The quick eye-for-an-eye resolution passed by India’s parliament on Pakistan and Jammu & Kashmir this afternoon [15 March 2013] has caused some excitement.
It is being taken as evidence of India’s resolve on this issue. It is being interpreted [principally on news television] that India means business after this.
The text of the resolution moved by Speaker Meira Kumar is:
“This House totally rejects the resolution passed by the national assembly of Pakistan on March 14 2013.
“The House notes that Pakistan has committed that it would not allow its territory to be used for terrorism against India and only fulfillment of this commitment can be the basis for peaceful relations with Pakistan.
“The House rejects interference in the internal affairs of India and calls upon the national assembly of Pakistan to desist from such acts of support for extremist and terrorist elements.
“The House reiterates that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, including the territory under illegal occupation of Pakistan, is and shall always be an integral part of India.
“Any attempt from any quarter to interfere in the internal affairs of India will be met resolutely and with complete unity of our nation.”
These are strong words.
If you’re an Indian and this is the first time you’re reading a Parliament resolution of this nature, it could fill you with pride and a sense of assurance about the country.
But the truth is that Parliament resolutions of this nature don’t mean much.
Today’s resolution is just 136 words and not a patch on two previous resolutions of similar nature: provoked by the conduct of another country and replete with intent.
On 22 February 1994, the Indian Parliament unanimously passed a resolution on Jammu and Kashmir.
This resolution was the result of increased terrorist violence and Pakistan’s attempts to highlight the Kashmir dispute.
It is worth the three minutes it would take to read it in full.
The text of the resolution is:
"This House notes with deep concern Pakistan's role in imparting training to the terrorists in camps located in Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, the supply of weapons and funds, assistance in infiltration of trained militants, including foreign mercenaries into Jammu and Kashmir with the avowed purpose of creating disorder, disharmony and subversion:
reiterates that the militants trained in Pakistan are indulging in murder, loot and other heinous crimes against the people, taking them hostage and creating an atmosphere of terror;
condemns strongly the continued support and encouragement Pakistan is extending to subversive and terrorist activities in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir;
calls upon Pakistan to stop forthwith its support to terrorism, which is in violation of the Simla Agreement and the internationally accepted norms of inter-state conduct and is the root cause of tension between the two countries;
reiterates that the Indian political and democratic structures and the Constitution provide for firm guarantees for the promotion and protection of human rights of all its citizens;
regards Pakistan's anti-India campaign of calumny and falsehood as unacceptable and deplorable;
notes with deep concern the highly provocative statements emanating from Pakistan and urges Pakistan to refrain from making statements which vitiate the atmosphere and incite public opinion;
expresses regret and concern at the pitiable conditions and violations of human rights and denial of democratic freedoms of the people in those areas of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, which are under the illegal occupation of Pakistan;
On behalf of the People of India,
Firmly declares that -
(a) The State of Jammu & Kashmir has been, is and shall be an integral part of India and any attempts to separate it from the rest of the country will be resisted by all necessary means;
(b) India has the will and capacity to firmly counter all designs against its unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity;
and demands that -
(c) Pakistan must vacate the areas of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, which they have occupied through aggression;
and resolves that -
(d) all attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of India will be met resolutely."
This is 356 words long and, if anything, so complete as to make more resolutions on this unnecessary.
Yet, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha passed another resolution today.
There’s a reason why.
A resolution is a formal expression of the sense, will or action of a legislative body.
Resolutions are broadly of three types.
1) Resolutions which are an expression of opinion by the House.
Since the purpose of such a resolution is merely to obtain an expression of opinion of the House, the government is not bound to give effect to the opinions expressed in these resolutions.
2) Resolutions which have statutory effect.
The notice of a Statutory Resolution is given in pursuance of a provision in the Constitution or an Act of Parliament. Such a resolution, if adopted, is binding on the government and has the force of law.
3) Resolutions which the House passes in the matter of control over its own proceedings.
It has the force of law and its validity cannot be challenged in any court of law. The House, by such a resolution, evolves, sometimes, its own procedure to meet a situation not specifically provided for in the rules.
Today’s resolution is of the first kind.
It is an expression of the opinion of parliament. Nothing more. Nothing less.
It reminds us of a resolution soon after the Chinese aggression in 1962.
It came three weeks after the Chinese moved into Indian territory and started a war we eventually lost.
It is so moving that the generations to follow ought to have been infused with patriotic fervour.
Here’s the full text of this resolution, worth reading in entirety. It was adopted on 14 November 1962.
"This House notes with deep regret that, in spite of the uniform gestures of goodwill and friendship by India towards the People's Government of China on the basis of recognition of each other's independence, non-aggression and non-interference, and peaceful co-existence, China has betrayed this goodwill and friendship and the principles of Panchsheel which had been agreed to between the two countries and has committed aggression and initiated a massive invasion of India by her armed forces.
"This House places on record its high appreciation of the valiant struggle of man and officers of our armed forces while defending our frontiers and pays its respectful homage to the martyrs who have laid down their lives in defending the honour and integrity of our motherland.
"This House also records its profound appreciation of the wonderful and spontaneous response of the people of India to the emergency and crisis that has resulted from China's invasion of India.
"It notes with deep gratitude this mighty upsurge amongst all sections of our people for harnessing all our resources towards the organisation of an all-out effort to meet this grave national emergency.
The flame of liberty and sacrifice has been kindled anew and a fresh dedication has taken place to the cause of India's freedom and integrity.
"This House gratefully acknowledges the sympathy and the moral and material support received from a large number of friendly countries in this grim hour of our struggle against aggression and invasion.
"With hope and faith, this House affirms the firm resolve of the Indian people to drive out the aggressor from the sacred soil of India, however long and hard the struggle may be."
This is 275 words and beautiful.
But we haven’t ever looked like driving out the aggressor.
China has since gained stride internationally while India is still preoccupied with Indians.
And there is nothing on the Chinese occupied portion of Jammu and Kashmir.
Parliament resolutions, therefore, must not cloud our thinking.
Pakistan got involved because the Parliament attack case also involved homegrown attackers.
For India to be strong, Indians need to stop pulling each other down, as they do every day.
Until then, we’ll only do empty resolutions.
Also by the author:
The boxer, the drug dealer, and the yarn
Rahul Gandhi and the singletons in Indian politics
To hang a man: How to read Afzal Guru's death
10 great reasons to leave India
Vijay Simha is an independent journalist and sobriety campaigner based out of New Delhi. His most recent journalism assignment was as executive editor with The Financial World, New Delhi, and tehelka.com.
He was a guest on Season 1 of the popular Indian TV show Satyamev Jayate, hosted by Aamir Khan.
Vijay blogs here and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.