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August 15, 2019 - Image 5

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5
OPINION

Thursday, August 15, 2019
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com OPINION

ZACK BLUMBERG | COLUMN

I

n
August
1947,
Britain
announced the partition of
the British India Colony,
creating two separate, indepen-
dent nations: the Republic of
India and the Islamic Republic
of Pakistan. To say the Partition
was controversial would be an
understatement; it has, nearly
single-handedly,
defined
the
geopolitics of the region since. In
the decades following, the Parti-
tion India and Pakistan have
quarrelled ceaselessly, fighting
over land and power. However,
no issue has been more conten-
tious than the dispute over the
region of Kashmir. Driven by
the forces of Hindu nationalism,
India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata
Party, with President Narendra
Modi at the helm, have made
rash decisions in an attempt to
gain political clout, both endan-
gering the region’s (limited)
stability and forsaking India’s
founding principles.
Like many of the issues which
define the India-Pakistan con-
flict, tensions over Kashmir have
been present since the day the
two nations became indepen-
dent. Lead by the last British
Raj, Viceroy Louis Mountbatten,
the objective of Partition was to
divide the British territory along
religious lines, with Hindus in
India and Muslims in Pakistan.
Unsurprisingly, this exercise in
oversimplified
nation-building
went poorly: it lacked adequate
consideration
for
religious
minorities like Sikhs, and the
lines themselves were not drawn
particularly well, leading as
many as 15 million people to try
and flee across the newly created
India-Pakistan border.
Caught in the middle of
the chaos was Kashmir, an
area which Mountbatten was
unsure how to handle. Though
the region was majority Mus-
lim, it had close cultural ties to
greater India. Ultimately, Kash-
miri leaders were permitted to
choose between remaining inde-
pendent or joining either nation.
While Kashmir initially chose
independence, Pakistan soon
invaded in an attempt to conquer
it, leading to a UN intervention
and a ceasefire. Included with
the ceasefire was a UN-backed
border division which gave near-
ly all of the land from the origi-
nal, colonial province to India.
In 1950, India passed constitu-
tional Amendment 370, which

allowed Kashmir a great deal of
political autonomy, something
which made it unique among
Indian states. Though conflict
over Kashmir has persisted since
1950, the fundamental workings
of its political existence have
remained largely unchanged, at
least until very recently.
Earlier this week, Kashmir’s
political fate took a dramatic
turn thanks to Modi and the
BJP. Under Modi’s command,
the Indian government sent
10,000 military troops into the
region, forced people into their
houses and cut off internet.
Though this was the most dras-
tic action Modi has taken, it is all
part of his larger plan to essen-
tially annex Kashmir.

In addition to simply using
military force, Modi is work-
ing with the Indian govern-
ment to remove a Kashmiri law,
included under Amendment 370,
that does not permit foreigners
to buy property in the region,
something which was imple-
mented to preserve its unique
cultural and religious positions
and allow Kashmiri Muslims to
remain a majority. In addition
to that, the Modi-led govern-
ment plans to repeal Amend-
ment 370 as a whole, and they
have revealed plans to divide
the region into two provinces,
one of which would contain a
Hindu majority and be ruled
directly by New Delhi. In doing
this, Modi would have annexed a
historically autonomous Muslim
region, with the goal of making
it a Hindu-majority Indian prov-
ince.
Though this is obviously not
the first time an Indian lead-
er has looked to expand the
nation’s territory, this is a par-
ticularly concerning move for
several reasons. First, it reflects
the forces of populist nation-
alism, which Modi and many
other leaders of his ilk utilize. A

common move among populist
leaders is making decisions with
the primary goal of firing up
their political base, even if they
are divisive or do not benefit the
country as a whole. In this situ-
ation, it is clear Modi believes
that politically and religiously
annexing Kashmir will appeal
to his Hindu nationalist base,
allowing him to retain voters
going forward.
However, like many moves
aimed primarily at firing up
one’s political base, this will
certainly have many negative
externalities. Kashmir is already
extremely dangerous thanks to
longstanding
India-Pakistan
tensions, and a surprise annexa-
tion of the area is likely to spur
more conflict, inciting violence
and potentially leading to the
deaths of civilians. Further-
more, it is unclear how the
region’s Muslims, who learned
of India’s annexation goals via
military crackdown, will be
treated in the coming months by
the government.
While this move is based in
Modi’s Hindu nationalism, it
also represents an attack on
one of India’s basic governing
principles: religious freedom.
Although Mountbatten and the
British attempted to divide India
and Pakistan along religious
lines, India decided to become
a secular state with no national
religion, despite being around
80 percent Hindu (this contrasts
with the “Islamic Republic of
Pakistan”). Despite containing
both a Hindu majority and a
great number of religious minor-
ities, India has managed to main-
tain its secular status ever since
its founding. However, Modi’s
Hindu nationalism stands in
direct contrast to India’s prin-
ciple of state secularism, and
Modi’s actions in Kashmir could
damage the latter. Annexing
Kashmir in the name of advanc-
ing Hindu political power puts
India’s secularism into question,
and creates a dangerous prec-
edent going forward. Ultimately,
while India and Pakistan have
long fought over regional terri-
tory, including Kashmir, Modi’s
actions represent a religious,
nationalist assault on India’s leg-
acy of secular governance and
are cause for concern.

Indian nationalism reaches north

Zack Blumberg can be reached at

zblumber@umich.edu.

S

waying prairie grasses as
tall as your shoulders. Cor-
ralled animals prancing in
the distance. Folk-band cadences
mixing with the setting sun. Farm
to table buffet food spread out
under a barn awning. These are
the makings of a summer farm
dinner, complete with locals and
low impact foods. In Ann Arbor,
Green Things farm hosts these
evening picnics with food pre-
pared from farm fresh ingredi-
ents. I’ve gone with my family
several times and felt welcomed by
the cultivated land, enjoyed deli-
cious, fresh food and explored the
raspberry patches. The appeal of
slow food became obvious to me:
I got to see first-hand the impact
of quality ingredients and sustain-
able production practices.
The term “Slow Food” comes
from the worldwide organization
of the same name which wishes to
bring clean and healthy foods to
people all around the world. Their
website describes slow food suc-
cinctly, stating, “Slow Food is food
that’s good for us, good for our
environment and good for the peo-
ple who grow, pick and prepare it.
In other words, food that is good,
clean and fair … Slow Food is fresh
and healthy, free of pesticides and
chemicals and produced in a way
that’s beneficial to all — from the
farmer to the eater.” The organi-
zation also stands against the use
of GMOs and supports the notion
that decreasing the consumption
of meat will greatly benefit the
environment. Their progressive
stance is one I believe in and one
I know could help reduce the car-
bon emissions made from farm
products.
Every type of farmed food cre-
ates emissions and contributes to
the growing epidemic of climate
change. Our task is to decide each
day what kind of ingredients we
are choosing to purchase and use
that may be able to reduce our car-
bon footprints. Of course, a vegan
diet would be the most environ-
mentally-friendly as it eliminates
the need for animal products,
dairy and all of the emissions
and resources used to keep farm
animals. However, if you can’t
take the full plunge into vegan-
ism, there are alternative ways to
keep emissions low, like simply
reducing your meat and dairy con-
sumption or cutting out red meat
completely as its high concentra-
tion of emissions is harmful to the
environment.

The slow food campaign can
help combat harmful food prac-
tices and ultimately cut down our
impact on the environment. By
engaging with local food produc-
ers, we can cut down several envi-
ronmental costs of transportation
and emissions. The organization
is pushing to create a sustainable
loop between consumers and pro-
ducers that is admirable. Their
work across the world is aimed
at changing lifestyles and help-
ing
epidemics.
John
Kariuki,
Kenyan Leader Summit attend-
ee, explained their goals from a
worldwide
standpoint,
stating,
“We all share the responsibility
for the future, and as Slow Food
in Africa we believe in collabora-
tion and not aid. Our combined
efforts can increase the global
cooperation,
awareness,
grass-
roots
interventions
and
push
policy makers towards a more sus-
tainable future.” Many countries
lack the resources to have access
to quality food, so a push towards
intervention is needed in order to
ensure people are being fed.
I truly admire the concept of
slow food, but at the same time, I
question the accessibility. Qual-
ity ingredients, organic items and
locally farmed ingredients notori-
ously come at a higher price. This
price imbalance makes me worry
that not all people can access this
kind of product. We must make
slow food more accessible through
an increase in local markets, the
reduction of costs or even pushing
local foods into more corporate
companies. While these changes
may be difficult to implement, I
think slow food should be priori-
tized and made into a more com-
mon product in order to reduce
prices and widen audiences.
Slow food is a promising strat-
egy in sustainability. It shifts the
view of food production to local
farmers and their hard work,
which allows a decrease in food
transportation and the produc-
tion of less emissions. If this
inspiring outlook on the way we
purchase and obtain food can
become a more accessible and
localized option, it will become
an inclusive way to combat cli-
mate change. Through conscious
efforts to consume less environ-
mental affectors, we can individ-
ually strive toward a safer future
and healthier food intake.

Slowing down our food

ANNE ELSE | COLUMN

Anne Else can be reached at

aelse@umich.edu.

Surprise
annexation of the
area is likely to
spur more conflict

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