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Primary objective here is not to give opinion on events, but to analyze widely circulated opinions. This will involve summarizing the two main opinions, understanding categories of thought elements involved in those opinions, giving historical perspective of those thought elements, and infer wider implications.


First opinion is Chetan Bhagat’s “Times of India” editorial[1], urging Kashmiri youth to give up anti-India stance on practical grounds. Better career prospects for Kashmiri youth is the practical aspect. Argument being that India is economically strong, and therefore best equipped to enable good life for the youth. It goes on to give political options like eliminating article 370 for making India integration complete and viable.

Second opinion by Barkha Dutt[2] criticizes Chetan Bhagat’s editorial for not giving sufficient space to violent events in Kashmir valley. Events like killing of a major, killing of aspiring cricketer, response of killed major’s widow and so on. It goes on to give social option of “humanism”, that is to integrate Kashmiri youth with rest of India by sympathizing with them.


My opinion here essentially extends Chetan Bhagat’s opinion, to make explicit certain terms which I think should have been articulated. Intention here is to give moral foundations to his practical suggestions.

Chetan Bhagat rightly points out that Kashmiri people have 3 options. Politically integrate with India, or integrate with Pakistan, or get independence. I think sustainable economic growth requires political foundation, and that also should have been emphasized. Politics of Pakistan widely involvesBlasphemy laws[3] and Blasphemy culture[4], history of dictatorships, and state sponsor of terrorism. These socio-political attributes show that Pakistan has also rejected secularism like other Islamic societies, in letter and more so in spirit.

No doubt there have been religious riots in post-independence India. But relatively secular environment ensures that slowly we are coming out from culture that breeds riots. Kashmir however remains the only place in India where religion based violence caused permanent demographic impact, exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. Article 370 and local support for it ensures lack of accountability for government authorities. Accountability through rational processes like audit and “Right to Information”, its absence making governance implicitly dictatorial. So not to same degree as Pakistan, but still secularism eludes Kashmir.

There are some more non-secular elements in India also.ShahBano case[5], and over involvement of governmentexecutives in Hindu private schools[6] off late being the examples. However, even implicitly blasphemous laws like censorship, or clauses of National Security Act that led to the arrest of Kamalesh Tiwari for making derogatory remark against Prophet Mohammad[7]. Worse case these penalties lead to ban or jail term for few years. There is no mass movement in India asking for severe punishment of those who disagree - vilify Hindu or any non-Islamic, non-Christian religion. Government involvement is complex and more in many cases, but sufficient checks and balances from auditor to courts have ensured that society remains relatively free [8, 9].

So my opinion is that Kashmir should integrate to India not on democratic but secular grounds. Just because majority of neighbors want your wealth does not mean that they have right to forcibly take it. Political implementation of this ethical argument gives criteria for strongly integrating Kashmir to India. From secularism, separation of religion and state, going to idea of Liberty. Accepting polytheism and rejecting over involvement of Government. Removal of License Raj by P.V Narasimha Rao government and its extraordinary effects giving basic motivation for pursuing Liberty in all social spheres.

Liberty and Secularism therefore offering foundations to practical and more specific arguments of Chetan Bhagat.


My own opinion in previous section was a digression. Central objective is to extract two types of thought elements in diverse opinions, and then analyzing nature and history of those thought elements. Different from mainstream media, Chetan Bhagat’s opinion had some implicit conclusions. Making those conclusions explicit was a preliminary step for analyzing the thought elements. 

Opinions like those on Kashmir present some facts, and then interpret those facts. “Nature of interpretation” and “nature of facts selected” offer window into the minds of opinion makers, and therefore society’s culture in political realm. Accordingly I will analyze those thought elements.


Nature of interpretation in Chetan Bhagat’s argument: Problem statement here is that Kashmiri youth need a good future, and there are hurdles to it. Solution offered is greater integration to India through removal of article 370. Root cause analysis leading to solution being that article 370 empowers local politicians, without making them accountable.

Nature of interpretation in Barkha Dutt’s argument: Problem statement here is that Kashmiri people are suffering, and Chetan Bhagat should have emphasized that suffering more. Solution offered is integration with Kashmiri youth through “humanism” and resulting compassion. Unlike Chetan’s argument, there is no indication of how humanism will be achieved, and how does one sympathize with rumor mongering, stone pelting culture. How humanism will normalize the situation, perhaps by giving some specific historical examples where it worked. Even for a specific case cited, the killing of young cricketer from bullet, there is no indication whether the bullet belonged to terrorist or Army. And what were the specific events surrounding the killing.

Summary of epistemological difference:  So to summarize, Barkha’s solution is abstract and floating, without concretizing how it will be actualized. Chetan Bhagat’s solution can actually be implemented by first creating a mass Kashmiri movement citing ills of Article 370, and finally repealing it.


Introduction: Final solution of Chetan Bhagat is connected to facts, and has historical basis. In politics it’s the laws, good or bad, derived from mass movements that bring the change. Further, the laws like repeal of article 370 will lead to more government accountability and institutional integrity in Kashmir. American history from 1776 to 1860 shows how idea of Liberty got organically integrated into society from American Constitution. Ultimately leading to elimination of slavery. Barkha Dutt’s idea of humanism lacks factual reference and context (mentioning that same term was used by Vajpayee before is not a reference, but an abstract echo without content). It is so abstract that unless this term is connected to historical events and implementable methods, it can mean anything to anybody.

So what is the history of these two approaches? Logically and factually connected, history based opinion of Chetan Bhagat. And what is philosophically termed as “floating abstraction”, given by Barkha Dutt?

Method of logic was discovered by Aristotle around 340BC. And father of theory of “floating abstractions” in non-theological discourse is Plato, ironically who is Aristotle’s master.

Platonic and Marxist elements in Barkha Dutt’s arguments: It was integration of ideas of Jesus to Plato’s by Augustine in 4th century AD, which made Christianity sustainable. It gave strong supernatural foundations to the idea of sacrifice by Jesus.

Plato considered every earthly object to be a pale reflection from supernatural reality. In his opinion, things like horse, ring, man, everything and every event had a supernatural counterpart. While the earthly reflection was imperfect, the supernatural source was perfect. Most importantly according to Plato, everything and every event on earth had to be directly connected to those intuitively grasped supernatural ideas. This approach intellectually justified floating abstractions by philosophically sanctioning context dropping. Concept of Christian God, everything in general and nothing in particular, was reached after taking few more steps in Plato’s theory of pure forms.

With idea of supernatural having such strong (though still illogical) explanation, it became easy to justify idea of sacrifice by Jesus. Since heavenly dimension is superior to earthly, it is right to obey those who command sacrifice in the name of God.

From 12th century to 18th century however, rediscovery of Aristotle’s ideas (which I will elaborate later), started undermining Christian thought process of sacrifice, based on intuitive grasp of supernatural dimension. Christian intellectuals and their sympathizers started looking for ways to bring back their deserting “flock”. And chain of ideas from Immanuel Kant to Hegel ultimately lead to Karl Marx. He reintroduced method of thinking which was essentially floating abstractions like Plato’s forms, Augustine’s God, sacrifice by Jesus; but designed to appeal inside Industrial society.

There was and never has been comprehensive evidence as to how “Dictatorship of Proletariats, the workers” will lead to prosperity. But then, Platonic methods never demand historical context or factual connection. Only connection demanded is to intuitively grasp very abstract ideals, “humanism” and “compassion” in case of Barkha. As the following Video of young Barkha using Marxist ideology on Kasmiri Pandit massacre and mass exodus, shows she is indeed a closet Marxist.

And so the thought element, “floating abstraction” in this case, has traveled from Plato to Augustine to Marx to her.

Aristotelian and scientific elements in Chetan Bhagat’s arguments: 
Lets come back to Aristotle. Rejecting his master’s theory of forms, Aristotle further conceptualized older Greek ideas,Anaxagoras’ existence in particular, to create philosophy that developed from idea of single reality, without the supernatural dimension. Categories of different things and events we perceive, using logic for understanding concepts of what we observe, and then applying method of Posterior analytics which is very similar to using experiments for developing understanding. These methods for thinking and acting are key achievements of Aristotle. So influential were his works in later part of Middle Ages in Europe, that Christian Saint Aquinas explained God in earthly rather than supernatural terms – “The Unmoved Prime Mover”.
Rediscovery of Aristotle through Aquinas led to Renaissance and Enlightenment in Europe. Scientific revolution started by Galileo and Newton, Industrial revolution started by James Watt, Electrical revolution by Edison and Tesla, Electronics and software revolution through Turing’s machine. Also Aristotle’s rediscovery in Europe led to American Revolution, and Adam Smith’s revolutionary ideas creating subject of Economics. “Never again in history have so many owed so much to one man”, this is what Ayn Rand wrote about Aristotle.

So brief adaptations and transmission of Aristotle’s ideas are as follows – Rediscovery through Aquinas in 12th century, Renaissance involving Galileo, enlightenment starting with Newton, distortion of his ideas by Immanuel Kant in 18th century, distortion of Logical Method by Hegel in 19th century, rediscovery and improvement of Aristotle’s ideas by Ayn Rand in 20th century, Libertarian movement partially adopting Ayn Rand’s ideas through John Hospers[10], India’s Liberalization of 1990 due to growing influence of Libertarian movement, and Chetan Bhagat becoming first purely market driven intellectual post Liberalization.

Like Aristotle, in his editorial Chetan Bhagat looks for facts, categorizes them, explains the relevant attributes, connects those facts using key concepts, and is therefore able to give practical solution. Unlike Barkha his abstractions are not floating, but they are not completely comprehensive either. Just as Libertarian movement is handicapped by distortions originating from Kant and Hegel, Chetan Bhagat is not able to rise one more notch to connect using concepts of Liberty and Secularism. But overall his opinion is breath of fresh air, in a way taking forward Shekhar Gupta’s argument[11] to its logical conclusion.


Prior to interpreting facts for forming opinion, one has to select some facts from array of events. Here I analyze the kind of facts two opinion makers regard as primary.

Sensibility of Chetan Bhagat: The primary focus here is to build one’s life, career being the main aspect. The most suitable representatives are selected in the context, Engineers. Negative events like antagonism of Kashmiri public comes up, because it leads to situation like that in NIT Srinagar. And such events act as hindrance to the student aspirations. So in the nutshell, achievements of values involving positive life goals is a primary. Elimination of negative forces is the means to enable and accelerate the positive achievements.

Sensibility of Barkha Dutt: The primary focus here is negative, death and misery. The violence, the recent protests against army, the killings, these are the facts that concretize negative elements. In overall context, person striving to be a cricketer is token fact at best, because he is selected for his misery and not talent. Floating abstraction “humanism” is the only positive piece offered. So in nutshell, death and misery is the focal point, particular positive aspect is non-essential to the argument, and abstract ideal is disconnected from reality.

History of ideas behind Barkha’s sensibilities – ideas that enabled her to select certain facts for the opinion: Here too we go back to Plato. Plato’s justification of most ideas is rooted in his conception of two realities. The earthly reality is imperfect, and supernatural world of forms is perfect. Idea of circle is perfect, the circles in world like ring and round stone are imperfect circles derived from perfect circle.

Augustine came up with his view of man’s nature from this Platonic premise, the view that was later accepted by Christian intellectuals. He identified man’s essential attribute, his knowledge as his original sin. Adam, Eve, and humans being earthly are depraved, because they refuse to obey their creator consistently. The depravity of man is not limited to some of his actions, it’s in his nature, making it his original sin. So intellectuals with Platonic premise who focus on earth, most of the times they focus on the human imperfections like death and misery. For Marx focus was on class struggle and resulting violence, and so is for Barkha. Her floating abstraction echoes Plato’s “pure forms”, Augustine’s God, Marxist utopia – cut off from reality.

History of ideas behind Chetan’s sensibilities – ideas that enabled him to select certain facts for the opinion:Aristotle is the man of this world who rejected his master’s supernatural. Desire to understand this world lead to discovery of categories, logic, and analytics. His ethics of golden mean, though deficient, always looked up to best and wisest Greek people for guidance on the right and good. For him man was a magnanimous being capable of heroic deeds, and literature should motivate him by projecting “as he ought to be” (rather than what he is). Similar view of man was the premise of John Locke when he wrote treatise on government around 17th century. And this view got transmitted to America’s founding fathers and constitution.

Most of the corporate structures we see today are implicitly derived from this American view, though even in corporations this view is somewhat undermined by Marxist and Kantian ideologues. So when Chetan Bhagat with his corporate background urges youth to focus on their careers, their life goals deriving political choices. He is echoing Aristotle’s love for life on earth. A man capable of building his life by applying reason, and if needed by creating the right political environment that enables him to exercise reason.


So here we have our material. The problem of Kashmir, opinions from two influential opinion makers, their epistemology and their sensibility. The choices we make, like the followers of Plato and Aristotle, will determine the destiny our lives and civilizations take.

We can focus on the greatness our lives are capable of. Or we can stretch bad and miserable beyond necessary. We can either choose method of thinking that connects to floating abstractions using intuition. Or we can develop abstractions from facts using categories, logic, and analytics. Applying the right principles to act purposefully.

I have made my choice…. Have you?


[3] Blasphemy laws in Pakistan -http://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-12621225

[4] Pakistani teenager cuts his hand for accidental blasphemy - https://www.rt.com/news/329180-pakistan-boy-cuts-hand/

[6] How Sonia’s UPA Communalised India’s Education System -http://swarajyamag.com/ideas/how-sonias-upa-communalised-indias-education-system


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On 5/7/2016 at 7:06 AM, RohinGupta said:

Chetan Bhagat’s solution can actually be implemented by first creating a mass Kashmiri movement citing ills of Article 370, and finally repealing it.

Well, the Modi government has repealed Article 370 without any mass Kashmiri movement or support and it's definitely been controversial. Kashmiris (atleast the ones in Kashmir valley) were flying Pakistani and ISIS flags (as well as flags of other terrorist organizations as a symbol of freedom) and clearly don't seem to want to join India. There has been a communications blackout in the region aimed at curbing protests (the curfew has been lifted in the Jammu & Ladakh regions which have majority Hindu/Buddhist population). Temporarily, there is no freedom of speech or freedom of movement in the region. When curfew in Kashmir valley is lifted, there's probably going to be mass protests and conflicts between Kashmiris and the Indian Army.

India is definitely not a capitalist country and it's questionable if this move is economically useful for Kashmiris. However, now private companies and investors (as well as Indians from other states) would be allowed to buy land in Kashmir (so it would probably be better).

Pakistani prime minister, Imran Khan has been going from door to door, calling the Indian government fascist Nazis and Hindu supremacists (and anyone who doesn't oppose India to be Hitler appeasers). Many media outlets are also fueling the fear mongering, with clickbait titles such as "Is India trying to 'ethnically cleanse' Kashmir?". Once curfew is lifted in the Kashmir valley, we'll know what to make of all this.

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