Category Archives: Politics

How to create a real secular India!

Following is the Link to the article over simmering discontent on providing special privileges to Muslims by the Manmohan government. The present Congress or UPA government is persistent that Muslims of our country have lagged behind and need special packages. “We still think that unless we can give economic freedom to the Muslims, the soul of Mahatma Gandhi would not rest in peace,” the Congress- leader Mr Dasmunshi said.

This is outrageous! In a secular country, there is no place for dividing people on the religion-based ‘minorities’ and ‘majoritities’. Yes, if Indian muslims are economically backward, do provide them opportunities, and that policy actually should be applied to all the economically-backward people of India, why alone a particular community! Infact,if we classify people for the purpose of providing socio-economic opportunites, it will go in a long way towards ending caste-based reservations in a gradual manner.

Many a time, I see very hostile reactions to Muslims on the discussions boards are discussed over the internet. And vice-versa! To be proactive towards one’s religion is a good thing, but let there be no hostilities! If Hindus constantly sharpen the myth that Indian Muslims are not joining the streamline, this will only lead to further polarization. Similarly, the Indian Muslims will have to see through the pseudo-secularist policies of Congress and outright casteists like Mulayams, Laloos and will have to come out of ghetto mentalities. The whole story of Indian freedom struggle is full of constant bickerings and mutual distrust between Hindus and Muslims which led to the division of country (British divide and rule policy notwithstanding!). This is my firm conviction that the future of India lies secure only if we implement secularism in true way, like uniform civil code, phasing out reservations and doing social justice to economically backward people.

When India attained independence from Britain, it opted for a secular polity, thanks to the fore-sightedness of the founders of our Constitution. Pakistan on the other hand started its journey to create a ‘pure’ or ‘holy’ land for the Muslims. In last 60 years of its journey, unfortunately it has gone from bad to worse because in the process of creating a theocratic State, it has been ruled by mullah- army nexus and democracy has been suppressed. ‘Mullah power’ is the only power in that country. Letus apply this principle to our country: given our diversities, contradictions, poverty, illiteracy ours too is a fertile land for disintegration and fundamentalism, but thanks to our secular constitution, we have been able to thwart these tendancies. For example, Mr Jinnah told people of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh)- soon after the birth of pakistan- that they must accept Urdu as as their language. The Bangalis people were being ‘lorded’ over by the Punjabis of (west) Pakistan. The end result was that a separate Bangladesh was created: out of a pure land for Muslims, there was another nation created! The principle of religion could not keep them together! In India, in 1960s, the nation confronted the issue of National Language, there were widespread protests in Tamil Nadu and Bengal in particular over the implementation of Hindi as the national language. India tried to tackle this issue and the issue of language- based formation of States through democracy and establishing a dialogue with ‘separist leaders’ like E V Ramswamy Naicker ( popularly known as EVR) and later on CN Annadurai of Dravid Khazagam (now called DMK party) who wanted a separate Tamil country and involving them in the process of nation building. Now DMK is a partner in national politics and Tamil Nadu is as much a part of India as any other State is. Punjab is a fresh example in our minds.

Experts had written that when Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires could collapse and rebron as a Europe consisting of small language -based countries, what would prevent India from meeting the same fate! We could have, but we did not fall prey to the demons of fundamentalism, and fascism and that helped India retain its boundaries.

How India tackles the issue of resolving its dilemma of minority versus majority and reservations will define the future.

The Cotrast

Mahatma Gandhi was nominated for Noble Peace Prize 5 times, says the official web-site of Noble Prize Committee (link). The very fact that the Committee uses the phrase “Mahatma Gandhi, the Missing Laureate” says it all! This is the biggest ommission and commission on part of the Noble Committe atleast in the 20th century. It says:

A frequent criticism from non-Indians was also that Gandhi was too much of an Indian nationalist. In his report, Professor Worm-Müller expressed his own doubts as to whether Gandhi’s ideals were meant to be universal or primarily Indian: “One might say that it is significant that his well-known struggle in South Africa was on behalf of the Indians only, and not of the blacks whose living conditions were even worse.”

Whereas, read about Winston Churchill. The Wikipedia says:
“He denigrated the father of the Indian independence movement, Mahatma Gandhi, as “a half-naked fakir” who “ought to be laid, bound hand and foot, at the gates of Delhi and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new viceroy seated on its back”. This was in 1940s when Winston Churchill -as Prime Minister of Britain- did everything possible to scuttle the steps towards Indian independence. During those times, he is also claimed to have said that democracy was totally unsuited to Indians. He was an established anti- India personality.

For the records, Sir winston Churchill received Noble Prize in literature in 1953. He was a Statesman, Prime Minister of Britain, writer, speaker and truly a multi-faceted personality.

Why peace eludes the world and middle east!

Today while driving back from work, I was listening to NPR (National Publc Radio) and “In All Things Considered”, was the interview going on with a Iraqi doctor- Dr Ali Hamdani- who was leaving the war-ravaged Iraq (Waiting a Year to Leave a Life in Iraq). The doctor said that it took him almost a year to be able to move out of Iraq (to Syria and then he plans t o go to USA where he sees his future adding that it is ironic that the place (USA) which devastated his country will be the refuge for him). He said that his he is a Sunni and his wife is a Shia (or vice versa, I do not remember what exactly he said), and when years back they married, this question of different sect never came up for even a discussion, when he approached her father. He adds'” we had same prophet, same God”.These days, says the doctor, politics is being played in the name of sects. We all know
sectarian violence has gripped the nation of Iraq, where peace is still eluding even after the dictatorial regimen of saddam Hussain has been overthrown and an elected government is place, largely due to US invasion of Iraq.

I was moved while listening to Dr Hamdani’s interview. He said that he is not leaving Iraq- the only country he has known- but is being pushed out of it.
We talk about war, we see US forces all the time of TV channels, but what about the common man who is struggling there, is under the constant threat and where death is looming over his head. that is the scenario of a war ravaged nation where sectarian violence has become full blown. People of same religion are killing each other, two brothers of same God or prophet are fighting, killing each other.

Feudal Politics

The latest results of assembly (Vidhan Sabha) elections in Punjab, Uttaranchal and Manipur have not been of help to Congress. It has been voted out of power in Punjab and Uttaranchal. For BJP, it has been a gain as it has come back to power now.

I know about Punjab. Five years back, people voted against Badal government (SAD + BJP) to bring in Congress because they wanted a change as Sardar Prakash Singh Badal had not delivered upto their expectations. Captain Amrinder Singh of Congress got 5 years and now he is also out. People can just vote against the ruling government in a hope that the new regimen will bring some change, but things donot change. It is not that now people have all love for Badal , actually people had no other option! Punjab is a propserous state, but corruption in the government departments is like a pest: it ssems that it will never be exterminated and in the process politicians continue to loot the State. Personally speaking as a voter, I prefer SAD + BJP combine over Congress, but as far as corruption and concern for development are concerned, all these parties are the same (letus hope, BJP with a better representation in this government will monitor the progress of the Badal performance in a better way)!

Mr Badal has a filial love for his kith and kin (**see below, how many relatives of Badal were given tickets this time)! The states have become personal fiefdoms for politicians: they are like princely states or empires for them where they raise enormous wealth in their 5- years term (knowing well that they may not be elected next time): Om Prakash Chautala (more notoriously), Bhajan Lal have done this in Haryana, Badal has done so in Punjab, Laloo- Rabri did so in Bihar, the media is abuzz that the current chief minister of UP, Mulayam Singh Yadav has amassed property worth more than 100 crores; Mayawati has built an empire in UP and Sonia Gandhi is doing the same at the Center. Similarly the name of JayLalita comes to our mind.

Solution: people have to be the watch-dogs. We have to rise above party-politcs and form non-partisan platforms/ organizations to watch the performance of the governments. Persoanl likings for one politicl party or the other is not bad, but we have to assess the performance of the goverment in a dispassionate manner.

**Almost all close relations of Parkash Singh Badal won from various segments. His nephew Manpreet Singh Badal won from Gidderbaha and his son-in-law Adesh Partap Singh Kairon from Patti. His other relative Birkram Singh won from Majitha and Janmeja Singh Sekhon from Ferozepore. Jagbir Singh Brar won from Jalandhar cantonment (source: The Tribune, Feb 28, 2007))

Electoral Reforms

The news item (click on the title of this write-up to see that) is indeed heartening: Law Ministry is pushing for poll reforms. The world’s largest democracy – as India is – needs more teeth so as to be optimally effective. The vital player of the democracy – the voter- is left high and dry because the politicians of today have exploited the situation and either you vote or not, they are going to rule over you! What we need today most are:

1.Criminals should not be able to gain entry into electoral politics. Thus the move to debar charge-sheeted persons to contest is a welcome move.
2.The prrovision for ‘negative voting’ so that a ‘bad’ person could be precluded from getting elected.
3.Vote to ‘recall’.
4.Anti-defection law should be made much more stringent.
5.Post-poll alliances should be governed by certain rules. Similarly there could be many more reforms to sharpen our electoral system.
Wheras electoral reforms are the need of the hour, here is a write-up by noted commentator Khushwant Singh. He has aptly described the ground realities- taking Punjab as an example – as far as our democracy is concerned. And his summation of the facts is real and this is what is happening actually. As it reads:

All in the name of elections

IN a few days three states will go to the polls. Of the three, the outcome of one which may indicate what the people think about the performance of the Sonia Gandhi-Manmohan Singh Government in the Centre will be Punjab.

It is a border state which reacts sharply to changes in India-Pakistan equations. It has seen three wars fought in its territory. It has India’s third largest religious minority, the Sikhs, in majority. The outcome will indicate whether or not the Central Government policies are, or are not, even-handed in its treatment of other minorities, the Muslims and Christians.

Punjab remains the most go-ahead and the richest agricultural state of the Union. The results will indicate whether or not its farmers are, or are not, satisfied with what the state government is doing for them. Other issues like the future of Chandigarh and distribution of river waters will be shelved for the time being. The demand for Khalistan is dead. So is militant activity perpetrated in its name. Relations with Pakistan have never been better. The Sikhs have never had it so good as they have today. Credit for these achievements go to the Congress.
The main contenders for power are the same: on the one side the Congress is led by Captain Amarinder Singh, erstwhile Maharaja of Patiala, on the other the Akali-BJP combine is led by Parkash Singh Badal, head of Punjab’s wealthiest family owning vast tracts of farm lands and real estate.

Amarinder Singh has the state’s resources behind him. Badal controls the mini empire of Sikh temples managed by the SGPC and thousands of schools, colleges and hospitals run by it.
From what one can gauge from full-page advertisements in Punjab papers launched by both adversaries, money will be no problem for either party: it will flow like the waters of the Sutlej and the Beas. So will desi sharaab. Punjab retains its position as the number one state in the consumption of liquor and drugs.

So far only the names of candidates have been announced. They follow the old feudal pattern: sons, sons-in-law, nephews and other relations come first, next come caste affiliations: Jats, Khatris, Mazhabis (Dalit) for reserved seats. In larger cities like Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar, they are from the rich creamy layer. Elections need money; they have it.
Starry-eyed youngsters who dream of modernising India by ridding it of its pseudo-religious clap-trap do not appear in the lists of aspirants. For them no matter who wins or loses, it will be as the French put it: plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose (the more it changes, the more it remains the same thing).

Blame Game

The latest (February 19,2007) bomb blasts on the Samjhauta Express- which runs between India and Pakistan- are another addition to the series of terrorism-related attacks which India has been facing since decades. This train was headed towards Pakistan and the blasts killed atleast 66 people , majority of them being Pak nationals.

This incidence is kind of unusual in that Pakistani nationals have been the victims on Indian soil and the incidence comes on the heels of Pak Foreign Minister Kasoori’s visit to india.
Click the BBC link to read more about this.

Whereas both nations’ media have tried to diffuse the situation by maintaining that this savage act of terrosrism is intended to derail the peace process and is in no one’s interest, there have been blame games also on both sides: Pak blaming Hindu organizations for this attack, while Indian side blaming Jehadi outfits for this! More will be out in days to come as the events unfold.
No one is the winner, of course. But India is a big loser! In this train, there were approximately 783 passengers and almost 75 % of them were Pak nationals. The rationale behind continuation of bus and train links is beyond my comprehension. Neither India is dependent on Pakistan for economic development,nor India needs Pakistan for any other urgent issues. When two neighbors donot go along, what is the best way out: chill out! Why are we dealing with Pakistan and for what! We cannot change geography, but we can try to maintain peace by not inter-acting with each other because there is great lack of mutual trust on both sides. India is the biggest victim of terrorism and particularly Pak-sponsored terrorism as our Indian media and government agencies make us believe. Then why are we dealing with this state which has no democracy and is a ‘rogue’ state in all likelihood! What are we reaping? I state that public or common people on both sides have mutual respect and good-will for one another,but that does not solve the issues related to security and governance.

The latest mechanisms (being worked out by both countries) to jointly fight terrorism may
win us cheers from Western media,but look ludicrous when we realize the ground realities. The cross-border terrorism by Pakistan and its often changing contours on Kashmir are enough evidences that these talk will lead us no where!

If we chill out in our relation with Pakistan, deal firmly to secure our borders ( as China did with us in last 4 decades): there will be more peace and less animosity in long term! Whereas on international screen, Pakistan’s involvement in propelling jehadi terrorism is increasingly becoming established, our misplaced zeal to bring more harmony with our relations with Pakistan will be a diplomatic defeat in years to come.

Stop playing cricket with Pakistan, donot deal with this state until democracy is established ( the typical USA ‘mantra’ while measuring countries on their foreign policy scale!), deal with your borders firmly (give Kashmir in the free hands of military and let it wipe out terrorism)! As far as people -to -people contact is concerned, there are enough messangers now on neutral grounds to build up the goodwill- if we have any in our hearts! Neutral grounds? Yes, donot Pakis and Indians meet daily on Devon street like Chicago where business goes as usual! And we have many such avenues in the world now that NRI and NRP (Non-Resident Pakistani: I am not sure whether such a phrase exists!) communities are growing! Letus see what they can generate for the two nations!

Shariat Bill passed in J&K Assembly

Jammu & Kashmir Assembly has passed the shariat bill. This news has really got unnoticed in the media or has it not cared about it? What are the implications? While there is an increasing need to implement a uniform civil code for all the citizens and scrap religion-bsed personal laws, what are the fallouts of these legislations? It is ironic that in a secular country, people are treated by the judiciary based upon their religion! What kind of secular state are we,then? In USA, for example, polygamy is il-legal for everyone, but in our country polygamy may be il-legal for one citizen,but may be entirely legal for another citizen.

Here is the link to the full article.

India: A Lamb State

I often hear people saying that India is a soft state. True! Now Brahma Chellaney says that India is a lamb state. Doubly true!! I am a great admirer of vajpayee but could not disagree with Chellaney’s description of Vajpayee as far as our foreign policy is concerned. The exact passage reads:

“Vajpayee’s foreign policy was in reality an updated,post-Cold War version of Nehruvian diplomacy.
Nehru and Vajpayee mistook casuistry and word gamesfor statecraft, with the latter addicted to parsingand spinning his words. Both valued speech as asubstitute for action or camouflage to concession. Vajpayee’s fascination with telling the world about the ‘greatness’ of Indian culture was his rendering of Nehru’s moralistic lectures to the mighty and powerful. Like Nehru, he was so enthralled by his own illusions and desire for international goodwill that he could not deal with ill -will from India’s implacable adversaries. Even in war, Vajpayee declined– unlike Lal Bahadur Shastri — to take the fightingto the aggressor’s territory, battling the enemy on the enemy’s terms and relying on the United States to midwife a ‘victory’ in Kargil.”

Yes, indeed! even while India was fighting kargil, it decided to give a ‘safe passage’ to the Pakistani soldiers to return to Pak. Not long after, we had an attack on our Parliament and the famous Kandhar air -plane hijack and then attack on Akshardham temple. But yes, we are still running buses and rails to our neighbor country. In between we seem to wake up to the reality and look upto USA to declare Pak a ‘terrorist state’. Why India does not do it first if it is so convinced that Pak has a hand in every problem that we have at our domestic front!! What is preventing us to contain Kashmir and handle the terrorism with a iron hand? Why are we talking to separatist organizations like Hurriyaat and ULFA who are no better than parasites being fed by neighboring countries! What else do we need to call us a lamb state!

This article is a wonderful expression of India’s confused foreign policy since 1947. Here is the link to the article.