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Indian Muslims – The Changing Debate?

December 4, 2010 2 comments
Most Indian Muslims can see that religious freedom in India exceeds that of even Muslim countries. (Cartoon courtesy-www.koothanallurmuslims.com). Click for larger image.

Most Indian Muslims can see that religious freedom in India exceeds that of even Muslim countries. The idea of world Islamic identity is mix of paranoia and mythology. (Cartoon courtesy-www.koothanallurmuslims.com). Click for larger image.

There is no other country in the world with such breathtaking plurality at the highest level of leadership.

Consider Britain: only Protestant (not Catholic) Christians can be monarch. The law of blasphemy protects only Christian citizens in the United Kingdom. In Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, minorities (including, in Pakistan, even Muslim Ahmadis) have restricted rights. Unlike burqa-banning western democracies such as France and Belgium, Indian secularism does not separate church and state. It allows them to swim together in a common if sometimes chaotic pool.

Fundamentalists dislike the concept of liberal Islam flourishing in the syncretic soil of India. Indian Muslims, however, remain rooted in a Vedic civilisational ethic that has celebrated our religious plurality for over 3,000 years. Despite al-Qaida’s and the ISI’s concerted recruitment efforts, Indian Muslims except renegades from the Students Islamic Movement of India and the Indian Mujahideen have consistently spurned the call to jihad.

India’s innate respect for all religions, which does great credit to its silent Hindu majority, has historically made the country the refuge-of-last-resort for all faiths: Jews, Parsis, Christians, Buddhists. (read more via Educate, Don’t Appease – The Times of India).

Indian Muslim

Caught between liberal-progressive-apologist Hindus, opportunistic politicians, Indian Muslims, are less understood and poorly served by their own leadership. Quite a few things that 2ndlook has said about Indian Muslims are reflected in this article linked and extracted above. Importantly, it is is written by a Muslim.

Missteps

There are a few missteps that the author makes. For one, the Uniform Civil Code. भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra, the Indic political system, does not approve of a Uniform Civil Code. In fact, भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantrahas no State-mandated laws on marriage and sex. That is a matter for communities to decide for themselves.

Good to see the changing debate.

Ayodhya verdict treats Muslims like 2nd-class citizens, say some

Instead of vague resentment, Indian Muslims must compare relative positions to get a clearer idea.

Instead of vague resentment, Indian Muslims must compare relative positions to get a clearer idea.

Post-Ayodhya verdict

Two things-after the Ayodhya-Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute.

One – How little I knew about this entire issue in terms of detail. Hence, I never said much about this issue.

Two. The reaction of the non-fundamentalist Muslims is worth noting. This post is about the second point.

In the non-fundamentalist narrative, (like Najib Mubarki) there are no suggestions for Muslims leadership – ever, anywhere. The burden of action, implementation is always others. Muslim leadership is always the innocent bystanders in this narrative. Objective – induce guilt.

Muslims as 2ndclass citizens

For instance take the following new report

But others are a bit more forthcoming. Shabnam Hashmi, well-known social activist who heads Sahmat, says the verdict made her feel like a “second-class citizen”. “We will not stop the struggle against irrationality and hatred but we can no longer promise to hand over a secular, democratic nation to you,” says Hashmi, in her “message to the next generation”. (via ‘Verdict makes me feel like a 2nd-class citizen’ – The Times of India).

Are we making the same mistake again? Jinnah acted pricey with the support of half a per cent (0.5%) of India's Muslim population - and the might of the British Raj behind him! (Cartoon - Artist - Low; David (1891-1963) Published - Evening Standard, 04 Sep 1946). Click for larger image.

Are we making the same mistake again? Jinnah acted pricey with the support of half a per cent (0.5%) of India's Muslim population - and the might of the British Raj behind him! (Cartoon - Artist - Low; David (1891-1963) Published - Evening Standard, 04 Sep 1946). Click for larger image.

To all those who believe that Muslims are (treated as) 2ndclass citizens in India, there are three points which merit attention.

1. Hindus are like that only - This was Jinnah’s point of view. Some of Indian Muslims who agreed with Jinnah went to Pakistan. To whomsoever, the realization came late, can take that option now.

After thousands of years of culture and history, the Hindus are not going to change – quickly and easily. You know that Indian and foreign Islāmic rulers tried to change Hindus for 600 years (1200-1800). British rulers tried for some 150 years (1797-1947). It may be easier and quicker to just go to Pakistan, which was created so that Indian Muslims are NOT treated like 2ndclass citizens.

2. You can compare – Does the Middle East treat Indian Muslims better than India? Are Muslims likely to be treated better in EU – in countries like France (no hijab), UK (with massive imprisonment of Muslims) or Switzerland (no mosques with minarets). Maybe, you can consider USA, where a Muslim surname is enough justification for law-enforcement authorities to treat you ‘differently’. The British have an estimated one of out every 40 adult Muslim male is (who is not old) in their prison. The French feel let down because “immigrants were supposed to blend harmoniously into society and not exist in separate communities” – and the Muslims did not.

Post 9-11, hundreds of Sardarjis of Indian origin were attacked, after being mistaken for Arabs. Or Australia where a computer game was themed as How many Muslims Can You Kill became popular. You could think of Denmark, where the Government rewarded Muslims to move out of Denmark.

The so-called ‘persecuted’ people in India are in a majority (the dalits), or their populations are growing faster than the ‘oppressors’ (dalits and Muslims). So, this bit about suppression, persecution, racism in India, is a red-herring. Complete ignorance – if it is not trickery.

The Indian Muslim must pioneer a broader identity of Muslim+ identity! Click for larger image.

The Indian Muslim must pioneer a broader identity of Muslim+ identity! Click for larger image.

So, stop trying to hold India and Indians to some impossible ideal, which cannot be compared, measured, evaluated or defined.

Instead, do look at data – comparative data and take a call. You have choices of immigration to Pakistan, Middle East, Europe, USA, Australia.

The whole wide world.

3. Make it work – Nation-building is a tough job. It needs everyone to join in. Big, small, powerful, powerless, loud or voiceless. Everyone. You (and hence others, too) can see yourself as 2ndclass, a victim. 2ndclass is as 2ndclass does. No one in India sees APJ Kalam as a 2ndclass citizen. The Deoband Seminary explicit believes that Muslims enjoy the highest degree freedom in India. Bar none.

This post suffers from using easy, prominent examples. Maybe the problem cannot be addressed by these examples. For that Muslim leadership must take charge. Not necessarily political or religious leadership. And that mater has been addressed in other posts.

Indian Muslims must take a global leadership of the Islamic world (Cartoon By Yusuf, courtesy - TwoCircles.net.).

Indian Muslims must take a global leadership of the Islamic world (Cartoon By Yusuf, courtesy - TwoCircles.net.).

Comparing India

Equating India with the Desert Bloc (believers in monotheism) is without basis in fact, reality or history.

This is one thing, that we in India must understand, discover, find out, investigate – and then, after that, believe, that we are different.

Even Indian Muslims.

***

Related Articles

Better governance they told us …

September 11, 2010 Leave a comment

The 100-year Western campaign to keep the Islamic world unstable. Islamic despots and Kashmir are a part of that.

The Islāmic Bloc has allowed itself to be reduced to nothing by the West in the last 100 years. ( ©Copyright 2008 Jimmy Margulies - All Rights Reserved. cartoon courtesy - politicalcartoons.com). Click for larger image.

The Islāmic Bloc has allowed itself to be reduced to nothing by the West in the last 100 years. ( ©Copyright 2008 Jimmy Margulies - All Rights Reserved. cartoon courtesy - politicalcartoons.com). Click for larger image.

Just as Europe turns upon the dismemberment of Turkey, so the Eastern question in Asia turns upon the continued solidarity of Hindustan” By George Nathaniel Curzon Curzon (Marquis of) in Problems of the Far East: Japan–Korea–China; published in 1894.

20 years before World War-I

Some 70 years ago, we were told that Jinnah’s objective also, was India’s freedom. Much like other Indian freedom fighters.

The template of using Jinnah to split India was implemented by Britain some 30 years  earlier, after WWI to break up the Ottoman Empire. The dismemberment of Turkey studied in Britain for at least a 20 years before WWI.

To understand this template, let us go back to post-WWI Middle East. Many Middle-East despots, then potentates, were put in positions of power after WWI by Western powers. These despots, who have run the Middle-East into the ground, earlier made tall claims about ‘progress’. All the while, condemning the ‘regressive’ Ottomans.

The regressive Islam that we see today is a joint-creation of the Christian-West and these Islamic-despots. Now, we all know what happened after these Islamic ‘freedom-fighters’ of the Middle East were installed by their Western masters.

Better governance, they told us then.

The Cats who went to the monkey for justice. A Jataka tale. Old Indian hesitation to involve third party justice.

The Cats who went to the monkey for justice. A Jataka tale. Old Indian hesitation to involve third party justice.

What will it be this time …

So, there is this little matter of a rather, big credibility-yawn.  Between reality and the azaadi-struggle claims of these ‘freedom-fighters’ in Kashmir also. Let these ‘freedom-fighters’ walk-the-plank-of-freedom.

Let them show their:-

  • Inclusion (have they taken up a single Kashmiri Pandit issue)
  • Ability to listen and govern (have they won any election)

These conflict-zones are Western creations – and so are these jihadis, terrorists.

As are these Islamic despots.

Honest arbiters, I don’t believe in

And, by the way, before I go forward, who offers to arbiter these conflicts? To whom do these despots and these ‘freedom fighters’ run to, to become honest ‘brokers’? Who they approach, address and talk to, gives the game away.

These jihadis using Pakistan as a go-between, approach the West to succeed in their  power grab. Jinnah, let us remember, could not get support from Indians – Muslims or otherwise.

Just as British negotiations with Congress gave Congress legitimacy, so also with Jinnah. Are we forgetting that, the JKLF leaders in the 1970′s and 80s were all holed up in London, for decades. Now, we know London is not cheap. How, who, where, with what motive, funded them for decades in London? Mirpuri-PoK freedom-loving, care-free people of Kashmir, they tell. Go tell that to the birds. JKLF was run out of London.

Much like how elections in Maldives was run out of Britain and London.

It is not Kismat, Najib-bhai! It is design. The Islamic Bloc has allowed itself to become irrelevant in this world. (By Peray, Thailand   -  10/12/2005 12.00:00 AM; cartoon courtesy -   politicalcartoons.com). Click for larger image.

It is not Kismat, Najib-bhai! It is design. The Islamic Bloc has allowed itself to become irrelevant in this world. (By Peray, Thailand - 10/12/2005 12.00:00 AM; cartoon courtesy - politicalcartoons.com). Click for larger image.

Najib Mubarki tries inducing guilt

Najib Mubarki on Kashmir is an interesting idea! Though finally it is a wet fuse.

the larger meaning of the slogan of “Azadi“ might be some form of secular Kashmiri nationalism, the slogan of “Allah o Akbar” (God is Great) also attends it. It is, in essence, while a slogan of defiance, also a culturally determined one.

Of course there are other slogans too. Or have been. Which would suggest a decidedly Islamist vision of what Kashmiri society should look like. But beyond even the empirically evident gap between slogans and immediately achievable political reality, quite often such slogans were echoed without any real political subscription.

But beyond the level of sloganeering in the streets, there is the fact of centuries of Kashmiri cultural history. One that is unique in the subcontinent. A history and lived life that tempers and inflects even those who would ordinarily be labelled hardliners.

Creating an Islamic State – The pattern

Have we not heard this logic before, Najib-bhai? This was peddled to us before. And some 160 million Muslims have been cast into the dysfunctional ‘nation’ called Pakistan. Remember Jinnah and his ‘secularist’ credentials? These potentates-to-despots, like Jinnah, are Western creations and installations.

What more, I am sure Najib-bhai knows.

Strangely, in Najib-bhai’s narrative, there are no suggestions for Muslims leadership – ever, anywhere. In this and his other posts. The burden of action, implementation is always others. Muslim leadership is always the innocent bystanders in Najib-bhai’s narrative.

Reading Najib Mubarki, I am reminded of a childhood story of such ‘honest’ arbiters. Maybe, Najibbhai too should also read such ‘Hindu’ stories.

Before you come to us, with your talks.

Talk is cheap. Remember Blood Never Forgets! (Cartoon by   By Peray, Thailand   -  10/30/2005 12.00:00 AM, courtesy - politicalcartoons.com) Click for larger image.

Talk is cheap. Remember Blood Never Forgets! (Cartoon by By Peray, Thailand - 10/30/2005 12.00:00 AM, courtesy - politicalcartoons.com) Click for larger image.

Saladin said …

Talk, as you know Najib-bhai, is cheap. Expensive, when you are paying for cheap talk, with spilled blood.

And that is what, we Indians in Kashmir are doing. It was a wise Islamic ruler who cautioned, “Blood never sleeps!”

We are paying with spilled blood, for cheap jihadi talk.

Take your talk, someplace else.


Related posts by 2ndlook

The idea of Pakistan!

Punjab govt goes after Hindu mythology cartoons

Pakistan and Kashmir – Regaining the narrative!

Kashmir – Foggy Indian Notions

We are the problem – and the West is trying is to help us!

The ‘idea’ of Pakistan-II

Sadanand Dhume botches up history

Robert D. Kaplan gives gyaan on India in NYTimes.com

Pakistan – a nation in fidayeen mode?

What should India’s counter terrorism plan look like …

Mumbai Massacre – The real blame and real culprits

India’s Pakistan Fixation

Terrorists And Counterfeit Indian Currency

For More Than 60 Years …

Indo Pak Relations – What Will It Take

India Lowers Guard

New Empire Builders – Neo-Cons Sneaking In

The Carving Of The Middle East

British Empire & The Anglo Saxon Bloc

Behind The Web Of Terror

“Just as Europe turns upon the dismemberment of Turkey, so the Eastern question in Asia turns upon the continued solidarity of Hindustan” By George Nathaniel Curzon Curzon (Marquis of) in Problems of the Far East: Japan–Korea–China; published in 1894.

Ek tha gul … Ek thi bul-bul … (From Jab jab phool khile)

Kashmir – Foggy Indian Notions

August 6, 2010 12 comments

Kashmir cannot become a 1947-reprise when power mongers grabbed Pakistan with a hate agenda – and a contrived identity.

Jinnah acted pricey with the support of half a per cent (0.5%) of India's Muslim population - and the might of the British Raj behind him! (Cartoon - Artist - Low; David (1891-1963) Published - Evening Standard, 04 Sep 1946).

Are we making the same mistake again? Jinnah acted pricey with the support of half a per cent (0.5%) of India's Muslim population - and the might of the British Raj behind him! (Cartoon - Artist - Low; David (1891-1963) Published - Evening Standard, 04 Sep 1946).

Contrived claims

Jinnah’s derived legitimacy by getting 500,000 Muslim votes – from a Muslim population of 10 crores in 1940s.

Indian Muslims did not chose the Muslim League. British policy in India made it seem that Indian Muslims had chosen the Muslim League. Of the nearly 10 crore Muslims, less than 5 lakhs voted for the Muslim League.

Jinnah’s claim and bravado sprang from the backing of half a per cent of India’s Muslim Population. Popular leaders like Sheikh Abdullah of Kashmir or the Deoband Seminary rejected emphatically Jinnah and his Pakistan theory. The ordinary Muslim had no truck with Jinnah or Pakistan.

As India fumbles in Kashmir, this perspective becomes important to modern India.

Omar said said Jammu and Kashmir is a political situation which needs political handling. “It requires a political package more than an economic package,” he told newsmen after wrapping up his meetings before returning to Srinagar.

“Jammu and Kashmir is a political situation. It needs political handling. It requires a political package more than an economic package. By political package, I mean dealing with issues like Armed Forces Special Powers Act, footprint of the security forces, rehabilitation package for youngsters who are across the line of control and compensation for victims of the ongoing trouble.

“We discussed at length the situation prevailing in the valley and the need for steps to be taken. The consensus was that the pre-requisite for any sort of initiatives in the state was some semblance of normalcy,” the Chief Minister said.

Official sources said the Centre was willing to kick-start political initiatives in J&K including talks with separatists but wanted violence to end first. (via news.outlookindia.com | Omar Talks Tough: Peace Before Political Package).

Fault-lines in illegitimacy

We have seen what has happened in Pakistan, with these power mongers, who have created a faulty identity for themselves. The Partition of 1947 was clear. Any Indian who is a Muslim first, has a place in Pakistan. For Indians, there is India!

That logic is still valid – and a small number of Kashmiris may need to be reminded of that ‘understanding’. We have also seen what has happened to minorities in Pakistan – and India.

Will Kashmiri separatists be any different?

Kashmir crushed by US and British attention (Zahoor's Cartoon: Daily Times).

Kashmir crushed by US and British attention (Zahoor's Cartoon: Daily Times).

Client states can’t be setting the agenda

It costs Arundhati Roy nothing, sitting comfortably on her half-a-million royalty, with her fangs deep into Indian media, to suggest that India consign another 2 crore (twenty million) Kashmiris into the Pakistani hell. Based on terrorist activities of some 2000 jihadis.

If a client state of the US is fomenting terrorism, by using about 4000-5000 people does not mean that the Indian State will shove nearly 25 million Kashmiris into Pakistani maw. Kashmiris first paid a price for Britain’s imperial designs. Now, this time, Kashmiri-Indians are paying a price, all over again, for US policy failures?

The US misadventure into Afghanistan follows the earlier US decision to convert Peshawar into an arms bazaar. The entire Afghan-Pakistani tribal area has become a battle ground for a civil war.

If the US is serious about Pakistan and Afghanistan, let them just leave the sub-continent. Stop playing off one against the other. Pakistan too, needs to grow up. They need to get out of the US orbit.

We can and will solve our problems.

Setting the record straight

I wonder why India is always on the defensive when it comes to Kashmir. Indian diplomacy behaves as a thief who is caught in the act. A few base assumptions are in order: -

  1. It was India that was partitioned – and Pakistan is an of-shoot of India. This partition was based on a tall claim made by some Muslim leaders that Muslims would be better taken care of by a separate Muslim State, ruled by Muslims.
  2. India, reluctantly, agreed to this false claim and logic. Indian Muslims in Pakistan, and the ‘muhajirs’ who emigrated, had little choice – and have suffered immensely. Having got their way, Pakistani leadership is responsible for the same. If Pakistan cannot address the issues that it was created to resolve, does it have a reason to exist?
  3. It is Indian leadership which is responsible for de-colonization – and Pakistan did not even exist. It was Jinnah who said that he, his secretary and a type writer got Pakistan from India. Let us take Jinnah’s statement at its face value. Good for you. Now deliver.
  4. For more than 5000 years, it is India which has taken care of people living in the modern definition of South Asia. India has agreed to include Kashmir in the Indian Union – and a few thousand ‘jihadis’ can change that.
  5. If Pakistan has some part of Kashmir, it is fully accountable – to India, the people of India. Every Kashmiri life is a responsibility of the Indian Government – whether it is governed by Pakistan or India.
  6. It is time that Pakistan is called to account – for every Kashmiri who is uncared for, has been left behind. It is time that India sets deadlines for Kashmir – and Pakistan must accept and meet those deadlines.

Kashmiris are Indians. No discussions, questions or arguments there.

The US hand in Pakistan has been apparent for 45 years now - at least after the Nixon administration. (Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; on 15th April, 2011; source and courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for source image.

The US hand in Pakistan has been apparent for 45 years now - at least after the Nixon administration. (Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; on 15th April, 2011; source and courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for source image.

Worse than Kumbhakaran …

It is said in the Ramayana that Kumbhakaran woke up twice a year to eat and drink. And went back to sleep promptly after his eating and drinking.

The Abdullah clan is not worried about Kashmiris in POK. The Muftis could not care less. The Indian Government, all our political parties (in alphabetical order – BJP, Communists, Congress,  Kashmiri political outfits) seem to doing one better.

In the last 25 years, I have never heard a squeak from anyone about the state of Indians under the Pakistani heel.

Or is it Pakistani hell.


The ‘idea’ of Pakistan-II

July 24, 2010 1 comment

Of nearly 10 crore Indian Muslims in 1941, a mere 5 lakhs voted for Jinnah, the Muslim League and Pakistan.

With time, India could see a future beyond Jinnah and Pakistan! (Cartoon - Artist: David Low (1891-1963) Published by Evening Standard, 21 Sep 1945)

With time, India could see a future beyond Jinnah and Pakistan! (Cartoon – Artist: David Low (1891-1963) Published by Evening Standard, 21 Sep 1945)

Britain has often been taunted with employing “divide and rule” tactics in India, but the cleverest attempt at dividing and ruling is that of Jinnah. Moslems number only 94.5 millions according to the census of 1941. Compared with the 255 million Hindus, they will always be in a minority in any system of democratically elected bodies.

To counter this disability the Moslems, as long ago as 1909, pressed for and secured the electoral device of separate Hindu and Moslem electorates, with seats “reserved” in the legislature on a communal basis. This procedure ensured to Moslems a political representation in excess of their numerical proportions. But it did not satisfy them for long.

When Congress ministries took office in seven out of eleven provinces in 1937, Moslem Leaguers (who had polled only 4.6 per cent of the total Moslem vote) were denied any share in the spoils of office. Moslem League propagandists have represented this situation as a denial of their legitimate rights, and as proof of a Hindu determination to dominate India. Tactically, it may have been unwise of Congress, but under a party system of government it is difficult to see how it could have done otherwise. Congress did not refuse office to Moslems as such, but to Moslems who were not members of Congress.

The experience of one election convinced Jinnah that his party could never hope to enjoy a ruling majority. In 1940 he accordingly resurrected the theory of Pakistan, claiming that Hindus and Moslems are two separate nations.

Before 1940 no one outside the Moslems, and few among them, took Pakistan seriously, but by persistent advocation in season and out, Jinnah has made of it the central issue before India today. He has made of the League a real political party, and in the recent elections to the Central Legislative Assembly it won all the Mohammedan seats (30), polling 86.6 per cent of the total Moslem votes. These elections were based on the extremely restricted franchise of the 1919 Act, and the total number of votes cast was only 586,647, representing almost exclusively the propertied classes. (text highlight supplied)

The real problem starts from this point the League is pledged not to make the new Constitution work unless it starts from the basic assumption of Pakistan. There must be not one but two constitution-making bodies, says Jinnah -one for Hindustan and one for Pakistan. Hindus naturally are not willing to submit, in advance of the elections, to the dictation of a minority.

Jinnah wrecked the Simla Conference – called by the Viceroy, Lord Wavell -in July, 1945. He can wreck the elections. All he has to do is to stall, and the longer he stalls, the stronger he grows.

Jinnah’s growing power and prestige have only made him more obdurate. Would he have dared to go so far if he had not felt assured of outside backing – that is, from Britain? At all events, his attitude has caused Jawarhalal Nehru, the most modern and internationally-minded Congress leader, to declare that Congress will negotiate no further with the League under its present leadership.

Britain’s offer of August, 1940, guaranteed minorities against forcible inclusion in any future Indian Union or Federation; the undertaking was reiterated in the Cripps offer of March-April, 1942, and at the Simla Conference.

Jinnah asks the British government to guarantee his Pakistan scheme; he does not ask the people of India, and is quite oblivious to the 30 millions who would be a Hindu minority in the six provinces which he claims: Sind, Baluchistan, the North-West Frontier Province, the Punjab, Bengal, and Assam. Of these, only the first three have a decisively Moslem population.

If Britain backs Jinnah in his intransigence, she will be accused once more of utilizing the communal divisions to delay a settlement and final handing over of power. But what if Britain calls Jinnah’s bluff? What if he is bluntly told that the question of Pakistan is not for Britain or Moslems alone to decide, but must be settled by the whole Indian people through their elected assemblies?

Britain’s Labor Party … has, since it came to power, gone little further than the Tories. Current pronouncements, … have been confined to the old formulas, with emphasis on the necessity for prior agreement among Indians, and warnings against attempts to secure results by violence. They have not dealt with the fundamental question of what the British government will do to break the stalemate.

Failure to grasp this nettle firmly has already led to suspicions that the leopard has not changed its spots, and that despite the change of government, Britain is still more interested in word-spinning than in action. Even the moderate and liberal sections of the Indian press speak of an “Anglo-Moslem conspiracy to keep India in perpetual subjection.” But so long as there is doubt about Britain’s intentions, communal differences will be accentuated, simply because each community wants to secure the best possible terms far itself before Britain “quits India.”

Moslems to this day are the weaker community financially and educationally. Of male Hindus, 14.7 per cent are literate, compared with 10.7 per cent of the Moslems; for women the percentages are 2.1 and 1.5 (1931 census). Separate electorates have merely accentuated communal differences.

The rice-eating Moslem mopla of Malabar has far more in common with his Hindu neighbors than he has with the wheat-eating Punjabi Moslem. Only the most confused thinking could produce a two-nation theory in India, where there are dozens of distinct races and languages.

Jinnah, who is far from being confused in his thinking, knows all this. It is plain, therefore, that the Hindu-Moslem conflict should be seen, not as a religious one, but as a straightforward political and economic struggle for power, with the spoils of office as prizes.

The principle of self-determination, which is of the essence of democracy, applies to nations, not to the fortuitous divisions of a subcontinent conquered by an alien power. The mutinies in the Royal Indian Navy and Royal Indian Air Force are no mere protests against pay or conditions but are political mutinies directed against foreign rule. Whatever the attitude of her political leaders, the people of India are united as never before in vehement opposition to foreign rule. (via India – Magazine – The Atlantic).

Britain 'saved' India from Japan - with the Great Bengal Famine - 40-50 lakhs of people dead! (Cartoon - Artist: Sidney 'George' Strube Published: Daily Express, 07 Aug 1942).

Britain ‘saved’ India from Japan – with the Great Bengal Famine – 40-50 lakhs of people dead! (Cartoon – Artist: Sidney ‘George’ Strube Published: Daily Express, 07 Aug 1942).


The ‘facts’ behind the emotion

This post excerpted from The Atlantic, written in 1946, a year before India’s Independence, makes a few points that are unclear to most Indians.

The ‘innocent’ Indian Muslim

Indian Muslims did not chose the Muslim League. British policy in India made it seem that Indian Muslims had chosen the Muslim League. Of the nearly 10 crore Muslims, less than 5 lakhs voted for the Muslim League. Jinnah’s claim and bravado sprang from the backing of half a per cent of India’s Muslim Population.

Popular leaders like Sheikh Abdullah of Kashmir or the Deoband Seminary rejected emphaticallyJinnah and his Pakistan theory. The ordinary Muslim had no truck with Jinnah or Pakistan. Meanwhile, Sachar Committee report notwithstanding, the ‘ordinary’ Muslim before Independence was behind the general population.

And remains so.

A wolf in wolf’s skin

The British created (through their separate, limited electorates) the ‘idea’ of Pakistan, reiterated the role of this ‘idea’ in 1940, 1942 and the Simla conference of 1946 – and many times in between.

Had Jinnah decided not to get used by the British masters, someone else would have filled Jinnah’s shoes. It would have taken any two-bit politician, no time at all, to fill the void,  had Jinnah declined this role. The leopard has not changed its spots.

The State of Pakistan continues to be used by Western powers for their own ends.

Britain expected 20 lakh Indian soldiers to shed blood for the British Empire. The 'disloyal' Indian leadership did not see it that way - especially Subhash Chandra Bose. (Cartoon - Artist: Illingworth, Leslie Gilbert, 1902-1979 Published - Daily Mail, 6 April 1942).

Britain expected 20 lakh Indian soldiers to shed blood for the British Empire. The ‘disloyal’ Indian leadership did not see it that way – especially Subhash Chandra Bose. (Cartoon – Artist: Illingworth, Leslie Gilbert, 1902-1979 Published – Daily Mail, 6 April 1942).

Now that it is over …

The Congress is taking the easy way out. It demonises Pakistan, which while being counter-productive, also increases the stakes and decreases the ability to engage Pakistan. 60 years is a long time – a long enough time for the Pakistani State to deliver on its self-defined mandate.

In the meanwhile things have changed. Joseph Stiglitz, in April 2010, indicated that Bangladesh and Sri Lanka could become the next export-production centres for the US, specifically and generally the West. After China. A decade down the road, with Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as US clients, India’s may see itself encircled by Anglo-Saxon client states.

Not a happy thought.


Oil, Dubai and India

December 16, 2009 1 comment

Sunny, Sandy Dubai

Dubai – the modern El dorado?

In the last 40 years, Dubai and Middle East oil had interesting effects in India.

After the 1973 Oil Embargo, the oil riches, the glitzy infrastructure boom of the Middle East, new found power had a profound effect in India. It also made the Indian Muslim proud about his religious identity. The Bombay High oil find just about saved the Indian economy – and the Indian mental equilibrium. For the general Indian, the Middle East was the answer to the slow Indian economy. In an economy of shortages, an over-valued Indian currency, the Dubai allure was irresistible. It was the passport to wealth and abundance.

A voyage of 50 years

It took another 10-15 years for Indians to discover the underbelly of Dubai. To an average Indian, the prospect of slow career growth in Dubai, limited growth opportunities, the discrimination between the Western expatriates and Indians (and others) had a telling – and chilling effect. The Indian-Muslim, expecting a warm welcome in sandy climes, found a sneer instead.

As the Indian economy started taking off in the 1980′s – starting with consumer electronics and auto-sector de-licensing, Indians found a new modus vivendi with Dubai and himself. The nineties saw this trend only become more pronounced. The Arab ‘sheikh’ marrying poor girls from Hyderabad peaked during this period.

Oil wells that don’t end well

By 2000, India had arrived – and it was apparent to Indians, at least. In the last 10 years, as Saudi debt ballooned, Dubai’s problems also became apparent. Just as it was apparent, and Quicktake pointed more than 1 year ago, that wheels are coming off Dubai. Saudi Arabia started accessing debt in 1980’s due to low oil prices – to pay the bill for a ‘welfare state’! Since then that debt has been reduced significantly – it still stands at US$62 billion.

Most oil producing countries, are now living at the edge. As India’s new oil discoveries come on line from 2009, China’s post-Olympics appetite for oil reduces, a recessionary US cuts down on oil consumption, a stagnant EU damps on oil – what happens to these oil producing countries!!

With the dollar hegemony at risk, what happens to their dollar reserves?

Arab sheikhs cant get poor girls from Hyderabad any more

The global liquidity boom saw the Indian economy offer more domestic opportunities. India’s software successes gave the Indian expat manager in the Middle East some new found respect. The Arab ‘sheikh’ is not the frequent sight in Hyderabad now – nor is he as important, as then.

The Indian Muslim in the meantime, has also come a full circle. From the colonial-era myth of ‘Muslims were the erstwhile rulers of India’, to a situation where (admittedly, the few) Jinnah’s ideological acolytes in India, in the face of a imploding Pakistan, an anti-Islamic West and declining Middle East have had to perforce admit, what Deoband mainatained is that

for Muslims, there is no better country than India, no country in which Muslims are doing as well as they are doing in India. Our complaints, our objections, our problems exist, and we will continue to fight our fight for justice, but in other countries the situation is much worse.

I sometimes wonder, how a very well-to-do, urbane, Hyderabadi Muslim, I know, who thought he was a Muslim first, an admirer of the West next and India is the worst place on Earth till the 80′s, thinks now.

But for most other Indian Muslims, the Middle East sheen, by this time, has worn off. Increasing incomes in India and stagnant incomes in the Middle East- and the circle is complete.

Kashmir and the forgotten Sheikh

January 18, 2009 7 comments

Sixty years after Kashmir threw in its lot with India, the state remains an enigma for policymakers. Even back then, the Kashmiri Muslims – the majority in the state – led by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, had defied popular perception that Muslim majority states would prefer joining Pakistan. Abdullah had snubbed Jinnah by refusing to even meet him when the latter came to the Valley in the hope of convincing the young leader to support Pakistan. (via The forgotten Sheikh).

An enigma, inside a puzzle wrapped in a mystery …

Kashmir remains an interesting complication – from a historical perspective. It was Muslim majority – so Pakistan could take a technical refuge under the Indian actions in Junagadh and Hyderabad. Since, it had a Muslim majority, Pakistan could lay claim to it.

The Hindu ruler wished to remain independent – and then changed his mind – and decided to join India. Popular leaders of Kashmir, like Sheikh Abdullah, also wanted Kashmir to be a part of India. Hence the legitimacy of Indian claim.

Note the body language

Note the body language

Colonial detritus

The jokers in the pack were the legacy Colonial rulers – in India and Pakistan. The Governor General of India was Mountbatten – and the Pakistani Generals and some Indian army officials were British.

The collusion between these colonial agents in the dying days of the Raj, has created a festering problem – which India and Pakistan are still fighting over.

We can continue with this problem for the next 60 years – without success. Instead, a better idea may be to put the Kashmir problem into a cryogenic chamber and revive this issue 50 years later.

Westernization of the sub-continent

India’s independent movement created leaders like Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Sheikh Abdullah – who have been forgotten. Instead we now see only the Taliban – created by the West.

Is there a police mindset?

September 29, 2008 Leave a comment
Portrait of a suicide bomber

Portrait of a suicide bomber

When Delhi police paraded three suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorists – Mohammed Shakeel, Saquib Nisar and Zia-ur-Rehman – before the media last week in Arab-style kifayah scarves, little did it realize it would stir a hornet’s nest.

There seems to be a conscious effort to re-assert the identity of these youth – that of being Muslims.

A section of the Muslim community said that the scarves used were similar to those worn by Muslims, especially clerics. Some said they were part of a costume called the abaaya. Numerous e-mails and blogs said that parading those accused of the recent Delhi blasts in these scarves showed the typical mindset of the police. (Is there a police mindset?-India-The Times of India).

The Lowest Prison Population In The World

India has the lowest prison population in the world – ranging between 2.5 lakhs to 3.5 lakhs (250,000-350,000) for a population of 110 crores (1100 million). If one were to compare the Muslim prison population against the general Muslim population, there are an ‘extra’ 15,000-20,000 Muslim prisoners.

And what is the total Muslim population in India – more than 16 crores. This is the world’s largest minority Muslim population in the world – and also the 2nd /3rd largest Muslim population in the world.

India – Most Under-Policed Country In The World

It is also the most ‘under-policed’ country in the world. The Indian police is commendable job – with severe funding, equipment, manpower constraints.

They deserve better than this villification.

India – Most Affected By Terrorism

Apart from war torn countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, India is one of the most affected by terrorism in the world. In such a situation, for the administration, the police and the population to maintain a semblance of sanity, balance is creditable.

As MJ Akbar, observed,

“The Union and state governments have not been tested by a post-terror conflagaration because the overwhelming majority of Hindus have shown an exemplary commitment to peace, but this can hardly be taken for granted.”

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