Sunday, May 25, 2014

Reflections on election 2014

The Indian election has revealed certain basic truths and holds many far reaching portents.

The globally touted myth of India being the largest democratic secular country seems to have been shattered by the recent election. Yes, it may still be proclaimed to be democratic but the moot point is whether it is a practising democracy as understood in the west? To be really democratic, the population of a country needs to be fully educated and enlightened about the very concept of democracy. There is a difference between a politically conscious and matured populace and a mobocracy. No doubt an average citizen anywhere cannot distinguish between the immediate result and the far reaching consequences. Usually, people in general are swayed by their immediate needs.

In that regard, the election has been claimed to be totally democratic as the majority view is supposed to have prevailed. However, as per information available NDA got only 31% vote share. Thus 69% view is not reflected by this win! Again, it is debatable whether this so called majority view was reached through honest democratic means. It is true that the last decade of Congress led rule has been disastrous for India as regards the basic needs of the common people. While the grass roots people have been crushed by rising prices and unemployment, the rich have grown richer not by honest means but by corruption, dishonesty and manipulation. Out of a GDP of 1.61 trillion dollars, the scams account for 1.1 trillion dollars which amounts to 60%. Had the scam money instead of being stashed abroad in foreign banks been utilised for the benefit of the common people, India by now should have been one of the leading welfare states!

The so called Modi wave swept Congress like a tsunami but mostly in the traditional cow belt. The Hindutva appeal swayed the Vedanta Hindus. The Saivites, the Hindus in the South have not been so much affected. Apart from the basic difference in the two schools of spiritual thought, the North has a very strong inherent grouse against the Muslims. The Indian mainland faced series of invasions from the Muslim conquerors like Mahmud of Gazni who invaded 17 times and destroyed the temple at Somnath. North India bore the brunt of these invasions. The South did not face such incursions. In fact, Islam came to India peacefully in the South during Prophet's (PBUH) own lifetime. The preachers came to Kerala where the first mosque built in India stands. The same is the case with the East. They were far off from the invasions. The pattern of the wave also confirms that the religion rather than development and governance have been the deciding factors. This basic contradiction may not augur well for the unity of India if the new dispensation persists with its anti-Muslim agenda of RSS who are primarily responsible for putting Modi in the driving seat. For all these 67 years India carried a thick coat of Nehru's "Secularism" paint. The present election practically scrapped the paint and India has come out as a Hindu Rashtra in true colours.

According to some people, Jinnah's two nation theory stands vindicated. However, it has been revealed by some historians that Jinnah himself did not believe in two nation theory or creation of a state on the basis of religion. This was evident from his first speech after the creation of Pakistan. He intended it to be a modern, progressive state where all including minorities would have equal rights. In fact, it is reported that he was not very keen about partition and it was his last resort as he failed to get proportional representation for Muslims in a united India. It is alleged by some that Nehru himself was keener on partition.

The ceasefire line set up in Kashmir after the first Indo-Pak war is quoted by some as an example of his thinking on the subject. It is reported that during the first conflict the Indian forces could easily have overrun Azad Kashmir and even gone into mainland Pakistan. However, Nehru directed his Army Commanders to stop at the ceasefire line. When some top Army Officers questioned his wisdom not based on the field situation, he is reported to have convinced them that it was necessary to let Pakistan stay as a buffer zone between India and the Afghanistan and the other Central Asian countries. India had always been troubled by the invaders coming from/through Afghanistan. Pakistan is now a buffer for India. However, Nehru probably thought that Pakistan would soon break up and India would have a number of smaller manageable buffer states on the west to guard it against the invaders who had always been coming from that side. He could have probably never imagined that the buffer itself would become a headache for India and one day possibly result in the total annihilation of the entire sub-continent. With the phenomenal rise of Modi, we may someday face the Armageddon because of the fact of the both these states being nuclear armed!

In J & K, the unity of the state may be at stake. The Jammu supporters of BJP are keen for scrapping of Article 370 for effecting full and complete integration of the State with India. They have always been resenting the rule of Kashmiris over whom their ancestors ruled for a century. Ladakhis, the Buddhists of Leh and Kargil districts too desire direct rule from Delhi by getting a Union Territory status. Probably, they do not know that in a Union Territory which is federally administered, they will have lesser rights and safeguards than they have at present against the onslaught of the rich corporate sector. However, the trifurcation of the state cannot be undertaken without reviving the debate on the basic political issue of the final disposal of the disputed territory in UN Security Council where it continues to be an agenda item with a UN Military Group detailed by the Council being still present here. Internationalising Kashmir may be the last thing Narendra Modi wants to do after taking over as the Prime Minister of India. Even Pakistanis have been held back in their effort to grant a full-fledged provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan because of the apprehensions of violating the Security Council directions for not changing the status of the disputed territory.

A journalist friend recently wrote that Modi stands at a fork in the road and it is up to him which road he takes. Constructive reshaping of the sub-continent as well as South Asia or the ultimate destruction. Let us hope he takes the path of reconciliation and amelioration of the teeming millions rather than the leap into total oblivion!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Nemesis for Abdullahs!

The recent debacle is not the decimation of a nationalist movement but the nemesis of the dynastic rule!

After losing all the three valley parliament seats in addition to Jammu and Ladakh, Omar Abdullah has been seeking causes of the debacle from the people through emails. One cannot be more naïve than this. It is really pathetic and ironic that instead of introspection the scion of the Abdullah dynasty is asking the people whom they abandoned in the wilderness for power and money to give causes of the nemesis they are facing now. National Conference which started as the voice of Kashmir’s movement for total emancipation from centuries of oppression and neglect stands practically decimated today. It is a long story involving nemesis of a dynasty for their misdeeds rather than decimation of a political sentiment! In 1938 when the Muslim Conference was converted into National Conference, the underlying sentiment was the realisation of a progressive, social, secular New Kashmir. The manifesto prepared by BPL Bedi spoke of a Kashmir where people could live with dignity and honour which they had been deprived of, for centuries by outside rulers. Bedi had been influenced by the Russian revolution and many things in the manifesto as well as certain symbols like the red flag with plough, the historic red square were borrowed from the Russian revolution. The party was spearheaded by a colossus, the “lion of Kashmir”. People had total and absolute blind faith in their leader and followed his every dictate. Truly he had risen like a Messiah after centuries of darkness and wilderness. He used to often quote the verse that the Narcissus cries for thousands of years about its blindness and it is with great difficulty that a person with vision is born!  During his lifetime he made many somersaults but people still followed him because they never imagined that the “Messiah” will betray them and instead of taking them to their goal leave them in total wilderness!
However, the betrayal had started with the very act of converting the Muslim Conference which had spearheaded the movement for total emancipation in 1931 into National Conference in 1938 itself! He would often say in his speeches that he knew where the sympathies of the people lay but what he was aiming at was in their long term interest. He would always start his speeches by quoting the verses of the famous poet Iqbal regarding a person’s self-respect and dignity. The first somersault was his supporting and joining in 1947 the same autocratic Maharaja against whom he had led the “Quit Kashmir” movement in 1946. Had he continued with his own nationalistic movement without supporting the claims of the either of the newly created countries, the situation of Kashmir would have been totally different.
On realising his mistake he tried to make amends by proclaiming that the final disposal of the Kashmiris’ fate was still to come. The Indians after very neatly using him abandoned him on the roadside. He started the Plebiscite Front demanding a choice for Kashmiris to decide their own future. For this he suffered incarceration for 11 years but on getting released because of the massive upsurge caused by the lifting of the holy relic from the Hazratbal shrine, he continued to lead the people towards their cherished goal. Again he suffered incarceration and was exiled. His struggle may not have borne the fruit in his own lifetime but Kashmiris would be continuing with their original movement for emancipation popularly called “Azadi” under the banner of the original National Conference. However, probably because of fatigue and the compulsion of his family, he abandoned the Plebiscite Front and revived the National Conference to join the Indian mainstream as the State Chief Minister instead of the earlier Prime Minister which was his first designation on joining the Maharaja’s Government. He had compromised with Indira Gandhi on the understanding of reviving the earliest autonomy which was the basic condition of accession to India. However, Indira Gandhi never allowed him to do so and he died a sad man. It is tragically ironic that a man who rose like a morning star on the horizon of Kashmir fell like a meteor! The worst tragedy is that his grave which should have been the greatest shrine for Kashmiris alleged to be dead worshippers is a protectorate of the security forces!
In spite of all these somersaults of the leader, the people still considered National Conference their own Kashmiri nationalist party. In fact, Sheikh Abdullah had called the members of the newly created Indian Congress party as the “worms of the gutter”! The first real act of decimation started when Farooq Abdullah embraced these very “worms of the gutter” in 1987. It was probably for the first time that the Kashmiris were rudely shocked and felt totally lost and abandoned. They had considered National Conference their own party against the onslaughts of Delhi on their individuality. Now, there was a vacuum. The new generation comprising of the youth through the Muslim United Front tried to fill that vacuum. At that time they probably thought that they could go into the state assembly to proclaim their rights as independent people through the democratic process. However, Farooq Abdullah and Rajiv Gandhi jointly scuttled the democratic youth movement which ultimately resulted in the militant uprising of nineties. That was the real decimation of the National Conference. After that the once famous and strong National Conference was only a protégé of Delhi. Again Omar Abdullah was thrust on Farooq Abdullah by Delhi itself. They probably did not even trust him because of his unpredictable behaviour. In the ultimate analysis, the real cause of the decimation of the party once leading Kashmir’s nationalistic movement has been the dynastic nepotism nurtured and nourished by Delhi. So Omar Abdullah should not ask for emails regarding his ignominious defeat but delve into the history to understand the true causes of the total decimation of the once famous nationalistic party of Kashmir, the National Conference. The movement started in 1931 is destined to continue and reach the ultimate goal as a natural process, with or without National Conference. The sentiment has not been decimated but the party which abandoned its real goal has been decimated and the dynastic rule of Kashmir like that of the Nehru dynasty of mainland India has met its nemesis. This is a universal truth which has been the fate of the dynastic and undemocratic rule all over the world! The other dynasties in Kashmir need to learn a lesson from this fate and the new generation of Kashmiris needs to ponder on this.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

NaMo buys Premiership!

After a massive sales promotion financed by the corporates, Narendra Modi appears to have bought the Premiership of India!
Most of the exit polls indicate that NDA may get the majority and their Prime Ministerial candidate may finally become the Prime Minister of India! Even though these exit polls have gone wrong many times in the past, yet the general impression given by all the channels is that NDA may get a comfortable majority to form the new government. From the extensive media coverage it was evident that Narendra Modi was selling himself as a product rather than a living person with feelings, emotions, and principles. He was advertised as a very attractive and nice buyable product promising moon to poor Indians. Thousands of crores were spent on this product promotion. Continuous coverage on electronic media, thousands of hoardings all over India, all sorts of goodies distributed among the prospective voters including even bread stamped as “Modi”! There was no dearth of money. Arundhati Roy has been proved right in her claim that India is an “Upper Caste Corporate Hindu Republic”! This election confirmed that fact starkly. Corporates boosted NaMo as their man!
India claims to be the largest democracy in the world and also a secular country. Both these claims have been torn to shreds by this election. The slogan of the present election was “A Billion Votes!” It was proclaimed all over the world by all the media channels even though some foreign channels including CNN pointed out that there were only 800 million voters. However, no one educated the viewers as to what kind of voters these people were? 70% Indians live in rural areas. Almost 35% population of India is below poverty line who cannot even afford a square meal. A rural poor has no notion of political ideology or the modern development and governance. He needs, “Roti, Kapda aur Makaan”, the bread, cloth, and shelter. To them Modi was presented as a saviour promising to fulfil all their material needs. The same voters were earlier presented Indira Gandhi as Indira Rani and even as the Goddess Durga. Even though during the present election, the one slogan given everywhere was development and governance, yet in reality the religion and the caste were the main thrust areas. The think tanks for the campaign were from RSS whose nominee Narendra Modi is. They even discarded the stalwarts like Advani and Jaswant Singh in preference to Modi. It was the RSS dream to have the Akhand Bharat which they wanted to realise through Narendra Modi who became notorious after the Gujarat massacre of Muslims. For them Narendra Modi fulfilled all the requisite criteria to become a “Hindu Hitler”. Incidentally, the Nazi swastika is also the symbol of these Hindutva brigades. It is said that Hitler adopted the symbol from India itself as it represents the pure Aryan race, the purity of which was his obsession! In fact, Shehzad Poonawalla in an article, Hitler “Modi-fied”, published in Countercurrents relates very sinister similarities between the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany and NaMo in India!The possible taking over of Modi as the Prime Minister of India has sent alarm signals in many quarters especially among the Muslim minority of India. People are apprehensive that Modi will immediately unleash the Hindutva agenda in every sphere. Even Pakistanis have been alarmed as was evident from the declaration of their Army Chief regarding Kashmir being their jugular vein. However, in reality that may not happen. He will definitely follow the policy outlined by Chanakya in his famous treatise, the Arthshastra. Even in their earlier tenure, the BJP took its own time to infiltrate the administrative and security apparatus while wearing the mask of “Insaniyat” (humanity). This was evident from the large number of the former security and administrative personnel joining the BJP bandwagon just before the election. The first and foremost task for NaMo will be to get acceptability in the West as also with India’s neighbours. At the present moment India appears to be in a confrontational attitude with all its neighbours. Following the footsteps of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany, NaMo may also wear the Vajpayee’s mask of humanity and go soft till he takes the grip of the administrative and the security apparatus and gains acceptability both within and outside India. Kashmir may naturally go on the back-burner in view of other pressing problems. Raising the communal pitch and national security issues during the election is different than facing the problems of governance and development head on for which people have generally voted him. Kashmir has always been the last handle to be used in case of failure of other pressing measures. In fact, a few years back during the mass upheaval in Kashmir, some of the ideologues of RSS had suggested disinvesting Kashmir in the larger economic interests of India. It was suggested that to get massive NRI investments in corporate sector it may be worthwhile to get rid of Kashmir along with the perennial uncertainty resultant from it in the entire sub-continent. One will have to keep the fingers crossed and hope for the best!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Leave us alone

Whose `Jugular Vein' and whose `Integral Part' are we?

Pakistanis have been calling the land of Kashmir as their “Jugular Vein” right from 1947. Sometimes they forget it even if it is bleeding and at other times they suddenly wake up to proclaim its existence for their own security. On the other hand, the Indians claim Kashmir to be their “Integral Part”. They have further classified it as the crown of India. The latest in this regard was the declaration of the new Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel that Kashmir is Pakistan’s jugular vein. This was given as a rebuttal to Narendra Modi’s comments about Dawood Ibrahim allegedly hiding in Pakistan. The comments of the General drew a lot of ire from all the Indian leaders who completely united against Pakistan. It has been often observed that the only thing which unites Indians of all hues and shades is the enmity to Pakistan. Similar is the case on the other side. They think enmity to India ensures Pakistan’s survival. In fact, one of the Indian leaders made a counter claim if Pakistanis consider Kashmir as their jugular vein, they should know that Kashmir is India’s heart. He forgot to mention that it is a Muslim heart of a Hindu India! Indians have been proudly boasting Kashmir to be the crown of India! Incidentally, it has so far proved to be a crown of thorns for them!
Both the countries have been virtually at each other’s jugular veins all these years to physically possess Kashmir. India wants to keep Kashmir no matter what the cost to its people. Pakistan wants to snatch Kashmir regardless of consequences. For this they have fought three wars and have turned Kashmir into a battle ground of a perennial proxy war. However, neither has been truly concerned about the plight of poor Kashmiris. Rather Kashmiris have proved to be the proverbial golden goose laying the golden eggs for the both. In the process, it is Kashmiris who have been profusely bleeding all these years. In spite of their jugular vein being in the possession of Indians, the Pakistanis have survived with the American oxygen. The Indians on the other hand hugged the Russian bear for some time but have now gone into the lap of the American corporates. The two opposing blocks made both the countries spend colossal amount of money on armaments. This money could have easily converted both these countries into real welfare states if it had been spent on the teeming millions on the either side. The only beneficiaries have been the rich capitalists and the feudal landlords on the two sides who have fattened out of proportion.
What have Kashmiris got all these years because of being claimed to be the jugular vein or the integral part? Nothing but loads of suffering and oppression. Hundreds of thousands of youth were slaughtered, women raped, villages torched as collateral damage. The worst was the total economic dependence on the dole from Delhi. Though the jugular vein has given unhindered water, the life blood to Pakistanis, yet itself it has suffered tremendously especially because of a power famine in spite of having the resources for thousands of megawatts of hydro-electric power. On the Indian side at one time almost all the railway tracks were lined with the timber from Kashmir forests. Thousands of crores have been pumped by both the sides into Kashmir but through the most corrupt political and administrative systems which not only created a class of reckless and dishonest nouveau riche but destroyed all the basic values of the society. Greed, dishonesty, corruption both material and moral has plagued almost every sphere of the society. Truth has been banished from Kashmir. Everything can be bought with money. Kashmiris have become an expendable commodity weighed in terms of money only!
The only silver lining is the youth, the new generation born and brought up in turmoil and conflict. They do not carry any baggage of partition or of those early years of betrayal. They see and experience things as these are now at the present moment. Attempts have been made to corrupt this generation too but without any major success. Only the fringe elements connected with the dynastic rule with their cronies may have been swayed but the majority of this new generation follows convictions and means business. This has been starkly demonstrated by the upheavals of 2008 and 2010 and the recent parliament elections. Earlier the boycott of elections was a tame affair involving people sitting in their homes. However, there is a major change now. The boycott has turned into physical resistance. Another change has been a leader decrying the calling of Kashmir as a jugular vein. This is what the new generation needs to understand that Kashmir is neither a jugular vein nor an integral part. It is the land of Kashmiris where they have been living from the earliest times. They need to live with self-respect and dignity and to do that they must ask all their claimants to leave them alone and let them decide and shape their own destiny themselves. That should be the first real and practical step towards total and ultimate emancipation. This is precisely what has been happening during the last few years. In spite of all the misgivings, apprehensions, and despair, one can see the bright and young light at the end of the tunnel.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

More than just a boycott!

The happenings during the present election of Parliament members in Kashmir seem to be more than a simple boycott. The violent resistance does not bode well for the forthcoming assembly elections!

Election boycott has been in vogue in Kashmir for a pretty long time. In the past, there have been occasions when the boycott was quite effective and sometimes almost total. All the parties leading Kashmir’s popular movement have been giving calls for boycotting the elections under the Indian Constitution. In spite of such calls, on some occasions, people in large numbers have come out to vote while as at some other times there has been almost total boycott. The plea of the people giving calls for boycott has been that these elections are used for propaganda by the Indian Government to show to the world that the majority of Kashmiris respect and favour Indian Constitution and are with India. It is only a minority instigated by Pakistan which is against the association of Kashmir with India. It is also alleged that on many an occasion, people have been forced to come out for voting and allegedly sometimes the security forces have been used for this purpose which action has been described as “escorting” the voters for voting! No such report was made this time.
During the last election when a considerable number of people came out for voting, the general impression given by the mainstream political parties was that these elections are only for good governance. It was emphasized by one and all that these are not going to affect the overall political problem regarding the final solution to the future dispensation of Kashmir. The most common slogan was that the elections are for “Bijli, Pani, aur Sadak!” (Power, Water, and Roads!”) People really believed in this gimmickry of the mainstream political parties. However, even though the people overlooked their long term aspirations and ambitions of total emancipation to get some sort of effective and good governance, they were completely disappointed and disgusted by the results of last five years. Had there been good governance, people might have thought of coming out to vote to at least improve their living conditions. Such a possibility seems remote in view of the most corrupt political and administrative set up patronised by Delhi all the time in Kashmir. The people in general and the youth in particular seem to be convinced that these elections will neither help in improving the living conditions nor will these lead to a political solution.
However, the most marked difference in the previous boycotts and the present one is the vehemence with which the youth have been enforcing the boycott. In both the phases of the election held so far there was not only violence including attacks on the polling booths and the polling staff but there were also clashes between the youth and the police. The youth seemed bent upon preventing polling in many places. Earlier boycotts were demonstrative of the lack of faith the people had in the process and they used to very quietly stay away. However, this time there was resistance in allowing the voting to take place. People were being forcibly prevented from voting by the restive youth. Even if the government figures of about 27% polling are taken to be correct, what were the other 73% of the people thinking about the whole process? Sham elections for propaganda only! What do they really want? As reported by some journalists the reasons given by the youth for the boycott reveal that they have no faith in the elections under Indian supervision. The youth have stated that they cannot forget their brethren martyred in previous years. They want final solution of the basic political problem rather than improvement in living conditions and the development!
The violence and resistance still took place in spite of the arrest of almost 600 to 1000 young men in the valley and detaining and house arresting almost all the “Azadi” leaders. This effective enforced boycott must have given a positive feeling of achievement to the youth and there may be much more serious trouble during the assembly elections in November next. The killing of the youth in firing at the close of the election in Srinagar and the subsequent imposition of curfew indicate the possible violence in future elections. There seems to be a major change in perception about the elections. Instead of an exercise to elect the same coterie of mainstream leaders usually boycotted quietly by the people it is turning into another avenue of resistance. This clearly shows the extent of alienation as well as the impatience of the youth in getting the basic problem resolved at the earliest. Thus the present election has seen much more than a simple boycott. A grim warning to all concerned interested in getting the basic political problem resolved peacefully that the time is running out and we may soon face an eruption more virulent than the earlier ones!