Thursday, July 20, 2006

Blasts from the present

I landed right in Mumbai after the exhaustive trip of "homeland". I wasn't around when a) the Shiv Sena lumpens went about their nonsensical rampage after their own maintained statue of Bal Thackeray's wife was supposedly desecrated.. and b) when yet another series of blasts rocked Mumbai and killed innocent citizens.

On b), first, I have nothing much to add to the reams of analysis that has already occupied and dissected the incident(s), yet, I can't resist adding some of my own thoughts to the issue in general.The blasts, most analysts said, exposed the soft underbelly of India's security and yet again showed the resilience of India's "Maximum City", Mumbai to recover quickly again from yet another disaster. Most of the analysts were right. The security situation in my country is weak indeed, not because of lack of effort/cogency among the agencies as such, but because of political reasons, I feel.

We have had religious riots happening before 1992, but nothing of this scale happened, to my knowledge like the Mumbai blasts, the bomb attacks at religious places etc. Much of this has had to do with the political legitimacy that has been gained by ultra-right, radical Islamist and other religious groups because of the vitiation of India's secular atmosphere. Many critics have questioned the stability of Nehruvian secularism and its contours, yet the redeeming factor about this form of secularism was that it kept the balance of peace intact rather much better than the current environment.

Eventhough mainstream India is still "secular" (the usage of the term is very particular to India in contrast to other democracies), the rise of Hindu nationalism (which is dialectically linked to the decline of patron-clientalistic Congress and centralization of power that preceded such a rise) has contributed to the breakage of that delicate balance. The Gujarat riots was a watershed..which precipitated the breakage.

Today, our citizens have been made vulnerable to terror, precisely because of what happened in Gujarat and in other places. Groups like the Lashkar, Jaish and other terrorist cults have drawn recruits within India among Indian citizens with ease since the pogrom. Secular India of the not so past, was able to politically counter this threat by providing the basic liberal tenet of minority protection and liberal rights to all; this fragile balance was wrecked by actions that had already reached an apogee on 6th December 1992.

Many analysts have alluded to the points mentioned above. Very few have added another important point, which I feel needs to be studied and mentioned.

Non-Aligned India was able to cache in on a sort of balance of power that reaped some dividends by keeping India in the green generally with the superpowers and also with other third world countries. (Contrary to perception, despite the OIC being overwhelmingly loaded with Pakistan friendly countries, on Kashmir and other issues, many countries in the OIC were with us). The drift in foreign policy of late (what is called "Crossing the Rubicon" by C. Raja Mohan in his seminal eponymous book), that has entailed a bandwagoning with the US (ostensibly to balance China, according to realists like Rajamohan), has drawn India into the battleground that has largely been a creation of the US. Dangerously, after West Asia, South Asia, with India in the fulcrum is emerging as the new geopolitical zone of American Influence. The policy of neoconservative America to project the American imperialism project in West Asia as a clash of civilizations between "Christian" developed America and "Islamist" non-modern countries and the growing tendency of India to bandwagon with this form of unilateral America is making India more vulnerable, I feel.


11 comments:

Dust-Biter said...

Enhancing the breadth and depth of secularism will counter the terrorism threat.

India should also begin treating terrorists ruthlessly,creating Gitmo-Bay type prisons and getting tough on them.

Aligning with the US is a tactical political move and that does not provide us any reason to have moral dilemma over the terrorist attacks - India will do what is good for it's future -

the terrorists will continue to find reasons to attack India, probably until the last Indian becomes a Muslim, until the last Muslim becomes a Sunni, until the last Sunni does not support a Kurd etc.. - there is no end to the insanity of the terrorists.

Working on the root causes is for the longer run, while a quick surgical fix is needed - GET TOUGH ON THE CULPRITS.

Thanks
Varahasimhan.

Ashok said...

Hey Srini,

Visited your blog site for the first time today.

Quite interesting to see the progress you have made from a software engineer working in a 'bourgeois' software company to a full-fledged commie.

Enjoyed reading your posts, though I don't agree even an iota with your political views.

The post on Spanish football was a classic piece. Thanks for passing all that interesting soccer info (also when we were together in Tokyo).

About the Mumbai blasts, it may be easy for "secular" writers like you to justify it using Gujarat riots but how will you justify that the recently elected CPI-M CM of Kerala went to TN and pleaded the case of the Coimbatore bomb blast accused?

Also, just as surely, there will be attacks on your (and my :-), I have shifted jobs) former 'bourgeois' software company. Every intelligence warning says this. How will you feel about that? Will you attribute it to the Gujarat riots again?? (btw, do you attribute the Coimbatore blasts also to Gujarat riots?).

I may not be as good a writer as you or may not be able to argue as coherently, but I will never vote for the CPI/CPI-M.

Wish you the best... I will keep following your blogs :-) !!

Srini said...

Some answers to your queries, Ashok:

>>About the Mumbai blasts, it may be easy for "secular" writers like you to justify it using Gujarat riots but how will >>you justify that the recently elected CPI-M CM of Kerala went to TN and pleaded the case of the Coimbatore bomb blast >>accused?

I think the Kerala CM only asked for ayurvedic treatment to be provided to the Coimbatore bomb blast accused...

>>Will you attribute it to the Gujarat riots again?? (btw, do you attribute the Coimbatore blasts also to Gujarat >>riots?).

The point is not about Gujarat riots being a primal cause for every terrorist act. The point is trying to understand the breaking down of the secular fabric of our country which has exposed innocent citizens (of any community) to attacks of the terrorist kind. The bombings in Varanasi and Jama Masjid in Delhi, the recent blasts in Mumbai and even the Coimbatore blasts have all occured because of the legitimacy gained by the extremist organizations which has in turn helped recruits from India itself something that was quite unprecedented. Over the period of time, ever since the rise of Hindu fundamentalist parties to positions of power (like the Shiv Sena and the BJP), a sense of fear has engulfed the minority communities despite constitutional provisions for their protection, which is a basic in every liberal democracy. The majority community also has been exposed to these kinds of terror attacks ..and that was what I was trying to tell in the blog entry. Today, when someone argues that India is a secular nation, where the minorities aren't thrown away from the mainstream, the devil's advocate brandishes Gujarat, Ram Janmabhoomi etc...In a situation that has seen gross inequalities and unemployment on the rise, it has become easier for communalism to breed terrorism...even of the Islamic fundamentalist kind..

In the later part of the blog.. I tried to establish the fact that imperialism itself was also a feeding factor.. Essentially the blog was about the mutual reinforcement provided by imperialism, communalism and terrorism...and the need for India to regain its secular democratic character enshrined in its liberal constitution.

Srini said...

To Simha,

I agree with you completely ...Terror tackling mechanisms have to be strengthened ..so too the agencies...Yet dangers of passing acts such as POTA are to be realized. Invariably POTA acts as a weapon to counter-terrorize..I guess a statistical survey on the usage of POTA would reveal the misuse of that Act which is so deleterious that it acts against the long term objective of creating a suitable environment to counter the creation of Supporters of Terror. Thats the problem.

Praveen Swami has written extensively on Terrorism, Intelligence Agencies, Criminal Justice system in India..He unequivocally says that we need to get tough with Culprits. But at the same time, he stresses on effective capture of culprits, effective co-ordination between agencies, more strengthening of intelligence gathering and right political agency and use of current implements in our rather flawed criminal justice system. Now that calls for an integrated package.

Ashok said...

>>I think the Kerala CM only asked for ayurvedic treatment to be provided..

No, the Kerala CM actually asked that the Terrorist be released on bail.. Read the following piece from The Hindu:
(http://www.hindu.com/2006/06/11/stories/2006061109800100.htm)
Mr. Achuthanandan said Maudhany had been in prison for more than eight years in Tamil Nadu. "His weight has reduced from 104 [kg] to 54 [kg] and he has many serious diseases. Hence, I brought to the notice of the [Tamil Nadu] Chief Minister the need to enlarge him on bail on humanitarian grounds," he said.

Also there are other reports of how Communists and Congress used Madhani's pictures to canvass for votes in Muslim dominated areas in Kerala. It is also well known and well documented how the SIMI-lover, Terrorist-supporter Mullahyam Singh Yadav used OBL's look alike in polls.

Even accepting your case that Ramjanmabhoomi and Gujarat riots increased the fear of the minorities, the communalism perpetrated by the Communists and Samajwadi party has only accentuated the image that Muslims are terrorist supporters.

When George Bush came to India, there were a million Muslims and Communists having a huge rally in Mumbai, to protest his Iraq invasion. Why they can't do the same as a tribute for the Mumbai blast victims? Instead Mullah Yadav goes ahead and gives a clean chit to SIMI. Blast these pseudo-secular politicians.

Srini said...

I dont think the Communists used Madhani's pictures for getting votes. Those were rebel Muslim League candidates who were rebelling against the corruption that was part of the Congress Ally, the Muslim League..So I guess, its a matter of getting the facts right..

The point to note is of a complex nature. If we come out of the "Hindu" vs "Muslim" binary and think as a rational person, we can understand the politics of Muslim fundamentalism. Islamic fundamentalists of the Madani kind are able to reach out to the sections of downtrodden Muslims much more easily than Muslim Bourgeois parties like the Muslim League. ..Thats because there is a content of "Anti-Imperialism" in Islamic fundamentalism which sees the Western civilization as antithetical to itself. Since, Modernity and Western Civilization in its imperialist form has an exploitative tendency, it is easy for Islamic fundamentalists to reach out to the exploited sections of the religious minorities.

Personally, I consider it a a failure on part of the party of the working classes not to be able to overcome these fundamentalists and be able to rally the downtrodden sections, but invariably in the case of West Bengal and Kerala, the CPI(M) has to an extent able to do that successfully. In West Bengal, have you heard of any kind of rioting/ looting / etc for quite some time now? Thats because the Communists there have been able to rally the working population among the religious minority on their class identity.. while also giving enough provisions to maintain their distinct religious identity, provided they adhered to the Constitution..Thats precisely why Madrasas in Bengal were regulated with syllabi from Science and Mathematics being incorporated on State orders.

In the case of Kerala too, the Communists are the ones who have fought tooth and nail against the forces represented by the Muslim League as virulently as they have fought against the forces represented by the RSS. Communists in Kerala have thus been in the forefront of the fight against communalism. In 1958, the EMS led government was dismissed by the Congress represented by Jawaharlal Nehru on the very reason that the government was trying to secularize education and incorporate rationalism and social science strengths...Today Kerala's high HDI indices owe to the various rationality movements and programmes launched by the Communists.

When George Bush came to India, There was a huge rally in Delhi that was called by the Left forces..this rally was as huge as others in London, Russia, France and other parts of the world, where people poured in large numbers to oppose the unjust war of occupation in Iraq, unmindful of the religious identity of the people of Iraq, but viewing the occupation through the prism of imperialism.. Similar was the case in India vis-a-vis the Communists.. who launched a programme attacking American Imperialism...

For your information, there was a rally called by the Communists which attracted a decent crowd in solidarity with the blast victims too...Wherever the Communist have a disciplined organization and a good support base, they have been able to resist and overcome communalism in the best possible way. They are equally against Muslim Fundamentalism and

Its another case for the Samajwadi Party led by Mulayam Yadav...the Communists need not answer for Yadav, who belongs to a separate party.

There is no justification for a BJP supporter or a party man calling names such as "pseudo-secular"...The BJP and the RSS represent the worst forms of kowtowers to Imperialism. The Shiv Sena is the replica of the Fascist leagues of the thirties..the BJP is a much more sophisticated bourgeois party using right wing communalism to forward its agenda of making India a puppet of the Americans, and keeping its business class supporters happy and well to do.. Sample this.. In the 13 day government led by AB Vajpayee, the first and only executive decision taken by the government was not to repeal Article 370 or build the Ayodhya Temple or all such lunatic policies that are part of their manifesto, but to Give the Green signal for the flawed corrupt Enron Project.

I only wish to emphasise that its high time that people realize the game that the BJP is playing.. lapping up communalism to advance purely the interests of the classes inimical to the working and toiling population of our country..

Ashok said...

>>I dont think the Communists used Madhani's pictures for getting votes.

News links:
(www.newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=IER20060420001345&Page=R&Title=Kerala&Topic=-444&)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Abdul Nazar Madani is being used by both the LDF and the UDF for electoral gains once again. While the political bonhomie between the PDP and the LDF has made it expedient for some of the Left candidates in the state to use the photo of Madani in their election posters, the incarcerated leader has become the target of the UDF camp as well.

In many posters of the LDF candidates, the candidate concerned can be seen overshadowed by a colossal image of Madani....

Also read this: www.tehelka.com/story_main18.asp?filename=Ne070806Anyone_recognise.asp

>>For your information, there was a rally called by the Communists which attracted a decent crowd in solidarity with the blast victims too...

Yeah...Where? For a change, it would have been good to see a communist's heart bleed for a fellow countryman than Iraqi Sunnis.

>>keeping its business class supporters happy and well to do.. Sample this......lapping up communalism to advance purely the interests of the classes inimical to the working and toiling population of our country..

Sure. How worse it is from WB's CM having his arm around Mukesh Ambani and giving a go-ahead to Reliance for their agro-retail foray? So the communists are only against American FDI in retail, is it? In one of your other blogs, you have written against big FDI retail investments. So it is good if Reliance does it but not good if Walmart does it? I am sure the day a Chinese company makes an attempt to open a retail chain in India, the same communists will go ga-ga to attract it in their own states.

And correct me if I am wrong, Enron was tom-tommed by the Congress govt. (PVNR's govt in centre) also as a marque FDI project. BJP got on the bandwagon much later. So it was not only the BJP which was to blame.

Srini said...

I refuse to accept that the Left parties used Madani's posters to campaign for votes. Its impossible. It might have been some independent candidates supported by the Left in the areas where the Left is non-existent (such as some Muslim majority areas in the Malabar)..

For a person who has extensively studied the media's inclinations and dis-inclinations, I am pretty sure about the agenda of the Indian Express and its cohorts. Shekhar Gupta's Indian Express has a way of putting spin to make the Left sound wrong .. Innumerable examples abound..Here is one link..

http://pd.cpim.org/2005/0612/06122005_indian%20express.htm

Before the WB elections, the Indian Express went on to say that it will acknowledge the impact of the Left only if it thinks that the elections were free and fair.. after the EC's over-scrutiny, the Left didn't just win...it won a thumping majority..the IE had nothing much to say! ..I myself have directly questioned the anti-Left bias of the Indian Express and had a letter published on that account..

http://srinivasanvr.blogspot.com/2005/11/indian-express-editorial-on-jnu.html
http://www.indianexpress.com/full_story.php?content_id=82229

The Tehelka's report doesn't much either about the Left having directly endorsed Madani or his policies anywhere.. It only makes insinuations while it clearly establishes the link between the UDF and Madani..

Next most important point: Sitaram Yechury and other Politburo members during the campaign for the elections in Kerala made categorical remarks saying that we cannot prevent the PDP and other parties from decreeing their cadres to vote for the LDF, but we substantially disagree and oppose the fundamentalism that guides their thoughts.

"Yeah...Where? For a change, it would have been good to see a communist's heart bleed for a fellow countryman than Iraqi Sunnis."

I take offense to this nonsensical statement on your part.. Today..what are the issues that have occupied public space and who have brought them to be discussed on the public platform? Farmers' Suicide, Employment Guarantee Act...etc.. If there is anyone's "heart that has bled" among the political firmament, its that of the Left politicians.. Time and time again, they have presented alternate Budgets, comprehensive plans to tackle the agrarian crisis...have asked for implementation of the NREGA that is bound to give succour to millions of impoverished Indians.. Have focussed extensively on political solutions to the problems created by neoliberal economic policies of the Government over the past few years. Which other political outfit has done that with such conviction and persistence??

In the NDA Government's rule, people were discussing whether to build a temple at Ayodhya..whether to play a cricket match against Pakistan, Uma Bharathi was talking about eggs in cakes, and even after losing power, the BJP's primary concern of enquiry was whether Jinnah was secular or not...Utter subjective nonsensical bullshit.

The NDA government was the worst form of pro-neoliberal government which exacerbated every bit of social security that was wrought for the working and toiling masses of our country. In Andhra Pradesh, in Maharashtra, in Orissa, almost every state that was ruled by the NDA and its constituents, the plight of the poor has been exacerbated...

HOw many Communist leaders have you ever seen been indicted or involved in corruption scandals, those which abound the BJP and Congress so so much?? For probity and cleanliness in public life, dont look no further than the Left parties..

People like you and the erstwhile me, in our ivory towers of Airconditioned cubicles never get the opportunity to assess the policies of the government and its effect on the real India.. that which constructs buildings where you work..that which toils on fields to make us eat what we eat..that which travels distances to toil and further toil.. Who bothers more about such people and macroeconomic policies to enhance the profile of such people..to modernize conditions suitably to create an effective internal demand and increased purchasing power of our own people? Which political outfit has clear cut policies and plans to that effect other than the Left? You tell me!.

In the recent case of the Petrol Price Hike, the BJP made all the noises blissfully aware of the fact that they were equally culpable of multiple price hikes themselves...The Left opposed the hike too...but responsibly enough it provided alternate policies that can be followed to mitigate the burden on PSUs..that logic that the Congress had provided.. Thats responsibility for me..

In the case of Reliance coming to West Bengal, while personally I wouldnt' endorse this move to open up retail chains across the State, there seems to be a logic to it. THe Left has categorically mentioned that FDI should be allowed albeit with three rider conditions: a) Bolster employment, b) Bring in Technology, c) should not supplant existing potentialities and capabilities.

The West Bengal Government is the only government in India to have effectively effected Land Reforms.. that has vastly transformed the agricultural productivity and the purchasing power of the rural population.. Contrary to what you get on the media, its this reason that has kept the Left in power for 30 years running.. In Agrarian and agricultural performance, West Bengal ranks the best state in India...But Land Reforms has been done to the maximum extent possible.. A transformation into a more modern and effective industrial model would have to entail creation and sustenance of strong agro-business and agro-based industries and marketing....

The West Bengal government merely runs a state which is part of a larger national entity, India. It cannot effect socialism on its own, because of Constitutional provisions on fiscal management by the states in our country...If the Left comes to power in the Center, it can very well force radical macroeconomic fiscal and monetary policies that would entail massive investment by the State itself and increased tax bases, effective restructuring of the economy in itself.. West Bengal being merely a state cannot indulge in such exercises and has to rely on fiscal gathering the way the Center has allowed it and other states to: through sales taxes, receipts etc.

The transformation process therefore has to be initiated with the bourgeoisie, as India itself is a Republic of the Bourgeoisie..Hence the invitation to Reliance.. Personally I feel that the state can itself organize something like co-operatives for the same, but Subject to the conditions that the Left have imposed, the move has been undertaken..which in itself is not inconsistent with its policies.

The case for Walmart is different. If Walmart is brought in, it would supplant the multiple small and medium retailers in our country.For want of effort, I am not attaching links in this entry, but you can go to sardi.org and other such sites (even cpim.org), or epw.org.in to get lots of articles on FDI in Retail sector in India. It is different indeed to invite FDI to retail and call your domestic bourgeosie to assist in the establishment of agro-business retailing in your state.. An indepth study of both these would put things in perspective...People's Democracy(pd.cpim.org) will give you enough material on this to study.

Enron was a consequence of the Congress, agreed..which met with opposition by both the Shiv Sena and the BJP, who later on turned (or turncoated) to be the most vociferous supporters of the same.. which is one case that exposes the duplicity and culpability of parties such as the BJP.

Aniruddha said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Aniruddha said...

Hi!
I want to share with you my experiences on this issue. It was not long ago, that I and one of my friend from Lohit, JNU went to visit Hazrat Nizamuddin's Mazar. On the way as we were trying to find out the way to the Mazar, and he suddenly quipped that satellite’s would be watching us the moment we leave this place, and IB will be constantly monitoring us, as to what we guys are up to.

It is true there's a deep seated fear of constantly being observed, of not being trusted, of being victimized, of not being respected. Our political establishment has always kept a certain section at a distance, has given them compensations, just like Sonia Gandhi and her bandwagon tried to do after Malegaon blasts, but apart from that nothing really has been done to fill the lacunae which has been created over hundreds of years. They have so far been merely used as a vote bank.

What we need to do is respect each other. I find that it is lacking. In West Bengal we have restaurants dishing out extravagant meals and organizing parties on certain festivals, well you would very well know which festivals are being left out by the profit mongering stooges of liberalization, who attach little or no significance to the ones being left out. These restaurants call themselves multi-cuisine restaurants, but dish out “veg only” cuisines, which very well hints at the fact, that multiculturalism has degenerated into a mere tool in the hands of trans-national capitalisms.

On another occasion while traveling back to Calcutta I had faced a strange situation. A family sitting opposite me was very uncomfortable in my presence, the train has a scheduled stop at Kanpur for about five minutes, and I thought that I can relax my nerves getting out of the train, as I too was feeling uncomfortable. Then this gentleman, who was the patriarch of the family, walked upto me and asked me whether or not I am a Bangladeshi! Then I realized that all that discomfort was there because of my beard. I am too shocked till date to comment on this! I can only share.

Aniruddha said...

In West Bengal not only were the elections free and fare, people went out to vote having gotten sick and tired of the TMC's gymnastics with BJP and INC. The common man in West Bengal hates INC. They saw an alternative in BJP, but do not talk about BJP nowdays. Moreover the CPM has started driving out their "scrap" cadre, who are joining TMC or INC, people are happy that this is happening, they want to see bright people at the helm of the party not local goons and Com. Bhattacharya has led the state well so far, which helped the people vote CPM to power yet again in West Bengal. People have really pinned their hope in the party and it's leader yet again, now it's CPM's task to perform.