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How will demonetization strengthen hands of Indian poor?

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] I [/yt_dropcap] ndia is undergoing a serious and strange crisis where poor and common people continue to suffer because they were not taken into confidence by the government by providing them with source of sustenance. Indians do not trust the PM because he had already cheated on them by promising them huge money when the black money etc are recovered from abroad but he is silent about that and began a direct attack on the common people with igniting money cash crisis. Most ATM machines are not functioning and most ones have no money but the rich people have huge sums of money in new currency notes.

Apparently, Hindutva brands RSS and BJP sought to save Modi from any possible punishment in future owing murder of Muslims in the aftermath of the Gujarat riots to appease Hindus. Now the BJP, RSS, VHP and PM Modi are jointly working to save the Hindu criminals from any possible punishment for destroying in 1992 the historic Babri Mosque on 06 December , death anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar, author of Indian Constitution. (The choice of death date of Dr. Ambedkar December 06 for destroying the historic Babri Mosque cannot be just coincidental, considering the importance of choice of dates for India even in cricket matches and joint cricket matches like IPL and ISL, etc).

Hindutva leader Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is now at a crossroads as PM Modi’s demonetization drive has backed its fortunes in the polls in future. If only the rich or corporate lords alone vote to elect a government, BJP or any other party needs not worry about the common people but majority of voters belong to common class.

Corruption, black money and Modi

Indian corruption is a very complicated issue as many forces are at work but government fails to deal with it because it always helps and supports one section of “special” people and refuses to launch a multi-prolonged approach simultaneously to root out the menace. .

Entire system is rotten. But PM Mod ahs attacked the common people in order to ostensibly end corruption and black and fake money. And the government decision is final and even parliament cannot do anything about it. That is Indian democracy.

India’s pride lies in promoting corruption and financial lords in all fields and back and fake money is thriving even when a leading economist Manamohan Singh led the UPA government. . .

Corruption is closely linked with rise of black money and state support for the rich and corporate lords to mint money as much as they want. In fact the central and state governments promote corruption and black money through fake joint sports exercises like IPL, ISL etc (meant for well to do people and all destroying national teams) where blackmoney is being channelized and even made white. In fact, India, after honoring a cricketer Sachin, who made some 100s by official fixings for mutual help, was struggling at the crease for nearly 2 years for his last one hundred runs, with Bharatratna and allows him to make even football a fixed sport. His mafia works for the success of Kerala blastards team which he bought or his own Mumbai team and the teams that play against the Sachin teams help score goals and win. Delhi team helped Sachin team to even in first leg semifinal. With third rate players having been bought by him and other billionaires, India is making a mockery of football showing that not only cricket but football also can be fixed as per a plan.

These fake players are celebrities for Indian media and government.

That is the Indian mischief in the name of sports. But can anyone do anything about these bogus night games?

Indian PM Narendra Modi has been in the news and he and all Hindutva parties need it and love it. Modi said last week his decision to ban old Rs 500 and 1,000 notes was taken to strengthen the hands of the nation’s poor.

As CM of already relatively developed Gujarat state, Modi came to national scene on the eve of parliamentary poll with his own claims of “development of Gujarat”, to which he subsequently added the issue of corruption and blackmoney in the back ground of the famous Anna Hazare-Kejriwal led anti-corruption movement and he as PM candidate of BJP wooed the voters by telling them that they would get a few lacks of rupees every month once black money is recovered from foreign banks.

As his influence began waning, suddenly PM Modi turned anti-corruption crusader. Modi announced the demonetization drive as results of US president elections were coming out and Modi wanted to outsmart the winning Trump and USA in the media. A month into the demonetization drive, there cannot but be a sense of worry in government circles about the unchanging ground realities with no sign of the long queues before banks and ATMs shortening any time soon. There is no unanimity among opposition parties in their ranks about the course of action. A more effective opposition would have had a field day in pillorying Narendra Modi.

Addressing a farmers’ rally in his home state Gujarat in Deesa town of Banaskantha district, Modi said the honest people have been looted for 70 years and that he stands with the poor of the country. “We took the decision on currency notes to strengthen the hands of the poor of the nation,” said Modi without providing any hints about the scheme of making the poor rich. .

Terrorism, Pakistan and Islam were the key issues to political success of BJP and other Hindutva parties. Modi said that terrorism is promoted by black money and his fight was against terrorism and the menace gets power from fake currencies. “With our step on currency notes we have been successful in weakening the hands of terrorists and those in fake currency rackets,” he said.

Modi knows people of India are fed up with rampant corruption promoted by the ruling parties, especially the Congress but including his own BJP so far. But his demonetization drive doesn’t appear to promote the poor or common people, on the contrary they are facing deadly problems. Defending his decision of demonetization, Modi said: “Who is unhappy with corruption? Not those perpetrating corruption. it is the poor, the common citizens who are unhappy.” Modi said the “honest citizens of this country” have supported his move.

It is not surprising that the BJP is making a complete mockery of democracy by such nuisance.

Confidence or fear?

PM Modi has refused to attend the parliamentary session fearing criticism of his cash crisis project. If he is sure of what exactly he is doing now he could have attended the parliament and explained the government position by revealing the facts and his ideas for promoting the poor in the country. PM Modi is duty bound to tell the people what has been achieved so far and how exactly he wants to proceed further. He must also explain how the BJP has so much of money and why di d it withdraw money from banks on the eve of his night announcement about the demonetization. BJP leaders explain PM Modi doing all these to make India a developed nation – but how? Prices of essential commodities are going up and there is no hope that they will come down.

BJP government has said they are ready to debate but PM Modi avoids parliament and once as he came fearing loud noise, he walked out. In the past BJP had stormed parliament for years, walked out as a routine policy.

Modi said, “I am not being allowed to speak in Lok Sabha so I am speaking in the Jan Sabha Had asked for 50 days. You will see how things will change. This is a major step to rid the nation from corruption. Demonetization, Modi argues, has been done to help the poor. For how long can poor of India be told to pay for houses in cash? He talks about modernization. For how long will poor be asked- you want Pacca bill or Kaccha bill. Today your banks and wallets are in your mobile. This is how things have changed. I want to assure the people of the country that no one will be spared. Merely talking about the poor is different from working for the poor, something that the NDA government is always doing. Happenings in Parliament anguished our President, who has tremendous political experience We are not a selfish nation. We think about future generations.

Modi is fully aware of the fact the he and his party have lost the spot in the public domain as they do not trust them. He now knows for sure that he and his party won the parliamentary poll not because of his popularity but mainly because of popular anger and anguish among people over the corrupt Congress government. Anti-corruption movement created the necessary

Black money and fake notes are as catchy slogans as corruption and crimes. Modi is trying to use as many such slogans as they are appealing to people. Development, corruption, black money, flake currency, etc are Modi’s preferences while for RSS and other BJP leaders use Ghar wapsi, beef ban, mosque destruction, etc but all of them use these only for Hindu votes.

State elections due in a few more state assemblies and BJP wants to win as many seats as possible so that it could increase the seats in and get a majority in Rajya Sabha.

Fortunately for PM Modi, the ruling BJP, which had suffered hugely as a national party until it discovered Modi as the PM candidate, has no alternative to Modi and will have to obey him and help him execute his vote capturing agendas. It is moral boosting for Modi in the m name of a “great India” to resort even harder drives in future to target the common people of India.

While Mamata Banerjee wants a complete roll-back, others favour a Joint Parliamentary Committee to examine the crisis. Even if there is no certainty about how long the hardship of the ordinary people will continue, or whether their patience is inexhaustible, the nomination of Modi as Time magazine’s Person of the Year in an online poll was expected to be a morale-booster for the BJP but unfortunately, US president elect Donald Trump emerged the winner defeating Hillary Clinton even in that online poll.

Perhaps there are not many people who have retained their faith in him and expect him to ride out the present storm.

Waning Modi’s popularity

The central point of this transformation is the economic development which is Modi’s trump card. Although there is not much to write home at present about the growth trajectory — Manmohan Singh’s government did better in the early years of his tenure — what makes Modi stand out is his commitment to the cause. While his predecessor faltered in the last few years of his stint Modi focused on the market-oriented capitalist path. The demonetization has caused concern about a fall in the growth rate — the latest figure is 7.1, down from 7.6. Earlier governments were unwilling either to follow the capitalist path to help IMF and World bank with anti-poor policy or to crack down on black money because of the banking secrecy regulations and the fear of causing a flutter in the dovecotes of tainted politicians and bureaucrats, among others. The political consensus of parties not to disturb the status quo of allowing corruption as state policy. .

Seeking political mileage for BJP in the polls and improve ailing prestige, PM Modi, in contrast, has confronted the scourge of a parallel economy head-on notwithstanding the “monumental mismanagement” of the economy of which he has been accused by Manmohan Singh and Sen.

Notorious Reddy gang that steals natural resources in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh/Telengana as their right, are also caught by the authorities b for hiding huge cash and gold reserves but the issue would die down soon as these national frauds would be free, forgotten even in media as Indian military and intelligence divert attention to some cross border issue. Media can easily insult and defame Pakistan but cannot question Indian government about its false promises, especially on demonetization drive. Judiciary considering itself a part of government cannot question the government.

Modi and BJP presume that the ordinary people have been willing to undergo the severe inconvenience of standing in long queues because they believe that instead of mere promises as in the past, a firm step against black money is at last being taken. Nor is there an acceptance of the charge about the futility of the step considering that only six per cent of the black money is kept in cash.

The reason is the belief that the latest measure will tell the hoarders of hidden wealth that Modi seems serious about bringing them to book. Modi, therefore, can said to be in the process of passing the most arduous test of all by expecting the people to ignore their present difficulties because of their faith in him.

There is little doubt that demonetization has been a risky gamble for BJP and Modi where he has taken on a section of the opposition in the hope that his popularity will save him when the votes are counted.

Some people who somehow wants to see India a super power as early as possible to overtake China and challenge and Russia do support Modi who wants to be a hero of the media.

Observations

The chief outcome of the demonetization drive launched by Modi is that people spend very less and save a lot that could be used by the Modi government to put the money in global market to help the multinational corporations make more money. In the process, common people suffer while the rich face no problems as they get money as much as they require. Now black money is available in new 2000 currency notes.

There is no evidence to show that common people will benefit from the current cash crisis perpetrated by the government, making common people a beggar class standing in long queues to get their own money for their daily requirements while the rich and corporate lords get their required big cash- how? Corporate lords will certainly benefit. And BJP can eventually blame Pakistan and terrorism for failure of his cashless drive and media would support them. How come black money promotes terrorism when states are funding terror operations against other countries? Does state have black money?

Corruption and black money are being pampered at many levels and by many sources that share the booty. Poor and common people suffer.

Has Modi done anything for the poor in Gujarat where was the CM for many years?

When the Modi government has not yet begun targeting the mafias operating in every domain of the society with state backing and when the cricket match fixings have remained a state honor for the mafias, there is nothing that would make people believe what PM Modi says.

Ever since he assumed power by dethrone the Congress party’s Manmohan Singh’s government, PM Modi has been making strenuous efforts to be in the news and capture the attention of global media and governments and obviously he has achieved some success in that respect but he has put the nation and people in danger by his latest cashless monetary move, forcing the people to throng the banks and post offices like beggars. .

PM Modi’s usual rhetoric of promoting poor and common men has remained a fake stunt. Common people suffer more than ever before while the rich and corporate lords who fund the poll campaigns of both national parties continue to thrive, though a couple of them have been caught concealing illegal money. But how would this help the poor Is not clear though corruption harms the people at large.

Common people, the chief beneficiary of the demonetization attack by the Modi government’s decision to withdraw important currency notes without any prior caution, cannot be expected to buy the false promise of PM to make them strong by his demonetization gimmick.

PM Modi should now reveal his whole logic behind all this and how the poor and common would benefit direct from the drive.

Already the image of Modi as an elected leader has been waning as people do not see him s the tall leader he and his supporters claim to be worth trusting any more without seeing the results.

Modi must ask every political party to declare their assents, both movable and d immovable and state the sources from which they got the money. He must immediately ask his BJP to declare the assets and the funds it has along with the sources. Once party funds are accounted properly and made known to public, the level of corruption can be contained. People are fed up with piecemeal approach in containing and ending corruption by catching a few individuals and let them escape in due course by funding the ruling party.

Since the BJP is dreaming of making India super power, naturally poor will have to perish and only rich and corporate lords should shine. Developed nations just crush the common people and poor disappear.

Recovering all black money from the defaulters will not automatically make poor and common people rich or self reliance-only governmental action to upgrade them with money can.

Educated people could be fascinated by the slogans like removal of black money and corruption

Removal of black and fake money is a must. But will that alone make the poor happy?

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South Asia

Proxy War and the Line of Control in Kashmir

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Who has not heard of the Vale of Cashmere, with its roses the brightest that earth ever gave.Thomas Moore

The Backdrop

Kashmir has a way of arousing strong emotions, even among those like the Irish poet Thomas Moore, who never set foot on its soil. At the time of partition of British India, Kashmir was one of the largest princely states and like the rest of the princely states, it had the option of joining either of the two dominions of India and Pakistan or else declare independence. Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir had a similar choice to make but unable to take a stand he chose to sign a Standstill Agreement with Pakistan in order to buy time. India delayed signing such an agreement. It was following this agreement, that Pakistan with an eye on taking over Kashmir, started to act up and enforced a virtual economic blockade of this landlocked state, in a bid to force the Maharaja to accede to Pakistan (Singh, 1989).

The Maharaja desperate for supplies turned to India for help and matters soon took a turn for the worse, when Pashtun Tribals funded and equipped by Pakistan, invaded Kashmir, in October 1947(Haque, 2010). Facing imminent takeover of his state, Hari Singh again turned to India for help, but the Indian Government expressed its inability to intervene militarily in the absence of an Instrument of Accession. The Maharaja had dithered for too long to his detriment, he then signed the agreement and Indian troops were airlifted to the valley, immediately. The Indian Army successfully routed the tribal force,code named ‘Operation Gulmarg’,and it was the Pakistani Army which now took up the slack and stepped in continue the battle. 

With winter creeping in, fighting was resumed only in the spring of 1948. It was to be almost a year before a UN sponsored cease fire took effect in January 1949, and the cease fire line became the de facto border pending resolution of the dispute. In retrospect, the Pashtun invasion was in effect the first proxy war waged by Pakistan and the resulting cease fire line was to become the Line of Control in a later ‘avatar’. It is in the context of Kashmir that we shall examine the coming in to being of these twin concepts of ‘Line of Control’ and ‘Proxy War’ and see how they created and shaped the flow of events as they un folded, in the intervening decades. Also examined, will be the role of the two state actors in a bid to identify likely outcomes and possible course corrections.

Proxy War and Kashmir

Proxy wars cannot be understood, unless they are placed in the context of their existence and usage. For Pakistan, the benefit in this manner of engagement, lies not only in its deniability (for political reasons) but also because it minimises the chances that such a conflict could escalate into a full blown act of war (Byman, 2018).

 As an added corollary, there is the added incentive of reduced financial and human costs. Contextually, of even more significance, is the fact that India has military superiority which Pakistan would find hard to counter, if it were to engage in direct combat in a bid to annex Kashmir. Moreover, from a strategic point of view, when Pakistan plays the religion card for motivation, the results exceed expectations as it radicalises Islam in a Kashmir which originally subscribed to Sufi Islam. The incentive of ‘Azaadi’ is just a metaphor for annexation.

In Kashmir, there is a chain of causality, that began when, Major General Akbar Khan, a serving Pakistani Army officer, used Pashtun Tribals to stage an armed insurrection in Kashmir in October 1947 (Haque, THE KASHMIR CONFLICT: WHY IT DEFIES SOLUTION, 2010). The tribals in this operation were the first in a long list of non -state actors used by Pakistan in the relentless proxy war being waged, across the line of control, till today. Praveen Swami chooses to call this an “informal war” and rightfully says it has had a greater impact than both the 1947 and 1965 wars, as it set the stage for a seemingly endless engagement (Talbot, 2007).

Line of Control and Kashmir

In international parlance there was no such term like the line of control, until it was coined in 1972, when the Simla Accord was signed between India and Pakistan, after the post war (1971) negotiations between the two countries. The physical origins of the line of control, date back to the first Indo-Pak war in 1947, an invasion, gone wrong. Pakistan had committed this act of aggression, covert and overt, in spite of having signed a standstill agreement with the Maharaja of Kashmir, and for no identifiable reason except to further Jinnah’s interpretation of the Two Nation Theory. In spite of speculation about the exact timing of the signing of the Instrument of Accession by the Maharaja, the fact remains that Indian troops intervened with this accession instrument in place and the UN mediated a cease fire between the two countries and the cease fire line was formalised in a Karachi agreement signed in July 1949. Approximately one third of Kashmir was now with Pakistan and India had the balance two thirds. In the following years, there were three major wars with Pakistan and out of them it was the 1971 war which metamorphosed the cease fire line in to the Line of Control (LOC), as part of a larger political settlement. This line of control was in effect ‘cordon sanitaire’ based on military realities and political exigencies. Virtually unaffected by the wars of 1965 and 1999, the 742 km LOC still traverses majorly mountainous terrain with the Siachen Glacier as its end point. It has now been fenced over much of its length to discourage infiltration from Pakistan.

Proxy War and Line of Control

 In Juxtaposition

Regardless of nomenclature, with the war of 1947, the matters of proxy war and the line of control, became inextricably linked to the very existence of the countries of India and Pakistan. Just like the first war of 1947, Pakistan, unsuccessfully tried the proxy route again in 1965, with ‘Operation Gibraltar’ but the infiltrators could not garner local support and ‘conventional’ war broke out. The UN then negotiated a cease fire, and the Tashkent Agreement restored the sanctity of the 1949 cease fire line. In subsequent years, the 1971 war mutated the cease fire line, in to the LOC, and this war was more to do with the liberation of East Pakistan, anyway. Finally, it was Zia, who ultimately formalised this bid to “bleed India with a thousand cuts”(Katoch, 2013). The juggernaut he set rolling in 1988, never quite stopped and the Kargil war of 1999, was to see the pattern repeated, in terms of the use of non-state actors.

In the intervening years, since, only the ‘face’ of proxy war has changed and evolved, the heavily militarized LOC is a constant. To start with, in the eighties, it was the pro-independence JKLF with indigenous recruits, which held sway, only to be replaced by a pro-Pakistan, Hizbul-Mujahideen and later the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-Mohammed. Even now, the youth of Kashmir, is being radicalised and trained in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, for ‘Jihad’, but ‘terrorism fatigue’ is setting in. Militants are losing support of the local population, more and more, just as Pakistan uses its Afghan experience to use different nationalities as cannon fodder. Peace talks make no headway in this paradigm and there are no winners in this war, social and economic development is the casualty, damaged goods abound amongst the public and the security forces, alike.   

 In Search of a Settlement

Taking the time of partition as a point of reference, Pakistan was convinced in its mind that given geographical contiguity, and the fact that the state was predominantly Muslim, Kashmir should be its own. Clearly this was a political issue which Pakistan turned in to a military conflict. From thereon, Pakistan’s strategies ensured that the situation was turned in to a regional conflict with international dimensions. So much so Clinton referred to the LOC as the “most dangerous place in the world”(Popham, 2000). Playing its cards well, Pakistan turned a political stalemate in to a militaristic, socio-religious and political quagmire. With no noteworthy democratic institutions to speak of, Pakistan wants to liberate Kashmir, choosing to forget that accession was the instrument of choice when the princely states decided their fate at the time of partition. How was Kashmir’s choice being invalidated if this was so.

Today, the Kashmir Valley is a land transformed. From a paradise of untold natural beauty, it is a landscape of concertina wire fences and concrete bunkers. Its residents are in a state of siege, emotionally scarred, unable to cast off the twin yokes of militancy and counter-insurgency, with the military and militants lurking at every corner (literally). Brutality abounds. Opportunistic politicians, flawed elections, corrupt bureaucrats, a protecting force which behaves like an occupation force, are faces of this brutality that have been  unleashed on the people of Kashmir. This was not always so.

Clearly, somewhere along the way India lost her bearings. It failed to take in to account the aspirations of the people. Kashmirayat, was secular, but it was not taken seriously and it did not take much to ignite the flames of ‘Azaadi’ which almost engulfed the valley. The secular bond was broken with the forced migration of the Kashmiri Pundits out of the valley. Regardless of the prevailing political dispensation, over time, with the growth of militancy, repression was the dominant reaction and the ‘mailed fist’ gained precedence. Radicalised Islam began to replace Sufi Islam((RETD), 2018).  Fear and suspicion ruled the psyche of the people. The youth felt disenfranchised. India had fallen in to the trap of enforcing a siege instigated by Pakistan. Kashmiris felt betrayed. Article 370 which granted unprecedented autonomy, had been diluted until it was just symbolic, when it was abrogated in 2019, by a fiercely nationalistic government which had only just snapped ties with an electoral partner perceived as soft on separatists.

Coming back to the time of independence, Dionisio Anzilotti, former President of the Permanent Court of International Justice, says that Pakistan’s invasion in 1947 was “against all canons of international law” and “a clear violation of the Charter, the Security Council’s resolution of 17 January, 1948” (Pan, 1998).Just as interesting is the fact that, the accession document is deemed to be legal under international law even if it is signed under duress(Ayoob, 1967). As for the oft touted failure to institute a plebiscite, the UNSC resolution signed by both countries, clearly calls for first off withdrawal of Pakistani troops from Kashmir, with India keeping its forces at a minimum. Pakistan will never pull back and the stalemate therefore continues.

Clearly, there is an impasse and an impossibility for either side to blink. In Pakistan, the army cannot possibly abandon a conflict through which it exercises control over the body politic that sustains its economic, political and economic interests. It is almost as if, Kashmir is the very reason for the existence of the army and for the public of Pakistan, Kashmir’s liberation and annihilation of its bête noire, India, is the only national priority. Muhammad Shaffi Qureshi, a Kashmiri politician put it well when he said, that the Pakistan Army has “been feeding the tiger for a long time” for it to just walk away(Kifner, 2001). The danger in proxy warfare being that after a time proxies begin to “act according to their own interest and impulses”(Byman, ORDER FROM CHAOS Why engage in proxy war? A state’s perspective, 2018)(ibid).Pervez Musharraf and others have realized this truth much to their chagrin.

 India, too is riding its own tiger, as it is caught in a ‘low-level equilibrium trap ‘in terms of being, in a state of no war accompanied by no peace(Carciumaru, 2015). The fear being that any let up in military presence will escalate militancy. The abrogation of Article 370 and the division of the state of Jammu & Kashmir in to centrally administered divisions, has destabilized already vulnerable democratic processes, turning Kashmir in to a simmering cauldron. The current political dispensation at the centre is still going ahead andrapidly making changes in domicile laws, in a bid to alter the demographics of the region. Previous state governments had done this for different reasons when they allowed the settling of Rohingya refugees in Jammu and thereabouts, for obvious reasons. Admittedly, matters can take a serious turn from hereon, with resentment boiling over among the populace at large.

Attempting to deal with the abrogation of Article 370, Pakistan is consequently changing its strategy. A leaked policy document from the ‘Green Book 2020’,indicates that the proxy war will now move towards, a‘non kinetic domain’(Osborne, 2020).Cyber warfare and psychological warfare being  used to aid and abet a native uprising, so as to be able to defend Pakistan’s position on international forums. With a defensive and weakened Pakistan,   India, too must move differently and realize that it cannot have a decisive win against militancy, using brute force. With militancy, currently at an ebb, the time is in fact opportune to move towards a ‘negotiated settlement’ as the militants are politically discredited in a scenario where India has the moral high ground as it does not believe in building terror launch pads on its soil.  Its people of Kashmir are decidedly at an advantage economically, when compared to their ‘compatriots’ across the LOC and they have a ‘voice’, in a country where rule of law still prevails. Aberrations like the AFSPA, can surface in any dispensation, you don’t throw the baby with the bath water.

In Conclusion

Bashir Manzar wrote on twitter, “From Geelani to Farooq Abdullah, we have a luxury to say anything and everything against India, ridiculing it for rejecting our right of self-determination,independent Kashmir, autonomy, self-rule etc. But when Pakistan rejects all these things, we turn into non-speaking species. Are we more scared of Pakistan than India?”

Seven decades later, peace is still intractable in the Kashmir Valley.Violations across the line of control continue, by both sides and the proxy war initiated and sustained by Pakistan, has been a constant for long.Kashmir  is ina ‘mutually hurting-stalemate’(Carciumaru, Beyond the ‘Low-Level Equilibrium Trap’: Getting to a ‘Principled Negotiation’ of the Kashmir Conflict, 2015) (ibid).Perhaps, the most elegant solution to this imbroglio would be acceptance of the line of control as an international border with greater autonomy for Kashmir (as suggested by Farooq Abdullah)so that the people of Kashmir couldthen move on with their lives, which in a paradoxical manner seem to be in a state of suspended animation, as long as the conflict continues to play itself out. This is not utopian, all it needs is political will and some give and take(Sharma, 2017).

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Increasing Need for Global Cooperation and Solidarity- Interview with Dr. Tandi Dorji

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Covid-19 has invoked challenges worldwide that require us to formulate innovative solutions. Dr.Tandi Dorji , the foreign minister of Bhutan talks about the need to foster and increase transnational cooperation during these trying times.

Dr. Tandi Dorji has played a significant role in fostering Indo-Bhutan relations, and in the interview, he discussed future areas of collaboration, cultural understanding, and international engagement among the youth of the two countries. Having been a public health researcher before, Dr. Dorji reflects that the pandemic has rendered the population of Bhutan really vulnerable, and thinks that a challenge of such nature and scale can be surmounted only with global solidarity, cooperation and diligent efforts.

Some nations have a lot of financial, technical and human resources to tackle the pandemic, but others with weak public health systems and constrained by lack of resources cannot be sustained by sole efforts. There is a need to recognize this disparity and acknowledge that a weak link could jeopardize efforts aimed at global collaboration. Governments, health organizations, private sectors, scientists and researchers need to work with a common aim.

Countries that have research and financial capabilities need to come forward and support organizations like WHO that are responding to the current crisis through vaccine research. The collaborations in vaccine research need to be speeded up, and in order to make them more accessible and affordable for all countries, there needs to be a proper regulatory framework put in place.

This calls for a renewal in diplomatic efforts and increased funding programs by nations that already possess resources to tackle the crisis.

As someone who studied and lived in India for more than 15 years of his life, Dr. Dorji really appreciates the cultural richness and diversity present across states in India. He says that cultural understanding can play a very vital part in creating empathy within a population for the other side’s paradigm and mindsets. Being informed of a person’s or a culture’s peculiarities enables us to comprehend them better.

Cultural differences, according to him, have not prevented people from working together. Rather, the fact that different countries in the past have come together under the purview of common international frameworks has provided opportunities to different cultures to reach out to one another, and to understand as well as accept the differences among them.

Dr. Dorji also believes that the principles and values that construct out society play a crucial role in informing our education system, so the need of the hour is to collectively create an environment that would make the youth feel more involved and develop the ability in them to engage in constructive discussion and exercise other forms of proactive citizenship, including in the areas of foreign affairs and international relations.

From politics to economics to health, the world has become a lot more interconnected than before, and to succeed in this global age it is very important to instil in students the ability to think globally, communicate across cultures, and act on issues of global significance; and while school education could play a role by incorporating foreign affairs and international relations in the curriculum, to foster greater awareness and intercultural empathy among nations we would also need to enable young minds to understand how the foreign policy objectives constructed by a nation affects their daily lives and the society at large.

More exchange programs between the schools and colleges of India and Bhutan in the fields of sports, culture and science and more youth-focused programs is one way to enhance the probability of intercultural understanding.

Dr. Dorji also says that India being one of the largest economies of the world, and predicted to become the second largest by 2050, there is much scope for collaboration between India and Bhutan within sectors such as Science, technology, tourism, Information technology, space and satellites, and pharmaceuticals. Indian investments in such sectors could be explored in the near future.

His Majesty the King of Bhutan (Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk) has particularly stressed the importance of STEM in harnessing technological advances, which can only happen by investing in these subjects. Economies are progressing and the world is gradually becoming more digital, so the national labour market is also going to require skills with an added emphasis on technical abilities, and it is highly important that our children are prepared to participate in discoveries and technologies that would unfold in future. One of them is space, and although Bhutan lacks resources and is a small country, it is important for more Bhutanese young people to realise the value of, and take up space studies.

The government, as per Dr. Dorji, shall be ready to encourage and promote the same.

Dr. Tandi Dorji concluded by saying that he appreciates the strong cultural heritage of India and how the country has managed to preserve and promote it.

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Reimagining Pakistan Transforming a Dysfunctional Nuclear State- Book Review

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Pakistan:  A Lost Cause?

In his book, ‘Reimagining Pakistan’, Husain Haqqani discusses the origins of Pakistan as a state while laying bare the genesis of the state it has evolved into, ultimately culminating with his formula, for a reimagined Pakistan. As he rightly points out, Jinnah, when calling for a separate state of Pakistan, invoked religion as a way of giving a semblance of unity and solidity to his divided (by ethnicity, language, geography) Muslim constituents. Consequently, his demand for Pakistan was perforce “specifically ambiguous and imprecise” (p.7) (Jalal)so as to command general support. This base of religious nationalism also became the country’s foundation for successive governments.

Then, taking a look behind the scenes, Haqqani says, even as the new state of Pakistan, was formed disadvantageously, with no functioning capital city, government or financial resources, its ill prepared founders unlike their Congress counterparts had no plans for the smooth functioning of a new country. Even, the concept of a common Governor General with India was rejected and Jinnah became the first head of state thereby losing for Pakistan all advantages financial and otherwise of having a moderating influence of a common governor general. Delineating the chemistry of Pakistani politics since independence, Husain with absolute clarity tells us that almost from the beginning part of the state apparatus used religion and religious groups for political ends. This unleashed a rampaging genie of religious–political chaos from time to time with the army stepping in to return the rampaging genie to its proverbial bottle. In this context Haqqani tells us that it was Zia’s US backed “religious militancy” (p.100)in the form of jihad which Pakistan is dealing with till this day.

The author succinctly says Pakistan has thus become home to the world’s “angriest Muslims” (p.112), with successive civilian and military governments choosing to appease “dial-a-riot” (ibid)Islamist hardliners, rather than confronting them. Drawing upon Shuja Nawaz’s telling comment that “Pakistan’s history is one of conflict between an under developed political system and a well – organized army”(Nawaz), Husain invokes this argument to point to consistent authoritarianism in the history of Pakistan when he refers to its four key military dictators.

The author also invokes Bengali leader Suharwardy’s prophetic commentary on possible economic chaos in Pakistan, wherein he had warned that there would be no commerce, business or trade if Pakistan were to keep “raising the bogey of attacks” (p.58), and engage in constant “friction with India” (ibid). Husain in his book, ‘India vs Pakistan – Why can’t we just be Friends’ talks of this pathological obsession with India and the consequent pressure points in their relationship. Ignoring, Jinnah’s vision of two countries, with porous borders, “like the United States and Canada” (Jinnah, p.58).Unfortunately, with policy making playing second fiddle to national pride and morale, the narrative in Pakistan has become that of a victim not only of conspiratorial enemies but also an army which expands the magnitude of threats to match its size.

Hence, as the author points out most Pakistani leaders, except Ayub Khan have shown little interest in economic matters. Ignoring fundamentals of economics, aid gathered internationally by Pakistan as rentier to the western world, was frittered away in building military capacity just as it sank ever lower in terms of human development indices. With the culture being one of extolling the “warrior nation” (p.62) over the “trader nation” (ibid), Pakistan then fell into a state of “ideological dysfunction” (p.63). Like Husain says, Justice Munir of the Munir Commission in 1953 was prescient when he said that, “you can persuade the masses to believe that something they are asked to do is religiously right or enjoined by religion, you can set them to any course of action, regardless of all considerations discipline, loyalty, decency, morality or civic sense”(p.83). The author quickly links this up to “Islamist Rage” (p.96), with jihad as a panacea for all the ills that befell the nation. Before long, the self-proclaimed Pakistani upholders of the honour of Islam and its prophet re-wrote their history with falsehoods to fit a fictional narrative born from an inherent insecurity which even acquisition of nuclear weapons could not assuage.

Ultimately, in his quest to offer a roadmap for a reimagined Pakistan, the most telling suggestion that comes from Haqqani is his exhortation that Pakistan should embrace its “multi-ethnic” (p.274) and “multi lingual reality” (ibid)just like Belgium did many years back and forever rid itself of the spectre of disintegration. He would thus, like his country to draw away from its focus on survival and resilience, a concept partially imparted by its military moorings and truly reimagine itself as a non- confessional state where the “individual can be pious and the society can be religious”(p.120). Going further, to him Pakistan has to have a national identity other than its self -obsessive and ever draining competition with India and not forever depend on God alone to ensure its survival.

Thus, wanting Pakistan to stop its “march of folly”(Tuchman), by creating a national identity which bypasses the nexus between power and bigotry, quoting Ayesha Jalal he talks of the damaging lack of territorial nationalism in the definition of Pakistan as an Islamic State. In this context he traces the breaking away of East Pakistan and possible future disintegration of Pakistan along ethnic lines just as it happened in say, Russia. Undeniably, Haqqani exhibits great courage when he says that if Pakistan has to have a future different from its past, it must identify the various confabulations of its leaders so as to not fulfill Barbara Tuchman’s “march of folly”, due to “governmental folly and obstinacy” (p.244).

All this notwithstanding, in this book Husain has laid bare the origins and development of Pakistan, in to what it is today. As an expert on radical Islamic movements, he traces the stranglehold that the jihadists and Islamic movements have on the state players and also tells us that it is the army which acts as a check and balance whatever else the other negatives might be in allowing the army to play such a pivotal role in the formation of the Pakistan nation and creation of jihadist movements. Quoting extensively from primary and secondary sources, he shows the proverbial mirror to the collective psyche of his nation. Jinnah’s speeches and Munir Commission’s findings are excellent primary sources in this regard, while among others Ayesha Jalal and Shuja Nawaz add credibility and meaningful insights to Husain’s process of reasoning. At the same time research and data is indeed exhaustive and the research team not lacking in extending support to his rubric, while Haqqani himself does not draw away from some uncomfortable truths that Pakistan must face. Even though, Husain has done a remarkable and honest job in analysing the dysfunctional aspects of the state of Pakistan, where the book lacks is that though the title suggests we are going to read about a roadmap to reimagine Pakistan, the emphasis is more on how the state was formed, its ideological moorings, and the role of the various players as it evolved over time. The suggestions for reimagining obviously need more reimagining as the suggestions provided by the author are not in the form of a coherent roadmap and his suggestions are few and far between besides being scattered randomly at times, through the course of the book. Also, to my mind, the author does not face the real tough questions as to how the cat (army) is to be belled, the monolithic behemoth that it has become. Over here, G Parthasarthy’s comment, “Every country has an army but in Pakistan, an army has a country”(G.Parthasarthy), comes to mind, something which its leaders would do well to remember. Besides this Husain does not seem to hold the western powers to account as they were probably just as much to blame for the current state of affairs when they played the renewed “great game”(Hopkirk)in this part of the world. From his unique perspective as an advisor to four ex-prime-ministers and the ambassadorship to U.S.A at a time when there was a global war on terrorism(Haqqani, Hudson Institute ), Haqqani should have dwelt as much on reimagining as he did on cautioning his homeland from its precipitous “march to folly” (p.264)(.Tuchman). Perhaps a second volume could take up this slack wherein the excellent foundational analysis of the state of Pakistan is the launch pad for a futuristic road map for reimagining.

Reimagining Pakistan Transforming a Dysfunctional Nuclear State by Husain Haqqani, Harper Collins ,2018

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