CPSD - Commentary

Boycott, Divest and Sanction- Resistance Against Giants

Modern state structures are important as they uphold the contemporary global structure of power that came about after the treaty of Westphalia in 1648. These nation states are therefore cogs in a giant machinery which ensures a certain political hierarchy. It would however be amiss to say that the history of nation states is not filled with atrocities and deliberately taking up land and people to establish their own sovereignty. A prime example of this is colonialism which lead to an empire of oppression and inhumanity to push forward a Eurocentric model of the world. Colonialism was what lead to the South African Apartheid regime which established an era of hate and discrimination against Africans who were not only being looted of resources, they were being detached from their own consciousness. Apartheid was then dismantled in 1994 after a blanket ban of the state and its associated organizations and products. Thus in the South African example, there is an example which shows that the ruthless state, despite being shrouded in mystery and being an almost abstract notion that is hard to stand up against, there are several tactics that can be used to overcome occupation and state sponsored violence.

The Palestinian Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement is yet another example of an occupied community using the boycott tactic to put pressure on the oppressors. The Israeli state however has a powerful lobby within the United States, the world’s superpower which makes it hard for the BDS movement to really gain traction. Recent developments have however been encouraging as just recently, a judge in Kansas temporarily suspended the anti BDS law which required state contractors to explicitly state that they were not going to participate in a boycott against Israel. It is also obvious that the BDS movement does affect the state structure as there have been several harsh rebuttals from Israeli state officials. Thus, even while facing an almighty foe such as Israel, the boycott movement managed to shake up the status quo and warn the occupiers.

In the case of occupied Kashmir, such a movement of boycott,divest and sanction should also be applied. Considering that India has already boycotted and sanctioned Pakistan citing reasons of the country breeding terrorisn, a counter movement should be done. India is a stronghold in the region and tensions run high but Pakistan now has a strong ally in the form of China which can be used to create pressure on India while simultaneously engaging citizens in a comprehensive BDS movement. Support from the Kashmiri diaspora is also important and seen in the case of both Palestine and South Africa. India is the world’s largest democracy and considering its higher stand in the international political scenario, it is increasingly difficult to pressurize it. However a BDS movement could do wonders to propel the Kashmir issue forward as it has been proven historically.