Independence Day

When would Mufti and Abdullah be set free?

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

India and Pakistan have started whipping up support in their corners as the Ring that is Jammu and Kashmir gets ready for a trade of punches.

Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan wants his people on the streets in solidarity against the rearranged status of Jammu and Kashmir while Narendra Modi is reserving the month of September for his ministers’ outreach to people in 35 state capitals and 370 cities.

The momentum is with India where Modi has secured a cheque of gratitude from a billion people and possibly from history too on the once intractable issue of Kashmir.  He has second guessed almost everyone including the global powers, jihadi nuts in the Valley and secessionists forces within India. It’s nearly a month and India hasn’t fired a single bullet in anger.

Imran Khan is relying on propaganda and the good offices of China without realizing that slaves could only stare at the feet, and not go at the throat of the masters. It has a good ranch of guerillas, terrorists and Talibans but to take on world’s second largest army, bigger than United States, you need stallion and not jackass. Mooting closure of airspace could only evoke yawn. His dream of becoming prime minister is now a raging nightmare.

India’s enemies are investing much in the hope that Muftis and Abdullahs would be free soon and hold court; Valley would be put to flame and Lutyens Media would manufacture sob stories. For the moment, they have nothing but the sham cry of violations of human rights and India’s federal-structure-in-danger to keep stoking the dying embers.

When would Muftis and Abdullahs be set free? My guess is not in next four weeks. Modi government prefers embarrassment to harm. Half measures would come back to bite. You don’t do PR exercise with enemies. If the world can turn one eye away on Xinjiang in China; it could as well the other on Kashmir.

There is incremental easing up in Kashmir Valley. Landlines have been restored. Independence Day and Eid were celebrated.  Journalists, despite the brouhaha, are getting passes to move around at will. Schools and Colleges have been reopened. It’s not to say Valley would be quiet.  Muftis and Abdullahs could pay a heavy cost if flutes and music alone is the noise in their backyards.

There are a few things which the Modi government must follow as gospel. One, learn to ignore the barking dogs. Valley and Lutyens Media would be shooting from both sides of mouth. They must not be allowed to set the agenda. Give them a damn. Two, this outreach to people in September can’t be one-off thing. People need constant repeats on facts. Lose no opportunity, be it face-to-face, social media, spokespersons or editorials in newspapers. This is the only war your adversary would be engaging you in; so treat it as one. Three, name and shame the enemies within who run contrary to India’s interests. Three generations of this lobby has fattened itself on Kashmir. The cat is too fat now; it must be made to shed some weight.

I suspect Centre has hit upon an ace in raking up some high profile cases. So mournful is media on P. Chidambaram’s custody that Kashmir has been put on the backburner.  The cases against Sharad Pawar and Ahmed Patel’s son too would shrink space on Kashmir. Heat has been turned on against Trinamool Congress (TMC). Three state elections in three months would further pull the rug under Kashmir’s feet. Why, when was the last you heard on “Jai Shri Ram” crimes and “lynchings”?

But this is just the first phase of preparedness. Kashmir is serious. Heads could roll in Pakistan’s establishment. Imran Khan could invite a fate similar to Nawaz Sharif.  General Qamar Javed Bajwa has to justify his extension. United States could change tack in case it can’t summon India against China, Iran and Russia. So don’t take your eyes off. India has to handle Kashmir in real time. It could take months, years and even generations. But a start, a good one at that, has been made. And the nation can’t be thankful enough.

 

 

Why Indians need to see more of the country they live in

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi may not have nudged we Indians into travelling more often in India than we do abroad but he surely has invited attention and it’s a good enough Independence Day intervention from the man who is master in making you reflect.

Modi wants us to make at least 15 travels within India by 2022 when India would be a young 75. Figures of 2016 show Indians already travel more within (1613 million) than they do abroad (21 million) but that’s a coarse understanding. We all know we spend five times more abroad than we do while travelling within. There is a kick when you pack your bags for Sweden than when you do it for Sarnath. You feel equal, if not superior, within your family, friends and neighbours.

All of us who travel abroad screw up their noses at hotels, transport, infrastructure, squalor and surging humanity which surrounds our own popular tourist destinations—all this of course without visiting much of India!  Yet, they are right. Just imagine our religious (Mathura, Vrindavan, Tirupati, Vaishno Devi), scenic (Ooty, Shimla, Mussoorie) or Hilly terrains (Manali, Darjeeling) and a Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur begins to make much better sense. That surely is much better value for your rupee.

Yet, think.

India is a country which has all but Himalayas bound by Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. Amazing rivers (Ganga, Yamuna, Brahmaputra, Indus) are its rich veins. Incredible waterfalls dot our interiors. Wildlife like rarely elsewhere; deserts as daunting as Thar; forests as dense as Sunderban or Gir; caves carved like ones in Ajanta or Ellora; temples like Rameshwaram and Khajuraho which knock your breath out; forts like ones in Agra, Jaipur or Mysore; lakes in Nainital or Ooty; hill stations like Coorg and Shimla; snow-capped peaks which can soar young to do adventure as they do to meditate or brood over the profound for the elderly.

Come on, no less than 37 venues are World Heritage Sites authenticated by UNESCO in 2017.  These are parts of India’s rich cultural, historical and religious heritage.

Modi concedes India needs better infrastructure for its tourist destinations. And his solution offered makes so much sense. More footfalls would bring more investment; and better infrastructure would usher in more jobs for our young and restless. Technology would make inroads at so many levels. Administration would’ve much more funds to police as well as to beautify the location. Theatre and dance; artistes and artisans; local culinary and skills all get a fillip.

And if you think India is lightweight on matters of tourism think again. The World Travel and Tourism Council tabulated that tourism generated Rs 16.91 lakh crore (US$240 billion) or 9.2% of India’s GDP in 2018 and supported 32.673 million jobs, 8.1% of its total employment. The forecast is of 6.9% annual growth rate to Rs. 32.05 lakh crore (US $460 billion) by 2028 (9.9% of GDP). And we are not even talking of medical tourism which is already worth US $3 billion in 205. By next year, it’s expected to be worth US $7-8 billion.

While reflecting on India and its inbound travelers, Tamil Nadu is the most visited state. Just reflect on the names of Kanyakumari, Rameshwaram, Ooty and Kodaikanal and you would know why. Interestingly, Uttar Pradesh is the second most visited of all Indian states by domestic travellers. Be it religious sacredness of Mathura or Varanasi; Prayag or Sarnath; Ayodhya or Vrindavan, forts of Agra; the regal nawabi heritage of Lucknow, UP is far more richer than is given credit for.

Most southern states are in India’s top 10 tourist destinations but for Kerala which is surprising given God’s Own Country has Alleppey and Munnar to boast of, among others. Rajasthan, surprisingly, is on number 10 for it just doesn’t alone have magnificent forts but also Pushkar and much-revered shrines. And we haven’t come to talking of Goa, Andaman, Leh, Puri, Amristar, Bodhgaya and Shirdi.

And as Modi said, ever wondered on the magnificence of North East? Cherrapunjee, most won’t know, is in Meghalaya after all.

The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017 ranks India 40th out of 136 countries. It’s air transport (32nd) is rated good and the one on ground (29th) is reasonable too. The country also scores high on natural and cultural resources (9th).

But let’s be grounded for the moment. Just think of the benefit domestic travel would do to bring different cultures, languages, food and customs closer within our own contours. It would improve brotherhood and remove alien-ness. Besides, as Modi said, we would only be deepening our roots in this sacred land. Generation next too would retain the bond.

“Mitti, paani, hawaon se nayi urja prapt karein (Gain new energy from the earth, water and winds of this land)” was the exhortation Modi made from the ramparts of Red Fort in the Capital on the Independence Day on Thursday. If all of us do it, we would be enriching both us and the country we live in.

Hindus first lose lives; and then the narrative

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Every Independence Day fills me with sadness and anger. For the day next is August 16, albeit of 1946, when the Muslim League government of the day in undivided Bengal provoked violence against Hindus, described by the then TIME magazine as the “worst communal riots of the century.”

History remembers the day as the ‘Direct Action Day” or the “The Week of Long Knives.” On July 29, 1946, Muslim League leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah had made a call for “Direct Action”—a call to all Muslims in the country—to mark its rejection of the constituent assembly and to demonstrate to British and Congress that a separate nation called Pakistan alone could offer them security.

Were Muslims unsafe in Congress-dominated India? Mahatma Gandhi would’ve called it the “greatest irony.” All his life he was accused of Muslim appeasement, from Khilafat movement to Malabar riots and later to funding Pakistan with Rs 55 crores which was the last straw for a Hindu protagonist, Nathuram Godse.  All these killings after Direct Action Day, Noakhali, and Punjab partition still had Gandhi reaching out to Pakistan even as their infiltrators were carving out Kashmir illegally–looting, killing and raping with impunity.

Had Muslims been unsafe in India, the call for Pakistan would’ve come much before than it finally did in 1940. Had Muslims been unsafe, overwhelming majority of Indian Muslims would’ve thought little of Muslim League till 1945. If Muslim security alone was uppermost in Jinnah’s mind, he ought to have worried about millions of Muslims he was leaving behind in vivisected India.

So, that’s Exhibit AJinnah’s call for Direct Action Day had little basis but for his own personal agenda. He found a ready ally in Britain who were stung by Congress’ non-cooperation during World War II and wanted to teach them a lesson. Britain also wanted to retain a foothold in the Indian sub-continent, access to critical Arabian Sea and to stem the advance of Russia and its’ Communism to Middle East where oil was beginning to be the new big lolly.

The next set of facts are undisputed too: That (a) the then Bengal Chief Ministe Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, “king of goondas” made an inflammatory speech in Calcutta while calling for a bandh on the day; (b) police and other security services were given off for the day; (c) Muslim League mouthpiece The Star of India called upon Muslims to remember the jihad, the Battle of Badr, when a handful of Muslims overpowered the heathens, (d) Pirs and Mullahs were urged to mobilize Muslims on the prayers of Friday the 16th.

From this stage on, the Left-Liberal academia takes over the history that reaches us. Ramachandra Guha admits that although “the violence was started by the (Muslim) League, the main sufferers were Muslims.” The Quint quotes a writer and a BBC programme to show how Hindus were enacting violence; Scroll mentions that 75% victims were Muslims; The Wire asserts that Suhrawardy is “mis-remembered as a Hindu-hating communal leader for he wanted a united Bengal (who are we to tell them that’s because Suhrawardy didn’t want to lose Calcutta, the nub of Bengal’s economy).

What’s their source of claiming that more Muslims lost their lives? Some bloggers and  historians. What’s the source of these bloggers and historians? Again some other bloggers and historians. That’s how the Left-Liberal grow the tree of agenda.

Now what’s the official position?

(a) No official position only a widely varying figures of between 4,000-10,000 killed, mostly a guesswork; (b) In August 1946, the Government of Bengal appointed an enquiry commission presided by the Supreme Justice of India, Sir Patrick Spens. Although the commission interrogated many witnesses, its conclusions were never published!

EXHIBIT B: Why the report wasn’t published? You would never see a select academia/historians mentioning or questioning it. You would never find this Left-Liberal bloc telling you about “evil” Governor Frederick Burrows and his complicity in Direct Action Day; you would never find this Left-Liberal cabal tell you that during the days of the partition, the sentiments of British officers, be it police or army or bureaucracy, were overwhelmingly pro-Pakistan because of the non-cooperation of Congress during World War II. Or the role of such British officers in helping infiltrators in Kashmir in 1947-48.

You pay enough attention and you would get the pattern in modern day: it’s never Hindu right-wingers who are killed in Kerala but violence is from both sides; it’s never BJP leaders who are massacred and thrown into gutters in West Bengal but losses are on both sides. You would get the pattern when the proposed Citizenship Bill for Hindus who are emptied from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh is opposed tooth and nail by these official raconteurs. Why the brilliant account of Hindus’ suffering in Bengal by Tathagata Roy “My People, Uprooted” is kept hidden from your attention. For anyone but Hindus is the creed.

Even though they all concur that Muslims initiated the riots at the call of Suhrawardy; that police was pulled in; yet somehow more Muslims died on a data which is non-existent!!! (and dare you disbelieve them).

So I will follow August 16 this year with both trepidation and sadness. Trepidation is to watch out for fresh “painted” accounts by the unscrupulous. Sadness, for if a debate, seminar or remembrance of the day is observed, it would somehow be BJP who would be plastered as communal!  Meanwhile, you and I would keep sitting on our haunches—and watch our next generation brain-washed and swamped with guilt. The continuing horrors on millions of Hindus in east of our land is neither heard nor told.

So first you lose lives; then you lose the memory of these lives and instead of outrage are left with guilt. That’s how brilliantly a narrative is controlled.