Archive for July, 2008

Continued threat of terror inspired by Islam – 3 – the strange case of Bangladesh

Posted on July 30, 2008. Filed under: Bangladesh, India, Muslims, Politics, terrorism |

In 1971, at the end of what is typically referred to in Bangladesh as “Muktijuddho” or in the English language media as the Liberation War continuing in its “direct actions” stage for approximately 9 months beginning in March and ending in the official surrender of the Pakistani Army’s eastern command in December, East Pakistan formally was recognized as an independent nation called Bangladesh by among others, India. India’s involvement in this campaign has roots in quite complex and intricate historical and geo-political strategic considerations. India actively participated in the final phase of the campaign by directly invading East Pakistan, and forming a joint military campaign referred to by Bangladeshi media when at its gracious best, as the “Mitra Bahini” (or Allied Forces – to preclude any controversy, I am simply using standard military history terminology as applied in the case of Allied Forces in WWII – and as this term is typically translated in Bengali). Prior to this, India allowed a Provisional Bangladesh Government to be formed with its later headquarters in Calcutta, India. India also allowed one of its radio transmitter stations to be used for broadcasting under the aegis of “Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra” (Independent Bengal broadcasting Centre). Apart from this, both countries allude to the existence of training camps for volunteer Bengalees from East Pakistan with the aim of producing guerrilla fighting units. East Pakistan’s extensive borders with India, in some of the most inhospitable and well “covered” terrain helped fluidity of guerrilla movements across the border. As will be noted later, this feature of the “border” remains a factor of crucial importance.

What happened in the roughly 9 months of the Liberation War has been highly controversial. Without going into the actual incidents, how this Liberation War has been seen and represented is highly relevant and illustrative for our current discussion. There are broadly three distinct classes of opinions within Bangladesh –

(1) The Liberation War was won by the “MuktiJoddha”‘s ( although the English translation of this term first were actually used by the Salvation Army) whom I will refer to as Liberation Soldiers (Some of them definitely aimed for “freedom” but freedom has a much wider connotation than “liberation” – freedom from parochialism, religious bigotry, etc) with some “tactical” input at the final stage from the Indian Army. The political leadership and inspiration of this struggle was from Sk. Mujibur Rehman. Three million “martyrs” (“Shahid” is the term actually used, and is reserved in Islam for fighters who die fighting in the cause of Allah, and are greeted in “Behest” or paradise with the “sherbet” of “Shahidi” as well as other “gifts and pleasures”) gave their lives and thousands of Bengali women were raped or enslaved in sex-slavery or enforced prostitution for the pleasure of the Pakistani Army. In this the Pakistani army was helped by a section of Bengali Muslims organized under the names of Rajakar, Al Badr or Al Shams (all Arabic words referring to important and significant phases in early Islam) as paramilitary forces with the political leadership being given by the “Jamaat” (originally an Arabic word meaning gathering, usually religious gathering) with deliberate massacres by the paramilitary to liquidate Bengali intelligentsia when facing defeat.

(2) The Liberation War was won by the “MuktiJoddha”‘s led by the rebel breakaway regiments of the East-Pakistan Army under the command of Maj. Zia and General Osmani[ there was some unfortunate oversight about the then military rank of this superb military talent causing some protocol problems with the Indian Army – authors comments]. The Indian Army joined this liberation campaign because of its own strategic considerations in its on-going war on the western front with Pakistan. Three million “martyrs” gave their lives and thousands of Bengali women were raped or enslaved in sex-slavery or enforced prostitution for the pleasure of the Pakistani Army. Some “misdirected” Bengalees helped the Pakistani Army.

(3) The Indian Army overran Bangladeshi territory. There is now “nothing wrong” in the “then” formation of Bangladesh, but the greatest danger was the possibility of “colonization” by India. This was “rightly” opposed by the truly “patriotic” and “properly Islamic” leadership of the “Jamaat”. Many Bangladeshis gave their lives in this fight between India and Pakistan. Bengali women were not raped or enslaved in sex-slavery or enforced prostitution for the pleasure of the Pakistani Army, or even if they were, it was not done by Rajakars, Al Badrs or Al Shams. This “fact” is proved by the inadequacy of evidence as well as the failure of succeeding Bangldesh governments to “make their case” in courts of law.

On the whole, the dominant regime sponsored opinion in Bangladesh has remained heavily inclined towards (2) and (3). We can see that in all three major trends, India is cause for lots of unease. The fact that all Bangladesh governments, including those led by the “followers” of Sk Mujib (his assassination “miraculously” made the way clear for his erstwhile follower Khondokar Mushtaq who happily collaborated with the Army leadership involved in the assassination) as well as the current “care-taker” government (“backed” or “not-backed” by the Army, depending on “occasion” and “spokesperson” ), have managed not to bring alleged perpetrators of atrocities to trial in spite of the issue being a strong theme in the public consciousness as reflected in the media implies one thing only – the overwhelming social, political and military clout of sections represented by opinions (2) and (3).

I have seen media interviews where (1) those from the military typically react quite angrily to any suggestion that links atrocities with Islamic name bearing groups – implying that any group bearing Islamic name cannot be involved in “atrocities” (2) a well known Bangladeshi intellectual comments with a beaming face, that a British “Lord” praised Sk. Mujib’s greatest achievement to be his ability to “force” out the Indians after the liberation of Bangladesh. It is interesting to note that the Indian Muslim’s (apologies Titumir, Ashfaqulla or Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and his Khudai Khidmatgars) admiration and courting of the British has not changed its nature right from the days of the Partition -leading to the sheer audacity and lunacy of implying that India wanted to annex East Pakistan (without any concrete proof and given completely opposite indications in India’s real actions such as recognizing the independent state of Bangladesh or recognizing a provisional government in exile etc) and gloating in the certificate of a doyen of an Imperialist regime famous in history for its “extreme reluctance” to leave any conquered territory before sucking it dry.

Like Pakistan, the essential grip of Islam over the society of Bangladesh has not loosened substantially over the last 60 years. Given the continued development and trends in Bangladesh society, we can infer that (1) in 1971, the forces for liberation of Bangladesh as a separate cultural entity distinct from Pakistan with the cultural element overriding the only link with Pakistan, Islam, were more or less evenly balanced against the forces identifying with the driving principles of Pakistan – reorganization of society on Islamic lines (2) India’s entry into the campaign tilted the instantaneous military balance in favour of the “cultural supremacy” pro-liberation component (3) as in any revolutionary campaign, the forces for change usually suffer greater casualties, and even if successful almost inevitably come out with a depletion of the most dedicated and the most revolutionary among its ranks, for these are the people who are foremost in the battle-lines. Survivors have a greater proportion of fence-sitters and opportunists than before the revolution. This was true also of the pro-liberation movement.

Thus once India was removed from the scene, with a weakened revolutionary force, the balance shifted in favour of orthodox Islamic resurgence, and it has continued to grow in strength. Some would try to say that there were economic motivations behind the liberation movement. Yes to a certain extent, but if it was economic motivation alone, the overwhelming exploitation of the East Pakistan should have led to the triumph of the spirit of the “Muktijoddhas”, as collaborators or “compradors” benefiting from this exploitation would have been few. A significant economic motivation in maintaining hostility towards India however could be the continued enjoyment of “enemy properties” of Hindus on the part of some. There will be continued hostility towards Indian culture, by portraying Indian culture as monolithic, “Hindu”, Hindi and mainly “Bollywood” , decadent and therefore distinct from, “pure”, Islamic and “Bengali” culture – (the latter, “Islamic+Bengali” therefore subtly merged together to bridge the distinction that led to the fracture between Pakistan and Bangladesh). There are sometimes attempts to portray the “Kolkata” language as no longer “Bengali”, etc. At the same time there are conspicuous attempts at avoiding Bengali words from Sanskrit roots and try to substitute as much as possible by words of Arabic or Persian origin. (A cliche would be the persistent use of “pani” for water, a word shared by Hindi and Urdu but not used by the non-Muslim Indian Bengali, similarly words for social relations etc). This type of Arabic or Persian admixture is noted much more in the elite of West Bengal society (probably from historical contact with Turko-Afghan/Mughal administration) rather than the general West Bengal non-Muslim population – e.g., use of “Saran” (from Sanskrit/Prakrit “Sarani” meaning road) among the non-elite rural populations in some regions compared to the more common elite usage “rasta”.

Some would even try to say that the recent capture of some of the leadership of Islamic extremists supposed to have been behind blasts killing hundreds, and their almost secret trial, and execution points to determination to move away from the Islamic Jihadist path. Not really, as a large number of these extremists are likely to be hiding in India, as well as being protected or covered by sympathetic forces within Bangladesh. It is even more likely that extremists are regrouping with proper “help” using the complacency sought to be generated after the executions. The supporting networks were never revealed or evidence for liquidation of these networks provided.

The Bangladesh elite attitude towards India continues to be hostile. Media appears to equate “India” with “Hindu”, and only softens its language when Indian help is badly needed. In general the popular entertainment items project Hindus as “inferior”, with “sampriti” (harmony) typically manifesting only in situations like a Hindu girl falling in love with or marrying a Muslim boy (never the other way round) – or being designated by the disparaging “malaon” (probably referring to the importance of garlands in certain Vaishnavite sects of Hinduism – the most popular form in East Bengal – unfortunately the rosaries of Catholics also contain the same number of beads as in the Hindu and Buddhist “japamalas” – 108, and the “Tasbi” in certain Muslim sects are also connected to religion and have similar functions). Proportions of Hindu population in Bangladesh will continue to decrease as revealed in “missing populations”, most likely to be explained as basic “hatred” Hindus have towards Islam and therefore their unpatriotic flight to “India”.

Thus the balance of forces, including the military, the lumpen proletariat, and the elite is overwhelmingly in favour of classic Islamic attitude towards non-Muslims, and Hindus in particular – probably because of the typical excessive zeal in distancing from the parent culture of the newly-converted (the “Hindu” Bengali adage “natun Mussalman goru khawar jom” – a newly converted Muslim is an extra-avid beef eater). India can expect continued covert support of Islamic radicals and extremists from powerful sections within Bangladesh society and establishment. Formally the issues under which this agenda will be carried out are “border incidents” – resulting from impossibly difficult to demarcate boundaries on extremely fluid eco-systems, cross-border smuggling of both animals and humans -(animals from India and humans from Bangladesh – both persistently denied by Bangladesh and insisted on by India), sharing water resources, and extraction of economic favours from India.

Typically the language used by the media and the elite is quite revealing in these issues – the India bashing is carried out in popular media including the printed in the total absence of any voice or views from the Indian side. These bashing campaigns are usually dominated by essentially political personalities – for example, the most ardent discussions on water sharing will be led not by hydrologists, and even if they are present they will carefully avoid the scientific issues of effect of climate change on overall precipitation in the Himalayan catchment areas and blame shortfalls in water supplies entirely on India, the issues of landgrabbing and unplanned constructions within Bangladesh that cause flooding will be carefully avoided and flooding blamed entirely on India, and sometimes this will reach to the level where India’s own huge populations and its needs are completely neglected with the demand being placed that amounts to demands for guaranteed maintenance of whatever Bangladesh wants and when it wants. The elite knows quite well that such demands are unrealistic and will never be met.

Bangladesh will demand investment from India but if such investments are actually initiated, they will be vehemently opposed, and any presence of anything connected to India will be immediately equated with “Indian Imperialism”. By this duality, Bangladesh maintains its propaganda for its sympathisers in the West that India is “hostile” towards it by not “investing”, and reveals its real ideological considerations that override real economic considerations – its essentially Islam inspired hostility towards “Hindus”. Similar imperialist charges are not leveled at initiatives coming from “proper Islamic” sources – for example buying up Bangladeshi financial institutions from the Middle East were welcomed even if the offer finally did not materialize but Indian industrialists such as the Tatas would be vehemently opposed. In the case that an “Islamic” investor turns out to be a failure, there will be no criticism at all – but the harshest of propaganda reactions will be reserved for India if the Indian investor withdraws.

These are the indications of an essentially ideological hatred against India and its majority community, the Hindus. And there is no reason why this should actually decrease. India should expect much more sophisticated collaboration of powerful sections of Bangladeshi society with the Pan-Islamic movement now shaping up. Deception, pretension, and protestations of peace and harmony will be employed only until militant, terroristic strength to overcome non-Muslim populations on the subcontinent has been achieved. It will be a huge mistake on India’s part to be lulled by such protestations of innocence.

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Continued threat of terror inspired by Islam – 2

Posted on July 29, 2008. Filed under: India, Muslims, Politics, terrorism |

Following the blasts killing innocent bystanders, relatives of blast victims attending hospitals, and simply people going about their daily business, 18 more bombs have been recovered from Surat. The “Indian Mujahideen” have claimed that these bombs were meant to show the ease with which they could penetrate Indian society and civilian life with their threats. Muslims have also been killed in these blasts – and Muslims must surely be realizing the cost of allowing terrorists surviving among themselves. This could in the coming days be a big step towards getting the cooperation of sections of Muslims themselves in providing intelligence, and might even have been responsible for the information leading to exposure of the bomb sites.

An interesting but expected development is the capture of two Laskar-e-Taeba (LET) operatives who were acting under cover from Murshidabad in West Bengal. Murshidabad is a border district of West Bengal, and before the partition the Muslim League tried desperately to include it within the then proposed Pakistan. Murshidabad has a majority of Muslims. It was an important centre of Mughal administrative and military power, and grew in importance under the semi-independent later Nawabs of the unified Subahs of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa (the two other older centres of pre-Mughal Turko-Afghan Islamic power still surviving under the Mughals were the Faujdari of Hooghly and the subsidiary Nawabi around Dhaka-Bikramanipur). It remains an important transit centre for Islamic terrorists using Bangladesh as a natural supporting society flourishing on the well fanned anti-India-anti-Hindu sentiments of a large section of Bangladeshi Muslims.

Bangladesh hosts the second largest Islamic faith gathering in the Islamic calendar, the “Vishwa (World) estema” or religious gathering. The major driving force behind the hatred of India and Hindus in the politics of Bangladesh stems from the pre-Bangladesh period, when it was still under Pakistan. The partition aimed at creating a land for Muslims. There has been a lot of deliberate confusion created by Muslim apologists for the formation of Pakistan – not the least by the chief verbal face of the Pakistan movement – M.A.Jinnah. Jinnah kept the formal face of an inclusive state, where non-Muslims are officially tolerated. But the same double-dealing as to interpretation and reconstruction of the Islamic faith texts for the consumption of non-Muslims were in action at the formative stages of Pakistan. The British collaborated in this, for a variety of political and military goals, and some very short-sighted unstatesmanlike and revengeful tendencies always inherent in British Imperialism being forced to retreat. The actual actions of the Pakistani state with regards to non-Muslims, and especially Hindus, reveal the real intentions as well as consistency with the actual strategies enjoined in the Quran and the Hadiths to be employed on non-Muslims – capture Hindu lands, evict or liquidate Hindu populations to possess their property, (with a formal state support for this quintessential Islamic demand in the form of the Enemy Property Act – which remained in place even in the independent Bangladesh formed with the help of India and its “Hindus”), forced marriages or “lifting” of Hindu women, and forced conversions and destructions of Hindu shrines under any pretext. This trend has even continued in present day Bangladesh with some obvious clues in demographic indicators (the well know case of “missing population” acknowledged even by Bangladeshi demographers) of the displacement and reduction of Hindu populations in Bangladesh.

We can understand the basic desire and target of the elite of Pakistan and Bangladesh simply by looking into the targets of early Islam and the strategic recommendations in the Islamic faith texts. Islamic religious leadership and elite understand that they can only retain power if they can reproduce the societal conditions existing in the first millennium Arabia and the middle East – this will imply a natural contradiction in unlimited progress of modern methods of seeking and processing knowledge and the inevitable fallout of such knowledge going against the faith teachings and pretensions. Islam therefore cannot go very far in the technology direction without weakening its hold and therefore it will seek agrarian resources, and try to impose the millennial desert cultures to justify its hegemony. To ensure compliance it will need to systematically destroy and eliminate all secular and modern institutions of learning and research which can be potential centres of rebellion and resistance.

India provides a thorn in the sides of Islamic dominance on the Indian subcontinent as it continues to provide ideas and examples that bring into question the basic demands and claims of Islam. At the same time India retains vast agrarian resources. India’s productive lands, and other basic biological resources including human reproductive resources, are a lucrative target for the elite in both Bangladesh and Pakistan. Until these two regions survive as Islam dominated societies, they will continue to breed, and support terrorists – as the only way they can survive with their problems of huge populations and low-surplus economies keeping the Islamic framework intact is that of conquering Indian lands and populations and impose Islam.

Bangladesh may seem a contradiction to this prediction because of its greater proximity to Hindu Bengali culture and supposed “links” from the Liberation War but there are concrete societal conditions which will continue to disrupt this oversimplified picture of cultural “affinity”.  We will discuss Bangladesh specifically in a subsequent post.

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MP’s for sale, Blasts, Amar Singh’s N-jitters, Pakistani firing – What is the Indian thinking?

Posted on July 29, 2008. Filed under: India, Politics |

Amar Singh, the SP stalwart has expressed his concerns about the the potentially restrictive nature of the Hyde Act for India’s nuclear and other strategic interests. It is not so surprising given what we have been discussing as the strategic game being played by the parties in the Parliament. Congress, as we pointed out, would be behaving softly towards the Left, even after winning the trust vote – by keeping the potential renewal of alliance with the Left as a possibility, the Congress can keep the SP under pressure. So SP would also find some way of keeping the pressure on Congress, as also preclude any possibility of the Congress “encouraging” any move to implicate the SP in the “MP buying” scandals from behind SP’s back.

So, how is the political game shaping up? I have already written about three major groupings – The Congress+allies, BJP+allies, Mayavati [should write BSP, but I am reminded of the slogan of the 70’s “Indira is India, India is Indira” or the “I” in Congress(I)] +Left. In the Mayavati+Left group, it is Mayavati who gains and not the Left, as both the Congress and BJP will continue to woo Mayavati (although in reality wanting to neutralize her). Voting will be along highly polarized and community lines. A major mistake that any party can make is the assumption that the so called “marginals” or “rejects” and “repressed” of Hindu society will choose the “non-Hindu” when forced to choose between Hindu-non-Hindu. Most of India’s leadership belong to the elite, even the elite of respective social strata, and they no longer undertake travel through the dust and dirt of the country like Gandhiji or Vivekananda meeting and sharing the life of the poorest of the poor before they enter any organizational or leadership role. Thus increasingly the leadership gets surrounded by flattering courtiers and gets separated from the heart of the country, and this remains true of even the Left.

Pakistan’s knee-jerk reactions as expressed in the strange coincidence of increased ceasefire violations, at the same time blasts suspected to be carried out by affiliates of Pakistan based terror groups kills people on the streets and inside hospitals, shows that Pakistan’s elite is quite desperate. Its semi-feudal socio-economic structure refuses to change – and a key to the feudal elite’s powerbase is the preservation of a medieval ideology, and the existence of a “foreign devil”. Ironically, by its activities the elite of Pakistan is providing a similar “foreign devil” for the Indian populations, and this is going a long way towards a cultural consolidation that Pakistan’s elite would least want – that of the “Hindu”. The blasts are a panic reaction – to try and terrorize the population and the elite into thinking that any close cooperation with the West would be costly.

A good reading of the military tactics of the early spread of Islam can reveal a lot of the general strategic principles being used by the militants. These are essentially distinct from those of the Communist guerrilas, as the latter are based on the “fish swimming in the water of the people”. In the early days of Islam, there are well described assassinations, ambushes on unsuspecting people, on traders and caravans, and isolated oasis settlements. Here the Muslims are foraging into populations which do not support them or identify with them, and the only advantage that they can have is the element of surprise. There are specific instances that early Muslims under Muhammad do use deception to the degree that military ambushes are carried out wearing religious symbols during “holy months” (when traditionally fighting was banned in the peninsula) so that intended victims are lulled into a false sense of safety or where large groups of people gather traditionally for peaceful activities or festivities.

There are many indications that a redefinition of the “Hindu” is taking place, and a cultural consolidation is taking hold. In trying to compete with its detractors, the “Hindu” groups have considerably modified their strategies and stance – becoming more inclusive. The greater the attacks and denigrations on the “Hindu”, the greater will be the cultural unification of the “Hindu” leading to political effects down the line. The historians, politicians, faith leaders of religions with ambitions for converting the pagan “Hindu”, all in their excessive enthusiasm to deconstruct and liquidate “Hinduism” probably inadvertently have done exactly the opposite of what they wanted.

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Continued threat of terror inspired by Islam

Posted on July 28, 2008. Filed under: India, Muslims, Politics, terrorism |

One of the primary mistakes, intentional or otherwise, in trying to understand the reasons behind terror under the banner of Islam is the failure to realize the ideological motivations provided by the theological structure of Islam itself.

Why do people make these mistakes :

(1) Deliberate mistakes both on the part of certain clerics and intellectuals from across the Muslim as well as non-Muslim groups in the hope that (a) no retaliation on and deconstruction of Islam itself takes place as Islam can be painted to be a religion of peace (b) the practical hope that maybe some of the potential converts to extremism will desist from extremism by believing in the “peace” theory

(2) Unintentional ones, resulting from a lack of thorough understanding and reading of the core texts of Islam, lack of knowledge of independent archaeological and historical analysis of the times and regions of formation of Islam, and comparing the teachings and diktats with that of actual Islamic behaviour since its formation.

(3) A deliberate misconstruction of Islam as a much desirable alternative to the non-Muslim apologist’s own culture from which he/she feels alienated (White European ex-Christian converts to Islam such as the really good ex-singer Cat Stevens)

With increased access to the translations of the core texts, more and more people can now read the various versions of these texts. Some of these translations were made at a time when European colonialism was sufficiently powerful and sufficiently romantically indulgent towards the “Orient” to not shy away or edit away too much of the horror of what is described in the core texts of Islam. Definitely translations done by Guillaume, or Muir (even Muir says he left out portions he thought were too gross and too sensuous) would not have found press today, as both governments and interested pressure groups would successfully lobby to preserve the “oh so good” image of Islam being reconstructed all over the world.

The problem that non-Muslim elite never understands is that even if Islam is painted as a peaceful and non-violent faith for the consumption of non-Muslims, the core texts are always taught in the Muslim educational system through their original language, Arabic. There are of course some important versions in old Persian. None of these two languages are widely known to non-Muslims. The Arabic language versions of the Quran or the Hadiths or the Sirah, are not edited clear of the references to recommendation of violence towards “unbelievers” or “hypocrites”. This is one of the primary reasons that Muslim communities everywhere insist on teaching its young Arabic, and goes to great lengths in establishing faith schools. Where it has the means and is allowed to get away with it, it targets secular schools (such as in Indian Kashmir, where almost no secular school has been left intact in the Muslim dominated part, so that children are forced to go to the Madrassahs or Muslim theological schools).

For the consumption of the non-Muslim public only isolated verses or Suras from the Quran are broadcast and quoted with great emotion and fanfare to try to establish that Islam is extremely peaceful towards non-Muslims. These are typically quoted out of context, without mentioning which chapter of the Quran they are coming from and the verses before and after it, without explaining the links to the events they refer to, etc. The reason apologetics can get away with this is because (1) non-Muslims do not have access to full, unabridged, unedited Islamic texts as well as chronological and historical/narrative details (2) the confusion about the interpretations of the words meaning “unbeliever” or “hypocrites”.

Those who try to paint Islam as peaceful, usually refer to two or three Suras that appear to talk of Allah’s displeasure on shedding innocent lives, or that non-believers can under certain conditions (such as paying taxes or protection money or a short term peace treaty which however can be overturned at will at any time by Muslims) be treated as “dhimmis” – protected. When they are confronted with Sura after Sura of violent indictment on “unbelievers” or “hypocrites”, they try to explain it away as only referring to a particular group in Arabia at the time (those refusing to submit to Muhammad’s authority – in almost all case of authority in the Quran – submission is required to both Allah and his Messenger, simultaneously), and not applicable to subsequent times or peoples. However nothing is said in the Quran that specifically declares that in the future these interpretations cannot be applied to other peoples, where in fact the Quran definitely speaks of future behaviour – such as the banning of the remarriage of the widows of Muhammad – (the ban being specifically for Muhammad’s case only – widow remarriage in general is recommended, and some of Muhammad’s own wives were war-widows). The “peaceful” Suras have to be interpreted as meaning a desirable behaviour towards “believers” and not towards “unbelievers”, in the context that unbelievers are almost never mentioned without indictment of violence, either that of Allahs’ or that of Muslims. This becomes clearer from the Hadiths.

The key to understanding the core of the revealed traditions is to model their origins as philosophies of small minority groups, struggling to survive in unproductive regions of the world, at a low level of technological and intellectual sophistication, and with over-exceeding jealousy of the “good life” of technologically, culturally sophisticated urban societies. So their faiths are overwhelmingly obsessed with obtaining and securing biological resources – thus their “Gods” guarantee them their rights over the agriculturally productive lands of “others”, the “women” of the “others”, the minor children of the “others” (who can be brainwashed and absorbed to swell the numbers) – their “Gods” require them to eliminate the “males” of the others (as chief obstacles to dominance ), and the whole societal system is based on the “primitive natural hierarachy” – where men have power over women, the community has power over other communities, etc. Such a culture will also jealously guard its valuable biological resources be they their own or of others which they have looted – typically we should expect an overwhelming obsession in their legal injunctions (which of course comes from their “God”) with sexual “deviance” (as this can reduce reproductive capacity) and sexual “offences”, insistence on “one way traffic” of women into the group, a violent repression or penalty for crimes that would be considered small in a more well -off or economically richer society, and supreme penalty for not believing in the “commander” (just as the importance of court martial for insubordination in an army). These tendencies will increase inversely in proportion to the starting cultural level of the group – the Jews may not show these tendencies to the extent of Muslims.

The main target of Islamic terrorists is increasing the number of Muslims. There is also no doubt about it that Islam recommends continuous unrelenting militant Jihad to spread Islam. Such an ideology will appeal to a large number of youth who do not have the inclination or capacity to face the challenges of a modern education system together with its technological complexity in order to succeed in the modern economies. Everything associated with modern societies will be a threat to them – independent, educated, capable women with sexuality not under male control, an increasingly complex system and body of knowledge, the enforced use of intellect and not mere muscle power, lack of physical, testosterone driven adventure (which have all been converted to the virtual world).

Maybe we can suggest to Muslims themselves to think of abandoning Islam, to become agnostics, or convert into one of the other faiths which do not require Jihad as the supreme duty. In the Quran, there is not a single Sura that says that a Muslim who goes out of Islam has to be immediately killed physically. (I am sure Muslim theologians know what I mean). A public promise by the leaders of Muslim communities to convert into other religions if blasts or killings occur of non-Muslims by Islamic fanatics, would go a long way towards defeating the target of Jihadists – the message will be clear, “if you do not behave, your numbers are actually going to decrease rather than the increase you hope for”.

It is hard to believe that the Indian State authorities which could so easily and ruthlessly crush the Sikh militants, or the early batch of Bengal Naxalites, are not able to crush Islamic militancy – does the state find it rather useful to protect Islamic militants for some reason or somehow the word Islam gives a tug at its heart strings?

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More blasts in India : a panic reaction by extremists to fear of increased Western support of India.

Posted on July 26, 2008. Filed under: India, Muslims, Politics |

I had written in an earlier post about the possibility of increasing terrorist violence after the passage was cleared for the N-deal in the parliament. The foreign connection, becomes obvious as a foreign secret service cannot be very sure about the exact voting pattern within the parliament that will emerge on this particularly volatile and shifting panorama of alliances and betrayals. So they would have had to wait until there was yet hope that the passage of the deal would be blocked by the defeat of the UPA. Pakistan, and indirectly China could be quite concerned that the nuclear deal and the 123 agreement was more a cover for increased strategic military collaboration between India, the US, Israel and European powers.

Now blasts have taken place in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, a day after blasts in Bangalore, Karnataka. It is interesting also that recently the three states which suffered from blasts are Rajputana, Karnataka, and Gujarat, all states which have recently come under BJP led state governments. It is quite clear now that these are Islamic extremists who are behind these blasts. These are states which have a small but significant Muslim population. We can look at the states with medium to low concentrations of Muslim populations (Census of India 2001):

(State – total population – percentage of Muslim populations)
Kerala 7,863,842 24.6969
Uttar Pradesh 30,740,158 18.4961
Bihar 13,722,048 16.5329
Jharkhand 3,731,308 13.8474
Karnataka 6,463,127 12.2291
Uttaranchal 1,012,141 11.9225
Delhi 1,623,520 11.7217
Maharashtra 10,270,485 10.6014
Andhra Pradesh 6,986,856 9.1679
Gujarat 4,592,854 9.0641
Manipur 190,939 8.8121
Rajasthan 4,788,227 8.4737

So the pattern indicates, the following factors, between 7-8% on the lower limit and 25% as upper limit on Muslim populations, with a BJP led government or where BJP may come to power in the near future through the electoral process, centres of commercial and industrial activity with current or future potential for FDI’s, are possibly ripe for continued “blast” violence. A much higher percentage of Muslim population’s religious leadership obviously feels secure enough that nothing against their religious agenda will be undertaken by the respective state governments. A much lower percentage simply does not have the community resources to provide cover for extremists.

Opponents of the BJP will probably try to link the blasts with the BJP itself in two ways – (1) trying to say that BJP is indirectly involved because it wants to sharpen “communal divide” (2) an indirect warning also to the electorate that “if you elect the BJP this is what you will get”.

However these very same arguments can also be used by BJP, to say (1) that the Congress and other opponents of BJP are indirectly responsible because they can then pretend to be protectors of “minorities” and try to consolidate their vote (2) that it could be an indirect way of trying to warn the electorate against voting for the BJP.

Terror on non-combatants is however quite natural as a time tested Islamic tactic of spreading Islam or Islamic hegemony as revealed in the Quran or the Hadiths. Deception is allowed in pouncing on unsuspecting “unbelievers” (early sudden raids when “unbelievers” had sat down to a meal, or night attacks with specifically no consideration to be given to women and children of the “pagans” – “because they are the women and children of pagans” etc.) by the Quran and the Hadiths (Look for examples and precedences provided on my page on “Islam and non-Muslims”). I will just quote one footnote from the translation of the Quran, “Noble” by Muhsin Khan, – Noble Qur’an 2:190 [Footnote]: “Jihad is holy fighting in Allah’s Cause with full force of numbers and weaponry. It is given the utmost importance in Islam and is one of its pillars. By Jihad Islam is established, Allah’s Word is made superior (which means only Allah has the right to be worshiped), and Islam is propagated. By abandoning Jihad Islam is destroyed and Muslims fall into an inferior position; their honor is lost, their lands are stolen, their rule and authority vanish. Jihad is an obligatory duty in Islam on every Muslim. He who tries to escape from this duty, or does not fulfill this duty, dies as a hypocrite.”

What are possible ways out? Security measures can help to a certain extent but practically infeasible because of the high density of populations and the nature of congested public spaces of mostly old city centres. But this means a tremendous amount of high intensity automatic and continuous electronic audio-visual monitoring of public spaces, shoppers. We do not know whether unscrupulous police officers manning these monitoring stations are not going to indulge in illegal use of such data for private gain or merely for titillation. Complete destruction of the sources of these attacks, factors of motivation and inspiration in whatever form they be, is the only sure long term method.

(1) My earlier suggestion that the Multan-Punjab link which is the supporting resource base for Taliban-Al Qaeda type sponsorship of terror in India with the help of the Pakistani army and ISI, should be neutralized. This will cut an important source to supply the various outfits spread over India, Bangladesh and North-East India. Efforts should be undertaken to collaborate and coordinate with Afghanistan, Russia, and China to make all parties aware of the dangers they face from continued Islamic militancy and the need to comprehensively eliminate this threat altogether.

(2) The states especially led by BJP should no longer rely on intelligence from the centre, or police sources. It is quite possible that these have been infiltrated or are forced to protect militants because of political pressure.

(3) Dialogue should be established directly with Muslim communities, and the message should be clear, that these communities themselves have to liquidate militants from among themselves. In this, pages can be taken out of British Raj tactics of infiltration, money, blackmailing and all possible enticements known to man from before he was “civilized”.

(4) Sooner or later, if the problems are not solved by the Muslim communities on their own, there will be no way to prevent action undertaken by others independent of official security forces. Non-muslim communities will be forced to take up ground intelligence on their own and unfortunately no one will be able to prevent “vigilante” type actions.

(5) Our “eminent historians” should be asked if they feel that they should use their “considerable” talents for deconstructing “Hinduism” in order to establish that it never existed and was simply a collection of tiny sects fighting with each other without any coherent agenda – to now deconstruct Islam, and show that it is a collection of contradictory ideologies, with no real consistent support for Jihad, violence and ruthless inhuman imposition of a medieval hegemony and therefore should be discarded by Muslims of India!

There are two theories being thrown around that (1) these blasts (apparently under the name of some outfit called Indian Mujahideen) are simply shadow fronts to provide deniability by Pakistani and other international Islamic militant groups (2) or that these are genuine home-bred militant organizations. The standard justifications given for these blasts, (a) demolition of the Babari-Mosque (b) Gujarat riots. I personally do not find that any of these two actions were necessary on the part of non-Muslims. However we are always being asked to remember “that each and every outrage committed by Muslims” are because of “genuine past grievance for past atrocities”. The reason why only “Muslims” of India are allowed to get away with such “justifications” is because all records of Islamic atrocities on Hindus and other non-Muslims even from the recent past like that in the partition riots of 1947, or in the Kashmir War, of 1948, or the 1971 Indo-Pak war, have been carefully edited out of the public discourse and school education. Public media is probably under pressure also not to bring these topics up. Apparently therefore, Muslim justifications of trauma are acceptable but not similar justifications from that of “Hindus” as the Hindus have been declared by regime sponsored historians to have had no “trauma” at all. Such tactics do not succeed in removing memories of generations of trauma passed down through oral traditions and thus when the Congress weakened, and therefore its stranglehold on the voice of the majority community weakened, manifestations of these deep seated resentments took form. Riots can continue to take place, and sacred places destroyed, because even in Republican India, there has been a refusal to acknowledge, face and properly investigate, try in courts of law and courts of commissions or tribunals, any atrocity committed by Islamic groups under the banner of Islam – not in 1947, not in 1948, not in 1965, not in 1971. There has been no attempt to properly face the trauma of Hindus even in the modern period (forget historical) rather an extremely derogatory, defamatory, and blatantly arrogant denial and suppression.

If the Muslim community cannot handle this properly, I think that sooner or later, the non-Muslim Indian will come to the same conclusions as the Christian Spanish before the Moors, or that of the Austrians in the middle ages, that the only way to stop being swallowed whole by Islam was to physically fight it out and liquidate its existence, and follow that up with the stark choice given by Ferdinand and Isabella to remnant Muslims in Spain – convert back into non-Islamic religions or leave.

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Bangalore blasts: outrage with a difference

Posted on July 25, 2008. Filed under: India, Politics, terrorism |

In general there has always been the shadow of suspicion on the government of a country in allowing “public outrages” to happen at a convenient time, when it is politically difficult for it to pass a law or an act which it wants to pass – but that the outrage will help swing public opinion in favour of the law or act. There seemed to be a pattern during the British Raj, when “outrages” by terrorist “freedom-fighters” always happened when the India Govt. needed or wanted to pass a particularly repressive or exploitative measure but faced opposition from the Home Office or the British Parliament. Typically, all those supposedly involved were caught quite quickly, and in the court, all their preparatory meeting details, and detailed day to day activity were placed as evidence. This pattern continued even during the later days of open, mass Congress politics, and there exists a White Paper published by the British Govt. of India which details speeches given in a closed AIWC session, about how Gandhiji himself was not so “pacifist” after all. The British police knew exactly what went on within the higher committees of the groups and parties publicly opposed to it, and they made short shrift of those groups it considered particularly obnoxious – whereas people who suddenly “switched” to a moderate, cooperative attitude to the British government after “realization” in jail, appear to have survived and risen to prominence in the latter phases of the Congress led movement. We can isolate these leaders as those who took great pains to distinguish between the British as a nation, and the particular British government they were fighting against. These were leaders who emphasized that they wanted India to remain a “close friend” of Britain, and in fact were in favour of the administrative system imposed by the British, but simply wanted control of the system. This is why most of the administrative people, or army officers who had been extremely loyal to the British authorities, and helped suppress or defeat Independence movements survived and flourished under the post Independence government.

To a certain extent, this policy probably continues even now in the West. There are trails in sometimes released old internal documents, (such as a particular heavily inked out doc released by the US government which indicates that someone close to Indira Gandhi was passing on daily briefs to the US secret services during the 1971 Indo-Pak war). A typical strategy would be to infiltrate into groups, (with agents who have either been blackmailed or enticed) and in fact encourage outrages or help organize them. This is the reason, these cases are so quickly solved, with the group caught quite easily – the secret services had in fact probably helped plan the whole “outrage”.

Could a similar thing be happening in the states of India? No. For one thing, India is a much larger country with a much larger population and diversity than the US or the UK. The hold of the centre into the minutest corner of the provinces are not so strong as in the US or UK. Organizing explosions of the scale carried out in Mumbai, Rajasthan, Bangalore, Hyderabad, require support by a secret service funded by the resources of a national government, or a force which has similar resources at its disposal. Thus Al-Qaeda controlling substantial portions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, or Pakistan itself, could be likely candidates in supporting these acts.

I had already predicted that outrages in Indian cities will increase after the trust vote as the forces which have their own ambitions of controlling India will panic. The targets will be common people, and crowds, and commercially and economically important centres – especially those which could be attractive for or in consideration for foreign investments or interests. We can also more or less be certain that explosions will take place where there is a captive Muslim population that can be emotionally blackmailed into collaborating, facilitating or providing cover. States which have consciously provided a strong safe haven for various Muslim religious “revivalist” groups will be exceptions. In these states only religious centres of non-Muslims can be targets. (Thus I think Calcutta/Kolkata will be an unlikely target, the seat of a state government that forced out Tasleema Nasreen before pressure from a violent Muslim agitation – it would be comparable to Kalidasa’s famous story of cutting the branch that supports).

Pakistan’s involvement could be without the knowledge of the elected government, and it is quite likely that sections of the Pakistan army, as well as its secret service the ISI, are ideologically committed to the establishment of a pan-Islamic hegemony over the subcontinent. Such a hegemony will apparently be attractive to China also, as from the time of Mao’s wooing of Muslim tribals during his struggling Long March days, as well as from his own writings (where he finds similarities between communism and Islam) the Chinese have always favoured Islam over non-Islamic cultures in South Asia. Islamic hegemony will also ensure almost certain erasure of Buddhist influence and support in the Indian subcontinent for Dalai Lama. In an earlier post I had considered the possibility that China may itself face the consequences of Islamic jihad in its own backyard, the north-western badlands of Yunan. For Islamic ideologues, the Chinese Communists represent the most “ungodly” of unbelievers – and their counterparts in Pakistan have simply used the classic Islamic strategy first effectively used by the Prophet of Islam himself, of making selective alliances with “unbeliever” groups against other “unbeliever” groups. Chinese communists can ponder the fate of Najibullah, hanged by the feet and beaten to death publicly – an incident over which the West gloated and probably celebrated over bottles of champagne.

Sooner or later Pakistan’s fundamentalist officer ranks and the ISI has to be neutralized to ensure some degree of control over the extremists. Pakistani Punjab is the corridor from India to the NWFP rogue areas bordering Afghanistan which are completely under the control of the Taliban. Neutralizing Multan will also disrupt the flow of resources to support Islamic militants trying to move into the Kashmir valley. Unless the Pakistani Punjab/Multan connection and link is “broken”, India will never be safe from its major saboteur on its western frontier.

There are most likely well developed connections between almost all of the extremist groups, be they “Communist”, separatist, or religious. These groups probably also collaborate and help each other. The state has to look seriously into the socio-economic factors that have allowed “Communists” and other extremists to mobilize and gain support. The communist and separatist guerrilla strategies are essentially based on thousands of years old tactics renewed and redefined in the twentieth century (Tsun Zu, Mao, Che) – a fluid, mobile, continuous low intensity warfare, intended more to slowly bleed the “enemy” to death rather than risk being crushed by the much more resourceful “enemy” in combat forms chosen by the “enemy”.

One way of dealing with the extremist problem is to prepare militarily to encircle extremist strongholds and gradually tighten the noose, but give a short period of time before starting operations after encirclement, in which extremist leaders should be offered an ultimatum to join the representative electoral process and allow developmental work to proceed or be liquidated completely. In all such cases we have to remember that there are genuine socio-economic factors such as intense and ruthless exploitation of sections of the Indian population living in these areas.

Such internal measures and a strategic plan to deal with the Multani corridor are needed to tackle escalating “outrages”.

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Kashmir to Kanyakumari – two symbolic problems in modernization

Posted on July 24, 2008. Filed under: India, Politics |

Kashmir is refusing to cool down. As discussed long ago in these posts, the Hindus in Jammu would have learnt their lessons in the manipulation of Indian “central” concerns to uphold perpetuation of the hold of a religious creed over territory and populations. Strangely, the Congress led government of Jammu and Kashmir ultimately supported the theory that a particular culture or religion has absolute claim over parts of Indian territory as well as populations. However it will be the same Congress which will paint the BJP or RSS as “communal” and “sectarian” who are trying to claim “India” for the Hindus. But the simmering trouble in Jammu, with the recent suicide of an activist, will continue, as this is a rallying symbol for the opposition to the Muslim dominance in the state, and perhaps also represents the reality that there is a significant non-Muslim population of Hindus and Buddhists in the state, who have had no reasons as per recent historical experience to continue their trust in Muslim “religious behaviour” towards non-Muslims.

At the other end of India, the extreme South, we have the controversy brewing again about “Sethusamudram”. The Congress government, flush with its “controversial” success in the trust vote, is now pushing forward with the project which is simply a project to cut a shipping channel across the geological feature called “Adam’s Bridge” in modern parlance, and “Sethubandhan/Rameswaram” (place of building the bridge/place of “Lord Rama”). Pro channel people claim the feature, is a sand bar. The problem here is that although this is quite possible, as well as reasonable, a sand bar which rises above the sea level in many places needs coral or bedrock formations close to the surface. Anti channel group’s main objection is the feature’s traditional identification with the bridge building story in Ramayana.

What do I think of the Ramayana story? I think there are three distinct possibilities –

(a) After the last ice age, when the major de-glaciations started around 10,500 BCE, sea level began to rise in well recorded phases continuing right upto about 1500 BCE. From reconstructed maps of the Indian subcontinent for this period, we can see that at the Last Glacial Maximum (LGE) at around 18000 BCE, Sri Lanka was connected to India by a wide land bridge. This bridge thinned but did not completely vanish until about 6000 BCE. Until 4000 BCE there could still have been chains of islands strecthing from mainland India to Sri Lanka. Tamil mythology also speaks of the Kumari Kandyam, (Land of the Kumari/over which Kumari rules) a rich land supporting multiple kingdoms and cultures which was swallowed up by the sea around this time. It is not completely impossible that the bridge was an actual attempt at building a small causeway (Alexander did so at Acre) to a port city on one of these islands close to the coast. These would have been rough constructions, with little trace of metal or stone tools, and primarily built of rough stones or boulders and compacted clay and gravel. On the other hand the causeway could simply be a filling up of high-tide channels between islands all the way to Sri Lanka, and the total such distance would also be small, as the overall sea-level would be lower. After thousands of years of battering by the sea, it would be extremely difficult to find human archaeological evidence. But we need archaeological evidence for a city or settlement like Lanka to have existed at that period on main island, or even submerged off coast. Existence of such cities or settlements should not be entirely dismissed as the possibility of similar submerged settlements off-coast (on-shore in the ancient period) on the Gujarat (Dwarka/Beyt Dwarka) side is being investigated by the Marine archaeology division of ASI.

(2) The memory of an earlier accidental fire or war that destroyed a rich trading centre in the neighbourhood of the then continuous stretch of land between India and Sri Lanka, could be reinforced by later generations of natives as well as visitors or immigrants by connecting existing visible traces of submerged ridges and islands as a possible mechanism to explain how armies could have reached a settlement now on an island.

(3) The Ramayana story is a complete “myth” (I doubt though if there is any pure “myth” without some connection to real events – as the human mind works by abstraction from concrete objects, by matching “patterns” and commonalities) and never happened. This is a claim as hard to prove as that the essential story-line in Ramayana did happen.

Reasons for the project :

1. advantages to the shipping business in cutting distance of travel

Reasons against the project :

1. How far the advantages from the growth in shipping will trickle down to the local coastal communities is not clear

2. Increased shipping through this channel will definitely affect sea-life in the otherwise shallow sea, and could impact the lives of fishing communities on the sea coast.

3. Given that the Tamil separatist problem in the southern side of the channel around Jaffna peninsula on Sri-Lankan side has not yet been settled, both foreign ships as well as the LTTE “navy” which almost surely depends on arms and ammunition supply through underground links from mainland India (Jaffna’s and LTTE stronghold’s geographical position makes any other supply route impossible) could get involved in jeopardizing security issues. Ships could be attacked or sabotaged in the narrow channel and the entire channel would be held up. On the other hand ships could be used to smuggle in arms.

The Congress government’s use of Kamban Ramayana (Ramayana version as adapted by the famous 1st millenium Tamil poet and Lyricist Kamban) is stupid. There are many different versions of the Ramayana story, ranging from Advbhuta Ramyana, a Tibetan Ramayana, and Indonesian Ramayana over and above the modern scholar accepted earliest version of Balmiki Ramayana. Picking one of them to say that Rama destroyed the “Sethu” also implies that the Congress officially believes in the existence at some point in history of the “Sethu” after all.

It would be most interesting to see someone with the deconstructing abilities of Prof. Romila Thapar take Kamban Ramayana apart – there could be such juicy pieces as to the inner motivations of Kamban to reconstruct the whole Ramayana story to justify a certain ideological position on the part of a Tamil with exceptional poetical abilities as well as equal grasp of Sanskrit and Tamil – and his version all wishful thinking and reconstructions or imaginations. But she or or her historian friends cannot intervene – it would go against a particular regime’s political requirements.

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Post-Apocalypse in the Indian Parliament – where to?

Posted on July 23, 2008. Filed under: India, Politics |

After the destruction of the reputation of Parliamentary democracy in the trust vote session, and the expulsion of Somnath Chatterjee from the primary membership of the CPI(M), the only parties that seem to have managed to maintain their dignity is the BJP and their allies. BJP has promptly expelled those whom it considers as “betrayers”, but BJP’s 8 expulsions are a small percentage compared to what the smaller allies of the Left had to expel. The Left leadership has suddenly discovered after years the “bourgeois lifestyle and mentality and origin” (in classic pseudo-Marxist parlance – the “class character”) of Somnath Chatterjee and also suddenly remembered that his father was a stalwart of the JanaSangh – the forerunner of the BJP.

So after the dust has settled, where to India?

(1) As predicted by me, post trust vote, three major groupings have emerged, and will continue until the next general elections are completed – the BJP and allies, The congress and allies, Mayavati+Left and allies. There will be some some movement away from the Left+Mayavati camp into the Congress, but there is the possibility of an even bigger movement towards the BJP from the Congress camp. It is quite possible that Mayavati+Left will emerge a significant although minority group in the Parliament and will demand support from the Congress to form a government. The left will again not be in a position to join the cabinet, and both Congress and the Left in that case wills support from the outside. There will be serious effort from BJP to woo Mayavati, and similarly from the Congress. The next PM’s in waiting are possibly Ms. Mayavati, and Narendra Modi from Gujarat – not immediately, but down the line.

(2) The opposition will make the first significant inroads in decades into the Leftist bastions of West Bengal and Kerala, more in WB than in Kerala. It is unlikely that the Left Front government in West Bengal will fall, but a reduction of their absolute majority is now a distinct possibility. Failure to industrialize and achieve economic progress could be a serious setback. Ironically the party will be relying more and more on non-ideologues at the grassroots, who are adept on the more reliable techniques of coercion to ensure loyalty of the electorate.

(3) The “attempted bribery” case raised in the Parliament will probably not be taken up seriously and legally, as it has more impact as an electoral issue for the opposition, and perhaps also a real embarrassment for the Congress.

(4) Inflation will remain high, and although it could stabilize after drastic fall in international oil prices, it could rise again, and majority of the population will be left lurching in the economic cold.

(5) BJP gains overall from this political scenario and not the Congress. They will prove relatively immune from corruption taints which appears to be increasingly associated with the Congress and its allies.

(6) As yet the trend is towards an increasing right wing consolidation in India, and the fence sitters in the middle will quickly choose to go over to the right.

(7) terror networks between jihadists (I am yet to come across a full fledged Jihad that is entirely peaceful, ideological and defensive towards “unbelievers”) , Naxals, certain radical international religious perceptions within the two major proselytizing themes in the revealed traditions and their support for ethnic separatism, ethnic separatists, and secret services of countries with designs on Indian territories and populations, will coordinate increasing “outrages” to keep the pressure on the government and force repressive reactions – which can then be used to recruit support both internally as well as internationally.

( 8 ) Certain tendencies within “White European” societies, which are not always aligned to elite governmental perceptions and the elite’s international strategic interests, will see the rise of Indian influence as a threat. This is a result of deliberate suppression of all historical information about the role of India in the capital formation and industrialization of the “West” in the public discourse, and allowing the racist constructions of “white superiority” to continue and be ingrained as the only remaining soporific for those “whites” who can longer compete within the “fair competition” of capitalism. This in turn will influence the hardening of the Indian experience abroad and provide the basis for increasing right wing nationalism back in India through social networks that connect expatriates and Indian populations.

Is all this good news for India? I believe so! Common threats help to unite and transform the nation.

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Karadzic’s blunder – choosing the wrong targets – White, Muslim and non-Communists

Posted on July 23, 2008. Filed under: Muslims, Politics |

Karadzic, the “infamous” butcher of the Balkan conflict has been captured. If it is actually established in a proper court of law, that he was directly responsible for the ethnic cleansing he deserves the penalty surely reserved for such crimes. Many Serbs may feel bad about this, and I can understand their inner turmoil. It is difficult, even for trained soldiers, to point the gun at an enemy and actually shoot. Someone who has the mental armor to withstand that turmoil is fit to be a fanatical religious leader or an army general and therefore definitely beyond normal human comprehension. But what apparently happened at Serebrenica reminds me of stories from the early days of Islam (there are of course plenty from the Indian subcontinent, but there, all such stories have to be declared to be fanciful propaganda).

Genocide of Bani Qurayzah Jews by Muhammad-February-March, 627

The Muslim soldiers marched toward the fortress of Bani Qurayza that lay two or three miles to the south-east of Medina. Muhammad rode an ass, while an army of three thousand Muslims, with thirty-six horses followed him.

After twenty-five days of siege, the Jews grew desperate, exhausted and terrified at their future. They were on the verge of starvation.

Tabari writes:

‘When they saw him (i.e Abu Lubabah), [ A Muslim from a friendly tribe whom the Jews hoped to intercede on behalf of them] the men rose to meet him, and the women and children rushed to grab hold of him, weeping before him, so that he felt pity for them. They said to him, “Abu Lubabah, do you think that we should submit to Muhammad’s judgment”? “Yes”, he said, but he pointed with his hand to his throat, that it would be slaughter.”’

Haykal writes that the Jews thought that the former allies from al-Aws tribe would give them protection if they migrated to Adhriat in al Sham, and that Muhammad would allow them. Muhammad rejected their proposal and insisted on their waiting for his judgment.

In the morning, B. Qurayzah Jews surrendered. The male Jews were chained and kept in the fortress till a decision was made about their fate. The B. Aws were friendly with the B. Qurayzah Jews and pleaded with Muhammad for mercy and a fair judgment for their Jewish allies. On this, Muhammad proposed that the judgment be passed by Sa’d b Muadh who was the B. Aws leader, trying to recuperate from his eventually fatal wound in a tent at Medina. B. Aws and the B. Qurayzah both agreed on this proposal of Muhammad, hoping to have some mercy from Sa’d b. Muadh. Muhammad dispatched some B. Aws men to bring Sa’d to deliver his judgment. Many B. Aws people requested Sa’d to deal with the Jews with leniency and mercy. Sa’d then asked his people if they would accept whatever judgment he pronounced. The assemblage agreed.

On being asked by Muhammad Sa’d b. Muadh replied, “I pass judgment on them that the men shall be killed, the property divided, and the children and women made captives.” Muhammad praised Sa’d for proclaiming a solemn judgment of the Almighty and termed Sa’d’s judgment as fair and said, “You have passed judgment on them with the judgment of God and the judgment of His Messenger.” Sahih Bukhari records:

Volume 5, Book 58, Number 148:

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:

Some people (i.e. the Jews of Bani bin Quraiza) agreed to accept the verdict of Sad bin Muadh so the Prophet sent for him (i.e. Sad bin Muadh). He came riding a donkey, and when he approached the Mosque, the Prophet said, “Get up for the best amongst you.” or said, “Get up for your chief.” Then the Prophet said, “O Sad! These people have agreed to accept your verdict.” Sad said, “I judge that their warriors should be killed and their children and women should be taken as captives.” The Prophet said, “You have given a judgment similar to Allah’s Judgment (or the King’s judgment).”

[Original Sahih Al-Bukhari]

The women and children were then separated from their husbands, others were put under the care of Abdullah, a renegade Jew. All the goods and possessions of the B. Qurayzah Jews, their camels and flocks were all brought as spoils of war. The B. Qurayzah Jewish men were handcuffed behind their backs with their women and children having already been separated. They were placed under the charge of Mohammad ibn Maslama, the assassin of Ka’b ibn Ashraf, to be sent to Medina before their execution in batches. A long trench was dug in the marketplace of Medina. The Prisoners were then taken there, made to kneel down and beheaded in a group of five or six. Muhammad was personally present to witness this slaughter. Ali and Zubayr cut off the heads of the Jews in front of Muhammad. Sourcing from Al-Waqidi, Tabari writes:

“…the messenger of God commanded that furrows should be dug in the ground for the B. Qurayzah. Then he sat down, and Ali and al-Zubayr began cutting off their heads in his presence.” Ibn Ishaq writes that they were taken in groups to Muhammad for beheading in front of him.

Tabari further writes:

‘The messenger of God went out into the marketplace of Medina and had trenches dug in it; then he sent for them and had them beheaded in those trenches. They were brought out to him in groups. Among them were the enemy of God, Huyayy b. Akhtab, and Ka’b b. Asad, the head of the tribe. They numbered 600 or 700-the largest estimate says they were between 800 and 900. As they were being taken in groups to the Messenger of God, they said to Ka’b b. Asad, “Ka’b, what do you understand. Do you not see that the summoner does not discharge [anyone] and that those of you who are taken away do not come back? By God, it is death!” the affair continued until the Messenger of God had finished with them.’

Sir William Muir describes:

‘The men were penned up in a closed yard, while graves or trenches were being dug for them in the chief marketplace of the city. When these were ready, Mahomet, himself a spectator of the tragedy, gave command that the captives should be brought forth in companies of five or six at a time. Each company was made to sit down by the brink of the trench destined for its grave, and there beheaded. Party by party they were thus led out, and butchered in cold blood, till the whole were slain. One woman alone was put to death; it was she who threw the millstone from the battlements.’

Huyayy b. Akhtab, the banished B. Nadir Jewish leader was taken to the execution field. Tabari describes his execution:

‘Huyayy b. Akhtab, the enemy of God, was brought. He was wearing a rose-colored suit of clothes that had torn all over with fingertip-sized holes so that it would not be taken as booty from him, and his hands were bound to his neck with a rope. When he looked at the Messenger of God, he said, “By God, I do not blame myself for being hostile to you, but whomever God forsakes is forsaken.” Then he turned to the people and said: “People, there is no injury in God’s command. It is the book of God, His decree, and a battlefield of great slaughter ordained against the Children of Israel. Then he sat down and was beheaded.’

Only one woman of the B. Qurayzah, the wife of Hasan al-Qurazi and a friend of Aisha, was killed. Aisha’s narrated her story of beheading thus:

‘Only one of their women was killed. By God, she was by me, talking with me and laughing unrestraintedly while the Messenger of God was killing their men in the marketplace, when suddenly a mysterious voice called out her name, saying, “Where is so and so?” She said, “I shall be killed.” “Why?” I asked. She said, A misdeed that I committed.” She was taken away and beheaded. (Aisha used to say: I shall never forget my wonder at her cheerfulness and much laughter, even when she knew that she would be killed.).’

The Sahi (authentic) Hadith of Abu Dawud:

Book 14, Number 2665:

Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin:

No woman of Banu Qurayzah was killed except one. She was with me, talking and laughing on her back and belly (extremely), while the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) was killing her people with the swords. Suddenly a man called her name: Where is so-and-so? She said: I I asked: What is the matter with you? She said: I did a new act. She said: The man took her and beheaded her. She said: I will not forget that she was laughing extremely although she knew that she would be killed.”

Ther very old Jewish man Az-Zabir had saved the life of a Muslim convert, Thabit b. Qays in the Bu’ath war. When Az-Zabir was about to be beheaded Thabit requested Muhammad to save the life of Az-Zabir and his family as a return to his favor. Muhammad agreed. Az-Zabir then asked Thabit b. Qays about the Jewish leaders such as Ka’b b. Asad and Huayy b. Akhtab, as he preferred to die rather than to live without them. Az-Zabir replied, “Then I ask you for the sake of the favor I once did for you to join me to my kinsmen, for by God there is no good in living after them. I will not wait patiently for God, not even [the time needed] to take the bucket of a watering trough, until I meet my dear ones.” So Thabit brought him forward, and he was beheaded. Abu Bakr commented “He will meet them, by God, in the Gehenna, there to dwell forever and forever.”

Muhammad commanded that all those Jewish men with pubic hair were to be executed. Hadith from Sunaan Abu Dawud:

Book 38, Number 4390:

Narrated Atiyyah al-Qurazi:

I was among the captives of Banu Qurayzah. They (the Companions) examined us, and those who had begun to grow hair (pubes) were killed, and those who had not were not killed. I was among those who had not grown hair.
After executing all the adult male Jews, Muhammad sent Sa’d b. Zayd al-Ansari with some captive women and children from the B. Qurayzah to Najd to sell them in the slave market. While we do not have an accurate price of a female slave during that time, Ibn Sa’d writes that Khadijah, Muhammad’s first wife, bought her slave, Zayd b. Haritha, (who would later become Muuhammad’s adopted son), for four hundred Dirhams at the slave market of Ukaz, Mecca. [the price of young slave varied from five hundred dirhams to eight hundred dirhams – Sunaan Abu Dawud hadith numbers, 3946 and 4563]. Among the captive was a young woman called Rayhanh bt. ‘Amr b. Khunafah and took her as his concubine. It is said that when Muhammad offered to make her his wife by embracing Islam, she declined. She preferred to remain a concubine to becoming a Muslim and said, “Messenger of God, rather leave me in your possession [as a concubine], for it is easier for me and for you.” [Some biographers claim that Rayhana eventually accepted Islam].

Sir Willima Muir:

‘Having sated his revenge, and drenched the market-place with the blood of eight hundred victims, and having given command for the earth to be smoothed over their remains, Mahomet returned from the horrid spectacle to solace himself with the charms of Rihana, whose husband and all whose male relatives had just perished in the massacre. He invited her to be his wife, but she declined; and chose to remain (as indeed, having refused marriage, she had no alternative) his slave or concubine. She also declined the summons to conversion, and continued in the Jewish faith, at which the Prophet was much concerned. It is said, however, that she afterwards embraced Islam. She lived with Mahomet till his death.

Sounds familiar, Mr. Karadzic? But you grossly miscalculated – your targets were essentially “White”, they were Muslims, and they were not Communists, and you were some 1350 odd years too late! You were also a poor imitation, as you did not sell the women off but allowed most of them to pass through. If you were rather doing it to “save your nation from the reds” like Juan Peron, General Franco, or Pinochet, or doing it against the “wild pagan Punjabi Sikhs” in 1947 and the “dirty brown and pagan” Hindu Bengalis under the leadership of Muslim “Rajakars, Al Shams or AlBadrs and the Pakistani Army” in 1970 in the erstwhile East Bengal in the name of Islam you might – just might have gotten away with it!

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Speaker of the Parliament : Somnath the destroyer, Somnath the expelled, Somnath the President?

Posted on July 23, 2008. Filed under: Communist, India, Politics |

In Indian mythology, Somnath is a name for Shiva, the destroyer of worlds. In some sectarian interpretations he is also the “original” (Adi) father of the world. Somnath Chatterjee as the speaker,  presided competently and superbly over the trust vote, which ultimately led to the triumph of the UPA. He did not allow any controversy to derail the voting process. This is in essence the destruction of the momentum being gathered by the Left+Mayavati alliance. I think Somnath’s stature as a mature and independent decision-maker has increased outside the CC and PB of the CPI(M). It is also quite possible, that Somnath Chatterjee will be the next Presidential candidate again (after his chances being scuttled the first time by the PB) indirectly and tacitly supported by both the Congress as well as the BJP.

It was almost a foregone conclusion that the dominant faction in the PB of the CPI(M) will try to expel Somnath Chatterjee. If ever the CPI(M) gets again the chance to nominate a Speaker, they will send the most unimaginative, dull and intellectually incapable member to ensure army-like discipline. Mainstream Left in the Hindi belt will almost never succeed, and the group holding a disproportionate proportion of power in the CPI(M) compared to actual representation in party membership will ultimately drag the Left movement down. If the CPI(M) wants to survive, they should take a page out of the Chinese Communist book, and dump top party leadership who fail to perform.

The CPI(M) follows a party model that developed under repressive autocratic regimes, as discussed in our previous posts, and the model almost always is in trouble within democratic systems. The seeds of this doubt and problem can even be seen as early as in Engels’ plea in favour of the “parliamentary” road (the Kautsky debate). However, the lack of grasp of political reality, as again pointed out many times in my posts, was revealed in a very obvious way in the manner in which the CPI(M) handled the whole issue of the Nuclear Deal and the trust vote.

In the Hindi belt the most enthusiastic supporters within the upcoming generations of the Leftist ideology will veer more and more towards the Naxals, and the latter’s brand of direct military or terrorist intervention in favour of “disempowered” sections will be more and more appealing towards anyone leaning towards the communist way. Such an event would be regrettable, as the previous experience with early Naxalites simply resulted in strengthening of the militant Right, and almost a decimation of an entire generation of intellect – as the state authorities specifically targeted the “brains”.

It is a turning point for the CPI(M). It has to decide quickly which way it should go – continue with unimaginative ideologues without a grasp and feel of the nation’s pulse, and risk reducing in size and influence as with so many other previous ideologues of the communist movement – or become flexible enough to rally around a much more adaptive and realistic policy. They should remember that the major successes of the world communist movements have almost always been based on practical issues – the “bread, land, peace” slogan of Lenin, or “land for the peasant, fight the bad gentry and the Japanese” slogan of Mao, and not on abstruse finer points of “the inversion of the Hegelian dialectic”. We know what happened when the communists became powerful enough to insist on “rigorous discipline” – it led to the trial and execution of Radek in Lenin’s presence, that Radek who had been instrumental in arranging for negotiations between Lenin and the German government to provide safe passage in a covered railway carriage and resources for Lenin and his followers to enter Russia from exile and take up their role in an eventual take-over of power that also ensures the closure of the Russian front. This discipline resulted in Trotsky’s murder and the infamous Moscow trials (and executions) under Vyshinsky and Yagoda – and more importantly almost the entire commanding section of the Red Army – a fact leading to the early reversals (combined with the then General Secretary Stalin’s supreme faith in his own abilities) in WWII. Communist discipline almost always appears to be a cover for incompetent paranoid leadership blues – and perhaps an awareness and jealousy of superior ability in others.

Somnath has been expelled. But it is good for Somnath’s health and the country’s as well.

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Trust Vote – finale : “Singh is King” – at what price my lord?

Posted on July 23, 2008. Filed under: India, Nuclear, Politics |

UPA survives by 19 votes and Dr. Manmohan Singh smiles widely at the camera. The outcomes and consequences of this voting have been discussed before in this blog. For the moment let us turn our attention to the man who symbolically took up Left’s challenge.

The Prime Minister of India’s debate speech has been put up on his website His speech contains some very interesting points (but it’s a pity that this self-acknowledged “Oxonian” [his acceptance speech at Oxford] had to prepare his speech in a hurry leaving some strange expressions in the body of the text). Let us analyze these points :

For Dr. Singh, the “priority areas of national concern are” :

(i) “Tackling the imported inflation caused by steep increase in oil prices. Our effort is to control inflation without hurting the rate of growth and employment.” Coming from an economist of the “Oxon” school, this is a bit of a surprise. The link between inflation and growth and employment is a highly debated one from the time of Keynes. It strongly depends on the particular historical trajectory of the economy concerned.

(ii) “To revitalize agriculture. We have decisively reversed the declining trend of investment and resource flow in agriculture[…] We have achieved a record foodgrain production of 231 million tones.” That sounds excellent, but does not quite tally with persistent droughts, the need to import the second of the staples of the country, wheat, the sever pressure on grain growers to undersell to the government and hence their abandonment of grain production, endemic suicide of farmers in several regions, and persistent famine like conditions in others.

(iii) “To improve the effectiveness of our flagship pro poor programmes such as National Rural Employment Programme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Nation-wide Mid day meal programme, Bharat Nirman to improve the quality of rural infrastructure of roads, electricity, safe drinking water, sanitation, irrigation, National Rural Health Mission and the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. These programmes are yielding solid results.” We are yet to see any significant public sector urban development, (the major de-slum-ization programmes such as in Mumbai are being financed by private capital), and it is unlikely that the other programmes mentioned have had any significant real impact given the endemic apathy, insincerity and corruption of the implementors at various levels of the government. If the schemes were actually working thousands of NGO’s funded internally and internationally would have gone completely out of business.

(iv) “We have initiated a major thrust in expanding higher education. The objective is to expand the gross enrolment ratio in higher education from 11.6 per cent to 15 per cent by the end of the 11th Plan and to 21% by the end of 12th Plan. To meet these goals, we have an ambitious programme which seeks to create 30 new universities, of which 14 will be world class, 8 new IITs, 7 new IIMs, 20 new IIITs, 5 new IISERs, 2 Schools of planning and Architecture, 10 NITs, 373 new degree colleges and 1000 new polytechnics. And these are not just plans. Three new IISERs are already operational and the remaining two will become operational from the 2008-09 academic session. Two SPAs will be starting this year. Six of the new IITs start their classes this year. The establishment of the new universities is at an advanced stage of planning.” This is all most promising, but is looking at the apex of the educational pyramid. To successfully utilize such higher education opportunities, kids first have to have a solid primary and secondary education and almost surely a good grounding in the English language. Can the PM give any details of the state of the primary and secondary sector, state of English language education, and the state of education and opportunities given to 50% of the population – girls? Even now parents send the boys to better schools and the girls even if more talented will have to be satisfied with non-English medium or non-science education.

(v) “A nation wide Skill Development Programme and the enactment of the Right to Education Act,” Ambitious, ambitious indeed, and perhaps too vague to be ever reasonably implemented.

(vi) “Approval by Parliament of the new Rehabilitation and Resettlement policy and enactment of legislation to provide social security benefits to workers in the unorganized sector.” Social security benefits to a population without regular identification papers, without the minimum modern education required to successfully use documentation, without any permanent home, without any safety net at all – ambitious indeed!

(vii) “The new 15 Point Programme for Minorities, the effective implementation of empowerment programmes for the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, paying particular emphasis on implementation of Land Rights for the tribals.” Most of these are beyond any dispute, as they are needed. But retaining and acknowledging sectarian or ethnic identities and linking economic or political empowerment based on such identities almost always simply reinforces them in the most negative way and is a potential for future trauma and tragedy as revealed in Eastern Europe or Central Asia.

(viii) “Equally important is the effective implementation of the Right to Information Act to impart utmost transparency to processes of governance. The Administrative Reforms Commission has made valuable suggestions to streamline the functioning of our public administration.” There is no doubt about the positive impact of this particular one.

(ix) “To deal firmly with terrorist elements, left wing extremism and communal elements that are attempting to undermine the security and stability of the country. We have been and will continue to vigorously pursue investigations in the major terrorist incidents that have taken place. Charge-sheets have been filed in almost all the cases. […]We will take all possible steps to streamline their functioning and strengthen their effectiveness.” This is an administrative solution, Mr. PM. No terrorist containment programme is effective without a co-current socio-economic programme, and the possible need to publicly undermine the ideological basis of terror. Can you ever take such steps, (as has been undertaken over the decades to deconstruct Hinduism in an attempt to show that it never existed), say in deconstructing extremist interpretations of Islam or Sikhism?

“In 1991, while presenting the Budget for 1991-92, as Finance Minister, I[…] outlined a far reaching programme of economic reform[…]Both the Left and the BJP had then opposed the reform. Both had said we had mortgaged the economy to America and that we would bring back the East India Company. Subsequently both these parties have had a hand at running the Government. None of these parties have reversed the direction of economic policy laid down by the Congress Party in 1991.” Not clear Mr. P.M. The left had no hand in running the government at the centre. If you mean their state governments, then they have had a mixed and quite confused policy.

“India needs to grow at the rate of at least ten per cent per annum to get rid of chronic poverty, ignorance and disease which still afflict millions of our people[…]The generation of electricity has to grow at an annual rate of 8 to 10 per cent[…]We have large reserves of coal but even these are inadequate to meet all our needs by 2050. But more use of coal will have an adverse impact on pollution and climate. We can develop hydro-power and we must. But many of these projects hurt the environment and displace large number of people. We must develop renewable sources of energy particularly solar energy. But we must also make full use of atomic energy which is a clean environment friendly source of energy.” Environmental and social impact of conventional sources are well known, and India has faced huge opposition in its bid to develop super hydel projects (“Save” Narmada movement). But nuclear power as environmentally safe? Mr. PM, that definitely is highly debated and contested claim!

“The essence of the matter is that the agreements that we negotiate with USA, Russia, France and other nuclear countries will enable us to enter into international trade for civilian use without any interference with our strategic nuclear programme. The strategic programme will continue to be developed at an autonomous pace determined solely by our own security perceptions. We have not and we will not accept any outside interference or monitoring or supervision of our strategic programme. Our strategic autonomy will never be compromised. We are willing to look at possible amendments to our Atomic Energy Act to reinforce our solemn commitment that our strategic autonomy will never be compromised. I confirm that there is nothing in these agreements which prevents us from further nuclear tests if warranted by our national security concerns. All that we are committed to is a voluntary moratorium on further testing. Thus the nuclear agreements will not in any way affect our strategic autonomy. The cooperation that the international community is now willing to extend to us for trade in nuclear materials, technologies and equipment for civilian use will be available to us without signing the NPT or the CTBT.” That appears not to be clearly supported in the published draft 123 agreements. Especially conducting tests could be delayed by at least 1 year from the time India conveys it’s wish to do so.

“The world wants India to succeed. The obstacles we face are at home, particularly in our processes of domestic governance. I wish to remind the House that in 1998 when the Pokharan II tests were undertaken, the Group of Eight leading developed countries had passed a harsh resolution condemning India and called upon India to sign the NPT and CTBT. Today, at the Hokkaido meeting of the G-8 held recently in Japan, the Chairman’s summary has welcomed cooperation in civilian nuclear energy between India and the international community. This is a measure of the sea change in the perceptions of the international community our[! what are you talking about here Mr. PM?] trading with India for civilian nuclear energy purposes that has come about in less than ten years.” That is being too optimistic. There are many countries and forces in the world who would not like India to succeed – some from religious perceptions, some from territorial ambitions, some from even concepts of race, and many have openly and fervently hoped or declared or tried to ensure that India is an “artificial nation” that “naturally disintegrates”.

This is where our doubts creep in Honbl. Prime Minister – where we are reminded of your Oxford acceptance speech, and we begin to have grave doubts about how far and how deep goes your understanding of Indian history and which culture you really do identify with!

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Trust Vote 6 : cash, stings, and murder of trust

Posted on July 22, 2008. Filed under: India, Nuclear, Politics |

The closing hours of the trust vote has been disrupted by a scene on the floor of the parliament. Packets of cash allegedly offered in bribe to an opposition MP were thrown into the well of the parliament. What could have happened :

(1) it could be a genuine allegation, that money really did pass hands

(2) it could have been a sting operation, well planned by the opposition to trap a briber from the government side – however, if it is shown that the “opposition” enticed or negotiated “prices” as part of the sting operation, then ethically and legally the whole things comes under a cloud

(3) if it was a sting operation then it was not ethically above board completely, as the sting should then have involved vigilance officers, or that if it was “unexpected” then both party and the MP should have gone to the police at the earliest possible opportunity

One crore appears to be way too small for the rumours of 25-30 crores. If it was not a genuine sting, but a staged affair then the persons responsible should be brought to book, and similarly if it was a genuine bribe, then also the persons responsible for it should be brought to book.

The speaker, Somnath Chatterjee, is being vociferously opposed by CPI(M) MP’s, and he almost surely faces suspension and possible expulsion. He has shown himself willing to take the risk, and is the first sign of disillusionment in the gradual decline of the party – but still there are not going to be any spectacular splits.

What has been murdered today in the Parliament is trust – trust about political negotiations between responsible and mature politicians. But there is great hope. It is the “young” MP’s, like the NC representative Omar Abdullah who could speak with great and genuine conviction that he saw no distinction or conflict between being a Muslim and an Indian, or the scion of the Nehru Dynasty who spoke haltingly, poorly but with enthusiasm, and those in the opposition who spoke with equal but genuine conviction, who hold the future of politics in India. At least they appeared to be much less cynical than their elders and were trying to believe what they were saying.

They will make mistakes, will reverse their current positions, and many of them will act like their elders of today. But I think they will learn to look forward and into the future. I do feel confirmation of my belief that the “old order changeth, yielding place to new”.

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Trust Vote 5 – the old order changeth, yielding place to new

Posted on July 22, 2008. Filed under: Communist, India, Nuclear, Politics |

Why do I write this? If Congress wins, isn’t it so that the “old order remains”! If Congress fails today, BJP+Mayavati+Left wins, and all of them are now also part of the old “order”. The BJP now perhaps realizes that the initiative may very well be passing into the hands of Mayavati+Karat’s hands, and postponement of a strategic deal with the West may not only be a reality but in fact it could actually lead to a complete reversal of policy at the hands of BSP+Left.

From a strategic viewpoint, nuclear weapons capability is practically of little use, as a weapon of war to be used in conflicts with neighboring countries. For the long foreseeable future, there are only two nuclear threats for India – China and Pakistan. Both countries share border with India, and any use of nuclear weapons will affect both the user as well as the intended target. China of course has greater flexibility in that it can (foolishly) think of sacrificing Tibet (as contaminated territory) , but Pakistan’s choices are severely limited. The entire subcontinent shares an intimate geo-ecological connection, and to a lesser extent with China. Any military confrontation that India may have to face and participate in for strategic reasons will be fought in the conventional way, will be swift and decisive. Such conflicts will only follow extreme and deliberate provocation, (perhaps even a provocation engineered strategically by the “provoked”) and economic or climatological collapse.

Thus from a practical sense, nitpicking over weapons capabilities are useless. More important consequence of the Nuclear Deal will be the acceptance of India as a responsible, and more importantly as a country strong and confident enough to graciously stoop down a bit in compromise. Territorial and other expansions in the subcontinent will more likely take place through peaceful economic measures and voluntary accretions rather than conquest.

Without invoking Hegel’s “hidden hand of history”, I feel that the overall trend of socio-economic development of forces on the Indian subcontinent given the background processes going on around in the countries surrounding it, is an inexorable movement towards modernization and resurgence towards its natural potential as an extremely productive and innovative society.

The two successful “communist nations” Russia and China were innovative and resourceful societies from way before Marx was born, and their spectacular technological and scientific progress was simply the result of an intensive capital accumulation process under state control utilizing the inherent pre-communist potentials. Communist parties long in state power concentrate “apparatchiks” who are singularly conservative, jealous, and without vision and serve rather as brakes on the economy. In Russia refusal to recognize this fact to the very bitter end led to the dismemberment of the CPSU, and the Chinese saved themselves temporarily by resorting to their legendary strategic flexibility. The Indian communists have been spectacularly resistant to forward looking vision – they vehemently opposed IT and automation, they opposed FDI for industrialization, the “Tata-Birla” epithet was for them synonymous with vile and hated untouchable enemies – and they also have proved remarkably consistent in doing a volte-face on these “non-negotiable, correct Marxist positions” roughly in about 20-25 years down the line.

Mayavati+Left+others may become “king makers” staking claim for kingship. But it will not be a long run. Socio-economic reality will push India towards a greater convergence with the Western world.

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Trust Vote 4: Of horses and foxes – the nuclear puny-game hunt in India

Posted on July 21, 2008. Filed under: India, Nuclear, Politics |

Blogger Ashwani Jain ( ) has pointed out that “horse trading” in MP’s are probably fetching 30-50 crores in addition to renaming of airports and berths in hypothetical future governments. A while ago I heard a media commentator talking about the two “old foxes of Indian politics”. Every time I came across the word “horse” and “fox” in connection with MP’s, I literally flinched. Ashwani has quoted Ambedkar, and rightly so. I do wonder – could we even imagine Babasaheb or Sardar as “horses” and “foxes” in spite of all their limitations?

Our elected representatives have reduced in stature to the level of almost vanishing altogether, and are mere shadows of people like Gandhiji, the first two generations of Nehrus, Sardar and Bose, (forget Lal-Bal-Pal). These were people who needed secretaries more for dictating letters to rather than writing speeches for themselves to be read out in broken and halting language. These were people who could write fluently about world and national history and politics from memory in jail, that filled volumes of printed text. These were people who could be dragged out from their railway carriage impromptu, and asked to deliver speeches that moved hearts and minds. In spite of all their limitations and all the wise-cracking that we can now heap onto their heads without going through the situations they had faced, we can see that there was a fundamental difference from modern politicians.

This difference was their absorption of the spirit of India’s millions, and learning to think and feel as they felt, and where necessary to change wrong ways of thinking and feeling to what they felt were the right ones. They were trying to make history against a brutally repressive and ruthless regime, facing a dangerous and potentially lethal future. Significantly, either they knew how to earn, or already had made, sufficient money on their own to maintain themselves if their political involvement forced them to be out of jobs and professions. Almost everyone in this group had a professional qualification and had more or less already proven themselves capable of independent professional earning. Our current crop are survivors of peacetime politics, with long practice in the art of grafts and siphoning off of public funds, or dipping into the pockets of wealth producers in return for favours.

To a certain extent , the common man on the street also has been responsible. We have socially appreciated wealth irrespective of how it was earned. I have heard many times the appreciative quip “oh so and so does not have to spend his salary at all – what he gets through his left palm is sufficient to maintain the flashy car and all the luxuries you see in their house – how lucky his wife is”. But all this remains true for the salaries class, engaged in the pure process of circulation.

The absolute majority of Indians do not even have access to a bribe extraction mechanism – they are honest by default. Where does all the 30-50 crores come from? Through taxes and profits going through many hands, extracted from these very same people. Where will this money from the hunt of puny-game inside the Indian Parliament on the occasion of the Nuclear Deal go? Not circulated within the Indian economy benefiting basic sectors I presume, but converted into gold and precious stones to preserve value and liquidity or surreptitious investments in property in the name of a non-existent 10-th removed cousin perhaps.

The stories about great military commanders like Alexander, Julius Caesar or Napoleon in the West, or Bose during his INA days in the East, of them refusing to eat or drink differently or above the standards of the “lowest” ranked trooper, could be fantasies or myths. But they have remained in people’s memories because they represent an ideal the followers expect from their leaders. I did remember the Bose story of giving up his single hand-made bread because another soldier wanted an additional bread, or that of Alexander throwing away the cup of water scrounged for him only in a particularly dry part of the march, when I read of the enthusiastic throwing of dinner parties and luncheons to do “trade” in “horses and foxes”.

Are the leaders listening, including the Left, whose great guru Lenin shared a lowly potato or thin cabbage soup in the commoner’s canteen, or Mao and most of his army generals and Central Committee members chewed on grass seeds with their army and as per reports by independent (and not communist!) Western journalists, refused to feast on anything more than water melons as the general population could not afford more than that?

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Trust vote 3 – dinners and lunches to feast on Muslims and Dalits.

Posted on July 21, 2008. Filed under: India, Muslims, Nuclear, Politics |

The BSP, UNPA, and the Left have declared at least one issue they agree on – they want to “topple” the government. This is their “one pointed programme”. Ms. Mayavati officially made the statement that she is against the Nuclear Deal because “it casts a shadow on the Iran gas supply deal, and because it causes Muslim displeasure”. A similar statement from Shahed Siddiqui, to the effect that “Urdu speaking Muslims” put pressure on his conscience. Explicitly the Dalit factor has not been mentioned, but we have to assume that since it is Mayavati’s BSP that is jointly spearheading the “toppling” movement together with Chandrababu Naidu, whose backyard of Andhra Pradesh could have a significant “Dalit” factor, the “Dalits” are against the Nuclear deal too.

Will the prevention of the Nuclear Deal raise the purchasing power of, provide potable water, healthcare, education, access to financial capital or jobs to the average Muslim or Dalit? BSP+UNPA+Left will simply pretend that their capture of central power after the “toppling” will be the magic wand that will benefit the Muslims and the Dalits.

What makes the statesmanship of the leaders so difficult to comprehend is the simple logic , that by repeatedly emphasizing that “Muslims ” or “Dalits” are against the deal, do they want to imply that the non-Muslims or the non-Dalit Indian is for the deal? And if they do, is their opinion simply not important enough to even consider as that of representing a substantial portion of the Indian population?

Is any non-elite Indian noting the plethora of “dinners and lunches” of hundreds of MP’s when there is drought in several parts of the country and many do not have a square meal in days? Why couldn’t it have been merely “tea and coffee”?

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Karat vs Somnath+Subhash

Posted on July 20, 2008. Filed under: Communist, India, Politics |

Prakash Karat has roared. He has declared that the “decision about the Speaker” will be taken by the Politbureau, and that Subhash Chakraborty – the “bad boy” and maverick of the West Bengal party, (an exceptionally bright student, debater and student leader of his time) is being “officially admonished” (an expression borrowed from the early days of Bolshevism, and applied liberally to enemies of Stalin) for “public disputation and criticism of the Party Line”. As predicted in an earlier post, there would be no spectacular split, as already Subhash Chakraborty has written a letter of apology to the Party Centre. What will Somnath Chatterjee do – in the extreme, he will preside over the trust vote and try his best to preserve the UPA government. On the other extreme, he may decide to conform. Either way the party will have a hard time afterwards convincing him to stay on in active politics.

Prakash Karat’s crusade against the Congress is perhaps more virulent because the initial alliance and support to Congress was also pushed through under the excuse of staving off communal forces over and above the misgivings of its major resource base the West Bengal party. Collaboration with “class enemies” was usually justified during Comintern days almost always by “superior national interests” which in turn was almost always a cover for CPSU or CCP interests.

Compromises with the “wrong” elements, however they are sought to be justified as, inevitably leads in the end to a departure from original objectives. The overwhelming eagerness to make its mark in the Hindi belt, is pushing the Party Centre towards a path that will ultimatley see the weakening and irrelevance of the party.

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Trust Vote -2 : It is no longer about the Deal but all about dealing.

Posted on July 20, 2008. Filed under: India, Nuclear, Politics |

The Left, UNPA, and BSP are meeting today to work out a possible coordinated motion to defeat the Congress on the floor of the Parliament. Already several leaders of essentially regional parties like the TDP and the TRS, are trying to put up Smt. Mayavati as a future PM. So, quite rapidly, Indian Muslims’ so-called opposition to the nuclear deal has been declared on their behalf by certain leaders, and equally rapidly the Muslims have become the card no longer to be played. Neither is the nuclear deal the chief issue any more. It is all about jockeying for capturing state power in the coming round of elections.

Each and every political party and its leaders are now concerned about its own electoral base, and because they can no longer be certain of the whole population they are concentrating on utilizing and enhancing fissures and fractures within Indian society to produce smaller highly antagonistic groups who would be easier to manipulate and control. “Dalits”, literally meaning “repressed” can not be “uplifted and empowered” as by definition then they will no longer remain “Dalits” and if they no longer remain “Dalits” a party of the “Dalits” can also no longer survive. So for BSP to capture and raise capital in the political-power market, it has to maintain a distinct “Dalit” population. Similarly, for religion based parties like the Muslim League or IUML, maintaining and intensifying sharper and sharper distinctions from non-Muslims would be a necessary aspect to remain in leadership. The Left, has no ideologically motivated support base in the Hindi belt (to a certain extent such Leftist support exists rather for the various flavours of underground Naxalites) and therefore has to ride piggyback on parties like that of BSP or indirectly that of Muslim League, and will also have to maintain and utilize caste based antagonisms. BJP desperately wants to go for early elections, and may try to win over (and in fact could also be encouraging) Mayavati’s efforts.

We should not be surprised if both BJP and the Congress try to woo Mayavati after Tuesday, irrespective of the trust vote outcome. The parties have their own small axes to grind – axes which they understand to a far better degree and which are also much more important to them than the Nuclear Deal or the inclination of the Muslims of India. It is clear now, that the Nuclear Deal and Indian Muslims are just excuses to be bandied about for polemics, and the real motivations are the extremely short-sighted personal ambitions of leaders nervous and unsure about their control over the whole nation.

To a general Muslim or a “Dalit” (perhaps sometimes both at the same time) just as for a non-Muslim, it is unlikely that an abstract item of foreign policy and potential future consequences of the Nuclear Deal in international relations is a matter of huge significance and obsession. The more important issues are getting a reliable health care, a basic modern education, potable water, access to resources for economic development, an affordable modern housing, affordable living costs.

The fact that all the political elite are shouting about is the Nuclear Deal or how it is against “India’s interests” and therefore against Muslim or Dalit interests, immediately shows that this is an obsession and polemical scoring point for an elite as detached from the people as the kings and Nawabs of old, and who speak in the name of the people.

But then why do the people vote them to power? To a large extent Indian electoral process is like a two stage game – where first the voters are forced to choose from a limited set of interested individuals who are one way or the other already well connected to the political establishment and instruments of state power. These establishments therefore form persistent groups, linked by kinship, clan and mutually profitable associations. Thus coteries from around MP’s or organizations putting up MP’s who usurp mediating role between ordinary citizens and the state services that they should have otherwise received automatically. This is the fundamental source of power of elected representatives.

In the second stage of the game, the elected representatives play among themselves for personal benefits including non-material ones such as prestige and power. The system probably runs with very similar features as to Stock Exchanges, where elaborate systems are in place to control “the spontaneity of individual investors” and force them to be herded into playing through agencies whose only guarantee is the constancy of the increasing fees and commissions and not returns to the individual investor. Most of the time these agencies form out of or are in reality extensions of already established big financial organizations, or the working conditions of the exchanges are made so that only such organizations can qualify.

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Have Muslims spoken against the Nuclear Deal? A very dark future for India.

Posted on July 19, 2008. Filed under: India, Muslims, Nuclear, Politics |

Shahed Siddiqui, the erstwhile spokesperson of the SP, has left the SP. He is a Rajya Sabha MP, and hence his votes do not count for the trust vote. However what is more significant is his public statement – that his decision to take up a position against the Nuclear Deal comes from pressure by Urdu speaking Muslims that the Nuclear Deal is against India’s interest, therefore against Indian Muslim’s interest, and Indian Muslims are against US domination, and because they think this deal is equivalent to accepting US domination, Indian Muslims are against the deal.

We still have to wait for the coming general elections, which will actually show how Muslims vote. My impression is however that by and large Indian Muslims have accepted the ardent propaganda by a resurgent trend of international Islamic unification and consolidation, originating from and mainly supported by groups essentially based in the Middle East. It is possible that this trend was and is being actively encouraged by autocratic regimes who have always used the most medieval and primitive elements in Islamic faith literature to divert attention away and justify the excesses of their autocracy (consider the use of Wahab and his teachings to consolidate Saudi territorial ambitions and autocracy). From the perspective of the Muslim majority nations around India, India’s large non-Muslim population remains a stumbling block towards a consolidated Muslim block stretching from East Africa to the Phillipines. For the first time, they have a chance of sharing central power by riding with Mayavati and the Left.

I consider it as most unfortunate – as it will only confirm and strengthen the polarization in Indian society. From now on, the non-revealed religions of India will converge and consolidate. In the process they may actually accentuate those features of their society that in the past alienated marginal groups. However, they will perceive this as the ultimate proof that Muslims identify more with their religion than the country, and therefore will always remain a force that serves international Muslim ambitions. From now on, Indian society will increasingly become bipolar, and both the movement represented by Mayavati as well as the Left will ultimately be absorbed into a front that consciously or subconsciously serves Imperialist interests of countries that are in competition with the West over the control of India. This will push the other block increasingly towards the West.

India is in for a rough, a very rough ride indeed.

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Nuclear Deal and Trust Vote – I

Posted on July 18, 2008. Filed under: Communist, India, Muslims, Nuclear, Politics |

The trust vote on the nuclear issue is taking place on the 22nd. It will be an interesting day, with probably punters and bookies having a field day on the betting lines. What does astrology say about this? – the answers will of course depend to a great extent on the personal wishes of the astrologer and/or that of the wishes of the majority of his clients. Empirically, (and I admit, on a very frivolous note) India seems to have gone through 30-year cycles of significant changes – 1917, 1947, 1977, and the missing year is perhaps 2007. Should it happen in 2008! That is the task of the astrologer!

What will happen in case Congress fails the trust vote? It will mean elections earlier than scheduled. What if it wins? All the political groups, both for and against will breathe a sigh of relief. No one other than sections of the BJP are keen on elections. And this is the key mood guiding politicians now – they are completely uncertain about which way the actual population will swing. Either way, democratic partisan politics loses its stature before the electorate. The Left will appear to be bent on scoring ideological points and not above worshipping sectarian or communal boots, the BJP bent on preventing the Congress getting credit for something which in reality was “their baby”, the Congress indulging shamelessly again a la P.V.NaraSimha Rao in Mughal Durbar style politics, where nazranas and favours decided which way the sun would rise on any given day, to buy MP’s.

My hunch is that the coming elections will throw up three major, groupings, – (1) Congress and allies (2) BJP and allies (3) Mayavati+Left+Muslim League (???). This is a highly uncertain and unstable equilibrium. The 3rd group if it at all comes together, will come together only on issues and have serious differences as to ideology and more importantly will have a deadly competition for votes on the same electoral group. The 3rd group may not be able to attain majority in the Parliament, but will prove a significant “king-making” group and may very well stake the claim to form a government with the outside support of Congress (the formal reason given for the rapprochement between the Congress, the Left and Mayavati being “secularism”). If such a government forms it will not last long, by historical experience only until the major groups feel confident of facing another election, probably in about 1-3 years. Left will again not gain ultimately from such an alliance.

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A split in the Left ? No way!

Posted on July 17, 2008. Filed under: Communist, India, Nuclear, Politics |

There is a huge amount of gossip making the rounds of Indian media – the speculation that Somnath Chatterjee, CPI(M) MP and the Honbl., Speaker of the Indian Parliament has sent an open letter to the party, and probably delivered primarily to the higher committees like the CC and the PB. The letter is supposed to have been written on plain paper and not on the Speaker’s letterhead, and indicated his opposition to voting against the Congress on the floor of the parliament on the nuclear deal. Apparently the PB instructed its members to burn all copies for secrecy.

The gossip could have originated from political quarters hoping to boost the morale of the pro-deal groups. The “burning” makes the authenticity of the news doubtful though. Although Communist political history throughout the globe abounds in stories of intrigue, and the deepest of political skull-duggery, this last flourish in the news item makes all this a bit too dramatic. First, for this last piece to be true, one of the PB members has to tell the outside world about the “secret letter”, which is highly unlikely given the very small size of the group. It could only realistically happen if one or more members of the PB have decided to embarrass their GS, or if the leak took place from someone close to or sympathetic to Somnath Chatterjee as well as having access to the PB. Such incidents were very common in the early days of the Bolsheviks in Soviet power, when “left-deviation” alternated with “right-deviation” almost every other year and definitely from one party congress to the next.

A story about an instruction to burn or destroy potentially embarrassing documents or records is not without precedence in Communist history, and appear in the annals of the Soviet Communist Party – the famous ones being the so-called “request to Stalin to be given poison to commit suicide” by Lenin, and pages of “Lenin’s last will and testament” where Lenin had apparently dubbed Stalin extremely “arrogant”, and a potential threat to the Party with inordinate concentration of power as GS. But even if these were true stories, there were specific factional in-fights at these times which would have justified suppression or destruction of potentially embarrassing leaks to the ruling instantaneous coalition, and in spite of which the cornered faction would still make the leak.

As pointed out in my previous blog, I don’t think that anything resembling the spectacular splits of the past in the Indian Communist movement will take place now. Those were the times when becoming a Communist was dangerous in the face of violent state repression, and it primarily attracted or promoted to leadership members of the intellectual and well connected caste/class elite. These were also dedicated people of fiercely independent intellect and perhaps in an indirect way also looking for recognition, dominance and power. The small party however tried to hold on to them to the very last point when a split became inevitable. The formation of the CPI, its expulsions and purges following the whimsical twists of the Comintern, its first significant splits in 1948 in the Telengana region, split in the 60’s forming CPI(M), and in the early 70’s forming the CPI(ML), and finally into the 14 odd splinter groups of the CPI(ML), all follow this classic struggle for leadership cloaked under abstract polemical debates.

With the electoral success of the CPI(M), however, the Party needed to quickly expand for various reasons. It also attracted people who saw that it was the new regime which would now need to be used for preservation and advancement – a phenomenon as old as the period following Soviet take over of Russia leading to a consolidation of the apparatchik regime sequentially of Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin, and in India, right after Independence, when individuals and sections within Indian society who had actively collaborated and supported the British against the pro-Independence groups suddenly switched their allegiance and in many instances were even given electoral tickets.

The party structure requiring “selection” of committee members by members of “higher” committees, and then within that committee decisions being taken by majority voting, meant that leaders needed majority support from their committee members. It became therefore advantageous to select members who would be loyal in internal power struggles, and as history of organization amply show – weaknesses in the form of lack of independent thought or popularity, or “problems” in the background, make for the best loyalty and dependence. Gradually this will mean replacement of lower committees with members who are dependent on their higher-ups for party positions and influence or stature, and consequently are also increasingly distant from the non-partisan population because of the very lack of qualities that make them attractive as committee members.

This is what usually degenerates a Communist Party long in state power from within, and in this phase spectacular splits are no longer feasible. It will not happen with Somnath Chatterjee either. The maximum that can happen is a scaling down of Prakash Karat’s power in the next Party Congress, with the subtle signals given out in promotions to the PB and CC. Neither will there be any deviation from Prakash Karat’s stated target of punishing the Congress for going forward with the nuclear deal as reflected in the public and parliamentary behaviour of the party.

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Tension within the Left – fireworks for the future

Posted on July 14, 2008. Filed under: Communist, India, Nuclear, Politics |

The CPI(M) general secretary, Prakash Karat, appears to have softened his line about the Honbl. Speaker of the Indian Parliament, Somnath Chatterjee, an MP from the CPI(M), to resign as part of the withdrawal of support from the UPA government. This episode, is an interesting and revealing facet of how the politics of Soviet style leftist parties (not the RSDLP or even the Bolshevik party until about the death of Lenin) get twisted around by the realpolitik of Indian historical reality.

The “communist” party of the Russian Empire (it formally declared itself communist after the revolution) bore the stamps of the peculiar conditions under which it grew up. Without getting too deep into the historical reasons, we can summarize the party structure as that of a tightly controlled organized but small group led by full-time dedicated “professional” revolutionaries, who form an even more tightly homogenized nucleus of leadership. More significantly, the party leadership, unlike that of its frontal organizations, is chosen almost entirely in reality by selection but with the decision making within committees carried out formally by voting. Elsewhere, we will see, how this peculiar organizational structure born out of specific early 20th century Russian conditions, when copied or imposed in other parts of the world because of its apparent success, created both successes and failures.

More relevant for our context is the fact that, this model is also followed by the CPI(M) in India. What were the reasons for consistently and mostly choosing General Secretary’s from middle and northwestern India? Formally of course the leadership will reply, that the communists do not follow regionalism and casteism in the selection of their top leadership. But leadership of the communist top committees have usually been kept in the hands of communists originating from the deep South or from North-Western India, and usually from the middle to upper levels of so-called caste hierarchy.

A hidden practical argument could be the utility of such leaders in projection of the party into areas of India typically left out of the early British missionary-feudal-bashing proselytizing. These are the areas where the upper-castes carried much influence until the 80’s. The problem with the CPI(M) is perhaps because of its ideological blindness, it catches on to realpolitik much later, but always at a time when the conditions have already changed, so that any readjustments to policies always lag behind. Instead of Prakash Karat, realpolitik should have prompted the party to put someone from the “Dalit” background.

A completely different cause is much older than communism in India. The northwestern India enjoys a cultural and linguistic continuity primarily through various dialects of Hindi and caste and community linkages maintained by a strictly and sometimes violently maintained endogamy. However, it remains a fractured society, and historically has usually not been able to defend itself from disastrous foreign invasions and exploitation. Typically , they have only been able to reassert by using the depth and resources of the South and the East. So traditionally it was also important for North-Western Indian leadership to keep, maintain, and intensify divisions existing in the rest of India, (and to a certain extent even in its own backyard) so that small coteries could survive as the only mediating leadership (this is as true of Congress as well) and therefore control the resources of the entire nation, without really being representative of the nation.

As the Left is perhaps getting increasingly worried and uncertain about its absolute dominance on electoral outcomes in its mass-bases in Kerala and West Bengal, with West Bengal providing the largest number of party members and more importantly the financial and material resources important for the all-India Party, the practical fall-outs of the CC and Politbureau’s antics can provoke a rebellious reaction from sections within the Left leadership in the state. However the tradition of discipline, and the way party hierarchies are carefully screened of independent or original minds, after years of intensification during state power, has now practically removed any threat of the spectacular splits of the past. This will be a party which will slowly but surely disintegrate from within, as it happened in the USSR.

The BSP represents and depends as much on fractures within the society as so called communal-parties, and does not also have a wide penetration outside of the most fractured state of all, UP. Alliance with BSP for the CPI(M) will not work out well, as it will lose any support it potentially had from the Hindu middle class and castes in the Hindi belt, and the BSP will not allow its own electoral bases to be eaten into by CPI(M).

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The nuclear game – inevitable end-game in India

Posted on July 11, 2008. Filed under: India, Nuclear, Politics |

Finally, the UPA government in India has taken the plunge. It has decided to go ahead with the deal, after ensuring (or thinks it has ensured) the required number of MP’s support for proving majority on the floor of the parliament. The Left has played its card, and is waiting to see if there is some kind of face saving fall-out of the failure of the Congress and its remaining or new-found allies to prove parliamentary majority.

What are the options and scenario for each of the leading political groupings?

Congress : (1) Gather all possible support to prove majority (2) be prepared to give various undertakings to the allies as price for support, such as a possible joint move against Mayavati in UP with SP in the coming elections thereby sacrificing the efforts made so far by Rahul Gandhi to strike an independent posture in UP. However the embarrassment of having to undo Rahul’s high-profile attempts can be relatively easily compensated for by formally arguing that Rahul is needed at the centre, perhaps even as a young Indian “PM”. (3) Show to the Left that the Congress can manage without them (4) However not be too harsh in criticism of the Left, so that a door is left open for future possible collaboration again in electoral politics, thereby also showing the remaining allies that they should not try to drive too hard a bargain as the Congress could as easily switch over to an alliance or understanding with the Left again in the future (5) the campaign or aspersion by Mayavati and some from the Left that Muslims do not support the deal could now actually prevent any Muslim MP’s to vote against the deal on the floor of the Parliament.

Problems : possible last minute betrayal by some individual members of allies

The Left : (1) wait now and try meanwhile for the failure of Congress’s attempts to prove majority (2) this mobilization to gather support against the N-deal could be seen (or projected to its supporters and workers) by the leadership as a mobilization for realignment for the coming elections and reaching into areas where it did not have significant penetration or presence. (3) success of the Congress could be disastrous in the short term – with fall-outs for elections, as the only party with national presence that could help the Left with an alliance is the Congress, and this separation could mean a huge loss of bargaining power of the Left for future alliances (4) success of the Congress and therefore the passing of the 123-agreement could mean on the long term much closer ties with the Western powers, which in the perception of the Left (and perhaps not without reason) would lead to strengthening of the “Right” within the Indian political spectrum.

Problems : (1) Left’s major mistake of staking so much on the N-deal, where it is a non-issue as regards the overwhelming majority of the population is concerned. It is possible that this mistake stems from Left’s support base and its leaderships’ own ideological prejudices. Left’s dominant component comes from West Bengal and Kerala, both having a substantial college-university educated class. However because of certain peculiarities of the Left organizational structure and its proximity now for a long time with state power, Left probably has less knowledge of the pulse of intellectual elite and professionals in its own backyard compared to its “emerging phase” (1940-1970). The organizational structure, which relies in reality on selection rather than election as leadership choosing process, ensures ideological continuity which need not always reflect ground conditions very accurately (the contradictions come up through the dynamic of changing electoral politics and state government policies). Although electoral success is usually cited as legitimacy for ideological positions taken up by the Left, we have to remember, that the Congress was also mostly hugely successful from immediately after Independence right up to the debacle of 1977. It has never been seriously investigated, as to how much of these successes depend on sudden opportunistic switching over of allegiance of influential elite classes within Indian society when they perceive that the older regime cannot ensure protection of their status any more. In short, the Left leadership perhaps more often hears what it wants to hear than what the reality is. In the case of the N-deal, ironically, even when the Left itself acknowledges that there are much more pertinent issues like inflation, its’ helping to make the N-deal the biggest issue of all, reflects its inability to comprehend that the N-deal after all is really a non-issue to perhaps 80% of Indians, and for the remaining vocal opinion-builder 20% – probably 19% favour the N-deal and may decide in the future to consolidate a single party in power to avoid dilemmas of indecision as in the UPA. The Left is playing on the grounds owned by parties like that of the BJP, and is bound to lose.

BJP : (1) try to consolidate its own umbrella alliance using the nuclear deal as a focus issue – with the significant contrast with the Left that the BJP wants “more” out of the N-deal, compared to the Left’s “less”. (2) BJP carefully avoids also the issue of inflation by focusing on the N-deal, as if they come to power they might also have no quick answers to this problem (3) try to isolate the Congress.

Problems: (1) economics could overtake N-deal as an issue (2) In case Congress succeeds, BJP loses its electoral momentum which it is trying to build up now (3) Regional alliances formed out of mutual dependence like that of Congress+SP could marginalize its own candidates in fractured societies like that of UP.

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India’s nuclear deal and Indian Muslims

Posted on July 5, 2008. Filed under: India, Muslims, Nuclear, Politics |

NDTV, a leading news channel based in New Delhi, India, reported about two sources claiming that the majority of Indian Muslims were against the nuclear deal. One, from a survey apparently conducted by a newspaper owned by a top ranking leader (and also a Muslim) of the Samajwadi Party, whose leadership have officially indicated favouring the nuclear deal. The survey apparently found 70% of Indian Muslims against the deal. The second was an excerpt from an interview with a representative of a Muslim religious organization who claimed that if the “deal was against” national interest and also with and and in favour of the USA, then Indian Muslims will be against it, and any party who went forward with or favoured the deal would have to face the displeasure (“narazgi”) of Indian Muslims.

As pointed out in an earlier post, all this is playing very nicely into the hands of those who have all along claimed that if not for the majority, at least for the leadership of Indian Muslims, their religion comes before their country, and that their hearts lie outside of India. Further where the question of choosing between India’s growing strategic interests and the strategic interests of Muslim majority countries are concerned, Indian Muslim leadership will choose the latter.

Most news channels outside of India carried the news of Kashmiris in the western part of the state agitating violently against the land transfer order. Since then, the government of the state has taken over responsibility for arrangements for the annual pilgrimage to the Hindu shrine of Amarnath, and the agitation in the western part has calmed down. However, the eastern part dominated by Hindus, is now up in flames, and this has not seen the light of media interest outside India. Many Hindus who were evicted and forced to flee their homesteads in the western part by violent Islamic militant movements in the past, have taken refuge in the east. It is predictable that this Hindu agitation will learn from the success of their Muslim counterparts in the techniques that can guarantee Indian state protection of religious claims over land, territory and people. However they probably do not have much hope while there are political parties in power at the centre who are dependent or see themselves as dependent on Muslim electoral support.

In the end, it is all leading to a consolidation of the “Hindu”. It will be the height of stupidity to think that the BJP will bring back a mythical regime of “repressive Brahmanical orthodoxy and theocracy”. After all, such a consolidated Hindu polity and regime “never existed” according to “academic historians”, whose myriad papers are devoted to trying to establish that the “Hindu” never existed – it was always a motley and rag-tag collection of confused sects constantly and bitterly fighting each other (a prime example would be the papers by Prof. R. Thapar).

If any in the leadership of BJP has illusions about “returning to Brahmin rule” or continuing to support caste based hierarchies, then such tendencies will be rooted out from practical competitive electoral politics. If BJP can consolidate itself as “nationalist” rather than “Hindu”, it will be virtually assured of very nearly absolute power. It will then only be a matter of time. On the other hand, if it fails to invent itself as a “no-nonsense” nationalist party not recognizing caste or province or language, India has real chances of moving towards a “democratically elected dictatorship” – a la Roman Republic, for most societal transformations of the order required in India, are usually initiated by democratic chaos and completed under dictatorial regimes (my variation on Gramscian theory).

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The nuclear option for India – the strategic game?

Posted on July 3, 2008. Filed under: India, Nuclear, Politics |

The Congress led UPA alliance at power in the centre is under intense pressure to go forward with the nuclear deal with USA on the one hand and risk losing majority in the Parliament under threat of withdrawal of support by the Left. Let us look at this as a two stage strategic game. In the first stage the game is played by players representing involved political parties within India. In the second stage the game is played among international players representing countries and multi-nation alliances. The nuclear option was prominently taken up during Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s prime minister-ship of a Congress regime. However, it was the BJP which accelerated the process. The Left had an ambivalent position towards nuclear power and a clear opposition to nuclear weapons. However, its weakness in electoral impact, limited its relevance to the question. The three major players currently happen to be these same groups, represented by their respective leaders the Congress, the BJP, and the CPI(M). The Congress wants the deal to go forward, the BJP and CPI(M) does not. Possible stated and unstated reasons for the Congress position are (1) access to nulcear fuel and facilities for civilian power plants (2) strategic alliance with the European/Western bloc led by the USA having potential future regional security benefits (3) the deal although initiated and brokered by the BJP should not be allowed to be “repossessed” by the BJP in case it returned to power in the impending parliamentary elections (4) political fallouts both nationally as well as internationally of being seen as a weak political force dependent on the whims of the “Left”. The possible reasons behind BJP ‘s position are (1) the deal claimed to be “insufficient” with the underlying implication that the BJP could do a better job of the negotiation (2) the Congress is trying to hijack its pet initiative (3) by opposing the deal and using the opportunity in case Left withdraws support, to force early elections by voting against the government in a no-confidence motion. The possible reasons behind the Left’s position (1) the public position that this will bring India closer in strategic military alliance with the USA, and not to be allowed from ideological grounds – USA as the “evil capitalist” (2) coincidence with BJP’s contention that the deal limits India’s nuclear military options by limiting “tests” (3) possible fear of a “resurgent” BJP being strengthened or benefiting from supposedly sympathetic Western interests in case this strategic alliance materialized (4) potential fear or hope that Muslim votes would go against any party that supported the deal.

The last point in the list of Left’s possible reasons is a significant one. This week, the Samajbadi Party led by Mulayam Singh, confined mostly to the politically influential state of UP, was warned by the BSP led by Ms. Mayavati, as well as by a top-level leader of the CPI(M), that it could lose Muslim votes if Mulayam Singh toyed with the idea of bailing out the Congress on the floor of the Parliament in case Left withdrew support.

It seems ironic, that with the exception of the BJP, all the parties in this slanging match, are actually doing more damage to the Indian Muslims by presuming to declare Muslim intentions on their behalf. Why should Indian Muslims in particular be against India’s gaining military strength? If they really do, then this will only strengthen BJP’s contention that groups within Indian Islam are “anti-national”. Why should Indian Muslims oppose any alliance with the USA just because USA was supposedly behaving as an enemy of Islam in countries outside the borders of India? If they really do then it can be interpreted as showing real allegiance to foreign countries and putting such countries’ supposed interests above and before that of India. At the other extreme such inclinations could be interpreted as those of a fifth column serving the interests of countries that have territorial designs on India’s borders – countries that have actively waged wars, seized and held onto Indian territory.

At the other end, it shows the psychological insecurity of the Left, the BSP or the Samajwadi party in their possible perception that their vote bank is actually in the periphery or in the minority within Indian society.

At the international stage of the game, the main players would be the USA and its European allies, Russia, China, India and Pakistan. For the USA, with its involvement in the middle east, and on the borders of Pakistan, India is a key potential ally. The suitability of India as an ally is on several counts, (1) it has a large non-Muslim population with a predominant culture that has (although disputed by a section of historians) strong undercurrents of Islamo-phobia, (2) it has a dominant geo-strategic position on the Indian Ocean with depth for naval, land and air operations, (3) a large skilled and higher educated workforce capable of communicating in English (4) a large expatriate professionally successful Indian community in the USA (5) India’s continuing hostile relations with Pakistan and China who have successfully made military claims on Indian territory (6) traditional alliances and strategic links with Russia continuing into the post Communist nationalist phase and therefore deemed less dangerous and potentially useful as both Russia and India face common threats from Islamic separatist and militant movements, (7) India’s borders on the Muslim majority countries of Pakistan and Bangladesh, communist dominated Nepal, China, and the ethnic violence torn Shri Lanka – thereby providing a potential strategic bridgehead for military operations in case of necessity.

For Russia, the considerations are (1) traditional strategic links surviving the fall of USSR (2) a continued market for military hardware and technology (3) historical and continuing strategic importance of an access to the Indian Ocean (4) the delicate balance of interests with China and the latter’s increasing might (5) competition with the USA for influence in the subcontinent.

For China, the possible considerations are (1) elimination of the threat of independent Tibet by doing everything possible to neutralize Dalai Lama sheltered in India (2) increased accessed to the Indian border through a communist regime in Nepal (3) perception of India as a barrier to geo-strategic dominance of the Indian Ocean, (4) India as competitor for the global market (5) delicate balance between supporting regimes in Pakistan and Bangladesh that coincide with Islamic fundamentalist militant activity aimed aagainst India and the possible repurcussions of similar activities developing on its own borders with Central Asian countries having predominantly muslim populations as well as within its own borders to the north-west.

For Pakistan, the reasons are (1) traditional justification of the sole national project of establishing Islamic dominance in the subcontinent (the so-called “trauma of loss of power”) and India seen as the only obstruction (2) a weak economy hampered by feudal retrogressions (3) a nuclear first strike capability and dominance as the only hope of overcoming the technically superior Indian army (4) proximity of India to the USA as neutralization of the strategic interests enjoyed so far by Pakistan with the West.

What is at stake for India ? (1) As for power generation, the impact will be negligible at present, providing around 3% of the total need. However the potential value of cooperation in the area with other established expertise pools could have long term benefits (2) India stands to gain much more, indirectly from any implied strategic alliance with the USA – this brings the foremost military technology and presence capable of global presence and interception within its reach (3) the psychological proximity of the dominant elite in the two countries as regards perception of common threats (4) the need to balance weapons capable China and Pakistan.

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Religious homeland : modernization of primal greed

Posted on July 1, 2008. Filed under: India, Politics |

Over the last one week, the valley of Kashmir under Indian control has been up in flames. Indian as well as foreign media covered street protests, and clashes between the state authority and security forces on one side, and youth parading in the streets on the other side. The videos are uncannily similar to footage of Palestinian teenagers throwing stones at Israeli military. The main issue apparently is about the proposed transfer of about 100 acres of land to a religious trust which manages the Hindu holy shrine of Amarnath to build resting places and other facilities for thousands of tourists and Hindu pilgrims coming from the length and breadth of India, who cover the roughly 40 km trek to the cave-shrine every year. The demonstrators main objection is that they fear Kashmiri land is being handed over to non-Kashmiris, and that their identity is being diluted. The situation is also compared to Palestine, where according to some of the spokesperson of the agitators, land was surreptitiously taken over by buying, or handing over to trusts.

The problem in this comparison is that, where Palestine and Israel is divided mainly over claims of ethnicity, here the claims happen to coincide with the religious divide between Islam and Hinduism. Even more strange is the fact that the majority population of Muslims are not ethnically distinct from their Hindu and Budhdhist counterparts, who predominated the whole area before the advent of Islam in the 13th and 14th century. The non-Muslims still dominate the eastern part whereas the Muslims dominate the western part.

The history of conversion of non-Muslims of Kashmir into Islam is a fascinating story of conversion by military conquest from the western side, and is reflected in the geographical distribution of faiths in the region. It is not brought much to the attention of the media, that during much of the 90’s when the jobless Taliban and Mujahideen of Afghanistan were turned loose onto Kashmir after the Soviet withdrawal, a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing of remaining pockets of Hindus among the majority Muslim communities of western Kashmir took place. Most of the Kashmiri Pundits, the Hindu brahmin of Kashmir were forced out of Kashmir. This is however consistent with the Quranic and Hadith-ic exhortations to clean up non-Muslim areas and consolidate Muslim lands geographically. From this core religious tenet, it is easy to see why any muslim community will try to impose spatial homogeneity and consolidation of its own religion where it has gained sufficient numerical, political and military strength, by either forcing non-Muslims to convert, or leave the place altogether. In fact, wherever Islam has gained numerical majority the tendency of spatial consolidation is manifested – non-Muslims are either pressurized to convert, or move out to the periphery. This manifests in the histories of the middle-east, central Asia, north-west India, Malaysia and Indonesia. Since any non-Muslim culture in contact with Islam can be interpreted as having practices or beliefs that do not conform to Islam, or if these cultures resist subjugation of their resources, territories to Islam professing regimes, then such cultures can be declared to be infidels or unbelievers or insulting towards Islam, (the strategy is well illustrated as early as the raid against the small Jewish desert settlements led apparently by the Prophet of Islam himself – source : Sirat Rasul Allah – translated by Guillome. A) and therefore worthy of invoking Jihad against them.

Beginning in the tribal raids by Chitrali tribesmen in 1948, on the eve of the accession of the then native princely state of Kashmir to the Indian Union, whose main business appears to have been the abduction of Kashmiri women, the subtle and not so subtle three prong ethnic cleansing pattern evident in historical Islam has been employed : forced conversion, eviction and expulsion, abduction and enslavement or forced marriage of non-Muslim women, forced appropriation of land and property. In the fierce clamour to show that it is the poor innocent Kashmiri Muslim who is being slaughtered at the hands of ruthless fanatic Hindu India, the other side of this human tragedy was the cruel and sad casualty. The West in its daydream of proximity of the Judaeo-Christian-Muslim traditions and the felt need to put the “heathen” “pagan” and “barbaric” Hindu in their proper “place”, who had also committed the heinous crime of nosing up to the commies in USSR, remained completely silent about the plight of the non-Muslim Kashmiri.

If Kashmiri Muslims try to say that ownership of land by a minority community amongst the lands of the majority is an attempt to dilute the culture and demographic identity of the majority, then should this logic be taken up the majority Hindus in the other areas of India, where muslims are a minority almost everywhere?

Maybe the Kashmiri Muslims should be given the option that their land will be guaranteed by law to be in their possession only, but in return no Kashmiri will be able to own land or property anywhere else in India! Additionally that no land on the approaches to the numerous Muslim shrines scattered around India can be handed over to Muslim religious trusts! How would that feel – as before the troubles, a significant proportion of the Kashmiri Muslim workforce had to go out of the state for their livelihood!

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