Sunday, June 29, 2014



K G Suresh, The Pioneer

Monday, 30 June 2014

The ongoing crisis in Iraq is a result of militancy by the extremist brand of Sunni faith dominated by the Wahhabi school. The ideology flourishes through petro-dollars pumped by Saudi Arabia and the benign conduct of the West

Even as the crisis in insurgency-hit Iraq deepens further, the primary concerns in India, and naturally so, are the evacuation of its citizens, including hostages currently in the custody of the ISIS/ISIL terrorists, and the possible fallout on fuel prices which would further burden the country’s fragile economy.
A spurt in oil prices may widen India’s current account deficit to 2.3 per cent of the GDP. India imports nearly 80 per cent of its oil demand, out of this close to two million barrels per day come from Iraq, making it the second-largest source of fuel for the country after Saudi Arabia. Thus, it is equally important to understand a crucial dimension of the conflict, which could have a far-reaching impact on India as a nation — the growing tentacles of Wahhabism including within its borders.

To begin with, it is important to take into account some key factors which are being ignored both by the Western and Indian media.

The conflict in Iraq is not a Sunni-Shia sectarian war. The ISIS’s Saudi-backed Salafi-Wahhabi terrorists are killing Sunnis, Sufis, Shias and Christians. In their eyes, all Sunnis, Sufis or Barelvis (as we know them in India) in particular, are polytheists; Shias are infidels whereas Christians and Jews are enemies of Islam.

It’s the Salafi-Wahhabis who are attacking religious shrines in the war-torn country. Shrines in Samarra, Najaf, and Karbala are equally holy to Sufi Sunnis and Shias. Imam Hussain shrines in Karbala and Hazrat Ali’s shrine in Najaf are equally holy to all Muslims except the Salafis. In fact, Sunnis and Shias are joint custodians of the holy shrine in Samarra and other areas.

The ISIS, Nusra and Al Qaeda terrorists, and their allies in South Asia, despite their minor political differences are united in their hatred for Sunni Sufis, Shias and Christians. Events in Afghanistan, Nigeria, Libya, etc confirm that it is not the majority of Sufi Sunnis versus Shia, but it is Salafi-Wahhabis versus the rest of the world.

Wahhabis are known enemies of cultural heritage. The historic Buddha statue of Bamiyan had to face their ire. They were icons of tolerance in a Muslim nation like Afghanistan for centuries before the advent of Taliban.
The Arab Spring years witnessed some most heinous crimes against humanity in Muslim states. Mosques were targeted and very old Islamic manuscripts were destroyed by the Wahhabi elements. In Syria, they destroyed the tombs of Hazrat-e-Zainab, Khalid bin Waleed, Hujr ibn Adi etc. Mosques and monuments dedicated to tolerant peaceful Sufism were the main targets.

India is known all over the world for its composite culture, also known as Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb. Indian Muslims have not suffered at the hands of the majority community in the country, as has been the political propaganda. They are, instead, socially protected by the tolerant Hindu society. What has made the world’s second-largest Muslim population vulnerable is the advent of the ideology of Wahhabism.

Efforts are on to attack and eliminate this tolerant culture by foreign-led and funded Wahhabi/Salafi elements who are at work with oil and gas money for last several decades. They have gained access to administration, bureaucracy and political class by faking Muslim representation. They are being handled through doles to religious schools, student scholarships, coaching classes, vocational training etc.

The genesis of this development can be traced to Saudi Arabia which became a power to reckon with, in the early 70s after the discovery of hydro-carbons. The flourishing Saudi economy attracted workers from poor countries. India was one of them. Indian Muslims went to Saudi Arabia for work. They, of course sent remittance from Saudi Arabia and contributed to foreign exchange reserves, but beyond this they came back with the extreme infamous ideology called Wahhabism.

The petro-dollars came as subscription to Muslim cause, which was disguised as charity. Now Qatar has emerged as the main challenger to the Saudi dominance and its agents are relentlessly at work in India. Earlier all Wahhabi individuals and their organisations were supported by Saudi funds, but now some of them have switched loyalties to promote the Qatar brand of Salafism.
These elements have penetrated important Muslim bodies such as Central Haj Committee, State Haj Committees, Central Wakf Council, State Wakf Boards  and Government bodies requiring Muslim participation, like the Maulana Azad Education Foundation, as also organisations created to serve the Muslim community in language and literature like State Urdu Academies and National Council of Promotion of Urdu Language apart from pure Sufi bodies like Khawaja Gharib Nawaz Dargah Committee, unwittingly with the support of ignorant Central and State Governments.

Jammu & Kashmir is a Sufi-dominated area but its contact with Wahhabism hastened the process of alienation. Wahhabi/ Salafi influence is growing in the valley since early 70s. They have targeted Sufi clerics, politicians and intellectuals and their places of reverence only to misguide public opinion, which is otherwise peace loving. The separatist movement is totally backed and funded by Saudi, British, Pakistani and Kashmiri Wahhabi organisations. Their prime target is the Sufi culture which can bring peace and harmony in Kashmir.

The new Government should check interference by Wahhabi elements in Muslim-related activities and encourage the involvement of Sufi institutions such as the All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board. Modern centres of quality education should be established in Muslim-dominated areas which should be manned and managed by Sufi intellectuals and clerics so that the students grow into patriotic, responsible citizens of the country.

Instead of blindly handing over Muslim affairs to existing Wahhabi-dominated Muslim outfits, a coordination committee should be entrusted with the task of Muslim affairs, including maintaining nationwide peace and harmony, identifying problems with their possible solutions and implementation of designed programmes for more and more integration of the community in the national mainstream.

Indian Muslims who profess and practise as per Sufi beliefs should be pro-actively involved in the management of Wakf Boards, which have unfortunately become the biggest tool to promote extremism. The Central Wakf Council too must be re-constituted in consultation with renowned Sufi leaders.

The world is gradually rising up to the challenge of Wahhabism. It’s time India too wakes up to the damage potential of this menace. Let Iraq be an eye opener in this crusade.

(The author is a senior journalist based in Delhi)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Report Card on UPA-2

UPA-2 is in a celebratory mood as it completes three years in office but the nation is apparently in mourning. The single biggest achievement of the Congress-led coalition Government, which has been hurtling down from one crisis to another over the last 36 months, is that it continues to remain in office and the credit for it goes not to any grand strategist or achievement but an abject surrender to the whims and fancies of each and every coalition partner.

Sometimes, one wonders whether it was the same coalition  led by the same Prime Minister which in its earlier tenure refused to succumb to the Left’s pressure tactic on the Indo-US Nuclear Deal and chose to go for a confidence vote rather than going back on its commitment.

From roll back of fuel prices to FDI in retail and from NCTC to sacking the country’s Railway Minister on the day he presented the Budget, this Government has been going out of its way to placate to the unjustified and often outrageous demands of some of its allies, just to cling on to power, rather than display political will and face the electorate boldly.

Even the Supreme Court took cognizance at the undignified manner in which Ministers were treating the Prime Minister. One also saw the pathetic sight of a Minister of State for Railways refusing to obey the Prime Minister’s director to visit a mishap site and a Chief Minister’s refusal to accompany him to a neighbouring country.

The current tenure of the UPA-2 has become synonymous with corruption and unprecedented price rise. The price of Moong Dal has leapforked from Rs 24 in May 2004 to Rs 64 in May 2012, while that of LPG has gone up from Rs 244 to Rs 399 in the same period. Petrol went up from Rs 33 to Rs 65, milk from Rs 14 to rs 32 per litre, tea from Rs 80 to Rs 180, sugar from Rs 14 to Rs 32 and rice from Rs 10 to Rs 23 to cite the prices of a few crucial kitchen items.

Under the leadership of the economist Prime Minister, India’s current account deficit is estimated to reach an all time high of around 4 per cent of GDP in the year ended March 2012 and this means that an ordinary consumer needs to shell out more for buying an imported good or a foreign travel which would now become more costlier to him. Apparently, India which came out of BOP crisis with the help of Dr. Manmohan Singh is looking all set to  revisit the crisis once again after 21 years (when the country had to mortgage its gold in 1991). In fact, the current levels of India’s fiscal deficit (5.9 per cent) are higher than those levels as seen during 1991 crisis (5.4 per cent) and the Rupee has fallen to an all time low hitting exports and foreign travel.

The Government is tom tomming about the GDP growth but the credit for the same to a great extent goes to the consistently good monsoons all these years.

From Adarsh and Commwealth Games to 2G and now the coal gate as its third anniversary gift, the UPA-2 has been on the defensive throughout this tenure. Rather than being pro active in taking the menace head on, the Government acted only under pressure from the Supreme Court. The flip flop manner in which it dealt with civil society movements leading a crusade against corruption only reflected the hollowness of its ‘commitments’ to combat corruption.

More than anything else, the single biggest contribution of the UPA has been creating a crisis of credibility, unprecedented in the nation’s history. Trust Deficit has become the hall mark of this Government. The Government does not trust its allies and vice-versa, the states don’t trust the Centre and vice-versa, the Army Chief does not trust the Defence Minister and vice-versa – trust has become the biggest casualty of UPA-2.

As for internal security, naxalites are wreaking havoc across the country with kidnapping of senior officials and abject surrender by the state becoming the norm.

The less said the better about foreign policy. The recent manner in which the country voted at multilateral fora against Sri Lanka and Iran, the pull out from South China Sea and the resumption of talks with Pakistan without any progress on the action against 26/11 accused by Islamabad only reflects the extension of this surrender doctrine beyond the nation’s borders.

The list is endless and one can go on and on. Lack of political will has paralysed the functioning of this Government beyond redemption. If UPA-1 got good marks for RTI and NREGA in its first tenure, the sum of UPA-2 plus three (years) adds up to zero.

Its time for UPA to do some serious introspection. Otherwise it would be too late.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


It is not just the Constitution of India but also wisdom contained in several of our sacred texts and classical literature which guide Parliamentarians in the world’s largest democracy. From the entry gates of both Houses of Parliament to the domes to the lobby and lifts, our elected representatives are reminded constantly of their ‘Dharma’, their duty to the society and the nation.

What’s more, these canons and quotations from the sacred scriptures also guide the lawmakers on their conduct within and outside the Parliament.

‘Speak the truth. Follow the rules of righteous conduct”, is the English translation of the sentence inscribed on the top of the entry gate to the Rajya Sabha. The statement was part of the convocation address to the outgoing students incorporated in the Shikshavalli of the Taittireeyopanishad of the Krishna Yajurveda. It is indeed a message worthy to be emulated by all Parliamentarians.

Another message taken from the Bhagwad Gita (18-45) and inscribed on the top of the entry gate to the Rajya Sabha is equally relevant. “Every individual attains fulfillment of life and fame only on account of discharging the duties prescribed for him/her”, it says.

Reminding the Government or the ruling class of its responsibility towards the masses, this famous quotation from Kautilya’s ‘Arthashastra’ says, “In the happiness of the subjects lies the King’s happiness, in their welfare his welfare; what pleases himself the king shall not consider good but whatever pleases his subjects the king shall consider good”.

Former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, former Governor of Jharkhand and Bihar and presently Rajya Sabha Member of BJP Justice Dr M Rama Jois in his recently published compilation ‘Message from Parliament House, Bharat’ has sought to remind the Parliamentarians of this hitherto ignored aspect of parliamentary life by compiling many such quotations scattered all over the circular building.

For example, a quotation from Manusmriti, most appropriate for the MPs, is inscribed above lift 2, which says “Either one may not enter the Assembly Hall, or having entered, he/she must speak truth in a righteous way. The one who does not speak and the one who speaks falsely will be a sinner.”

And inscribed in golden letters on the dome near lift no 1 is a saying from the Mahabharata (5-35-58) which offers a vivid commentary on the duty to speak truth in an Assembly.

“That is not an Assembly where there are no elders; They are not elders, who do not speak with righteousness; That speech is not righteous which is devoid of truthfulness; That is not the truth which contains deceit.”

In a sage counsel to the ruling party to take along everyone, accommodate all views and adopt a consensual approach to governance, a verse from Shukraneeti (Chapter 2-3), on the dome near the lift no.4, says, “the Ruler must always be wise and intelligent. Even so he should not stand upon his own views at any time, rather he should consider the views of the Members of the House, officers, people at large and others who are present in the House and then take his own decision”.

The democratic character of the nation since the days of yore is also amply reflected in the following quotation from Kaut inscribed on the Parliament building. It says, “the exercise of sovereign power (Rajatva) is possible only with assistance. A single wheel can never move forward (the carriage of the State). Therefore, the King shall appoint Ministers and take their advice”.

Encapsulating the importance of consensual politics is the saying from the Panchatantra, which greets one’s eyes from above the gate of the Central Hall.

“The attitude to divide people into two categories of ‘mine’ and ‘not mine’ is the characteristic of petty-minded people. For broad-minded people, the entire world is nothing but one family”.

Highlighting the need for bringing about the much-needed change from within, an Arabic quotation inscribed in the arc-shaped outer lobby of the Lok Sabha states,“Almighty God will not change the condition of any people unless they bring about a change in themselves”.

And one sentence from the Mundakopanishad that is engraved wherever the Emblem of India is inscribed all over the temple of democracy, says it all- ‘Satyameva Jayate’ (Truth will Triumph Always).

It’s high time our Parliamentarians revisit these profound messages scattered all over the sanctum sanctorum of democracy, particularly when the credibility of the institution itself is at stake.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

JP's Unpublished Letter to Mrs Indira Gandhi

Testament of Protest - An Open Letter to Mrs. Indira Gandhi
- Jayaprakash Narayan

JP wrote this letter on December 5 1975 from the Jaslok Hospital in Bombay. It was of course not published in the Indian press, but was secretly circulating. The Far Eastern Economic Review published from Hong Kong carried the full text of the letter in its issue of February 20, 1976.
‘Dear Prime Minister,
I am appalled at press reports of your speeches and interviews. (The very fact that you have to say something every day to justify your action implies a guilty conscience). Having muzzled the press and every kind of public dissent, you continue with your distortions and untruth without fear of criticism or contradiction. If you think that in this way you will be able to justify yourself in the public eye and damn the Opposition to political perdition, you are sadly mistaken. If you doubt this, you may test it by revoking the Emergency, restoring to the people their fundamental rights, restoring the freedom of the press, releasing all those whom you have imprisoned or detained for no other crime than performing their patriotic duty. Nine years, Madam, is not a short period of time for the people, who are gifted with a sixth sense, to have found you out.
The burden of your song, as I have been able to discover, is that (a) there was a plan to paralyse the Government, (b) that one person had been trying to spread disaffection among the ranks of the civil and military forces. These seem to be your major notes. But there have been also minor notes. Every now and then you have been doling out your obiter dicta, such as the nation being more important than democracy and about the suitability of social democracy to India, and more in the same vein.
As I am the villain of the piece, let me put the record straight. This may be of no interest to you – for all your distortion and untruth are willful and deliberate – but at least the truth would have been recorded. About the plan to paralyse the Government. There was no such plan and you know it. Let me state the facts. were being formed from the village upwards to the Block (ward) level. Later on, the process was to be taken up, hopefully, to the district and state level.
Of all the states of India, it was in Bihar alone where there was a people’s movement. But there, too, according to the Chief Mini-ster’s many statements, it had fizzled out long ago, if it had ever existed. But the truth is – and you should know if your ubiquitous Intelligence has served you right – that it was spreading and percolating deep down in the countryside. Until the time of my arrest “janata sarkars” (people’s organizations)

If you have cared to look into the programme of the janata sarkars, you would have found out that for the most part it was constructive, such as regulating the public distribution system, checking corruption at the lower levels of administration, implementing the land reform laws, settling disputes through the age-old custom of conciliation and arbitration, assuring a fair deal to Harijans, curbing such social evils as “talak” and “dahez” (divorce and the dowry system) etc. There was nothing in all this that by any stretch of imagination could be called subversive. Only where the “janata sarkars” were solidly organized were such programmes as non-payment of taxes taken up. At the peak of the movement in urban areas an attempt was made for some days, through dharna and picketing, to stop the working of Government offices. At Patna, whenever the Assembly opened, attempts were made to persuade the members to resign and to prevent them peacefully from going in. All these were calculated programmes of civil disobedience, and thousands of men and women were arrested all over the state.
If all this adds up to an attempt to paralyse the Bihar government, well, it was the same kind of attempt as was made during the freedom struggle through non-cooperation and satyagraha to paralyse the British government. But that was a government established by force, whereas the Bihar government and legislature are both constitutionally established bodies. What right has anyone to ask an elected government and elected legislature to go? This is one of your favourite questions. But it has been answered umpteen times by competent persons, including well-known constitutional lawyers. The answer is that in a democracy the people, too, have the right to ask for the resignation of an elected government if it has gone corrupt and has been misruling. And if there is a legislature that persists in supporting such a government it too must go so that the people might choose better representatives.
But in that case, how can it be determined what the people want? In the usual democratic manner. In the case of Bihar, the mammoth rallies and processions held in Patna, the thousands of constituency meetings held all over the State, the three-days’ Bihar bandh, the memorable happenings of November 4, and the largest ever meeting held at the Gandhi maidan, on November 18, were a convincing measure of the people’s will. And what had the Bihar government and Congress to show on their side? The miserable counter-offensive of November 16, which had been master-minded by Shri Barooah and on which, according to reliable reports, the fantastic sum of Rs.60 lakhs rupees were spent. But if that was not conclusive enough proof, I had asked repeatedly for a plebiscite. But you were afraid to face the people.
While I am on the Bihar movement, let me mention, another important point that would illumine the politics of such a type of movement. The students of Bihar did not start their movement just off the bat as it were. After formulating their demands at a conference they had met the Chief Minister and the Education Minister. They had had several meetings. But unfortunately the inept and corrupt Bihar Govern-ment did not take the students seriously. Then the latter GHERAOED the Assembly. The sad events of that day precipitated the Bihar movement. Even then the students did not demand the resignation of the Ministry nor the dissolution of the Assembly. It was after several weeks during which firing, lathi (baton) charges and indiscriminate arrests took place that the Students’ Action Committee felt compelled to put up that demand. It was at that point that the Rubicon was crossed.
Thus in Bihar, the Government was given a chance to settle the issues across the table. None of the demands of the students was unreasonable or non-negotiable. But the Bihar government preferred the method of struggle, i.e. unparalleled repression. It was the same in Uttar Pradesh. In either case, the Government rejected the path of negotiation, of trying to settle the issues across the table, and chose the path of strife. Had it been otherwise, there would have been no movement at all.
I have pondered over this riddle: Why did not those govern-ments act wisely? The conclusion I have arrived at is that the main hurdle has been corruption. Some-how the governments have been unable to deal with corruption in their ranks, particularly at the top level – the ministerial level itself. The corruption has been the central point of the movement, particularly corruption in the government and the administration.
Be that as it may, except for Bihar there was no movement of its kind in any other state of India. In Uttar Pradesh, though satyagraha had started in April, it was far from becoming a people’s movement. In some other states though, struggle committees had been formed, there seemed to be no possibility of a mass movement anywhere. And as the general election to the Lok Sabha was drawing near, the attention of the opposition parties was turned more towards the coming electoral struggle than to any struggle involving civil disobedience.
Thus, the plan of which you speak, the plan to paralyse the Government, is a figment of your imagination thought up to justify your totalitarian measures.
But suppose I grant you for a minute, for argument’s sake, that there was such a plan, do you honestly believe that your erstwhile colleague, the former Deputy Prime Minister of India, and Chandrashekhar, a member of the Congress Working Committee, were also a party to it? Then why have they also been arrested and many others like them?
No, dear Prime Minister, there was no plan to paralyse the Government. If there was a plan, it was a simple, innocent and short-time plan to continue until the Supreme Court decided your appeal. It was this plan that was announced at the Ramlila grounds by Nanaji Deshmukh on June 25 and which was the subject matter of my speech that evening. The programme was for a selected number of persons to offer satyagraha before or near your residence in support of the demand that you should step down until the Supreme Court’s judgement on your appeal. The programme was to continue for seven days in Delhi, after which it was to be taken up in the states. And, as I have said above, it was to last only until the judgement of the Supreme Court. I do not see what is subversive or dangerous about it. In a democracy the citizen has an inalienable right to civil disobedience when he finds that other channels of redress or reform have dried up. It goes without saying that the satyagrahi willingly invites and accepts his lawful punishment. This is the dimension added to democracy by Gandhi. What an irony that it should be obliterated in Gandhi’s own India!
It should be noted – and it is a very important point – that even this programme of a satyagraha would not have occurred to the Opposition had you remained content with quietly clinging on to your office. But you did not do it. Through your henchmen you had rallies and demonstrations organized in front of your residence (begging you not to resign). You addressed these rallies and, justifying your stand, advanced spurious arguments and heaped calumny on the head of the Opposition. An effigy of the High Court Judge was burnt before your residence. Posters appeared in the city suggesting some kind of link between the Judge and the CIA. When such despicable happenings were taking place every day, the Opposition had no alternative but to counteract the mischief. And how did it decided to do it? Not by rowdyism but by orderly satyagraha, self-sacrifice.
It was this ‘plan’ and not any imaginary plan to paralyse the Government that has aroused your ire and cost the people their liberties and dealt a deathblow to their democracy.
And why was the freedom of the press being suppressed? Not because the Indian press was irresponsible, dishonest or anti-Government. In fact, nowhere under conditions of freedom is the press more responsible, reasonable and fair than it has been in India. The truth is that your anger against it was aroused because on the question of your resignation, after the High Court’s judgement, some of the papers took a line that was highly unpalatable to you. And when on the morrow of the Supreme Court judgement all the metropolitan papers, including the wavering The Times of India came out with well-reasoned and forceful editorials advising you to quit, freedom of the press became too much for you to stomach. That cooked the goose of the Indian press, and you struck your deadly blow. It staggers one’s imagination to think that so valuable a freedom as the freedom of the press, the very life-breath of democracy, can be snuffed out because of the personal pique of a Prime Minister.
You have accused the Opposition of trying to lower the prestige and position of the country’s Prime Minister. But in reality, the boot is on the other leg. No one has done more to lower the position and prestige of that great office than yourself. Can you ever think of the Prime Minister of a democratic country who cannot even vote in his Parliament because he has been found guilty of corrupt electoral practices? The Supreme Court may reverse the High Court’s judgement – most probably it will be in this atmosphere of terror – but as long as that is not done your guilt and your deprivation of your right to vote remain)1 .
As for the “one person” who is supposed to have tried to sow dissatisfaction in the armed and police forces, he denies the charge. All that he has done is to make the men and officers of the forces conscious of their duties and responsibilities. Whatever he has said in that connection is within the law, the Constitution, the Army Act, and the Police Act.
So much for your major points, the plea to paralyse the Government and the attempt to sow dissatisfaction in the armed and police forces. Now a few of your minor points and obiter dicta.
You are reported to have said that democracy is not more important than the nation. Are you not presuming too much, Madam Prime Minister? You are not the only one who cares for the nation. Among those whom you have detained or imprisoned there are many who have done as much for the nation as you. And everyone of them is as good a patriot as yourself. So, please do not apply salt to our wounds by lecturing to us about the nation.
Moreover, it is a false choice that you have formulated. There is no choice between democracy and the nation. It was for the good of the nation that the people of India declared in the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949, that “we, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute into a Sovereign Democratic Republic … give to ourselves this Constitution.” This democratic Constitution cannot be changed into a totalitarian one by a mere ordinance or a law of Parliament. That can be done only by the people of India themselves in their new Constituent Assembly, especially elected for that special purpose. If Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity have not been rendered to “all its citizens” even after a quarter of century of signing of that Constitution, the fault is not that of the Constitution or of democracy but of the Congress party that has been in power in Delhi all these years. It is precisely because of that failure that there is so much unrest among the people and the youth. Repression is no remedy for that. On the other hand, it only compounds the failure.
I no doubt see that the papers are full these days of reports of new policies, new drives, show of new enthusiasm. Apparently you are trying to make up for lost time, that is to say, you are making a show of doing here and now what you failed to do in nine years. But your 20 points2 will go the same way as your 10 points did and the “stray thoughts”. But I assure you this time the people will not be fooled. And I assure you of another thing too: a party of self-seekers and spineless opportunists and “jee-huzurs” such as the Congress, alas, has become, can never do anything worthwhile. (Not all Congressmen are such. There are quite a few exceptions, such as those who have been deprived of their Party membership and some of them their freedom. There will be a lot of propaganda and much ado on paper but on the ground level the situation will not change. The condition of the poor – and they are in great majority over the greater part of the country – has been worsening over the past years. It would be enough if the downward trend were arrested. But for that your whole approach to politics and economics will have to change.
I have written the above in utter frankness without mincing words. I have done so not out of anger or so as to get even with you in words. No, that would be a show of impotence. Nor does it show any lack of appreciation for the care that is being taken of my health. I have done it only to place the naked truth before you, which you have been trying to cover up and distort.
Having performed this unpleasant duty, may I conclude with a few parting words of advice? You know I am an old man. My life’s work is done. After Prabha’s3 going I have nothing and no one to live for. My brother and my nephew have their family and my younger sister – the elder died years ago – has her sons and daughters. I have given all my life, after finishing education, to the country and asked for nothing in return. So, I shall be content to die a prisoner under your regime.
Would you listen to the advice of such a man? Please, do not destroy the foundations that the Father of the Nation, including your noble father, had laid down. There is nothing but strife and suffering along the path that you have taken. You inherited a great tradition, noble values and a working democracy. Do not leave behind a miserable wreck of all that. It would take a long time to put all that together again. For it would be put together again, I have no doubt. People who fought British imperialism and humbled it cannot accept indefinitely the indignity and shame of totalitarianism. The spirit of man can never be vanquished, no matter how deeply suppressed. In establishing your personal dictatorship, you have buried it deep. But it will rise from the grave. Even in Russia, it is slowly coming up.
You have talked of social democracy. What a beautiful image those words call to the mind. But you have seen in east-ern and central Europe how ugly is the reality: Naked dictatorship and in the ultimate analysis Russian overlordship. Please, please do not push India towards that terrible fate.
And may I ask to what purpose all these draconian measures? In order to be able to carry out the 20 points? But who was preventing you from carrying out the 10 points? All the discontent, the protest, the satyagraha were due precisely to the fact that you were not doing anything to implement your programme, inadequate as it was, to lighten the misery and burden under which the people and youth were groaning. This is what Chandrashekhar, Mohan Dharia, Krishna Kant and their friends have been saying for which they have been punished.
You have talked of “drift” in the country. But was that due to opposition or to me? The drift was because of your lack of decision, direction and drive. You seem to act swiftly and dramatically only when your personal position is threatened. Once that is assured, the drift begins. Dear Indiraji, please do not identify yourself with the nation. You are not immortal, India is.
You have accused the Opposition and me of every kind of villainy. But let me assure you that if you do the right things – for instance, your 20 points, tackling corruption at ministerial levels, electoral reforms, etc., take the Opposition into confidence, heed its advice – you will receive the willing cooperation of everyone of us. For that you need not destroy democracy. The ball is in your court. It is for you to decide.
With these parting words, let me bid you farewell. May God be with you.
- Jayaprakash
Courtesy : Far Eastern Economic Review, February 20, 1976.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fai Episode: Intellectuals, Govt to be Blamed

Once again, Pakistan’s nefarious covert and overt attempts to defame, denigrate and destabilize India has come to the fore with the recent arrest of Ghulam Nabi Fai, by U.S authorities for collaborating with the notorious Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), by funneling money to influence American policy on Kashmir.

Fai was arrested by the U.S Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI) from his home in Fairfax, Virginia. According to the FBI affidavit, Fai established and ran the Kashmiri American Council (KAC) from Washington at the behest of ISI to lobby on Kashmir at Capitol Hill.

For almost 20 years, the KAC has been organizing several anti India activities including printing and circulating propaganda pamphlets and other literature on alleged human rights violation in Jammu and Kashmir, holding national and international seminars to which participants form several countries including India were invited, lobbying against the Indian government with the American government and lawmakers and on the sidelines of international human rights conferences as also trying to influence U.S politicians by contributing to their election funds.

The practice of intelligence agencies running and funding non governmental organizations particularly in foreign countries to propagate and lobby for their particular view point has been an existence since World War days and played a key role in the U.S campaign against the Communist Soviet Union. The U.S Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is itself known to have floated and funded several such agencies across the globe.

The revelation about Fai being an ISI agent also does not come as a surprise to most Indians as Pakistan has been engaged not only in such notorious anti-India propaganda but also proxy war against the country through terrorists, trained, armed and funded on its very soil.

However, what has come as a shock is the proximity Fai seems to have enjoyed with several leading Indian journalists and intellectuals. They include Justice Rajinder Sachar , author of the Sachar Committee report on the state of Indian Muslims, Dilip Padgaonkar, one of the three Interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir appointed by the UPA government, Kuldip Nayar, eminent journalist and former Indian High Commissioner to Britain, Ved Bhasin, Editor of Kashmir Times, Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal, Executive Editor, Kashmir Times and peace activist, Harinder Baweja, Editor (Investigations) with Headlines Today, Gautam Navlakha, democratic rights activist and Editorial Consultant, Economic and Political Weekly, Kamal Mitra Chenoy, human rights activist, Praful Bidwai, noted columnist, Rita Manchanda, Programme Executive of South Asia Forum for Human Rights, and Professor G. R. Malik, Head of Dept, English at the Central University, Kashmir.

These journalist and intellectuals not only participated, some of them actively, in the seminars organized by Fai, but were part of even a jury for All India Level Essay competitions on Kashmir organized by the Kashmiri Action Council.

What is more, Fai was successful in including some of them in the drafting committee of his annual event called, ‘International Kashmir Peace Conference’.

A resolution titled “Washington Declaration” adopted at the 2010 conference and drafted allegedly among others by Nayar said the participants “unanimously” expressed grave concern over the “deteriorating” human rights situation in Kashmir and urged the Indian government to withdraw its armed forces from civilian populated areas. It also sought an impartial commission to investigate “killings in a transparent manner.”

Among others in the drafting committee as members for the 2009 resolutions were Bhasin and Navlakha.

According to an overview of the KAC conference sent to the media after the 2009 event by Fai, Bhasin was quoted as advocating for Kashmir as an independent state in South Asia.

"The only solution is an independent state in South Asia. The status quo is not a solution; the division of the state is not a solution," Bhasin was quoted as saying.

Speaking in the session, 'When Peaceful Protests Fail, What Next?', Navlakha had allegedly warned that if the aspirations of Kashmiris continued to be ignored, the armed struggle could start again "which will have repercussions for all of South Asia".

If the proximity of these intellectuals and thought leaders with the blatantly anti -Indian Fai came as a surprise to many, what was shocking was the indifference with which they dismissed and defended this serious matter. “Google was not available then” was the most simplistic response that Padgaonkar gave even as he insisted that he did not have the faintest of idea about Fai’s affiliation with ISI.

Reacting to Padgaonkar’s statement, his fellow Interlocutor on Jammu and Kashmir M M Ansari asked “How can you join a conference without knowing the credibility of the individuals and the institutions?.”

While refusing to comment on his advocacy of an independent Kashmir state, Bhasin merely stated that he was not aware that ISI had any links with the conferences organized by Fai.

There cannot be a more specious argument about ignorance of basic facts by such eminent intellectuals who have a wide network of contacts world wide.

In fact, way back in 1995 itself, separatist leader Hasim Qureshi had exposed Fai’s links with Pakistan’s ISI in his book ‘Kashmir: The Unveiling of Truth’. Qureshi, who hogged the headlines for hijacking an Indian Airlines plane in 1971 to Lahore, wrote that Fai and Ayub Thakur (now dead) were at the forefront of fund raising campaigns for Jamat-E-Islami and its militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen in US and UK respectively.

These intellectuals could also have gathered information about Fai from the Indian mission in Washington as they were well aware of KAC’s nefarious activities. In fact, in its invitations sent to media before its 2010 annual conference, the KAC had listed the Indian Ambassador Meera Shankar among its invitees, but Indian Envoys never participated in these conferences as they not only knew who KAC was working for but also such conferences were always Pakistan centric and heavy with anti India agenda.

Besides, many Indian journalists and intellectuals did not fall into the ISI trap. Siddharth Vardarajan of The Hindu, who was listed as a panel speaker for the 2010 annual conference did not attend stating he was pre occupied with another assignment. “I made some queries and decided not to attend”- he told media persons when asked why he skipped the event.

The question is if Vardarajan could make inquiries, why others could not and did not. Padgaonkar is not just another journalist but he is part of the UPA government’s peace process in Kashmir. Kashmiri Pandit organizations and people from Jammu have demanded his resignation and asking whether it was possible to expect objectivity from ‘partisan’ intellectuals like him.

Justice Sachar dealt with a major issue like the status of Muslims but with the revelation of his association with people like Fai, right wing hardliners questioning the credibility of the report cannot be ruled out.

While it would be unfair to attribute anti national motives to the participants, it is also hard to believe that all of these learned intellectuals were taken for a ride or were lured by free business class tickets and hospitality.

If it was the duty of these intellectuals to have looked before they leapt and made necessary inquiries before attending such conferences, the Indian Government and the Indian Embassy in Washington in particular on its part clearly failed in its duty to inform and educate them about the background and motive of the organizer. Either way, the outcome has not made us a prouder nation.