"What difference does it make...whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy"
~ Mahatma Ghandi
The Indian government has tried to eliminate some of the sovereignty of part of the population of Kashmir, against the will of a substantial part of the Kashmiri population.
First there were rumors it was going to happen, which the government and governor denied.
Then it happened
At first glance it seems like a risky move.
India has a colonial history of its own, as well as some extremely smart leaders, so a person has to guess there is more to it.
Satya Pal Malik is the governor of Kashmir.
He has worked in similar jobs in a number of conflict areas, which means he is considered completely reliable by whoever ultimately makes big decisions there. Whether he is reliable because he is a gifted leader or because he has been brought under complete control by some political entity is not clear.
There are indications of the latter
but also indications he does have more perspective than most politicians.
Ultimately Indian politicians at the national level do have better strategic ideas than those in most countries. It could be that Delhi knows that it will lose Kashmir and is playing some kind of long game to have the most favorable long term outcome.
India arresting thousands of boys is also an indication that they expect to give up Kashmir within a decade, and are trying to instill a post separation nationalism that will pull Pakistan occupied Kashmir into the new Kashmiri state. It's both a long term generosity on India's part and a short term pacifier for Hindu nationalists.
Most of the world has been giving more sovereignty to local populations for a while now. The Soviet Union separated into several parts. The European Union is starting to separate into parts that will be less cohesive than pre Union Europe. There are numerous separatist movements around the globe simmering, waiting.
Another serious issue is the danger of unconventional military surprises. As long as 'militancy' is limited to local youth, and as long as more sophisticated opponents do not see an advantage in escalation, there will be simply an unsolvable status quo. Not something to look forward to, but not a global tragedy either.
But the tension is between, on one side, people identifying as part of a group ie., nationalism etc vs acting as individuals, and on the other side the capability of those respective groups / individuals to escalate things.
India wants to create a 'local identity' that leads an overwhelming majority to identify as 'part of India', which would have gone well in the distant past but is not likely now. They are using Hindu political control of India to take care of the legal framework involved in controlling a Muslim area and it does not seem sensible.
Along India's borders with China and Pakistan are many thousands of young rural soldiers on both sides. Soldiers from all three sides are given small weapons, rifles etc, and told 'protect your country'.
So you have thousands of semi literate people, most of them cannot name ten countries, but they are eager for status. And they have the biggest guns they have ever had.
Things predictably happen. A few young Chinese / Indians / Pakistanis start telling stories they heard about the opposing army. They have enough guns amongst them, the five of them or the ten of them, to mess up a few of the enemy and they know they have a moral obligation.
A small skirmish starts. Usually a local army leader will make sure it stays local, but sometimes it spreads and a politician has to choose between being a coward and being a moron. Soldiers and politicians usually pick the latter. So a group of uneducated soldiers ultimately led by a moron politician eventually create an historical lesson for others.
In the case of Kashmir, obviously Hindus have no reason to control a bunch of Muslims. Hindus are not especially evangelical and they know the cost of controlling a hostile population is exorbitant.
So it isn't 'Hindus' that are behind the Kashmir thing, even if most of the actors on one side are Hindu. In other words there is no Hindu scripture that says 'Go out and control foreign people who are not interested in your control'.
In the 1990s a large number of Hindus were expelled from an area near the Muslim centered area, and part of the rationale for taking control of the one Muslim population is that the other Hindu population was displaced by Muslims. Hindus have firm power now so they can claim it is simple payback, but payback of that kind is not a Hindu thing either.
Is there something about 'India' that requires it possess Kashmir?
This is the most common argument. Hindus who identify with their current political leaders want as much land, power etc as possible, same as most groups of people. So they claim it is a national issue. "Kashmir was part of India last week, we owned you in political terms, and countries have continuity, therefore we must own you next week as well".
It makes no logical sense but it is the common logic of patriots that they can control whatever they can get away with controlling.
India is a great collection of cultures, it has an extremely wide mix of some of the most interesting people, but holding any of those groups as involuntary prisoners does not strengthen India.
India and China both have leaders who want to consolidate their respective lands. They are melting pots, but with a little sense at least. They are not caught in a perpetual trap of having no where to retreat to, as is the case in the United States, Australia etc.
Hundreds of years ago occupying areas against local will, no matter how unpleasant, was often practical or sensible for strategic reasons. Today, such occupations, no matter how justifiable they may be using various pretexts, are too expensive to make sense.
Global melting pot expansion, through its various local melting pots, peaked a long time ago and countries that figure that out sooner will do better. It's very possible that India and China are encouraging the long term formation of hard borders by promoting local battles with small arms but rapid strengthening of the military power of small groups is very close.