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The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness has become one of the most reviewed books since and even before its publication in June 2017. The antici...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Things Indian-Kashmir to common wealth

Even a slightest interest in Indian affairs can ensure permanent absence of boredom. The velocity, at which bizarreness and scandals churn out, certainly leaves observers gasping while trying to keep pace. But remarkable feature remains the retention of stoic shamelessness and lack of remorse in face of barrage of criticism, howsoever genuine. The week that went by is enough to demonstrate remarkable denial land in which the country inhabits. Despite misgivings the all party jamboree to Kashmir did exceed expectations through civil display of common sense by non-BJP politicians. Even though they being hamstrung by ‘within the constitution’ humbug, nonetheless, it was a gesture that could mark the beginning of boring in frozen arctic. Though a part of the team that went to Kashmir, the thugs of BJP could not help themselves from bitching against even against courtesy calls and back in Delhi are hoarse in predicting weakening of Indian position because their colleagues from other parties met separatist. Any keen observer cannot help noticing that BJP has its fingers in many pies; it is yearning itself back in sinister games through coincidental (may be!) cascade of events and hoping to reap everything in the aftermath of a court verdict on Babri Masjid. The thugs never ever even for a moment think about the havoc they wrought on the society through their antics and that shameless Lal Advani till this day celebrates his infamous ‘rath yatra’; shouldn’t he have realized that perhaps misuse of divine cost him Prime Ministership that he so desperately yearned.

But back to Kashmir; that is still not solved and will not be through either denial or wishful thinking unless hard choices with deeper considerations are contemplated. The problem remains that the basic premise of any step that Indian government initiates is faulty from the start. The solutions come only when problems are dissected and faced head on with due consideration for all tangibles. Throughout there has been absence of the realization that it is the people in Kashmir that demand an end to Indian rule, not of other parts of the state. Therefore, the solution can only be in understanding the reason of such demand and making genuine efforts to address those grievances, if it is not too damned late. May be that is too simplistic but to understand that the problem is Kashmir, is of course, simple but intricately hard, otherwise the mess wouldn’t be there. But does someone genuinely believe Indian government for that matter Indians can solve any thing given their penchant for creating mess everything they literally touch. Do common wealth games deserve a mention? It is not the malaise of grotesque disorganization itself, which is scornful, but rather it represents everything that is wrong with concept of the governance in India and nationhood. Why in the first place the entire pride needed to be invested in a sports event organized under the banner of out dated common wealth, unless one starts reminiscing the mess created by the British empire from India to Ireland; Mesopotamian to Persia. Even importantly people can indulge in any blame game but the sickness originates from over centralization. Why every major event, be it sport, culture or debauchery has to be in Delhi. Why does the organization of a sporting event in an autonomous city needed to be supervised by federal government. Any body with any recollection will do well to remember the corruption in India increased exponentially with increasing centralization. Hypothetically, if Olympic Games in Atlanta city would fail, blame would have been on Atlanta city not on the government of United States or entire country. The over centralization has ramifications beyond sports though in the earnest the current mess would have been an exclusive perverse of Delhi and now entire India has been sullied. Complete autonomy, not only Kashmir, is genuinely deserved by every state, every city, every village and every single unit. That could be route to the solution of many problems and, if not heeded to, cause of many future problems. An attention by Mrs. Gandhi to Anand Pur resolution by Akalis might have avoided the events that became inedible blots on India.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Kashmir once again

The Indian government, vis-à-vis Kashmir, finds itself in a quandary of its own making. One could, nevertheless, sympathize, as there are not any ghosts left any more except for its own for appropriating blame and finding scapegoats. There are no creative ideas left or rather there were never any except for reactive haggling that constantly alternated with approbated complacencies. One month with low levels of violent incidences or a stage-managed and statistically manipulated election would send powers to be into hubris of mission accomplished and problem solved. Except that the problem was never dealt with and worse, was not even understood or more appropriately, misplaced nationalistic notions prevented its being rationally understood. Kashmir is not the only place in the world with intricate, entwined and complex issues that can thwart any solution. The solution for the issue of this magnitude requires hard choices, overcoming prejudices and a fundamental refrain from assigning ulterior motives to every action of the people who matter in Kashmir. For any right thinking government paramount priority should be the humanization of the place and restoration of human value and dignity. Deliberation in Delhi with a bunch of individuals, many of who didn’t even know Kashmir on map, and then skirting the main issue of partial withdrawal of illegitimate armed forces special power act was nothing but contemptuous and deliberate act of exhibiting the casualness of the approach. The partial withdrawal of the act from the valley would have displayed a barest shred of sincerity on the part of Indian government and under no circumstances jeopardized the security of the country. Instead of acting, government has let it drag to the proposed jamboree of all-party delegation visit to Kashmir in order to find facts and still expecting Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to perform miracles. Bizarrely, the armed forces have been given a free reign to air their opposition to any dilution to the draconian act so that security personnel continue their midnight barges into homes and heap humiliations. Manmohan Singh, now Indian prime minister for almost seven years, has been the architect of current Indian affluence and through unintended but cruel entwined growth of chasm between rich and poor. It would now be appropriate and behove his statesmanship to address the issue of Kashmir with the zeal that he once applied to economics. He has been now in politics long enough to know that ultimate solution has not only to be political but also the premise of primacy of political authority and political solution in a democracy should be made clear. The methods used for countering armed militancy cannot remain in force for dealing with unarmed protests, which is the case now in Kashmir; one fails to understand the hesitation even in discussing its partial removal. One can understand the position of thugs of BJP; their foolhardiness; logic never spoilt them but their sinister-ness can never be ignored. Convergence of the views of BJP and armed forces smack of more than a dead rat. Bringing in the statistics of increased infiltration across the border in conjunction with agitation in Kashmir can be no more than concocted disinformation to subvert democratic government from taking any political step to diffuse the situation in Kashmir. Any idiot, watching situation in Pakistan can tell that the country is fighting its own battle against insurgents in almost two-thirds of the territory and has been left crippled by devastating floods. Thus increased trafficking of insurgents from Pakistan is more of a sinister imagination of vested interests on the Indian side of the fence. It is up to the Indian secular parties, if there are any, to be guard against ugly designs of communalist elements and join hands to address the issue of Kashmir through appropriate and timely measures with emphasis on restoration of human dignity and values. These goals would require hard-strive without preconditions and without ignoring any person or party of any affiliation or ideology. But Indian government requires to do in urgency is to make supremacy of civilian authority clear with reigning in of chiefs of armed forces.      
-Rajiv Kumar     

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Idiots at work

This is a quote from a report in Kashmir Times on all-party meeting that deliberated on Kashmir "Former Prime Minister Devi Gowda had urged participants to allow representatives of Jammu and Kashmir parties the NC and PDP to speak first and apprise the meeting the ground situation so others can comment and suggest measures. But hardly anybody paid heed to him and speakers after speakers from Shiv Sena to Janata Dal (U), Telgu Desam, DMK, Trinmul Congress, some with elementary knowledge of Kashmir and some with almost no knowledge mixing up facts and fiction delivered lectures."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Trouble in Kashmir-a democracy in peril

Kashmir is in turmoil again; well that is not the news, it has been in turmoil since summer or more accurately since many summers. May be my cynicism is over powering me because I started for seeing the trouble in Indian democracy itself. Indian democracy has been through many eras of troubles and even through the times when everything seemed to be lost, only to see it emerge not only unscathed but even healthier than before. It has been that very democracy in its chaotic form that even enabled a multinational and disparate country to not only remain united against odious odds and dubious premonitions of pundits, rather allowed it to stake its place as an emerging economic power house on its own at the world stage. All this has been possible when despite all short comings the country never let go of its chaotic democracy and democratic rules always prevailed and civilian democratic institutions held precedence over everything else. In contrast to neighboring Pakistan, army and allied institutions were always held subservient to the elected civilian authority. Fading out of Field Marshal Manekshaw under Indira Gandhi after his misspeak in press and dismissal of Admiral Vishnu Bhagat by the Vajapayee government represented the high points of Indian democracy putting it in same league as the dismissal of roguishly brilliant General Douglas MacArthur by Harry Truman. The intransigency and insensitivity on the part of successive Indian governments to address the Kashmir problem is not only making any solution intractable by the day but it has started eroding the very core of Indian democracy that has sustained India as a country. The promulgation of completely undesirable armed forces special power act to deal with armed insurgency becomes a complete anathema in democracy if allowed to deal with stone pelting crowds demanding their rights. Epithets of incompetence hurled at Omar Abdullah by vicious rightist saffron thugs become meaningless until he is able get very genuine demands including abrogation of armed forces act fulfilled. A completely unnoticed and out of character development has been the public airing of opposition against removal of the act by the forces including chiefs of the staff. This opposition by security services is being played to the hilt by shameless BJP and will eventually prevent even a semblance of progress on the issue. Syed Ali Shah Geelani is able call shots in Kashmir because insensitive Indian regimes never offered any concessions when moderates were in ascendancy. And worst of all, in the guise of insurgency in Kashmir, the military officials continued to make statements beyond their mandates. Omar Abdullah is not asking for withdrawal of the infamous act from entire state but only from the districts where unarmed people are demanding their rights and where armed forces have not been and should not have been asked to intervene. The situation in Kashmir through blatant mishandling has reached a point of no remedy but it is the Indian democracy that is reaching its peril by allowing civilian authorities to be pushed by the subservient institutions. To let decisions drag at the time of mounting civilian casualties and to let hardliners set agenda are never signs of a healthy democracy. Offering of concessions never bring down the countries but stupid intransigencies do.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Obama-presidential moorings

These days Obama hardly resembles the leader who was elected President against all odds; nevertheless, the biggest factor that contributed to his being elected was a catastrophic predecessor. But since then again against all hype and hope Obama has spectacularly lost his way just eighteen months into his presidency. Though it may be ironical it starts to look that history might be cruelly repeating itself. The year was 1976 and Jimmy Carter from being Jimmy who was catapulted into the White House as the country was looking for a salvage from dark saga of the Watergate scandal and wanted to leave behind the ignominy of Vietnam war and its after affect on the American society. Painfully the Carter Presidency never took off and it soundly wound up at the end of one term to make way for the incorrigible Ronald Reagan who not only carried entire right behind him but also bound independents and substantial democrats to himself throughout his two-term Presidency. Is it happening all over again? Does Obama increasingly start looking like Jimmy Carter? To the horror of many the answer at the moment would be undeniably in an affirmative. Ironically, the Obama Presidency started immediately upon being elected and much before being inaugurated. The economy was floundering and George W. Bush on a cue from equally inglorious Republican President Hoover was performing an act of masterful inactivity. It was during those days when President-elect Obama appeared on the scene along with economists like Paul Volker, Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers and many others to reassure the country and world; he was equally instrumental getting stimulus packages through the congress. Nevertheless the corporate greed coupled with disastrous logic practiced by the predecessor had pushed economy into much deeper abyss than perceived. The abyss stared hard at common people while the corporate capitalists even made profit out of the turmoil. Somewhere along the way Obama lost the sight of the fact that in the eventual reckoning of success it is the 'stupid economy' that after all matters and in those dire times Obama should not only have put his diligence into economy but at the same given it a high visibility to assure the independent voters who in the first place elected him. Obama's grandiose dream of building consensus a la Lincoln was doomed from the start. Abraham Lincoln did not live in an age of sound-bites and did not have a rabid talk show host loudly wishing him failure on the day of his inauguration. Though, Lincoln did reach Washington for inauguration in a disguise to dodge a rumored assassin. Nevertheless, while seeking consensus Lincoln did not shirk from hard decisions otherwise Obama wouldn't be President today. Any astute politician must have known that after Rush Limbaugh's diktat no Republican would dare to support any Obama initiative and that should have sent him full throttle towards attaining his agenda in first two years with Democrats in control of the Congress. But that was not to be. He did as Jimmy Carter did though not exactly in the same manner. He squandered. We might never know the reason and will have to wait for historians to tell us. But squandered, he did. He had all right thinking people wishing him to be successful and advising him strategies to put economy up front. The cliché silver lining in the dark cloud has never been truer than now. Though it is very probable that Republicans in November will take control of either one or the both houses in Congress and will start reveling in dirty investigations all over again but that might at the same provide Obama an outside chance to prove his fighting character all over again. The scenario is grim to imagine; as Paul Krugman wrote that the spectacle of government shutdown during prosperous Clinton years may not be as amusing in these hard times. On a brighter note Obama can still be re-elected in 2012 only if grizzly moose hunting Sarah Palin manages to attain Republican nomination to join the immortal club of Barry Goldwater and Jean-Marie Le Pen.