Kashmir issue

In Kashmir, Modi's Israel comparison feeds old stereotypes about the Indian state

It also plays into into parallels between Kashmir and Palestine commonly heard in the Valley.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks on Tuesday comparing the Indian Army with Israel’s might have have gone down well in some quarters. But in Kashmir, it was greeted with hurt and some resignation.

At a rally in Himachal Pradesh, Modi had said the surgical strikes on "terror launch pads” in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir were “no less” than the exploits of the Israeli military. The comment comes after three months of protest in Kashmir, which have left scores of people dead or hundreds injured.

“By mentioning Israel, the prime minister has hurt a lot of sentiments here,” said Junaid Mattu, a spokesperson for the National Conference. "Already close to 100 people have died." Mattu added that the analogy was “problematic” since, in Kashmir, many believe that the state uses the same kind of excessive force that Israel does.

Modi's statement also feeds into parallels between Palestine and Kashmir commonly heard in the Valley. In the past, comparisons have been made between protests in Kashmir and Palestine, where civilians have been displaced, lost livelihoods, faced restrictions on movement and denied basic amenities.

In the Valley, many call the movement for “azadi” an “intifada”, an Arabic word that means “to shake off” and which was first put to political use in Palestine in the late 1980s. Some images of the civilian protest in Kashmir, such as stone-pelting children, also echo those of the Palestinian intifada.

A ‘confession’

The Valley’s largest circulating English daily, Greater Kashmir, carried the headline “PM equates ‘surgical strikes’ with Israeli operations” on its front page. Its sister publication, the Urdu newspaper, Kashmir Uzma, also took note. Its front page report on Modi’s remarks went under the headline: "Bharat ne wahi kia jo Israel ne Falastine mei kia" – India has done what Israel did in Palestine.

Urdu newspaper Chattan also featured the story quite prominently though other leading newspapers did not cover the prime minister's remarks.

Modi isn't the first person to make this comparison between India and Israel, observed Sheikh Showkat Hussain, head of the School of Legal Studies at the Central University in Kashmir: it's an analogy that Pakistan has long been pushing. “Now it is sort of a confession on the part of Narendra Modi,” Hussain said. “This has endorsed the long-drawn perception which was thought to be communicated by Pakistan and even separatists over here that Israel and India are two faces of the same coin.”

Indeed, separatist leaders of the Hurriyat greeted Modi’s comparison with little surprise. “I don’t see anything new in it,” said Shahid-ul-Islam, spokesperson of the Hurriyat's Mirwaiz faction. "I remember since the '90s when militancy started, Israeli teams used to come here [to Kashmir] and give [army] training." India learnt how to “suppress the movement” in Kashmir from Israel, separatists contend.

But a student in Kashmir University, who didn’t want to be identified, felt the analogy did not show India in a good light. “Israel is a big bully in that part of the world," this person said. "If that is what India is trying to do here, that shouldn’t be proud moment for India. It glorifies how we are being bullies in South Asia and moreover justifies the claims of some sections of Kashmir.”

The battle of perception

The prime minister’s comments have done nothing to help the popularity of the Indian state in Kashmir. In a Muslim-majority region, Hussain pointed out, comparisons with Israel were bound to create anxieties.

Such remarks, many felt, were bound to push Kashmiris farther away from the state. “Modi has a very superficial understanding of political psychology,” said Mattu. “In conflict zones...perceptions matter more than reality or facts. The long-term effect will be further alienation among Kashmiris.”

Others, however, tended to dismiss the remarks as mere rhetoric, and would have no long-term consequences for Kashmir. “The strike is being politicised for the elections in Uttar Pradesh, there is no other importance,” said Tahir Mohiuduin, editor of the daily Chattan newspaper. “As the situation was already bad here, it would have no other impact over the people.”

A local journalist, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the prime minister’s statement was “more rhetoric and less substance”, and that it was a hollow boast. “India is nowhere near the defence capabilities, particularly in terms of indigenous manufacturing of weapons and innovations,” he said.

He added that Modi’s remarks were tailored for his political supporters and had little to do with Kashmiris. “Linking his statement with Kashmir would be unfair and illogical because the statement was meant for non-Kashmiri audience, mainly the states that are going for polls,” he said.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Why should inclusion matter to companies?

It's not just about goodwill - inclusivity is a good business decision.

To reach a 50-50 workplace scenario, policies on diversity need to be paired with a culture of inclusiveness. While diversity brings equal representation in meetings, board rooms, promotions and recruitment, inclusivity helps give voice to the people who might otherwise be marginalized or excluded. Inclusion at workplace can be seen in an environment that values diverse opinions, encourages collaboration and invites people to share their ideas and perspectives. As Verna Myers, a renowned diversity advocate, puts it “Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance.”

Creating a sense of belonging for everyone is essential for a company’s success. Let’s look at some of the real benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace:

Better decision making

A whitepaper by Cloverpop, a decision making tool, established a direct link between inclusive decision making and better business performance. The research discovered that teams that followed an inclusive decision-making process made decisions 2X faster with half the meetings and delivered 60% better results. As per Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino, this report highlights how diversity and inclusion are practical tools to improve decision making in companies. According to her, changing the composition of decision making teams to include different perspectives can help individuals overcome biases that affect their decisions.

Higher job satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is connected to a workplace environment that values individual ideas and creates a sense of belonging for everyone. A research by Accenture identified 40 factors that influence advancement in the workplace. An empowering work environment where employees have the freedom to be creative, innovative and themselves at work, was identified as a key driver in improving employee advancement to senior levels.


A research by Catalyst.org stated the in India, 62% of innovation is driven by employee perceptions of inclusion. The study included responses from 1,500 employees from Australia, China, Germany, India, Mexico and the United States and showed that employees who feel included are more likely to go above and beyond the call of duty, suggest new and innovative ways of getting work done.

Competitive Advantage

Shirley Engelmeier, author of ‘Inclusion: The New Competitive Business Advantage’, in her interview with Forbes, talks about the new global business normal. She points out that the rapidly changing customer base with different tastes and preferences need to feel represented by brands. An inclusive environment will future-proof the organisation to cater to the new global consumer language and give it a competitive edge.

An inclusive workplace ensures that no individual is disregarded because of their gender, race, disability, age or other social and cultural factors. Accenture has been a leading voice in advocating equal workplace. Having won several accolades including a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate equality index, Accenture has demonstrated inclusive and diverse practices not only within its organisation but also in business relationships through their Supplier Inclusion and Diversity program.

In a video titled ‘She rises’, Accenture captures the importance of implementing diverse policies and creating an inclusive workplace culture.


To know more about inclusion and diversity, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Accenture and not by the Scroll editorial team.