Kali

India’s border woes: A legacy of Colonialism, geography and Pakistan

(A reprint from NewsBred).

India is shouting from the rooftop it has made no transgressions across its eastern borders in neighbouring Nepal but it has made no difference to latter whose prime minister KP Oli  has joined his citizens who hit the streets in protest last week.

Nepal’s bitter political rivals, Nepal Communist Party and Nepali Congress, are united in anger and so are the students on the streets who are convinced India has swallowed the long-disputed Kalapani area in its latest map which it released in the wake of reconfiguration of Jammu & Kashmir state early this month.

India, meanwhile, has stressed it’s the same map and same boundaries it has depicted all along for over half a century now, including the other disputed territory of Susta in Nepal’s south which for the time being doesn’t get Nepal’s hackles up.

Blame it on geography’s changing moods and the toxicity of colonialism that India finds itself enmeshed in border disputes with not just Nepal but many others in its neighbourhood, including China.

Kalapani, and Susta are territories around Kali and Gandak rivers. After the Anglo-Gurkha War (1814-1816), Nepal and East India Company signed a treaty in March 1816. The two rivers drew the arbitrary borders between these two long-disputed sites. Territories right of Gandak river, including Susta, belonged to Nepal; those on the left were with India. Since then Gandak river has changed course: Now Susta is on the left of Gandak river and hence with India. As for Kalapani, British kept changing the source of Kali river which has led to rival claims of today.

China: Talks after talks

India’s border disputes with China are one of the most protracted ones in the world. Since the first border talks began in 1981 to the latest, the 22nd round, which is due later this year, solutions have eluded the two Asian giants who fight the legacy of British colonialism and are afraid to upset the domestic audience in a give-and-take eventuality.

The two countries share a 3,488-km long unresolved border but two, the Western and Eastern ones, are particularly contentious. China controls 37,000-square km sized Aksai Chin in the West, a virtually uninhabited high-altitude desert; India 84,000 square km-wide populated Arunachal Pradesh in the East. The two fought for a month in 1962 but since a peace deal was struck in 1993, dialogues have been preferred over violence.

Yet, no solution is in sight. Along vast stretches of the borders between the two, there is no mutually agreed Line of Actual Control (LAC). India follows the Johnson Line in the Western sector, proposed by the British in the 1860s, which allocates Aksai Chin to them. China asserts it never agreed to the Johnson Line and thus Aksai Chin is its own. Aksai Chin is between volatile Kashmir and China’s Xinjiang province which are seen troublesome to the two nations. Then there is MacMahon Line in Eastern sector, initiated in 1913-14 between China, India and Tibet which is disputed.

Fortunately, pragmatism has brought about Border Defence Cooperation Agreement between the two Asian giants. Soldiers patrol their territory but back off when brought face-to-face with each other. Quite often military commanders at the border share a bonhomie, exchange views and sort out local issues.

Pakistan: An intractable issue

The border dispute between India and Pakistan concern Kashmir and are on since their independence in 1947. Pakistan launched a tribal militia in Kashmir on independence and the ruler of Kashmir, Maharja Hari Singh, sought India’s assistance which put a condition on Kashmir first acceding to India. Having duly secured the accession, India airlifted its troops to Srinagar and by the time cease-fire was secured after a year, India controlled two-thirds of the Kashmir while the remaining one-third was possessed by Pakistan. The status-quo has prevailed despite three wars and as many peace agreements (Tashkent, Simla, Lahore) between the two neighbours.

Bangladesh: All quiet at borders

India and East Pakistan (later Bangladesh) became free from the British empire in 1947 but the two retained thousands of citizens in hundreds of enclaves in each other’s territory. These enclave dwellers lived without any rights or papers, virtually stateless and lacking basics in education, health and security. All this changed for the good when the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi signed a historic pact with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina in 2015. It allowed these thousands of stateless people an opportunity to choose either of the two countries as their own. Land was also swapped between the two nations. The border dispute between the two is settled for good.

Similarly, India had a small dispute with Sri Lanka over an uninhabited 235-acre island, Katchatheevu, which was satisfactorily solved after India formally gifted it to Sri Lanka in the 70s. India has extremely minor border issues with Myanmar and practically none with Bhutan.

The curse of colonialism has left India with border issues which are non-existent, say in a majority of Europe or even between United States and Canada even though the demarcating line between the two countries is a straight one. With strong governments in place, India and China could settle the mutual issues to a great deal. The one with Pakistan though is another matter.

 

 

 

 

Digvijay Singh is not the only “saffron terror” mongerer

It’s Digvijay Singh’s moment of truth on “saffron terror.” Sadhvi Pragya probably would make him pay for it in Bhopal. There are many though who wouldn’t be called to account. Let’s name them too and hold them up in public eye.

“Modern India” by Bipan Chandra was once the history textbook for Class XII, published by NCERT (1996). The book’s editorial board included S. Gopal, S. Nurul Hasan, Satish Chandra and Romila Thapar.  It has a passage on Muslim League in these words:

“The Muslim League propaganda gained by the existence of such communal bodies among the Hindus as the Hindu Mahasabha. The Hindu communalists echoed the Muslim communalists by declaring that the Hindus were a distinct nation and that India was the land of the Hindus. Thus they (Muslim League) too accepted the two-nation theory.” (Page 223)

The passage continues:

“In one respect, Hindu communalism had even less justification…The Hindu communal view of history also relied on the myth that Indian society and culture had reached great, ideal heights in the ancient period from which they fell into permanent and continuous decay during the medieval period because of “Muslim” rule and domination. (Page 223)

“They identified Indian culture and the Indian nation with the Hindu religion and Hindus…For example, Tilak’s propagation of the Shivaji and Ganapati festivals, Aurobindo Ghose’s semi-mystical concept of India as mother and nationalism as religion, the terrorists’ oath before goddess Kali, and the initiation of the anti-Partition agitation which dips in the Ganga could hardly appeal to the Muslims…Nor could Muslims be expected to respond with full enthusiasm when they saw Shivaji or Pratap being hailed… (Page 231)

“The Hiindu tinge also create ideological openings for Hindu communalism and made it difficult for the nationalist movement to eliminate the Hindu communal, political and ideological elements within its own ranks. It also helped the spread of a Muslim tinge among Muslim nationalists. (Page 232)

“Many in the Muslim middle class went to the extent of turning to the history of West Asia for their traditions and moments of pride.” (Page 232)

Got it? The implication is that Muslim League was communal because Hindu communalists kind of forced their hands! Muslim League which toed the British line and used religion to tear up the nation, did all that because Hindu communalists forced their hands. Bravo.

So Indian Muslims turned towards the history of West Asia because Hindu communalists left them with no option. That the tradition demands they turn towards Kaaba for prayers five times a day, treat Mecca and Madina as holy places.  But somehow, in case of Indian Muslims, they all did so because Hindu communalists left them with no option but to turn to their West Asia traditions.  . It doesn’t matter that hadiths after hadiths, fatwas after fatwas direct believers to subjugate and suppress non-believers. Why bring to attention the uncomfortable fact that the Prophet asks the believers to “love the Arabs for three reasons: because I am an Arab, the Quran is Arabic and the inhabitants of Paradise will speak Arabic.” (Eminent Historians: Arun Shourie, Page 122)

The truth is Islam asks its adherents to be truthful to its West Asia tradition of Arabs and Arabic language alone. Hindu communalists have nothing to do with it. VS Naipaul gives a poignant account of it in his book “Beyond Belief.”

“Islam is in its origins an Arab religion. Everyone not an Arab who is a Muslim is a convert. Islam is not simply a matter of conscience or private belief. It makes imperial demands. A convert’s world view alters. His holy places are in Arab lands; his sacred language is Arabic. His idea of history alters. He rejects his own; he becomes, whether he likes it or not, a part of the Arab story. The convert has to turn away from everything that is his…”

From its very advent in India, Islam looked for converts and domination of its religion. The conversion ceremony was a violent rupture for a convert from his Hindu past. That’s why a convert had to eat beef openly in public view, a violent rupture from his Hindu belief that cow is sacred. (Eminent Historians: Arun Shourie, Page 123)

Muslims didn’t distance themselves from the nationalist narrative because of Hindu communalists. Quran terms idolaters as the “worst of creatures” and “that they shall be in hellfire to dwell forever therein.” That the idolaters block the believers’ path to Allah. (Eminent Historians: Arun Shourie, Page 129)

So Muslim League didn’t need a Tilak and his propagation of Ganapati Mahotsava to stay away from the nationalist movement. It wasn’t Aurobindo or Gandhi which made it shrink from the nationalist cause. Dayanand or Aurobindo didn’t push Muslims into believing that idolaters were conspiring against them.

The chicanery of Bipan Chandra doesn’t stop here. He says: “Communalism has been rightly described as political trade in religion. Religion was used, after 1937, as a mobilizing factor by the communalists.” (Modern India, Page 232-33)

It was Jinnah and Muslim League which used religion after 1937 as a mobilizing force. But Bipan Chandra makes a generic and not specific mention, implying that both Hindus and Muslims used religion to mobilize people after 1937.

So parents you  are urged to look at the history books of your kids. Point out such passages which are a distortion of Hindu identity, religion and politics. You are mistaken if you believe it has all begun with Digvijay Singh.