Saturday, September 25, 2010

Kashmir Solution


Last 4 months or more have brought the Kashmir question back to the forefront. Its a problem that has haunted us since the time of independence.

While I am already in the process of writing a much longer and indepth article on the Kashmir question, there are few points I am compelled to state.

The Kashmir Questions Legal and Constitutional position


Its clearly in India's favor.

The Instrument of Accession to India was signed by Maharaj Hari Singh on October 26, 1947. The copy of the Instrument of Accession signed by Kashmir and other Princely States within India has absolutely no difference.

Accordingly, the State of J&K reflected as part of India under Part B states.

Then on May 1, 1951, Yuvraj Karan Singh proclaimed formation of the Constituent Assembly. Elections were called in, Constituencies of 40000 population were ordered to be formed. On May 15, 1951 National Conference had won all the 75 seats.

On Februaray 6, 1954, the Constituent Assembly of J&K ratified the Accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India.

On February 14, 1954, The Constitution of India was applied to J&K on the basis of Article 370, giving Temporary exceptions and modification in application to J&K.

On October 17, 1956, The Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir is adopted by the State Constituent Assembly. The Part II, Clause 3 of the State Constitution States, "The State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an Integral Part of Union of India.

There are two points to understand:

1. The ratification to Accession of J&K has not been subjected to Article 370 of Indian Constitution. Only application of Indian Constitution to the State of Jammu & Kashmir is subjected to Article 370. The Article however doesn't apply in instances when the integrity of territory or Sovereignty of Union of India over the State of Jammu & Kashmir is under question.

2. The Plebiscite as sought by UN had many conditions and the main was complete withdrawal of troops from Kashmir under Indian as well as Pakistani occupation. That has neither happened in the past and with increasing hostilities, its not possible in present or near future. None trusts UN's ability to maintain Status Quo either.

Therefore, in such circumstances, it is prudent to accept the verdict of the 1954 Constituent Assembly which comprised of elected people and was formed on a known clear agenda of State formation and accession to India, as the WILL of the people.

What is the debate on Article 370 about?

The Article 370 was adopted in the Indian Constitution on October 17, 1949

Article 370 allows the State and Jammu and Kashmir to accept or deny any legislation passed by Union of India. So, in other word, various laws that are applicable to Rest of India or All Indian States, may not apply to Jammu & Kashmir. This is in a way a very strong autonomous position built for Jammu & Kashmir. The Article was however meant to be temporary. This is evident from the title of the Article itself - Temporary Provisions with respect to The State of Jammu and Kashmir.

This act, however, is applicable only to matters that are not a part of the Instrument of Accession. The Instrument of Accession already includes all matters like Defence, External Affairs and Communication. By that the primary issues related to Sovereignty of India over the State of Jammu & Kashmir, has to be safeguarded by the State Assembly and Government of India reserves the right to defend its Sovereignty. This is clearly state in Article 370 Clause (b) Subclause (i).

However, the February 14, 1954 application of the Indian Constitution to the State of Jammu & Kashmir is on the basis of Article 370. In that sense it is to be seen as a retrograde step in Organic Integration of Jammu & Kashmir with the rest of India.

Jammu & Kashmir has retained the right to have its own separate constitution which is not available to any other state. And what was given as Temporary Power in Good Faith has seen an erosion on two counts.

1. The good faith seems to be absent as many important laws that apply to all other states aren't yet accepted by the State Govt.
2. The Temporary Provision is becoming more and more permanent in nature, especially with demands for even larger Autonomy.

People Situation

The people situation in Kashmir is obviously the most complicated aspect. While there are many communities in Kashmir, Muslims, Hindus and Ladakhi Buddhist form the three major groups. Muslims dominate the demography.

While the Hindu population was greatly reduced in the 1947 Pakistani-Tribal attack on the state, even more damage was caused in 1989 when militants threatened to kill the entire community if they did not leave the State. Kashmiri Pandits as most of them are referred as, left the State and migrated to Jammu and other parts of India.

Slowly as the generations have passed the idea of co-existence of two communities has vanished from the young Kashmiri Mulsim population. Extremism has found place now. The continued militancy has made Kashmir the most militarized zone on earth. That also has aggravated the problem further.

However, I personally refuse to accept the 20years of existence of Armed Forces and continuation of militancy as the failure of the Army. The Government of India while sending the Army has disallowed a full-scale military style termination of Terrorists. Given a freedom the Army could have finished militancy in under one month.

The growth of terrorism into phenomenon like Al-Qaeda and Taliban etc has created complications as these foreign terrorist groups have now entered the Valley. Their presence has been reported by Army and speculated by the journalists for over two years now. The other terrorists has included Pakistanis and some local Kashmiris trained in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. So the population of Kashmir now includes Kashmiris, Kashmiris who resided in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, Pakistanis, Afghanis etc.

The Separatists have received boost due to ignorant policies of the Government of India and a sense of extremism amongst Separatists that has germinated the idea of an Islamic State.

Geo-Politics

The Geo-politics of the regions hasn't helped either. While most of the issues related to Geo-politics are on the basis of analysis of certain actions only and no serious confirmed reports, it is not too far-fetched to claim that Sino-Pakistani Axis has managed to trap Americans in Afghanistan. The Taliban was a Pakistani baby and along with these militants the Pakistanis have very smartly got the American forces trapped, who are neither able to win, nor able to exit.

America needs a much larger help from Pakistani forces. Pakistanis in turn have referred to the Kashmir Problem as the reason for their inability to spare more troops. The Americans have been made to believe that if India can reduce Forces in the Valley, Pakistan will be able to spare troops for Afghan war. On this basis, even before elections started in America, current US President Barrack Hussein Obama proclaimed a larger US role in the Kashmir Affair. This has led to belief and speculation that US has created a backdoor channel between India and Pakistan with itself as an invisible mediator, forcing India to agree to granting Autonomy and reduction in Troops within Kashmir.

Somewhere in this background, in the middle of 2010, after the new National Conference-Congress Govt tookover, the protests started in Kashmir. Since the middle of 2010 there has been a continued demand for Azadi and youth have resorted to stone-pelting on the J&K Police and CRPF troops.

Incidentally, National Conference has always maintained a demand for a larger Autonomy within Indian Constitution.

The protests continued unabated, with no real steps being taken by the J&K CM Omar Abdullah. The protests spread to a very large portion within the Valley. The State Govt has demanded a larger Autonomy and removal of Armed Forces (J&K) Special Powers Act, 1990 from most of Kashmir. That is expected to bring down the Armed Forces troops within the State as the Armed Forces will refuse to operate without their legal bullet-proof in AFSPA.

It is interesting to note that both the demands of National Conference are quite similar to what Pakistan has demanded and suggested to US. The same has been speculated and believed to have been agreed to by the GoI through secret backdoor discussions. This was revealed as early as 3rd March 2010 in the Lok Sabha by seniormost leader of Bharatiya Janata Party Shri. L K Advani.

The strong and violent call for Azadi by separatists has created an unprecedented difficult situation. The crisis is actually directly threatening the Sovereignty of India over the State of Jammu and Kashmir, directly. The GoI has, however, chosen to underplay the risks involved. In fact, it has shown an eagerness to repeal or Amend AFSPA. Since, amendment to AFSPA is a difficult task, involving the entire Parliament, the repeal of the Act from certain districts in the beginning looks likely.

Solution

The threat to India's Sovereignty and the inability of the State Govt in containing the crisis demands prudence from the Government of India.

There should be a serious consideration for pressurizing the State Assembly in Jammu & Kashmir to adopt the Indian Constitution in totality. The negotiation should allow transferring of certain matters in Union List of the Constitution to the State List. This could be done for all states of India and not Jammu & Kashmir alone. On this basis, the Article 370 must be repealed unconditionally. The amendments must be made to Union and State Lists of the Constitution as per the negotiations.

With this the Constitutional Relationship with the State will move in the right direction. this will also allow the Government of India to play a larger role in the Kashmir Crisis.

The Peaceful Areas like Jammu and Ladakh must be separated first. The Territorial continuity must be ensured between the two. The Kashmir Valley could then be cleaned and a possibility of rehabilitating Kashmiri Pandits in their traditional areas must be undertaken. This will help the demographic recuperation over the years. The remaining area of the Valley must be Quarantined till restoration of Law & Order.

For many this may be a radical idea. But the situation itself is radical. Hoping for Ideal situation is unrealistic today. Its not only too far away even if GoI takes all the right steps, but is dangerous enough to spread like an epidemic. Prudence and willingness to take tough decisions must be taken.

A more detailed note is under preparation which will dwell at every aspect in greater length.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Irrelevance of Pritish Nandy

Few of us have heard of Pritish Nandy. Many know him as that bald man who comes on television as a socialite who likes to comment on political issues of India. Nobody, however, would ever rely on him. Simply, because he is frivolous.

Our man wrote an Blogpost in May 2010 on Times of India. The title was The Irrelevance of BJP. I found his entire rant to be irrelevant in terms of any sensible content and moved on. But then it seems to keep coming back through someone or the other asking for my own humble views on what Nandy had to say.

I am, therefore, going through each paragraph and sharing what I think of it.

I entered Parliament with BJP support. The Sena votes were not enough to see a second candidate through. Satish Pradhan was the official candidate. I came in as the second one, in the hope that the BJP may give me some of their extra votes. Balasaheb made an impassioned plea for me, an outsider to the party. So charismatic was his plea that I not only got the Sena votes but I also got the extra BJP votes. Satish Pradhan limped in last while Ram Pradhan (known as Sonia’s candidate) lost. Clearly the BJP was behind my victory even though Pramod Mahajan never quite liked me. But he listened to Balasaheb. So I have a soft spot for the BJP even though India looks all set to forget them.



He is trying to justify the prostitution of his loyalty on an emotional plot. Trying to make his following views more palatable as not a rant of a prostitute but of a well-intentioned divorced wife.

My biggest disappointment with the BJP is that despite India voting it into power within a decade and a half of being a tiny two man party in Parliament, it stubbornly refused to meet any expectations. It picked up every cracked cause it found, from joining the rivers of India to building a Sanskrit supercomputer to wanting to replace the national anthem with Vande Mataram, to stitch together a political agenda so weird that even today people sigh with relief when they see the BJP out of power. It’s a party where everyone’s so busy putting the other down that no one has time for anything else. I suspect Vajpayee and Advani, the two who built the party from scratch, are as sad to see it go down the drain. But the real tragedy is that the very things the BJP (and India) hated about the Congress flourished most during its own regime: Corruption, ineptitude, nepotism, and nonsense masquerading as ideology. Sitting in the Central Hall of Parliament, I often felt like an idiot. All that I had spent a lifetime fighting was happening there-- right before my eyes. No wonder I did not seek re-election.


Interlinking of rivers is a cracked issue? Does he know that this project is already implemented in Gujarat and has turned the driest area of Kutch into a Green enough zone? Does he know between 2002-2009 the agricultural production of Gujarat has gone up from Rs.9 lakh crore to Rs.22 lakh crore approximately? I am sure that useless film maker knows none of this.

He thinks sanskrit computer was a stupid idea because he thinks that was a primary project of BJP and all national resources were being spent on it. Sanskrit is India's own ancient language which is today dying. It has however been found to be grammatically perfect and best for programming. Indians will be able to program ten times better in sanskrit than they do in some alien project. And as long as it is not taking up a very large chunk of national resource its fine to promote it. 98% of the people didn't even know about this project.

But I still owe the BJP. I owe Mahajan in particular. He was one of the party’s cleverest and most insolent satraps. There was nothing he wouldn’t stoop to but he was smart enough to know that to be in power the BJP had to master the art of sustaining alliances and he did that brilliantly. I suspect even Balasaheb misses him. The BJP certainly does even though no one will admit to it because the BJP loves fighting the enemy within, not the Congress. Every leader in the party hates the other and yet they all sit down together, laugh, joke, drink tea and eat samosas, pretending they are just a whisker away from power. Who know? They probably are. But it’s certainly not on merit. The only support that exists for them comes from people like you and I who want a powerful Opposition around just to keep the Congress in check.



Now this irrelevant bitching, Digvijay Singh vs. P Chidambaram is in full public view. These are not unique to BJP, its normal human tendency in general, except few enlightened people.

But the truth is most people don’t think the BJP have it in them any more. The fact that some still vote for it and alliance partners remain is because there’s no real alternative in sight. The Congress is clever. They showcase young leaders like Rahul Gandhi so differently that you can hate the Congress and yet vote for Rahul and his candidates. In your mind they are entirely different propositions. The BJP can’t even do that. Barring Narendra Modi, no one in the party can stand apart and claim a personal following. Some crackpots may still buy their poison brew of Hindutva, Hate and Hysteria. But the BJP has nothing else to offer India. Not even an alternative economic roadmap to capture the nation’s imagination, burdened as it with spiralling prices, unrealistic taxes, and a Government constantly in denial of its failures.



Here he has completely overlooked, intentionally, the Golden Quadrilateral, power Sector Reforms, National Telecom Policy, National Tribal Policy, Proposal of RTI Act, 8% growth during the time the world was gripped with ASEAN crisis, 4.5% inflation during 6 years of their rule. In short, this man is giving A-grade bullshit.

As for other leaders, Arun Jaitely and Sushma Swaraj have been overlooked. Rahul Gandhi and Congress are best left for time to unravel.


The Congress may refuse to change. But at least it’s using its new mascot Rahul Gandhi wisely, to cleverly draw in the young and not so young to whom he stands as a sign of possible change. The BJP offers nothing apart from the notion of an alternative. But the face of that alternative can’t be an overweight leader who faints in the Delhi heat or a pack of wolves who tear into one of their own when he writes a book on Jinnah. The BJP obviously doesn’t like intelligent, capable, charismatic leaders. Not enough to give them prominence in the party. It offers no political roadmap, no economic agenda that can make them look like a real alternative. It speaks only through ill fitting dentures on issues India has long forgotten.


That sign of "possible change" already seems fading. How long can the mental disabilities of Rahul Gandhi be hidden from public. He's in Congress since 1999, has been an MP twice now, he still shivers when addressing an unharming press conference. The quality of the comments has been pulling the bar lower and lower. His best friends in media can be expected to feel at risk in supporting him.

The comment on Gadkari is understandable. Gadkari doesn't like nincompoops, and Pritish nandy is exactly that. He's surely been sidelined and overlooked. This whole article is infact written to give a mouthful to Gadkari.

When 65% voters are under 35 and clamouring for change, the BJP looks like an anachronism. It has clearly lost the plot. What it needs is a fresh young face that can relate to the new generation of Indians and speak for the future. What it can do is challenge the old, tired clichés of the Congress by offering an imaginative new agenda that includes not just politics but smart economics and that dream of change that can inspire young people to take them seriously. To do that, the BJP must look at the future and stop harping on the past. Hate is so passé.


Quite a useless, cliched advice from someone who has nothing to offer himself, except few witless, irresponsible, uninformed comments. He's a hyena who is simply excited seeing BJP lose elections twice. The resurgence is not even expected by Pritish Nandy.

On the whole the article by Pritish Nandy had nothing to offer but a pure and simple rant, crying foul and saying anything that came into his drunk mind.

Avoid wasting your time reading his article, I already regret having reviewd it passage by passage. Call it my "Sacrifice" in the interest of a larger good.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

What is Hindutva to me?

This single term has been one of the most debatable terms in India. It’s been interpreted in many different ways by different people. For some it has religious connotation, more in the sense of Supremacy of Hindu religion in India, for others it’s a Cultural Nationalism, which, I might add, is a bit of redundant phrase as Culture is anyway a part of a Nation and Nationalism, by that definition, must be inclusive of culture and customs of this land.

I don’t know who coined this term, so I also don’t know what the maker had in mind. However, the controversy and multiplicity of definitions around this term has caused me to contemplate over this.

So here’s my take.

India was called Hindustan by the Arabs, long before the advent of Islam, or even Christianity, I suspect. Buddhism was not considered to be any different from Sanatan Dharm, the real name of the religion we refer to as Hinduism.

Hindustan means a Sthan (Place) where Hindus live. So, it appears that even Arabs used Hindi/Sanskrit or any other prevalent Indian Language of the time. But then there was no term as “Hindu” then. The Dharm practiced by Indians was called Sanatan Dharm and various ways of attaining Moksh (Liberation) existed in India, which were later classified into six primary groups by literary geniuses.

Historians help us in this regard by telling us that the actual reference was to the river Sindhu, which in west is referred to later as Indus. The Arabs couldn’t pronounce Sindhu properly and therefore referred to the people here as “Hindu” people. This has been a generally accepted theory and it looks convincing to me.

Some may ask, “Why the reference to Sindhu river?” Well, geographically and archaeologically, it appears that India’s contact with Arabian world was through the Sindhu Ghaati Sabhyata (Indus River Civilization). By then River Saraswati had already gone subterranean due to a very heavy earthquake and the civilization around River Ganga might have been quite distant, geographically.

So, all in all, Hind, Hindu, Hindustan were all a reference to the land, the people, their culture, customs and traditions, which was influenced by many things like the Ecosystem, Climate, Religious Belief, Intellect etc.

Somehow this reference to Bharatvarsh stuck around over a few millennia. Reference to our spiritual practice and religious belief as Hindu Dharm instead of Sanatan Dharm comes much later. Even that new reference is extension of the reference the Dharm/Spiritual practice followed on the land of Hind.

Therefore, in my opinion, Hindutva relates to all things Indian. And in that sense, all people living on this land, irrespective of what religion they follow are Hindus. This fact and understanding in the line given by Dr. Allama Iqbal in his famous song, Saare Jahan Se Achha…. The line reads:

Hindi hain hum, watan hai…Hindostan hamara, hamara…Saare jahan se achha…Hindostan hamara…

So, simplifying the concept for the sake of lay audience, Hindutva is same as Bharatiyata or Indianness. It is a statement of our desire to show Indianness in everything we do. Not to get influenced by other cultures, especially, the current flavors of west.

Such an action is only possible by having confidence in our own culture. The confidence will come from the past, through a better understanding of past, knowing the true meaning of each and everything related to our past. Not feeling ashamed of their corruption in the middle ages because that is only a natural phenomenon. All pure things become impure and then become pure again and the cycle continues.

Let us take a step in that direction, in the direction of getting a clear understanding of who we are and exhibit Indianness – the originality, something that is part of our true identity - into our actions.

Let’s welcome the concept of Hindutva, the true secularism within it, with open arms and create a lifestyle around it.