Friday, December 27, 2013

Hindu Pluralism

Over the last few weeks, on Facebook, in real life and over various communication platforms, many of my friends have been celebrating Christmas. Quite a few of them have put up trees with decorations, dressed up as Santa and attended many a Christmas party.

So what is the big deal? The deal is that almost none of them are Christians.

Again, what is the big deal, you may ask? It is a big deal, because this is not a politician or a government expressing a seasons greetings - it is real people, ordinary people celebrating a festival that is not theirs, with as much fervour as celebrating a festival that is theirs. Many of them have visited churches, attended mass.

There is no contradiction there - from a Hindu or even from an Indic religion perspective. From an Indic/Hindu perspective, any ritual is the way to a common god - or more correctly a common truth. Note that there is no heaven or hell.

It is worth a thought if you find a similar practice in non-Indic religions - true pluralism in action. In monotheism there is very little space for syncreticism - because they believe that only their path will lead one to salvation - otherwise you are destined for hell.

There are arguments that this is because they are exposed to it through school and through learning in Christian schools - these arguments are only partially valid.

The ease with which we adapt, meld and synthesize is worth a thought. But saying this will not win you any friends.

Note: I had titled the post as Syncreticism but realized that I meant Pluralism

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Delhi Games

So, the AAP has decided to form a government in Delhi with Congress support.

At one level, this is ironical - AAP did get a large chunk of the vote which was essentially an anti-Congress vote. And now they take support of the Congress to form a government that has come to power on an anti-corruption (and supposedly anti-Congress) platform.

Now that he does form the government he can take two paths.

One is to take action based on the Lokayukta and the Shunglu panel and implement the anti-corruption plan he came up on.
But this is unlikely to find him friends in Congress and they are likely to withdraw support, sooner or later. But this is a perhaps his biggest route to get anywhere.

Two, they may play it by letting him be, dilly dallying a bit, offering a few minor scapegoats, let him paint himself in glory, win a little, lose a little - but this also means that they also let him run away with a larger part of the anti-Congress votes (in part atleast) in many parts. And people are not fools to see through this hypocrisy - which is a lesser option than Plan One.

Three, he may take no action, citing politics and decide to go after Modi in Gujarat and MP - in which case he reinforces himself not as an alternative to Congress but as an alternative to BJP. And the BJP will play this card with all the force that it can get  and it already has...
And that will only confirm rumours that have been abuzz...
But then Congress being Congress may see him as the new anti-Modi man and may decide to go with him in a combination of Plan One and Two, hoping that he helps them in Plan 3. This is the most likely plan I see with the media helping paint AAP as the new anti-Modi platform.

But they also underestimate the man himself who in a short span of time has established himself as a complete opportunist who is a use and throw specialist.

All in all, these games in Delhi are way better than the Commonwealth Games. Get a ringside view!

Interesting times for AAP. The BJP should continue to focus on its good work and not get distracted by the shenanigans in Delhi - and the ranting of the left liberal media for whom Kejriwal is a refuge in these days of a clear anti-Congress wave in the country.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Rahul Gandhi everywhere

I read the spin that the Lokpal bill - is supposed to be Rahul Gandhis gift to India (give or take a few words).

"It is due to the single-minded determination of Rahul Gandhi... Because of earnest attempts from Rahul Gandhi's side, we could prevail over all the parties and Lokpal bill will be passed soon....It has become reality because Rahul Gandhi took the initiative. It was his determination that the bill should be passed," Chacko said replying to questions on the issue."

(Aside, the guys uses Rahul Gandhi thrice in a sentence - must be some sort of a world record for usage of non punctuations as punctuations.)

Sir, let me remind you, that this is an old story - and a new story actually as late as a couple of years or so ago - but which would not be needed if your esteemed government had not subverted institutions all the way from Congress Bureau of Investigation (did I get that right) to other institutions, which like Pakistani umpires never awarded an lbw to Javed Miandad, rarely finds a Congress misdemeanour. And believe me, under a government such a this, a Lokpal is useless - because like you put our own puppets as PM, it takes very little to put a puppet as a Lok Pal - may I suggest a certain Ms. Patil.

And then, you, Rahul Gandhi the great actually has the round steely things to say that corruption has bled the nation dry or some such bromide about fighting corrupt relatives (no, he did not say that). Sir, let me remind you that it is your party which has led our most corrupt government in our history. So, if were to fight corruption, you know what we should fight. But if you were to fight corruption, I dont know what you will fight? Change begins at home perhaps. Ask Rob.

And then, you are now, saying that you wants speedy clearance for projects. Now, as the campaign for 2014 is about to begin. Sir, you have had power without accountability for the last few years - why did you not speed up clearances then, instead of talking about it now?

And now I am being told that Rahul Gandhi is that great man in the Congress who is taking it in a new direction. The consummate insider who is now posing as the outsider. Give me a break, sir. My head is splitting with these jokes.

We all know that this is your spin machine in action as the campaign to 2014 begins. Sir, where were you all these 43 years of your life? Especially the last 10 years when your party was (is) ruling? Perhaps your spin machine can explain us how you fought the CWG Scam, the 2G scam, the Coal Gate scam among other things. And of course, the Westgate story. Long list, will stop here.

In the movie Forrest Gump, the protagonist is showed as a person who was there at key historical moments. Through some clever editing, Forrest Gump was interspersed in the scenes.

Today, we see a Forrest Gump in action. That is Rahul Gandhi. With a slight difference. Rahul Gandhi is interspersed in events not in the past, but in the present. And we are given to believe that it is this Rahul Gandhi by his charisma who is making these things happen.

Sorry, even we know that Forrest Gump is a movie with good special effects, but even a movie with good special effects needs a great story. Special effects make not a Dhoom3 nor a UPA3. Please inform director Patel sahab.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Artisans and Cities

India has a rich artisanal heritage. We are, perhaps, in terms of range and diversity, the worlds richest nation, when it comes to this heritage. Yet, we seem to be hell bent on squandering it. I had this discussion with a friend who has done considerable research in this sector and I hope to be able to link to his writings soon enough - and while he was talking to me about his perspective -I realized that atleast in one area, this is completely ignored.

And that is in schools and in cities.

No school worth its salt teaches any Indian handicraft - whether it is Dyeing, Bamboo crafts, Wooden toys, Wooden painting. Think of Bangalore. Around Bangalore there is rich heritage of silk weaving, wooden toys and perhaps even sculptures just to name three that come to my untrained mind. But no school exists in Bangalore that will teach people here. Neither do regular schools promote any such thing as part of their curriculum or extra curricular activities.

Sure, there is no demand will be the answer, but where is the marketing? Where are the places which create that demand?

And I do know that Tanjore paintings nowadays are created by people in cities - there are trainers who help one create their own Tanjore painting - this is one art that is fairly easily available - but the same cannot be said of the many other arts.

On the one hand there are artisans who cannot expect to get a livelihood out of creating artists (goes one school of thought) - but are we creating avenues for them for this tradition to continue? And on the other hand, there are people with secured lifestyles who are willing to explore an artisanal tradition. Do you see the opportunity? (Yes, at one level one can snigger, but at another level the artist has incentive to continue in his trade and make a livelihood out of it, why not?)

This is an opportunity waiting to be tapped. How, is what I am thinking...

Monday, December 09, 2013

Lessons from AAP for BJP

It is interesting that AAP, a political outfit created in the space of one year has captured the imagination of Delhi. This is an outfit with no prior governing experience and comes without the backing of any political family.

Of course, AAP is not the only one, there are others, but many of them formed as breakaway factions of other political parties or came from political families.

But it brings me to think - how come the BJP never could establish itself in other parts of India. Especially the South of India. If the AAP could do it, why not BJP? Perhaps the BJP did not want to? Perhaps, just perhaps, they thought that the way forward was the Congress way with a party winning a few seats and a grand alliance? What if, by doing so, as recent events have shown, they were playing into Congress hands? What if, there was a chance to do something different? To emerge as Indias only pan-national party. With a truly centre right secular (not as per the Congress definition) agenda. Why not establish a foothold in the East/North East? So, unless willpower is an issue, there is no reason this cannot be done, as AAP - a party of rank novices has shown.

Here is how the BJP could do it. The recent elections have shown that the BJP headed by Narendra Modi is at the forefront of receiving the benefit of an anti-Congress vote. (So much so that BSP which had vote share in Delhi last elections, is nowhere to be seen). From what I have read, urban and semi urban centres across Rajasthan, MP and Chattisgarh are all rooting for BJP - partly due to good governance and partly due to Narendra Modis appeal and of course, the resentment against Congress and its disappearing leaders.

The BJP can capitalize on it, by getting into select urban centers with known faces. For example, if they could convince someone like Sourav Ganguly to stand in Kolkata and use that appeal to create a few more candidates in seats around. Or with somebody likewise in Andhra and a similar satellite approach. Or in the North East. Perhaps, ignore the cities and go for more semi-urban centers. This is a great way to get the cadres energized and create the infrastructure required to run the party. I am sure this is one way - perhaps there are other ways as well, but the point is, that the BJP can do it. If the AAP can, surely the BJP can.

The mission to 272+  is not a smooth road. But it can be done. Needs some creativity and some organizing powers to think beyond the obvious seats!

Question is, will it pick up the gauntlet?

Dear Raj Thackeray

Dear Raj Thackeray,

I am sure you have watched the recent assembly elections with great interest. Assembly elections in Maharashtra are a few months away. Last time itself, Shiv Sena and MNS combined with BJP had more vote share than the Congress-NCP combine and yet see who is ruling.

And Maharashtra under this combine is heading at breakneck speed to join BiMaRU - to replace the Madhya Pradesh which is being steadfastly driven out of that combine by Shivraj Singh Chouhan (who incidentally got rewarded by a third term for great governance).

As you might already have perceived, there is a distinct anti-Congress wave in the country. In Delhi the votes went to BJP and AAP. In MP and Rajasthan and Chattisgarh, it went to BJP. Whether that benefits you in Maharashtra only time will tell.

As of now, your party is only serving to the benefit of the Congress. More than that, the voter who reposes her faith in your faith is also getting shortchanged. Let me explain.

Congress never unites, they divide. Either they divide at the policy level or they divide the opposition or the opposition divides itself. Look around at each state. Willy nilly this has happened.

They propped up GPP in Gujarat which disappeared faster than winter in Mumbai. For various reasons KJP was created in Karnataka which hurt the BJP, but hopefully the BJP will rectify its mistakes here. PRP was formed in Andhra only to merge with the Congress post election. MDMK did that in TN. In Delhi AAP was also seen to benefit them, but they realized too late that it came back to bite them and bite them badly.

We still don't know what will happen in Delhi, but as a Maharashtrian (my mother tongue is Tamil, but I am a Maharashtrian as per your definition), it is my solemn duty to remind you that if the opposition divides itself, Maharashtra - the state you and I and all the citizens love will be condemned for another few years of misrule. And your party will yet have to spend another 5 years not being able to do anything for the state you love.

This is your chance. You can either benefit from the anti-Congress wave or help the Congress buck the trend and give Maharashtra five years of misrule. That may yet not happen. There is a man, Narendra Modi, who has managed to capture the imagination of many in the country and that might be a great chance for you to align forces with him and give Maharashtra the good years of ruling that it needs.

The choice is yours, but the fact is that many ordinary Maharashtrians resonate with your point and look upto you. But if the vote that they give you, with the hope that you will make a real change to the issues you raise, goes wasted in not actually resolving the issue, but benefit the exact opposite side what is the point?

If your party and Shiv Sena and BJP join forces, there is no force in Maharashtra that can stop them.

Jai Maharashtra!

Thank you!

Monday, December 02, 2013

The Macaulay rebels who conformed

Case 1: Imagine that you were, like many others, a rebel in your teens. You rebelled against Hindu traditions, festivals and other things that we take as culture. For example, touching the feet of an elder was primitive. Or prostrating before old grandparents. Or wearing a bindi. Or going to a religious function because you did not believe in it. Or thinking that going to a temple was a bore. You thought that bhajans was a waste of time. Prayers, Homas and the like were also infra dig. You get the drift.

And thus you were a rebel. But only if your parents and your household believed otherwise.

It is entirely possible that you were not a rebel while doing this, but actually considered cool because your parents also did not believe in any of the above.

If you were trapped in a house that followed Hindu traditions and culture and followed it or believed in it, you were in a tough place. Because all around you, your modern relatives were busy denigrating your Hinduness or making fun of all the things you did. The people who spoke good English and successful did not believe in any of the things that your parents and you did. So, you had two options, rebel or conform. Rebelling made you cool everywhere except in some social circles while conforming did the reverse mostly in mutually exclusive circles.

(I know this is a stereotype and I myself know of many variants to this - many progressives did believe in rituals and many so called regressives did not, but stay with me)

Therefore, if you rebelled, you were not rebelling, but conforming because the Macaulay system is intended to make you do exactly this. So, if you rebelled, you conformed to the Macaulay system, but if you conformed, you were a rebel of the Macaulay system. Interesting no?

(Yes, if your belief system at this point makes you believe that all Hindu rituals are primitive and meaningless ask yourself if you believe so for every other belief system and are willing to condemn every other ritual as meaningless, unequivocally. If yes, great. If not and if you are being a apologist by resorting to stuff like, I will not comment etc. Macaulay succeeded in creating exactly what he wanted.
Of course you should read about other rituals and condemn all religions unequivocally, that is a great place to be, but if you wont and choose to equivocate, well, Macaulay is still laughing at his creation. Ask yourself why.)

Now I am not saying for a moment that go and do everything that your religion demands you do. Actually, your religion demands nothing.

But pause for a moment and think if you have read about ancient Indian history, classics, saints, literature, epics, poems - as opposed to the International ones. And ask why do we tilt toward one and not the other. It is just all the years of Macaulays indoctrination.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Macaulays Children

A month or so, I bumped into an old gentleman, who has now taken to appreciating Hinduism. His story is the common story of many of us.

He was speaking about some aspects of Hindu culture and I ended up sharing a few things I knew. He admitted that he did not know that much. Considering how little I know, that was a bit of a surprise and I expressed it.

 “I was a rebel” he said. “I disliked every practice of ours that my parents followed at home and rebelled against them. It is only now that I realized that there is much good to be had there.”

When I grew up, everybody around me was a ‘rebel’ in this sense. We did not like anything traditional. Traditional clothes, traditional food, traditional learning, traditional practices. It was cool to be a rebel, while it was uncool to be traditional.

It was uncool to attend Bhajans, but cool to sit and watch movies. It was uncool to stay up all night for Shivaratri, but very cool to stay up all night to watch a cricket match.

Think and think again why that is so. It is your own indoctrination. Think why both cannot be equally cool.
So, what gives?

This is what Arun Shourie takes us through in the next few chapters of his book “A Secular Agenda”. We all are, what he calls, Macaulays children. Educated as per Macaulays hand me down dictums, we know very little about anything about our tradition.

He talks about how the Islamic rule followed by the British rule has led to what he calls ‘political tutelage bred inferiority among us, a feeling that our culture was inferior as it had led us to enslavement. Such acquaintance that educated Indians came to have with our tradition was what they learnt from western books and missionaries. How pervasive the effects of this system were and how they have endured to our very day will be evident from a single consideration: although each is among the simplest of the hundreds upon hundreds that can be set out, eery single example cited above, descriptions of our land in the Vedas, Puranas and epics, Shankara’s epic journeys, the Granth Sahib, the linkages between tempes and pilgrimages – will be a surprise to most of us, educated Indians today.”

When I went to the Kumbh Mela earlier this year, most people around me, the so called advanced educated types, actually looked at me in disdain as to why would I want to go to Kumbh Mela – which is essentially a ‘crowded, dirty place’.

So, on the one hand, our schools, inspired by Macaulay spread scientific temper and the like – which includes a complete ignorance of our epics and our practices – leave alone learning about Chanakya and Shankaracharya or the Bhakti movement – tell us nothing good about our practices. And whatever cultural aspect we are taught at home seems so remote from all the ‘education’ that we receive. We course, learn in history about Shivaji, but in a completely antiseptic way and we learn about the reformers of Hindu religion who worked hard to reduce casteism, superstition etc, but almost nothing is called out as good – with the result, that we think that there is little, if any good, in the Hindu way of life.

This results in what I call that the equivalent of the Maslowes Hierarchy – the Macaulay Hierarchy (note to myself, please write about this) if you will – with the highest level being self-loathing. Look around you and you will see many proponents of this – they place themselves above all Hindu belief systems (pilgrimages, festivals, temples, practices) and loathe that they were born a Hindu.

There are many variants of this and I heard this last from a gentleman who told me that corruption is way of life in India because over centuries this has existed and the only way for Indians to be ethically and morally upright is if they break off their traditional practices – that of course, means converting to a western system (hint). Forgetting that this same dharmic system gave us people like Rama and Krishna and many many saints who inspired us.

We as Hindus, educated Hindus, lack pride in our practices, partly because we don’t know enough to be proud. And that pride does not mean chest thumping, jingoistic pride that excludes everything else – but a simple acceptance of what we are.

All it means is a simple thought – expressed as  “I am ok, You are ok.” And that in our way of life, there are good aspects to live by and paths by great mean to be followed.

Because around you, everyone is instilling pride in what they are – and if you don’t feel proud of yourself and confident and comfortable with yourself – someone is bound to make you feel small – sooner and later.

And that is when I realized how the VHP slogan of yesteryears Garv se kaho hum Hindu hain, was so right about building pride in our psyche.

But coming back to the book chapters 3, 4 and 5 are all about this and it really made me sit up and think…and I am still thinking…I cannot read or write my mother tongue. Cannot read any Indian classic in the original language – not the Thirukural, not any works of the saints – unless translated in English.

Perhaps I should thank Amar Chitra Katha or the internet.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

India is not a country: DIY

A few weeks, I had the pleasure of talking to a gentleman, (who shall go unnamed). As the conversation progressed, he said this, in a trademark intellectual style, and this is worth trying at dinner conversations etc., where you need to appear intelligent. Believe me, it will never fail.

He started off by saying with a deep breath and taking a sip of coffee,"India is not really a country - it was never a country actually until 1947."

Now look around your table, if you ever try this. Usually at this point, anybody around the table, will start nodding very obsequiously to you and looking to you with amazement - kya point bola yaar. Luckily, I am a well read right wing idiot who believes that leftism is a refuge of the lazy.

So, I threw him off track and said, "But if you read Sanjeev Sanyals book, The land of seven rivers, even from a geographic and a political perspective many a time in history, it has been one country".

That somewhat threw him off track and he spoke about geography and politics and I also ran out of points, but I wish I read Arun Shouries book, A Secular Agenda (will add it to the reading list soon) before that.

The books first chapter is dedicated to idiots like this - who will pretend to be an intellectual while telling you that India was never really a country. So, the next time an intelligent guy blurts this line, here is what you can do.

"Of course, India was consisting of about 300 to 400 principalities and kingdoms. And therefore, it is not a country, fair enough. But do you know how many principalities were there in Germany before it became a country?"

Most likely you wont get an answer. Persist.

(Answer, Germany was about 300 principalities, almost all independent- which means, Germany could also have been one, two or 300 countries.)

At this point, he may spring the term "India is a geographic expression" on you. Calmly remind him that was used for the above country, Germany and not India.

Next question: "Did you know that after the 11th century, there is no 'English' dynasty ruling England? and that at the First world war did they sound their dynasty name from Guelph to the less German sounding Windsor? And that much of Europe was smallish principalities before it became what we know it as today?"

"Only about a dozen states can be construed as countries as per your logic that countries have to exist as a country for millenia", would be a great reminder at this point. (That quote is by Ed Hobsbawm - Nations and Nationalism since 1780).

So, not very different from India. And in the second chapter, Shourie takes it to a different level, pointing our cultural unity - which you wont find in the above examples. Now for your killer punch, at the dinner table.

"But have you seen how united we are culturally? Philosophically? Despite not having an organized religion? How similar festivals are celebrated across the country? Almost the same calendar? Despite multiple castes and languages? And did you know that the pujaris in Pasuhpatinath (Nepal) are Malayalis, from Kerala? Or that the Kamakshi temple in Kanchi is linked to the  Kamakhya temple in Guwahati? Or that every Diwali the sari for Goddess Amba of Kolhapur from the Lord at Tirupati? And this is from the time of Shankaracharya  that is about 788–820 CE – which makes us go a long way culturally, right?"

"Do you have similar examples for any other country? From 8th Century CE"

At this point, the conversation will likely turn to more pleasing topics like food or weather or television.

Anyway, more later once I read the book fully.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Living in a fools paradise

There is this new Google advertisement on how google search helps someone born in pre-partition India meet his friend now living in pre-partition Pakistan. Frankly, a very well shot ad film. Great music. Tugs your heartstrings all along.

But two things. The ad is perfectly politically correct. No wrong notes anywhere. I mean, it is always two men reminiscing. Why not two women - ah tough no and perhaps a tad unrealistic? And then again, the Indian guy has a daughter and the Pakistan guy has a son. Very convenient, considering the exalted state of women in Pakistan.

Second, of course, the ad being aimed largely at India where we still believe in this kind of bullshit and live in a fools paradise and not at Pakistan, where I presume that the kind of people who believe in peace in India are in a micro minority of perhaps 5 in number and aged over 100 or scared to air their views publicly. This is not a joke - when was the last time you heard a rally in Pakistan demanding peace with India or even a candle light vigil for the victims of Pakistan sponsored attacks in India (like the 26/11 attacks for example). What we do have is someone like Hafiz Saeed leading the call for jihad against India and this rally attracts thousands. That is a reality check for the peaceniks who think that there are people out there working actively for peace.

We have an industry here that actively promotes peace between the two nations - that there is no such industry in Pakistan might be news here. And Pakistan exploits this by using people like Ghulam Nabi Fai who in turn taps into the desires of people in India to sell their country for free shopping.

And for those who talk about people to people contacts, I highly recommend Imran Khan - from fast bowler to the leader of a party that protests the death of a Taliban leader in a drone strike. If you have other examples of people to people contacts working in Indias favour, please let me know.

But perhaps someone should release a satirical replica of this ad featuring Kasab and his team Googling about Mumbai.

Of course, I might be absolutely wrong and everything from 1947 down might be just my imagination.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The comforting theories we create for ourselves

A well known who I used to respect now talks of a supposedly inteligent theory: That communal violence is the cause of terrorism.

Fantastic. Can we have answers to two questions then. One is, this:

For a theory to be true, it has to be true in many places? Atleast in the neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan? Where Hindus have been killed with alarming regularity, their temples desecrated and their houses damaged and vandalized - why are they not turning into terrorists? Why, dear writer, why? Where is no Hindu Liberation Front operating out of Pakistan? Or Bangladesh?

The second, closer home, can you name a single Kashmiri Pandit terrorist? And their temples were desecrated, many of them were killed and the bulk of them were driven out of the valley by fear - somehow, when I last checked, the Kashmiri Pandits were not into revenge bombing?

Why is that so?

The answer is very simple which these people with alien intelligence do not want to see. That terrorism is a mix of funding, ideologues, foot soldiers. That means, someone has to pay money. Smuggle arms. Bombs. Recruit soldiers. Brainwash them. It is a huge industry - of vested interests.

And bonus 3rd question: By the way, did you hear of the Ahmadiyas terrorist organization in Pakistan. Me neither. Somehow seem to have missed the news.

Perhaps gravity works selectively as well. These comforting theories will get us nowhere. Tough questions need to be asked and answered. Till then, we live in a fog of our own making.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Selected Readings

This is more of a follow up to my earlier post on Leftism is a Lazy Belief that comes because people like us are not willing to read or stay happily ensconced in a cocoon created by laziness and echo chambers.

What exactly do we mean when we mean we are centre of right or pro market rather than pro communist or leftist.  So, the logical next question is what should one read up on? Here are some thoughts. Feel free to add to it.

First up, a must read is George Orwells Animal Farm. This is a parody of the communist rule and but it is a delightful story told using an animal farm as protagonists. In a nutshell, for any ideology - the leaders have a set of rules for themselves and a set of rules for their followers. See any elitist arguing for socialism - including Congress honchos - while arguing for a socialist landscape, their own families asset balance grows by leaps and bounds. They get treatment in the best hospitals around the world and globetrot on chartered flights while denying basic development for their countrymen. Even the rulers of the most pure state in the world while having a police that is ostensibly a committee for a promotion of virtue and prevention of vice - lead very unvirtuous live abroad. Clearly, some people are more equal than others.

A great example of talking something and doing something else is none other than Mother Teresa. Best exemplified in his book Missionary Position by the late Christopher Hitchens - Teresa ran hospices, not hospitals, but when she herself required treatments, preferred not (you guessed it) hospices, but hospitals, not in Kolkata, but in some swank developed countries. Enough said, this book is worth a read - as it will question a lot of beliefs that have been implanted into your head.

Something our secular press will rarely highlight, but mostly hide and obfuscate - is the 1990 forced exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir valley. This story is slowly but surely being turned into a story of Islamic victimhood by the likes of Basharat Peer, but the reality of the story is more about Islamic aggression. A first persons account is here, at Our moon has Blood Clots by Rahul Pandita.

And while at it, a must read is actually Pravin Swamis - Jihad in Kashmir, for which I cannot find an online link - even though it obfuscates real causes, it does put the facts in order. 

Our school books will have you believe that a few handful of leaders won us Independence. Especially those with names beginning with Nehru and Gandhi. My English book (not history book) actually had something about Indira Gandhis contribution to the freedom struggle - which obviously was more important than many others. Read, Freedom at Midnight by Dominique Lapierre for a more realistic picture of the era.

Apart from this, do read, Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh, Tamas (its translation) by Bhisham Sahni, Lajja by Taslima Nasreen, The Blood Telegram by Gary Bass, Being Different by Rajiv Malhotra., India - a history by John Keay,

This is a post I quickly cobbled together - will update this over time as I get time...

Friday, November 08, 2013

Book Review: Blood Telegram

I started reading the Blood Telegram by Gary Bass  – which is a book about the 1971 Bangladesh genocide started by Pakistan within its own (then) territory and how two democracies, United States and India approached it.
 I mistook the title to be about the ‘bloody’ genocide – which it is, but Blood actually stands for Arthur Blood who was the consul general of the US Consulate in Dacca at that time.

The book, has some very interesting points at the start – which very often is not apparent to those (like me) who were not around in that era.
United States, a democracy was supporting Pakistan, a state ruled by a despot while USSR – supposedly ruled by despots stood by India, a democracy.

“In the dark annals of modern cruelty, it (the Bangladesh genocide) ranks as bloodier than Bosnia and by some accounts it is in the same rough league as Rwanda” . Maybe worth pointing to Pakistan leaders as part of some debate in future.

“The Bengalis were mostly Muslim, but in an officially Islamic nation, there was some suspicion of the sizable Bengali Hindu minority” Interesting, that this statement is true in most officially ‘Islamic’ lands – any minority is liable to be suspected upon just by virtue of worshipping a different god.

The fact that there was a genocide, a targeted, selective genocide aimed at Bengalis (mostly Hindus) mostly escaped the worlds attention as Pakistan clamped down on the media – barring a secret transmitter in the US embassy at Dacca – and if not for this book, perhaps it would have never come to light. The book is the result of the US declassification of records of that time. And they do maintain painstaking records, it looks like. A lesson to be learnt from any future government in India. But Gary Bass does a fantastic job of putting together an absolutely readable account of the genocide while not missing out on the fact that was brutal. Bass also largely shies away from political correctness while sticking to facts  – and pulls no punches as he narrates the story.

Of course the authors interest is in showing US complicity to the genocide and rightly so. But as a reader based in India, this is a story that happened at our doorstep and it does not look like we knew the entire implication of it. This was in all likelihood, worse than the partition on the western side.

The books talks of entire town blocks being wiped off, machine gun attacks on civilians, a dormitory hall of Hindus at the Dacca University that bore the brunt of attacks and of corpses littered everywhere in Dacca. Apart from this, it focuses on some brave individuals who stood up against their government (US), notably Arthur Blood and other staffers in the consulate at Dacca, brave journalists who chase down a story under extreme conditions and also a good story of how the Indian government handled the situation.

The author brings out what mostly people like us, born after 1972, would have never known. What the then Indian government did (and by and large, the entire effort on the Indian side was bipartisan), how the US government manipulated the situation to benefit Pakistan (complete with verbatim conversations) and how the other powers that be reacted (with a lovely dig at France).

Frankly, a riveting read for anybody in this space, who wants to know contemporary history or who want to know a glimpse of the 1971 liberation of Bangladesh.

Have I missed it or is there a similar book published anytime in India?

(Cross posted in CRI)

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Of drones and encounters

A terrorism operation may sometimes go awry and end up arresting or occasionally, killing an innocent, but remember that a terrorist bomb kills only innocents. (If the person setting up the bomb dies, that is not counted)

An encounter with a terrorist suspect may go wrong and that is bad and the police will be taken to task for the mistake, but that does not offer legitimacy whatsoever for a terrorist to place bombs in crowded places and claim the lives of hundreds.

And while at it, a drone may end up killing innocent civilians, but a terrorist always kills innocent civilians.And here is a great article, via @harshgolicy

Worth a thought.

Victims of terrorism

Recently, at a Narendra Modi rally in Patna, live bombs exploded leading to 6 deaths - that was an assassination attempt, an attempt to kill thousands by causing stampede and the fact that this is a case of lax security is not being debated is an irony in itself.

Now, these bombs were planted at his rally and those who succumbed did so because they happened to be at the venue. Now, quite naturally, it is a great gesture on NaMos part to meet the victims.

But the Congress and the RJD think it is votebank politics. Let us examine this.

Victims of terrorism, like victims of communal riots are victims first.Yet, the Prime Minister visited only the refugee camps of certain communities - but this is perfectly secular - and it, of course, nothing to do with any vote bank politics. None at all.
See what Nitin Gadkari says

Earlier, there was vote bank politics and sympathy for terrorists. Now, that sympathy has been converted into support for the sake of vote bank politics. Some parties are using their political power to help terrorist organisations and terrorist leaders. This is very unfortunate for the country. Because of vote bank politics, the present government is creating problems for the future of the country by supporting terrorist and terrorist organisations and adopting a sympathetic approach towards them. [Link to his interview in Financial Express]

But an eminent rabble rousing personality of the Congress can visit families of those arrested in terrorism related cases. Perfectly secular? Of course, the Congress distanced itself, but come on, the man holds a senior position in the party.

And so, if visiting terrorism victims has suddenly become communal, what to make of those visiting terrorism suspects? 

And then again from the Chindu, we get to hear stories of how an IM suspects father is struggling for survival. Well, dear newspaper, surely if you search for the victims families, you will find their sole breadwinner, a youth was killed in almost all cases (I googled, but looks like that great newspaper has done no profile of any victim - though I did read a few on twitter).

Update: And then again, inviting a Taliban leader to speak at a conference in India is also secular.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Communal Violence Bill - an hour

It is 10 in the night and I have started reading the draft of the communal violence bill. The pdf is 56 pages long, find it here. Ram Jethmalani calls it legislative garbage and unconstitutional. Subramanian Swamy has been vocal about it ever since it came into the public framework. Madhu Trehan, leaves you with this question:

Niticentral rips it to shreds (includes an Arun Jaitley piece as bonus).Firstpost says, Congress stirs the communal pot again.

So I try to read it. It starts off with a rather startling sentence, "That it will be applicable to the whole of India except Jammu and Kashmir". Funny I thought, considering that Kishtwar was rocked by communal violence as recently as in August.

But I continue. 

Much of it is legalese, so I could not follow it much, but this caught my attention,

"group” means a religious or linguistic minority, in any State in the Union of India, or Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes within the meaning of clauses (24) and (25) of Article 366 of the Constitution of India"

(not sure of the implications of this one)

Upon the sole testimony of the victim of sexual assault, the Designated Judge appointed under this Act may conclude that an offence of sexual assault has been committed by the accused against the said victim.
(Clear mischief possible here, I dont know legal stuff, but this reads like that)

If in a prosecution for any offence committed under this Act, it is shown that the accused committed or abetted or conspired to commit the offence of hate propaganda under section 8, it shall be presumed, unless thecontrary is proved, that the offence committed was knowingly directed against a person by virtue of his or her membership of a group. 

(and here, presumption of offence - this is interesting, in a country where terrorists have to commit an offence or kill people before they are caught according to our human rights wallahs)

What this means to me is that any thing that is done by a minority community (and usually that means only one thing in this secular nation) will be pardoned. That means, something like a Direct Action day of 1946, will be perfectly legal, under this draft. Most likely, you learnt a sanitized, sterlized version of this in your history books, if at all. Time to educate yourself then.

Of course, 2010 Deganga riots (WB), 2012 Assam riots, 2013 Canning riots (again WB) or even the ongoing Muzaffarnagar riots would not constitute an offense under this law. Or perhaps even the murder of Swami Lakshmananda would not attract attention from the makers of this grand proposal.

 So, an hour later, I am still trying to think what is this government trying to do by passing such a one sided legislation?

A Fancy Dress Festival

Just a little while ago, my door bell rang and when I opened it there were a rash of kids celebrating, of all things, Halloween, shouting trick or treat. Kids dress up in various get-ups and go from door to door.  They took their chocolates and went their way. 

This is a festival that has lately made inroads into India - atleast in Bangalore - I myself learnt about this festival in some upmarket communities some years back . But now it looks like its being celebrated everywhere.
A few weeks ago, I was in Tiruchendur - bang in the middle of Navaratri and there were these kids and adults dressed up as monkeys, bears, Durga and so many other beings and animals  and it was beautiful to see. (This blog has some lovely pictures.)

When I grew up in Mumbai, we used to celebrate Thai Pushyam with gusto - there were kavadis on the streets, shastapreetis but of late, this has vanished.

But in urban India, I am not sure if such a festival will be celebrated. And that is worth a thought.
Between Halloween and this festival, there is very little difference. Kids (and adults) go dressed up in fancy dress. But obviously, one is our tradition (what we are) and one is some other practice. Of course, you can argue that how does it matter, we are secular, they are kids and so on. Perhaps.  But what is it that makes us forget what we are, or ignore what we are and pick up something else?

As we get educated we lose touch. And, our schools educate us very little in our traditions - indeed we are taught to denigrate them or treat them as unimportant by and large. And what we do have are the big social themed events like Ganpati in Maharashtra, Pujo in Bengal, Dassehra in Bengal etc. This process is worth a thought. Or is it that we are so divided that a North Indian will not celebrate Pongal and a South Indian will not celebrate Karva Chauth and therefore, it is easier to accept something that belongs to neither?

In a root canal procedure, the pulp is removed and what is left is the tooth without any life. Sometimes, if I wonder if our education does just that to us.

What do you use your email for?

A few years back email was the way to communicate. Not a day would go without checking the various email accounts that were created when a rash of service providers offered an email inbox. People from across the world communicated with each other on email.

But over the last many months, I discovered that my frequency of checking email was reduced and I was not missing anything. The only place where I did rely on email was on groups - which I am part of and which has longer conversations happening. Other than that, conversations have moved to instant messaging on phone or facebook or even twitter. The second thing is that all of these service providers, like facebook and twitter have kind of spammed email with their notifications (yes, am sure they can be turned off, but who checks email regularly anyway). Even forwards have moved to instant conversations!

So the only reason email exists is as a repository of those instant conversations or the occasional friend who still has your email somewhere or job sites that keep spamming you with mostly irrelevant job offers.

However, at work email remains an integral part of the worklife. Interesting to see how these trends will reflect at work.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Leftism is a lazy belief

I am astounded by the number of people who live in the corporate world hold cushy jobs and have a blatantly slanted view of the world. When I say slanted, I mean, these are the same people who enjoy all the benefits that centre of right reforms have provided. Much of the benefit of de-licencing industries, banking access, private companies, jobs, tax cuts have all flowed to this very segment.

And yet, after having access to the goodies of capitalism, they hold a leftist belief. I am unable to fathom why this is so, but my theory is that this is an easy belief - a lazy belief - a romantic belief. And this is fed by the very same media that takes capitalist money and spreads a stupid leftist belief.

Let me explain. Every two bit leftist shouts from the rooftop for example that salaries are going through the roof - and when people like us read crap like that, it induces a sense of guilt in us. The two bit leftist of course omits the fact that he or she gets paid to write like that (they do not write for free) and for the most part these leftism spewers accept capitalist money for their ventures or NGO's. But leave that aside - I have seen people working in IT industries crib that their own salaries are high and that IT money is easy money. Now prior to IT, there were many industries in India - chained by the licence raj and in those days profits were evil, so they made black money and shared very little with their workers. In effect, workers were taken for a ride. The IT industry shares more of its money with its people - and it is these people who drive markets for absorbing our surplus labour - people who work for like maids, drivers, gardeners. If it were not for this money, the other set of people would have an even worse existence. For example, today a maid earns more working in a house than working in a garment factory in Bangalore. Hear Milton Friedman on Capitalism in the most enlightening 2 minutes of your life!

But it is easy to have the thought someone in IT makes easy money, pays 30% tax - which the government duly squanders - and assuage the guilt by donating to some charity whose owner goes around in a BMW. This guilt makes oneself want to belief in a leftist ideology. Do you need to be guilty? Absolutely not - atleast I have no plans to be, though you are welcome if you want to. But you see, it is a very easy belief system to have.

And by the way has leftism and unbridled socialism created any great country? North Korea? Do read, The Animal farm by George Orwell to see how ideologies like this progress.

Second: These are the very people who have come up from their roots. Many of them one or two generations ago were poor (one of my own greatgrandfathers was a cook), buy they used education to bring themselves up. And these very people will argue for stupid rules like Right to Education. The Right to Education is less about education and more about discriminating in the name of religion (only Hindu schools are under RTE - bet you did not know this) and about arbitrary powers in the hands of a bureaucrat. There is no need for a Right to Education if our Education sector was a for profit sector. Atanu Dey put forward a beautiful argument on this, which is worth a read. But, does that stop schools and their rapacious owners from making a profit? Of course not. In the name of not making a profit, they pay their teachers less and fleece students and parents alike by charging MRP for every pencil and 50 rupees for a class photo and 100 rupees for a cheap CD and such like. Not to forget the donations.

The sooner we move to an equal opportunity (more schools) scheme than an equal outcome (reservations - spread by votebank) scheme - the better it is for us. Again, easy to believe that our country needs crappy legislations like RTE and reservations in the name of votebanks for education.

Third: Imagined victimhood leads to terrorism. Well, in that case, many people should have been terrorists.Women, to begin with. They have been oppressed by men through the centuries and continue to be. So, how come there is no Womens liberation front that guns down men and places bombs in pubs and cricket matches where men congregate? How come the Kashmir Pandits thrown out of their own houses for being Hindus did not become terrorists? And today more and more people are asking these questions:
If we do not appease people, indeed communities, they will become terrorists. When we talk like this, we seriously undermine the intelligence of communities - indeed insult them. But then, it is easy to appease religions and their bigots than ask them serious questions. Remember this, the real victims often have no voice. The Pandits in Kashmir (read Our moon has blood clots), the Hindus/Sikhs in Pakistan (read Train to Pakistan, Tamas) and Bangladesh (Lajja), the workers in the middle east about whom we hear some horror stories, the women of middle east (read Princess) rural India - there are many such oppressed who have not become terrorists. But then it is easy to believe in this no - because otherwise one has to ask uncomfortable questions about those fund these evil ideologies in the guise of charity and so on?

Fourth: Mother Teresa and the missionaries of charity. Are they into saving lives or saving souls (euphemism for conversion). I read Christopher Hitchens missionary position recently. Again, easy to believe that they are saving lives when they are into saving souls. This sentence in the book struck me

"It is another chapter in a millenial story which stretches back to the superstitious childhood of our species, and which depends on the exploitation of the simple and the humble by the cunning and the single-minded"

But in our books, anybody who opposes conversions is bad - because it is very easy to believe that. Therefore everyone of you has heard of Graham Staines, but very few of you would have heard about Lakshmananada Saraswati who was brutally murdered by 'Maoists' who later turned out to be 'Christians'. But, have you asked yourself, why two tribes are warring (this is in India) - after centuries of peaceful existence - the first insurgencies occured in the 1950s? What is it that in 1971 drove one religion in Bangladesh to kill and murder hundreds of co-Bangladeshis despite many years of co-existence and a common language and culture?

I can go on and on, but to sum it up, unless you read up things instead of depending on your daily media, your beliefs are unlikely to change.

So, if you encounter a leftist, you know that a lot of it comes from being lazy.

The Temple Builders of Tamil Nadu

I recently came back from a visit to Rameswaram and Kanyakumari. Over the past few years, I have managed to cover quite a bit of South India - Kerala, Karnataka and TN mostly. Andhra Pradesh, not as much.

Across these states, Tamil Nadu stands out. The number of ancient temples in Tamil Nadu are just too numerous to mention. Almost every other town is a temple town. Towering Gopurams, prayer and faith, flowers, jasmine, sandalwood - they all look the same - from outside.

But it struck me this time when we went around - other than the big temples, many of these temples are not the most easily accessible even today - I mean, by road they are, but many of them are not so densely populated areas and in those days, most of them are a couple of days trek or bullock cart ride from each other.

I was thinking about the kinds who built them. For a king, building a grand temple probably accomplished a few things. One, of course, was his contribution to history as a temple builder. But the second and probably more important was the fact that - it jump started his economy. To begin with as part of the building process, artists and artisans came there. Since temple building was a long drawn exercise - for example, the Arunachala Temple in Tiruvannamalai has this in its Wikipedia entry:

"The present masonry structure was built during the Chola dynasty in the 9th century, while later expansions are attributed to Vijayanagar rulers of the Sangama Dynasty (1336–1485 CE), the Saluva Dynasty and the Tuluva Dynasty (1491–1570 CE)."

That meant that this type of work provided livelihood for for many types of people - over many years, sometimes hundreds of years - from stone cutters to woodcutters to carpenters to other types of workers. It created a demand for housing and food as well.

As the temple came to fruition, it would attract many other people - from priests to cooks to flower sellers to elephant mahouts to astrologers to sadhus to artists. As people flocked there, there would be other needs and ultimately - development.

A yearly festival would ensure further employment and engagement - apart from the 'feel good' factor.

And of course, each temple had/continues to have its own unique selling proposition. Some are part of larger pilgrim circuits, some have more local relevance, some are architectural and astronomical marvels - aligned to the position of the sun - it is mindboggling to think about it.

Even today many hundred years later, many of these towns are still dependent on the temples - a testimony to the fact that the temple builders have left their mark on these towns and still continue to provide a livelihood to so many people over so many generations!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

What is evil?

My last three posts have hovered around the question of non-violence, winning wars and of speaking softly and carrying a big stick.So, then the question is who is good and who is bad? What is good and what is bad?

Technically, for Indians, after a century odd of occupation the English were bad - we were fighting them in our own country, right? Then, how come, they defeated Hitler and how did that suddenly made them good in our eyes?

Is the LTTE bad, is the Khalistan bad, are jihadis bad? Then who is good? Why are they good? Who is bad? What defines them? And then let us go back in time. Were the aboriginals bad - they were wiped out - as were the American Indians by and large. And India suffered hundreds of invasions which were very very brutal.

These are tough questions and I had not thought them when I set out writing this series of posts. But it is worth a try.

Throughout history, it is not always that the good guys have won. In general, today it is accepted that colonialization was a bad idea - but an idea of its times nonetheless. At one point, the white man was seen as a saviour - taking millions out of ignorance into development - indeed from their pagan roots into more 'evolved' thoughts. The value systems like liberty, equality, fraternity are no doubt good but the belief systems like religion is highly questionable. Even in these highlighted countries, women had to fight for voting rightsa and a right to stand in office - while in many of the traditional societies, women had equal (some societies were matriarchial too), if not more rights. Oh, well, in some very rich parts of the world women are stillfighting for driving rights. But in a nutshell, today, no country can think of colonialising another country. Times change. So, colonialism - which was good then is bad today. Read The White mans burden here.

When the invaders of India massacred its population (mostly the unbelievers in their view), they were doing what they were always doing. Today, an invasion and massacre of that scale are unheard of - not as invading armies. But the terrorists have taken over - and even that is accepted is bad (mostly, though there are apologists - and ask yourself why they can justify this - or what makes them justify this). So, massacre of non-believers is not accepted today - it used to be accepted once upon a time, not by those massacred obviously - but then history is written by the winners. But if we don't fight in the present, we are history - as written by the winners. Massacres of infidels still happens, but hold on to that thought.

What Hitler did – and which in my unimportant opinion turned the tide was that he tried to colonialize Europe – which till then was considered out of bounds. I mean, while the English and French fought in India, they did not fight at their respective countries – those territorial integrities were wrapped up much earlier. And by then many of the colonies had got sufficiently restive enough for England to let go. Remember that India had French and Portuguese territories till as recently as 1954 and 1961 respectively.

So, what if Hitler did win? We would be speaking German instead of English is a very simplistic way of looking at it. But, more than that, would more and more people have found their way into gas chambers? We don’t know. What we do know that is that 6 million of his countrymen were gassed.

What if the jihadis win? Will we have equal rights for everyone? Or will unbelievers be killed just because you worship a particular god? In some parts of Afghanistan, Sikhs have to wear a yellow turban – a chilling reminder of the yellow badge that Jews had to wear. Pakistan has made a micro minority of its already minority communities – and they are now after sects within their own majority.

What if we had let Khalistan evolve as a separate state? Would we be setting the right example for a unified India? Or should we have allowed the creation of India into 25 (or 300) odd different countries. What if the LTTE won in Lanka? Would they have followed universal ideals of equality to all – or would that pave the way for further violence in the world? What if we allowed Maoists to run amock blowing up mobile phone towers and schools – are they taking the world forward or backward?

Hypothetical questions all of them – but the directions are clear?

Were the rapists of Jyoti Singh good? Were the terrorists in Kenya who killed Mitul Shah among many others good? Are the terrorists who keep bombs in crowded places good? If they are, please invite them to your house because I will do everything in my power to keep them out of mine.

Good is all about supporting freedom.
Bad is all about regression.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

So, how does one win a war?

A war cannot be won by appeasement - indeed no war ever has been won by appeasement (Examples welcome). Nor has any war been won by pusillanimity. Or by timidness and fear. Is might the only way to win a war? Actually not. Even in the conflicts that I had brought out, a lot of wars are won by many other things than pure might. And this is where the beauty of the speak softly but carry a big stick approach works. Which means, building the might and the willingness to use it is very important. Whether or not one uses it always is not important. Like the proverbial big stick by the side. It helps.

There are many things that can be done much before it escalates into a war. A great example is the Cuban missile crisis. How about sanctions? How about stopping trade? Or Aid? Or power? Or fuel? Or jobs? All of these work at a country level. But as a nation you have to be willing to use them.

In the case of India and Pakistan, we have consistently refused to use any option with the result we have been slapped left, right and centre for 60 years. A couple of big whacks have been handed by us, but over the last 10-15 odd years, we have been at the receiving end. Why? Because we have been consistently neglecting our armed forces, progressively reducing our airforce, progressively decaying our naval force and not building enough indigenous capability. (Google it, you will find links for everything.) Sure, we have a huge economy, but with weight, we also need voice. We do not have a strong voice in the international arena because we are a vacillating nation - we vote for the wrong side (as against in Lanka) or abstain - and rarely make hard choices. We neglect our neighbours to the extent that they dont like us. Nepal is a case in point. Most nations in the world do not know where we stand on issues. All of this puts our nations image as a soft, defeatist, doddering old person.

And yes, our neighbour, after successfully culling its Christians, Hindus (and having kept a nominal number) is now after Ahmadiyas and Sunnis. And don't forget the Balochs and some others. And remains the global epicentre of terrorism. Is it because they are an oppressed nation? Doesnt look like it right? So, what gives?

And what if a country is being threatened by the likes of terrorists or Maoists? How does one handle them? The whole world today runs on economics. Money is paid to and from vested interests. No movement can ever run without funding. Who funds these terrorists? Where do they get money from? Who gives them arms and ammunition? And why? Through what channels? Do they get their funds from illegal channels or legal? If so how?

By indulging in a terrorist act, as a funder, as an ideologue, as a foot soldier, as a tourist guide - do I get hell to pay for it? If I do, then I might think twice before indulging in such an act. If I don't, then there is a good chance I will continue to do it. And here is where the encounter specialists and drones come in. In the case of the former, I know as a criminal that I could be gunned down for the wrong acts that I commit. If not me, someone close to me. Or my assets could get attached. Or I could be killed by a rival. In the case of the latter, a drone could follow me to almost any part and ultimately an missile will land up on my head one fine day.

Yes, encounter specialists and drones may end up causing collateral damage to innocents. But these mistakes happen. But remember, that each time a terrorist places a bomb in a crowded place - every single person who is killed is innocent. 

I have no respect for the human rights wallahs who appear every time a terrorist is caught. I never see them fight for those who lose their limbs and hard earned lives in a terror attack. And yes, I do not care for the human rights of any terrorists - I doubt if they care about it while placing a bomb under the seat of a crowded bus.Freedom from Fear - read and think about this hard hitting letter by KPS Gill written to then PM IK Gujral and see where you stand.

Think of the terrorist Masood Azhar who we released in return for the approximately 150 odd passengers has killed atleast 10 times that number in return. Yes, he returned our favour of non-violence and biryani with the Mumbai attacks which killed off about 183 non-believers into the other world. Would we not have been better off if this scum was eliminated?

Without money and ideology no terrorism movement can run. LTTE, Khalistan, Jihadis. Check. Otherwise, most women would be terrorists no? Most Kashmiri Pandits would be terrorists no? Actually, the league of oppressed is quite a long one - American Indians, Aborigines in Australia - how come all of them dont pick up a gun? So, ask again who funds them? Why? To what end? Who supplies them with weapons? How?

And if you choke them, can you win the war? But do you have the will?

But the first thing is to recognize that a war or a potential war like situation exists with something that threatens your way or life at all. Or would you rather say, we capitulate!

Can a war be won with non violence, Part II?

So, let us now examine some real scenarios – based on history. 

During World War II, actually before World War II, the countriesaround Germany appeased Hitler. I am not sure if they did so in the hope of peace or out of a delusion, but clearly, appeasing Hitler did not work. He continued being a monster and demanding ever more pounds of flesh. And at some point, the Allies needed to fight a violent war (essentially started by Hitler) in order to ensure peace.

And while he was at it, he exterminated atleast 6 million Jews in gas chambers. Non-violence did not seem to work for them, did it?

Closer home, Muhammad Ghori, was defeated and was sent back with honours by Prithviraj Chauhan. In return, when Chauhan was defeated the next time, Ghori blinded him and ultimately killed him. Clearly, even the honourable non-violent act of sending the loser back home with honours did not work for Prithviraj Chauhan.

Then, let us examine Pakistan and its obsession with Kashmir. Every few years they keep doing something to renew their jihad in Kashmir (See Pravin swamis book on Kashmir). It is in their interest (and I cannot see any reason for anybody to do this, but well, perhaps it is history, perhaps ideology, perhaps the Pk army needs to keep its own sense of importance alive) to keep the pot boiling in Kashmir. We have seen their support for internal jihadi groups against India in their country and in our country. They continue to harbor and encourage elements inimical to India consistently. As they say, once you can be fooled, but if you are fooled twice, you are a fool. What of India that has been consistenly led up the garden for some 60 odd years. Clearly, appeasing and aman ki asha is not working here.

Staying with Pakistan, as they continued to massacre Bengalis in East Pakistan, India had to step in. Not stepping in would have amounted a massive genocide (intervening resulted in a genocide of far smaller proportions - a crime for which justice is being delivered about now).

The naxal movement in the 70s was eliminated not by peace,but by some very brutal interventions. The Khalistan movement in Punjab was crushed not by flower wielding hippies, but with some tit for tat campaigns bythe Punjab police. (See this moving letter from KPS Gill to PM IK Gujral on the suicide of a police officer.) And of course, the encounter specialists in Mumbai who broke the back of Mumbais underworld (who, of course, now enjoy state patronage in Pakistan). 

Sri Lanka broke the back of LTTE, in a brutal manner, but that has left the island in peace not bombs for the first time in many many years. Yes, they were brutal, but those who live by the sword must be prepared to die by the sword.The LTTE used children too as suicide bombers - can you get any more evil? Turns out that you can - mentally handicapped women were used as suicide bombers in Iraq.

When the Kashmiri Pandits were driven out of the valley, they were non violent – indeed, there is not a single act of reprisal that they undertook. Clearly, non violence did not work there as well.

And lastly, the case of Jyoti Singh who was brutally rapedin Delhi. Did non-violence work for her? You decide. Because dead people can rarely decide.

Non-violence may be the highest good (Ahimsa Paramo Dharma), but let us not mistake it for being non-violent out of fear, but out of confidence. As Winston Churchill said speak softly, but carry a big stick (and show that you have the will to use it if required.) The best non usage of the big stick and yet decimating the opponent is the Cold War and that is where economics comes in.

Non violence against terrorists – clearly does not seem to be working. Ask Mitul Shah. No, you cannot ask him. He died you see, after he offered himself as a hostage to jihadis in Kenya. Clearly, the memo of non violence did not reach them.

No terror movement can be crushed – like Hitler, like LTTE unless one goes after the evil ideologies, their funders, those who encourage and uproot it completely.

History has shown us that in order for the just to win peace, some amount of violence is required, indeed justified. Do you have examples to prove otherwise? 

All that is required for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing: Edmund Burke

What are fighting for? And how then, does win over evil? Coming in the next part...