Thursday, March 12, 2015

History Repeats itself

History, they say, always repeats itself. What, therefore, is now happening in AAP is something that the past has repeatedly witnessed. Two instances that make this entire episode a real time déjà vu are given below-

Indian National Congress- Mid 1960s
Following Lal Bahadur Shastri's untimely death, Indira Gandhi was hoisted as the next Prime Minister by the Congress Old Guard. She seemed pliable and party seniors felt that they could manoeuvre her to get things done. Little did they know, that the woman, who Lohia famously described as "Gungi Gudiya" had ideas of her own. Following poor performance in 1967 general elections, Indira decided to steer leftwards. She ran into resistance from the Old guard. After repeatedly clashing with the Old guard, she was finally expelled from the party for violating party discipline. Unnerved, Indira broke off from the party and formed a party of her own. The Congress(R), as it was called, joined forces with the left and retained power in Delhi. The Old guard, who had made Indira the Prime Minister, were consigned to the dustbin of history.

Arvind Kejriwal was never the ideologue of AAP. That position was held by Yogendra Yadav and the Bhushans. It was they who strategized and put forth political theories that made AAP Delhi’s darling. Arvind Kejriwal became the symbol of AAP, given his passionate speeches, his willingness to fight the Goliath and his earthy demeanour. Sadly, the ideologues refused to give up their idealism for political practicalities. These ideals came in the way of Kejriwal, who in an almost Indira-esque way has chosen to humiliate and discard his former colleagues, while he at all times remains above the mudslinging and name calling. Who will remember Yogendra Yadav and the Bhushans, once they are out of AAP?

Soviet Union -1920s & 30s
Lenin's death was followed by an internal power tussle in which Stalin emerged victorious. Stalin, ever the politician was sick of the ideals of Old Bolsheviks who had won the civil war. He trained his guns at Trotsky, once Lenin's closest confidante, labelled him anti-Soviet and had him banished. Soon, he set his eyes on eliminating other Old Bolsheviks who did not agree with his policies, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin etc.. Ideology was sacrificed at the altars of demagogy and political realities. In a matter of years, Stalin emerged as the supreme leader. The others were reduced to singing odes in his glory.

Shazia Ilmi, Captain Gopinath, Anjali Damania and now probably Yogendra Yadav and the Bhushans are the Old Bolsheviks of AAP. They helped create the party. They infused it with ideology. They created masses of volunteers who selflessly campaigned for the party. But the “Old Bolsheviks” fell out of favour of the man who they had created. Arvind Kejriwal turned out to be their Frankenstein's monster. With his active connivance, they were pushed outside as Kejriwal strengthened his grip on the party. Ideology fell victim to personal ambitions and political exigencies.

Kejriwal, in all likelihood is AAP’s Robespierre. Robespierre, played a key role during the French Revolution but then turned against those who had led the revolution along with him. Bloodletting followed and the revolution was disgraced. AAP is following the same path. The leadership has been discredited, hallowed ideals have been hollowed and witch hunt has begun.

For now, it seems that the revolution is devouring its own.

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Page from History- Regicide

Shanivarwada Fort

The mighty Maratha empire was now already tottering. Still smarting from the vicious defeat at the hands of the Afghans at Panipat, the Marathas had retreated to become some sort of a feudal power. Their geographic expanse was still considerable, but the empire's invincibility had been shattered once and for all. Peshwas who led the Maratha empire at this time were not the Great Marathas of yore, they were feeble, cautious and prone to conspiracy and deception.

It was at this time that the 17 year old Narayanrao was crowned Peshwa at Shaniwarwada. Since the boy was young, his Uncle, Raghunathrao was appointed as the regent. Raghunathrao was the archetype of Maratha rulers in this era. He was weak, corrupt and morally bankrupt. He had previously joined forces with the Nizams, the mortal enemies of the Marathas to wrest the throne from his brother, Madhavrao. Over the years, however, all had been forgotten and he was named as the regent to the young Peshwa, upon Madhavrao's death. Raghunathrao's wife Anandibai was even more corruptible and prone to hatching conspiracies to win the crown for her husband.

Unfortunately for Narayanrao, his lack of political acumen proved to be a serious impediment in his ability to establish himself. Surrounded by advisers who poisoned the mind of the young ruler, Narayanrao, steadily lost trust of his uncle. His uncle, ever the astute politician, used every opportunity to assert himself. In 1772, Narayanrao, decided to put his uncle under house arrest. Thus began the undoing of the young king and the Maratha empire.

Marathas had always drafted mercenaries for fighting their wars. These mercenaries had been drafted into a corps, known as Gardis. Enraged and Incensed at his nephew's order to confine him, Raghunathrao shot off a letter to Sumer Singh Gardi. The letter, simply read "नारायणरावांना  धरा ", meaning catch Narayanarao. However, before the letter could reach its desination, it fell into Anandibai's hands, who, with all her cunning, changed the " " to " ", making the sentence read, "नारायणरावांना मारा", meaning kill the boy.

On Anant Chaturdashi, 1773, Peshwa Narayanrao took to his heels, trying to dodge the Gardis who chased him through Shaniwarwada. The panic stricken boy screamed at top of his voice, "काका मला वाचवा", "Uncle save me", but his Uncle did not come to his rescue. Sumer Singh Gardi caught hold of the young boy and ran his sword through him, it is believed in Raghunathrao's presence. The Peshwa, hardly 18 years old was hacked into so many pieces, that his body had to filled up in an earthen pot. At midnight, when noone was watching, the boy was cremated.

Raghunathrao's reign as Peshwa was short. The scandalous act of regicide had brought ill fame to the Marathas. An enquiry into this incident by the renowned jurist, Ram Shastri Prabhune, found Rahunathrao and his wife guilty for the young Pehswa's murder. Nana Phadnavis became the regent while the dead Peshwa's one year old son was crowned Peshwa. Raghunathrao, subsequently waged war against the Marathas, allying with the British and then the Portuguese, but to no avail. He died full 10 years after he had had his nephew murdered. His wife, atoned for her sins in line with the customs prevalent then, but resumed her plotting and treachery. She never returned to Pune and died in 1794.

One of the gates of Shaniwarwada, called Jambhul Darwaaza was renamed Narayan Darwaza. It is believed, Narayanrao's hacked body was carried out through this gate. Another area in Shaniwarada's vicinity is now called Narayanpeth, after the slain Peshwa. It is also believed that Shaniwarwada is haunted and that on moonless nights, many have heard "काका मला वाचवा " shatter the silence of this otherwise empty fort.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

There is someone behind the mirror

Beware the Baphomet!

There is someone behind the mirror in the Bathroom, I told her. She groaned irritably, believing that I was mumbling in my sleep once again. It had been a regular affair. Over the past 1 week or so, I would talk incoherently in my sleep, she would wake up, ask me to shut up and then go back to sleep. But every other day, I could feel that I was dreaming, although, I couldn't make sense of what I was dreaming. Funny, these dreams were. Sometimes, I would see myself driving blindfolded, taking sharp turns, realizing that there were near-accident situations, at other times, I would feel like I was running down a flight of stairs. My legs would bend and twitch as if I was really running down the stairs. But I could never understand what I was driving/running away from. But all that was until tonight.

I had been telling her that I was having silly dreams. We had even laughed at how the quality of my dreams was so mediocre. I had tried to go to bed with a light dinner, having read somewhere that heavy dinner before bedtime makes the sleep pattern irregular. For the last 3 days, I had been secretely reciting shlokas and mantras to help me sleep- remember how parents used to tell you to say your prayers before going to bed. But nothing had helped. I had continued to drive and run in my sleep. Every morning, I would feel exhausted- attributable obviously to the poor sleep quality. I had even started taking power naps at work, but my boss had caught me yesterday. I had told him that I was meditating.

Strangely though, I had fallen asleep as soon as I had hit the bed tonight. It was a sound sleep, just like the days of yore. And then, suddenly, the dreams began. I dreamt that I was dreaming that I was walking about the house. And the house was empty. It was pitch dark. I tried turning the lights on, but the switch did not work. Damned power cuts, I remarked. I realized that it was night and that I could hear her snoring gently in the bedroom. I thought that I had woken up and walked around in my sleep and started walking back towards the bedroom. The door of the bathroom adjacent to the bedroom was open. A strange yellow light seemed to be coming from the mirror above the wash basin. I reminded myself, Aashay, you are sleep walking and that is bad enough. You should not be dreaming while you are sleep walking. Even before I could decide what I wanted to do, I realized that I was in the bathroom. I could hear voices now. Mumbling that was too faint to comprehend. And then suddenly, it appeared, behind the miror. It was a man, a strange man at that. Seemed more like a goat standing on two feet. It looked at me and then it disappeared.... sooner than it had appeared.

And I blurted out. 'There is someone behind the mirror in the bathroom'. And she groaned. I realized I was still sleeping. I tried to turn over to her side. I couldn't move. I tried to sit up. I couldn't. I opened my eyes, and there it was. The strange Goat-man that I had just seen behind the mirror. He was standing right in front of me. His bloodshot eyes, tapered teeth, vulpine nose, furry face, pointed horns and a strange long dangling tail.  I could see him clearly. He came closer and closer to me. I could feel his breath over my face. He seemed to be radiating wrath. He was still mumbling faintly. But this time, I could make sense of what he was saying. 'Do not tread on paths where you do not belong'.

And suddenly, I felt that I was moving, writhing actually. And I could see her, trying to shake me into wakefulness. I was sweaty, my chest was heaving and my heartbeat was racing like I had actually run a mile. It was morning. And here she was, telling me, 'Wake up, Did you dream again?'

I did not dream. Not tonight. I was sure of it. It was real. The goat man was what I was running and driving away from. Without even knowing he existed, I was running away from him.It was as if my mind had wandered into another dimension and having perceived the menace wanted my body to run away.

Once night falls and darkness takes over, Once sleep takes you in its arms, strange creatures from another realm come to life. It is not meant for a man to see them or hear them. They brook no interference with their life and their realm.

So when you sleep tonight and dreams take over. Be very careful. Not all dreams are bereft of reality. And be wary of where these dreams take you.... There might just be someone behind the mirror in the bathroom.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Frozen Conflicts

The latest term to enter the spehere of geopolitical strategic thought is 'Frozen Conflicts'. One must thank
the Russians for having introduced this term to the international consciousness. With the re-integration of Crimea with Russia, aided obviously by Russian military might, the West is now carefully looking at various such territories/places that were at one time hotbeds of strife and violence, but have since then lapsed into peace and quiet, without any apparent setllement of issues that had caused the strife/violence initially. Post Soviet realms are full of such conflicts, ranging from Eastern Ukraine or Novorossiya to Transnistria on the Moldova-Ukraine border to Abkhazia and South Ossetia on the Russo-Georgian border to Nagorno-Karabakh in Armenia and Azerbaijan.

All these disputes are frozen in time. The inhabitants of these territories have forgotten the violence that they had experienced some 20 odd years ago and have now established a modus vivendi for themselves. Some like Transnistria now claim to be sovereign  and independent, while others such as Abkhazia are de facto independent.

One must dig a little deeper to understand how a frozen conflict would serve the strategic interests of a superpower. For this, let us examine the peculiar case of Russo-Georgian relations.

Georgia had been a part of the Russian empire for many years before the Bolsheviks took over. In fact, Georgia was one of the original Soviet republics as the Trans-caucasian republic when the USSR was founded in 1922.Georgia's greatest claim to fame in the USSR was that it was the homeland of Joseph Stalin- the butcher of millions of Soviet citizens. In fact, the Georgians mutinied in 1956, when Khrushchev denounced Stalin. Anyways, the invincible Soviet Union imploded in 1990 and Georgia emerged as an independent nation under for the first time that anyone to could remember. Georgia's strongman was Gorbachev's former foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze. Immediately after Georgia's independence, the northern, predominantly non-Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia rose up against Georgia and achieved de facto independence, although calm was restored with Russian intervention in the early 90s. The conflict was considered as more or less settled with no side disturbing the status quo.

In 2005, following the Rose revolution in Tbilsi, Shevardnadze was ousted and a new pro-American president, Mikhail Saakashvili was sworn into power. Saakashvili immediately made several pro-West moves including applying for NATO membership. Nationalist, as he was, Saakashvili also aimed at restoring the unity of Georgia by taking back Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russians, in the meanwhile, under the Putin-Medvedev team had turned away from the defeatist Yeltsin era and were establishing themselves as Nationalists in their own right. Citizens of both Abkhazia and South Ossetia had been granted Russian passports, essentially transforming the character of the conflict from a Georgian affair to a Russo-Georgian affair.

In 2008, Georgian attempts to reclaim the lost territories were met by Russians arming the South Ossetians and Abkhazians. In a matter of days, Russian troops poured into Georgia to counter the Georgian military offensive. Given the overwhelming military superiority of Russia, and the fact that they were supported by the Abkhazian and South Ossetian military, Georgian military was humbled in a matter of days, before the international community rushed in to mediate peace. Once again, the status quo was imposed. Once again, South Ossetia and Abkhazia were de facto independent under Russian tutelage.

International experts believe, that the 2008 South Ossetia conflict between Georgia and Russia was Russia's way of indicating its displeasure with the Rose revolution and the cosying up of Saakashvili administration with the US. Some also considered the Russian offensive as Putin's revenge for Kosovo. In a matter of days, the Russians, strategically, revived a frozen conflict, with Georgian aid no doubt and used it to their advantage to topple Saakashvili's  apple cart.

What Russia is doing now in Ukraine is no different. As Ukraine continues to edge towards the EU and NATO, Russia will up the ante, probably going so far as to threaten the existence of the Ukrainian state. All frozen conflicts are not necessarily in countries far far away. China continues to use the border dispute with India and maritime disputes with other Asian countries from time to time to its strategic advantage.

Coming back to the modern Geo-strategic thought, all conflicts need not be resolved. Some should be left in the deep freezer. God only knows when they might come in handy.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Holy Cow!

The whole controversy regarding Sai Baba was quite unnecessary to say the least. Dwarka Shankaracharya need not have expressed his opinion, even if he felt very strongly about it. Hindu or Muslim, Sai Baba is the object of affection, adoration and devotion for millions who consider themselves Hindu and do not seem to bother about the religious convictions of Sai Baba. Hindu Seers supporting the Shankaracharya's views have sought to highlight scriptures and various 'acts' of Sai Baba which seem to indicate that he was not a God. Needless to say, it has not helped further their cause. What is even worse probably is the fact that millions of adherent Hindus who believe wholeheartedly in the Sanatan Dharma, seem totally unconcerned with the whole controversy. Imagine, The utterances of a Holy Seer going unheeded this way!

But then that is how the Hindu religion is! Diffused, Omnipresent and yet not rigid but rather fluid. Unlike Abrahamic religions which have clearly stated dos and donts and scriptures that in many cases form the law, Eastern religions have tended to be more ethereal. Dharmic religions belonging to Indospehere and Chinese/Japanese/Korean religions belonging to Sinosphere tend to deal with 'may/may nots' rather than Western religions that are more of 'can/can not'. The result has been an explosion of conflicting opinions, diverse cultural mores and habits that indicate a total lack of cohesion, but scratch the surface and you shall find layers and layers of similarity and commonness. Contrast this with western religions, where homogeneity is the norm.

When West met East, notably during the colonial era, West imposed its understanding of culture and society on the East. Manusmriti was understood by British colonizers as the Hindu equivalent of the Quran or the Talmud, which it certainly was not. Practices that the westerners found abhorrent, were termed as superstition (which in our understanding today, surely were superstitious). As Hindus became more prosperous and materialistic over a period of time, faith in Godmen and Seers and Saints dropped in this most religious corner of the world,  Add to this the inherent fluidity of the religion to accept all views (even if they be diametrically opposite) has resulted in Hinduism being a religion practiced at home and thus varying from home to home. Barring a few recommended visits to famous temples and prayers at holy rivers, Hinduism is actually a way of life, and not so much a religion in the western sense.

India's independence and the Nehruvian belief in majority communalism being more dangerous further dented whatever consolidation could have happened amongst the right-wing Hindus that could have resulted in a rigidification/restructuring of the religion. Other than the failed Cow slaughter ban movement and the partially successful Ram Janmabhoomi Andolan, Hindus have remained a diffused and distributed lot. Combined with the inherent tolerance and respect for other cultures has meant that Hindus would be as likely to pray at a Pir Dargah as at Kashi Vishwanath temple. Given this political and social background, the Shankaracharya's rejection of Sai Baba goes against the grain of the religion which he claims to lead. 

Which is a sentiment best summarized Rig Veda which says

'एकम् सत् विप्राः बहुधा वदन्ति'- Truth is One, though the Sages know it by many names!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Cry-me-a Ukraine

In a way that combines the best practices of the Soviet era- stealth, deception and intrigue with the best practices of its Russian successor state- brawn, brain and courage, Putin has succeeded in catching the West unawares. While the Americans, the Germans, the French and the British were toasting champagne for having wrested another East European country out of Russia's sphere, Putin was silently working behind the scenes to create a situation which is now being called the return of the cold war.

Kiev exploded into protests once President Yanukovich at the last moment backed out of accords that would have brought Ukraine a step closer to the EU, choosing instead the massive waivers that Russia was strategically offering. Kiev protests were nothing new- protests are now a standard feature of almost all modern nation states- Kiev was hosting protests in Maidan square, just as Dhaka had witnessed its own in Shahbag square, Cairo in Tahrir Square, Bahrain in Pearl Square and so on and so forth. This is now a routine internal matter of any nation. However, Ukraine was to be the prized possession of the West, another humiliating blow to post Soviet Russia. And hence the West intervened- High profile visits by diplomats and statements by Presidents and Prime Ministers. Western portrayal of events in Kiev showed that a revolution was brewing against the unpopular rule of Yanukovich who deserved what he was getting.

Well, Yanukovich wasn't exactly the most popular President that Ukraine had ever had. He had been ousted from power once earlier during the Orange Revolution. But he had inched back to power primarily because the forces that had led the Orange Revolution had dissipated their energies in fighting each other and because he had a genuine following in the Russian speaking majority in the Eastern part of Ukraine. But now in sort of a deja vu, people were clamoring for his ouster once again. After days of blowing hot and blowing cold, offering sops and asking police to intervene, Yanukovich realized that his days were numbered. He simply fled.

The transitional government that took power in Kiev immediately turned to EU for support and membership. In an befuddling move, it also rescinded a 2012 law that made Ukrainian and Russian the official languages of the state. Now, it was time for the Russian majority and industrialized East to explode. As Putin watched, undoubtedly with a smile on his face, Russian speaking Ukraine disowned the new national government in Kiev. In Crimea, pro Russian troops took control of the autonomous territory that Khrushchev, for reasons best known to him, had transferred from Russia to Ukraine. Putin, subtly aided the process. Tourist protestors crossed in from Russia to Eastern Ukraine to protest against the fascist dispensation in Kiev that was hell bent on obliterating Russian speakers in Ukraine. From Donetsk to Luhansk, From Kharkiv to Sevastopol, protestors took over Government buildings and unfurled the Russian tricolor.

Crimean Parliament in the meanwhile called for a referendum to reunite Crimea with Mother Russia. Suddenly, the West woke up. Realizing that the tables had completely turned against them, Obama, Merkel and the Who's who of the West frantically engaged with Putin and his administration, coaxing, cajoling and threatening him to respect Ukraine's territorial integrity. Putin on his part merely reiterated his stated position to come to the aid of Russian speakers anywhere in the world.

So that is where things stand as of now. It looks probable that Crimea will vote for integration into Russia. It seems probable that Kerry and Obama will go berserk. It seems probable that sanctions and counter sanctions will be liberally applied. But one thing is certain, Russia has risen again!! 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Lord Kejriwal has spoken once more. Perched on a platform, towering over his worshipers, he has named the corrupt-the scum of Indian politics. They must be hounded and made to suffer. After all, none other than the almighty Lord himself has so ordained. At least that is what Kejriwal and his AAPists would have us believe. Kejriwal is the incarnation of Buddha, Krishna, Jesus and Zoroaster, raised to the power n. He is the embodiment of truth and courage in this Kalyug. He was sent down by the God himself to rid India of all her ills. He is the modern day messiah, who comes to spread his religion of honesty, probity and accountability, not with a sword, not with a Gospel but with Dharnas, Anshans and Pradarshans. God almighty has sent him to us to make India once more the land of bounteous milk and honey, the eternal golden sparrow.

This cult of personality is frankly very sickening. Kejriwal's and AAPists' self portrayal as posterboys of India's vibrant democratic structure is unnerving at the very least. Their lofty ideals and their claims of being different and better than all others in the political fray is disgusting. The fact of the matter is that AAP is like any other political party in the country, composed of power hungry and ideology-less goons who want to be known as leaders. There is one difference though, while other established national political parties are slowly moving away from evil of populism and disruptive democracy, Kejriwal and his party seem to be espousing the ideals of 'mob democracy' to force the Kaffirs to believe them and their ideas.

Let us look at AAP's record till date. For AAPists, Intra-party democracy is not very different from a Khap panchayat. Party elders sit and decide what is right and what is wrong and the rest of the party must toe that line. Speak up and you are branded a heretic, Speak louder and you will be purged ( remember Binny?). Classic replication of Lenin and his "Democratic Centralism", Stalin and his "Purge Trials",isn't it?

Now, Let us look at law and order. See now, that is a wrong question. Central Government is responsible for law and order. What can Kejriboy do? He can scream, shout and protest, which he is doing anyway. Poor, Old, Sheila Dixit, hounded as she was by these AAPists for crimes against women. She lost the election on an issue that wasn't even hers. But then, she did not sit on a Dharna- see now thats the difference.

What about power? First nothing and then up, up and away and why? Lo and behold- Private power companies are corrupt, they are holding the government to ransom, they are the bad guys. Lets throw them out!  

I can keep rambling but honestly, I have lost interest in this politics of blaming, in this politics of 'I am holier than thou',and worst of all, in this politics of 'if you disagree with me, you must be evil'. In an earlier post I had expressed fears that Kejriboy would be India's Robespierre. I am afraid that it seems that I was right.AAP to me symbolizes a gross misrepresentation of Young India's aspirations. Where India wanted stability, AAP offers anarchy, Where India wanted progress, AAP stands for hindrance, Where India wanted democracy, AAP believes in a cult of personality. Devoid of any coherent ideology, AAP, to me, is no different from any other regressive political party with a provincial mindset and parochial attitude. 

So much for being the next big thing on India's political scene.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Federal woes

Successive national elections have seen the power of a strong central government wither away such that the idea of a strong, one-party central government seems inconceivable today. The decline in the fortune of national parties has been to the gain of regional satraps who, today, rule over many states as their fiefdoms. Mulayam and family in UP, Karunanidhi and clan in Tamil Nadu, the Abdullahs in J&K, the Chautalas of Haryana and the Gowda father-son duo of Karnataka- other than the Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, hardly any state in India can today boast of a strong presence of the national parties- Congress, BJP and the communists to a certain extent.

The rise of regional parties was inevitable, given the sheer diversity of the populace that inhabits the country, and probably it is good in a way, since it keeps dictatorial tendencies à la Emergency in check. But, the lack of strong political consensus in the country, in the form of electorate voting decisively for one or the other party or combination has now begun to take its toll on the strength of the central government. A strong central government is what the makers of the constitution had in mind when they drafted the Indian constitution. Accordingly, India practices a faux-federalism in which most of the power resides with the centre, even though there is a  strong semblance of devolution of powers to states. With national parties losing their popularity, all elections since 1996 have seen governments of the largest national party being propped up by regional parties. Things have come to such a pass now, that central government is unable to enforce its writ lest it chooses to anger its regional allies, and ends up losing power at the centre as well. Take the case of Durga Nagpal for instance. The moment Sonia Gandhi spoke in support of the suspended IAS officer, Samajwadi Party announced its opposition to the crucial Food Security Bill. Things came to such a pass that one of the SP leaders asked the Centre to withdraw all its IAS officers if it was so worried. All this, even when the whole world knows that Durga Nagpal is being victimized for taking on the strong sand mafia. 

India has been weakest when the Centre has been weak. The invasions of Mahmud of Ghazni, Abdali,  Nader Shah and the British, took place when India was at best a patchwork of territories, lacking a strong leadership. If the predictions for the next elections are correct, India will again end up without a strong, credible central government, something that does not bode well for the country. India-the superpower of 21st century, most definitely needs an able and an effective central government.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Language woes

In 1947, religion was identified as the most fundamental unit of nationalism in the sub continent. Proponents of this theory claimed that since Hindus and Muslims belonged to separate religions, they belonged to different nations. Accordingly, India was partitioned into a Hindu majority India, flanked on the east and west by Muslim majority Pakistan. In 1971, Muslim majority East Pakistan claimed that it was not religion, but language that was the most fundamental social identifier in the sub continent. Accordingly, Bangladesh was born. Agreeing with the same logic, Lankan Tamils fought decades of bloody and destructive battles with Lankan Sinhalese.

 In India too, in spite of the initial aversion of national leaders such as Nehru and Patel, language was identified as the primary differentiator between Indians and the State reorganization bill of 1956 gave a formal go-ahead for states based on linguistic homogeneity. This principle of language based states has served India well so far-Punjabi (sikh) nationalism was tackled by creation of Punjabi suba, Marathi nationalism by creation of Maharashtra, Gujarati nationalism by creation of Gujarat and so on and so forth. Proponents of this linguistic theory of self-identification feel that Balkanization of India was prevented largely by acceptance of regional aspirations in the form of creation of states based on linguistic homogeneity. Even in the sub continent for that matter, reinstatement of Sindh as a province tackled the demand for Sindhudesh and creation of autonomous Tamil zone silenced in guns in Lanka for some time. 

India, however has chosen to sacrifice that principle as a government counting its days attempts to pander to vote bank politics. The decision of the UPA government to create a second Telugu state in the form of Telangana, in spite of strong opposition within Andhra is nothing but a despicable attempt at holding on to power in the next elections. The demand for Telangana is not new, it has persisted for several decades now. The demand for a separate state for the Telugu speaking, former Nizam's territories stems not from some regional aspirations but from a perceived discrimination in a united Andhra. Instead of seeking to safeguard rights of the people and addressing their grievances, the Central government has chosen to give assent to Telangana. Strong objections such as similar demands from other regions in the country, threat of naxalism, sharing of resources were all overlooked for the short term aim of electoral politics. Such is the state of affairs in the land of Gandhi today!

Such political short sightedness is not new to the Congress. After all, the Congress did create Bhindranwale to counter the growing clout of the Akalis in Punjab. Everyone now knows what a disaster that turned out to be for the country. By creating Telangana, Congress government has sent out a clear message- Agitate and get what you want. The cycle of violence will now resume in Bodoland and Gorkhaland. Petty politicians will form parties demanding Vidarbha, Saurashtra, Tulu Nadu, Kongu Nadu, Bundelkhand, Harit Pradesh, Mahakoshal and what not. Probably, one day in the future, surely under a Congress government, every residential colony will be designated as a state!

The solution to lopsided development is not creation of smaller states. Jharkhand is a sad example of what all can go wrong even in smaller states. The solution to meeting people's aspirations is commitment to common good, probity in public life and ethics- all of which our politicians lack today! Creation of Telangana, while surely meeting the aspirations of a few, will go down as one of the most disastrous decisions taken by the Congress government, now clearly, in its death throes.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Lal Salaam!

Leftist ideologues waste no time in raving and ranting about the grave injustices perpetrated by the state in undeveloped tribal homelands that drive people to take up arms to challenge the might of the state and assert their rights on what is rightfully theirs. Right wingers view the maoist problem as a menace to national security and demand that the state impose itself in totality to establish control over brigand infested lawless areas. Caught in the battle of ideologies are the dispossessed tribals, security men and occasionally a convoy of politicians. The result is a blood bath, heightened media attention, flurry of activities by state agencies before the usual stupor sets in. Nothing changes and this cycle gets repeated endlessly.

Naxalism evokes strong reactions. Dispossessed and forgotten people raising their voices and railing against the state and its institutions is fine by me, but terror is where line gets drawn. If citizens (even though they perceive themselves as denizens) take up arms against the state, the state is fully justified in deploying all the resources available with it to convince these people to set their arms aside. Negotiations and developmental work is a part of the solution but breaking the morale of terrorists is another critical part. 

Maoism, socialist revolution, guerrilla warfare are all strategies of yore. They thrived in the post-colonial era where they represented a kind of 'breaking free of the past' ritual. Modern democratic societies allow innumerable ways of expressing dissent, one way is to debate things out in the assembly, another is to fast a la Irom Sharmila, another is to protest a la Kejriwal & co. Democracy always delivers, it may not deliver on time, but it always delivers!  Violence of the kind witnessed in Darbha Valley last month only serves to taint genuine causes with the tag of terror. Who talks about the plight of the landless tribals when the news item is that of a burning, smoldering vehicle carrying CRPF personnel, or the bloodied remains of Mahendra Karma or a grievously injured VC Shukla?

Maoists pride themselves on following Mao's teachings. But what did Mao leave behind? Misery and impoverishment of billions of Chinese. Che Guevara's legendary guerrilla tactics did not change the lives of ordinary Latin American peasants. Stalin murdered millions in the name of ideology, but where does his empire lie today? Extreme left wing ideology is a failed ideology, there is no instance in the world wherein it has delivered the utopia it promised. The State must help these wayward revolutionaries realize the follies of their ways, persuade them and if all fails, impose its power to establish order- The likes of Darbha are too stinging a slap on the face of the state and its institutions, the guilty must be brought to account. Order and peace must prevail at all costs.