Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Azadi! Azadi! - Democracy, the Indian Army and Kashmir

I came across this paragraph in the article titled "Is Democracy Melting?" by Arundhati Roy.
The war in the Kashmir valley is almost 20 years old now, and has claimed about 70,000 lives. Tens of thousands have been tortured, several thousand have "disappeared," women have been raped, tens of thousands widowed. Half a million Indian troops patrol the Kashmir valley, making it the most militarized zone in the world. (The United States had about 165,000 active-duty troops in Iraq at the height of its occupation.) The Indian Army now claims that it has, for the most part, crushed militancy in Kashmir. Perhaps that's true. But does military domination mean victory? 

The comparison with Iraq is a cruel reality. What will it take for the the "democratic" government in India to come good on it's commitment to the United Nations to conduct a plebiscite in Kashmir?

The media as usual is silent about key issues that affect Kashmir. This includes and is not limited to the overwhelming presence of the military.

On a relevant side note, as India embarks in it's next phase of "auctioning" of the country's assets, Kashmir could possibly serve as the distraction that the private sector needs before digging their hands into what has been built using common property resources and tax payer money.


  1. From an Indian perpective, we decided to wait for the collapse of Pakistan. Last we estimated that was just 2 decades away, give or take a few years. Considering Kashmir's history is over 5000 years old, this is not a very long time.

  2. To occupy a land with half a million military personnel and keeping one's fingers crossed that an another country with a few hundred million people will self-destruct is a very American perspective. I hope a larger sense of humanity prevails.

  3. Are you saying that succumbing to Jihadis will allow a 'larger sense of humanity' to prevail?

    The Khalistanis were supposed to have overwhelming support in Punjab in the 80's. How is it today? What would Khalistan have achieved?

    Not infrequently, tribes, nations, and religions derive a strengthened sense of collective identity from having enemies. The egoic sense of self needs conflict because its sense of a separate identity gets strengthened in fighting against this or that, and in demonstrating that this is “me” and that is not “me." - Eckhart Tolle in Stillness Speaks

    There is no part of the world with significant Muslim population where there is no separatism. If we go by your thinking, pluralism will be dead.

    There has not been a religion that has clung to this dualism more than that founded by the Prophet of Arabia, and there has not been a religion which has shed so much blood and been so cruel to other men. In the Koran there is the doctrine that a man who does not believe these teachings should be killed; it is a mercy to kill him! And the surest way to get to heaven, where there are beautiful houris and all sorts of sense-enjoyments, is by killing these unbelievers. Think of the bloodshed there has been in consequence of such beliefs!

    In the religion of Christ there was little of crudeness; there is very little difference between the pure religion of Christ and that of the Vedanta. -Swami Vivekananda


    Here is a very apt piece on Arundhati Roy:


    "Hers is a kind of infantile rebellion against the structure that houses her."

    Let me know if Arundhati Roy ever even mentions Jihad or Tiananmen Square.

  4. Yes Arundhati Roy does mention Jihad as in "fighting the good fight". That is where I agree with her. I do not agree with everything that she says - but on the piece on Kashmir - in full agreement.

    Whether Arundhati has said anything Tianmen ... I do not know. Years after Tianmen square, it is now apparent based on the notes of the leaders of the protest that their protest was about democracy AND about stopping the march of capitalism.

    Tianmen was against a sell out of China's economy which the Chinese had done under the tutelage of the Chicago School. Milton Friedman and the folks at Washington made sure that democracy does not prevent the establishment of a free market in China. Very similar to how they applauded Yeltsin when he bombed a democratically elected parliament in his own country. Very similar to how the first world applauded when Pinochet and other dictators were brought to power in Latin America.

    As to the rebellion and insurgency in Punjab, it is interpreted as a religious conflict. It becomes easy to dismiss a religious conflict.
    Religion becomes the rug with which we can cover any problem.

    It was a issue that had the agrarian problems at it's roots. A young generation of farmers were alienated by a government that was withdrawing agricultural subsidies. Agricultural subsidies that were essential for them to continue at the same level of growth. (Vandana Shiva). It was this problem that changed into an insurgency. Comparing Punjab with Kashmir is comparing apples and oranges. In many academic circles related is is considered as one of India's most serious water wears.

    My point is simple - we committed to hold a plebiscite, why cant we honor that commitment? Let the people decide democratically. I doubt if they will chose to side with either India or Pakistan. Enough troops and civilians and not enough terrorists have died.

    Christianity as a religion has been far more violent than Islam. Starting from the crusades to recent imperialistic moves in the developing world. Quoting from an Article on Vivekananda -

    Begin Quote -
    Therefore the Swami was firmly unforgiving about the intolerance and violence of all religions - whether it was Islam and Christianity's "conversions by the sword" or Brahmanical Hinduism's brutality to shudras. Just as he denounced the exploitative ways of Hindu priest-craft yet sought to reaffirm the 'ideal' of a Brahmin, Vivekananda denounced the violence of Islam and yet identified with the philosophic men within Islam who protested against the cruelties.
    --End Quote

    It has become increasingly difficult to make out the difference in the messages emanating from right wing America and Osama Bin Laden (Robert Fisk)

    Fundamentalism in any religion is bad. Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism etc. It has only brought trouble.

    I am not a believer in Vedanta. I am a Kabir Panthi and an Advaitist. I would much rather search for the power of good within myself than use the duality of vedanta as an excuse to subvert another community.

    If Kashmir was about tackling terror it would have been easy. Our army is far too good to let terrorists reign for two decades in Kashmir. Let us not be naive. The problem is far deeper than that. Who funded the Taliban? Somebody in Langley should know.

    If we get the Americans out of South Asia - The Kashmir problem would sort itself out after Pakistan returns to democracy. I think we need to chase out the real terrorists who use drones to kill women and children. I wonder if they stop to ask the religion of a child attending the funeral of his parents before dropping a bomb? Once the bomb is dropped - terrorists are born and India is at the receiving end. It is time to go to the root of evil and it is, at least in this case, not religion.

    As far as your opinion of Arundathi Roy is concerned, she has her critics I agree with some of them ...bit not most of them.

    Thanks for your comments. I am enjoying this debate.

  5. So you think Dagestan, Chechnya, Southern Thailand, Nigeria and Philippines should have independent Muslim territories? Later, parts of UK, France and Germany should follow? What about Xinjiang?

    I never understood why Marxists are always in bed with Islamists. They fought along with Khomeini in Iran but after the Islamic revolution, they were shot like dogs. All Muslim nations treat Marxism as some disease but the Marxist folds his tail in front of their terror and actually supports them.

  6. Thanks for the comments Maald.

    Just in case and FYI – I am not Marxist in the way the Americans would love to define it. The blogosphere may call me a socialist. My ideology is more about ensuring that 800 million Indians are not left behind as the bandwagon of development rolls on. I relate more to the work of Noam Chomsky than Thomas Friedman. Yes – I hate the world bank, IMF and WTO.

    Coming back ….
    I wonder what the bedroom manners of Marxists have to do with the plebiscite in Kashmir? Was it not a democratically elected Indian government that made that (plebiscite) commitment? What are we scared off?

    I guess comparing apples and oranges was not enough We now need to compare apples, oranges, cookies and pancakes. Let me try.

    The cultural roots in India run way too deep for us to be affected by a fundamentalist movement of Christians or Muslims or Hindus. Fortunately our history is rich.

    The moderates might not have "power" but they will always have “control”. I thank god for the common Indian citizen.

    We will unfortunately remain at the receiving end of terrorist attacks who's perpetrators have been created by America. The only way to change this is to send the American army and defense contractors packing and out of South Asia. Preferably - to another planet.

    Chechnya? Yeltsin needed to invade Chechnya after his popularity fell to 6%. They were the threat that the oligarchs manufactured for Yeltsin. The suggestion to invade Chechnya probably came from the bright professors of Harvard who were using the USAID offices to line their pockets with millions in speculative trading as they were writing the rules of "freemarket" in Russia. If not, for the Russian invasion of Chechnya - these professors would probably be counting the bars in a Russian prison somewhere.

    Nigeria - Shell oil? Ring a bell? Convicted by an International of killing civilians?
    Nigeria has more to do with Internal corruption than external forces. Democracy is non-existent and this helps the capitalists. Nigeria is the best reminder of the direction that India will take if it fails to address corruption. Thank you for bringing that up.

    Southern Thailand - Where is the development?

    Philippines - Home to some of the largest US military bases.

    The only people that true Marxists sleep with are American corporations. Both Marxists and American companies have this unique way of suppressing their people for the benefit of a handful of elites. (e.g - The Chinese Capitalists and ex Politburo members of Russia who became the wards of the Oligarchs).

    I agree with you completely on that front. Marxists politicians have this uncanny ability to be on the wrong side of the "good fight". They end up siding with the Americans.

    Let me come back closer to home. Why can we not let the people of Kashmir decide? What are we scared of?

    Terror in ANY FORM has to be condemned. The problem is not enough people are willing to address the terror being spread by the largest terrorist nation state in the world. They not only breed their own terrorists (Cheeney, Rumsfeld, George W Bush, Jeffery Sachs, Milton Friedman etc) they also create terrorists in other countries (Pinochet, Osama Bin Laden, Jaish e Mohammed, Lashkar e Toiba etc)

    As long as these groups keep funding each other (and to borrow your words) "sleep with each other" .... civilians in Asia will suffer at the hands of both the terrorists and American forces.

    A good example is to see what America is doing right now. With the left hand they are bombing Pakistan. With right hand they are providing military Aid to Pakistan. The bombings create terrorists out of civilians and the aid is funneled to recruit and train these very same folks who have been bombed as terrorists who are then encouraged to seek revenge by attacking trains in Mumbai or buses in Delhi. Somehow we in India are at the receiving end. It would be incomplete to blame Pakistan. We need to call the American Spade an American Terrorist Spade.

    Why can we not have the plebiscite?

  7. We are all entitled to our bias. Many of us including Marxists and Nastiks don't realize our own dogmas.

    Dogmas — religious, political, scientific— arise out of the erroneous belief that thought can encapsulate reality or the truth. Dogmas are collective conceptual prisons. And the strange thing is that people love their prison cells because they give them a sense of security and a false sense of “I know.”

    Nothing has inflicted more suffering on humanity than its dogmas. It is true that every dogma crumbles sooner or later, because reality will eventually disclose its falseness; however, unless the basic delusion of it is seen for what it is, it will be replaced by others. What is this basic delusion? Identification with thought.

    The Truth is far more all-encompassing than the mind could ever comprehend. No thought can encapsulate the Truth. At best, it can point to it. - Eckhart Tolle in Stillness Speaks

    I just want to go back to this statement of yours:

    I am not a believer in Vedanta. I am a Kabir Panthi and an Advaitist.

    Where is the origin of Advaita? Which text has the earliest referencce to Advaita?

    Kabir has a political aura created by historians for his aversion to organized religion. This is what attracts Leftists to him - not Advaita but "Aversion". They are least interested in his Bhakti aspect. You won't find tolerance or love or forgiveness in their political arsenal.

    More serious seekers of Advaita who can cast aside politics and dogmas need to atleast check out Vedanta. You will find this: "Advaita Darshanam Jnaanam" - only when you go beyond duality can you reach the Truth!

    tat tvam asi

  8. Thanks for the response. I enjoyed your last response.

    1> Let me admit I cannot compete with you when it comes to quoting Hindu texts. I would enjoy reading a blog of yours on that subject. Hats off.

    2> At a more personal level - my belief in Kabir has nothing to do with political ideology. If leftists are attracted to him, I won't complain. I only wish the rest of the world too would be attracted to what he had to say. Not just his Bhakthi music (which is wonderfully addictive) but also the content of his work.

    3> I practice the Hindu religion. I have nothing against people who preach it. I would not be an advaitist if not for the people who preached the religion to me.

    4> I practice the freedom of choice that Hinduism promises to afford to it's adherents as well as opponents. I also practice the doctrine of peace and futility of violence that Hinduism preaches. If 500,000 troops in the most militarized zone in the world IS NOT violence, I obviously do not know what violence is.

    If a call for peace is called Dogma - I won't complain. People can call it whatever they like. But if calling peace a dogma is an excuse to practice war I would call it classical American Ideology.

    Coming back to the argument at hand -
    You have not addressed the "reality" of Kashmir.

    The question still remains -
    * The TRUTH is we promised a plebiscite in Kashmir. Why have we not done it yet?
    * The TRUTH is there are 500,000 troops in Kashmir with automatic weapons in front of schools colleges and hospitals. Why are they there?
    * The TRUTH is that there have been two decades of violence in Kashmir. Why can we not hand over power to the people? Why does it have to be with the army.
    - Thadekovasishta Shiva kevaloham.

    I am AVERSE to the American Government that killed 4 million people in the last fifty years. I have no forgiveness for them. And if I am called a "leftist" for being averse to the government of a nation that killed 4 million people, I will not complain. No matter which author, saint or religious scripture anybody quotes the TRUTH will remain that 4 million people have been killed by the American government in the last fifty years. **Thadekovasishta Shiva kevaloham.**