Bangladesh

New India beefs up Mahatma Gandhi in a formidable armour

(This piece is reproduced in NewsBred courtesy rt.com)

India is abuzz with Mahatma Gandhi in the year of his 150th birth anniversary but there is a new version to his message of “ahimsa” (non-violence) which its enemies are finding out at a great personal cost.

Gandhi was the “apostle” of peace and non-violence who offered the other cheek when slapped but India of today would rather leave a black eye on its aggressor as it did on Pakistan with retaliatory heavy shelling in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) on Sunday which left at least 6-10 Pakistani soldiers dead and blew up three terrorist camps into thin air.

It was a grim fresh reminder to Pakistan that India has the doctrine of an eye-for-an-eye in its new rulebook and the “surgical strikes” and “Balakot airstrikes” which followed the terrorist attacks in Uri (2016) and Pulwama (2019) was the new philosophy and not an exception.

India is still an adherent to “non-violence” and has an unbroken history of peaceful coexistence, never eyeing others’ territory but the painful lessons of past demand it puts a premium on the integrity of its Union.

India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval often reminds his audience that India was overrun by invaders despite being arguably the most advanced civilization of its times. It never protected its seas even though they straddle three of its four corners. It led to the servitude of almost a thousand years. It faced wars imposed by Pakistan on three of four occasions: 1947-48, 1965 and 1999. It didn’t use 90,000 prisoners-of-war as a bargaining chip nor advanced deep inside Pakistan after winning a conclusive war in 1971 which led to the creation of Bangladesh.

India was seen as an epitome of a “soft” nation as terrorists kept crossing the Line of Control (LoC) through Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir and cost tens of thousands of civilians and soldiers lives since 1990. The horrific attack in Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, when terrorists from across the border sprayed machine guns on civilians on streets and five-star hotels, known as 26/11 in nation’s damaged psyche, evoked no retaliatory response from India. Worse, the very next year in 2009, the same United Progressive Alliance (UPA), returned to power without any retribution from its masses.

All this has changed for good. India today is driven in its bid to modernize its army: It has only recently ceded its top spot to Saudi Arabia as the biggest arms importer of the world—the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reckons India accounted for 12% of the total global arms imports for the 2013-2017 period. It has lapped up Russia’s S-400 advanced missile system defying the threat of sanctions from the United States. It has gone ahead with its purchase of France’s Rafale fighter jets even though the move threatened to derail Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s bid for a second term on the unfounded charges of corruption this year.

India today is literally taking the fight into enemy camp: It rakes up the issue of Balochistan and its independence from Pakistan; it has vowed to wrest back the control of PoK for a unified Kashmir and its defence minister Rajnath Singh has already debunked the “No-First-Use” nuclear doctrine. India stood up for its ally Bhutan and stared down China in a face-to-face standoff between the two armed forces in Doklam in 2017 which lasted months.

India is not only flexing its armed muscle but is also a crusader against global terrorism on international forums. India has successfully overturned China’s reluctance in having Masood Azhar of Pakistan blacklisted by the United Nations. It dissuaded South Asian countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan from joining the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Summit hosted by Islamabad in November 2016 after the Uri attack. It recently tried it’s very best to have Pakistan blacklisted by the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) and has openly fallen out with Turkey and Malaysia for standing by Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.

India loves and is proud of Mahatma Gandhi and the message of “vasudhaiva kutumbakam (The World Is One Family) which defined the great man’s extraordinary life. But it doesn’t want to ignore the lessons of history. It is prepared to lift arms to protect its people and boundaries which is different from being an aggressor. It’s a nuanced approach to Gandhi’s philosophy and it seems to be paying dividends.

(This is a reprint from Russia Today—rt.com— for whom the author has penned this piece).

Hail India’s war against poverty but don’t overlook the dangers ahead

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Every coin has two sides but let’s first flip the one which is justifiably being feted across the globe: In mere 10 years, India has halved its poverty from 55 to 28 percent, i.e 369 out 640 million people are out of its vicious grip. The World Bank estimates that if India doesn’t lift its foot from the pedal, extreme poverty would belong to past in 2030.

Extreme poverty isn’t about the money you have in your pockets which incidentally is less than US$1.90 per day in monetary terms. The global standards follow Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) which focuses on health, education and living standards and measures them through the 10 indicators of nutrition, child mortality, schooling years, school attendance, sanitation, cooking fuel, drinking water, electricity, housing and assets. Those who lack in one-third of these parameters are extremely poor.

 It’s no-brainer to most Indians to identify the areas in which India has managed giant leaps: 93% of India now has access to electricity; almost 100 percent houses now have household toilets; 94% have access to cooking gas and housing-for-all could be a reality by 2022. However nutrition (India’s in 100th out of 118 in Global Hunger Index); child mortality (at 1.2 million a year the highest in the world); education (one in six Indians is out of its bounds) and drinking water (100 million Indians have almost zero-access) are gaping holes and forces us to look at the other side of the coin.

Urban and rural divide for instance. An urban worker earns eight times an average of agriculture worker even though two-third of India’s 1.3 billion people live in its villages. This disparity partially explains why 34 farmers commit suicide per day in India. Indian farmers are smallest landholding class on the planet and can’t bargain in open market for their little produce. It tells us about the inequality in consumption and physical and social infrastructure. If forewarns us about the violence which is heaving below the urban-rural divide.

India’s political elites do paper it over with doles such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREG) programme which assures 100 days of guaranteed wages for unskilled manual labour. But what about the other 265 days? Why waste India’a incomparable human resources – every second Indian is less than 25 years—on digging wells and laying roads when they could be trained to use technology? Is there even a comparison between manual and skilled labour? What stops Indian farmers to adopt technology?

Gender and caste are two other areas which continue to hold India back. Jobs for women indeed have fallen off from a high of 36 percent in 2005 to 26 percent in 2018. Nearly 200 million women either don’t get paid or are in the unorganized sector. Poverty and restrictive social or family mores still keep them out of the basic education loop, forget about the digitized education which has overtaken the world.  

Muslims and Scheduled Tribes/Scheduled Castes continue to be India’s poorest living groups. Sure there is a huge reduction in their rates of poverty between 2006 and 2016, still every second person among Scheduled Tribe and every third among Muslims is poor. Admittedly, there is a reason for it since Muslims still prefer Madarasa (seminary) where religious initiation is the preferred mode to grounding in science and mathematics. Tribals face the issue of assimilation in mainstream India.

At a macro-level, 364 million Indians are still extremely poor, which is more than the population of United States. At a micro-scale, just four states—Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh—account for 196 million of these extremely poor. Some are as poor as Sierra Leone in Sub-Saharan Africa, like Alirajpur district in Madhya Pradesh, the poorest in India, where 77 per cent of people aren’t sure if they would live to see another day.

It’s not to deny India’s eye-catching gains in war against poverty. The average life-expectancy of an Indian has increased by 11 years since 1990. Still it remains one of the 10 poorest countries in the globe alongside Bangladesh, Peru, Vietnam, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Combodia, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Haiti. It’s a war which is not over till it’s over.

 

 

 

Left is over; let a thousand lotus bloom

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

BJP has swallowed Left in West Bengal which is a significant tide in the history of the state and the nation.

With Kerala gone too, along with Tripura last year, Left as a political and ideological force has its’ funeral procession waiting at its door.

It was a political force which dominated the discourse of independent India, shaping Nehruvian philosophy and garnering numbers of its own which helped form many a government, most notably in 1989, 1996 and 2004; the last one being a stunning guerilla ambush of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s “Shining India.”

Left was a far deadlier force as an ideology since its call to the poor and “secular” cloak hid the agenda of breaking up India by pitting poor against the rich; Hindus against the Muslims and making sure India doesn’t reclaim its glorious heritage and thus identity.

Left stood on two planks of Congress and propaganda. Congress provided the spread, power and fund which in turn turbo-charged propaganda through media and academia. (I am sure many names will swirl in your head when I name media and academia but let’s resist name-shaming for the time being).

It’s reasonable to assume that their ideological fulcrums in Russia and China massively nourished this elephant in the room for many decades and perhaps still do. Fundamentalist Islamic states which seek converts worldwide, couldn’t have ignored this massive power bloc. Colonial forces, without colonies but not without agenda, sprouted NGOs and CIA never slept. With a friendly umpire in Congress and Left, India’s pitch was queered and transgressions were ignored.

Such powerful entities don’t die easily. Left has no takers in politics but its’ foolish to assume they are dead ideologically too. That they wouldn’t be up to their mischief.  I suspect they would strike back with double the vengeance. They still have their tools in media, academia, judiciary and bureaucracy. The ears and pockets of foreign forces aren’t spent. A strong India would be an eyesore to many. More so to the West who dreads a resurgent Asia.

In the first Parliament in 1952, Left was the main “opponent.” Once it split in 1967, the newly born CPI-M made steady progress in subsequent elections—(19 seats in 1967), (25 in 1971), (30 in 1980). In 2004, it stood at 43 seats! Indeed, it put Congress on wheels.

The rise of BJP has struck at its roots. Its’ cadres and proxies, or whosoever was left after Mamata’s poach, are shifting in en masse to BJP. In 2009, Left had 19 winners and just nine in 2014. They had two seats from West Bengal in 2014—now they have none. Kerala, where they had the majority stakes in the ruling coalition, they now have just one. Barring four in Tamil Nadu, that too thanks to Congress and DMK which made space for them, it’s politically over.

Those who know the troubled history of Bengal, its’ vicissitudes, they won’t miss the magnitude of this seminal moment. It’s been a land of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Ravindranath Tagore, Subhas Chandra Bose,  Vivekanand, equally vivid in the nightmare of blood which flowed in the streets, if not in Hooghly, on many a occasion. Be it the sinister design of Muslim League and Suhrawardy—Direct Action Day—or when Bangladesh beckoned on the other side. Writers, poets, revolutionaries, social reformers have jostled side by side with butchers, scoundrels, monsters and Satans. Bengal has always been a land of extremes.

But for propaganda tools, little is left in Left’s kit. No longer can they sell poverty to  an aspirational India. No longer it’s a magnet to deprived. There are no takers to these dream-merchants. They can foment trouble in fertile universities, dictate narrative through Lutyens Media and flash their blood-soaked daggers. India can’t go back into the jar of 60s.

Sure, Left still controls the levers of Lutyens media and academia. It’s not a negligible tool. But Modi 1.0 has shown it can be combated. India, by and large, didn’t fall for it. Yes, NYT, Washington Post, Time and BBC, the typical choirboys, were at hand. But people knew better. As long as 1.3 billion people can smell rose in their verandah, these guys can walk up and down the street and stare at “Beware” signs. We can live with that. Archaeology can have its new section. Dinosaurs can have their museums.  Market won’t run out of wreaths.

 

 

Minorities: Wish Imran Khan looks at this mirror of his own

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Mr Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, please don’t be a joke.

You want Pakistan to be a shining light of example for India in its treatment of minorities. It must be the cruelest joke not only on Hindus, Sikhs and Christians of whosoever are left in Pakistan but also on fellow Muslims such as Shias and Ahmadiyyas in the persecution of which you’ve played your hand. And should I remind you of what Pakistan has done even to Sunni Muslims, nearly 2.5 millions now, whom you left to their own fate in Bangladesh after agreeing to repatriate them?

I would not even get into the basic fact of only 2 per-cent of 23 percent of Hindus/Sikhs/Christians at the time of Partition are now left in Pakistan. Or that correspondingly, India’s 8 per cent of Muslims minority in 1947 has now ballooned to nearly 20 per cent. Let me begin by showing you the mirror on your act both as a Prime Minister and as a politician.

Isn’t it a fact that soon after you became the Prime Minister, you removed Dr. Atif Mian from the Economic Advisory Council only because he is an Ahmadiyya and in protest of which two other economists in the panel, Dr. Imran Rasul and Dr. Asi Ijaz Khwaja resigned? Do you need be reminded that a Punjab minister Salman Taseer was assassinated in 2011, being blamed for blasphemy as he advocated a fair trial for Christians even as you were flourishing in your political career?  Or that a Sunni Muslim terrorist group called Sipah-e-Sahaba which targets Shias is said to enjoy the state patronage?

Do you need be reminded that since your Constituent Assembly in 1949 declared Pakistan to be an Islamic State, Kafirs include both minorities and even fellow Muslims? Shias may number 20 per cent of the population but violent extremist action against them is routine. Ahmadiyyas have been declared non-Muslim by a writ of the state. There are forced conversions to Islam. Their houses of worships are bombed frequently. Pakistan’s pro-Wahabi/Saudi leaning against anti-Shia/Iranian is known to all but to you. The concept of a minority is alien to Islam and Pakistan. They have no future in Pakistan. The religious cleansing is consistent with the state philosophy. As Justice MC Chagla wrote in Roses in December: “To Pakistan, everything is communal.”

The constitutional amendment in the 1980s included in non-Muslims not only Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Parsi or Buddhist community, but also anyone of the Qadani/Lahori sect, a Bahai or a person belonging to any of the scheduled castes. Ahmadiyyas are already declared non-Muslims. Campaigns are on to condemn Shias to similar fate.

Around a million Muslims from Bihar opted to go to East Pakistan in 1948 because they believed in Qaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and in the concept of “Islamic Pakistan.”  They were the ‘Urdu” speakers to “Bengali-speaking” inhabitants of East Pakistan.  They overtly supported West Pakistan during the turbulent year of 1971 when a successful revolt against the repression, death and rape of Pakistan’s army culminated in India’s intervention and creation of Bangladesh.

It unfolded a nightmare for these Bihari Muslim migrants. First Mukti Vahini and then Bangladesh state systematically targeted and killed them. Everything they owned was taken away from them. The glamorous sounding “Geneva Camp” near Dhaka is a living hell for these Bihari Muslims to this day.

Various heads of Pakistan have visited “Geneva Camp” over decades. In the 1980s, Pakistani president Zia-ul-Haq assured these “stranded Pakistanis.” Later Nawaz Sharif made similar promises during the 90s. Benazir Bhutto, who belonged to Sindh, earlier had made it clear that there was no space for them in Pakistan. During his 2002 trip to Bangladesh, then Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf said he couldn’t allow Biharis to emigrate to Pakistan. This is the fate of nearly 2.5 million Urdu-speaking outcasts rotting in Geneva and others camps around Bangladesh.

Their loyalty and belief in the concept of Pakistan has resulted in a terrible fate for nearly three generations of these Bihari Muslims. Only 1.7 lakh have been repatriated so far. The rest have been stalled. Those who have been repatriated are experiencing a living hell.

Most of those repatriated are crammed in a slum in Mian Channu in Punjab, Pakistan. During the 1980s Karachi riots, the ethnic Sindhis targeted them with impunity. Their schools are bombed. Then there is Orangi town in Karachi which houses Biharis in a pathetic condition.

This is the price fellow Muslims who believed in the idea of Pakistan have paid over generations. The medal of destitution is all they have got for their loyalty.  But look at the gall and cheek of Pakistan’s Prime Minister and his copious tears on minorities.

Swami Sanand’s death would sit heavy on Modi’s conscience

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

We all need to go beyond the death of fasting Swami Sanand (October 11,2018) and the disappointment he carried to his pyre at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s indifference to his demands for  “Aviral Ganga.”

His no longer can be treated as an unfortunate incident for it throws up a whole lot of disturbing questions about the present ruling dispensation, unethical Congress, the clique of Sadhus and even Shankracharya, and above all an ecological disaster which awaits at least 40 million Indians if Maa Ganga goes.

If you cared to look on Youtube, you would be startled by the lucidity and conviction of the great man, how logical and disappointed he sounded on Prime Ministers, ministers, high bureaucrats, media and his own fraternity of sanyasis and sadhus, how instructional he is to individuals like you and me about trusting no one but yourself in achieving a higher cultural and ecological goal.

Those who hold the Hindu heritage and its revival as their life’s mission; that PM Narendra Modi is the harbinger of that change, would be sorely wounded hearing the great Sage say the project of “there can be no bigger conspiracy than Namami Gange”1 and that over Rs 20,000 crores spent on the holy river since 1986–and hundreds and thousands of crores more in near future–have been such a terrible, colossal waste.

He makes you shudder to the bones when he asks how the holy water, considered essential for a dying Hindu in every household, whose ashes if submerged in the holy river could pave the way for “nirvana”, which makes 10-12 crore devotees gather in faith in a Kumbh Mela; whose bacterial properties are lauded in 11 of 18 Puranas; which Krishna mentions in Bhagwad Gita as a dual image of his own, whose water once remained pure in jars even after decades, is hugely disease-prone today.

His stark questions to Uttarakhand government that it promotes and earns millions in the name of holy tourism in Haridwar and Rishikesh; makes visits of “kanwarias” as a moment to whip up the holy sentiments; and yet makes no attempt to stop hundreds of “barsati naaluhs” (rain-fed drains) from throwing its waste into the holy river; the debris of construction which further pollutes the river; the unbridled sand-mining, is a case of willful corrupt hypocrisy.

To the Central government, he outlines the wrong methodology of measuring the contaminated Ganga water; the hundreds of dams under construction/planned, usurping Ganga’s lands, the obfuscation between a judicial order and the real situation on ground which made him undertake multiple fasts since 2008 when he forsake his identity of G.D. Agarwal, a graduate from Berkley University, an IIT-professor; an original member-secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board, and took to “sanyas” all with the sole purpose of devoting the rest of his life to the service of the mighty river he always addressed as Gangaji or Maa Ganga (“Like all women are not your mother; all rivers are not Gangaji”, is one of his famous euphemism).

He believed implicitly in the vow of PM Narendra Modi on the banks of river Ganga in Varanasi as his “mother” but then over a period of four-and-a-half years saw the uselessness of “Namami Gange”, the same bureaucratic apathy and the same litany of false promises. His first two letters to Modi during his final and fatal fast were initially addressed as “my younger brother” before his final letter took a formal tone. None of them elicited a response.

Politicians cutting across party lines are shown in poor light in various audios and videos which are listed at the end of this article and which are source of all the facts in this article. MatraSadan,here he lived and fasted, issued a transcript of Swami Sanand’s conversation with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, holding the Ganga Rejuvenation project, which shows a rather disdainful minister.

Swami Sanand’s interview with Madhu Purnima Kishwar mentions how then Union Minister Jairam Ramesh once refused to scuttle a project since Rs. 500 crores had been spent on it. “If money is the issue, we would raise Rs 500 crores for you,” retorted Swami Sanand. “And our commission?” said Ramesh, rather jestily. “We would arrange it too,” sniped back Swami Sanand.

Swami Sanand’s views are readily available on YouTube on how he was forcibly admitted in AIIMS; how visitors couldn’t reach him in hospital even in visitors’ hours unless they were screened; how his faith in fellow sadhus and sanyasis—“all sadhus are dhongis, maukhata lagaye huan hain “(all Sadhus are hypocrites and two-faced)”—and even in his own Guru and Shankracharya—“how my private emails to government were instantly made available to them and how I was subsequently rebuked by them”—was completely eroded by the end of his legendary life. Not to mention environmentalist Sunita Narain who he found making excuses for her absence to Ganga’s cause.

And why this fuss was all about?

Because Swami Sanand scientifically knew more about Gangaji more than ordinary folks in this country do. The holy river which begins in Gangotri glacier in Himalayas’s southern slope and runs through India and Bangladesh, a total distance of 2520 kms, home to 140 different species of fish and 90 species of amphibians, many of them now extinct, is the mother which nurtured India’s civilization for tens of thousands of years. It created the arable lands, lush forests, supported life which allowed the cultural, intellectual and religious magnificence of this country to flourish and endure.

The sediment-rich flow of Ganga and Brahmaputra is the largest known river delta in the world, spanning 59,000 square kilometers, supporting the livelihood of 400 million people. Vedas heavily mention Ganga as a sacred river.

It’s just not water alone—though it’s important enough for who survives without water?—but its’ unique properties. DS Bhargava of University of Roorkee found Ganga to decompose organic waste at a 15-25 rates faster than any other river of the world.

New Delhi’s Malaria Research Center claimed that water taken from Gange’s upper ambit prevented mosquito breeding. British bacteriologist Ernest Hanbury Hankin found out in 1896 that Vibrio Cholerae, a deadly bacterium known to spread Cholera, was killed within three hours after it was added in water from Ganga. He eventually concluded that Ganga—and Yamuna—have been largely responsible for preventing the spread of cholera.

Swami Sanand’s death to Gangaji’s cause was not the first one. Swami Nigmananda had died for a similar cause, seven years ago in 2011.  Swami Sanand’s had famously predicted that Swami Nigmananda’s death would make 10 Nigmananda’s sacrifice their lives. He himself was to be the next in line. The people we choose to effect the change, however, remain indifferent. Ganga remains a dump of our waste. Nothing but a mass resistance would do if Ganga, or India, is to survive.

Reference:

1-  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7rW0nNkxwU (23.51-24.05)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzdoc-8kupk

http://thinkworks.in/speakers/gd-agarwal/

Bhagwat signals a tectonic shift for RSS

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) wants a samwad and it would leave its opponents nowhere to run.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s clear position on Muslims, reservations, lynching, Indian constitution etc was like an elephant who just walked through the door of the corrupt in their own vice den.

All these years, Sangh grew and grew, preferring action for words, which allowed a cottage industry of dishonest politicians, academicians and journalists to grow fat on global agenda of fundamentalist Islamic and Christian forces—for these two religions alone want to prevail till the world comes to an end.

I deliberately ignore Left for unlike long-standing religions, the innocents are now wiser on them. The jackals who fed on the disaffected now appear flattened under their own tomes.

Earlier, RSS’ silence was seen as the proof of the guilt. Now, that they are behind mike, and on the podium, right in Lutyens’ living room, all we are hearing through the broken glass-panes is: Hey, listen, these are words, just words, for their actions won’t sync.

So, if you are silent, you are guilty. If you speak, a hypocrite. If you act, it’s only token and an eyewash.

RSS all these years had seen the futility of engaging with the rogues and its’

Republic of Propaganda. The game was so rigged, why even bother to be on their turf? This couplet more or less sums it up:

Wahi Qatil, Wahi Shahid, Wahi Munsif Thehre;

Agraba mere karen qatl ka daava kis par

(They are killers, witness and judge all rolled into one. Who do you think my relatives should appeal to on the murder?).

The new RSS wants seminars, debates and discussions. It’s a tectonic shift. Their silence didn’t win them over the urbans whose eyes and ears were controlled by the Lutyens’ Media. RSS could’ve ignored it but the devils have wedged a divide. They wanted Muslims to be insecure, anxious, troubled, jittery and skittish and a narrative to be built which would’ve painted Hindutva as murderous, fascist and totalitarians. That’s not good for the Hindus, not for Muslims and certainly not for India.

Never is a more concerted effort needed than now to bridge the divide. Hindutva would lay beaten if a Muslim child is poisoned by the chalice of his parent’s fears and grows into an alienated branch of this country in the cusp of great things. RSS has sensed the danger inherent and hence Bhagwat’s words: “If-Muslims-are-unwanted-then-there’s-no-Hindutva” is a giant leap of faith which needs be repaid in faith.

We’ve seen in recent years how Dishonests are emerging out of their rat-holes. They are fighting for survival. They are dead if their narrative of polarization is given a noisy burial. And that’s the need of the hour. RSS just doesn’t need one Bhagwat; it needs thousands of Bhagwats. They are all out there but need a cohesive force to keep them together; grow and multiply. Their voices need be sustained and spread to every household.

So far most of it is private initiative. An OpIndia here; a Swarajya there; a Litfest in Pondicherry; it all needs a structure; an umbrella which keeps the cement of edifice dry. Only if this bull is taken by its horns, would we be able to stop Kerala and Bengal from becoming another Pakistan and Bangladesh. Polarization built the narrative of the Partition. History must not be allowed to repeat itself. Such a dragon must be slayed by stout hearts, clear heads and strong hands.

 

Centre rushes forces to Assam; all eyes on NRC draft

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Centre has rushed tens of thousands of paramilitary forces to Assam lest violence breaks out in the north-eastern state after the second draft of National Register of Citizens (NRC) is released on July 30.

The first draft had embraced 1.9 crores out of 3.9 crores as legal citizens of the state. The second draft could take care of a few lakhs more. But what’s certain is that there would be many lakhs more who won’t have the papers to meet the cut-off date of March 24, 1971.

A majority of them are persecuted Hindus fleeing Bangladesh: informed sources put it to over 11 million Hindus between 1964 and 2013. There is also no insignificant numbers of economically-motivated Muslim migrants over decades.

Most have moved directly across the vast 272 km border which Assam shares with Bangladesh. Some have come from West Bengal. Being termed illegal overnight could’ve serious law and order consequences though home minister Rajnath Singh has stressed “it’s just a draft” and nobody is going into a “detention centre.”

Census figures over the years show that Assam’s population exploded by 36 per cent between 1951-1961; and by 35% over the next decade. In 2011 Census, it’s population was 31.2 million which was a 17.1% rise from 2001 figures. Most migrants are Bengali-speaking and Barak Valley is their stronghold. The Assamese-speaking population of the state are rooted in Brahmaputra Valley.

NRC is hardly a comfort to (a) an illegal Hindu migrant family who fears being sent back to Bangladesh where it fled religious persecution in the first place; or (b) Muslim migrants who in one stroke could find two of its generation stateless refugees; or (c) even indigenous Assamese who know NRC would make no difference to ground reality and that these illegal immigrants would multiply manifold if the Citizenship Bill 2016 is passed into an Act.

All things point to nothing materially changing for illegal migrants post release of second draft of NRC. One, India doesn’t have an agreement with Bangladesh in place (our eastern neighbours don’t even acknowledge influx of illegal migrants from its stable); Two, a porous border allows an extradited illegal migrant to return without hassle; Three, many lakhs of illegal immigrants are already spread all over the country, especially in metropolis such as Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. Who keeps tab on them?

It’s worth remembering that the present exercise of NRC is at the behest of Supreme Court. The Centre has got nothing to do with it. BJP can’t abandon illegal Hindu migrants—which would be a stick they would be beaten with– nor antagonize local Assamese who have given vote in their favour in 2016 assembly elections.

This makes nobody happy. Certainly not people. But Congress is sure to fish in troubled waters which is largely a making of their own indifference, if not mischief. Congress has ruled Assam for decades and benefited immensely from the political umbrella it provided to illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. Despite then-PM Rajiv Gandhi signing the 1985 accord with leaders of the Assam movement, it remains an embarrassing fact for the party that only 2442 illegal immigrants were expelled from Assam between 1985-2012.

Not to forget TMC  and its head, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who is already stoking the fire in Assam from her den in order to appease illegal migrants in her own state who arguably are her vote bank; or Left which in the past sabotaged one such move by Shiv Sena-BJP combine in Maharashtra to deport illegal Bangladeshis in 1998.

Sooner than later though, illegal migrants must be taken off the election rolls; ways must be found to give refuge to millions of fleeing Hindus (and other Indic minority sects) from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh with full citizenship status (without worrying about Rohingyas or Human Right Activists—for Hindus have only India to turn to while Muslims and Christians have dozens of own doors to knock around the world); and illegal migrants legally committed not to indulge in political or religious subversive acts.

 

 

Sharia Courts in all districts is recipe for another Pakistan

The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has plans to introduce Sharia Courts (Darul-Qaza) in all 640 districts of India.

Even though Sharia Courts have no locus standi in the precincts of India’s courts, and that individuals and not a religious group is an entity in the eyes of a “secular” state, the AIMPLB recommends itself to solve the personal conflicts of Muslims in this country, citing the inordinate time a case takes in legal courts and claiming the guardianship of interpreting “Quran” the holy book for its adherents.

It’s a dangerous, calculated ploy by the AIMPLB to present itself as the upholder of “Quran” and thus obtain a complete subservience from the Muslim population of India, preparing a ground of conflict with India’s legal system which has recently made a move on the “triple talaq” issue and which is at the cusp of making a “Ram Janmabhoomi” verdict.. It’s preparing a ground for “two-nation” theory and has seeds of another Partition, another Pakistan in it.

The threat is real due to the weak nature of Indian judiciary which, in the past, passed a Shah Bano judgement couched as its “interpretation” of Sharia laws. India’s rule of government is no better in cracking a whip on a body about whom 95.5% percent of Muslim women have not even heard of.

Prof. Mohammad Tahir, an international expert on Muslim law, and a former chairman of Minorities Commisson, has no doubt that the Muslim law board manipulates Quran to perpetuate regressive laws and that it needs to be abolished. A few of the instances he cites,are worth quoting: “There are two verses in Quran on talaq. One verse says, `Divorce is only twice.’ The other Quranic verse says a person can’t divorce his wife unless there is an arbitration or reconciliation process from both sides. The Maulvis prefer to choose the first verse as law and the second as a mere morality.

“Similarly there is no Quaranic sanction for a Muslim law which treats two female witnesses as equal to one male witness… Every sensible Hadith is declared false, every sensible verse of the Quran has been abrogated.”

“Frankly I want (Muslim law) board to be abolished. It’s members are paranoid and they speak rubbish. Everytime the Supreme Court delivers a judgement, the Board says it is interfering with the Shariat.”

We have the instances of Muslim women denied fair marriage, divorce, adoption and property rights.  No women-in -dargahs; polygamy etc is practiced. Prohibition on child marriage is opposed by AIMPLB. Free voices, like Salman Rushdie, would continue to be muzzled.

The fall-out and damage to India’s social fabric consequently has been massive.  It has led to Muslims retreating themselves into “ghettos” and “no-go zones.” There is no assimilation and thus regressive mindset kicks in which fuels similar destructive forces of other minorities. In the name of “secularism”, the majority in India allows such self-appointed bodies to hijack and set the agenda for the minorities to the detriment of the nation.

Thus a “nation-within-nation” takes shape. It’s funded by forces which wants jihad for Muslim sovereignty across the globe. From US to Philippines, every society today is facing this challenge. First, an exclusive area is forged; it then develops into a zone which police has problem in accessing. Lawlessness emerges. Politicians fish in troubled waters. It’s not long before government loses control of such areas. Terrorism and drugs thus come to hold sway. Soon there is a call to declare them “Islamic zones.” Several European cities today are victims of such phenomenon.  For example, a radical group in UK wants 12 British cities, including London, to turn into independent Islamic states.

Look at Bengal. It has hundreds and thousands of illegal infiltrators from Bangladesh, duly aided by ISI-modules. Consequently, there are 100s of villages in Bengal where police has no say, abetted of course by politicians. When fundamentalist Mullahs make a call for no-entry to the likes of Taslima Nasreen, neither police nor politicians are of any help.

Initially, the British judges in India were assisted by Muftis and Qazis. The Qazis Act of 1880 deprived the Qazis of their judicial powers. The British courts thereafter made judgment on Muslim Personal Law. There was a persistent demand in the first quarter of 20th century to have Sharia Courts. Muslims followed the Hindu Act till 1937 when the Muslim Personal Law Application Act was passed. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board came into being during Indira Gandhi’s rule in 1973.

The life around us could soon descend into chaos, anarchy, riots and who knows, civil war.  That’s what happens in completely communally polarized societies with weak judiciary and appeasement politics. Similar was the situation during the final years of Raj when bigoted forces managed to vivisect India, slicing off its Eastern and Western arms. Appeasement lay at the root of it. History seems set to repeat itself and it would, unless it’s dealt with firmly and decisively. As citizens, we would be no less responsible for our indifference.

DALALS make Governors the Fall Guys

There is a new narrative by the DALALS (Devious Left and Lutyens Scribes). It’s not about the fresh round of communal violence against Hindus in West Bengal where the Mamta government is seen overtly as pro-Muslim. It’s not even about the Facebook post which was used as a handle to beat Hindus with. It’s about the constitutional propriety of Governors who are accused of acting at the Centre’s behest.

The usual suspects such as Indian Express (their edit today, see image) and Rajdeep Sardesai  have dumbed down the reprehensible Bengal violence to a debate about how BJP-appointed Governors are causing mischief. They have dragged down the Tripura and Puducherry Governors to connect dots and conclude that India’s democracy is in peril.

This is not as much ingenuity as the brazen, brash conviction that their echo chambers would drown out any voice of reason. That nobody would question them, like how come Governor Ram Nath Kovind earned so unabashed a praise from Modi-baiter Nitish Kumar in Bihar?

Said Nitish: “Kovind has discharged his duties in an unbiased manner as the Bihar Governor. He has worked as per the Constitution and upheld the dignity of the Governor’s post.”

This from a Chief Minister of a state which handed over a humiliating defeat to Modi in 2015 Bihar assembly elections, just a year after the BJP’s euphoric triumph in 2014 General Elections.

These DALALS have also swept under the carpet the unequivocal support which West Bengal Congress state chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has offered to Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi.

As per Chowdhury, he had no “valid reason” to demand Tripathi’s recall and said he had found the Governor to be a “thorough gentleman and affable person.”

Yet, these inconvenient truths don’t suit the DALALS. That these voices of conscience have come from bitter Modi foes matter least to them.

A few questions, which hopefully would drill a hole through their echo chambers and if nothing else alert citizens about these devious forces at work, are thus;

(a) What’s the exact nature of this conversation between Tripathi-Mamta? And if the DALALS are not privy to this private telephonic talk, what makes them pitch for Mamta and not Tripathi?

(b) While accusing BJP Governors for undermining democratically elected state governments, what makes DALALS give clean chits to Mamta, Arvind Kejriwal or Akhilesh Yadav governments who are under scanner from investigating agencies of the land? What makes them believe these leaders are upholder of democratic traditions?

(c )  Why these DALALS have no stance at all on this communal violence in West Bengal? Why they never call Mamta by name? Why this studious stand to avoid word “Mamta” all through their writings?

(d) Why no question has yet been asked to Mamta about her silence on the “triple talaq’ issue? Come on you champions of feminist causes. Don’t show your menstrual cramps.

(d ) With the known Jihadi presence in neighbouring Bangladesh, why these DALALS have not stopped to question the threat of Jihadis turning West Bengal as their base for further attacks on India’s sovereignty? Why this studious silence?

(e) Failing this, do they want a story similar to Kashmiri Pundits be repeated in Bengal? Have they paused and dreaded the consequence of such a migration? And its devastating effect on the India we know?

Instead of addressing these grave issues and questioning Mamta’s role through all this, these DALALS have trained their guns on Tripathi, an octogenarian without a whiff of controversy during his long career in public eye. An esteemed poet and writer, Tripathi’s commentary on The Representation of People Act, 1951 is still held in high regard.

The obfuscation by DALALS could have been comic if it was not this tragic. There could be no Ramchandra Guha or Pawan Verma invited on TV debates since the matter itself has been given a quite burial.

Shame.

India-China Cold War is bad news for BRICS

The Indo-US agreement on sharing military logistics to counter China’s assertiveness in Indian Ocean could have wider ramifications.  The two can use each other’s land, air and naval bases for supplies and repair. A piece on the essentials of this conflict:

India and China have been engaged in a Cold War since the beginning of 2015.

New Delhi feels a certain hegemony over Indian Ocean. China, which views it as vital to its survival as a trade route, won’t let it happen. The trade deficit between the two doesn’t help the cause.  Both are wary of each other. It’s a real bad news for the future of BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)—much to the delight of western powers.

India has made a few moves in recent past which shows its anxiety. Modi visited Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka in March last year but ignored China-friendly Maldives as an apparent snub. Also a conference of “Indian Ocean: Renewing the Maritime Trade and Civilisational Linkages” was held in Bhubaneswar.  India wants its own Cotton Route to challenge China’s New Silk Road.  The Grand Prize of East Africa doesn’t lessen their friction.

China has its own “String of Pearls” strategy. The Gwadar port in Pakistan; naval bases in Myanmar, intelligence facility in Bay of Bengal, a canal-in-construct across the Kra Isthmus in Thailand, a military tie-up with Cambodia and building military bases in the South China Sea. The “String of Pearls” is meant to secure the sea lanes from the Middle East to the South China Sea for its energy and security concerns.

With the Strait of Malacca enabling almost 80 percent of passage to China’s energy needs, it has looked to build its naval power at choke points along the sea routes from the Persian Gulf to the South China Sea.

A look at the two Asian powers’ position vis-à-vis critical nations/islands strewn across the Indian Ocean:

Myanmar

This Southeast Asian state was close to China for two decades. But in 2012, it began a “pro-democratization” process—most likely under US pressure—and is now seen close to India. The two together plan to extend Myanmar-Thailand Highway into a trilateral deal.

India’s “Cotton Road” strategy is meant to counter China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) plan. India wishes to integrate with its ASEAN counterparts and block china from dominating these states.

Sri Lanka

In a surprise result last year, the pro-China leadership in Sri Lanka, under Rajapksa was ousted and pro-India Sirisena came to power. The first thing Sirisena did was to suspend China’s $1.4 billion investment in port infrastructure.

With Sri Lanka back under India’s influence, for the moment, the link between Maldives and Myanmar for China has been “cut,” so to speak.

Pakistan

Pakistan has decisively moved into China’s arms and there’s no going back on it. The $46 billion Pakistan-China Economic Corridor is well and truly underway. From an Indian perspective, it’s a bad news.

Bangladesh

In order to counter China-Pakistan alliance, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi went to Bangladesh and paved way for resolving the 40-year old border disagreement. It can also have a vital impact on India’s control of its northeast region.  India can also now directly use Bangladesh’s ports, instead of relying on vulnerable Siliguri Corridor. Till Modi visited Bangladesh, the latter had been cuddling up to China.

Nepal

Nepal has been a clear loss to India.  New Delhi reacted badly to Nepal’s new federative constitution, as did the pro-India Madhesi ethnic group that occupies the Terai border. Subsequent riots and Indian trucks refusing to cross the border into Nepal worsened the situation. Kathmandu sees the hand of New Delhi in this unrest.

China moved in swiftly, providing 1.3 million litres of petrol and signing a deal to fill in Nepal’s demand in the face of India’s monopoly. In one swift action, Nepal has pivoted itself on China’s axis. China surely eyes the control of strategic Karnali and Koshi rivers that sustains 200 million Indians who live at the southern border.

Maldives

The ouster of former head Nauseed and his Maldivian Democratic Party is a big blow to India’s plans for this little island nation. The current president Yameen is well-disposed towards China which gives it a proxy control on this island chain. There have been multiple attempts on Yameen’s life and India has found itself drawn into the scandal.