Much has been said and written about the abrogation of Articles 35A and 370 of the Indian Constitution which gave special status to Kashmir. I had avoided commenting on the topic for quite some time as the atmosphere was so surcharged with jingoism and euphoria about our great ‘victory’, that it was impossible to present a rational opinion without getting a barrage of abuses and invective in return. However, now the time has come to speak the truth.
In my opinion, this abrogation was only a stunt and gimmick to divert attention of the public from the terrible economic crisis facing India. Let me explain.
The test of every political system and political act is one, and only one; does it raise the standard of living of the people? Does it give them better lives?
To my mind, abrogation of Articles 35A and 370 will not raise the standard of living of the people of Kashmir, and so it really is irrelevant whether these articles are retained or abrogated.
The truth is that the Indian economy has tanked, and is spiraling downwards rapidly and irreversibly. Details about the dip in GDP, steep downward spiral of the auto, IT, real estate and other sectors, hundreds of thousands job losses have been widely publicised in the media, and so I need not repeat them. All serious economists admit that the crisis is due to the lack of demand since most of our people are poor, and the huge job losses have further accentuated the problem.
A worker is not only a producer, he is also a consumer. For instance, a worker in the auto sector not only produces automobiles, he and his family consume food, clothes, shoes, medicines etc. When he loses his job, his purchasing power is drastically reduced, and he would be forced to survive on his savings, restraining his spending to only the bare essentials. When job losses take place on a large scale, the domestic market consequently shrinks. This makes manufacturers cut down on their production, and lay off many workers, which makes the market shrink further, thus intensifying the crisis. It is a vicious cycle.
Businesses run on bank loans, and banks run on loans to businesses. Both will be adversely affected, because businesses will borrow less when their market – demand for their products – has shrunk, and banks will lend less for fear of their loan becoming a non-performing asset, which may never be recovered. Again, a vicious cycle.
The huge deficit in the Union Govt budget is planned to be covered by taking Rs Rs1.76 lac crores from the Reserve Bank of India, but this can only give a temporary relief. It reminds one of the situation in France before the French Revolution of 1789. The situation there was that the expenditure of the French Govt (the monarchy of Louis 16th) far exceeded its revenue, and the huge deficit was sought to be covered by taking loans from Dutch bankers. However, a time came when the bankers realised they would never recover their loans, and hence stopped giving any further ones, and the consequence is well known.
Our political leaders obviously realised that an economic crisis was looming, and to divert attention from it resorted to the desperate gambit of abrogating Articles 35A and 370 since Ram Mandir, Yoga Day, Swatchata Abhiyan no longer sufficed, depicting it as a great triumph over the villain Pakistan.
This has no doubt been lapped up with glee by our gullible public, whom I had described as 90 percent fools. But harsh economic realities cannot be wished away for long. Like Banquo’s ghost, they will keep reappearing.
Markandey Katju is a former judge of the Supreme Court of India. He was also the Chairman of the Press Council of India.