Friday, August 29, 2008

Where democracy has no meaning

There are identities we walk with everyday; beliefs, faith that our life depends on and around which our psychological framework is built. We believe them to be true, whether or not we can prove them, whether or not we bother to find proof.

Like the one that says ‘I’m a part of a secular country’ – Yet we refuse to listen when a muslim woman is raped in Gujrat or when a woman missionary is burnt to death in Orissa. Another one that says ‘India is a peace loving country’ – We refuse to believe that India sponsors terrorism in other countries just like they do in ours.

As Indians, we wear our peace-loving badge so proudly that we shun any show of aggressiveness by another country as atrocity. And yet, we will go ahead and state on record that Tibet is China’s internal issue and India will not interfere. Did that make you cringe? Did you hope – just a tiny tiny bit – that as a country you had, instead, condemned China? On the other hand, we did accept China’s applauds on our stand and continued to wear our peace-loving badge as if nothing really happened.

Oh well, why should we condemn it in the first place? That would expose our double standards now, wouldn’t it? On one hand we have occupied a territory we have no business being in, we have converted a beautiful valley into one of the world’s highly militarized zone, we have destroyed the independence and peace, committed atrocities against three generations of Kashmiris… So much so that the Kashmiris have loud and clearly (or in India’s own words to China – clear and consistently) told us that they would rather be a part of poor and economically under-performing and military ruled (and in our opinion terrorist) Pakistan rather than prosperous, ‘generous’ (the way we believe) and of course ‘peace loving’ secular India. Now - we definitely do not have the right to speak against or condemn another country when right next door we commit the same crimes on an everyday basis.

Arundhati Roy writes very eloquently and in her own landmark style in this cover story for the Sep1, 2008 edition of Outlook. ‘AZADI’ screams the cover page and the sub-title for the article goes thus: ‘It’s the only thing the Kashmiri wants. Denial is delusion.’ The article hits you below the belt, squashing every delusion you’ve had as an Indian. Brace yourself – for we are no less inhuman than the Chinese soldier against the non-violent Tibetan demonstrator or the Nazi follower against an unsuspecting Jew or the Chechen rebels against innocent Russian children.

3 comments:

Balu said...

Unfortunately India is still a fledgeling as regards to democracy ...


Make no mistake, the very usage of you choice of words "we have occupied a territory we have no business being in" is passable in a country like India. If you were in China your blog would have been blocked and booked under sedition. But here you still have a say.. Mamta Banerjee can just block an entire business conglomerate like the TATAs... This is what is one of the essense of democracy...

Kashmir case is a tad different... it is a tragedy.. the Assembly does not swear in the name of India but in the name of J&K.. Artcile 370.... If India gives back Kashmir then the entire North east and other states will simmer... Union of India has to be upholded...


You must have read this in my blog:
http://thisissucksman.blogspot.com/2008/08/congress-bjp-and-kashmir.html

Arthi Madhusudhan said...

@Balu

In the words of my math teacher, comparing India to a communist republic is like comparing apples to oranges. India has pledged to be a secular democratic country; China is bound by no such pledge - it fulfills its pledge as a communist republic quite fabulously. If anything our comparison should be with other democratic countries. The essence of democracy is in providing its citizens the freedom to speak their minds not only against the government but also against religious leaders, powerful politicians and popular movie stars or for that matter any policy or procedure without fear of the consequences. While a number of bloggers did write about Kashmir freely, I’m not so sure this has or can easily be done against the VHP or a Bal Thackeray or for that matter even a Rajnikanth. Talking about democracy, we do have along way to go.

Coming back to the issue of Kashmir, after 61 years of militarizing a region, if we haven’t been able to bring the region into the fold of the ‘Union of India’, don’t you think it’s high time we questioned our very motivations and methods? Sixty-one years of providing a region with all the special privileges from citizenship to land ownership; sixty-one of using precious Indian tax payers’ money to fund one of the largest defense forces in the world while a good majority of our people in other parts of the country languish in poverty, floods and famine; sixty-one years of pumping in money, trade and human capital; sixty-one years and today the Kashmir per-capita income is ten times that of our very own Bihar. What not have we done for them and sixty-one years later Kashmiris still want freedom – freedom from India… Isn’t that a message?

As Vir Sanghvi rightly points out in his column in the Hindustan Times, if the north-east states go up in arms for freedom, it is not because we granted Azadi to Kashmir, it would be simply because we have ignored these states and let them rot in poor development and insurgency, it would be simply because we have treated them as children of a lesser God than ‘The Union of India’.

I just read your blog post and I don’t agree simply because I don’t believe that sacrificing the freedom and lives of four million people for sixty one years is justified in the name of ‘Union of India’. May be it’s not yet time to simply grant independence to Kashmir, but it is definitely time to re-look at our Kashmir policies and the implications of such a prolonged war on the people of Kashmir. We need a plebiscite and more than that we need the courage to act according to the results of the plebiscite.

Balu said...

The reference to China was that you (and alike) can at least raise a voice in your blog.....

Kashmir has been under brutal military force only from the late 1980's when the insurgency started...

Tax payers money has gone drain in several ways... Spending on defense and guarding our borders are most important... else like what Russia did in Georgia and US in Iraq, one day the Chinese or others will just barge in...

Unfortunately the state govts haven't done enough and there are a lot more issues as you pointed that needs to be addressed....

I'm sure MF Hussain will struggle to return to India and according to constitution you cannot criticise the judges here as well :-(

Probably you and I do not know what it is to be like a statesman as India is much more a complex place to run ! Truth is bitter and we have to agree.

In the end we want everyone to live in harmony with due rights !