The Kashmir conflict has only grown since the partition of India in 1947. After Jammu and Kashmir were divided, India, Pakistan, and China have been vying over the territory, each with its own explanation for laying claim to the land. This territorial dispute has led to multiple wars, riots, protests, and countless deaths.
Kashmir is a princely state of 3 million people, predominantly of Muslim faith much like is seen in Pakistan, whereas India’s overwhelming majority is Hindu. This in itself has caused much contention; while India claims to value Kashmir’s religious diversity, Pakistan worries that the Hindu majority will eventually liquify the Muslim state. So what should the government’s role with regard to religious diversity of its constituents be?
This was just one of the questions asked in a recent Global Health University discussion. With the Kashmir conflict laid out as our topic of interest, we launched into a colorful discourse about nationalism, governmental control, and the influence of social media on political attention.
One of the questions asked us to define nationalism; what are its benefits and pitfalls? Many of us described the benefits of nationalism in terms of patriotism: a love or devotion to one’s country. The dark side to nationalism, however, comes when one puts their “nation above all others and plac[es] primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups” (Merriam-Webster). One of our members stated that nationalism prompts “similar beliefs and similar ideals [which] leads to political expediency… but ultimately diversity is pretty cool.” Yes, nationalism can be used as a political tool, to rile up the masses in devotion to a single way of life, fearing the “other”, but living in a pluralistic society, in which many peoples come together and are enriched by their differences, that is what creates an inclusive, educated, and strong society.
Recent events in the Kashmir conflict have heightened the worry of Hindu nationalism and incurred heated acts of violence and increased the death toll which is now over one hundred thousand since 1989. However, a lot has changed since then and now stories such as these get coverage not only in the news, but also in social media. Twitter, Instagram, even Snapchat have all become hubs through which political networks can form through peer to peer connections as well as through broadcasting systems to a wide audience.
Consequently, the question rises: what kind of impact does social media truly have on politics and activism? It is undeniable that social media can draw awareness to otherwise undercovered topics in the news cycle and it bans groups of followers together forming an alliance between each other and the topic of interest. However, it can also promote a sense of sufficiency in laziness. Spreading awareness is critical, yes, however it is not enough. Engaging in activism via social media is passive, it is protected, and low risk, however the topics discussed are high urgency and require more than a like or repost, they require action.
“The Difference Between 'Patriotism' and 'Nationalism'.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, 2019, www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/patriotism-vs-nationalism.
About The Global Health Soap Box
This blog evokes the spirit of UC Berkeley -- the home of the Free Speech Movement. The Global Heath Soap Box provides a platform for GlobeMed at Berkeley chapter members to explore and discuss their thoughts on relevant public health issues. Whether it's an expansion on what we discuss in ghUs or a topic of interest--The Global Health Soap Box covers a wide range of topics.