Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What Hindu politicians should do?

In India, public policy is officially guided by Secularism.  Secularism advocates separation of religion from the state affairs.  In the context of about 80%Hindus, 15%Muslims and 5% Christians, Secularism implies consciously insulating public affairs from the Hindu influences.  

Dominance of Christians and their institutions in education and health sector has made them a major player in the Indian public affairs. 15% of Muslims have consistently exhibited their ability to vote for a single party or candidate in a constituency and thus are able to wield greater influence on the politicians and issues of governance. By definition, Secularism is helping minorities to increase their influence in the public affairs. 

Hinduism, by nature, is tolerant and supports diversity in the true sense. In constrast, semitic religions are known for striving towards uniformity. Multiculturalism has failed in Europe and USA and Christianity and Islam are in a bitter tussle from a very long time. Even in India, Islam and Christianity project uniformity as an evidence of unity.  It is increasingly becoming evident that Hindu values - tolerance, pluralism and progressive   flexible approach towards life - are very essential for the modern India.  But, unfortunately, Indian public affairs has gone far in eliminating Indian influence in politics.  What can be done, by politicians, to reverse the trend?

First, there should be awareness that Hindu values are inherently superior to alien western concepts. Politicians, should personally should have conviction in this reality.  This reality should bring some kind of unity among politicians across political parties.  Hindu politicians will continue to be loyal to their respective political parties - but they must have some common perceptions about the value systems in the public domain.  They should be sympathetic to the issues of cow protection, Sanskrit promotion, study of Vedas, inclusion of Jyothisha, Ayurveda, darshanas in the curriculum. Their understanding about Varnaashrama should be based on spiritual interpretations of Hindu scholars and they should be capable of seeing through the negative portrayal of Hindu institutions based on materialistic interpreations.  Hindu politicians would be cautious about Jihadi mindset, proselytization attempts and violence of Leftists as a means of bringing transformation.   

With the above elevated understanding, Hindu politicians should take active role in legislative activities. More number of politicians should participate in formulating, revising, amending bills that are passed in the parliament and state legislature. Constantly they should focus on removing those aspects in our laws which are detrimental to our true progress - material and spiritual included. 

Hindu politicians should focus on enhancing the legal compliance levels in all spheres of life.  This will systematically curb corruption and bring back trust and hope in the social systems among general public. 

Hindu politicians should adopt a long term strategy - above and beyond tactics adopted to achieve their personal ambitions. They should exhibit superior leadership skills and collaborative constructive approach to streamline public affairs and sustain superior quality of life for masses of the country. 

If politics is the art of possible, it should be possible to turnaround Indian public affairs and provide a  Hindu foundation for our social life. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Anatomy of communal riots - 2

Communal riots, according to many reports of enquiry commissions, is because of provocation of other community members.  When some members of a community are provoked, they resort to violennce. Typical acts of provocation are creating disturbance in front of a place of worship, beating drums during the celebration of events by members of a community, public celebration of festivals of one community etc. The first question that begs answer is "who is at fault?" The one who is provoking? or the one who is provoked?

When analysing a riot, typically attempts are made to identify the initial incidence of violence.  The one who initiated the violence, the community to which he/she belongs, the details of the triggering incident may generally be considered as three facets of  root cause of the violence.  The perpetrator of a violence is responsible for the communal riot.  But, if the perpetrator of the violence is hurt by unjustified acts provoking the sentimens of the perpetrator of the violence, then at least part of the responsibility has to be shouldered by the person/community which has provoked the perpetrator of the violence.  Similarly, when some one faces an act of violennce, is he/she justified in responding by another act of violence? Legally no. But, can there be any concession to such a violent act?   There can not be any justification because of two reasons. One the victims of the violence may not be perpetrators of the violence that resulted in the counter violence. Second, counter violence, when justified, will result in cycle of violence.

What is happening in practice?  Religious processions like Ganesha, Rajyothsava and other Hindu deities in front of mosques are objected.  Playing of music instruments is also not accepted by Muslims. Stone throwing, obstructing the procession are manifested.  Hindus consider this attitude of Muslims as the root cause of the problem. On the other hand, Muslims consider the Hindus organizing the processions in front of their place of worship as intentional.  Muslims also allege that Hindu processions increae the volumen/rhythm of the music when they pass infront of the Mosques provoking the community members.  Wearing Tilak is also cited by Muslim as an act of provocation.
Similarly, teasing a girl of one community by a boy of another community may be a provocation of the community of the girl. The prevention of the girl or physical assault on the boy by community of the girl may be a provoke the community of the boy.  Which one of these are provocation? and which of these are not? One simple approach is considering both of them as provocations.
The simple approach may not be an optimal solution. It could even considered as a surrender to the rioters as they have successfully prevented members of a commnity in practicing their festivals in a free manner.  The rioters intolerant attitude has been rewarded when we consider the other act as provocative when in reality it may not be a provocation at all.  Although this simple approach, when enforced strictly, may lead to riot less situation, the situation may not be called as peace. 
When we dont consider both actions as causal provocations, at least one of them must be  a provocation.  Or there must be an underlying phenamenon which is responsible for both these actions.  So, the initial act of obstrution of a procession or intentionally organizing the procession in a particular route may have some other reason.
The way we are analysing a communal riot is very shallow. There is too much focus on the triggering incident. So, always news papers report that the riot was the result of a trivial dispute.  Since, individuals are involved in the dispute,  it is not wise to describe the incident as a conflict between two communities. So, never the communities are analysed in any riot. Further, we are so much convinced of irrationality of communal (community) identities,  analysis or policy meaures on communal lines are never considered.
Careful analysis reveals that a communal riot does not happen sporadically. There are underlying causes. The provocation happens at multiple ways in various degrees over a very long time. The lull betweeen two riots is not peace. Atttempts to domminate create resentment among those who experience  dominance.  Intolerant approach create difficulties among those who are discriminated.  The subtle effects of intolerance have significant effects on the community.  Using horn loudspeakers 5 times every day from early morning to late evening is a problem for nearby people.  Why there is so much of insistence in continuing this illegal practice?  Unfriendly attitudes towards neighbors belonging to other communities,  insistence on one name for the God, one mode of worship  are first level of provocation which is not being considered in our analysis of a riot.
When these initial provocations are not addressed, the diverse ways of living may be alleged as provocative.  When love marriages are becoming more common, insisting that a Muslim girl can not marry a Hindu boy (or a dalit boy can not marry a girl belonging to OBCs), creates problem.  If the community members decides to kill the boy or the girl or the supporters of such a marriage, there is something serious which is not addressed by us.  Either we should have courage to shun love marriages or we should stop the disapproval towards the marriage crossing a decent limit.

So, what are the root causes of the problem? Why are we unable to identify the root cause of the problem? Why are we unable to pursue a consistent policy towards a justified solution towards a peace.  There are no riots in Saudi Arabia. But, we can not say that there is a peace that we like in Saudi Arabia. Uniformity can bring silence but that silence may not always be peace. At the same time, diversity and tolerance by majority may bring some noise. But this noise could be better than the silence of Saudi.  At the same time, a tolerant society can not be allowed to be exploited by the intolerant minorities.

Having said this, the tolerance of Hindu society need not become a subject of discussion. And, the root causes of the ongoing riots are to be positively identified and the loopholes are to be plugged in.  Arresting the one who has stabbed a fellow citizen has to be done consistently. The courts have to be positively pronounce judgements always - not just in isolated cases like Naroda Patia. NGOs have to proactively act in  all cases of riots. But that is not sufficient. The time has come to identify the one who has provoked the one who has stabbed by preaching false religions and ideologies.

Are present day intellectuals  capable of deliver?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Anatomy of communal riots in India -1

Communal riots is a serious problem faced by India from independence. It should be mentioned that communal riots were happening in India even before independence.  But, for drawing concrete conclusions, post independence period is to be considered. As these conclusions could be applied to the periods before independence with little more effort. 

Communal riots in India refers mainly to clashes between groups of people belonging to Hindu and Muslim communities. Approximately, Hindus are about 80% of the Indian population and Muslims are about 15% population. According to one official estimate, in the last decade, about 7000 communal riots were witnessed by India.  More than 2000 people were killed in these incidents and the number of injured were many times more than this.  More than 40 commissions of inquiry have been appointed to study major communal riots since independence and suggest solutions to the problem.

The problem is so familiar that everyone is aware of the dynamics of a riot, the culprits, the cause and the solution. Groups of people belonging to different communities engage in a clash over a petty issue - in many cases a fight between two individuals will turn as a clash between two groups and then as a clash between two communities.  The culprits are communal elements belonging to two communities, selfish politicians, biased police and administration.  The cause is the communal feelings of people provocated by vested elements by false propaganda and rumors. The solution being educating people to become less communal (religious), avoiding politicians and reforming police and administration to become sensitive to minority aspirations.

But, careful analysis of the above paragraph shows that it is vague and not actionable.  This is precisely the reason why no additional social, legal, administrative measures have been taken in the last 7 decades to solve the problem of communal riots.  There seems to be a reluctance, may be borne out of fear, to make a decisive move towards a solution. Even today, news papers report the communal incidents without revealing the identity of individuals, organizations involved in a communal riot. Administration hesitates to initiate strict legal measures against those who are involved in a riot. Even before the commencement of a riot, inputs from the police and intelligence will be consistently neglected.  No one will be identified either by the police or by the courts as responsible for the killings in such riots.  There will be no official version of precise sequence of events that led to violence. There will always be at least two versions of the stories, emanating from one of the groups nurtured by the official corners according to its convenience. 

Although, the riots are being reported from nook and corners of the country at all times, there is not even one effort to identify root cause of the problem.  No one is ready to go beyond the concrete wall of religion. No one is willing to ask reasonable questions about the religions involved or even to verify if there is really any connection between the religions of the groups involved in riots and root causes of the riot. 

Some people are calling this attitude of ours as Secularism, some as Dhimmitude. Some are attributing it to majoritarian communalism and some to Sangh Parivar. But all of our thoughts, repetitions without any modifications, are inadequate so far and prove to be futile in the future.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Exodus - whom are they afraid?

North Eastern people residing in other parts of India (Bangalore, Pune, Kerala, Goa, Chennai, Kanpur and Hyderabad included) rush back to their native places in Assam and other places.  They are panicked, according to official accounts, by rumors spread by few miscreants.  Government, Police and politicians are seen reassuring safety to the people who are afraid.   Investigations are initiated. Security agencies are alert and media is supportive of innocent people. 

Why should these North Eastern people decide to go back to their native home leaving their studies and work against the advice of the government, media and people? Why should they fear an SMS? a doctored video clip? Why should they give so much of importance to rumors? to unseen miscreants? Why are they so coward? Why are they so unaware of their own environment?

These are some of the immediate thoughts that are expressed by the public in general.  They appear logical and commonsense.  According to this line of thought,  it is foolishness of the Northeastern states and Hindus from Pakistan is the cause. So, the responsibility is on those who are fleeing and not on the security agencies and not on the government.  

But, a closer look reveals superfluous nature of these arguments. We are avoiding asking few more questions. We don't know answer to many more. Who are the individuals, organizations behind the rumors? Is there any religious angle to the whole episode?  How can North Eastern origin people were driven out simultaneously from so many cities across India? Who coordinated the spread of rumors?  Why some people are agitated against north eastern people across the country?

Anees Pasha, 26, who runs a mobile shop called New Fonotech in Koramangala VII Block, his brother, Thaseem Nawaz, 32, and an associate Shahid Salman Khan, 22 were arrested by Bangalore police for spreading the rumors causing fear among North eastern state people in the third week of August.  The youths caught  have shown doctored clippings of violence in Assam and told a group of northeast youths that they would face a similar fate if they continued to stay in Bangalore beyond August 20.  The violence videos were doctored in Pakistan.  Similarly,  there must be similar groups of people in Goa, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kanpur, Pune and other places.  So, at first sight, it appears that there are atleast 100 people across India have worked on this project  in a clandestine manner.  There are atleast a dozen incidents of threat and harassment including physical abuse and stabbings have been reported from Karnataka.  Atleast another 100-200 criminals must be behind these incidents with religious hatred.  Note that, in Mumbai, there were riots by Muslim crowd protesting against violence in Assam on 11th Aug 2012.  Madinat-ul-Ilm (House of Knowledge), a Sunni organization, had secured police permission for the protest. Several Muslim organizations Raza Academy, Sunni Jamiatul Ulema, Sunni Tablighi Jamaat and Sunni Tanzeem-e-Imam participated actively in mobilizing crowds. One of the speaker at the protest venue was former assistant commissioner of police Shamsher Khan Pathan. The Madinat-ul-Ilm is run by founder Maulana Ahmad Raza, a Kurla-based preacher who originally hails from Purnia district in Bihar, and Rizwan Khan, a scrap dealer from Ghatkopar.  Raza came to Mumbai in 1998 from Bihar, studied at a madrassa in Kural before he went to England and worked as an imam at a mosque in south London.

A section of Muslims resorted to violence in Kanpur, Lucknow and Allahabad after Friday prayers on 17th Aug 2012. The Jamiat Ulema had organised the protests.  In Lucknow, at least 15 people were injured, including five photojournalists, while more than nine vehicles were damaged. In Kanpur, hooligans attacked a cycle market and ransacked several shops. In Allahabad, more than 24 shops were looted and nearly 200 vehicles were damaged. Even though the state intelligence agencies had sent out alerts about the outbreak of violence after Friday prayers, the district authorities in these cities failed to react to the simmering tensions in the community.

In Summary, there are hundreds of Indians working in synchronism leading to the confusion of exodus arising from fear created by riots and rumors.  The state and the administration has not succeeded in stopping these criminals - due to inefficiency or due to reluctance.  The criminals are not identified in public - either as a protection mechanism or because of fear of escalation of the problem. 

Hindus from Pakistan pack their belongings and move towards Indian borders with family members. Official account from Pakistan cites unncessary fear behind the exodus.  Questions are asked - why should Hindus leave Pakistan now after 65 years of independence (or Partition)? Why can they be courageous in the modern era while their forefathers who have stayed back in Pakistan in that old traditional era?

Daughters of  Hindu families are routinely kidnapped - converted to Islam - married to Muslim grooms. Ransom on flimsy reasons is demanded.  Physical threats are issued openly - many of them are from government agencies. If Hindus in India can be displaced by creating fear, it is much more easier to do so in Pakistan with these additional more effective tools. 


Friday, June 29, 2012

Who are these Interlocutors?

Dileep Padgaonkar began his career in journalism at the age of 24. After receiving a Ph.D. in humanities from the Sorbonne in June 1968, he joined the Times of India as its Paris correspondent. He served the paper in various capacities before he was appointed its editor in 1988, a post he held for six years. In between, from 1978 to 1986, he also worked with UNESCO in Bangkok and Paris.

Radha Kumar holds a Ph.D from Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi and an MA and BA from Cambridge University, UK. She was associated with peace and conflict studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York (1999-2003), the Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution at Jamia Millia Islamia University, Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly in Prague (1992-1994) and Institute for War and Peace Studies at Columbia University (1996-8). A specialist on ethnic conflicts and peace processes she has written several books many of them dealing with conflicts of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kashmir.

M.M. Ansari holds a Ph.D degree in Economics, Post-Graduate Diploma in Public Finance, M.A. Economics from the Universities of Buckingham (England) and Aligarh. Prof. Ansari is Information Commissioner of the Central Information Commission. He is an Economist and Education Specialist. He was associated with Hamdard University, 2004-05, IGNOU, 2000-03, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), 1996-97; Association of Indian Universities (AIU), 1985-94; and National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), 1984-85. He also served the Planning Commission, Government of India, 1981-84. Dr Ansari has completed research projects sponsored by ICSSR, DST, and Planning Commission. MHRD, COL and UNESCO. He is author of several research papers/ articles (110) in professional journals and books/monographs.

Kashmir - Strategic mistakes

The interlocutors report has not made any dramatic impact on the major players in the Kashmir affairs. Appointment of interlocutors was a strategic initiative by the Indian government to create an opportunity to make headway towards a stable arrangement in Kashmir.

The report of the interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir was rejected by separatist groups including both moderate and hardline factions of Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Awami National Conference senior vice president Muzafar Shah has termed the report of 172 pages as a mere essay on Kashmir on which “Thirty Seven Lakh Rupees per page” were wasted. Shakeel Ahmed Bakshi, the face of young dissenters who openly supported the stone-pelting pastime of the local youth during the 2008-10 civil unrest openly calling it Kashmiri Intifada, said the report seeks to “dilute the freedom sentiment”.

BJP completely rejected the report saying that it would weaken India's position on the sensitive border state. The suggestion of interlocutors to review post-1952 laws in Kashmir was described by the party as a disastrous step. BJP said the report "was written in a complete denial mode, ignoring certain hard realities on the ground". Besides, it was felt the report has not addressed the issue of terrorism emanating from across the borders by state players and non-state players. In stark contrast, JD(U) welcomed the Centre's interlocutors report on Jammu and Kashmir saying it will help strengthen peace in the Valley.

Responses to the report from different quarters show that the initiative has not created hope and consensus. But, rather it is fuelling cynicism and confusion. Evidently, the initiative by the government in Kashmir has failed and this failure is the latest of a series of strategic mistakes committed by India since 1947.

When Hari Singh, reigning monarch of the Kashmir, was undecisive about the accession, India should have foreseen the imminent aggression by Pakistan. Pakistan strategically masked its aggression by a tribal face which created sufficient confusion to Hari Singh. When Muslim soldiers of Hari Singh joined Pak army, Hari Singh realized the reality and acceded to India. Indian forces could successfully blunt the Pak aggression in the open warfare. But Indian leaders were fooled once again by Islamic warfare tactics adopted by Pakistan. India could not insist complete accession of Kashmir to India. About forty percent area of the state was allowed to be under Pakistan's control, providing it a strategic land route to China through the Karakoram ranges. Misplaced faith in Security Council, offer of plebiscite in the UN were first few strategic mistakes committed by India.

Following the cease-fire after the Indo-Pak War of 1965, India agreed to return the Haji Pir pass to Pakistan which it had captured in August 1965 against heavy odds and at a huge human cost. The pass connects Poonch and Uri sectors in Jammu and Kashmir and reduces the distance between the two sectors to 15 km whereas the alternate route entails a travel of over 200 km. In addition to denying a direct link between Poonch and Uri sectors, the pass is being effectively used by Pakistan to sponsor infiltration of terrorists into India.

With the fall of Dhaka on 16 December 1971, India had scored a decisive victory over Pakistan. Over 96,000 Pak soldiers were taken Prisoners of War (PoWs). Pakistan was forced to sign Shimla agreement. Both countries agreed to exchange all PoWs, respect the line of control (LOC) in Jammu and Kashmir and refrain from the use of threat or force. India released all Pak PoWs and did not use leverage of huge number of POW to bargain permanent peace. This strategic mistake continues to haunt India even today.

Social mistakes

Indian politics has failed expectation of people with respect to Kashmir. Both state and central governments are keen in maintaining status-quo and not working towards reversing deterioration of situation in Kashmir. Political parties and social groups are contributing towards alienation of Kashmiri Muslims from the main stream society. In fact, Kashmir problem is a manifestation of a strategic mistake of accepting dual nation theory in our subconscious mind. Muslim community is misguided for political reasons by vested interests throughout the country. Strong philosophical foundations of India have not been leveraged in neutralizing intolerant attitudes in Indian society.

Even Non-Muslim Indians have imbibed perceptions, facts, views and arguments that are promoted by Pakistani interests. Intellectuals and social activists are far away from the basic facts and arguments that are so essential to formulate a practical solution to create a peaceful environment in the state.

Separatists in the valley and their supporters in Pakistan are successfully exerting pressure on India to further their objectives. Pakistan is able to keep the Kashmir pot boiling without resorting to a conventional war. Pakistan is waiting for an opportune time to make decisive moves. India is reciprocating to the strategy of Pakistan of maintaining status-quo and delaying final resolution. Peace by avoiding war, economic prosperity and tolerant next generations - these have become unquestionable postulates of Indian thinking.

Interlocutors have emerged in this environment. Understandably, their report cannot be expected to be deviating from the disastrous path we are progressing from a long time.