Posts Tagged ‘Idea of India’

COMMENTS POSTED ON THE TIMES OF INDIA WEBSITE OVER M.J. AKBAR’S ARTICLE: ‘Antulay is the Simi Garewal of Indian politics’, PUBLISHED SUNDAY, DEC. 21, 2008:

December 21, 2008

COMMENTS POSTED ON THE TIMES OF INDIA WEBSITE OVER M.J. AKBAR’S ARTICLE: ‘Antulay is the Simi Garewal of Indian politics’, PUBLISHED SUNDAY, DEC. 21, 2008:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

M. J. Akbar errs when he denigrates and demonizes Urdu press for voicing and articulating Urdu readership. After all they too are the citizens of this nation, they too have the right to freedom of thought and expression and they too have the right to vote. How do they become inferior to the elite that are ruling in their name? Urdu press has a glorious history of robust participation in freedom struggle. It is a pity that a journalist of such repute, should find it convenient to put down genuine voices of one section of our people, that is already marginalized. Now even their voices are being throttled.

It is time, Urdu press and Urdu readership should be made part of main street India as well as mainstream media. The Idea of India can never be complete without their full participation in mainstream life of nation. M. J. Akbar should better take note of his bias against people’s grass root sentiments that is more readily and extensively covered by the Urdu press than the glossy corporate English media ever can or will.

If Antulay is the Simi Garewal of Indian politics, it would appear appropriate, if M. J. Akbar should claim to be the Simi Garewal of Indian journalism.

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com
http://www.ghulammuhammed.wordpress.com

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http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Columnists/MJ_Akbar_Antulay__Simi_Garewal/articleshow/3868439.cms

MJ Akbar

Antulay is the Simi Garewal of Indian politics

21 Dec 2008, 0005 hrs IST, M J Akbar

There is, or should be, a well-defined line in media between the liberty of impression and the freedom of expression. Both are privileges of
democracy. Liberty of impression is the exhilarating-frightening roller coaster on which public discourse rides. Freedom of expression is cooled by the sprinkle of judgment, a mind that sieves speculation, allegation and accusation from the end-product that appears in print or on air.

There is outrage against the television coverage of Mumbai terrorism because television celebrities surrendered their judgment before the rising demand for hysteria. There is no supply without demand. The very audiences that sucked out hysteria from cable are now howling against its perpetrators. It is a human instinct to develop instant amnesia about one’s mistakes and sharpen knives with the vigour of humbugs the moment a scapegoat has been identified. The viewer is now seeking absolution through anger.

But the information market has been flooded with toxic weed. Hysteria is not the exclusive preserve of audio-visual junketeers. From the moment the terrorist violence hit Mumbai, much before the course of events evolved into a pattern, some sections of the Urdu press began pumping up circulation figures with fantasy fodder, in the shape of conspiracy theories, to a readership in search of denial. The conspiracy-in-chief was that this mayhem was nothing more than a plot to sabotage the investigation that ATS chief Karkare was conducting into the Malegaon blasts. The death of the police officer was declared instant martyrdom.

News media operates within a triangle of customer, producer and politician. A clever politician is a master chef in cooking up a broth of impression and expression. Since the customer is also a voter, the politician panders to street opinion by lifting it into the loftier realm of Parliament or television studio. The very act of transference gives implicit legitimacy to fantasy fodder.

Abdur Rahman Antulay is not in search of truth. He is in search of votes. He has become the Simi Garewal of Indian politics. Garewal saw a Pakistani flag fluttering on every Muslim housetop in Mumbai. Antulay sees a vote beyond every Muslim doorstep. Garewal was blinded by a low IQ. Antulay has turned myopic because one eye is stupid and the other cynical. But that is his secondary medical problem. His primary disease is cancer of the vote-bank.

If you want to understand Antulay’s and, by extension, the Congress’ compulsions, then take a look at an SMS I received on December 1: “Congress has been wiped out in Dhule corporation election. It could get only 3 seats out of 67.” Dhule is barely fifty kilometres from Malegaon. More than 30% of its electorate is Muslim.

As the minorities minister with the unique distinction of having done absolutely nothing for minorities, Antulay and his party face a meltdown in Maharashtra. If they cannot get even Muslim votes, they can forget about power and pelf in Delhi. He has therefore chosen to feed the Muslim with the comfort food of conspiracy theories, in the hope that this will drug him to the point where he loses his bearings until the April-May elections.

Will this succeed? Perhaps. It has succeeded before. But take a look at another SMS I received, announcing a meeting of the Maharashtra United Democratic Convention at Birla Matushri on December 17. An experiment for the consolidation of the Muslim vote was begun in Assam under a similar banner and did well in the last assembly elections. It has 11 MLAs and came second in some two dozen constituencies. Maulana Badruddin Ajmal Qasmi promised at the Mumbai convention that an MUDF would set up candidates in every constituency in the next assembly elections. Its aim would be to defeat both the Congress and the BJP. He warned the Congress, which had got the Muslim vote in the state for six decades, that the days of bondage were over, and the Muslim vote had grown up: it was not going to be satisfied with toffee anymore.

It is a long journey from desire to destination. There will be pressure and deviation; some attempts to purchase some leaders will possibly succeed. But such language has never been heard from a Muslim platform in Maharashtra.

Simi Garewal sees a Pakistan where there isn’t one. Antulay will not see a Pakistan where there is one. But Simi is a fringe factor; Antulay sits on centrestage. Antulay is a Cabinet minister, who has provided sustenance to those Pakistanis who are trying to fool us into believing that the terrorism in Mumbai was an instance of Indian security failure rather than an invasion sponsored by Pakistani elements.

I am amazed at the sheer gall of both the spinners in Pakistan and the Antulays in India. They seem to forget that there is a Pakistani canary sitting in an Indian jail, singing out the plans, preparations and objectives. Nine dead men and their masters are being exposed by the tenth man, the man who did not die.

If this is the state of deception and self-deception when one terrorist has been caught, what would have been the level of denial if all ten had died?

Cynicism is a staple of vote-driven politics. We all know that. I was naïve to believe that our nation’s security would remain outside the reach of cynicism.

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Obama win – a lesson for Indian Muslims: We can do it – By Ghulam Muhammed

November 5, 2008

 

Obama win – a lesson for Indian Muslims: We can do it

 

Obama belonged to an ostracized community that was historically brought to the United States of America as slaves, to slog in the cotton fields of the landed white aristocracy. He rose against tremendous odds and presented himself as a united voice of sanity in the backdrop of cacophony of bigotry and elitism. He took his nation to dream of unity and equal opportunity. His win has special significance for Indian Muslims, not because his middle name is Hussein. His win is a resounding message to 150 million Muslims, who are reduced within the last 60 years of Indian independence as a community to the existence of the lowest of the low. Obama rose from the pettiness of the old politics and nursed a vision for his country to be a united nation. He rose above the divisions of color and region and economic status. If any one single community that can lead India to a future of unity and universal brotherhood, it is the Muslim community. Indian Muslims have a long history of being at the helm of the affair of their country and had promoted a composite culture that thrived on the finer graces of diversities and inner aspirations of each and every individual as part and parcel of this great nation. In last sixty years, a small clique of Macaulay Brahmins, raised on the notions of the ruler and ruled, has drained the people of all their cherished dreams. While a few privileged amassed unimaginable wealth and influence, the people of India suffered stoically the ravages of governance that primarily was of the elite, for the elite, by the elite who successfully brainwashed the poor masses into a fatalistic existence of poverty and degradation. The appearance of Obama on the world horizon is a sign that the whole world is at the threshold of a historical change for the better. Injustices and deprivations have to be exorcised. And they will be. No civilization can survive merely on the basis of its material progress, if it is robbed of its innermost gift to human bonding. Indian civilization itself survived for millenniums as it accommodated and rejoiced in pluralities and diversities.

 

I call upon my Muslim brethrens to realise their duty and responsibility towards their homeland. Realise their strengths, their noble traditions, their inbuilt calling of universal brotherhood of all human being and unite with a deep sense of purpose and commitment to bring change to India; the paradigm change that will break down the walls of injustice and prejudice. Muslims should open their hearts and minds to all who seek to bring that change. And add their unique existence within the comity of the communities to become the glue for unity and justice. Let Obama be their role model to herald a new Idea of India that would be a role model to the world.

 

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

ghulammuhammed3@gmail.com

www.ghulammuhammed.wordpress.com

 

Idea of India

August 19, 2008

Idea of India

 

In the following article, the author, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a very level-headed commentator, has harked backed to the Idea of India. I would think, that’s all for the birds. The real movers and shakers were the Western Powers, who had cut up India, to get a piece of land as their last army post on the subcontinent, for their own global strategic needs against the expanding ambitions of Soviet Russia and to protect their own oil interests in the gulf.

 

In India, the Brahmins, who dominated the Hindu brigade, came out with an Idea of India, which had no place for the Muslims.

 

Muslims were fooled into believing that Pakistan was an Islamic country carved out of the body of India, as a big favour to them. In fact, Pakistan has remained a Western satellite country, with Western military aid all over the years, bolstering its only powerful institution, the Army that has no brief with its people. People of Pakistan were merely the side show.

 

The wheels of fortune had made a new turn. Indian subcontinent is once more the most coveted piece of real estate for the western axis powers of US/UK/Israel. For all practical purposes, India has gone under. It is the Axis that is moving the pieces on the grand chessboard. It is the US axis that wants Kashmir free. Gullible Muslim leaders, like Geelani, Mirwaiz Farooq and others, call them Islamists or separatist, are once again chasing the chimera of a Islamic paradise on earth. They will not get anything better than an exchange of one yoke with another of the similar kind.

 

On the other hand, India has completely succumbed to the hubris promised by America, and however much its thinkers and planners may exert their brain power and come out with another version of Idea of India, in this globalised world, their old limitations have now been taken over by much more debilitating limitations.

 

No army of king’s men and horses will ever succeed in putting the humpty dumpty together again. Not at least in this century. Meanwhile both the Brahmins and Muslims will pay for their folly.

 

I would invite my readers to read the following article in the context that I have laid out for study and comments:

 

 

http://www.indianexpress.com/story/350345._.html

 

The question in Kashmir

 

 By Pratap Bhanu Mehta

 

Posted online: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 at 0007 hrs

 

 

Can the idea of India overcome the Indian state’s limitations?

 

 

 

 I do not know how to address Kashmiri leaders. All the appellations that would be used to establish a connection, common citizenship, shared nationhood, cultural bonds, pragmatic affiliations, appear to be little more than rhetorical pretences, hollowed out by unmeaning overuse. I also cannot address them without a guilty conscience: the Indian state has so often let Kashmiris down. I cannot imagine what it is to live like under half a million troops, a standing reminder that no matter what our politicians claim, our bonds are sustained more by force than by spontaneity. I cannot imagine what it is to raise a new generation entirely under the shadow of violence and suspicion. I cannot imagine what it is like to have one’s identity held hostage to competing nationalisms: to be mercilessly used by Pakistan to disguise its own crisis of legitimacy, and subjected to Indian anxiety that everything it stands for will come unravelled at the slightest hint of dissent in Kashmir. I can imagine what it is like to have the electoral process subverted. But I cannot imagine the depth of distrust that repeated violations have produced. I cannot imagine what conducting politics under constant threat of assassination is like, or what the disabling of all questions of justice under the garb of national security means. I cannot understand the wrenching of a cultural equilibrium destroyed, by Islamisation and ethnic cleansing of the Pandits. The chasm that divides us is perhaps that our daily lives are less marked by the distrust, betrayals, violence and suspicion than mark yours; our invocations of shared citizenship seem scarcely up to the task of overcoming them.

 

 

We had hoped that time would heal wounds; that a modicum of a political process, while not compensating for past ills, would at least hold out the possibility of a different future. But two issues reopened old wounds. Amarnath went from being a showcase of cultural harmony to a reminder that there is no such thing as an ordinary administrative transaction in Kashmir. The agitation in Jammu was a reminder that another region of the state had now successfully constructed its own narrative of victimhood, resentful of the special status it perceived the Valley to possess. But these issues, for the most part tractable by small compromises, became moot. They were surpassed by the depth of feeling in Kashmir, as if the entire weight of modern Indian history had once again chosen to explode in the Valley: the green flags of Pakistan, militant sub-nationalism, the failures of Indian democracy, the anxieties of Indian nationalism. Long unresolved questions burst to the surface, in the same entrenched categories that had made them unresolvable, in the same hardened rhetoric that sees even the slightest hint of compromise as a betrayal.

 

 

Who should one blame? The original terms on which India and Pakistan were carved out, that still haunt them? Nehru, whose own sense of legitimacy could get so overweening that he stopped listening? Hindu nationalists, who under the garb of nationalism make minorities, feel insecure? The Indian state for promising a plebiscite it knew it could not deliver? The Valley politicians, who for most of history, have had a better sense of how azadi can raise the political temperature, than they have ideas about how it would work in practice? We can blame Pakistan for fomenting violence. We can blame the politicians in the Valley for behaving like most Indian politicians do: lazy when in government, ardent rabble rousers when out of power, more interested in provocation than peace.

 

 

We can blame the current government. After all, the prime minister did promise to restore Kashmir to its natural geography. All he gave Kashmir instead was a limited, measly bus service that has a long waiting list. He did not have the courage to override his national security apparatus and make good on his promises. His government chose not to provide effective means of assuaging Kashmir’s anxiety over the so called blockade. We can blame the “all party” committee that confuses being all party with all people. We can blame the general sense of anarchy being let loose across India, where even the smallest group can hold the state to ransom simply because they can block a highway. We can blame shadowy militants, for whom the cause is merely a pretext to unleash terror. We can blame the Indian security forces, and state officials, who as always, are working without political direction.

 

 

Some will blame the special status of Kashmir. Instead of bringing security, it has permanently suspended it in a nether zone: unable to integrate with India and access its power structures, unable to visualise a future of its own. On the one hand we have not got peace. On the other hand many wonder whether the special dispensations Kashmir has got — excluding outsiders from ownership, the Indian state’s unprecedented solicitousness for the Valley’s demographic composition (just contrast that with Pakistan), the high per capita flow of funds — may have served only to heighten distances, rather than create stronger bonds. There are people who understand the ways in which the Indian state has failed Kashmir. But fewer are able to fathom why, if all those special safeguards are honoured and a genuine representative process is put in place, azadi should rear its head again.

 

 

The Indian state has a legitimacy crisis in Kashmir. But so tangled are the thread of our identities that it is hard to know what warps and wrinkles pulling at one thread will produce. Every one is looking for formulas, but when trust has broken down formulas are pointless. There is also a colossal presumptuousness in doling out advice at this juncture. It is not clear by what authority anyone can give advice. The question is: who will have the political courage to overcome the past, to break this impossible equilibrium, where practical common sense is sacrificed to chimerical abstractions on all sides? But this is a moment of reckoning. Can the idea of India transcend the limitations of the Indian state? This is one question Kashmiri politicians have to answer for themselves. If the answer to this question is a resounding no, then India has to ponder its options. India has in the past sacrificed democracy in Kashmir to its own nationalism. What would it say for the idea of India, if it cannot elicit voluntary allegiance in Kashmir? Will it live with the permanent rebuke to its democracy that Kashmir represents, or will it risk a new paradigm that might achieve what this endless cycle of mutual suspicion has not?

 

The writer is president, Centre for Policy Research, Delhi express@expressindia.com