Indian Concept of Poverty Grounded in Sixtiees

There was a lot of expectation that specific reforms would be announced in Budget 2014-15 regarding the operation of subsidies in India. There were none — indeed, the budget has been criticized by many for lacking any reforms on expenditure policy. Pointedly, many analysts have concluded that Budget 2014-15 is just another UPA-Chidambaram budget.
However, what was announced in the budget is that the government will create a commission to look into the entire nature of our expenditures, with specific emphasis on poverty elimination. And the biggest such item is the operation of the Public Distribution System (PDS) of food grains to the poor.
The mindset that has produced policies like the food security act, or FSA (which mandates that two-thirds of the Indian population are deserving of food subsidies), and NREGA — a jobs entitlement program for all of rural India — needs to be junked before India can look forward to meeting its destiny of an 8 per cent growth economy and a major emerging power on the world stage. The newly formed Expenditure Commission would do well to comprehensively reject ancient Indian methods of poverty measurement, alleviation.
The Sonia Gandhi-led UPA mindset was inconsistent with the belief that India can be anything but a poor country, not much different from the nightmare concocted by Swedish Nobel winner Gunnar Myrdal in the late 1960s (the 1968 three-volume Asian Drama, in which his contention was that Asia was doomed to be poor for ever). Myrdal can be forgiven for speaking too early, and being wrong, but what do you say about politicians and policymakers and their intellectual advisors who still believe in 2014 that Myrdal was right and that India is a forever-poor country?
In 1968, India’s per capita income was around $100 per person per year. When the food security act was passed last year, India’s per capita GDP was 15 times higher. Yet our mindset was to pursue the same policies as 50 years earlier — indeed, to expand them. The PDS system has been in operation since 1942, when it was introduced to counter famine conditions in Bengal.
It was expanded over the years and became a full-fledged all-India operation around the time of Myrdal’s book. The food/ cash-for-work program was first introduced in 1973 in Maharashtra, and introduced primarily to provide incomes to very poor people during conditions of drought. In 2005, Sonia Gandhi’s government introduced an act of Parliament to make it a right of every individual to have 100 days of work.
A good documentation of our ancient mindset is provided by the Indian discussion on poverty and its alleviation. A new report on measurement of poverty, commissioned by the UPA a year ago, has just been released (the Rangarajan, “Report of the Expert Group to Review the Methodology for Measurement of Poverty”). There is nothing different (forget new) in this report from the first poverty line report produced in the mid-1960s. (Note how things literally haven’t changed since the 1960s.) The report then also (mistakenly in my view) based poverty on caloric intake.
This method was demolished by nutrition expert P.V. Sukhatme in 1973, but our mindset is not bothered by any evidence contrary to one’s ideological predilection. So entrenched has the poverty industry been in India, mostly in Congress-led governments that feel it is in their political interest to perpetuate the notion that India is poor, that it has published four reports since the mid-1960s study and all of them (including, obviously, the Rangarajan report) have stuck to the same outdated, and false, notion of absolute poverty.
So much has happened, but our knowledge-proof poverty experts remain oblivious. The calorie obsession has to do with notions of nutrition. Sukhatme pointed out that there was so much inter-individual variation in body metabolism that caloric consumption intake was a highly misleading indicator of nutritional well-being. Recent research has emphasized sanitation (read toilets and open defecation) as a major contributor to nutrition, thus further reinforcing the conclusion that measuring poverty via caloric intake borders on the nonsensical.
Should we not, as a society, be much more concerned with effective targeting of the poor population and methods to best deliver incomes to them? For sure, all the answers are not known, but enough is known to suggest that cash transfers is the best transfer system. Do the transfer in cash rather than a very indirect in-kind method (the latter is much like catching your nose by circling your hand behind your neck — most can’t reach it).
When I presented my findings regarding PDS “efficiency”, one sceptical economist wondered aloud as to what data could substantiate such findings. As is well known to most observers of Indian policy, the National Sample Survey Organisation collects detailed data on the various items of consumption. This exercise is undertaken every five years but sometimes the gap is less than five. The detailed questionnaire asks separately for the quantity and price of food items bought from the market or bought from the PDS ration shop. As such, there is fairly complete information available on the PDS received by each household in the economy.
In 2011-12, NSSO data shows that average consumption of cereals was about 10 kg per person per month, and that the poor received less than a third of their consumption via food subsidies. The food subsidy bill in 2011-12 was Rs 73,000 crore. Only half of the food-grains ostensibly sent to government shops (called off-take) actually reached the shops. Where did this other half go — rotted and sent to liquor manufacturers (“rotting” fermenting grain is good for alcohol consumption), or sent to food mills for later entry into the market, or… You can fill in the blanks. The fact remains that less than 50 per cent of food grains meant for ration shops ever reaches them.
Once food reaches PDS ration shops, 40 per cent of the poor do not receive any subsidy. The net effect is that, of every Rs 100 spent by the government, only Rs 15 reaches the poor. Or the poor got only Rs 12,200 crore of food subsidies of the Rs 73,000 crore meant for them. BJP, Narendra Modi, Expenditure Commission — are you reading, and will you change the system to maximize governance and reduce corruption?

The Enigma of Pakistan

Any nation that is created is always in search of its identity. So is it with Pakistan. 67 years after independence, Pakistanis still chant on their streets: Pakistan ka matlab kya? (What was the purpose of creating Pakistan)?” The answer, obviously, is: Islam. Pakistan was created for Islam. But is that so? Whether Pakistan was created for Islam or not is a dispute that has not been settled yet and there is no indication that it can be settled in the near future. The religious lobby, however, uses this slogan to strengthen the country’s Islamic identity. On paper, Pakistan is an Islamic republic and the religious lobby, which raises this slogan, wants to ensure that it remains so.
So far, they have been very successful in achieving this target because Pakistan has not only retained its religious label but has also become much more conservative than it was in 1947, when it was carved out of India.
In the 1980s, the Afghan war provided this lobby the opportunity to acquire weapons, military training and international patronage to fight the Russians. After 1989, when the Soviets left Afghanistan, the religious lobby decided to use their Afghan experience for turning Pakistan into a religious state. And they did receive a lot of support from the country’s civil and military establishment who wanted to use this lobby to achieve their foreign policy objectives.
Pakistan indeed was turned into a large laboratory where militant groups from all over the Islamic world were brought together, initially with support from the US and its Arab allies, to do all sorts of experiments with the country.
This exercise brought forth Taliban militants, who initially received guidance from the Pakistani establishment, but soon turned against them as well. The plan was to use the Islamist militants for creating the so-called strategic depth by bringing Afghanistan on Pakistan’s side in a possible conflict with India. This target was never achieved but the militants did become an existential threat to the Pakistani state.
They have already killed tens of thousands of people, including six thousand soldiers, and have proved on dozens of occasions that they can hit any target inside Pakistan, whenever they want. This forced the Pakistani military to launch a major offensive against the Taliban in the country’s tribal region. The military has forced them to retreat to their hideouts, both in Afghanistan and inside Pakistan. It is still not clear if they have been finally defeated or will re-emerge from their hideouts to shed more blood.
But the Taliban are not the real cause of Pakistan’s identity crisis. They are just a symptom. The real cause is the very slogan that is still chanted in Pakistan’s streets: Pakistan ka matlab kya? Those gleefully chanting this slogan do not realize that their effort to strengthen the country’s religious identity also creates doubts about the very existence of the country. In their effort to impose their views on the people, they have prevented Pakistan from moving ahead. They argue that first it should be decided why Pakistan was created. The country should focus on other issues only after resolving this basic issue. It is like buying a car for the family and then refusing to drive it until it is decided what was it bought for: taking the earning members to work? driving children to school? doing grocery or for visiting friends? The answer is clear, a car can serve all these groups but to do so, the owners first need to start driving it.
Unfortunately, the religious right in Pakistan refuses to allow any one to start driving this car until it is decided Pakistan ka matlab kya. Pakistan, like most other countries, has a religious right, liberals, socialists and the seculars who want to separate state from religion. In democracy, no group or individual is in power forever. You can have a government led by the religious right, as it happened in India this year. It can then go to the liberals, the socialists or social conservatives, whoever the people vote for. Each group has the right to implement whatever system it wants, while in power, as others have the right to oppose that system. This is the purpose of the opposition in a democratic system.
The Pakistan ideology is in reality the saga of a grand concoction. In democracy, it is wrong to ask the purpose behind creating a state. The purpose is clear. A state is created to provide a space for a group, large or small, to live within particular geographical boundaries. Once this target is achieved, the state then goes about providing stability, security and economic opportunities for this population to live peacefully and prosper.
The ideological engines behind nation-states that are fueled by a mixture of both real and imagined perceptions about a people’s history have, on many occasions, pushed groups of people (nations) to achieve some stunning economic, political, sporting and cultural feats. However, the same engines have sometimes also been responsible for generating feelings of chest-thumping racial and ethnic superiority and paranoia that have led to genocidal violence and discrimination against those considered to be inferior or treacherous or unable to be pigeon-holed into the concepts of nationhood constructed by a nation-state.
A majority of nation-states in the world are products of the 20th century. Compared to most European nation-states, they are still toddlers. Whereas the ethnic, religious and cultural homogeneity of many of these states have helped them to rapidly turn their respective nation-states into cohesive political and cultural wholes; there are many ‘new nation-states’ that are still struggling in this context.
When people begin to identify themselves as Pakistanis first, the watered down concept of nationhood will finally shape the way it should have done much earlier. Pakistan is one such ‘new nation-state.’ Merely 67 years old, its state, governments, ideologues and intelligentsia have largely failed to develop and evolve a cohesive concept of Pakistani nationhood that enjoys a widespread consensus.
In certain incidents of desperation the state has often tried to bulldoze through and impose particular ideas of Pakistani nationhood that have ended up actually offending and upsetting large sections of the Pakistani society, creating a number of ethnic, religious and sectarian fissures. The imposition in this regard was done by both the establishment (during military dictatorships) as well through the Constitution (during democratic governments); and yet there is still no one idea of Pakistani nationhood that is acceptable to at least the majority of Pakistanis.
The problem may lie in the ambiguity that still surrounds the idea of the ‘Pakistan Movement’ — a mid-20th century cluster of political and intellectual activity led by Muslim nationalists in undivided India. These men and women, led by a brilliant and cultivated lawyer, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, worked towards creating a separate nation-state for the Muslims of India. Though they were successful in doing so, the vibrant political and intellectual ingenuity and energy that had successfully carved out a Muslim nation-state in the region, suddenly started to seem exhausted and almost entirely devoid of any fruitful imagination after the creation of the desired nation-state.
Pakistan was never a homogeneous society. Though a majority of its citizens were Muslim, they were made up of several sects and sub-sects. Then there was also the question of it having various distinct ethnicity (and languages): Punjabis, Sindhis, Bengalis, Baloch, Pakhtun, Saraiki, Gujrati, Mohajirs. It also had a number of ‘minority’ religions (Christian, Hindu, Sikh and Zoroastrian). But instead of building a cohesive nationhood on the shared history of a diverse group of people coming together to create a brand new post-Colonial nation-state, the state of Pakistan spent too much time navel-gazing about certain theological abstractions to define the ‘Muslimness’ of the new country.
This meant nothing, really. But within the next 30 years, the abstract and ill-defined ‘Muslimness’ eventually mutated to mean something ‘Islamic’ (but not necessarily Pakistani).The people of this state have the right to vote for, and bring into power, whoever they think can best serve their interests. If they fail to satisfy them, they can, and should be, shown the door in the next elections, not before as it is often done in Pakistan. It is the duty of those who want to serve the people to show what the purpose of the system they advocate is, and how they want to achieve that goal. So the right question would be to ask these groups what is the purpose of the system that they want to implement. And not Pakistan ka matlab kya.?
“Neither the Muslim League Working Committee nor I ever passed a resolution [called] ‘Pakistan ka matlab kya’ — you may have used it to catch a few votes,” said Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah when a Muslim Leaguer chanted this slogan at the last session of the All India Muslim League. Unfortunately, the slogan-monger prevailed over Jinnah.
Those who believe in this slogan now dominate Pakistan. Those who remember what Jinnah said on this or other occasions can be counted on fingers. Pakistan was carved out of India because the Muslims of the subcontinent demanded a separate land for themselves. They did so because they felt that an early exposure to Western education and British patronage had put India’s Hindu majority well ahead of them. They could not compete with them in a united India.
The Pakistan Ideology: History of a grand concoction
The leaders of the political movement that led to the creation of Pakistan were secular Muslims, who appeared more interested in creating a British parliamentary democracy than an Islamic state. Most of those who could have had a desire to create an Islamic state, the subcontinent’s Muslim clerics, were against the creation of Pakistan. This, however, did not prevent the same clerics from trying to convert Pakistan into an Islamic state once it was created.
The effort to forge a single religious identity out of half a dozen ethnic groups, each having a distinct language and culture, had the consequences that all such efforts do. Whether Jinnah wanted an Islamic state or not, however, is now irrelevant. Islam is the state religion and it is written in the Constitution.
The army has been trusted with the job of protecting the country’s ideological frontiers, along with the real borders. As Pakistan’s brief history shows, the army always invoked the holy task whenever it toppled an elected government, and rightly so; the constitution indeed gives the army the responsibility of defending both Pakistan and Islam. But has this constitutional Islam helped Pakistan? Apparently, not.
Just seven months after Partition, it became clear that Islam was not enough for some of the Muslims of this state. They wanted more. The first threat to the new Islamic republic came from its most vulnerable point, the former East Pakistan. The Bengali Muslims, who once backed the Pakistan movement to end Hindu domination, soon felt that the new state was challenging their very identity as Bengalis.
Pakistan became independent on Aug. 14, 1947, and on March 24, 1948, Jinnah addressed a special convocation at the Dhaka University where he declared that Urdu will be the only national language of Pakistan. The students chanted, “no, no, no,” telling him that they wanted this status for their language, Bangla. On Nov. 27, 1948, a young student Ghulam Azam read the welcome address for Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan when he visited the university. Ghulam Azam reminded Liaquat that they wanted two things, provincial autonomy and Bangla as a state language. This very same Ghulam Azam later founded Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh and gained notoriety for his alleged role in war crimes during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. On July 15, 2013, a tribunal sentenced him to 90 years in prison.
The Bangla language movement continued to spread and reached its climax on February 21, 1952, when police killed a student demanding official recognition for their language. On Nov. 17, 1999, UNESCO declared February 21 the ‘International Mother Language Day’ for the whole world to celebrate.
Political Islam: Rise, fragmentation and possible fall
In 1956, the central government granted official status to the Bengali language but by then it was already too late. After a long and bloody struggle, in 1971 East Pakistan became Bangladesh. Bengalis opted out of Pakistan but they remained a Muslim nation. Mosques in Bangladesh have more namazis than those in Pakistan do. Their madrassas produce more scholars — most of them non-jihadis — than those in Pakistan do. The Bangladeshi Tableeghi Jamaat is larger than its Pakistani counterpart. Even religion-based political parties have a larger following in Bangladesh now than they did before 1971.
This contradicts the claim that Islam and Pakistan are inseparable, and that separation from Pakistan also means separation from Islam.
This obsession with linking religion and politics has hurt Pakistan, both internally and externally. Like Bengal, in three of the four remaining provinces — Sindh, KP, and Balochistan — many view this obsession as an excuse for suppressing their own separate ethnic and lingual identities. They also believe that the centre uses Islam to prolong its control and to continue the economic exploitation of the smaller provinces.
Externally, other nations — including those in the Muslim world — have always ridiculed Pakistan’s claim that it is the leader of the Islamic ummah. The first nation to ridicule Pakistan’s leadership claims was Egypt, not India. King Farouk of Egypt, who ruled from April 23, 1936 to July 26, 1952, famously snubbed Pakistan’s Islamic pretensions. During a recent visit to Washington, a group of Pakistani journalists were offended when an Arab journalist politely told them that his government had asked him not to mix up with Pakistanis. Asked why, he said: “Most Pakistanis have links with terrorist groups.” Pakistanis living in the West often have similar experiences when they try to befriend people from other Muslim nations. Muslims in other regions – from Egypt to Indonesia and North Africa to Central Asia – equate Pakistan with terrorism, not Islam.
Terrorists who attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, were all Arabs, mostly Saudis or Saudi-inspired, but few blame Saudi Arabia. Pakistan gets the blame because in their eagerness to display their Islamic credentials, many Pakistanis openly express their sympathies with these jihadi groups.
Political Islam: Why militants now symbolize Muslims
During the Afghan war, Pakistan foolishly allowed terrorists of all ilk and color to settle in the country, practice jihad and train local jihadis. By 1990s, the country had tens of thousands of hardened jihadis and soon they became so powerful that they started dictating their terms to their Pakistani handlers.
So far, more than 50,000 civilians and 6,000 Pakistani troops have been killed by these jihadis. Some of them have been mercilessly slaughtered like sheep upon capture. Other victims have been blown to pieces by suicide-bombers eager to join the company of virgins waiting for them in heaven. Pakistan has now launched a major military offensive to defeat the jihadi militants, but many across the world still doubt its sincerity because of the country’s past affiliations with these groups.
Militant Islam has succeeded in not only making Pakistan an international Pariah, but has succeeded in giving Islam a bad name. In fact Militant Islam is a misnomer.Islam is supposed to be a religion of Peace, charity kindness, forgiveness and all such. Even a die hard enemy of Islam could not have succeeded in giving Islam such a bad name as much as those so called upholders of Islam have. Killing and eliminating those who do not subscribe to your views, is definitely not Islam. It is better to bury ones differences than one another instead
The time has come for Pakistan to break up its ties to these groups and learn to live as an independent, secular, and honorable nation. This does not involve severing ties to Islam. Even as a secular state, Pakistan will remain a Muslim nation, as most other Muslim states do. Pakistanis can still be proud of the Islamic heritage without any ties to the religious militancy that the world has come to associate Pakistan with.

Human Rights & Democracy in Pak-Occupied Kashmir – The Mystery Unraveled

It is time to set the records straight. There is always a hue and cry when any terrorist is killed in Indian portion of Kashmir; but what goes on in Pak occupied areas is shrouded in mystery. Why this cone of silence envelopes that portion that is full of human interest stories? What makes the protagonists of human rights deaf-mute when dealing with that part of the world. It was amused to learn from Bradford Telegraph and Argus, a Northern England based e – Paper that reported that a local ‘MP secures human rights debate’ has reported that the British House of Commons is to debate human rights in Kashmir. As of now, no date has yet been fixed for the debate. Reports said it may take place in the autumn.
David Ward, representing Bradford East, had applied to the Backbench Business Committee, for a debate on the political and humanitarian situation in the region. The motion stated “That this house believes that the ongoing Kashmir dispute is a threat to regional and global peace; further that the dispute is causing insecurity, instability and human rights violations; and further that the State of Jammu and Kashmir should be given the right to self-determination,” the news outlet reported on Sunday, July 27.
I wonder why Kashmir of all places caught the imagination of the honourable member’s notice at this point in time. Since he intends to discuss this issue in the British Parliament one hopes that he will also analyze and bring to the notice of the British people the adverse effects of the Pakistan sponsored events such as Parliament attack, 26 /11 and Kargil have had on the people of India.
Kashmir consists of the Indian administered Kashmir and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK). Till 1947, POK consisting of the present Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit Baltisatn (GB) was governed by the AJK administration. With ulterior motives, Pakistan separated the AJK and GB through the ‘Karachi Agreement’ signed on April 28, 1949. This agreement was signed between the President of AJK, a minister without portfolio from Pakistan and a representative from the Muslim Conference but without any representative from AJK or GB. The status of this region was thus decided by Pakistan without even a semblance of the voice of the people concerned being heard. Now Pakistan wants a plebiscite in Kashmir to ascertain the will of the people!
The Northern Areas (now called GB) was governed under the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) which also applied to tribal areas of Pakistan. Under the FCR this area has been under a virtual Martial Law, with the rights of the people suppressed and their needs neglected. Under the archaic FCR, every resident of the area had to report to the local police station once a month and all movements from one village to another had to be reported to the police station. The people have no representation in either House of Parliament nor do they have a right of access to the higher courts of Pakistan.
Even after the split, GB did not find mention in the constitution of Pakistan. The people of the area did not enjoy the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights that the people in the rest of Pakistan did. They were ruled directly by a joint secretary in the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas (KANA) Affairs (now Ministry of KashmirAffairs and Gilgit Baltistan). In March 1993, on being petitioned about the status of the Northern Areas, the AJK High Court in its verdict took serious note of the unrepresentative and arbitrary administrative system and denial of fundamental rights in the ‘Northern Areas’ (GB). It directed the AJK government to immediately assume charge of the region and asked the government of Pakistan to assist the AJK government in this task. The Pakistan government appealed against this judgment in the Supreme Court, which in its verdict on 14 September 1994, stated that: “the Northern Areas are part of Jammu & Kashmir state but are not part of “Azad Kashmir” as defined in the “Azad Kashmir” Interim Constitution Act, 1974”.
In yet another case, on 28 May 1999, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the Pakistan Government to guarantee ‘fundamental rights’ to the people of GB within a period of six months.
Having failed to respect the six month time stipulation laid down by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 1999 for the grant of fundamental rights to the people of GB in 1999, the Pakistan Government woke up in 2009 to announce the Gilgit-Baltistan (Empowerment and Self-Governance) Order, 2009. It provides for a local administration headed by a ‘Chief Minister’, to be elected by the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) consisting of 33 members. The council of ministers will consist of six ministers and two advisors. An ad – hoc ordnance and an order for the future governance of an area not part of Pakistan!!
What is the status of political rights granted to the people of GB by Pakistan today? The Chief Minister or the Legislative Assembly has no meaningful authority. Despite an elected Legislative Assembly, the Governor, an appointee of the Pakistan Government and the GB Council with the Prime Minister of Pakistan as its Chairman and members appointed by Pakistan Government wields all power.
As for AJK the fact that from July 2011 to the end of 2013 the AJK Legislative Assembly met only for 46 days out of 890 days speaks volumes for the powers that it wields as well as the seriousness which the people of AJK attach to this institution.
It may be appropriate for us take a look at the Pakistan Supreme Court’s judgment and Pakistan’s record of granting fundamental rights to the people of Kashmir presently under its control besides the state of human rights violations in Pakistan before taking a view or commenting on the human rights of the people of J & K under Indian rule.
The part of J & K under Indian rule on the other hand has the status of a State of the Union of India like any other state in India and its people have their elected Legislative Council, council of ministers and are duly represented in the Indian Parliament. They people of J & K have been granted a special status under Article 370 of the Constitution. The differences of approach between India and Pakistan in relation to the areas of Kashmir under their respective control are open for the entire world to see.
In yet another case, in March 2010, the authority of the Pakistan Supreme Court to the appointment of AJK Chief Justice was challenged. A bench comprising chief justice of AJK Supreme Court, Riaz Akhtar Chaudhry passed an order which stated: “The Supreme Court of Pakistan has no jurisdiction to entertain any petition regarding appointment of judges of superior courts of AJK. Such kind of petition does not come within the jurisdiction and sphere of Supreme Court of Pakistan”. The order further stated that: The Supreme Court of Pakistan has no authority to extend its jurisdiction to the area of Azad Jammu and Kashmir because the territories of Pakistan have been defined in Article 1 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The Supreme Court of Pakistan cannot go beyond the territories defined in Article 1 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The juridical position reflects the geographical limits of Pakistan.
The question is where is the dispute? In accordance with ‘Mountbatten Plan’ the very basis of India Pakistan partition, an Instrument of accession was signed by the Maharaja of Kashmir acceding to India. The Mountbatten Plan advised the Princely states to join either India or Pakistan. There was no third choice. The ‘Plan’ did not envisage accession to either country on the basis of religion, geographical proximity or through a plebiscite. The formation of widely separated East and West Pakistan is the case in point. The ‘Plan’ was the basis of the merger of all the 565 Princely states which joined either India or Pakistan at the time of partition. By questioning the accession of Kashmir to India, are we not querying the very basis of accession of the 565 Princely States to either country? Why plebiscite now in this particular case?
Has Pakistan displayed any loyalty for the sanctity of the territory belonging to the people of Kashmir? The ‘State Subject Rule’ in force in J & K, which restricts outsiders from settling down permanently, was abolished in GB in late 70s, opening the floodgates for outsiders of convenience to settle down in the area. Incidentally, this rule is still operative in the Indian administered part of Kashmir. Shakshgam Valley (Approximately 5180 sq kms), a part of J & K was gifted to China in 1963. The western press is replete with suggestions that GB has been leased to China by Pakistan for 50 years. An area of 42685 sq kms of J & K territory is under Chinese occupation. Access to GB has been restricted to the outside world. While Pakistan managed to keep the region out of sight of the world, China has been given free access to GB and they have undertaken a large number of infrastructure projects in GB including the construction of the Western Highway (3105 km). China has constructed a ‘Housing Colony’ and a Cemetery in the area.
How has Pakistan treated the people of GB? The 1988 Ramzan riots were engineered by the then Brigadier Musharraf, by unleashing the tribal Pakhtun militia from North West Frontier Province (NWFP) belonging to a particular sect to kill innocent civilians, destroy houses and other assets in GB. The 2000 – 04 riots resulting in loss of life were a result of the introduction of a program of study in the Text Books meant to influence the innocent children to particular sect’s teachings. Disembarking pilgrims from a particular sect returning from Iran and shooting them down in cold blood on the Karakoram Highway at Kohistan and Chilas in February-April 2012, is nothing but ethnic cleansing. The stories are endless. In none of these violence related incidents India was involved unlike what is happening in Indian administered Kashmir now. The question is was Pakistan envisioned as a homeland for Muslims or a country meant to accommodate a particular sect of Islam? Is this what we call human rights?
Despite GB being the major portion of POK, Pakistan has kept GB politically deprived and constitutionally abandoned. Pakistan’s invective against Indian rule in Kashmir is nothing but hypocrisy to hide its own misrule in PoK. The acts of violence and law and order situation in the valley in Kashmir Valley are the result of infiltration from across the border besides funding and arming of the Pakistan motivated militant groups. How else could the Indian Army recover over 80,000 AK 47 rifles and tons of explosives besides other war like material from the Valley?
As for human rights violations, the use of helicopter gunships, aircrafts and drones in the Federally Administered Tribal Regions (FATA), a part of Pakistan and its treatment of the Internally displaced Persons (IDP) numbering over 8,00,000 refugees from these region may provide some sense of Pakistan’s respect for human rights. This abysmal violation of human rights is a matter of grave concern which will affect peace in the region besides security with Afghanistan, India and Iran at its door steps.
The million dollar question is why has the discourse on J & K, be it at the international platforms or amongst the Human Rights agencies always centered on the part of Kashmir administered by India and not the rest of POK? It is time this mindset changes.

The ancient Lore- the kernels of knowledge

Mythological stories are normally treated as a literature material or sometimes a science fiction. But there is a huge possibility that mythological stories in any religion may not merely be a legend or a piece of literature. In this blog, I would discuss some unbelievable correlation between some Hindu mythological stories and well established scientific facts.
Romans used nanotechnology
The Lycurgus Cup is a 1,600-year-old jade green Roman chalice that changes colour depending on the direction of the light upon it. It baffled scientists as they could not work out why the cup appeared jade green when lit from the front but blood red when lit from behind. The mystery was solved in 1990, when researchers discovered that the Roman artisans were nanotechnology pioneers: they had impregnated the glass with particles of silver and gold, ground down until they were as small as 50 nanometres in diameter.
The birth of Kauravas
The science of cloning was well known and practised during the Mahabharata times. As per Dr. B.G. Matapurkar, the Kauravas “were products of technology that modern science has not even developed yet”. He said that according to the description in Mahabharatha, the Kauravas were created by splitting the single embryo into 100 parts and growing each part in a separate container. In other words, “they not only knew about test-tube babies and embryo splitting but also had the technology to grow human foetuses outside human body.”
Strange Narrations in Mahabharata
There are certain narrations in Mahabharata that defies any rational explanations. Some examples are explanations about flying vehicles (Vimanas), Arjuna’s travels in a flying chariot across the Himalayas, his visit of the Deva territories (ancient alien base-camp in Tibet?), his battle with the Nivata Kavachas (men in space-suits?), Salwa’s attack of the city of Dwaraka in a flying city named Saubha, the triple space-cities of Asuras that revolved around Earth in three circular orbits that was destroyed by Siva using a single projectile weapon, and many more…
Nuclear weapons
A few excerpts from the Mahabharata have caused doubts in the minds of historians, indicating the possibility of nuclear weapons being used in the Mahabharata war or post-war. This fire of suspicion has further been fuelled by the recent discoveries of green glass and many radioactive samples in certain excavations, in India, which apparently were associated with the Mahabharata war. Green glass is said to form when sand melts at very high temperatures prevalent in Nuclear Explosions.
In the Mahabharata the total death toll amounts to around 1.6 billion in a matter of 18 days. How could this be possible unless and otherwise there is an involvement of weapons of mass destruction. Modern archeological surveys have slowly started to provide us valuable clues of the war. The vast amount of devastation found at the site of Mohenjo Daro corresponds exactly to Nagasaki.
An example of cloning
In Srimad Bhagavatam, it has been mentioned that when His Excellency Nimi was dead, the seers by process of Mantha, (perhaps, human cloning in modern idioms) created a new baby from his dead body. The baby was called Janaka, as it was out of (mantha) cloning of his father. It was called Videha, as it was born out of a non-sexual process. As the baby was born out of a process of mantha it was called Mithila and his kingdom was also named as Mithila.
Embryo transfer and the birth of Balarama
Embryo transfer is done today as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) or Zygote IntraFallopian Transfer (ZIFT) and in both processes embryo is developed outside the womb and then placed inside. When Kansa had killed six foetuses of Devaki and she got pregnant for the seventh time, transfer of foetus was arranged by Vishnu. He ordered Yogamaya to take out the foetus of Devaki and place it in the womb of Rohini, another wife of Vasudeva who then resided in the house of Nanda in Gokul.
Abhimanyu, A warrior in the womb
In Mahabharata, when Subhadra was pregnant, Arjun told her the secret of entering the chakravyuh. When he was explaining the exit procedure, Subhadra fell asleep. Hence Abhimanyu learned the entrance procedure while he was in Subhadra’s womb but did not learn the exit strategy. There was a time when people criticized this concept. But modern science says that it is very much possible. In his book “Right Brain Education in Infancy” Dr. Makoto Shichida, says, the right brain is active during gestation.
Time Travel
If we look into ancient texts we can find a number of references to time travelling. In Hindu mythology, there is the story of King Raivata Kakudmi who travels to meet the creator Brahma. Even if this trip didn’t last long, when Kakudmi returned back to Earth, 108 yugas had passed on Earth, and it is thought that each yuga represents about 4 million years. The explanation Brahma gave to Kakudmi is that time runs differently in different planes of existence.
Similarly, we have references in the Quran about the cave of Al-Kahf. The story refers to a group of young Christian people, who in 250 AD tried to escape persecution and retreated, under God’s guidance, to a cave where God put them to sleep. They woke up 309 years later. This story coincides with the Christian story of the seven sleepers, with a few differences.
Aircrafts of yore
Going into the history of the Indian sub-continent and the ancient science that prevailed, the hypothesis of “vimanas existed” comes close to true. The Vaimaanika shasthra of Maharishi Bharadhwaja gives description of aircrafts that are much more advanced than our present generational aircrafts. According to the Dronaparva, Vimanas are described as shaped like a sphere and can move along at great speed on a mighty wind generated by mercury. Section XLIII of Vana Parva describes about Arjuna’s arival at the city of Indra ‘Amaravati’ wherein vimanas are mentioned.
Distance of Earth from Sun
Two lines of “Hanuman Chalisa” computes the distance of earth from sun with great simplicity and that too quite accurately – जुग सहस्त्र योजन पर भानु, लील्यो ताहि मधुर फल जानू (Juug Sahastra Yojan Par Bhanu, Lilyo taahi madhur fal jaanun). This means that Sun (Bhanu) is at a distance of Juug Sahastra Yojans (जुग सहस्त्र योजन- Distance Unit in Hindi).According to conversion practices that are in use as per Hindu Vedic Literature – 1Juug= 12000; Sahastra= 1000; 1Yojan=8 Miles. Thus 12000 X 1000 X 8 = 96,000,000 miles. 1 miles= 1.6 kms. This means 153,600,000 Km. In the 17th century two scientists Giovanni and Richer have calculated the distance of sun from earth accurately and real close (at 140 million kilometers) to now officially declared figures.
Teleportation
Consider the story of Usha and Chitralekha, which appears in “Srimad Bhagavatam.” The beautiful Princess Usha, single and longing for love, had the experience of a handsome youth in her dream one night. The dream was interrupted, and she woke up and exclaimed, “Oh, beloved one, where are you?” She confided the dream to her close friend Chitralekha. Chitralekha said she would find who the young man was and get him to her. But how was she to recognize him?
Chitralekha began to draw a series of faces, and asked Usha if any of them resembled the man of her dream. Usha came upon a drawing which was of Aniruddha, a grandson of Lord Krishna. That night, Chitralekha transported herself to Dwaraka where she found Aniruddha. Two aspects of today’s world are implicit in this story. First there is the idea that one can identify an unknown person through sketches, a matter that is routinely done in criminal investigations. Then, of course, there is the notion of teleportation.
Successful Brain Surgery
Scientists have discovered the world’s oldest known case of a successful human brain surgery after unearthing a 4300 year old skull from the site of an ancient Civilization site. This discovery was done by the scientists from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) who found evidence pointing this to be the oldest known case of Trephination in the world meant to treat a skull injury. Trephination is the process of drilling holes in the damaged skull to remove shattered bits of bone from a fractured skull.

Death Wish of Former Empires : Former Colonies Now Colonizing the Former Empires

A few years ago, Victor Volsky compared the situation to that of the mammoth wasp and its prey. Why such an analogy? Well, a mammoth wasp ensures the survival of its children using a rhinoceros beetle like canned meat. The wasp finds the larva of the beetle that will act as a storehouse for it. With one strike in the nerve center, the mammoth wasp paralyzes the beetle and lays one egg in its outer skin.
Immediately after getting out of the egg, the wasp’s larva starts to use its sharp jaws, eating through the first layer of the beetle’s outer skin before getting to the inner organs and devouring them until the entire stock of food is eaten. The consumption of the helpless host goes in a strict sequence: first the baby wasp eats the least important organs, like muscles, blood, fat… and only then does the nervous system follow. It means that the paralyzed victim stays alive until the last moment. In this blood-chilling way the growing larva of the mammoth wasp has fresh food during the entire period of its growth
This is exactly the way the former empires get colonized by their own colonies? It defies all logic, yet somehow, this is what has come to be in Europe. In the midst of a full-blown conquista, after what began as a simple plan to bring over some cheap labor to do the work the natives couldn’t be bothered with, Europe is aiding and abetting in its own demise. Muslim immigration has become a Muslim takeover.
Europe is certainly feeding its own parasite, first by inviting the parasite to begin with, along with all its friends and relatives. Then by allowing it to thrive in its own community with its own set of rules, never monitored, and even given a stack of beetles in the form of welfare benefits, it has actually become a protected species with political correctness at the helm, directing all critics to the land “hate speech” where “racists” and “fascists” go- to the land of ruined careers and destroyed reputations. Thus, the natives who complain about getting devoured are penalized, while the parasite lives happily on.
The parasite has rights after all. The right to set up shop in our world, feed on us, hate us and consume us, and anyone who doesn’t like it is a parasite-phobe. This is where political correctness has taken us.
Muslims claim more and more privileges, hysterically demanding “to defend” them from “Islamophobia”, “racism” and “discrimination”, operating these terrible words like a thief uses a lock-pick. And yet, in most cases when Islamophobia is reported, it was a crime perpetrated by a Muslim himself or a few insults thrown around on social media. If that is a “hate crime”, Muslims are far more versed in that type of crime than anyone else.
In fact, their own hate crimes go far deeper. After perpetrating a horrific terrorist attack, for example, in the 7/7 London bombings, injuring hundreds and killing 52, shortly before the anniversary this year, they urinated on and defaced the memorial with graffiti. And to show how incredibly “assimilated” they are, they are falling all over themselves to become jihadists in Syria, hoping to return to Europe to demonstrate what they’ve learned amongst their peers.
But can you utter a single word of protest. No, no one is allowed to utter a word of discontent. Political correctness again.
And it goes further. Today Muslim cabbies in Minneapolis refuse to serve blind passengers who are accompanied by dogs, and they demand special baths for foot washing before prayer to be built for them in the airports. How far will it go? Tomorrow Muslim students in British schools will demand to put an end to the “+” sign because it looks like a cross. And the authorities will obediently bow to their demands.
Just speaking about all these events is an inadmissible sin against the current prevailing norms. An outstanding expert in Oriental studies, Professor Bernard Lewis bitterly states that “in the Western world, intellectual freedom is defied to an extent this world did not know since the 18th century. Islam and Islamic values now enjoy in the West such an immunity from any discussion and critics Christianity has lost long ago, and Judaism has never known.”
With this, a very significant part of Muslims sits on the neck of that same Western society they hate so much, milking it dry, getting all possible and impossible privileges, help and all kinds of social aid and merrily laughing over the stupidity of the conquered West. What joy it must be for Muslims in the West to exploit a victim, to live at his cost, to enjoy their power and see the humiliation of a once mighty and now helpless enemy paralyzed with fear!
In his The Time Machine written back in 1895, the great H.G. Wells described the fall of the civilization populated by the very nice, peaceful, tolerant and absolutely shallow Eloi, who thought only about pleasure and enjoyment and whose very existence depended on Morlocks, ape-like creatures who lived underground and fed them. At first, the Eloi society seemed so nice and pleasant: lots of food, no need to work and the possibility to enjoy life. But then it turns out that Morlocks feed Eloi like cattle, just to slaughter them and eat them afterwards.
They talk 0f their cultural values after they accepted a plurality of value systems in the UK, proudly nesting “a vibrant variety of cultural, religious and ideological communities”. What was not asked was: if the Brits have forgotten their own values simply to allow others of different values to live among them, had these “others” also agreed to “forget” theirs? Muslims are caught up in sharia law in the 21st century. They can accept British law only in violation of sharia. The problem is that “values” are not sharia, the code of Islamic punishments that extends to, and questions, the host state’s penal code. If a British Muslim converts, he is to be killed as an apostate under sharia, but Britain will not allow such a punishment. Hindus in the UK can integrate much better because they don’t have a sharia. If a Muslim girl marries a non-Muslim, her father is under obligation to punish her as an apostate.
Studies show Muslims “integrating” in the UK less well than other expats. One has to point out that they integrated well in the past. (My relatives in the UK, for instance, used to be pleasantly anglicised in the 1960s when they visited in Lahore; they look very un-British in their Arab-looking dress today and don’t even integrate in Pakistan.) What is the UK doing to my Paki relatives? Pakistan had nothing like Hizbut Tahrir and al-Muhajirun till the two extremist organisations were “sent” here from London, or Londonistan, as the French dub it.
I personally prefer British philosopher Thomas Hobbes to John Locke because the former was more bothered by religion and its judgemental dogma. This also reveals the state of my mind living under social and legislative extremism in Pakistan, even though our government-run schools here are not like the ones in Birmingham. Gilles Kepel happens to be my favourite author after he wrote Allah in the West: Islamic Movements in America and Europe (1997).
According to Kepel, Islamisation of the immigrant Muslim community in the UK was an early post-colonial trend stemming from the British experience in India. Communalisation rather than integration suited the UK because it could then farm out menial jobs to a community formed especially for them. Workers’ mosques came up in the 1950s in the industrial areas of the UK. But things changed. The Rushdie affair in 1988 almost coincided with the explosion caused by the Islamic scarf affair in France a year later. The protest organised against Rushdie’s Satanic Verses united the fragmented Muslim community in the UK behind Imam Khomeini’s fatwa of death against him.
It began in 1988, when the Islamic Foundation of Leicester campaigned against Rushdie’s blasphemy, but the man who finally ran away with the collective Muslim response was ex-journalist, Kalim Siddiqui, of Jamaat Islami background, who set up his Muslim Parliament and issued what was termed the “Muslim Manifesto” in 1990, actually challenging the British system. Siddiqui came to grief eventually and was exposed for his shady financial deals.
Today, as British-Muslim parents cry for their sons secretly taking off for jihad in Syria, they should rethink their Islamisation as a defence against the British “culture shock”. The UK has the dubious distinction of housing the largest mosque in the world.
London ignored the transformation of the moderate Barelvi-Paki mosques into Deobandi-Paki mosques — which later spread Talibanisation in Pakistan — because its law on importing imams and preachers was not discriminating enough. Today, the more tolerant Barelvis, who don’t interface with hardline Arab immigrants so well, call themselves the “forgotten children” of the UK.
Muslims have not accepted the “moral relativism” at the root of British tolerance: they are more wedded to the Lutheran “certainty” of the murderous 17th century Europe. I recall listening to Professor Muhammad Anwar of the University of Warwick in Lahore in 2001 who said Pakistanis living in the UK were 700,000, the third largest minority community. (There were a million Indians in the UK then.) Pakistanis had the highest unemployment rate, five times more than the British average, and the crime rate was higher among them than in any other community. Fully 2 per cent of the prisoners rotting in British jails were Pakistanis, the highest for any one community.
There are three million — unofficially seven million — Pakistanis living outside Pakistan whose thinking about Pakistan tends to be different from the desi Pakistani. They now coyly call themselves “conservative Muslims” and are far less integrated into the host society than non-Muslim expat communities. This is so because of double alienation. The anger against the home country — for not being Islamic enough — which is double that against the hosts, for not being Islamic. Some Muslims flee Pakistan protesting religious persecution but once in the UK, want to create the same hardline religious conditions they have fled.
Kenan Malik, writes in The New York Times’: “Instead of promoting a secular state education system, with a shared educational framework that would ensure that all children are taught to a common standard, the UK government has encouraged different minority communities to define their notion of education and to devise their own curriculum. And when it goes disastrously wrong, as in Birmingham, rather than question its own policies, it blames the community.”
The modern Western realities are alarmingly similar to the fantasies of the English writer. The inner enemy-parasite, eating the flesh of his host, moves to dominance in Western Europe (and later this enemy will advance to the USA). Muslim communities rapidly grow in number thanks to the fast natural growth and never-ending immigration. On their side there are bitter envy and fierce hatred fed with religious fanaticism, while the fruitless and genderless European civilization obediently treads to the slaughterhouse, animatedly discussing on the way the rights of nudists and gays. “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within.” (Will Durant, “Epilogue—Why Rome fell”, The Story of Civilization, 3 Caesar And Christ)

Shift in the Balance of Global Power

Is there racism in international sport? Ask any Indian, Sri Lankan, West Indian or Pakistani cricketer – or any black footballer playing in continental Europe – and the short answer you will get is: yes. The alleged abuse and physical intimidation of Indian all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja by England fast bowler James Anderson during the first Test at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, is the latest example. Anderson will have to answer the charge leveled against him by the ICC. He could be banned for up to four Test matches if found guilty.
Racism is intimately connected with economic and political power. As I wrote in my book, The New Clash Of Civilizations: How the Contest Between America, China, India and Islam Will Shape Our Century, till the 1800s, when the Ottoman empire straddled Eurasia in a crescent-shaped arc from the former Yugoslavia and Kazakhstan to the entire Middle-East and North Africa, European diplomats were seen as supplicants.
Ottoman caliphs rarely gave an audience to white emissaries. European monarchs were treated with mild disdain. The same was true of China of the time. The Qing dynasty Chinese treated Europeans and their kings and queens with thinly veiled contempt.
Then came colonialism and the industrial revolution. The balance of political and economic power shifted rapidly from East to West. China went into isolation and decline. The Ottomans sided with Germany in World War I and by 1918 their empire had crumbled. The caliphate was abolished in 1924.
Between the 1920s and 1960s, Europe and America controlled world economic, military, financial and geopolitical power. The reversal of fortune began, first, with the rise of Japan as an economic power in the late-1960s, followed by China and now India.
Americans and Europeans now queue up for business opportunities in China and India. Indian and Chinese companies are acquiring global corporations. The trend will accelerate as the economic balance of power shifts back to Asia.
The creation of the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) is an inflection point in this shift. In itself the bank, with a start-up capital of $50 billion (Rs. 3 lakh crore) and a contingency reserve arrangement (CRA) of $100 billion may seem symbolic.
The global financial system will continue to be managed by London, Brussels and New York. The NDB will, however, provide for the first time in a century an alternative to Anglo-Saxon financial architecture. It will act as a counter to the post-Bretton Woods financial system dominated by Western-run institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
According to the IMF, the combined GDP of the five BRICS nations by purchasing power parity (PPP) in 2013 was $24.04 trillion – China ($13.39 trillion), India ($5.07 trillion), Russia ($2.56 trillion), Brazil ($2.42 trillion) and South Africa ($0.60 trillion). This is nearly 50% higher than the GDP of the US ($16.79 trillion).
Headquartered in Shanghai. India will have the presidency of the BRICS Bank for the first six years. The bank will in time draw in more emerging economies such as the group of nations dubbed MIST (Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and Turkey). The NDB will enable intra-BRICS payments in local currencies, providing a cushion against volatility.
Geopolitically, India’s voice will carry more weight. China has invited India to take part, for the first time, in the powerful Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) trade forum, which includes the US, at its summit in November. Chinese President Xi Jinping has said he will back India for full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a Eurasian political, economic and military grouping.
The fear meanwhile that the BRICS Bank will be dominated by China is misplaced. India’s new government is no pushover. Indeed, the more India integrates with the world, security cooperation and intelligence sharing will expand. This will hand India a valuable asset in neutralising potential threats in Afghanistan and Pakistan following the withdrawal of US and NATO forces in 2016. Closer ties with China in BRICS and SCO will moreover help India during tough future negotiations in its border dispute with Beijing in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.
The Modi government has yet to articulate its strategic doctrine. But as the Prime Minister prepares for back-to-back summit meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Barack Obama over the next two months, an outline of that doctrine is beginning to take shape.

Minorities & Indian Police: Perception Management

The survey conducted in a southern state of India, with key inputs from three states with sizeable Muslim populations, and intelligence from state police chiefs in 2013, speak of a situation wherein the entrenched perception of a police bias against the minority community could, if not corrected immediately, affect the country’s internal security. This report is a summary and compilation of police and intelligence inputs received from states across India, along with the content of interactions with the community, public utterances by community leaders, and articles published by them.
To bridge the “police-community” gap, the report recommends implementation of a comprehensive “community policing plan”, improving “interface levels” between the Muslim community and police, improving and encouraging “participative policing”, and developing standard operating procedures (SOPs) to prevent communal riots.
HISTORY, SOCIAL MEDIA AND ACTIVISM
The report begins with an analysis of the wounds of Partition which, it says, “poisoned the relations between the two communities, leaving both suspicious of each other”. The scars were deepest in northern India, and the Ram Shilanyas Yatras and Ramjanmabhoomi agitation also “communalised otherwise peaceful parts of South and East India”, thus polarising the entire country, it says.
“The razing of the Ram Janam Bhoomi/Babri Mosque disputed structure saw communal riots erupting in most of the country. The use of terror as a retribution for the demolition and communal riots that followed the demolition further sharpened the conflict. Communal riots after Godhara were a watershed event.”
According to the report, “any place with a minority population above 15 per cent has become communally surcharged and susceptible to communal riots.” Police attitudes haven’t helped either, it says.
“Revolution in communications and information technology”, the report says, “are being exploited by various groups in various communities to spread discontent in the minorities by use of social media and mobile telephony to spread information of perceived wrong to community anywhere leading to tensions in other far flung areas.” Attacks on students from the Northeast in various parts of the country, allegedly in retaliation for attacks on Muslims in Myanmar and Assam, are examples, the report says.
The report is critical of the role played by some NGOs and “activists”, and of media “hungry for news” in spreading “distrust” among minorities. The police, it says, lack an official mechanism to counter this “propaganda”. “Role of NGOs and some ‘activists’ in spreading distrust about law enforcement agencies have also come to light. An active media hungry for making news has eagerly projected the views of such groups, lending credence to their statements and projections,” it says.
“Bereft of any strategy to counter such propaganda and lacking any official mechanism to deal with it, the police image has continued to plummet… NGOs and ‘activists’ giving statements after every case of terrorist attack, alleging that their members will be falsely implicated, makes the situation further complicated.”
ICONOGRAPHY AND PERCEPTION
The study looked into perceptions of several minorities across states, but focused mainly on Muslims, the largest minority. No state except Tamil Nadu has commissioned a study on the ways in which minorities perceive the police. “Minorities view police as being communal and allege that they deal with situations involving two communities in a partisan manner favouring the majority community. All states are affected by communal virus in small or large measure and every riot appears to strengthen the feeling that police are communal.
“Barring Tamil Nadu, police forces of all states suffer from this adverse perception about them,” says the report. The community questions nearly every police action, the report says. “Dispersal of crowds and use of force, arrests of accused, registration of criminal offences, applications of sections of law, preventive arrests, enforcement of curfew and providing security to minority members are some of the issues which are viewed with suspicion and allegations of unprofessional and prejudiced conduct made.”
It adds that “unfortunately for police, demeanour of some police officers and men in several serious communal riots in recent and not so recent past has served to strengthen such beliefs about the police”.
The report makes the point that the “presence of Hindu temples and prominently displayed photographs of Hindu gods and icons in precincts of police stations and in other police offices often strengthen the charge that police are communal.” It says that “wearing ‘tilak’ and other Hindu symbols even in uniform in clear violation of departmental rules make the police vulnerable to such allegations”.
THE LAW, CUSTOM AND SENSIBILITIES
Sometimes the mere enforcement of laws brings the police into conflict with minorities, with accusations that the police are insensitive, says the report. “Nothing epitomises this better than the situation that prevails around Id-uz-Zuha (Bakr-Eid). The religion demands sacrifice of animals and demand for the animals for slaughter far exceeds the supply and animals have to be transported in large numbers just around the festival in violation of transport rules,” it says.
“Inadequate facilities for slaughter of animals in the abattoirs in cities force members of the community to slaughter the animals in their houses, often in violation of the laws… Their enforcement by police brings it in conflict with the minority community, earns the ire of community and strengthens the perception that police are insensitive to the needs and sentiments of minorities.”
The report cites a lack of sensibility on the part of the police. Examples: “Eating before members of the community called to police stations for interviews during the period of Ramadan while they are fasting, rigorous interrogation during fasting, or denial of water at the time of breaking fast, use of police dogs considered dirty by Muslims in their homes and offices or other checks.”
Allegations of bias and communal stereotyping have been levelled against the police by most minorities, including Sikhs and Christians, apart from Muslims. Muslims have pointed to pronouncements of suspicion by senior officers soon after terror attacks. Opportunities of interaction with various communities during passport verification, character verification and licencing “are frittered away by poor communication skills and thoughtless remarks”, the report says.
The problem, the report says, is that “police officers across the country are not exposed to basic education on religious backgrounds and traditions, which have further worsened situations… This lack of adequate knowledge leads to certain acts which hurt the sensibilities of minorities.”
The report gives the example of the demolition of an illegal structure by a local municipal body, during which members of the minority community discovered “some burnt pieces of pages of scripture”, which they brought to the police station. “Not realising the relevance of the burnt pages, the police station officers dealt with it in a routine manner of depositing them in malkhana without taking steps to ascertain significance of the pages and neither did they try to ascertain circumstances in which they were burnt, nor register an offence.”
This, the report says, led to an escalation. “Had the police officers realised what significance the pages could hold for the minority community, a law and order situation could have been averted.”Law enforcers in different places have dealt with similar situations differently, the report says. “A public toilet constructed by the road transport corporation was paved with ceramic tiles with pattern that appeared to some to be in Arabic script. A panicked leadership without getting it confirmed whether indeed it was an Arabic script or not, got the corporation to break and remove all the tiles.
“As opposed to it, in a communally volatile unit, scraps of papers were found after members of majority community had burst crackers in a religious procession. These scraps were found with something written in Arabic and rumour soon spread that Koran pages had been used in making of the crackers. Police requested religious leaders of the community to read and decipher if the pages came from the Holy Book. After reading the same they concluded that the writing had no connection with the Holy Koran and when the same was disseminated, the tension subsided.”
PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS
Police officers have attributed “lack of access” to minority dominated areas as one of the reasons for the disconnect. The committee has recommended that such areas need to be patrolled like any other area, without any apprehensions. Old wisdom has been stressed by the committee: that schools, private dispensaries, religious places, and social occasions should be utilised to interact with the community. Simple patrol measures such as collecting phone numbers and building a connect through regular conversations have been suggested.
Reviews by state police chiefs have shown that the police-community interface often exists only at higher levels or, in the rural areas, involves only the seniormost station officer. To achieve desired levels of confidence, beat constables, officers at the police stations, station house officers, sub-divisional police officers, and superintendents of police must be involved. Senior police officers must build multiple levels of interface at rank levels, the report suggests.
Analysis of the working of Mohalla Committees, a platform to bridge the society-police gap after the 1993 terror attacks, has shown that the initiative worked best when the police refrained from interfering. “This experiment is, however, successful when people of the neighbourhood are encouraged to form committees on their own rather than police or some other authority imposing some committee from top,” the report says.
The report suggests that police can, and should, act only as catalysts, and such efforts would not yield results until such committees sprang from within society.
Identifying Slum Panchayat as an “extension of Mohalla Committee”, the report says that slums were poorly policed because policemen on the ground are “loathe to venture deep inside slums”, either due to inhibitions or a lack of resources. The report encourages slum schemes, where the colonies form alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, supported by the local police.
The committee found that the police often took the “easy way” while trying to manage traffic in crowded areas dominated by the minority community — allowing rules to be broken despite spotting chaos. Traffic wards drawn from the community could be “beneficial” in convincing its members to abide by traffic rules, the report says.
Police reports from states have pointed to “aggressive competitiveness” during religious processions. Policing then has to factor in “religious sensitivities”, and be mindful of potential law-and-order situations emerging out of police high-handedness. Suggestion include involving community members as the first point of contact for processionists.
Sports can be an important part of building mixed community socio infrastructure, says the report. Suggestions include sending young police recruits with local community teams for matches, and sports competitions among mixed teams consisting of players from multiple communities, organized by the police.
A crucial policing aspect demanded from all units is that inputs, intelligence and thoughts of all ranks be taken on board while making decisions in field matters, especially where minorities are concerned. “Decisions made without taking them (junior staff) into confidence or consulting are executed without real interest, and either abandoned or reversed when leadership changes,” says the report.

The Brics Challenge

Finally, the BRICS put money where their mouths used to be. At the sixth summit of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), held in Fortaleza, Brazil, the leaders of five of the largest developing economies unveiled the New Development Bank, which is unofficially known as the BRICS bank. This announcement marks a new phase in the evolution of the BRICS. Until these five powerful countries agreed on this new vehicle of development financing, most observers had doubted whether the BRICS could accomplish anything more than the production of the rhetoric of cooperation and mutual respect.
To be sure, despite its name, the New Development Bank (NDB) is a relatively modest financial undertaking. According to the agreement reached by the BRICS, the NDB will have only $10 billion in paid-in capital (to be funded over seven years), with each country contributing $2 billion. In addition, the NDB will have $40 billion that will be paid “upon request”. The $50 billion forms the initial funding pool for the NDB. Another $50 billion will also be made available to the NDB by the BRICS in the future. Of the $100 billion capital, China will provide $41 billion, India, Russia, and Brazil will contribute $18 billion each. The remaining $5 billion will come from South Africa, the smallest economy in the BRICS.
Based on the agreement on the governance and location of the NDB, it appears that the leaders of the BRICS worked hard to overcome their differences. To everyone’s relief, a face-saving solution was found. Shanghai gets the headquarters, India gets the first presidency, Russia and Brazil get the chairmanships of the two supervising boards.
In the short term, cooperation among the BRICS will be measured almost solely on the success or failure of the NDB. In this regard, perhaps, the BRICS should be given the benefit of doubt.
Given the tremendous technical difficulties involved, the NDB is unlikely to quickly deliver eye-popping results in fulfilling its mandates — infrastructural financing and currency stabilisation, primarily in the BRICS and secondarily in other developing countries.
In the long run, the challenges to the success of the BRICS are chiefly geopolitical, not economic. Although the BRICS may aspire to be the developing world’s answer to the G-7, it would be a mistake to overlook some of the fundamental differences between the BRICS and the G-7 that will greatly influence how the BRICS work with each other.
The first notable difference is in terms of political systems. While the G-7 countries are all mature, wealthy democracies, the BRICS contains two authoritarian colossi (China and Russia) and three democracies. The heterogeneity in political regimes is likely to hamper the development of mutual trust and respect.
The second stark difference is the level of development. The G-7 countries have similar levels of wealth, but per capita income varies widely among the BRICS. According to World Bank data, per capita income in 2013 was $14,612 in Russia, $11,208 in Brazil, $6,807 in China, $6,618 in South Africa and $1,499 in India. Such large economic disparities imply that each member country has different development needs and priorities. More problematically, on the economic front, just as the US is seen as too dominant among G-7 countries, China risks the same perception. The total size of the GDP of the BRICS is roughly $15 trillion (2012 data), but China alone accounts for 55 per cent of the GDP of the BRICS. Economic cooperation based on equality sounds rhetorically appealing, but it is realistically impossible.
The third, and by far the most striking, difference is on the geopolitical front. The G-7 countries are all allies. But the BRICS have potential adversaries among them. China and India are regional rivals and have unresolved border disputes. China and Russia may be partners today, but they have had a long history of mutual animosity and lingering strategic distrust. Overcoming the underlying geopolitical rivalry and distrust inside the BRICS is a tough challenge on its own. It will be compounded by the hidden geopolitical agendas of China and Russia, both of which see the West as a threat and want to use the BRICS as a counter-balancing tool. Obviously, this is an agenda countries like India, Brazil and South Africa are not eager to embrace.
In the coming years, the fortune of the BRICS will, to a significant extent, ride on the evolving Sino-Indian relationship. If ties between Beijing and New Delhi remain relatively friendly and stable, the BRICS will thrive. If this bilateral relationship grows more antagonistic, institution-building in the BRICS will be impossible.
Fortunately, judging by the interactions between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Fortaleza summit, both leaders seem eager for a fresh start. On the sidelines of the BRICS summit, Xi and Modi met for the first time and pledged to work to resolve the Sino-Indian border disputes. As a friendly gesture, Xi, as the host of this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing, formally invited Modi to attend (India is not part of APEC).
We can only hope that the promising start of the Xi-Modi relationship will continue and prove that the Indian and Chinese governments both understand that an unnecessary conflict is not among their priorities for governing 40 per cent of humanity.

Ramzan or Ramadan

On June 30, the first day of Ramadan, my Facebook wall turned into a collage of pictures, graphics and status messages announcing the beginning of the Muslim holy month. The message “Ramadan Mubarak”, written calligraphically against a backdrop of a minaret or a crescent or a pack of dates, was shared by several of my friends belonging to varied faiths and living in different parts of the world, including India.
Hold on, how can someone coming from South Asia, ever say “Ramadan”? That was a point raised by one Facebook friend (not real-life friend), when she posted, “Aap sabhi ko Ramadhan, Ramadan nahi — sirf saada, sachcha, hindustani ‘Ramzan Mubarak’ !” In English, she meant, “Wish you all not Ramadan, but only simple, true Indian Ramzan Mubarak’. She later even suggested that those who prefer “d” over “z” are followers of “Saudi Islam”, and that choosing “Ramadan” over “Ramzan” is not just a spelling preference but a “political decision” of favouring Arabs over Persians!
Despite making her repulsion to “Ramadan” clear in her wall post, many people still wished her “Ramadan Mubarak” in their comments.
Ramadan is an Arabic word, and is pronounced with a “d”, not a “z”. But in Persian or Urdu, the “z” replaces the “d”. American and British English use Ramadan, while English-language dailies in India use both spellings. In India, most people say Ramzan when they speak Urdu/ Hindi, but many now prefer to use Ramadan at least when speaking in English. It’s a trend that has worried several “left-liberal” Muslims who “fear” the “Saudization” or “Arabisation” or “Wahabisation” of Indian Muslims. It’s not uncommon to see such Muslims declaring their allegiance to “INDIAN ISLAM” (yes, written in all caps) on their Twitter bios. It’s also not uncommon to see followers of “Indian Islam” rebuking fellow Indian Muslims for saying “Allah hafiz” instead of “Khuda Hafiz”, and for breaking their fast in “Ramadan”, not “Ramzan”.
When “Indian Islam” followers rebuke Indian Muslims for “digressing” from their so-called version of the faith, they are no different from Hindu fundamentalists who demand that “Indian culture” be followed in our arts, and from the moral police who manhandle lovers for public displays of affection on Valentine’s Day. These examples may seem unrelated but have a singular theme: intolerance of everything perceived to be not “Indian”.
Who decides what is Indian? And could someone please define “Indian Islam”? Surely, Indian Muslims are as diverse as India itself, so shouldn’t there be a “Tamil Islam”, a “Bihari Islam”, a “Kashmiri Islam”, etc? Perhaps there are as many versions of Islam as there are varieties of biryani cooked across India? Some followers of “Indian Islam” suggest that the Sufi branch of the religion, which emerged in faraway Turkey but found many takers in the subcontinent, is the only “peaceful” form of Islam. Those who don’t follow Sufi/ Barelvi branches are dubbed “Arabised”, “puritanical”, “Wahabi” and certainly not followers of “Indian Islam”.
As unclear as “Indian Islam” followers are about what they believe in, they are absolutely certain about what they do not believe in. Anything that is Arab, and so their nit-picking of “Allah Hafiz” and “Ramadan”. They conveniently forget Islam first came to India through Arab traders who arrived on Kerala’s shores. Those were peaceful chaps, unlike the marauding armies that had come from Central Asia and spoke Persian, the preferred language of the “Indian Islam” followers.
But it’s not history the “Indian Islam” followers are worried about, it’s the current “Arab-Saudi-Wahabi” influence that has them worked up. Sure, the Arab world is in turmoil, with crises in Iraq, Syria and Palestine nearing no end. Sure, there is the ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Hamas, all Arab gun-toting militants who, by the way, kill hapless Arab civilians. But there is also the peaceful United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman — countries that host more foreigners than their own nationals, and have temples and churches along with mosques. Does not that speak of Arab tolerance? As for Saudi Arabia, it is intolerant of all faiths except Sunni Islam, but the kingdom hosts people of several nationalities. There are more Indian expatriates in that country than elsewhere, and many of them are not Muslim.
So, let’s not, in an attempt to prove patriotism and secularism, run down the Arabs and Indian Muslims who prefer Arabic over Persian, or who don’t visit Sufi shrines. If “Indian Islam” followers think their anti-Arab, pro-Sufi stance makes them more secular and patriotic in the eyes of non-Muslim Indians, they are wrong. Almost all my Hindu friends have wished me “Ramadan Mubarak”, and are not bothered about my preference of “Ramadan” over “Ramzan”. In fact, since “Ramadan” is used by Westerners too, many young people think the term is “cooler” than “Ramzan”. Their preference has nothing to do with Arabic vs Persian/ Urdu.
In the end, it’s about the freedom of choosing to speak, to spell a word whatever way you want. And in democratic India, there can be no place for intolerance against exercising such freedoms. By the way, I say “Khuda Hafiz” and “Ramadan Mubarak”. So, am I a follower of “Indian Islam” or “Saudi Islam”? Let’s free the Indian Muslim of such unnecessary questions.

The Indian Rasputin

This illiterate man, with unkempt beard, leering smile, wicked hungry and mean look in his eyes, supposed to be repository of ayurvedic knowledge and a yoga guru has always impressed by as a past master in chicanery, hypocrisy, and an adept master at exploiting the weaker instincts of marginalized sections of society. And by showing his mastery on this section, he poses as a person of pristine glory, full of compassion. He is in line with Rasputin , and there never has been shortage of such persona in India. There was Dhirendra Brahmachari, and there was Swami Chandraswami. He is Baba Ramdev.
Bombay’s top police officials had sometimes back warned an elected official about the company the Baba keeps — in the metropolis most of his activities were financed by a dance bar owner who, more often than not, lived on the edge and walked on the wrong side of the law. Not only were Ramdev’s camps funded by this man, many of his major outlets across the city were too.
My obsession about such Rasputins takes a keener edge as I witness the exposes of his tax frauds, and Ramdev’s island in Scotland (who funded that, I have always wanted to know), his land grabs, the alleged disappearance of his guru — I have simply lost count of the allegations against him.
If he had stuck to just his yoga, Ramdev might yet have achieved more. But his political ambitions and his manipulative expertise prompted him to dabble in national politics, and thereby hangs a tale. But meddling in politics must have lost him a lot more. Now, so many regimes in India have had their own Rasputins — Mrs Indira Gandhi had Dhirendra Brahmachari and PV Narasimha Rao had Chandraswami — and they led to the downfall of their masters. I am convinced Baba Ramdev will similarly upset all of Narendra Modi’s equations in this country. For a man is known by the company he keeps and the new regime in Delhi seems unduly dependent on Ramdev and his emissaries — Ved Pratap Vaidik might well have been a journalist but isn’t he better known as the man who got Nitin Gadkari, then BJP president, to touch Ramdev’s feet and thereby script a new story for India and the BJP?
But even though Ramdev might be used to keeping the company of the nefarious elements of society, I would have thought he would have spared a thought for the martyrs of 26/11 — listening to Vaidik give a clean chit to the mastermind of those attacks, Hafiz Saeed, made my blood boil. Did Tukaram Omble die for nothing? What about Vijay Salaskar, Hemant Karkare and Ashok Kamte who were shot in cold blood by Saeed’s gunmen? And has the sacrifice of Captain Sandeep Unnikrishnan and Havaldar Gajender Singh been so easily forgotten, not to speak of the hundreds of people who died, were injured or are otherwise traumatised by those attacks?
Still, for the first time since May 16, I have stopped mourning for Mother India and am finally able to see why my like minded friend then had asked me to actually celebrate — the new regime will not be able to better the UPA’s record, he had told me. “I know these bigots very well. They will never be able to get anything right. And they will self destruct.”
I did not think that the unraveling would begin so soon but I once again recall what former PM VP Singh had once told me: That, more often than not, the extreme Right and the extreme Left are in complete agreement about everything that is wrong and unjust. That also extends to fundamentalists, he said — so our very own saffron bigots will find common cause with the jihadis — and doesn’t Vaidik’s statement that both sides of Kashmir be united and given their freedom gel with Saeed’s own views on the issue?
When General Pervez Musharraf had come calling at Agra, Singh had remarked, “If anyone can sort out the Kashmir issue, it is these two (the General and the BJP).” But I think even he would have been shocked by Vaidik’s views — and who is either Ramdev or even Vaidik fooling by pretending that the visit had no official sanction and was just a journalistic adventure?
Shall such persons always hold the nation to ransom for their selfish petty interests. There is need to look into their motivation and discard them as junk. Anybody dares do so?

Why Israel Must Not be Show Restraint

Peace came to Europe and the Far East only after the greatest generation totally destroyed Germany and Japan’s capacity to make war. If Churchill had shown restraint, the history of the world today would have been different. It would have been ruled By Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo. If Abraham Lincoln had shown restraint, slavery would have been the hall mark of American values today. If Indira Gandhi had shown restraint, there Bengali community would have been wiped out and Bengali culture would have been a matter of history. In case Kamal Ataturk had shown restraint, Turkey might well have been Nigeria. One can go on and on, but suffice it to say that when faced with a sustained malicious vipers bent on annihilating you, it is imperative to crush the nest itself.
It is agonising and more so since it is so painfully obvious by now: Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 was a catastrophe. As Israel stands poised to invade Gaza for a third time since that tragic mistake, it must accept that ceding land to those hell-bent on your destruction is a guarantee that your citizens will be murdered. Hamas has turned Gaza into a giant missile-launching factory. It will not rest until Israel is completely destroyed. And they have staying power. Hamas knows it will take many generations – at least – to finish off Israel. But its passion in this quest, fueled by religious fanaticism, remains unabated.
And while Hamas fires rockets against Israeli cities, President Barack Obama calls for restraint. If a single rocket fell on Corpus Christi, Texas, launched by one of the powerful drug cartels on the Mexican border, it would precipitate a full-scale military response from the United States. Even as we speak President Obama is, rightly, firing missiles from drones at terrorists in Pakistan and elsewhere intent on murdering Americans.
Why is it only Israel that should show restraint, which in effect means allowing rockets to hit its cities? On his 74th birthday, Ringo Starr called on everyone to lift the two fingers of peace to promote “peace and love” as a global theme. It’s warm and fuzzy and it sounds nice, but will accomplish absolutely nothing. Peace does not come about when rock stars give moving speeches about love, important as those may be. Peace come about when just and righteous militaries, controlled by law-abiding democracies, dismantle the terror apparatus of those who wage war.
Peace came to Europe and the Far East only after the greatest generation totally destroyed Germany and Japan’s capacity to make war. There has been peace in both areas in the 70 years since. And peace will only come to Israel when it neutralizes the Islamic terror organizations on its borders committed to its destruction.
Now in Gaza Israel has been reduced to “mowing operations,” as described in The New York Times, where it goes in, every few years, losing soldiers, to partially dismantle the terror apparatus and rockets assembled in their tens of thousands by Hamas. This situation may be irreversible and speaks to the ruinous decision made by Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, the latter currently on his way to prison, to withdraw from Gaza without getting a single thing in return, surely one of the great foreign policy blunders of any government in modern times.
But it’s a lesson relevant to the current American pressure on Israel to withdraw from the West Bank, which would only lead to a non-stop two-front terror war against the Jewish state.
At the 40th anniversary of D-Day it’s worth remembering that Hitler’s generals – some of whom were among the greatest military commanders of all time, like Rommel and Guderian – came to him with a single, emphatic request.
Whatever you do, do not give us a two front war as we had in the First World War, after the failure of the von Schlieffen plan and the stalemate on the Western Front. Of course Hitler, megalomaniacal arch-murderer that he was, always knew better, and launched Operation Barbarossa and the invasion of the Soviet Union, ultimately bringing about the total destruction of his country.
That of course was a good thing, as Germany had become the most evil entity in the history of the world. But we can learn from evil and turn it to good. What Hitler most wished for was the utter annihilation of the Jewish people.
He failed because he disregarded the advice of his generals and allowed himself to be invaded from two sides.
Now, the inheritors of Hitler’s dreams of annihilating the Jews – Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and their patron Iran – are seeking the same: a two-front war against Israel leading to its destruction.
Israel must not make the same mistake twice. This time it may not survive so catastrophic a blunder. It must not scumb to the presuure of those who have no compunction about sacrificing Israel. Otherwise, surely the West Bank will turn into exactly what Gaza has become: a terrorist version of NASA, a rocket launching pad with the sole purpose of killing as many Jews as possible.

The Mystique of Fatwa Revealed

The Arabic word “fatwa” means an exposition of religious law by a Muslim cleric or seminary in answer to a specific query. It is like a lawyer’s opinion, which the querist may or may not act upon. The fatwa-giver writes his opinion as per his own understanding of religion, right or wrong, and does not claim it to be authentic — fatwas always conclude with the words wallahu a’lam bi-sawab (god knows better with certainty). Muslim law neither obliges any person to seek a fatwa in any matter nor makes it incumbent upon her to follow it if obtained.
And yet these Fatwas are becoming a matter of concern. They are either ridiculous or outdated, at times very relevant. But then fatwas are really opinions given by the person issuing them and have no binding. As long as there is legally sanctioned room for settlement of disputes by non-state bodies, no court cannot isolate the mechanism operating for it in any particular community and order its abolition.
The recent Indian Supreme Courtdecision also clearly declares that thse fatwas are neither extra judicial nor are they binding. This judgement has been interpreted differently: while some assume it to be a sort of victory day for the Muslims; other deem it to be an order of deliverance for all others — these diametrically opposed perceptions of the apex court’s ruling on the fatwa and Dar-ul-Qaza traditions of Muslim society are being projected by the Urdu and English media respectively. Neither is warranted by the letter and spirit of the court’s absolutely innocuous judgment.
A few years ago, a Delhi lawyer had filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court seeking a ban on the fatwa system and shariat courts, alleging that these were tantamount to running a “parallel judiciary” in the country. A division bench has now pronounced its judgment, which has been reported in the print media under sensational captions and is being hotly debated on TV channels. All this hurly burly is based on sheer misinformation about the system challenged and reflects a grave misreading of the judgment.
As regards shariat courts, known as Dar-ul-Qazas, these are in the nature of what is known in law as alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms and generally decide personal law discords of disputants who voluntarily approach them and agree to abide by their verdicts. In some cases, where one party to a family dispute (generally a wife) seeks relief from a Dar-ul-Qaza and the other party unscrupulously keeps absent just to harass the complainant, a decision may, in the interest of justice, be given ex parte. No Dar-ul-Qaza decision, whether given ex parte or after hearing the parties, constitutes what is known in law as res judicata so as to bar the jurisdiction of any state court to entertain and decide the dispute.
A Dar-ul-Qaza hierarchy was first established on a mass scale in Bihar in 1919 and has successfully been operating there for over nine decades. Dar-ul-Qaza decisions are often taken by the disputants to local civil courts, which treat them as arbitration awards and pass decrees accordingly. Justice C.K. Prasad, who wrote the Supreme Court judgment, served in Bihar for long years as advocate general and high court judge.
He must be fully conversant with the true nature of the so-called shariat courts and his decision reflects a proper understanding of the system. He had spoken his mind during the hearing of the case in February this year when he told the petitioner: “You are assuming all fatwas are irrational. Some fatwas may be wise and may be for [the] general good also. People in this country are wise enough. If two Muslims agree for mediation, who can stay it? It is a blend of arbitration and mediation.” His judgment is fully in accord with this thinking.
That the court has declared fatwas or Dar-ul-Qazas to be “illegal” is a fantasy; that it has endorsed these religious traditions with impunity a delusion. Obviously, as long as the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution is available to the citizens, the court cannot restrain a mufti from giving his opinion on a religious matter. And, as long as there is legally sanctioned room for settlement of disputes by non-state bodies, the court cannot isolate the mechanism operating for it in any particular community and order its abolition. The SC therefore has done nothing of the sort — the petitioner’s demand for that has been clearly rejected, and rightly so.
At the same time, the court has made it clear, again absolutely rightly, that neither a fatwa nor a Dar-ul-Qaza verdict can be forcibly implemented by anybody against the wishes of the person who obtained it. It has further observed that in a bilateral dispute, a third party’s request for a fatwa should not be entertained by the muftis. Unfortunately, both practices are rampant.
Unconcerned persons having no locus standi in a particular dispute seek and obtain a fatwa, and the neighbours of the parties in dispute or the local community organisations harass them for not acting upon it. Instead of speaking out against such clearly unlawful practices in a mild way, the SC, in my opinion, could have issued mandatory directions in this regard. Of course, it has said in so many words that a person whose legal rights are being violated can always approach a state court for relief.
Instead of rejoicing over the judgment, Muslims must duly take its real message and translate it into concrete action. Others must let the judgment remain what it is — there is nothing in it for them to “celebrate”. Muslims should also evolve ways and means to ensure that fatwas are issued only by real experts in religious jurisprudence.

India Needs to Woo Africa

Old friendships and cultural links don’t amount to a hill of beans in realpolitik today. This is something that has been dinned into us and which we have learnt from bitter experience. So we have had to abandon our penchant to witter on about the golden age of Nehru-Nasser-Tito-Sukarno-Nkrumah and the ‘awara hoon’ ties between India and the erstwhile Soviet Union.
Today, the cold-eyed Vladimir Putin is more the ‘show me the money’ kind of leader not bothered about traditional ties. But, strangely enough, one place, or rather continent where our icons of the past still count for something is Africa. That we have not been able to take advantage of it is another matter. But now that we have a new, strong and hopefully decisive government in place, it would be a good time to step up our involvement in Africa. Trade is expected to touch a mere $160 billion in 2025. Surely, India can do better.
At a recent conference in the Ghanian capital of Accra, organised by Global Development Network, many leading scholars and intellectuals from the continent and other countries spoke of the challenges of governance in Africa. Some of it was as simple as not being able to negotiate the right kind of contracts for the exploitation of natural resources by other countries. For example, the French nuclear giant Areva has had a decades-long contract with Niger for the mining of uranium. The impoverished country simply did not have the wherewithal or human resource to get the best deal for itself. It is only now that specialised units are springing up, which are adept at negotiating contracts that are equitable. Not an expertise that India lacks in.
Meanwhile, it goes without saying that the Chinese are galloping ahead in both helping African governments with infrastructure development as well as carting off natural resources to feed China’s bottomless expansion plans. The Chinese are investing heavily in ports and roads — all the better to get things like metals and minerals moving quickly towards their country. We have long held that it is easier for communist China to do business with Africa’s despots. And indeed, that is true in large part. But, we need to wake up to the fact that democracy is taking root in Africa as never before today. With the explosion of social media and television, people are no longer passively accepting the diktats of the ‘strong man’ in the same supine fashion as before. In many of the countries formerly wracked by civil war, the desire for a normal, peaceful and democratic future is overwhelming.
In large parts of Africa, names like Mahatma Gandhi still count for something. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru too still has some recall value. India itself is admired to some extent for its rambunctious democracy. And many Africans at the Accra conference wondered why India was still not as engaged with Africa as it could be, or should be. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised that he will get rid of the cobwebs of the past. Many Indian officials still don’t give Africa the priority it should. But there are so many areas where Indian expertise would be welcomed. Healthcare is one, education is another. With our advantage in English, such areas should be natural territory for us. Infrastructure is another. Ghana, which is one of the largest producers of cocoa and gold, does not have the infrastructure to add value to these products. India has huge expertise in both fields, so why are we not aggressively pushing ourselves there?
The theme of the Accra GDN conference was ‘Structural Transformation in Africa and Beyond’ and is something that the Modi government would do well to study. The idea of aid is one which is losing its sheen in Africa. Its leaders have woken up to the knowledge that aid, which has actually ruined many economies, is not sustainable in the long run. So they are looking to build capacities in governance, in banking, in value addition to natural resources, in agriculture. The Chinese are no doubt first off the starting block, but the African leaders, at least those who have a long-term vision, are slowly realising that Beijing is not likely to build institutions that will last beyond its interest in the continent’s valuable natural resources. As a child growing up in Zambia, I remember stories of the TanZam railway built by the Chinese to take goods out of the heartland to the ports. But the Chinese, unlike the Indians, are known to be insular and, therefore, are not too popular with the locals in the countries where they have a significant stake. With the growth of democracy, it is likely that the Africans will turn away from the exploitative Chinese model and hopefully lean more on India. That is if New Delhi plays its cards right.
It is very heartening that Modi has decided to look at our immediate neighbourhood as the first phase of his foreign policy. But being a Gujarati — many of his compatriots have made Africa their home — he must understand the enormous value in increasing India’s stake in Africa. Modern African cities are crying out for investment and expertise in telecom, sanitation, media, infrastructure, education and health, to name just a few areas. Already, our private sector companies are deeply involved in Africa and the government must do much more to help them along.
The UPA government had set up a fund to help African countries grow. It would be informative to know how much of the millions have been spent and on what, if at all. What were the priorities and what are the results? This would be a good starting point for Modi to begin setting up a vibrant policy for Africa. He has an energetic external affairs minister and maybe she will turn her focus to Africa within this first year, honeymoon period or not. It would be hugely beneficial to both the African countries and to India. This might well be India version of British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s winds of change in Africa

The Khilafat Movement

Reviving the Khilafat has been a dream of the Islamist movement, if not of many Muslims themselves. The Khilafat movement, launched by Gandhiji, occupies a vital place in India’s history. Ninety four years later, we have a new Khalifa claiming the allegiance of Sunni Muslims. Gandhiji’s struggle was a movement to prevent the British from abolishing the Khilafat or transferring its headquarters from Istanbul (where it had been during the Ottoman Empire) to Jerusalem, which was to be under British control. Gandhiji marshalled Muslims and Hindus in what he termed an anti-British struggle. Fighting for the Khilafat was to argue for Indian independence.
The movement ended in disaster. Gandhiji unilaterally suspended the movement after the Chauri Chaura incident and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the new leader of Turkey, abolished the Khilafat as he thought it to be outdated and superstitious. Indian Muslims were doubly disappointed and the history of Hindu-Muslim partnership in fighting for India’s independence was never the same again.
Ninety plus years on, we are back with a Khalifa. This development, initiated by ISIS, does not inspire any feeling of liberation or joy even among most Muslims. The new Khalifa, who calls himself Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was born Abu Du’a in Samarra, in 1971. He has had many other names previously, including Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Sammarai. He can only be described as an adventurer and a violent soldier who has now come to head the army of ISIS.
Reviving the Khilafat has been a dream of the Islamist movement, if not of many Muslims themselves. Osama bin Laden wanted to do it. After all, the disappearance of Sunni Islam’s highest spiritual office (somewhat akin to abolishing the papacy) can hardly not matter. But the fact was that the Ottoman Sultan had given up the exercise of spiritual office for many centuries. This was resumed in the 1870s by a somewhat corrupt Sultan. When Atatürk abolished the Khilafat, it had been an empty shell for a while.
For over a century now, the revival of some sort of nation state on the old territory of the Ottoman Empire has been a dream of Muslims. Al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups made it a gesture of definace of the West. Now that we have a ‘pretender’, how do we evaluate him?
Khalifas were originally successors to the Prophet and were related to him. The first Khalifa, Abu Bakr, whose name Abu Du’a has adopted, was the Prophet’s father-in-law — his wife Ayesha’s father. He was elected to be the first Khalifa by a small community of Muslims who gathered when they heard of the Prophet’s demise. Successors, who were chosen, were either members of the Quraysh tribe, or related to the Prophet, or both. The first four Khalifas are called the Rashidun —meaning “rightly guided”. They were, like the Prophet himself, spiritual leaders and generals who went out to conquer territory for Islam.
Abu Du’a, who has now abrogated the title, has not been selected or elected by the community. Nor, as far as we know, has he any blood connection with the Prophet. He claims he has, but no one has seen any proof of it. Why should anyone take his claim seriously? Popes are elected by the College of Cardinals. Khalifas were elected at first and then belonged to one of the several dynasties — the Umayyads, the Fatimids and the Ottomans. The succession to temporal power as Sultan conferred the spiritual position as well. How will Abu Du’a establish his legitimacy ?
Of course, he has issued an ambitious map of the world in which he and his army rule over large chunks of the globe. India is part of that, along with Pakistan and Bangladesh, as are large parts of Africa and Spain where the Islamic armies reached in the eighth century and stayed for six hundred years more.
It is obviously the faithful who will decide whether Abu Du’a is a Khalifa or not. Since this has never had to be done before, I am not aware of any procedure which can be followed to legitimise the claim. Is there any tradition in India whereby a national gathering of Sunni ulema can debate this claim? One can only hope that Abu Du’a will not try to establish his claim by spreading death and destruction. If so, the majority of his victims will be his fellow Muslims.

China Enforcing New Geo-Strategic Balance: Asia for Asians

The unveiling of a new map by China on June 28, 2014 by Chinese authorities showing their claimed areas that included the whole of Arunachal Pradesh and parts of J&K, 9- dashed line area in the South China Sea, Taiwan and Diaoyu islands reflects Dragon’s ulterior motive of shattering the geo-strategic balance in its periphery, of expansionism and of establishing its hegemony in Asia-pacific region. This vertical map now issued significantly differs from earlier maps. While earlier maps showed these areas separately in a box as belonging to China, this time these regions were clearly shown as Chinese regions.
Two important factors need to be kept in view to understand why China issued this map now. First, it was the reaction to the Chinese map given in March, 2014 by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping. Merkel presented to Xi a 1735 map of China made by prolific French cartographer Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville and printed by a German publishing house. The map showed, according to its original Latin caption, the “China Proper” — that is, the Chinese heartland mostly populated by ethnic Han people, without Tibet, Xinjiang, Mongolia, or Manchuria. The islands of Taiwan and Hainan — the latter clearly part of modern China, the former very much disputed — were shown with a different colour border. And second, China had been looking for an opportunity to show to the world that the present China includes all the areas claimed by it. The visit of Vice President of India provided that opportunity.
However there is larger context also of this vertical map. China, for the last several years, had been trying to assert claims in the periphery areas. Chinese aggressive nationalism and irredentism has become a potent feature of China’s foreign policy and aggrandisement. The perception that China has to rectify humiliation of the past centuries is taking the central place in the formulation of foreign and security policies of China. Echoing this perception, President Xi was quoted in the Chinese media on the same day that China should bear in mind the Chinese history as “a victim of foreign aggression” and exhorted Chinese to strengthen its frontier defences on land and sea. The vertical map is designed to assert Chinese claims over the areas in its periphery. The Chinese are moving in this direction in accordance with their “three warfare concepts” :Propaganda war, Media war and Legal war.
Since 2012, Chinese with a view to achieve their objectives escalated efforts to propagate, use media and find out and if need be fabricate evidence of its claims. In January- February 2012, China established a steering sub-committee for guiding, coordinating and supervising, educating, propagating awareness of national map and controlling entire national map market with coordination of 13 Ministries which included National Agency for Geographic Information and Map Production, Committee for Propaganda and Instruction of the Communist Party of China, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Public Security etc. The main objective of this committee is to instruct and guide the task of reprinting and republishing national maps and organising propaganda. At the end of 2012, China began to issue biometric maps in the passports showing Indian Arunachal Pradesh and parts of J&K as also South China’s 9-dashed line as the Chinese areas. This generated a strong reaction from the neighbouring countries. This was aimed at publicising its claims.
Simultaneously, Chinese began to use tourists and media persons to project that disputed areas in the South China Sea belonged to it. In April 2012, China approved a development project to support tourism and fishing in the South China Sea. The Chinese southernmost province Hainan declared that it would develop tourism in the Paracel island chain. In April, 2013 it was reported that China had sent a cruise ship with thousands of tourists to the South China Sea that was escorted by navel and other vessels to assert its claims. In the bordering areas of India, media people were encouraged to visit and they were briefed by the PLA men about the areas that belonged to them but at present are under India. The Global Times — a Chinese newspaper sponsored by Chinese Authorities — include such articles.
To establish legal claims, China has assigned scholars to find out historical evidences to prove that the areas in the periphery belong to China. The Chinese scholars are using selectively history to prove that disputed areas belong to China. While China rejects treaties made by colonial powers, it selectively uses them to deny areas on the basis of those treaties. While it rejects 1914 treaty over the border between India and Tibet, it asserts that since the Treaty of Paris of 1896 had not given Scarborough Shoal to the Philippines, the latter does not belong to Philippines.
In addition to the above concepts, China has adopted more aggressive policy. It has started occupying areas in its periphery. While Aksai Chin area, which was temporarily given to China in 1963, is now shown as its area. Arunachal Pradesh and areas in J&K are being encroached regularly. Three new trends are noticed in the Chinese intrusions. First, in recent times the frequency of intrusions has increased; second now more troops are coming into the Indian side than earlier years; and third the duration of stay of Chinese troops in the Indian territory has increased. Helicopters are now regularly intruding into our territory. In the South China Sea, Chinese over the years have acquired a number of features. In 1974, China fought with South Vietnam, when it was under military pressure and occupied islands in Paracel. In 1988, it had clashes with Vietnam in Spratly islands and occupied Johnson Reef and in this clash about 80 Vietnamese soldiers died. After this, China began to look for suitable opportunities to occupy features without clashes. In 1995, it occupied Mischief Reef. And in 2012, it stealthily occupied Scarborough Shoal. The Chinese are now covering the entire area in their military exercises and its patrolling has adopted a new trend to include all areas in the 9 dashed lines. It has also strengthened the naval ports in the South China Sea. In Senkaku Islands, China has established Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) has been established and China is sending frequently its maritime boats and jets in Japan’s area. Thus in all these regions; China is following the policy of occupation of areas. This called the “salami slicing” strategy by taking small steps to acquire areas.
The above Chinese activities paint a serious dimension to the security of countries in the neighbourhood of China. For India it has assumed a dangerous dimension. While China is constructing a road and planning to have a railway line to connect China to Pakistani port in the Indian Ocean, the South China Sea too is seen as essential base for China to enhance its presence in the Indian Ocean. In 1984, Chinese plan to have its control over the Indian Ocean for commercial and strategic reasons had come to notice. China is following that plan meticulously. It has already established its influence in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar. A string of pearls has been created whether we see it or not.
The moot question is what should be our response. China with the passage of time is acquiring new weapons, strengthening its forces and showcasing its abilities to use force to assert its claims. Some experts often point out that its neighbouring countries are not as strong as China; hence they should not oppose China. This means that neighbouring should be prepared to forego their claims over their legitimate claims. The answer to this is to be found in the policy of the neighbouring countries towards China. The neighbouring countries are not that weak that they cannot defend their sovereignty. This is particularly true for India and Japan. China is also not likely to go in for a war with these countries if they show their resolve. They should do away with their cautious approach as China is taking advantage of this attitude. The lack of strong reaction to its salami slicing strategy from International Community and the concerned countries is encouraging China to continue with its policy of occupying areas claimed by it. Trade with China is in Chinese favour. China cannot afford to use that as weapon but the neighbouring countries and the International Community can do it. The geo-strategic balance of power in the region is being smashed by China. This is going to hurt every country. Hence, this should be reversed by maintaining status quo. There should be severe penalty imposed on China for such acts. The International Community should also assist the neighbouring countries to build their capabilities to defend themselves. Philippine President Benigno Aquino’s comments in connection with the territorial row in which he compared China to Nazi Germany deserve attention. Aquino called the world leaders not to appease China over its claims in the South China Sea in the same way nations tried to appease Hitler before the World War II. International Community has to take into account this lesson from history and do away with the policy of appeasement. All countries should point out that the core China is what was reflected in the map given by Merkel. The rest of the area including Tibet and Taiwan should be declared as independent by them. A firm response to Chinese intrusions is needed both by neighbouring countries and the International Community. In the end it may be emphasised that it is up to the concerned neighbouring country to stand up to Chinese intrusions. India needs to re-visit its policy towards Tibet and Taiwan.
Last week’s celebrations in Beijing, marking the 60th anniversary of the Panchsheel proclamations, from Delhi’s perspective, might have looked like a ritual that had to be performed. For China, though, the occasion was about mobilising regional political support, including from India, for a new security framework that President Xi Jinping has been promoting with some vigour.
As it rises to become a great power, China is determined to reconstitute Asian geopolitics, which had been dominated by the United States since the end of World War II. Central to Xi’s argument is the proposition that the US security role in Asia is a manifestation of outmoded Cold War thinking. He is suggesting that American alliances must be replaced by a new regional security order.
Xi has affirmed that “in the final analysis, it is for the people of Asia to run the affairs of Asia, solve the problems of Asia and uphold the security of Asia. The people of Asia have the capability and wisdom to achieve peace and stability in the region through enhanced cooperation.” Heady stuff indeed. This kind of rhetoric has not been heard in Asia for decades.
The Panchsheel is at the very heart of Xi’s conception of a new security order for Asia. The five principles were outlined by Zhou Enlai in separate joint statements with Jawaharlal Nehru and Burma’s U Nu in 1954. These principles — respect for territorial integrity and national sovereignty, non-aggression, non-interference in internal affairs, cooperation for mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence — were later expanded at the Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung, Indonesia, in 1955. The first summit of the non-aligned nations in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in 1961 endorsed these principles.
Last week in Beijing, Xi argued that “it is no coincidence that the five principles of peaceful coexistence were born in Asia, because they embody the Asian tradition of loving peace”. Xi went on to add that, thanks to the contributions made by China, India and Myanmar, “these principles are accepted in other parts of Asia and the world”. For some, Xi’s attempt to recalibrate Panchsheel for its contemporary foreign policy needs might seem empty rhetoric at worst or political romanticism at best. A more careful look, however, would suggest China is dead serious.
The idea of “Asia for Asians” is of old provenance and has a record of repeated failures. Way back in 1940, imperial Japan called for a “bloc of Asian nations led by the Japanese and free of Western Powers”. If Tokyo’s call found some political resonance among those Asians yoked to the European empires, Japan’s own colonial ambitions exposed the limitations of the slogan “Asia for Asians”. In fact, nationalist China, British India and the US pooled their resources to defeat Japanese imperialism.
In the immediate post-war period, the idea of “Asia for Asians” gathered much momentum after Nehru convened the Asian Relations Conference in early 1947. Yet the impact of the Cold War and new nationalisms in Asia undermined the hopes for Asian unity. As it normalised relations with the US in the 1970s, Beijing toned down its campaign against the American military presence in Asia. It believed American alliances in Asia would counter “Soviet hegemonism” and prevent the revival of “Japanese militarism”.
China now appears confident that an America in decline has opened the door for the construction of a new security order in Asia. Xi’s vigorous pursuit of “Asia for Asians”, however, has run into some political resistance. China’s expanding military clout and its assertiveness in territorial disputes are driving some of its neighbours into a tighter embrace with the US. Although Xi has repeatedly sought to give reassurance that China’s rise is peaceful and Beijing will never exercise hegemony, few Asians are willing to take it at face value.
In a controversial move this week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided to re-interpret Japan’s peace constitution. After being a passive partner in the military alliance with the US all these decades, Tokyo is seeking a more active military role in shaping its security environment. Communist Vietnam, which fought a bitter war against the US in the 1960s and 1970s, has rapidly expanded its security cooperation with Washington. The Philippines, which threw American military forces out of the country in the early 1990s, is restoring the American presence and deepening defence ties with Japan.
If Beijing is trying to undermine American alliances in Asia, its neighbours are trying to strengthen them. How does India respond to this unfolding contestation in Asia? On the face of it, a non-aligned India should oppose all alliances and support collective security proposals seemingly in tune with Delhi’s “idealist” tradition. Yet, India’s foreign policy record speaks otherwise.
After its conflict with China in 1962, India turned first to the US and then the Soviet Union to balance Beijing. Despite its embrace of Moscow, Delhi rejected the proposals for collective security that emanated from Russia’s Leonid Brezhnev (1969) and Mikhail Gorbachev (1986). Put simply, non-aligned India was not averse to playing balance of power politics when compelled by external circumstances.
As an increasingly powerful China seeks to reorder Asia, Delhi must firmly locate China’s Panchsheel campaign in a clinical assessment of Asia’s rapidly evolving geopolitics and its consequences for Indian security. China is doing what rising powers, including the US, have done before — frame one’s national interests in universal terms, push other major powers out of one’s immediate vicinity and replace the old regional order with a new one. Beijing is undoubtedly following a well-trodden path in international politics. But Delhi appears a long way from developing an appropriate strategy to cope with Asia’s new power play.

India- Global Military Power by 2045

A global scenario projected by Britain’s ministry of defence says that by 2045 India is likely to have the ability to project conventional military power globally with the third largest defence expenditure pegged at 654 billion US dollars. Titled ‘Global Strategic Trends – Out to 2045’, the publication by the ministry’s Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre sets out what the world might look like 30 years from now. It looks at a range variables, including energy, mineral resources, conflict and migration.
“Although China’s military-industrial complex is unlikely to surpass the technological sophistication of the US by 2045, it may rival it in terms of size, as could India’s. Both India and China will probably seek to develop sizeable and technically advanced armed forces, including ocean-going navies, capable of delivering an enduring and capable maritime presence both regionally and further afield”, the paper says.
The military capabilities of other countries in the region are also likely to increase but only China, India, Australia, Japan (which is actively increasing its military capability) and South Korea are likely to have the ability to project conventional military power globally. However, although India is likely to spend more on defence than the UK, it will almost certainly have to overcome domestic political issues and improve the way it invests to attain the capabilities needed to project conventional military power globally.
According to the projection, the US and China are likely to have similarly sized defence budgets, potentially out-spending the rest of the world by 2045. India could have a defence budget equivalent to the EU’s total spending on defence, it says. Additionally, China, India and the US are likely to lead in defence-related research and development – further enhancing their military capabilities.
In terms of Technology, China and India are likely to attain global leadership in select technical disciplines, achieving parity with the West in a number of niche areas as soon as 2015 and more widely by 2045. China and India will almost certainly continue to be the dominant powers in the regionand the ways the two countries manage their societies’ demands and their internal methods of governance will be important to the region’s development.