ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Questions about the Scholarship on Kashmir

Kashmir at the Crossroads: Inside a 21st-Century Conflict by Sumantra Bose, Yale University Press/Picador India, 2021; pp 333, `540 (hardcover).

Nearly two decades after Sumantra Bose published his last full manuscript on Kashmir, he has written a new book on the region. By his own account, it “draws liberally on [his] three decades of field experience in Indian Kashmir” (p xii). Over these years, as is evident from his writing, Bose has grown pessimistic about the future of the region and its people. Yet he is hopeful—hope that sounds more of a humane gesture rather than a reasonable one. Like many others, Bose emphasises the centrality of Kashmir to Pakistan for it remains part of the Pakistan movement’s ideology. In a similar vein, though a status quoist, India has also created a quasi-official ideology in which the secularity of the Indian state is dependent on Kashmir—the only Muslim-majority region. Perhaps, this makes the Kashmir issue more complex.

The book follows a simple chronological narrative of the conflict over the past seventy years. Here is the catch: because it narrates the political history, it falls short of becoming a scholarly work—as one would typically associate with Bose. That should not mean Bose’s narration of facts and events is not correct or it betrays academic conventions. Narrating history and historical events and facts in cases like Kashmir are important for a variety of reasons, but it is to emphasise that this latest work of his goes into the realm of disingenuous. Bose is dishonest to his readers but more than that to the students of Kashmir. What about the other scholarship written about Kashmir? Bose, it must be said, fails to engage with them, especially the scholarship that has emerged in the last decade or so. For evidence, check the Notes section (pp 292–311) of the book.

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Updated On : 26th Dec, 2022
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