Changing Contour of Indian Nation-space and Its Spatial Relation with Kashmir

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Somnath Bandoghati


Though nation and state are essentially two different units, both of them are shaped and realized by spatial processes and interactions. Spatial consciousness is quintessential to the realization of any modern nation-state. This paper is an attempt to enquire about the changing nature of Indian nation-space right from its Independence to the present day and how this change has significantly determined nation-state’s dealing with Kashmir. The first section argues that the Nehruvian spatial strategy involved conceiving nation-space in the western model of secular modernity where the state comes not in opposition to spatial diversity rather as a successful manager of it. In this schema, the state of Jammu and Kashmir is spatially significant to uphold India’s successful management of secular modernity as it is the only state where Muslims are in majority. It is the Kashmiri people who make Kashmir spatially integral to Nehruvian nation-imagination, not the land itself.The second part offersan account of how with Hindutva nation-imagination increasingly gaining momentum, people-centered nation-space is replaced by the idea of ahegemonically conceived sacred nation-space- the Punyabhumi, and Kashmir becomes integral to this sacred nation-imagination more for its mythological significance and territorial infallibility,  rather than the people. The final section deals with the government’s latest move – the abrogation of article 370 –  and its spatial significance.

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