Jammu and Kashmir
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
India has not quite yet changed the horses midstream but it seems to have asked its’ two important guests to to lend a shoulder for it to shift its’ diplomatic destiny in 2020 and beyond.
Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javid Zarif were in Delhi yesterday and met their Indian equivalent Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, as well as Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, to help India fit in in the diplomatic attire it now wants in the Middle East.
India has been alarmed with the duplicity of its professed friend United States which hosted a 2+2 meeting (foreign and defence ministers of the two nations) for India in Washington last month but gave no inkling of the assassination it had planned for Iranian General Qassem Soleimani within days which has bloodied and disfigured India’s domestic and foreign interests.
India stunned by US betrayal
India has been snuggling up to Saudi Arabia and Israel, and downgrading its commitment to Iran, for some time now which was viewed as pointers to its closeness to the United States. But now this presumption has been torn to shreds: Not only United States shrouded a dagger in its sleeve but in the wake of General Soleimani’s assassination, it chose to call up Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Bajwa while ignoring India’s top brass completely. Even Donald Trump, who never tires of terming Modi as his dear friend, didn’t bother to ring up the Indian prime minister. All that bonhomie of last few years between the two amounted to nothing. To rub further salt into India’s wounds, the State Department has now announced the resumption of US-Pakistan military co-operation.
India’s domestic compulsions are no less compelling. It has mounting energy bill from the Middle East which could hit sky if the region descends into chaos. It would only add to India’s present economic woes. It also has to worry about its 8 million large diaspora in the Middle East—and many more if one counts their families back home–which sends a sizeable remittance of $40 billion every year. India also has the second-largest Shia population in the world, 45 million by the last count, which is furious by Gen. Soleimani’s assassination: Down United States and pro-Iran slogans have been witnessed in Kargil, a part of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state.
It’s also pretty apparent that Iran is the umbrella under which anti-US sentiments in the Middle East has now grown to a feverish pitch in the Middle East. Iran’s militia proxies operate from the bases of most nations of the region and its’ missile strike at two airbases in Iraq last week showcased that Iran doesn’t need to be a nuclear power to inflict damage on the United States.
India has begun to warm up to Iran
India has been on a course-correction vis-à-vis Iran for a few weeks now. It refused to be part of a global naval alliance which the United States had called upon to secure the Persian Gulf. India was startled when Iran, in conjunction with Russia and China, launched a joint naval exercise from the Chabahar port in response for four days last month. It was a sure sign that Iran has important friends and the Chabahar port in which India has invested so heavily and yet ignored under the US pressure, could slip out of India’s grasp. Chabahar essentially allows India to maneuver in its extended neighbourhood. A strong Iran is also a good bet against Islamic State (IS)—buoyant now that its sworn enemy General Soleimani is dead—who could unleash terror against India’s interests in the Middle East and closer home.
India would hope its old friend Russia is a good bet to mend its’ fences with Iran as it looks to align its’ interest in the Middle East of now. Russia is now a force and an arbiter in the Middle East, a stabilizing presence against a chaotic and war-mongering United States. It has ears of diverse and even conflicting forces of the region, be it Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria or Saudi Arabia, Israel and Libya.
It’s in this respect that India gave a full-throated welcome to Lavrov. Lavrov, and Zarif, on their part, would be equally keen to return the Indian warmth. Russia is now ambitious to have a presence in Indo-Pacific—as Lavrov’s comments in Sri Lanka on the eve of his India visit testify—and Iran shares too deep historical and cultural ties with India to stay away for too long.
The United States sent its own two important functionaries on the occasion: Deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger—a known-China baiter and Alice Wells, assistant secretary for South and Central Asian affairs. But theirs was a sideshow, neither gaining audience from India’s big men nor securing any guarantee that India still has positive lens on the United States.
(A modified version of this piece was published in rt.com).
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Never since the bloodbath of the Partition in 1947 which cost two million lives have Muslims and Hindus been so disenchanted with each other as of now and understanding its complexity could steer clear a resurgent India from becoming a prisoner of its past.
Rioters have taken to streets, cost lives and burnt public property worth millions since the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed by the Parliament in the closing days of 2019. Despite Indian prime minister Narendra Modi putting all doubts to rest with a rousing speech to a mammoth crowd in the Capital, there has been no letting up on the angst on either side.
The Act in essence eases up the citizenship process for the persecuted religious minority, including Hindus, in three Islamic republics of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan but its opponents want Muslims covered too even though they are not in minority in these countries and there are other avenues for them to gain Indian citizenship.
First students of a few Muslim educational institutions and then the rioters have made violent headlines and now supporters of the Citizenship Act are filling up the streets, albeit peacefully, but there is little mistaking that Muslims and Hindus are standing on the two sides of the great divide.
“Bloodiest story of human history”
Hindus historically resent almost a millennium-long persecution (8th to 18th century) at the hands of Muslim invaders who forged empires and inflicted what historian Will Durant described as the “bloodiest story of human history.” The wounds festered further when India was amputated of its western and eastern parts on the call of Muslim leaders on religious grounds by the departing British in 1947. The newly-formed Pakistan since then has forced India into four wars and supplied terrorists to turn Kashmir into a killing field. That scores of riots between the two since independence has claimed more than 10,000 lives has only bloodied the nation’s fabric.
Hindus further simmer that the Congress party, which ruled most in independent India, has “appeased” Muslims with funds and doles, created a minority affairs ministry with a separate budget and yet championed “secularism” from the rooftop. Muslims have control on their religious and educational institutions but the same is denied to Hindus. Hindus fear that such “appeasement” could cause another break-up of India like it did at the independence.
Muslims, on their part, largely detest the rise of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which Hindus view as essentially one of its own. The party is in its second term with full majority under a hugely popular prime minister Narendra Modi who arguably has done more for Indian Muslims than Congress. Yet a series of events, such as overturning of triple talaqs (instant divorce), abrogation of special rights to Jammu and Kashmir and the favourable judicial verdict for a temple for Hindus’ deity Lord Rama in Ayodhya, has made sizeable number of Muslims long-faced.
A doctored Liberal narrative
The Liberal discourse, which controls the narrative, has largely tried to whitewash India’s violent experience with Islam and tried to present a composite Hindu-Muslim history though the truth is the great tradition of India’s ascetics and saints never caught the fancy of Muslim hearts. Nor India’s rich philosophy mattered to Muslim invaders but for a handful of notable exceptions.
Indian and Muslim literatures have largely run a parallel course. Pre-Muslim Indian history or Hindu heroes find no mention in Muslim annals. Muslim rulers have largely been indifferent to India’s magnificent traditions of sculpture. Some synthesis in language and music, or architecture, has been spruced up as proof of harmony. But it’s a stretch of imagination. Oppressors have never been seen indigenous by natives anywhere in the world. For example, Thanksgiving Day carries completely different connotations for White Americans than it does for Red Indians. While one celebrates it as the day when Pilgrim Fathers stepped on to the American soil, the Red Indians view it as a day of mourning.
The present disquiet has reopened the old wounds. While it is true that Indian Muslims by and large are peaceful, as perhaps are their majority in the world, yet it only takes a few to cause upheavals around the globe and bring Islam’s violent historical past on to the centrestage. Muslims need a credible, constructive leadership, at least in India, which speaks up against entitlement, support moves which free up their women from hardliners, and backs the long-pending Constitutional demand of a Uniform Civil Code which could help get rid of a few regressive Sharia (Islamic) laws. Till a voice emerges from within for one people, one nation, the historical suspicion of two-nation theory, which gave birth to Pakistan, would remain fresh in the mind of Hindus.
Liberals ensure that anything that makes Muslims uncomfortable must be branded as “hate” or “Islamophobia.” This puts the reformation on back-burner. Till it’s encouraged, societies around the world would be convulsed into turmoil, be it in Europe or in India.
(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.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Let’s take a call on how you define Arvind Kejriwal: Principled or Opportunist? Is he for power or people?
The man who changes more colours than a chameleon does has opted for deep silence on the recent drama surrounding P Chidambaram, former Union minister. He doesn’t want to be seen supporting an allegedly corrupt politician nor does he want to oppose the Centre which he senses has people’s support. With Delhi assembly elections less than six months away, Kejriwal has simply ducked.
Kapil Mishra, his former colleague but now with BJP, wasn’t the one to let go the moment. He tweeted: “Why there is such a deep silence @Arvind Kejriwal. Are you in a spell of mourning? During Anna (Hazare) agitation, (our own) people had braved batons in front of Chidambaram home…”
But Kejriwal isn’t falling for the bait. He has shown skin as thick as an armour on taunts that he is rebuked almost daily by Congress—be it on gimmicks of buses, electricity waivers, women safety or CCTVs—which also had spurned his advances most disdainfully during the 2019 General Polls. Yet he is not rubbing salt into Congress’ wounds. Interesting!
On Friday, Kejriwal was raving about the Modi government on a public platform in the Capital. “I hope and I have full faith that in the coming time, Centre will take concrete measures to deal with the (economy) issue…We want to assure that the Delhi government will support and help the Centre in whatever steps they take to fix the economy,” he said.
This is the same Kejriwal who had termed Modi illiterate and questioned if the prime minister understands economy at all!
Kejriwal and his AAP was one of those Opposition flanks which supported Modi government when it tore down the contentious Article 370 and 35A and announced the plan to turn Jammu and Kashmir into a Union territory. He probably has the votes of tens of thousands of Kashmiri Pandits in mind who are settled in his territory. The Janus-faced Kejriwal, at the same time, doesn’t allow police to persecute members of the “Tukde-Tukde gang” like Kanhaiya Kumar and others.
It doesn’t mean that he couldn’t care less about Muslim votes. His analysis of drubbing in the 2019 Polls was that Muslims had ditched the Opposition. That’s why he didn’t say a word when a Hindu temple was desecrated right under his nose in the Capital. He didn’t say a word in condemnation nor did he visit the vandalized Durga temple in Chandni Chowk (Delhi). He similarly didn’t vote in favour of Triple Talaq Bill in the Parliament. Like a clever bania (trader), he must have worked out that less Muslims are bound to feel outraged about decisions on Jammu and Kashmir than the majority who would be hostile if he was to oppose abrogation of Article 370 and 35A.
Kejriwal, side by side, isn’t turning his back on Hindu votes too. He is sponsoring “religious tours” for elderly in the Capital and a willing media, fattened on his advertisements, is completely smitten.
A good gambler never spreads himself thin. You can’t hedge your bets beyond a point. You can’t bet on all blocks on the board and hope to earn profit. Kejriwal seems unaware of this time-tested logic.
History tells us that good or bad, a leader can’t afford to be neutral on matters which concern people. Masses aren’t ignorant that this man once opposed corruption and is now seen in embrace with those very forces. He hauls people to court on corruption and then apologizes to them. He is one day supporting Congress and venting venom the very next day. He once chose vilest of terms for prime minister Narendra Modi but now doesn’t throw even a flower in his direction.
More so, all his trusted lieutenants have deserted him. NONE is seen in his corner. You could begin with Shazia Ilmi, Prashant, Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav and peer through the ever expanding list of Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Alka Lamba and now Kapil Mishra.
Kejriwal feels only those who’ve deserted him know his true face. The succession of debacles in elections after elections has probably not made him wiser that people too have seen through his mask. Or maybe he knows it already and hence his zipped mouth.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
You are subjected to five essential lies on Jammu and Kashmir. Please use the below Primer if your teenage daughters, coffee friends or a stranger in transit try to shame you on celebrating the new status of Jammu and Kashmir. Who knows, inadvertently, you might be creating new foot soldiers to take on the Break-India forces and its stooge media. So here it is:
Abrogation of Article 370 is illegal:
Article 370 comes under part XXI of the Constitution of India which deals with “Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions.”
Article 370 was not incorporated when Maharaja Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession on October 26-27, 1947. It came a full two years later in October 1949 at the instance of Sheikh Abdullah, who was a member of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the Constitution.
Indeed, Article 370 became operative only in 1952.
So give a resounding kick in the butt to those who say that Jammu and Kashmir agreed to become a part of India only after it was assured the special protection of Article 370.
A bit of history won’t hurt you either.
India’s law minister, Dr. B.R.Ambedkar was firmly opposed to Article 370. This is what Dr. Ambedkar said to Sheikh Abdullah (as quoted in Dr. BR Ambedkar, Framing of Indian Constitution, by Dr S.N Busi):
“Mr Abdullah, you want India should protect your borders, she should build roads in your area, she should supply you food grains…but you don’t want India and any citizen of India to have any rights in Kashmir…To give consent to this proposal would be treacherous…I cannot betray the interests of my country.”
A full decade on, even Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru was conceding in Parliament on November 27, 1963: “Article 370 is part of certain transitional, provisional arrangements. It’s not a permanent part of the Constitution.”
Next year, a private member’s bill sought the abrogation of Article 370 in the Parliament. It received a near-unanimous support. Prakash Vir Shastri had moved the bill in the Lok Sabha. Among supporters were stalwarts like Ram Manohar Lohia and K. Hanumanthaiya, a senior Congress leader.
Hanumanthaiya had then pointed out that fellow MPs, irrespective of party affiliations, had wanted the abrogation of Article 370 to be made into law. He had said: “To go against or to anything against this unanimous opinion in this House is to disown constitutional responsibility in a convenient manner. Article 370…stands in the way of full integration.”
Out of the 12 MPs who opposed the abrogation of Article 370, seven were from Congress, many of them stalwarts, including Inder J. Malhotra, Sham Lal Saraf, HV Kamath and Bhagwat Jha Azad.
And by the way, how come abrogating Article 370 is illegal when the Bill wa passed by two-thirds in the Rajya Sabha and four-fifths in the Lok Sabha this month?
Who benefitted from Article 370? Obviously, the common people of J& K didn’t. The Shia community, Gujjars, Bakkarwals, Gaddis, other Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled castes and people living in Ladakh and Kargil didn’t. Nor did Kashmiri women who made the mistake of marrying a non-resident and couldn’t purchase or transfer property to their children.
Now, with its abrogation, a total of 106 Central Laws will now be extended to J & K. A load of benefit schemes would come the way of local citizens. Prevention of Corruption Act, Land Acquisition Act, National Commission for Minorities Act, Right to Education Act etc would become applicable.
Why Not Remove Special Status of North-East States Too
This again is an argument forwarded by mischief-makers relying on your ignorance. Tell them that Article 371 (a) to (j) for North Eastern and other states are SPECIAL and not TEMPORARY provisions. That is to protect the development of a particular region for particular tribes. These being special provisions are permanent in nature. They are not temporary as Article 370 was in J & K.
Basic Rights to Kashmiris Are Being Denied:
Restrictions in the form of suspension of internet or even mobile services occur every year in the Valley on Independence Day, Republic Day and Eid for the last 30 years! Durations of these restrictions have been far longer in the past.
Do you know the extent of clampdown in the Valley when it suffered a long spell of violence in 2010? What were the conditions during the long spell of unrest during the Amarnath land agitation in 2008? Why was Farooq Abdullah government (before 1984) was termed as Curfew Government?
Between 1990-1996, the Valley remained under curfew on an average 300 days in a year! It was largely under Governor’s Rule between 1990-1996.
Was it not a clampdown in the Valley when Mobiles were introduced in India in 1990s but not in Jammu and Kashmir? (It came about only in 2003 under the Atal Behari Vajpayee government).
Why was there no outcry then?
Now let’s look at the ground conditions in Jammu and Kashmir at this very moment. Activist Rahul Pandita spent 10 days in the Valley after the abrogation of Article 370 and this is what he wrote in Times of India this Sunday:
“I went around in a small car with a local number. I had no curfew pass. There were barricades but security forces could be convinced to let go, as we did several times.
“District Commissioner Srinagar had issued 161 passes to local journalists (while you kept hearing on your TV sets that journalists were unable to go anywhere).
“On Eid (no less), the government took more than 60 journalists on a chopper ride over Srinagar. (Despite stringent restrictions, many reached their neighbourhood mosques).
“Security was totally removed from downtown Srinagar between 4-7 p.m. Boys came out, they painted a little graffiti, but they did not indulge in clashes (Hey, BBC and Reuters, read that).
“Spoke to cross-section, families of policemen, from Shia community and other silent ones who say they are ok with Article 370 abrogation.”
Political Arrests Are Unprecedented:
A reality check.
Sheikh Abdullah was in prison for more than a decade. And he wasn’t under house arrest like the present Valley leaders are. He was packed away to Kodaikanal not by Modi but by Pt. Nehru.
Shyama Prasad Mookerjee was kept under house arrest for 44 days without any chargesheet or FIR in Kashmir Valley. Have you heard of any outcry of human rights violations on Mookerjee?
And what’s the definition of these political leaders of Kashmir Valley who thrive on elections which see only a sample of 8-10 per cent voters’ turnout? It allows them to make it to the Lok Sabha, to the state assembly, to form state governments, generation after generation, to perpetuate their dynastic rule?
And if so upset by political detentions, shed a tear for those who are detained in Jammu too!
Demography would change; Kashmiri culture would vanish
Well, when lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits were driven out of Valley on gunpoint, the demography change didn’t matter to the champions of these pseudo-seculars.
(Ironically, when Assam is trying to weed out the outsiders to save the local, indigenous culture, these pseudo-seculars are in support of the infiltrators. So guys, make up your mind: You can’t be resisting outsiders in one state and supporting outsiders in another!).
Does Kashmiri culture imply that they remain in a state of poverty and unemployment generation after generation? Isn’t the aspiration of a largely young population—70 per cent are below 40— is for real? Don’t they know that every year, in the civil services exam, you have a topper or someone in the Top 20 from the Valley? That about 30-40 Class 12 pass-outs from terror-affected districts qualify in the IIT-JEE exams. That at least 50 people qualify for the NEET exam, the all-India entrance for medical colleges?
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
An interesting sideshow calls for your attention. It’s serious too and has wider implications.
We have long wondered why a few of our journalists, politicians, film personalities, media houses, academicians and historians speak the language of Pakistan on matters of Kashmir and Indian Muslims. Why their concerns for refugees extend to Rohingyas but not to Kashmiri Pandits. Why they get worried about a demography change in Kashmir Valley but stand by the demographic distortion in Assam. Why Hindus lynched doesn’t even elicit a pause while a similar tragedy for a Muslim evokes a diatribe. Why animal-sacrifice is sacred for one while Jallikattu sport is animal-cruelty by others. Why Triple Talaq Bill is persecution of Muslim males but arrests under dowry act is justice. Why a Mamata Banerjee could openly appease the Muslims but the Prime Minister chanting “Jai Shri Ram” is communal. Why skullcaps knocked off a Muslim head is bigotry but a Durga Temple vandalized, idols broken in the heart of India’s Capital is passé
The irrepressible Dr. Subramanian Swamy has an interesting explanation on such Break-India forces. He says that most of such voices are funded by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan. Even if neutral, all these inimical forces route their ill-gotten money through hawala by Dubai black money channels which in fact is controlled by ISI. The deal of the game is simple: You be of use to us to cause distortion of facts and a general amnesia in Indian state and we won’t spill the beans on what we do for you. But if you don’t, one line in press and you are finished, Dr Swamy tells of ISI’s implicit threat.
One such line has finally appeared in press. Shobhaa De, a regular columnist in Times of India, has been called out by former Pak envoy to India, Abdul Basit, for writing a pre-separatist piece on Jammu and Kashmir at latter’s prompting. Ms De has denied the allegation but really what other options she had? Nobody neutral is believing her as outpouring of reactions on twitter show. Her journalistic career is over in disgrace. All this by a stray comment in an obscure blog.
This must have sets alarm-bells ringing in dozens of such Shobhaa De’’s hidden in plain sight amongst us. Twitteratis have composed their own list but we won’t fall for it, not yet. But an educated guess is that the “disclosure” on Shobhaa De wasn’t accidental. A small pawn in a Great Game has been sacrificed to warn other rogues embedded in India’s fabric to do some meaningful damage to a purposeful Modi government. (Or why would you get headlines of “Sober Eid” in Kashmir Valley when governor Satyapal Malik is inviting everybody to come and see the exact opposite happening on ground).
India’s stand on abrogation of Article 370 and 35A and dilution of Jammu and Kashmir from a state to a Union Territory has dropped the baby of pretence. You are either this or that side of the divide: the clever game of rearranging the narrative and peddle the Pak agenda won’t work. Pakistan would demand “compliance” from these journalists and academicians; lawyers or social activists; filmi-sets or politicians. What fun would it be when such names are stripped of the cover of immunity and laid bare amidst us, as Shobhaa De currently is.
One has long wondered why a socialite with little idea of complexities and nuances of our political, cultural, economical or historical perspective gets to write in edit pages of India’s premier newspaper. It’s not also if her language is electric—why even a Twinkle Khanna in comparison reads better. Her readers, if any, ought to be on Page 3 and certainly not on the hollowed edit pages where burning, larger issues are in focus.
This is the set which ensures that anger in India is managed whenever a terrible tragedy happens in Kashmir Valley or in rest of India. Whenever a major attack happens in Kashmir or elsewhere, the bogey of “dara hua musalman” comes into play. It happened in 26/11 which, if it was a Modi government, would’ve certainly caused a war with Pakistan. When Pulwama happened, an orchestrated campaign in Lutyens Media began about Kashmiri students fleeing from rest of the country. The same narrative is overwhelming the front pages of Lutyens Media about “subdued Eid”, “scared” Kashmiris and the Valley being turned into a new “Palestine.”
We all know this is not true. So far government has ensured no untoward incident happens in the wake of their sensational decision on the troublesome state. But we all know that Pakistan won’t keep silent. It would use all tricks in the game and one of it is the “sleeper-cells” it has woven into India’s fabric. They are not allowed to be neutral. A goat is fattened not for nothing, to use a typical Eid flavour of the season.
If I was an Indian Muslim, I would have a whole lot of questions today and certainly no answers.
So far, I believed in the pictures of Rahul Gandhi, skull cap and all, in Iftar party breaking his fast, so to speak, at sunset during a day in the Ramadan month. His remarks that Congress is a party of Muslims. Now, I read he said Tuesday in Indore that his party is one of Hinduism.
It raised a whole lot of issues to my mind. Does Congress stand for Muslims, Dalits, Hindus or everyone. So far I have been told the only protectors Muslims have are Congress. They engineered a special protection for my Jammu and Kashmir brethrens and sisters in Indian Constitution. They stood up for Sharia during the Shah Bano case; are most determined for Rohingya refugees; paralyzed the country on Kathua tragedy; stalled the Triple Talaq bill, spotlight every single–half or full–lynching incident in the remotest hamlets of the country. Now they say they are one of Hinduism.
All this while, they dubbed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as sectarian and communal even though Narendra Modi never once said he stood only for Hindus. Isn’t Rahul Gandhi now being communal by opening claiming his party is one of Hinduism? Isn’t it polarizing the communities? Widening the gulf of fear and insecurity between practitioners of two religions? Is this the vision of One India or daring of a burglar who wishes to rob the home of 1.3 billions of all its valuables?
Then I look at my newspapers. My day begins with Indian Express, the “journalism of courage.” For the last four years and half, they have reported every single incident against my Muslim community, and Dalits, with sincerity and not a little bit of imagination and creativity. They have marked anniversaries of Dadri, Pehlu or a Junaid by sacrificing the space for news of their front pages. They made sure my Muslim community didn’t forget for a single day the crimes which have been committed against them during the Modi regime (Nor did they Una or Bhima-Koregaon on behalf of Dalits). Indian Express seemed seriously concerned about the future of Indian Muslims.
And look at them, now that Rahul Gandhi has jumped the ship, to my eyes at least, Indian Express choose to completely blank out his Indore comment in today’s edition (31.10.2018). Why didn’t they report Rahul Gandhi for his communal and polarizing comment? Why did they desert me and million of Indian Muslims like me who dread a majoritarian narrative in this country? Could Indian Express be said to be standing up to the idea of secular, free and equal India? Just imagine if Modi had said BJP stands only for Hinduism? (They haven’t allowed him to live down the Kabristan-Shamsaan speech to this day).
If I could ask Indian Express why for a similar offence, BJP is communal and Congress is not. Why give ammunition to right-wingers who claim there is never a pro-Hindu story on your front pages? Why make even your die-hard fans like me and other Indian Muslims doubt your sincerity when you sweep Rahul Gandhi’s all-for-Hinduism comment under the carpet?
I’ve tried to give my faith in Indian Express a second chance. What if your reporter truly miss the Indore event? Extremely unlikely for Rahul didn’t offer his comment in private. It was a press conference. Even if your reporter missed the event, news agencies such as PTI must have brought the news on your teleprinters. On close inspection, I even find this Indore press conference of offensive-comment buried inside your newspaper (Page 8).
Then why did you throw a cloak on this Rahul remark from our views? Why have double standards on BJP and Congress? If you care about us Indian Muslims or the idea of India that you numb our minds daily with, why avoid the searchlight on Mr Rahul Gandhi? Is that an editorial policy or a direction you receive from “Above”? And who’s this “Above”? Does this “Above” have the welfare of us Indian Muslims or India as a whole in mind?
These are all very disturbing questions to my mind. I hope Indian Express takes my fears in the form of questions to Rahul Gandhi. Ask its editorial writers from JNU and Ashoka University; Kancha Ilaiahs or Apoorvanands, to prove they truly speak for us minorities. That their propagation of free and secular India is not fake. Scratch the surface of Kapil Sibal and Shashi Tharoor who are never out of your reach, or representation, in your newspaper on a daily basis. You could even evoke write-ups from retired professionals such as Justice Fali S. Nariman or Chelameswar, ex-cop Julio Ribeiro, ex-election commissioner S.Y. Quraishi etc who don’t even need an invitation to fill your editorial pages.
After all, you are “journalism of courage.” You profess to stand up for us minorities. You claim to care for a free and secular India. The proof of burden that you don’t write on behalf of Muslims and Dalits only when it suits you.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of financial aid to pregnant women in his new year’s address has led to suggestions that Muslim women would benefit the most from this scheme as they produce more children than any other religious sect in India.
Muslims today comprise of 184 million people in India or around 14.5 percent of total population (compared to Hindus who have fallen below 80%) as of 2015.
A Pew Research Center report predicts that by 2050, India will overtake Indonesia to have the largest Muslim population in the world. The Muslims are expected to swell to 310 million, or almost 18% of the population while Hindus would hover around 77%. As of now, Indonesia has 209 million, followed by India (176 million) and Pakistan (167 million).
This has led to unseemly concern among Hindus that Muslims are in an overdrive to produce more children so as to skew the demographic profile of India. They put the arguments below in support of their theory:
- That Muslims in India are poorer and less educated which results in high growth rate;
- That Muslim women get married at an early age (16-20 years) which means higher fertility rate;
- That Muslims have younger children (0-6 years) population as compared to Hindus
- That Muslims in India are less interested in adopting family planning measures in India.
However facts and figures fly in different directions.
Muslims have witnessed a sharp fall in growth rate to 24.60 in the 2001-2011 decade compared to 29.52 growth of the previous decade (1991-2001). An average Muslim family is of lesser number (5.15) in 2011 than what it was a decade earlier (5.61). The average members of an Indian family is 4.45 persons. This points out upward mobility of Indian Muslims in terms of education and career growth.
Indeed, across all religious groups in India, there’s been a decline in population growth. Buddhists have shown the sharpest decline due to an ageing population.
As of now, Indian Muslims are in majority in two states: the Union Territory of Lakshadweep and Jammu and Kashmir.
Just three states—Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Assam comprise of almost 47 per cent of entire Muslim population in India. Rampur is the only district with a Muslim majority in Uttar Pradesh. The Muslim population in West Bengal and Assam has been fuelled by refugees from neighbouring Bangladesh.
So folks, hold your horses. Don’t see the PM’s announcement as a sop to Muslims. It’s an inclusive scheme for all Indians. Welcome it instead of tearing it apart on religious lines.
(As an aside, Muslims are likely to equal Christians by 2050 (around 2.82 billion). Hindus would be around 1.38 billion. The world’s total population is set to rise to 9.3 billion by 2050, a rise of 35%).