Sohini Chatterjee provides a thorough ‘reading as review’ of David Devadas’ recent book “The Generation of Rage in Kashmir” (Oxford University Press, 2018). The many ideas that emanate from Devadas’ work on Kashmir are presented by Chatterjee in an elaborate manner to articulate the redundant question of “why are Kashmiris so angry?”, addressing an unfamiliar yet curious Indian and possibly international readership. However, in doing so, the basic and ritualistic understanding of Kashmiri “rage against the machine” is reduced to a lack of faith in the Indian system, again parting from that “unquestionable” premise that “Kashmir is an integral part of India.” Chatterjee’s review offers an excellent summary and understanding of the text, revealing a greater effort from Devadas in critiquing India’s policies and operations in Kashmir, which according to this review could as well be deemed as malpractice, misgovernance and blunt use of violence as opposed to tactics of crowd management in situations of repeated protest. The questions of islamicization, Islamophobia, political Islam and the seeming allure of Sharia law and a caliphate for common Kashmiris are also explored in the book. War profiteering and benefiting from a “conflict economy” by various figures and parties is also observed in the text. Chatterjee, in familiarizing readers, effectively and cohesively allows us to navigate through the important aspects of Devadas’ writing, while also providing a thorough preview of the many ideas that the author elaborates and that require actual and direct engagement with his text to get to a deeper view of his understanding, analysis, synthesis, commentary and historiographic engagement with the Kashmir of the last decade, starting from the symbolic year of 2007. As a proclaimed insider-outsider, and a translator of the situation in Kashmir to an ambivalent Indian audience, a purposefully apathetic and dormant central government, a willfully oblivious bureaucracy, in this book, Devadas also fulfills a scholarly role to present his differed and nuanced views on Kashmir as an alternative to the in-depth research and academic writing produced by a variety of Kashmir scholars. Chatterjee’s reading as review works effectively to generate greater curiosity in a wide array of readers, so much so that the book can be perceived as essential reading for those who wish to understand the conditions from over the last decade that have led to the unchanging and escalating atmosphere of violence in the Valley, of course from within that unquestionable framework of Kashmir being an integral part of India.
Book Review: David Devadas’ The Generation of Rage in Kashmir (Oxford University Press, 2018) — by Sohini Chatterjee