Archive for August 17th, 2008

Independence Day for Kashmir – By Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar – TOI

August 17, 2008

RARE SHOW OF COURAGE BY THE TIMES OF INDIA

 

 

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Columnists/S_A_Aiyar_I-Day_for_Kashmir/articleshow/3372132.cms

 

Independence Day for Kashmir

 

17 Aug 2008, 0338 hrs IST,

 

By Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar

 

On August 15, India celebrated independence from the British Raj. But Kashmiris staged a bandh demanding independence from India. A day symbolising the end of colonialism in India became a day symbolising Indian colonialism in the Valley.

 

As a liberal, i dislike ruling people against their will. True, nation-building is a difficult and complex exercise, and initial resistance can give way to the integration of regional aspirations into a larger national identity — the end of Tamil secessionism was a classical example of this.

 

I was once hopeful of Kashmir’s integration, but after six decades of effort, Kashmiri alienation looks greater than ever. India seeks to integrate with Kashmir, not rule it colonially. Yet, the parallels between British rule in India and Indian rule in Kashmir have become too close for my comfort.

 

Many Indians say that Kashmir legally became an integral part of India when the maharaja of the state signed the instrument of accession. Alas, such legalisms become irrelevant when ground realities change. Indian kings and princes, including the Mughals, acceded to the British Raj. The documents they signed became irrelevant when Indians launched an independence movement.

 

The British insisted for a long time that India was an integral part of their Empire, the jewel in its crown, and would never be given up. Imperialist Blimps remained in denial for decades. I fear we are in similar denial on Kashmir.

 

The politically correct story of the maharaja’s accession ignores a devastating parallel event. Just as Kashmir had a Hindu maharaja ruling over a Muslim majority, Junagadh had a Muslim nawab ruling over a Hindu majority. The Hindu maharaja acceded to India, and the Muslim nawab to Pakistan.

 

But while India claimed that the Kashmiri accession to India was sacred, it did not accept Junagadh’s accession to Pakistan. India sent troops into Junagadh, just as Pakistan sent troops into Kashmir. The difference was that Pakistan lacked the military means to intervene in Junagadh, while India was able to send troops into Srinagar. The Junagadh nawab fled to Pakistan, whereas the Kashmir maharaja sat tight. India’s double standard on Junagadh and Kashmir was breathtaking.

 

Do you think the people of Junagadh would have integrated with Pakistan after six decades of genuine Pakistani effort? No? Then can you really be confident that Kashmiris will stop demanding azaadi and integrate with India?

 

The British came to India uninvited. By contrast, Sheikh Abdullah, the most popular politician in Kashmir, supported accession to India subject to ratification by a plebiscite. But his heart lay in independence for Kashmir, and he soon began manoeuvering towards that end. He was jailed by Nehru, who then declared Kashmir’s accession was final and no longer required ratification by a plebiscite. The fact that Kashmir had a Muslim majority was held to be irrelevant, since India was a secular country empowering citizens through democracy.

 

Alas, democracy in Kashmir has been a farce for most of six decades. The rot began with Sheikh Abdullah in 1951: he rejected the nomination papers of almost all opponents, and so won 73 of the 75 seats unopposed! Nehru was complicit in this sabotage of democracy.

 

Subsequent state elections were also rigged in favour of leaders nominated by New Delhi. Only in 1977 was the first fair election held, and was won by the Sheikh. But he died after a few years, and rigging returned in the 1988 election. That sparked the separatist uprising which continues to gather strength today.

 

Many Indians point to long episodes of peace in the Valley and say the separatists are just a noisy minority. But the Raj also had long quiet periods between Gandhian agitations, which involved just a few lakhs of India’s 500 million people. One lakh people joined the Quit India movement of 1942, but 25 lakh others joined the British Indian army to fight for the Empire’s glory.

 

Blimps cited this as evidence that most Indians simply wanted jobs and a decent life. The Raj built the biggest railway and canal networks in the world. It said most Indians were satisfied with economic development, and that independence was demanded by a noisy minority. This is uncomfortably similar to the official Indian response to the Kashmiri demand for azaadi.

 

Let me not exaggerate. Indian rule in Kashmir is not classical colonialism. India has pumped vast sums into Kashmir, not extracted revenue as the Raj did. Kashmir was among the poorest states during the Raj, but now has the lowest poverty rate in India. It enjoys wide civil rights that the Raj never gave. Some elections — 1977, 1983 and 2002 — were perfectly fair.

 

India has sought integration with Kashmir, not colonial rule. But Kashmiris nevertheless demand azaadi. And ruling over those who resent it so strongly for so long is quasi-colonialism, regardless of our intentions.

 

We promised Kashmiris a plebiscite six decades ago. Let us hold one now, and give them three choices: independence, union with Pakistan, and union with India. Almost certainly the Valley will opt for independence. Jammu will opt to stay with India, and probably Ladakh too. Let Kashmiris decide the outcome, not the politicians and armies of India and Pakistan.

 

 

 

Javed Anand’s ideologically driven diatribe against SIMI

August 17, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

 

Javed Anand’s ideologically driven diatribe against SIMI

 

 

Of course! It is a question of law

 

 

By Ghulam Muhammed

 

 

It is one thing to be factually correct. It’s altogether another thing to be ideologically driven. Javed Anand’s diatribe titled: ‘Suspect SIMI? Of course’ — published by The Indian Express, on Saturday, August 16, 2008 seeks life beyond law.

 

At that level, what is a difference between a religiously driven SIMI and a Leftist fighting a war in the name of Karl Marx, denigrating everything that goes under the umbrella of religion, the supposed ‘opium of the masses’.

 

If religion is the opium of the masses, anti-religious Marxism too is a heady brew that saps the intellectual faculties of even the most sensible people.

 

The key sentence that gives out Javed Anand’s subterranean insecurity goes like this: “But is it merely a question of law?”

 

Of course! It is a question of law.

 

India as a nation is a legal construct. It is based on law. If you have to find life beyond law, you are on a very shaky territory.

 

In fact, Javed Anand’s frustration over his gross inability to interpret the law of land by sanctifying the terms ‘secularism and democracy’, in the mould of Marxist logic, while neatly bypassing and ignoring the constitutional fundamental rights of freedom of religion and freedom of speech in drawing up a charge-sheet against SIMI, is so apparent, that it is surprising, he is so unaware that his slip is showing.

 

Secularism in Indian context does not stand for the denial of religion. India is not a replica of the erstwhile Soviet Russia, where the communist dictators had destroyed and/or closed down all churches and mosques. For over seventy years, people of faith had to undergo endless pogroms, purges, banishments, not to mention the ghastly gulag existence. India’s secularism has to be defined by its deeply ingrained religious ethos.

 

Javed Anand is ready to accommodate Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad, for their support of SIMI, when he writes that ‘Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad’s welcoming of the lifting of the ban on SIMI can be explained away in terms of vote bank politics. Why should he begrudge if mainstream Muslims too have welcomed lifting of the ban on SIMI. Are Muslims not entitled to be part of vote bank politics, just because they are Muslims?

 

Banning of SIMI, was a motivated political exercise, by the Hindutva extremists/opportunist of the ilk of the then Home Minister, L. K. Advani and the then Maharashtra State home minister, Chhagan Bhujbal, an old Shiv Sena protagonist. It was a grand conspiracy to consolidate Hindu vote bank, around demonizing of Muslims, by choosing a suitable candidate to focus on and by implication demonise the entire 150 million Muslims of India. Evidently, this too would be generously treated by Javed Anand, as merely vote bank politics!

 

Of course, there were hotheads in SIMI, as there are in every grouping, including the Marxists and the Hindutvadis. But the law cannot be so applied that it cannot stand judicial scrutiny. If on presentation of facts, the court is not convinced that SIMI is guilty as charged, why should Muslims not rejoice in being liberated from the conspiracy of the Hindu extremists?

 

The real problem for Javed Anand stems from his pretentious posturing of becoming the voice of the Muslims. His frustration at witnessing crowds of 20,000 to 200,000 gathering at public meetings called by religious figures is quite understandable. He fails to understand the real pain of the Muslims. Given proper interaction, even a maverick like Mamta Bannerjee could gather a mind-boggling crowd of 400,000 Muslims in the heart of a cosmopolitan city like Kolkata. But you cannot strip the Muslim of his religious identity and hope to achieve leadership of a neutered crowd.

 

The very fact, that Indian Express has published Javed Anand’s article denouncing SIMI, is proof enough that he is sleeping with the enemy. Let him write a similar diatribe against RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and get it published in Indian Express, or Times of India, or even in the new avatar of ‘The Hindu’, if he is rooting for non-discriminatory justice. That will show him the limits of his journalistic prowess, if any. His ability to get published by a mainstream English broadsheet on Muslim-bashing shows how far he is treated by the media, as not with the mainstream Muslims. The mainstream media is merely using his mixed Muslim name (Javed Akhtar + Anand) to carry on their commercial commitment to demonizing of Muslims. Muslims would rather be vicitmised than become beholden to dubious benefactors with ulterior motives.  

 

 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com

www.ghulammuhammed.wordpress.com