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Books written by B G Verghese

Books written by B G Verghese

Books written by B G Verghese

The hate-syllabus directed against India and Hindus that fills official school textbooks in Pakistan was closely dissected by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute of Islamabad in 2003. A huge debate followed and Musharraf promised a new and more liberal curriculum in 2006

Midsummer Madness

Summer heat and addled minds from West Bengal to Pakistan as the BJP too grapples with its Hindutva and identity.

By B G Verghese

Deccan Herald, 29 June, 2009

It must be the heat. Mamata Bannerjee is not sure whether she is Railway Minister in Delhi or Leader of the West Bengal opposition. However, she must be gently but firmly told that she cannot oppose the Government’s policy on dealing with the Maoists in Lalgarh and disinvestment and prepare the Railway budget in Kolkata. She must choose – and now. Mayawati is raining statues in a vulgar egotistical display. The Left is still busy bravely explaining and justifying its clever contradictions, leaving the public bemused.

One is also trying to understand the BJPs new definition of Hindutva which it has now embraced with as many variations as it has spokespersons. Why does not the Party reduce the salient framework to paper and formally repudiate all earlier divisive formulations and interpretations and break relations with those who think of Hindutva differently? Its present stance lacks credibility as evidenced by the latest horror story from Meghalaya of tribal Seng Khasi children being reportedly sent to Karnataka by an RSS group by seeming “force and fraud” to be de-culturalised and trained as good Hindus in order to counter Christianity in their home state.

Cooler climes have unfortunately not necessarily produced less addled minds. The Shopian rape and murder of two innocent young women was heinous in the extreme and those culpable, negligent or furthering a cover up must receive condign punishment after due process. Having said that, a clear and obvious pattern is discernible of separatists, political malcontents and ideologically motivated elements in the Valley caught on the back foot after their recent electoral discomfiture and desperately attempting to stage a come back by any means. Comparable crimes and worse by militants that have occurred in parallel have been callously disregarded. If the Shopian tragedy was abhorrent, the agitation in its wake is both spurious and cynical and more tuned to mischief than justice.

Meanwhile, the Home Minister visited the Valley and made three points. First, all normal law and order duties vest in the J&K police, with security-related measures left to the armed and para-military forces. This is already in force but standard operating procedures and codes of conduct will be strictly enforced. Secondly, he promised to look into gradual removal of troops from inhabited areas and a phased withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act after the Amarnath Yatra. Thirdly, he hinted at resumption of the internal dialogue within J&K. The last is critical. Let everybody be consulted, the Hurriyat included, but none allowed a veto or indulgence for delaying the process.

A resolution of internal discords in J&K, including a review of autonomy to and within the State, a commission to look at disappearances, internal displacement, heinous human rights violations and related justice or compensation, and steps to stimulate investments and employment, would go a long way to bring comfort and reconciliation. It would also undermine jihadi and Pakistani pretensions about “self-determination”.

Pakistan was insistent on a resumption of the peace process, appealing to India to accept its assurances of dealing with the aftermath of Mumbai 26/11 and with terror, of which it was itself a prime victim. Dr Manmohan Singh broke the ice at a meeting with President Zardari on the margins of the SCO meeting at Yetakarinburg in Russia and further meetings are programmed. But it has been made clear that Pakistan must walk its talk on acting against those responsible for 26/11 and dismantling its apparatus of cross-border terror. This it not done. Hearings on the 26/11 case in Islamabad against five LeT suspects have been interrupted for several weeks in the absence of a judge. Pakistan’s riposte is to ask India for more and yet more evidence. Again, the day Hafeez Saeed, founder of the Jamat-ud-Dawa and the LeT, was released by the Lahore High Court, the Pakistan Prime Minister chaired a meeting of the Azad Kashmir Council where he coupled this with a non sequitur linking this to J&K.

It is patent that Kashmir is not a “core issue” for Pakistan. How does it figure in its savage war against its own people in Baluchistan, its fight against the Taliban (which it raised, trained, funded and fostered), or its existence on the margins of becoming a failed state? The one link is the militarisation and Talibanisation of Pakistan both of which hold the country in thrall, jointly and separately, and are linked to its Kashsmir obsession, itself a symptom of an incoherent identity beyond being India’s “other”.

The hate-syllabus directed against India and Hindus that fills official school textbooks in Pakistan was closely dissected by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute of Islamabad in 2003. A huge debate followed and Musharraf promised a new and more liberal curriculum in 2006. That change has yet to be effected in new textbooks and schooling. The result, as many patriotic Pakistanis lament, is another “lost generation” growing up with warped minds.

This is the theme, differently expressed, of a book, “Making Sense of Pakistan”, by a Pakistani scholar, Farzana Shaikh, recently published in London. The author argues that there is no salvation for the country unless it sorts out its “not-India” identity crisis which is the root cause of its desperate ills. Pakistan cannot win the war on terror or the Taliban unless it discovers its soul.

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