This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Referendum: A Possible Solution To The Problems in Kashmir?

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Ayesha Khan:

Of all the disputes between India and Pakistan, the most discussed is Jammu and Kashmir, a permanent settlement of which is extremely necessary. This needs to be resolved as both are nuclear countries and if left unsolved, this dispute can lead to disastrous consequences for the countries. To ward off the consequential possibilities of such a standoff, it is essential that this issue is addressed and a consensual solution is agreed upon in the next five years.

Internationally, a consensus has emerged around four propositions. (1) Kashmir’s accession to India is legally valid; (2) A political dispute indubitably exists; (3) Plebiscite is rejected; but (4) No solution can be arrived at against the wishes of the people of the State in all its regions.

Neither Pakistan nor the militants can detach Kashmir from India. However this does not mean that India can rule over the state indifferent to its people’s aspirations. Any such contrivances on the part of either side will not go down well with the people of Kashmir, as is obvious by its approach towards India. Pakistan, also, should refrain from attempting another military venture. India should not resort to any more gimmickry to conceal the realities of alienation of the people and the existence of an international political dispute that cries out for a peaceful and final solution. It would be a shame if India were to fail to rise to the challenge by not devising creative solutions which meet Kashmir’s aspirations, provide incentives to its neighbour to settle, and yet also manage satisfy India’s own aspiration (which is Kashmir’s membership of the Union of India). Similar solutions have been successfully attempted elsewhere and it is plausible in Kashmir as well.

In the long run, however, the most important thing about the Kashmir conflict will be the expense in military hardware which both the countries have incurred. The argument that defence spending comes at the cost of development was made by the Pakistani economist Mahboob-ul-Haq. It was Haq who pioneered the annual Human Development Index (HDI), whereby the world’s nations are ranked not merely by economic growth but by the social services they provide their citizens. It is scarcely an accident that both Pakistan and India have consistently performed poorly in this regard, both hovering somewhere around the 130/140 mark. This has entailed a sharp decline in the provision of essential social services in both the countries, like health, education and food. As is it is, both the countries have terrifyingly high rates of poverty, apart from a sizable portion of refugees, which can lead to further trouble. Unfortunately, neither one of them seems to be much bothered by this obvious reality. Instead, they have fought two big wars (in 1965 and 1971) and one small one (1999). Both continue to spend far more on arms than is prudent or necessary.

In such a situation, the only solution that holds water, when all else, including generous financial assistance from the Central Government as well as brutal military repression has failed, is that of holding a referendum. India’s reputation will not be tarnished if Kashmir is seceded as a result. Instead, it will guard against the future loss of thousands of innocent lives both of the Kashmiri people and the Indian armed forces. It will also divert the millions of rupees, which are being poured to finance this armed struggle, to the much needed cause of national development. Also, offering the Kashmiri people the right to self-determination would not encourage every other secessionist group as Kashmir is already treated as a special case. No other secessionist group in the country has an Article 370 to its credit.

A second objection is that Indian secularism would suffer a blow by the secession of Kashmir. The case could be contrary to observations. The level of cultural homogeneity felt by Indian Muslims in different parts of the nation with each other may be a moot point.

Moreover, too much is made of the size of Kashmir. Actually secessionist feeling is concentrated primarily in the Valley, an area with a population of 4 million that is 98 per cent Muslim. Neither Jammu nor Ladakh want to secede.

Holding a referendum in the Valley will let the Kashmiris determine their own destiny. If they want to stay in India, they are welcome. But if they do not, then they shall not be forced to remain. If they vote for integration with Pakistan, Azad Kashmir will gain a little more territory. If they opt for independence, they will have an immensely difficult time coping without the financial assistance India has provided them. But it will finally be their decision.

India can try allowing the Kashmiri people hold a referendum. It could only gain immensely by this act. Since India believes in democracy, then giving the Kashmiri people the right to choose is the correct thing to do.

Moreover, it is widely believed that India’s observance of the ‘rule of law’ will guarantee the support of ma:P

ny States and leaders for its claim to get a permanent seat in the Security Council. Resolving the Kashmir issue will greatly increase India’s chances at that.

Thus, in such a situation, the issue rests entirely on India to do that which is right and resolve this dichotomy in Jammu and Kashmir between sovereignty and self-determination and usher in an era of peace and harmony.


You must be to comment.
  1. Bhupinder Partap

    What a futile thought!!!! If opportunity of referendum is given to every state of India ,none of them would like to be within the Indian fold.Politics of opportunity governs Indian political scene not the feeling of nationalism.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By shakeel ahmad

By Nandini priya

By Charkha Features

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below