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[ 196 ] asia policy Explaining the Kashmir Conundrum: Prospects and Limitations Sumit Ganguly Navnita Chadha Behera’s book, Demystifying Kashmir, is a work of considerable ambition. Comprehensive in scope, carefully researched, and thoroughly documented, this work is also mostly dispassionate given the extremely fraught features of the subject. Political analysts, journalists, and policymakers with little knowledge of the complexity of the Kashmir conundrum will benefit from this all-encompassing work. Of particular significance to those in the policymaking community are her pithy summaries of extant policy options toward the dispute from the standpoints of India, Pakistan, and the global community. Despite these significant strengths, the book is not bereft of problems. This assessment focuses on four limitations of scholarship and policy relevance. First, much of the ground that Behera covers in such detail and with considerable care has been well trodden. There is little or no new scholarship, nor are there dramatic revelations based upon archival or documentary material; to her credit, however, Behera has deftly sifted through an enormous welter of previously utilized primary and secondary sources on the Kashmir question. As a consequence, she has managed to provide a succinct and lucid summary of the domestic, regional, and international aspects of the dispute. Behera deserves particular encomium for her thorough discussion of the ethnic diversity of Kashmir, a subject that political scientists have for the most part either neglected or discussed only in passing. Nevertheless, despite this dexterous sifting of extant scholarship Behera arrives at no novel conclusion about the issues involved. Second, the work displays an obvious fondness for some stock postmodernist ideas about states and nationalism. Unfortunately, these propositions have a rather shop-worn quality to them and have, quite frankly, done little to advance either theoretical insight or policy prescriptions. To be told that the modern state-building project and nationalism are “hegemonic” (p. 240) and “homogenizing” (p. 239) amounts to falling back on clichés and reiterating the obvious. Regardless of one’s normative and political preferences, the modern nation-state has proved to be a rather durable entity, the possibilities of Sumit Ganguly is a Professor of Political Science, Director of the India Studies Institute, and the holder of the Rabindranath Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilizations at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is available at . [ 197 ] book review roundtable • demystifying kashmir European integration notwithstanding. The nation-state will, in all likelihood, outlast the present century. Real or imagined national and sub-national groups still yearn to create states of their own and are even prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to pursue those goals. Ironically, as Behera’s research shows, Kashmiri nationalists of various ideological persuasions are seeking to create nation-states of their own. The putative homogenizing properties of the modern-nation state are also a familiar post-modernist lament. Yet it is hard to imagine how modern, industrial states can possibly function effectively without some form of organized uniformity in terms of educational policies, administrative practices, and commercial regulations. Obviously, poly-ethnic states with federal arrangements can address questions of regional and local differences with greater ease and less contention than can centralized, unitary states. Railing at the “hegemonic” (p. 240) propensities of the Indian state does little to advance the cause of either intellectual clarity or policy relevance. Third, despite all the ground covered the book lacks a central puzzle or theoretical argument. In attempting to examine every possible facet of the Kashmir dispute, the book becomes sprawling and encyclopedic but loses both theoretical and substantive focus. Consequently, the work fails to register a definite theoretical contribution. Fourth and finally, in her attempt to carve out a novel approach to the Kashmir question Behera caricatures the arguments and contributions of previous work on the subject. For example, when discussing my book, The CrisisinKashmir:PortentsofWar,HopesofPeace,ontheoriginsoftheKashmir insurgency, Behera takes me to task for my failure to explain the absence of violent hostility toward the Indian state in the non-Muslim majority portions of Kashmir. I would argue that this critique is irrelevant because my principal purpose was to provide a theoretically informed, parsimonious, and policyrelevant analysis of the origins of the insurgency in the Kashmir Valley. The locus of the...


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