(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
India doesn’t believe it is reading too much in the designs of arch-rivals Pakistan in opening up its doors for Sikh pilgrims to visit the resting place of their founder, Guru Nanak Dev, within its territory.
The two Prime Ministers, Narendra Modi and Imran Khan, stood at two sides of border to facilitate the first batch of 500 Sikh pilgrims make a 4-km trek to the holiest of their shrines, Gurudwara Darbar Sahib, on Saturday.
India sensed a chill behind the warm words wafting through from across the border as Imran Khan bemoaned the lockdown in Kashmir and his foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi mocked if India could do the same for Muslim pilgrims longing to visit their holy places in Kashmir.
A few days ago, India was stung when Pakistan had released an official video welcoming pilgrims which showed images of three major slain militants who wanted to carve out a separate homeland for Sikhs in Indian state of Punjab in the 80s.
Though the separatist movement for Khalistan, a homeland for Sikhs, petered out in the 1990s there is still fire in the dying embers and India believes Pakistan would do its best to stoke its doctrine of “bleeding India with thousand cuts.”
India has tightened security, including ban on drones, in its north-western state of Punjab as it fears it could be a route to supply arms and terrorists to Kashmir—and that the holy corridor for Sikhs could act as a cover.
India finds Pakistan’s new-found affection for Sikhs a coat of deception and remembers multiple instances as a marker in support of this theory.
No sooner had Pakistan came into being as an Islamic state in 1947, Sikhs along with Hindus were driven out, killed and raped in thousands who retaliated by doing the same to Muslims from across the border. This set in motion the greatest migration in human history which cost two million lives, the horror of the violence rising up to the scale of the Holocaust.
Still, after the fire of Partition had died out, almost 23 per cent of Pakistan’s population comprised of non-Muslim citizens which now has been reduced to less than 2 per cent. Thousands of Hindus and Sikhs were repressed and displaced whom the Indian government now is trying provide citizenship through an impending Act.
India is still battling the scars of five lakh Hindus being driven out of Kashmir Valley in the 1990s as grave terrorism spouted within its borders and the hands of Pakistan in spurring it to life was internationally acknowledged.
Pakistan also couldn’t keep its Bengali Muslim brothers within its fold as it let loose a reign of terror in East Pakistan in late 60s, killing hundreds of thousands, before the local resistance, with the help of India, broke free and a new nation Bangladesh came into being.
Pakistan’s flip-flop in run-up to the opening of holy corridor for Sikhs hasn’t gone unnoticed too. The “goodwill gesture” will now cost Sikh pilgrims $20 dollars on each visit though the first two such trips, including the 550th birth anniversary of their founder, Guru Nanak Dev on November 12, would be free. Further, while Imran Khan has waived the requirement of passport for pilgrims, his omnipotent military is insistent on such a requirement.
“Pakistan is professing love for Indian citizens but this is the same country which is refusing its air-space for Indian prime minister to fly out on his foreign trips. Which Pakistan do you think we should believe,” said a retired diplomat who didn’t want to be named.
This is the latest saga in the frosty, bitter and violent relations between the two nations which share a common heritage yet have fought four wars and accuse each other of one or other violation practically every day. The guns haven’t stopped booming at the borders. Let’s hope this fresh smell of rose is for real.
(This is a reprint from rt.com)
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Sanjeev Sanyal posted a twitter thread on Saturday where he implored discussions on the 21st Century issues rather than being mired in historical characters like Veer Savarkar, Bhimrao Ambedkar and Mohandas K. Gandhi.
Sanjeev Sanyal is much admired for his books, certainly among young readers, and that he is also an accomplished banker/economist, he has been sought out by the Indian government to roll out the roadmap (I know he loves maps) for the economy.
So what are the 21st Century issues? Howsoever we define them, I presume Sanyal certainly doesn’t have in mind the political/ideological issues which keep us grounded. When we need to fight water, food, health, pollution, population, jobs, education, terrorism etc on a warscale, when survival is at stake, how winning or losing debates are going to help?
But then how do we fight the 21st Century issues when water is dragged down to Narmada-Kaveri disputes; food to loan-waivers for farmers; pollution to Deepawali but not Bakrid; population to South feeding the teeming millions of BIMARU states, jobs to turf wars on data, education to midday meal scams and terrorism to human rights issue against “stone-pelters”?
The truth is Sanyal has a composite India in mind but there are 100s of India within the geographical combine. Everyone’s idea of India is different from others (Remember, the odes which were written for Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru on the 50th year of independence in 1997? Would the same be feasible when India hits 75 in 2022?).
India is a political entity which has a different culture, tradition, rituals language, food, clothes, caste, colour,creed every 100 kilometres. These mini-Indias soon enough acquire a local leader who, in order to protect his turf, takes his captive audience on a trip—often fake–of its’ past glory, its heroes, and the injusticesits’ seminal breakthroughs. The sharper the distinction these leaders can draw for their constituents, better are the prospects of their longevity. That’s how Sikhs, who only saw themselves as protectors of Hindus till the 19th century—just count the numbers of temples Maharaja Ranjit Singh built–now talk of Khalistan.
Our founding fathers knew of these issues. They drew a brilliant Constitution. They recognized India could only function as a federal entity. States, but for a few matters, are almost autonomous. Everyone is allowed to have a voice; stifling it would be the end of India we know. So 100s of India are embedded in our Constitution.
Now Sanyal, how do we solve this dichotomy? The first one of course is education. Education brings aspirations, aspirations in turn progress. A critical mind is better suited to break the matrix of false history and false narrative spun by our politicians and media, clearly hand in gloves. But then how do we get this unbiased education when our schools which prepare us for our jobs, won’t allow it? When “Veer” Savarkar is demonized; mentioning Godse is a slide to oblivion? Why should we look for Savarkar when chanting Nehru is more practical?
It’s clear we made mistakes in 1947. The foremost was to lock our heritage in a closet. To hug ideas, policies and a foreign language which were alien to our ethos. To subdue Hindus so that Muslims remain appeased. It was only a matter of time before a majority makes its presence felt in a room, as it always does. How long it would always be about Ghazni and Ghouri; Babar and Aurangzeb; and not about Brahmagupta and Varahamihira; Sushruta and Bhaskaracharya? How long Vijaynagar empire would remain eclipsed by Mughal dynasty?
The inherent culture asserts. And the resultant turmoil keeps Sanyal exasperated.
Sanyal is not alone in knowing the real dangers India has ahead. But like Sanyal, they too can’t set a narrative. When our front pages are only reserved for politicians, what hope people have? When our school textbooks are only an outreach for our “Deep State”, how does India connect with its soul?
It’s clear out institutions are failing us. Judiciary, bureaucracy, Media, Election Commission, Enforcement agencies etc. Or why a country as corrupt as India has so few persecutions? Who knows if India of old, god forbids, returns with vengeance after Modi?
So Godse and Savarkar in a way are good when narratives other than Gandhi-Nehru are not permissible. Even if Sanyal and I don’t want it, people with their buttons on social media would press. And they must too—we have seen how RSS reluctance to take on Left-Liberal’s quest for our minds has allowed the latter a suffocating hold.
It’s for those who are officially tasked about water, food, health, education etc—policy-makers like Sanyal himself and bureaucrats—who should keep India ahead of selves. Let India rumble in a cacophony. For haven’t we paid enough price for our silence?
The smugness on Navjot Singh Sidhu’s face as if Messiah of peace between India and Pakistan, as he made way for Kartarpur across Wagah border, really got my goat up. Surely he knows Imran Khan is just a dummy; that terrorism both for Khalistan and Kashmir (or for Kabul) is our neighbour’s export, that for Vajpayee’s bus initiative we got Kargil. All this is not for India. This is to nurture his own constituency with an eye to be Punjab’s next chief minister. It would all suit Pakistan and Khalistan donors but not India.
But then why blame Sidhu? I read today Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that Mamata, Akhilesh, Mayawati and Left are ok but not Congress. Mamata, for whom Durga Puja is not a priority and who equates BJP with Taliban; Akhilesh who sees BJP as the biggest danger to democracy; Mayawati who terms Modi as anti-poor; Left’s Sitaram Yechury who calls Modi as the looter of India, are all okay now. All this might win Modi elections. But what about India? What about millions of Hindus who see a threat in these forces and view Modi as their saviour?
Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are making overt gestures to be seen as essentially Hindus. They support the agitation against Supreme Court verdict on Sabrimala; have desisted in backing Sidhu on Kartarpur; Sonia sports a tilak (how ludicrous can it really get) in election rallies; and Rahul Gandhi shows his janau to everyone when none of his previous four generations ever wore it. All this is for political dividends and certainly not India.
Shiv Sena are now agitated on Ram Mandir. Uddhav Thackeray and his army reached all the way to Ayodhya. Till recently, millions of workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, most of whom are Hindus, were anathema to them. Now they can go thousands of miles to support a long-cherished dream of Hindus. The idea is to cut the plank which could help BJP in 2019 elections. Did you really think it was for Hindus or India?
Once in a while we are suffused with hope. Arvind Kejriwal was once such in 2014. He evoked Gandhi; wore muffler and slippers and took on the high and mighty of this land. Now he cartwheels around Mamata and Mayawati. He has made sure if another Kejriwal emerges he would have no chance of gaining people’s affection.
But then who thinks for India? The ones who bring their garbage in the name of newspapers to our verandahs; the police or judiciary who give a damn to our urgency; the bureaucracy who are nothing better than glorified clerks afraid to put signature to anything meaningful; the NGOs most of whom are forward soldiers of foreign funders or the academia who trade pen for cheques?
Do you think you and I care about India? We would crib about thousands of issues in our air-conditioned rooms but never take that one step towards an agency. What did you last do about the filth in your neighourhood? Or the menace of wild dogs who could mount a concerted attack if you step out in pitched darkness? What do we personally do to reduce pollution or energy-usage? The horror that our schools are for our children? Taught by teachers who equate education with their salary slips? When did we last visit a village where 80 per cent of India still lives?
Politicians, media, judiciary, policy, bureaucracy, civil society and we as individuals are all too many words and too little action. It can’t work; it won’t work. India is stretching itself thin. Almost 18 per cent of world’s humanity is sitting on a volcano of lies and manipulation. The righteous impotence of me right vs.you wrong; your religion vs. my religion; those charlatans who take past quotes out of context and plaster the edit pages; the newspapers who pass on socialites and film actresses as our new Plato and Socrates. Writers have a role if they are impartial and neutral and appeal to reason or logic. Not when it is sold to someone else’s good. As readers we must take the pen out of their hands and give them shovels to dig their own graves.
Indians now need to be real stakeholders if India is to survive. We need to look at issues both personal and impersonal though the line is often blurred. Personal would involve making our politicians, judiciary, police, media, bureaucracy accountable. Impersonal would mean larger issues such as those of farmers, joblessness etc.. We need citizens’ charters who audit our institutions like accounting firms do to their clients. We need to force our way into decisions our politicians take or the decisions our judiciary delays—for all other reasons except to the benefit of a common man. We need to show them our anger is no longer limited to our drawing rooms. Trust me, we the faceless would have the attention of thousands of eyes and cameras if we stop them at their gates and demand an answer. Our inertia is our weakness and the only strength they have.
India can go wrong any moment. It could be an ecological disaster or a hostile nuclear-armed neighbourhood. It could be the lava of a largely young nation which frustrated at lack of jobs or coma of our judiciary could bury us all under a thick carpet of violence and breakdown. We surely can’t leave it to our politicians and professors.