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We have just seen RSS pracharaks hold regular tutorials with Ministers and Secretaries, and prepare electoral plans based on divisive strategies and threats of violence. The call to elections in Delhi could again see the RSS mobilise to spread communal poison to mobilise Hindutva votes

Sliding Downhill

Terror attacks pull Pakistan deeper into the mire as chauvinists in India call for “firm action” and the RSS starts picking up the reins.

By B G Verghese

Deccan Herald, 9 November, 2014

Last week, Pakistan received another grim reminder that it is sliding downhill. Three home-spun terror groups staged a Wagah border massacre that that termed as revenge killings. Sixty innocent lives were lost and over 200 injured. To what end? Only a display of barbaric madness. That same week, a Christian couple accused of “blasphemy” were brutally burnt alive. This was murder most foul and this barbarous practice, wrapped up in so-called faith by goons and blackmailers, is allowed to use religion to fulfil brutal ends. This is not Islam but a terrible caricature of it.

The wrongdoers are few – and we have a similar category on our side – but the damage they inflict and the fear they spread are enormous.

It is undoubtedly true that Pakistan is the major sinner and has much to answer for since 1947. But as the larger and more mature party have we done enough to bring it around. Certainly not sufficiently. Chauvinism has become ingrained and cries for “firm action” reverberate from our cold warriors who see the effort to promote peace and reconciliation as appeasement. The terrible blow Pakistan has just suffered is surely the right the moment to send a message of reconciliation and ask if the two sides cannot act together to end terror.

But, it will be said, Pakistan sustains and exports terror and has done so for decades with US political, economic and “moral” support as a frontline ally, no questions asked”. The official record on both sides and other archives have the story. The US State Department has just published a frank account of the export of terror from Pakistan – to India, Afghanistan and beyond. This is not news but a sordid fact. Nevertheless this may be the moment to use back channels to initiate a new and wide ranging dialogue, and damn objections by the RSS and Hindutva right. These fascist forces, preaching hate, need to be countered, every time and everywhere.

The daily Wagah border retreat ceremony has been resumed. It draws large crowds, but it is time to see whether it should not be scrapped or greatly scaled down as stamping jackboots and flashing eyes speak of aggression not of peace.

We have just seen RSS pracharaks hold regular tutorials with Ministers and Secretaries, and prepare electoral plans based on divisive strategies and threats of violence. The call to elections in Delhi could again see the RSS mobilise to spread communal poison to mobilise Hindutva votes. It is now being argued that the RSS advisory group is to the BJP what the National Advisory Council (NAC) was to the UPA. The analogy simply does not hold. Agree with its findings or not, the NAC was composed of men and women of great learning and public service, unlike the RSS crowd of semi-literates and ideologues, who would not be recognised in any intellectual or policy gathering.

The Congress, meanwhile, remains in stupor waiting for something to turn up. Sonia is a spent force and Rahul has failed. A struggle for power has commenced and the TN Congress has split to revive the Tamil Manila Congress. Vadra may huff and puff but he must face investigation or remain damaged goods.

The more worrying aspect of the situation is the fanning of Tamil nationalism by rival chauvinists in Tamil Nadu. Two issues are involved. First, the trial and death sentence on five Indian fishermen for heroin smuggling. The other speaks of the “betrayal” of India by Lanka for permitting anchorage of a Chinese submarine and another naval vessel. The fishermen’s fate is being negotiated but the offence is serious and has come up before. Sri Lanka has a due process as we do and simply pleading friendship cannot absolve the accused of their alleged crime. Heroin smuggling is a menace for India too.

The other aspect is to claim a special relationship with Sri Lanka as the IPKF went to the Island at Sri Lanka’s invitation got into a damn-fool operation that was diplomatically unsound, militarily confused, badly planned and altogether one of the most disgraceful actions the Indian Army was misled to fight. India got involved in a war against the murderous LTTE that Tamil Nadu had long patronised and which introduced terror to South India. Ever since, Tamil chauvinists have sought to blackmail India. We may not like frequent harbour visits by Chinese naval vessels to Sri Lankan ports. But we need to address such matters quietly and not bluster and blunder around.

Cricket was once a gentleman’s game. It no longer is. The Justice Mudgal BCCI scam report is before the court. Most organisers and players are in the game for money. Sportspersons have short working lives and must earn their rewards during that time. But if money matters more than anything and payers hunt for juicy endorsement contracts and put personal glory before team and country then there is something wrong. Sachin Tendulkar, who has just released his autobiography, emerges a much diminished person, placing self and pelf before the two highest honours the county could bestow on him: a Bharat Ratna in his lifetime and a seat as a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha. Those who made the choice regarding both distinctions were mindlessly pushed by the fool multitude. And so it is we denigrate our hallowed institutions.

And finally we have the ignominy of being “caught” happily littering the cleanest areas in town to provide photo-ops for silly “VIPs” to be seen clearing the “mess”. Swacch Bharat, like much else of Modi’s ill-planned gimmicks, is becoming a joke.

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