Integrated development, politics and social empowerment in India and beyond

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Books written by B G Verghese

Books written by B G Verghese

Books written by B G Verghese

Mr Modi did not address the media during or after the visit. He has studiously avoided speaking to the media since taking office. But all of a sudden he is to come alive in a “world exclusive” interview with CNN on the eve of his US-UN visit. This seems more an exercise in self-publicity than in communication

Making War Talking Peace

The Chinese President talked peace and investment even as a mini-war was being waged in Ladakh.

By B G Verghese

Tribune, 22 September, 2014

It has been a turbulent week of war and peace. The Chinese President’s visit was the highlight with peace being talked even as a mini-war was being waged in Ladakh, eyeball to eyeball, following Chinese objections to construction of a small irrigation work near Demchok. Twelve trade and investment agreements were signed and the Chinese offered $20bn worth of investments in five years to correct the present trade imbalance.

Yet, the Ahmedabad Mirror reported that Northeasterers on the staff of the Hyatt Hotel were kept out of sight so as not to offend the Chinese guests. If true, this would be a sad self-goal and a rude slap in the face our Northeastern citizens.

Prime Minister Modi, however, did well to tell President Xi that while trade and other exchanges were most desirable, no real progress and lasting friendship was possible without speedy settlement of the boundary issue. Three specific issues were mentioned: defining the LAC to ensure peace, with demarcation to follow; avoidance of stapled visas, and water sharing. Water-sharing is not a real issue as China’s ability to divert waters from India is modest. The real water issue lies in managing climate change, which was apparently not discussed. Both sides have much to gain from such cooperation.

As far as the border is concerned, the Chinese have since 1954 maintained the ambiguous position that matters will be settled when the time is ripe. Thus even when a section of the LAC is mutually determined, the Chinese are unwilling to demarcate it and exchange maps so that even what can and has been unsettled by innocent or not so innocent trespass. India must insist on firm ground rules here.

Mr Modi did not address the media during or after the visit. He has studiously avoided speaking to the media since taking office. But all of a sudden he is to come alive in a “world exclusive” interview with CNN on the eve of his US-UN visit. This seems more an exercise in self-publicity than in communication, in which he blandly suggests that Muslims in India are absolutely safe even while the BJP and Parivar have tirelessly indulged in an unrestrained campaign of slander, lies, dire threats and the most infamous calumny against them. This will not wash unless and until he takes action against some of his leading lights for criminal incitement, hate-mongering and propagating downright lies.

The recent by-election results in which the BJP lost 13 of 23 seats spread over 33 constituencies In nine states is indicative of growing public disenchantment with the blatant electoral politics of hate and polarisation that the BJP banked upon. It suffered in U.P and Rajasthan in particular.

The BJP leader in Bihar openly declared that if Yogi Adityanath spoke in Bihar as he did in U.P. he would have been promptly contradicted. Adityanath’s rants apart, recall what some others said. Amit Shah, the BJP president declared that if Patel, not Nehru, had been “in charge” of Kashmir, the entire state would have come to India and there would have been no need for Article 370. This combines a high order of constitutional ignorance with historical illiteracy and a false pitting of Patel against Nehru in a new game of personality polarisation.

Sakshi Maharaj, BJP MP, next alleged that madrasas are imparting instruction in terror and love-jihads. They do not hoist the national flag and Muslim MPs avoid functions where the national anthem is sung. The BJP disowned these outrageous statements as the personal views of the MP who, however, remains in good standing.

Then it was left to Maneka Gandhi, Minister for Women and Child Development, to claim that profits made from animal (read cow) slaughter are going to fund terrorism. This again is sheer rubbish and also betrays ignorance of the trade. The plain fact is that the bulk of cattle sold for slaughter are non-milch buffaloes and are disposed of by Hindus who cannot afford to keep dry and decrepit animals. Mechanisation of tillage and haulage has also reduced the demand for draft animals. Rather than acknowledge the facts and permit culling and rendering of animals and sales of processed beef, people are driven to illicit sales of cattle across the border to Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. Most gaushalas are a rackets of bogus piety and serve no purpose.

That apart, millions of “holy cows” roam the streets and forests and do much damage to the ecology. In Madhya Pradesh, a BJP MLA, Usha Thakur, asked her followers to keep Muslims out of the Garba festival to prevent Hindu girls from being trapped in love-jihad. These are demented minds that would convert beautiful national festivals that bind our diversity into occasions to preach hatred and divide communities.

No wonder the National Minorities Commission has written to the Home Minister “to restrain people in responsible positions from making irresponsible statements” An earlier resolution by the Commission was ignored. Modi-Sarkar does not care and has said or done nothing for months to stop this monstrous Hindutva hate jihad. And is this the man who is telling the world in an “exclusive interview” with CNN that Muslims need have no worry? Statesmanship or humbug!!

Were this not enough we have witnessed the arrogance of power in play. Ajit Singh, former Minister, has refused to vacate his bungalow despite repeated reminders, like several other defiant ministers, MPs, and bureaucrats. He wants the bungalow converted into a memorial commemorating his father, Charan Singh. The Nehru-Gandhi example of endless land-grab for family memorials has created a terrible example. The Indira Gandhi National Centre for Culture and Art in the prime heart of Delhi represents the acme of land grab and the most extravagant use of space that it must disgorge to accommodate other cultural institutions.

The answer to Ajit Sigh and all similar defaulters is that their household goods should be dumped on the road and auctioned and all arrears and costs be met therefore. Protest should be met with arrest and a month’s imprisonment. Do this just once under law and the nonsense will end.

Then there is Hema Malini telling the tragic widows of Brindavan, mostly from Bengal and Bihar, not to crowd the place but remain in their home states. What impertinence from a woman who embraced Islam temporarily to marry after her partner-to-be secured talaq. What has she or the Parivar done to end the terrible plight of widows who are as yet unable to break the cruel taboo against widow remarriage, though abolished by law. These medieval bigots are the dregs of Hindu society.

Meanwhile we have Yasin Malik forcibly stealing a boat-load of rations for Srinagar’s flood affected to divert to his partisans in order to claim credit for looking after their welfare even while protesting the state’s alleged indifference and incompetence in rescue and relief operations. These separatist scoundrels have pelted stones at the Army and Air Force rescue teams. They deserve to be horse-whipped and locked away.

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