Saturday, January 17, 2009

** A legacy denied

Swami Vivekananda: A legacy denied
Saurav Basu, ivarta
Jan. 17, 2009

Several newspapers editorial pages display a remarkable conspicuity in their absence of remembrance of Swami Vivekananda"s birth anniversary. In the same vein, political parties have remained averse to appropriating the man and his message unlike the passionate exhibition of their characteristic voyeurism during Gandhi, Nehru and his parivar"s anniversaries.

A full page advert of the sports ministry celebrates National Youth Day without identifying with Vivekananda! Probably, it is because Vivekananda"s "unapologetic Hinduism" cannot be straight-jacketed into "secular", "progressive" and "dalit emancipative" categories.

The BJP whose prime ministerial candidate refers to Vivekananda throughout his exhaustive memoirs also show little recollection of the occasion, for the man who single handedly heralded the modernization of Hinduism and its representation and vindication on the world stage.

Does it mean Vivekananda is no longer relevant to the future of India? Was he a mere shooting star which has now faded into oblivion?

Ramachandra Guha, a secular historian considers "behind every thinking Indian there is either a Marxist or a Gandhian". Vivekananda"s unique message has no place in the contemporary discourse of such thinkers; instead critics like Jyotirmaya Sharma believe Vivekananda"s discourse on "Hindu superiority" represents a dangerous "threat" to the "secular" fabric of the nation.

Perhaps, it is out of such ideological pathology that Vivekananda"s message received absolutely no state support for its dissemination in Nehru"s India. The government of India in the 1950s under culture minister Humayun Kabir while commissioning the biography of over 100 nationalists and patriots curiously left out Vivekananda.

Textbooks of India had Gandhi"s talisman but Vivekananda was reduced to a paragraph in 300 pages of Modern History. No national university was named after the man who encouraged J R D Tata to build the world acclaimed Indian Institute of sciences. No national football stadium or tournament has been ascribed to the man, who inspired Bengali boys to go and play football, the matchless spirit which was vindicated when a barefoot Mohan Bagan beat East Yorkshire to win the IFA shield of 1911.

The Ramakrishna Mission painstakingly carried his message through their meager resources even against mounting Communist threats which forced them to bowdlerize his critique of Mohammed from Bengali editions of Swamiji"s works. They have now published subsidized copies of his nine volumes complete works which can be at had for the price of the latest Jeffrey Archer thriller. But perhaps nothing but the extraordinary power and the divine acumen of his words is what makes Vivekananda"s stand out tall as a persistent youth icon.

The Vivekananda community on "Orkut", a social networking site has over 1,50,000 members, surpassed only by a cricketer like Rahul Dravid or Bollywood icons with international appeal like Shahrukh Khan.

Not surprisingly, you have Gavin Flood regrettably condescend that Vivekananda"s Hinduism is synonymous with the rapidly progressing "middle class Hindus" of today. Vivekananda lived in an age when the response of a defeated nation was in the words of Ram Swarup, "trying to restore its self-respect and self-confidence through self-repudiation and identification with the ways of the victors."

Vivekananda reprimanded those Brahmos who "for a few patronizing pats of their masters" spat on their own culture and indulged in self loathing.

Vivekananda visualized in India an unmatched spiritual vision for humanity at large, and he realized political freedom alone was inadequate for its regeneration.

Those who say Vivekananda was not a nationalist are nothing short of intellectually dishonest, for never was there a time when he considered himself as a subject of the British Empire. This is of course in stark contrast to Mahatma Gandhi who fourteen months after Tagore had resigned his knighthood belatedly returned to the Viceroy his Kaiser-Hind medal in the aftermath of the Jalianwala Bagh massacre after vainly waiting for Christian justice.

The fashionable critics of his today claim he was a "status quoits" in terms of caste and women"s issues although nothing can be further from the truth. Instead, Vivekananda found utterly objectionable the manner in which the social reformers of the day appropriated Western critiques of Indian culture. He refused to be one of those Hindus, who, having identified themselves with a conquering nation held the misery of their own people up to ridicule and contempt.

Vivekananda rejected those destructive methods wherein an alien system was forcibly transplanted on an unwilling subjugated people through force of law and threat of punishment and in the process cut off their identities. He reasoned that "No nation is great or good because Parliament enacts this or that, but because its men are great and good..I do not believe in reform; I believe in growth. Theirs is a method of destruction, mine is that of construction"

Vivekananda was again one who could appreciate the urgent need for integrating women with the mainstream by giving them agency. Women had to be empowered and educated, so they could take their decisions in their best interests uninfluenced by men. "Our part of the duty lies in imparting true education to all men and women in society. As an outcome of that education, they will of themselves be able to know what is good for them and what is bad, and will spontaneously eschew the latter. It will not be then necessary to pull down or set up anything in society by coercion."

Also, few know that Vivekananda supported the women suffrage movement in the West, and also proposed training women in physical education and self defense. He implored some notable Hindu women like Sarala Ghoshal, the niece of Rabindranath to represent Indian womanhood on the world stage.On the caste question, Vivekananda"s views were revolutionary and hitherto unknown.

He rejected both the Marxist doctrine of "class struggle" along with the communitarian view of "class co-operation" and instead proposed Vedantic socialism for organic development.

"Man must love others because all those others are Himself", Vivekananda created a new philosophical paradigm by stressing on the intellectual appreciation of conceptualizing the Advaitic absolute even in the relative phenomenon.

The difference between the Brahmana and the Shudra being illusory eliminates caste conflicts and caste privileges without necessarily breaking social distinctions and allows nishkamma karma. The pernicious "reservation policy" of India which is based on Marxist concepts of "class antagonism" where a Brahmin and a Shudra only work respectively for the interests of their own castes is completely negated in the light of this higher Self affirming philosophy.

Sadly, no political party in India has considered internalizing this vital message of Vivekananda in this age of divisive caste politics. Vivekananda was the first Indian who impacted the West despite criticizing Christianity and asserting Hindu superiority.

Unlike Gandhi"s irrationality in considering Western civilization to be a spurious antithesis of the pure Indian counterpart despite himself imitating the ideas of Christ, Rosseau and Tolstoy; Vivekananda cherished the values and achievements of both despite the influence of no foreign thinker on him. His influence on Sri Aurobindo who represents the last viable fusion of the East and the West is ample testimony to this fact. His vision in the words of Sri Aurobindo has yet to find fructification for; "the definite work he has left behind is quite incommensurate with our impression of his creative might and energy.

We perceive his influence still working gigantically, we know not well where, in something, that is not yet formed, something leonine, grand, and intuitive, upheaving that has entered the soul of India."

Indian De-Monarchy @

Congress Dynasty @

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

** The Nation(s) Of India
We, The Nation(s) Of India
Rajiv Malhotra

THERE IS a buzz about India becoming a superpower. But, are superpowers confused about national identity or inviting others to solve their civilisation’s “backwardness”? Does a superpower allow foreign nexuses to co-opt its citizens as agents? India graciously hosts foreign nexuses that treat it as a collection of disparate parts. Is super - powerdom delusionary?

The Mumbai massacre painfully exposes flaws in our national character, the central one being the absence of a definitive, purpose-filled identity. Who is that “we” whose interests are represented, internally and internationally? How should Indianness be defined? Where is the Indianness that transcends narrow identities and vested interests, one that is worth sacrificing for? Is it in the popular culture of Bollywood and cricket? Or is it deeper? The national identity project is at once urgent and compelling.

The need for national identity In their pursuit of personal goals, Indians are intensely competitive. But we lack consensus on a shared national essence and hence there is no deep psychological bond between citizen and nation. National identity is to a nation’s well-being what the immune system is to the body’s health. The over-stressed body succumbs to external and internal threats, and eventually death, as its immunity weakens. Similarly, a nation stressed by a vacuum of identity, or multiple conflicting identities, or outright confusion, can break up. Just as the body’s immune system needs constant rejuvenation, so too a nation needs a positive collective psyche for its political cohesion.

Major nations deliberately pursue nation building through such devices as shared myths, history, heroes, religion, ideology, language and symbolism. Despite internal dissent, Americans have deep pride of heritage, and have constructed awe-inspiring monuments to their founding fathers and heroic wars.

Where are Delhi’s monuments honouring the wars of 1857 or 1971, Shivaji, the Vijayanagar Empire, Ashoka, or the peaceful spread of Indian civilisation across Asia for a millennium? Where are the museums that showcase India’s special place in the world?

Forces that fragment Voices of fragmentation drive India’s internal politics — from Raj Thackeray to M Karunanidhi to Mamata Banerjee to the Quota Raj to the agents of foreign proselytising.

While social injustice, in India and elsewhere, demands effective cures, proper treatments do not follow faulty diagnoses. Since colonial times, influential scholars have propagated that there is no such thing as Indian civilisation. India was “civilised” by successive waves of invaders. The quest for Indianness is futile since India was never a nation. The noted historian Romila Thapar concludes that India’s pluralism has no essence. Like a doughnut, the center is void; only the peripheries have identity.

Such thinking infects Indian elite. Supreme Court Justice Markandey Katju, citing western historians, asserts that the Munda tribes are the only true natives and that 95 percent of Indians are immigrants; that all so-called Aryan and Dravidian classical languages are foreign, ruling out anything as pan-Indian in our antiquity; and that worthwhile Indian civilisation begins with Akbar, “the greatest ruler the world has ever seen.”

This accelerating crescendo, portraying India as an inherently artificial, oppressive nation, is directed by western academics advocating western intervention to bring human rights. It is supported by private foundations, churches and the US government and promotes fragmentation by bolstering regional identities, “backward” castes, and religious minorities.

Sadly, our own people, such as many activists and the westernised upper class, have internalised India's “oppression of minorities.” The human catastrophe that would envelope diverse groups — especially the weakest — in the aftermath of India’s break up is blithely ignored.

Beyond tolerance and assimilation Critics worry that national identity promotes fascism. But while many civilisations have used identity for conquest, my vision of Indianness is driven by mutual respect. We respect the other who is different provided the other reciprocates with respect towards us, in rhetoric and in action.

The religious “tolerance” of Judaism, Islam and Christianity is a patronising accommodation; it puts up with others’ differences without respecting their right to be different. In contradistinction, Indian civilisation embraces differences reciprocally.

Movements that eradicate differences span the ideological spectrum. Some religions claim mandates from God to convert the religiously different. Although the European Enlightenment project dispensed with God, it enabled erasing ethnic diversity through genocide of Native Americans and slavery of African-Americans. Asians were luckier, because they could become “less different” via colonisation.

Today, many Indians erase their distinctiveness by glamorising white identity as the gold standard. Skin lighteners are literal whiteners. Media and pop culture incorporate white aesthetics, body language and attire for social status, careers and marriage. The venerable “namaste” is becoming a marker of the older generations and the servants. Pop Hindu gurus peddle the “everything is the same” mumbojumbo, ignoring even the distinctions between the dharmic and the un-dharmic. Intellectuals adopt white categories of discourse as “universal”.
Difference eradicating ideologies are hegemonic. Either you (i) assimilate, (ii) oppose and suffer, or (iii) get contained and marginalised.

But Indian philosophy is built on celebrating diversity — in trees, flowers, matter, human bodies, minds, languages and cultures, spiritualities and traditions — and does not see it as a problem to be dealt with.

All social groups manifest an affinity for in-group relations but in the ideal Indian ethos, in-group affinity is without external aggression. Before colonial social engineering, traditional Indian castes were fluid, informal containers of identities, interwoven with one another, and not frozen hierarchically. This applied to Muslims, Christians and Hindus. Each caste had its distinct norms and was respected by others. My India is a web of thousands of castes encapsulating diverse genes and memes. This ideal is the exact opposite of fascist ethnocentrism.

Diversity yes, fragmentation noThe socially mobile castes that had preserved India's diversity were frozen into castes to serve the British divide-andrule. Independent India adopted caste identities to allocate quotas instead of safeguarding individual rights. When the Congress party failed to integrate a vast mishmash of subidentities, regional vote-banking entrepreneurs captured India’s political fragments. Now, national interests are casually disregarded for fear of offending these fragments.

Globalisation has opened the floodgates for minority leaders to tie-up with western churches and NGOs, Saudis, Chinese and just about anyone wanting to carve out a slice of the Indian elephant. Such minorities include the Nagas, now serving as a foreign subsidiary of the Texas Southern Baptist Church; Tamils who first got Dravidianised and are now being Christianised through identity engineering; Maoists in over 30 percent of India's districts; and Saudifunded Pan-Islamists expanding across India. These fragmented identities weaken Indianness due to their loyalty to foreign alliances. The leaders depend on foreign headquarters for ideological and financial support.

Such groups are no longer minorities, but are agents of dominant world majorities. They are franchisees of the global nexuses they serve. They are adversaries of the Indian identity formation. Do they truly help India’s under classes? These global nexuses have a disappointing track record of solving problems in countries where they have operated for generations, including Latin America, Philippines and Africa where most natives have become converted. The imported religion has failed to bring human rights and has often exacerbated problems. Yet, Indian middlemen have mastered the art of begging foreign patronage in exchange for selling the souls of fellow Indians.

Towards an Indian identityHindutva is a modern political response lacking the elasticity to be the pan-Indian identity. Other popular ideas are equally shallow, such as the Indianness defined by Bollywood and cricket. Ideals like “secular democracy” and “development” do not a distinct national identity make. It is fashionable to blend pop culture with European ideologies and pass it off as Indianness. Such blends cannot bind a complex India together against fissiparous casteism and regionalism coming in the orbits of Islamist jihad and evangelical Christianity.

Indianness must override fragmented identities, no matter how large the vote bank or how powerful the foreign sponsor. Gandhi articulated a grand narrative for India. Tagore and Aurobindo saw continuity in Indian civilisation. Nehru had a national vision, which Indira Gandhi modified and defended fiercely. The Ashokan, Chola, and Maratha empires had welldefined narratives, each with an idea of India.

Debating Indianness fearlessly and fairlyA robust Indianness must become the context in which serious issues get debated. Everyone should be able to participate — be it Advani or Sonia, the Imam of Jama Masjid or Hindu gurus, Thackeray or the underworld — in a free and fair debate on Indianness, and no one should be exempt from criticism.

But the Indian intellectual mafia, which built careers by importing and franchising foreign doctrines, suppresses debate outside its framework, and brands honest attempts at opposing them as fascism. I offer a few examples.

A few years before 9/11, the Princeton-based Infinity Foundation proposed to a prestigious Delhi-based centre to research the Taliban and their impact on India. The centre’s intellectuals pronounced the hypothesis an unrealistic conspiracy theory and unworthy of study. Even after 9/11, the American Academy of Religion refused to study the Taliban as a religious phenomenon while persisting with Hindu caste, cows, dowry, mothers-in-law, social oppression, violence and sundry intellectual staples.

Some analysts hyphenate Islamist terror with Kashmir, imputing that terrorism is a legitimate dispute resolution technique. “The plight of Muslims” is a rationalisation; and Martha Nussbaum, a University of Chicago professor, blames “Hindu fascism” as the leading cause of terrorism and justifies the Mumbai massacre by hyphenating it with Hindu “pogroms,” Hindu “ethnic cleansing against Muslims,” and the Hindu project to “Kill Christians and destroy their institutions.” Her insensitivity to the victims, just two days after 26/11, was given a free pass by the LA Times. Double standards are evident when cartoons lampooning Islam are condemned, whereas serious attacks against Hindu deities, symbols and texts are defended in the name of intellectual freedom.

Be positive and “live happily ever after”The Bollywood grand finale, where the couple lives happily ever after, is de rigueur. Friends insist that my analysis must end with something positive by way of solving the problems I uncover. Hard evidence of dangerous cleavages in India, spinning out of control, is too “negative.” The need to work backwards from a happy ending and only admit evidence that fits such endings is an Indian psychological disorder. But we don’t expect doctors to reject negative diagnoses, analysts to ignore market crashes, or teachers to praise our unruly children. What if there is no “good” alternative?

It is disturbing that strategic options against Pakistan must subserve the sensitivities of Indian Muslims. This gratuitously assumes that Indian Muslims are less Indian than Muslim.

Some fear that strong Indian action will precipitate increased jihad, or even nuclear war. Such fears recapitulate the early campaigns to appease Hitler. Once a violent cancer spreads outside the tumour’s skin, it demands a direct attack. Vitamins, singing, and lamp-lighting are pointless. In sports or warfare, medicine or marketing, you cannot win by only using defence. The offensive option that cannot be exercised is merely a showpiece.

If national interests are dominated by minority sentiments, our enemies will exploit our weakness. A paralysed India emboldens predators.

Games nations play After Indians return to psychological normalcy, apathy will be confused as resilience. When each episode is seen in isolation there is short-term thinking, a tolerance of terrorism, and an acceptance that mere survival is adequate. Strategic planning requires connecting the trends clearly.

Indians must understand the reality of multiple geopolitical board games. Moves on one gameboard trigger consequences on others, making the tradeoffs complex. The South Asia gameboard involves USA-India-Pakistan as well as China-Pakistan stakes. Besides external games with its neighbours, India plays internal games to appease fragments, which are influenced by foreign stakeholders. Religion is used as soft power in the game of Islam versus the West, and India’s fragmentation hastens the harvesting of souls in the world's largest open market. The multinational business gameboard spotlights India as a market, a supplier, a competitor, and an investment destination.

In another gameboard, scholars of South Asia construct a discourse with Indian intellectuals as their sepoys and affiliated NGOs as paid agents. Following the academic and human rights experts who profited from the Iraq invasion, the players in this game hope that US president designate Barack Obama will budget billions to “engage South Asia.”

The identity challenges are offset by forces that hold India together. Private enterprises that span the entire country bring cohesion that depends on high economic growth and its trickle down to the lowest strata to outpace population growth and social unrest. Economic prosperity is also required for military spending. More than any other institution, the armed forces unify the nation because they realise that soldiers must identify themselves with the nation they are prepared to die for.

Recent US policy supports India’s sovereignty, but this should be seen in the context of using India as a counterweight against Pan-Islam and China. In the long run, the US would like India not to become another unified superpower like China or to disintegrate into a Pakistan-like menace. It will “manage” India between these two extremes. An elephant cannot put itself up for adoption as someone’s pet. It must learn to fend for itself.

Lessons for India Although the US is a land of immigrants, pride of place goes to the majority religion. Political candidates for high office are seriously disadvantaged if they are not seen as good Christians. The church-state separation is not a mandate to denounce Christianity or privilege minority religions. America was built on white identity that involved the ethnic cleansing of others. To its credit, India has avoided this.

Obama sought a better, unified nation and transcended the minorityism of previous Black leaders. Unlike the Dravidianists, Mayawati, and those Muslim and Christian leaders who undermine India's identity, Obama is unabashedly patriotic and a devout follower of its majority religion. America celebrates its tapestry of hyphenated identities (Indian-American, Irish-American, etc.) but “American” supersedes every sub-identity. Being un-American is a death knell for American leaders.

In sharp contrast, Mayawati, Indian Muslim leaders, Indian Christian leaders, Dravidianists and other “minority” vote bankers have consolidated power at the expense of India's unified identity.

Unlike the promoters of fragmented Indian identities, Obama is closer to Mahatma Gandhi and Ambedkar, champions of the downtrodden within a unified Indian civilisation.

India can learn from American mechanisms. Indian billionaires must become major stakeholders in constructing positive discourse on the nation. They must make strategic commitments like those made by the Carnegies, Rockefellers and Fords in building American identity, its sense of history, and in projecting American ideals. American meritocracy in politics, implemented through internal primaries, is vastly superior to the cronyism in Indian politics.

The area studies programmes in American universities have close links to the government, think tanks and churches, and they examine nations and civilisations from the American perspective. India should establish a network of area studies to study neighboring countries and other regions from India’s viewpoint. India should study China’s establishment of 100 Confucian Studies Chairs worldwide and the civilisational grand narrative of other nations.

Ideological “camps” with pre-packaged solutions are obsolete. The Indian genius must improvise, innovate, and create a national identity worthy of its name.

Rajiv Malhotra is the President, Infinity Foundation, who also writes on issues concerning the place of Indian civilisation in the world

** Mumbai attack Predicted ?
Did a book predict Mumbai attack?
By Col Anil Athale

JIHAD: From Hindukush to Armageddon
Published by Eloquent Books, New York
Author : Sunita Joshi-Ford
Pages 186 paper back
Price US $ 13.50

Also available as E book at Diesel E books for US $ 8.80.
Also available on

A few months ago, aware of my interest in the subject, our Europe-based son sent us a book on Jihad, which he described as a “wake-up call for all Indians.”

My first reaction after reading the book was that it was too full of dark and far-fetched predictions about India’s future as an “Islamic Republic”.

But then came the Mumbai attacks of 26/11, and I realized that the author had accurately predicted the method of the Mumbai attack, nearly six months before the event.

Sunita Joshi Ford is not the author’s real name. It is in fact that of the protagonist of the book, and her extraordinary life amidst the continuing depredations and aspirations of Islamic extremists. It is the story, set in the all too near future, of a failing Pakistan and aggressive Islam.

It starts with the capture of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan, and the terrifying backlash which lead to nuclear attacks on Mumbai and New York.

At the time, India has fallen under fundamentalist Islam. Complacency, corruption and carelessness ensured that the takeover was swift and thorough, leaving more than one billion people bereft of their former culture and beliefs.

Among those fortunate enough to escape this tragic situation is Sunita, who is adopted by an American General. At the age of 18, she is told of the circumstances of how she came to live with them, and how her mother was probably killed for not relinquishing Sunita to become a member of a harem at the age of ten.

Stunned by this horrific revelation, Sunita dedicates her life to the pursuit of uncovering the truth of her mother’s fate. A fate that is interwoven with that of the world.

The plot contains strategically placed, unexpected twists which sustain the reader’s interest throughout. The characters are developed in a multi-dimensional fashion, revealing their unique personalities and their individual agendas. The taut narrative keeps the focus on the primary story line.

But even more importantly the author, apparently well versed in international intrigues and American politics/policy, has sketched a very realistic picture of American approach to the whole question of terrorism against India.

In fact the scenario painted by the author may well be unfolding in Washington DC at this moment.

Here’s an extract:

“Things took a turn for the worse with rise of Al Qaeda in the early90s. The nuclear ‘Wal-Mart’ that AQ Khan created has already been spelt out by the Secretary of State. The 9/11 attack on the US confirmed our worst fears. In the aftermath of that attack we leaned on Pakistan to shut its proliferation efforts. In return we promised to let them keep 10 nukes to target the Indian cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Ahmedabad, and Poona, with a 100 % spare. These are mated with missiles and in fixed silos. We ensured that the targeting system is inflexible. As a quid pro quo, Pakistan agreed to scale down its enrichment for the rest of the Uranium to below weapons grade. Thus, as a bargain we have virtually shut this route of fissile material to the terrorists for use against the US” Admiral Snowcroft explained.

Pausing for breath, he resumed, “All the Corps commanders, the real decision makers in Pakistan, are one with the General/ President on this. This is a well known ‘secret’ in the ruling circles of Pakistan. When the General/ President talks of his ideology of ‘Pakistan First’ he refers to the nukes as well. Even if the Islamists take over the country, no Pak General, howsoever Pan Islamist, will denude the Pak threat to India! When General Aslam Beg and Hamid Gul talked about nuking India, irrespective from where and by whom Pakistan was attacked, both were stating the obvious fact. Pak nukes are uni-directional, aimed at India…”

What this chilling presentation clearly tells us is that when it comes to fighting terror, the Americans are concerned only with American lives.

A must read in these troubled times, if we wish to ensure that our future, and that of our children, is safe and not under extremist rule.
Book on Islam triggers row in Bihar
14 January , 2009

Patna: A bookseller in this Bihar capital was arrested and the publisher was detained after an Urdu book allegedly made objectionable references to Islam, officials said on Wednesday. They had received a complaint last week.

The chief cleric of Jama Masjid in Munger district, Maulana Kari Abdullah Bukhari, had informed Chief Minister Nitish Kumar about the book and demanded immediate action. Kumar directed Home Secretary Afzal Amanullah, the state minority commission chairman Naushad Ahmad and Patna Senior Superintendent of Police Amit Kumar to look into the matter.

Based on a complaint filed by Bukhari, the police arrested the bookseller and detained and interrogated the publisher of the book Nilofer Yasin, who is the wife of the author of the book, Mohammed Yasin Ahmad.

"A bookseller Sarfaraz was arrested and sent to jail and Nilofer was interrogated. Police are likely to arrest her husband Ahmad soon," Patna Superintendent of Police Anwar Hussain said. He said that all of them have been charged with hurting the sentiments of the Muslim community.

"The complainant told the police that there are objectionable references to Islam in the book," Hussain said. Ahmad's book "Islami Surah Ya Beimani Ka Panchnama" raised eyebrows among a section of the Muslim community, particularly clerics.

The 154-page book questioned ten tenets of Islam and the functioning of the Khalifas as well. The police are on the lookout for Ahmad.
Related stoy:

1) Making of an Unbeliever @

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

** The Next World Order
The Next World Order
January 1, 2009

CHINA and India are in a struggle for a top rung on the ladder ofworld power, but their approaches to the state and to power could notbe more different.

Two days after last month's terrorist attack on Mumbai, I met with aChinese friend who was visiting India on business. He was shocked as much by the transparent and competitive minute-by-minute reporting ofthe attack by India's dozens of news channels as by the ineffectualresponse of the government. He had seen a middle-class housewife onnational television tell a reporter that the Indian commandos delayedin engaging the terrorists because they were too busy guarding political big shots. He asked how the woman could get away with such astatement.

I explained sarcasm resonates in a nation that is angry and disappointed with its politicians.

My friend switched the subject to the poor condition of India's roads, its dilapidated cities and theconstant blackouts. Suddenly, he stopped and asked: "With all this,how did you become the second-fastest growing economy in the world?China's leaders fear the day when India's government will get its acttogether."

The answer to his question may lie in a common saying among Indians that "our economy grows at night when the government is asleep."

As if to illustrate this, the Mumbai stock market rose in the period after the terrorist attacks. Two weeks later, in several state elections,incumbents were ousted over economic issues, not security.

All this baffled my Chinese friend, and undoubtedly many of hiscountrymen, whose own success story has been scripted by an efficient state. They are uneasy because their chief ally, Pakistan, is consistently linked to terrorism while across the border India's economy keeps rising disdainfully. It puzzles them that the anger in India over the Mumbai attacks is directed against Indian politicians rather than Muslims or Pakistan.

The global financial crisis has definitely affected India's growth,and it will be down to perhaps 7 percent this year from 8.7 percent in2007. According to my friend, China is hurting even more. What really perplexes the Chinese, he said, is that scores of nations have engaged in the same sorts of economic reforms as India, so why is it that it'sthe Indian economy that has become the developing world's second best? The speed with which India is creating world-class companies is also ashock to the Chinese, whose corporate structure is based onstate-owned and foreign companies.

I have no satisfactory explanation for all this, but I think it mayhave something to do with India's much-reviled caste system. Vaishyas,members of the merchant caste, who have learned over generations how to accumulate capital, give the nation a competitive advantage.Classical liberals may be right in thinking that commerce is a natural trait, but it helps if there is a devoted group of risk-takingentrepreneurs around to take advantage of the opportunity. Notsurprisingly, Vaishyas still dominate the Forbes list of Indianbillionaires.

In a much-discussed magazine article last year, Lee Kwan Yew, the former prime minister of Singapore, raised an important question: Why does the rest of the world view China's rise as a threat but India'sas a wonderful success story?

The answer is that India is a vast,unwieldy, open democracy ruled by a coalition of 20 parties. It is evolving through a daily flow of ideas among the conservative forcesof caste and religion, the liberals who dominate intellectual life,and the new forces of global capitalism.

The idea of becoming a military power in the 21st century embarrasses many Indians. This ambivalence goes beyond Mahatma Gandhi's nonviolentstruggle for India's freedom, or even the Buddha's message of peace.

The skeptical Indian temper goes back to the 3,500-year-old "Nasadiya"verse of the Rig Veda, which meditates on the creation of theuniverse: "Who knows and who can say, whence it was born and whencecame this creation? The gods are later than this world's creation. Who knows then whence it first came into being?" When you have millions of gods, you cannot afford to be theologically narcissistic. It also makes you suspect power.

Both the Chinese and the Indians are convinced that their prosperity will only increase in the 21st century. In China it will be induced by the state; in India's case, it may well happen despite the state.

Indians expect to continue their relentless march toward a modern,democratic, market-based future. In this, terrorist attacks are anoisy, tragic, but ultimately futile sideshow.

However, Indians are painfully aware that they must reform their government bureaucracy, police and judiciary — institutions,paradoxically, they were so proud of a generation ago. When thathappens, India may become formidable, a thought that undoubtedlyworries China's leaders.

Gurcharan Das is the author of "India Unbound."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

** India should strike silently

India should learn to strike silently
B. Raman,

Ever since Israel started its military strikes in Gaza a week ago, against Hamas's terrorism, there have been demands from sections of analysts and the general public in our country that India should emulate Israel. They believe that India should retaliate in a similar manner against Pakistan, for its complicity in the terrorist attack in Novembe 2008 by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba in Mumbai.

Nobody can question Israel exercising its right to self-defence, to protect the lives and property of its citizens from rocket attacks in Gaza by the Hamas, which has been going on for weeks and months now. As the deputy permanent representative of the United States to the United Nations -- in a press interview after the US had refused to join in the condemnation of Israel's action by the UN Security Council -- said, 'Israel, like all other members of the UN, has the right of self-defence. This right is not negotiable.'

Like Israel and other members of the UN, India too has the right to self-defence against acts of terrorism emanating from Pakistani territory and sponsored by the State of Pakistan. It has the right to retaliate against Pakistan and the duty to do so to protect the lives and property of its citizens.

The question is not whether we should retaliate. We should if we want Pakistan and the hordes of terrorists nursed by it to take us seriously. The question is, whether a direct military strike will be the wise and appropriate way of retaliating against Pakistan or whether we should do it through political and diplomatic measures, followed by deniable covert actions, if those measures do not make Pakistan change its ways.

For many years, Israel has been the victim of acts of terrorism by organisations such as the Hamas and the Hizbollah, sponsored mainly by Syria and Iran. Its retaliation has been directed against these terrorist organisations and not against their State-sponsors.

After the Arab-Israeli war of 1967 and the Yom Kippur war of 1973, Israel has indulged in military strikes in the territory of a sovereign state and a member of the UN only on two occasions -- against the Osirak nuclear reactor under construction in Iraq in the early 1980s, and against the Hizbollah's infrastructure in Lebanese territory in 2006. In the past, Israeli armed forces have operated in Lebanese territory on other occasions too.

Isreal's action against Osirak in Iraq was a success, but its action in Lebanon in 2006 against the Hizbollah was not. Despite its concerns over the nuclear sites in Iran producing enriched uranium, Israel has till now avoided any military strikes on these sites, despite public pressure from sections of the Israeli people to do so.

It did launch an attack on a suspected nuclear site in Syria last year, but as a deniable covert action and not as an admitted military strike. It has also indulged in covert actions against suspected Hamas operatives based in Syria.

It is able to indulge in openly admitted military strikes against the Hamas in Gaza because Gaza is not part of any sovereign State. In the past, Israel's retaliatory military strikes have been against terrorist organisations posing a threat to its citizens and property, and not against the States sponsoring them. Its actions against States sponsoring terrorism have been in the form of covert actions and not direct military strikes.

Practically all States facing the problem of terrorism have a covert action capability, because it gives them a third option if political and diplomatic measures fail. Without this option, a nation has to rely only on military retaliation, which could be messy when used against a next door neighbour.

When a nation doesn't use military strikes and doesn't have a covert action capability, the State-sponsor and the terrorists sponsored by it develop contempt for such a nation.

The US has bombed Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan in retaliation for their perceived anti-US acts, but it has never taken a similar measure against Cuba, its next door neighbour.

It has declared Cuba a State-sponsor of terrorism and constantly keeps trying to undermine its political stability and economy, but avoids direct military action against it, despite it being a superpower. America knows that military action against a neighbour could get messy.

It is hoped that the government draws the right lessons from its dilemma after the Mumbai terror strike and tries to revive our covert action capability, which was discarded more than a decade ago as an ill-conceived unilateral gesture to Pakistan.

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