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A Fate Written On Matchboxes : State-Building In Kashmir Under India - Paperback

A Fate Written On Matchboxes : State-Building In Kashmir Under India - Paperback

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In 1953, Sheikh Abdullah, the first prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was jailed for being too ‘anti-India’. His deputy Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed then took the reins, and was tasked with securing Kashmir’s contested accession to India.

A Fate Written on Matchboxes tells the story of Bakshi’s ten-year client regime and the varying modes of control and governance it deployed. His “politics of life” foregrounded the day-to-day concerns of employment, subsidized rations, free education, and basic services while questions of self-determination were suppressed. To integrate and empower Kashmiris, Bakshi often doled out jobs by writing appointments on matchboxes and slips of paper.

Drawing on bureaucratic documents, propaganda materials, memoirs, literary sources, and oral interviews, Hafsa Kanjwal shows us how Bakshi’s theory of politics and state-building was marked by tension, corruption, and repression. This decade in Kashmir’s post–1947 history entrenched Indian rule. As Jawaharlal Nehru had once told Abdullah, “India would bind Kashmir in golden chains.” However, it also paved the way for local resistance.


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