Pakistan came into being on August 14, 1947, despite incessant opposition by Indian National Congress and her allies. At its birth Pakistan was faced with apparently insurmountable problems. The immediate worries were rehabilitation of millions of refugees and restoration of industrial and agricultural infra-structure. The national exchequer was empty. India refused to transfer Pakistan’s share in financial.
Pakistan overcame insurmountable problems of influx of 1947 refugees, skimpy finances and myriad other problems to emerge as a viable entity. We welcomed refugees, while India is all set to drive out 4.7 million Rohingya refugees from its eastern state of Assam.
Fanatic Hindus in Indian National Congress thought that Pakistan would, at best, be a still-born baby. But, Pakistan was able to survive all hurdles. It proved its viability despite severe politico-economic jolts.
Despite lapse of over 70 years, India still has to reconcile with Pakistan, as a reality.
When Jinnah left India on August 7, 1947, Vallabhai Patel said, ‘The poison had been removed from the body of India’. But, the Quaid said, ‘The past has been buried and let us start afresh as two independent sovereign States’.
Even Nehru, an outwardly liberal leader, regarded creation of Pakistan as a blunder. His rancour against Pakistan reached crescendo in his remarks ‘I shall not have that carbuncle on my back’. These remarks have been quoted by D. H. Bhutani in his book, The Future of Pakistan (page 14).
Nehru’s followers continued their anti-Pakistan efforts in the post-Partition period.
Liberal Jinnah versus Hardliner India
Rashtryaya Swayem Sevak Sangh (RSS) is the religious wing of ruling political party Bharatya Janata Party. It exploits issue of beef eating by minorities. India however is the biggest exporter of beef (through Dua Corporation). Yet, mobs of Hindu vigilantes (gau raksshik, cow guards) lynch beef eaters. They worship cow-urine (gau mooter) and cow dung (gau gobre). RSS is increasing its influence and outreach to the world.
Rashtryaya Swayem Sevak Sangh (BJP’s militant wing) held a conclave (Sep. 16-18, 2018) in New Delhi. It was attended by over a thousand intellectuals from all walks of life. Change in RSS’s outlook is understandable. It has grown phenomenally during the past five decades. Its swayamsewaks now hold the top four constitutional posts of India’s president, vice president, prime Minister and Lok Sabha (house of people) speaker. They occupy 20 Raj Bhawans. Eighteen of them are chief ministers. Half the Union Cabinet comprises RSS members. The political initiation of over 1,000 members of legislative assemblies and 250 members of parliament has been through the RSS. About a million
Indians daily attend over 55,000 shakhas (lectures) across the country. Its 500-odd frontal organizations manage colleges, schools, media, hospitals, and tribal and Dalit non-governmental organisations. Ten thousand full-time pracharaks (preachers) are active in politics, culture and
Various think tanks at home and abroad.
`Liberals; were stunned when chief minister Yogi Adityanath of India’s Uttar Pradesh state equated cows with human beings (Tribune , July 25, 2018). They expressed similar reaction when Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma of Rajasthan High Court told reporters (May 31, 2018) `All doctors are frauds and we could have all been cured of diseases with nothing more than cow’s milk.’ He `urged the Centre to declare cow as India’s national animal and recommended life imprisonment for cow slaughter’. Scientists must have smiled at his assertion that `cow inhales and exhales oxygen’, and `a peacock is a lifelong celibate like Krishna’.
At the conclave a Muslim wing of the RSS distributed a pamphlet echoing Sharma’s sentiments. The RSS’s rising influence among all strata of Indian society cannot be ignored. Huffington Post dated August 3, 2017 published a detailed report on benefits of cow-and-dung recipes like: (a) A cow-dung-and-urine beauty soap could stall ageing. Krishna looked like a 12 year old as he used such soap. (b) Cow dung and urine (gao mutra and gau gober) could prevent radiation when used to construct a bunker or rubbed on a mobile phone. This compound can defuse even an atomic bomb. (c) Pregnant women should have cow dung-urine derivatives for normal delivery.
India’s prestigious `Institute of Technology has received about 50 proposals from top research institutions across the country to explore benefits of panchgavya (mixture of cow urine, cow dung, milk, ghee and curd). India’s Union Ministry of Science and Technology has constituted a 19-member panel to conduct a detailed research on cow derivatives and their benefits.
The portents are that the RSS would have a critical role in influencing 2019 general elections.
Rising Hindutva influence does not portend well for minorities in India, otherwise a constitunally `secular’ republic.
On December 6, 1992, Hindu fanatics demolished Babri masjid. There is no evidence about Babur constructing a mosque in Ayodhya after demolishing a Ramjanmabhoomi temple. All sources are mute, be it Babur’s memoir Baburnama, Humayunnama by Babur’s daughter Gulbadan Begum, Abul Fazal’s Ain-i-Akbari or Tuzk-e-Jahangiri. The first reference to Babri appears in a travel account by Jesuit priest Joseph Tiefenthaler in 1768. The inscriptions, inside the mosque, often quoted in books on Ayodhya or Babur, were fake. They were fixed in the mosque 280 years after its supposed construction in 1528.
Babur did visit Gwalior temples. But, neither he, nor his commander Mir Baqi (distinct from Baqi on masjid inscriptions), ever visited Ayodhia. Mir Baqi of the Baburnama was never governor of Ayodhya.
The dispute is about property. The claim that god (Ram) was born there is fictitious. Indian Court ignored the fact that the Muslims have been in current possession of the disputed site since times immemorial. No claim by Hindus during Moghal or British raj? Shankaracharya’s Nyas originally owned only one acre of land, the rest of the land (additional 42 acres of so-called undisputed land) was given to it on lease by Kalyan Singh government in 1992 to develop a Ram Katha Kunj (park).
Threat of anti-minority riots
When Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi demanded a nation-wide ban on cow slaughter (Hindu, November 21, 2005). His demand was bolstered by India’s Supreme Court’s judgment (October 26, 2005) that reversed a 36-year-old ruling, and upheld the constitutional validity of a Gujarat law imposing the ban on slaughtering of bulls, and bullocks.
The fanatics often exploit issue of beef eating to kill minorities. There were anti-Muslim riots in 1707 and 1714, after the death of Moghul emperor Aurangzeb. More anti-Muslim riots took place in Kashmir (1719), Delhi (1729), and Bombay (1786). In Benares (1809), bloody anti-Muslim riots were due to a mosque allegedly having been built by Aurangzeb atop a temple (quasi-Babri-Masjid issue). When the Muslim functionaries were unfairly downgraded, riots took place at different places in Uttar Pradesh (Koil 1820, Moradabad 1833, Shahjahanpur 1837, and Alahabad 1837-52).
The riots in the 1990s were due to Advani’s Rath Yatra (chariot procession), resulting in death of over 200 people mostly Muslims. In January 1993, over 3000 Muslims were killed in Bombay by Shiv Sena in collusion with the police.
Efforts have been made in the past to ferret out causes of communal riots in India. Past inquiry reports into major riots (Delhi 1984, Bhagalpur 1989 and Ayodhya 1992) lament poor governance in preventing or controlling the riots, and prosecuting the rioters. Those having academic interest in details may refer to analysis by V. N. Rai, N. C. Saxena, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch/Asia, besides reports of the Commissions of Inquiry into Disturbance at Bhiwandi (1970), Tellicherry (1971), and Jamshedpur (1979). For further insights, one may look into reports of seminars, titled “State Protected Lawlessness from Ayodhya to Bombay” and Communal Riots and the Role of Law Enforcement Agencies”, convened at Bombay by Iqbal A. Ansari and Dr Asghar Ali (founder secretary general of Minorities’ Council of India).
It appears that the past studies are post-mortem reports. They do not try to determine statistical correlation between cause (economic, political or communal), issues and places of riots to formulate a testable hypothesis about probable causes and venues of riots in future. Lack of futuristic orientation or reliable data may have been fetters to the researchers’ feet.
In the past, fanatic Hindus has started riots to snatch or destroy well-to-do Muslims’ properties. The economic motive behind starting the riots is the foremost in Hindus’ minds. Let us look into the past trend of riots, and the issues on which they were started.
Hindutva. Anti-Muslim violence in India has risen pari passu with upsurge in Hindutva. The leading politicians side with the Hindu extremists for myopic electoral gains. Even Congress leaders have been distributing tridents on plea that their party’s policy is no bar on it. In 1991, India’s thent home minister undertook Rath Yatra (chariot journey) from a Hindu temple in Gujarat to Ram Janam Bhoomi (birth place of Hindu god Ram). That symbolic journey engendered Hindutva upsurge, which resulted in destruction of Babri Masjid in 1992. Subsequently, the BJP, then a marginal group with only two seats in Indian parliament witnessed the party’s cataclysmic rise into a ruling party, as of now.
Hindutva influence has permeated not only into the bureaucracy but also in armed forces, security agencies as also the judiciary. Hindutva influence on Indian armed forces became manifest in the national elections of 1991 when India’s top 25 ex-military officers joined the BJP. Stephen P Cohen in “The Indian Army” says that India’s three wars with Pakistan contributed to the communalisation of her armed forces, as exemplified by an Indian general’s characterisation of Indo-Pakistan wars as ‘communal riots with armour’. In the 1990s, India’s top 25 generals joined the BJP.
To preclude police brutality who acts in unison with mobsters, Khushwant Singh suggested in 1969 drafting a substantial number of Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Anglo-Indians and Parsis into the Indian police forces. Police force of Punjab and Haryana should be non-Sikh, and that of Kashmir being non-Muslim, so on.
Battle cries used in the army are Ha Har Maahadev (Shivaji’s slogan), Bajrang Bali ki Jai, Bol Javala Man ki Jai. Hindu mobs attacking the Muslims also use the same slogans. How could the army jawans control the mob chanting the same slogans?
The Ayodhya case judges ordered excavation of the site in disregard of res judicata principles. Possession is nine-point ownership. Existence of Babri Masjid for centuries debars the Hindus from invoking their right to ownership of the site under Limitation Act, enshrining the principle `equity helps the vigilant, not the indolent’.
Professor M. Mohanty of Delhi University is of the view that”Increasing intolerance among the Hindu fundamentalist organisations, which pose a grave threat to democracy, are an indication of the rise of fascist forces in India. Professor Kanti Bajpai of Jawaharlal Nehru University agreed, “The rise of right –wing politics in India is far more advanced and violent than in Austria”.
The Economist: World in 2003 (page 77) states, ‘…nothing so pleases as burning of a few Muslims, the prospects of war with Pakistan and revenge for Muslim invasion of India many centuries ago’.
Gujarat state has lifted the ban on government employees’ becoming members of RSS. Uttar Pradesh state’s legislature has placed restrictions on building and use of places of worship. After approval of the parliamentary committee, Savarkar’s portrait has been hung in Indian parliament. Savarkar thus stands resurrected as a hero of the freedom movement. Savarkar wanted India for the Hindus only.
The riots in the 1990s (e.g. destruction of Babri Masjid in 1992) are markedly different from those in pre-1990s period (e.g., 1948 Hyderabad riots against takeover by India). The pre-1990s pogroms affected mainly slum-dwelling poor Muslims. But, the riots in 1990s hit poor and rich Muslims alike. The stimulating motive was to pauperize the affluent Muslims by looting away their life-long earnings. The affluent and influential Hindus no longer tried to play the role of mediators (unlike the case of previous riots in some industrial cities).
In the Hyderabad riots of 1990, Indian cricketer Azharuddin was attacked in his hometown. During January 1993, Mrs Rahi Masum Raza, wife of script-writer of TV-series Mahabharata fled uptown Bombay for refuge in Bhendi Bazar. In 1991, Muslim professors of Delhi University ran away from their houses to seek safety elsewhere. There are countless other instances of harassment of Muslim prodigies like Dilip Kumar, Saira Bano, Shabana Azmi, Farah Khan, and Ali Sardar Jaafri (poet with Padma Shri award) who was asked by the police to prove his nationality.
From the recent trends, it is obvious that future riots are more likely to take place in localities where the Muslims are economically competitive and affluent. Muslim-owned industrial and business establishments will be the targets.
In fact, Nehru had foreseen this changing pattern of riots, as reflected in his letter September, 1954 to a chief minister (Nehru’s letters to Chief Ministers, Vol. IV, edited by G Parthasarthy, New Delhi Oxford University Press, Delhi). He wrote: “There is also a new motive which previous to the partition was not present. This is the lure of property. In the pre-partition days, whatever communal trouble took place, no one ever thought of driving out the other party from their houses or shops. No one ever thought of profiting by any such action. Now this element has come in and is thought that if the Muslims in a particular area are frightened and made to leave, that property would naturally come to the Hindus”.
Nehru’s observation is borne out by Jabalpur riots in 1961 which aimed at hounding out the Muslim bidi (mini-cigarette) magnate from the local market. Bhiwandi (Maharashtra) riots of 1970 and 1984 were aimed at dispossessing the Muslim of their control of power loom industry. Moradabad riots of 1980 were outcome of jealousy against prosperity of Muslim brassware artisans. Riots of 1984 in Andhra Pradesh destroyed $ 10000 worth of Muslim businesses.
Riots usually take place in urban areas, particularly in industrial cities, like Bombay, Bhewandi, Baroda, Surat , Kanpur, Moradabad, Meerut, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Bhopal. Refugee or Bengali migrants dominated areas are particularly riot prone.
They occur usually at places where Muslims are numerically and economically competitive and do not reconcile with an inferior status. No riots take place in areas with thin downtrodden Muslim population, resigned to subjugated fate because of perceived vulnerability, e.g. in coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh, or in the hill districts of Uttar Pradesh.
Issues Triggering Riots. Cow slaughter (actually, if not politicized, it is a non-issue). Hindu extremists desire to enforce a uniform civil code ostensible under Articles 44 and 48 of the Indian Constitution, but actually in violation of Articles 14 (no religious discrimination), 16 (equal opportunities for minorities), 26 to 28 (minorities freedom to manage their own religious affairs), 30 (maintaining minorities educational institutions), 345, 347, 350, 350-A (rights of linguistic minorities). Loud music and Bhajan singing before mosques. Non-traditional routes of processions. Reservation of jobs, and seats in educational institutions. Elopement of Hindu girls with Muslim boys. Characterisation of one by the other community as Malichh and Kafir. Routes of Religious processions. Conversions from one religion to another. Singing or playing Vande Matram aloud before mosques. The de facto status of Urdu especially in Uttar Pradesh. Muslim Personal Law and Uniform Civil Code. Suspicions about Muslims loyalty to India. One could visualise from the past trends where the future riots would take place, and on what issues.
Joint Indo-Pak defence
He hoped India and Pakistan would live in peace after Partition. In his Will and Testament
He bequeathed a part of his fortune to educational institutions in Aligarh, Bombay and Delhi. He never changed his will as he hoped to visit India again.
Lord Ismay, Chief of Staff to the Viceroy recorded an interview with the Quaid. Excerpt: ‘Mr. Jinnah said with the greatest earnestness that once Partition has been decided upon, everyone would know exactly all troubles would cease, and they would live happily ever after where they were’.
Ayesha Jalal in his paper Why Jinnah Matters (Meleeha Lodhi, edited papers, `Pakistan: Beyond the Crisis State, pp. 33-34 ) recalls `Just before his own death, Jinnah proposed a joint defence with India as the Cold War started to shape the world and the two power blocs began to form. Jinnah was still thinking as a South Asian nationalist. … Had Jinnah’s vision prevailed _and found an echo in India, we would have seen a very different South Asia. ..there would have been no crippling defence expenditures. There would have been no reason to join one or other camp of the Cold War. There would have been open borders, free trade and regular visiting between the two countries…. a more humane sub-continent might have emerged … In 1971, when Pakistan was broken in two, its critics jubilantly cried, `Jinnah’s Pakistan is dead’. They were wrong. Jinnah’s Pakistan will be alive as long as …’.
Evolution of Pakistan idea
Lahore Resolution to Pakistan resolution
How the Lahore resolution, as it was called on March 23, 1940, became the Pakistan Resolution? The original resolution of 1940 mentions states, not one state of Pakistan. But, Congress party’s criticism, as also Gandhi’s virulently critical letters to the Quaid, forced the Muslim nation to convert the Lahore resolution into Pakistan resolution. The resolution passed on April 19, 1946 at the Delhi convention, clarified doubts about the word ‘states’ in original Lahore Resolution. It stated, “The zone comprising Bengal and Assam in the North-East and the Punjab, Frontier Province, Sindh and Baluchistan in the north-west of India, namely Pakistan Zones, where Muslims are in a dominant majority, be constituted into a sovereign independent State and an unequivocal understanding be given to implement the establishment of Pakistan without delay? True, the Pakistan resolution was not over-night exploit of a single figure.
It was Allama lqbal who convinced the Quaid of the futility of the idea of continued Hindu-Muslim amity. On June 21, 1937, Allama Iqbal wrote to the Quaid, “In these circumstances, it is obvious that the only way to a peaceful India is a redistribution of the country on the lines of racial, religious and linguistic affinities.” The Muslim leaders only wanted that after departure of the British rulers, The rights of Muslims ‘community’ should not be usurped by the brutal Hindu majority. On March 2, 1941, the Quaid said, “It is as clear as daylight that we are not a minority. We are a nation and nation must have a territory. A nation does not live in the air. It lives on the land and it must govern land’.
The Quaid said at Minto Park on March 22, 1940, “Musalmans are not a minority as it is generally understood. Musalmans are a nation according to any definition of a nation and they must have their homelands, their territory and their state’. On October 27, 1945, the Quaid said at Ahmedabad, “Pakistan is the question of life and death for us. I shall live and die for Pakistan.” “The moon of Pakistan is shining and we shall reach it” (Dawn, October 28, 1945). “We must get Pakistan at any cost. For it we live and for it we will die.” (November 24, 1945, Mardan). “Without Pakistan, there is only death for Muslims.” (February 24, 1946, Calcutta).Creation of Pakistan is a miracle. Hindus’ paranoid hatred converted the Lahore resolution into the Pakistan resolution.n Pakistan Day: What was Jinnah’s idea of independent state for S. Asian Muslims?
Members of the Muslim League were told they could not hope to share power with the Congress unless they submitted to its discipline and became its stooges. There was naturally a rapid, revolutionary change in the outlook of the Muslim League. In 1938, under Mr. Jinnah’s leadership, it formally repudiated the federal scheme of the Government of India Act 1935, and began to consider other constitutional possibilities. In 1939 it declared that Muslim India was ‘irrevocably opposed’ to any federal objective; and in March 1940 was passed at Lahore a resolution, demanding the partition of India and the formation of the Muslim majority zones of the north-west and north-east into an independent sovereign state. Thus, ostensibly, the Muslim League, under Mr. Jinnah’s leadership, had accepted as its goal the chimerical, impracticable scheme of students led by Ch. Rehmat Ali, which the League spokesman had disliked a few years earlier.
The Lahore Resolution was interpreted differently by advocates of Pakistan, but the fact is Pakistan was to be a completely independent sovereign (federal) state. It came into being on 14 August, 1947, with Mr. Jinnah as its first Governor-General and the first president of its Constituent Assembly. The first observation he made in the Assembly was: “You will, no doubt, agree with me that the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious belief of its subjects are fully protected by the state…I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal, and you’ll find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that’s the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the state…You’re free to go to your temples, you’re free to go to your mosques or to any place of worship, you may belong to any religion or caste or creed—that has nothing to do with business of the state…If we want to make this great state of Pakistan happy and prosperous we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, especially of the masses and the poor.”
It was culmination of the series of event; and movements that converged into the idea of Pakistan: Muhammad bin Qasim established the first Muslim state in the Sub-Continent in 712-715 AD. Shahab-ud-Din Ghouri wrote to Prithvi Raj in 1192 AD that the latter should cede the MusIim-majority areas of the Punjab, NWFP and Sindh to him or be prepared for a war at Tarain battlefield (page 101, tareekh-e-farishta). After Qasim, Qutub-ud-Din Aibak and the Moghul established their rule in India. There were 76 Muslim rulers who ruled over India for about 690 years. Since early 1870s, there were several movements, which asserted ‘Muslim nationhood’. They covered a broad spectrum of Muslim religious, educational, cultural and political life Aligarh Movement (1870s), the Mohammedan Educational Conference, the Urdu Defence Association (1900), the demand for separate electorates, the foundation of the Muslim League, the Muslim university movement (1910), the pan-Islamic movements beginning with Italy’s raid on Tripoli (1911) and ending with the Khilafat movement (1918-24), and the Kanpur Mosque agitation (1913).
From Sir Syed Ahmed Khan to the Quaid-i-Azam, all the Muslim leaders kept striving for Hindu-Muslim amity. The Quaid began his political career by attending Congress meeting, for the first time on July 28, 1904, Thereafter he struggled for about three decades for the rights of Muslim whom he regarded as a ‘minority’, rather than a nation.
Towards the end of 1930, Allama lqbal used the word ‘community’ for the Muslim population in his address at Allahabad. It was only Chaudhry Rehmat Ali, who used the word ‘nation’ for Muslims in his pamphlet ‘Now or Never (1932)’. Intolerance of Hindus forced Muslims to realise that their rights would be trampled under Hindu Raj. Lucknow Pact (1916) was acknowledged as pillar of Hindu-Muslim friendship. However, Nehru, at the behest of the fanatic Hindus, shattered the spirit of peaceful coexistence by formulating his Nehru Report (1928).
Jaswant Singh had, in his book, Jinnah: India, Partition, and Independence made the revelation that Jinnah shelved the idea of independent Pakistan by putting his signatures to the Cabinet Mission’s recommendations. The Quaid even accepted the recommendations of the Cabinet Mission. This Mission envisaged keeping India undivided for ten years. The constituent assemblies were to consider the question of division after 10 years. When Congress refused to accept the recommendations of the Cabinet Mission, the British government decided to divide India.
Jinnah’s state of mind is reflected in Shorish Kashmiri’s revelation on page 509 of his book bu-e-gul nala-e-dil dud-e-charagh-e-mahfil (Matbuat-e-Chatan, 1988, Lahore). He quotes the Quaid having said `What is Muslim League? I, and my typewriter’. At another place Shorish quotes Quaid as having said `meri thaili main saarey sikkey khotey hain’ (all the coins in my pouch are base).
A democracy, not a theocracy
Doubtless, the Quaid visualised Pakistan to be a democracy, not a theocracy. In a broadcast addressed to the people of the USA (February 1948), he said, ‘In any case Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic State to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have many non-Muslims _Hindus, Christians, and Parsees _ but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizen and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan’ (Maleeha Lodhi (ed.), Pakistan: Beyond the Crisis State) When an over-ebullient admirer addressed him as `Maulana Jinnah’, he snubbed him. Jinnah retorted, ‘I am not a Maulana, just plain Mr. Jinnah’. About minorities, the Quaid often reminded Muslim zealots ‘Our own history and our and our Prophet(PBUH) have given the clearest proof that non-Muslims have been treated not only justly and fairly but generously. He added, ‘I am going to constitute myself the Protector-general of the Hindu minority in Pakistan’. He joined Christmas celebrations in December 1947 as a guest. In his first seven-member Cabinet, he included a Hindu.
Till his last breath, the Quaid remained an ardent supporter of rights of minorities as equal citizens of Pakistan. Our ministers and other dignitaries shun rituals and customs of minorities. But, the Quaid participated in Christmas celebrations in December 1947 as a guest of the Christian community. He declared: ‘I am going to constitute myself the Protector General of Hindu minority in Pakistan’.
One member of his post-partition cabinet was a Hindu. A Jewish scholar, Mohammad Asad, who embraced Islam, held important positions in post-partition period in Pakistan. Many ‘religious’ scholars copy from his works copiously.
Majority of Pakistanis wish to see Pakistan emerge as a moderate economically viable power. Their attitudes mirror-image the Quaid’s vision. He wanted Pakistan to be a liberal and democratic Muslim state, not a theocracy, plagued by sectarian violence. The following extracts from the Quaid’s speeches and statements as Governor General of Pakistan reflect his vision: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques, or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan…you may belong to any religion, caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State…We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed or another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of the one State”.
The Quaid visualised that `in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State”. A. K. Brohi, in his The Fundamental Law of Pakistan, argues that Pakistan is an Islamic state, but not a theocracy.
Jinnah’s address to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947, also, epitomises his vision.
The 1954 Justice Munir Kayani Commission ‘Report on the Anti-Ahmedi Riots of Punjab in 1953’, inter alia, elucidates Jinnah’s vision of an Islamic State. The Munir report makes a poignant observation. “Most important of the parties who are clamouring for enforcement of the three (anti-Ahmedi) demands on religious grounds, were all against the idea of an Islamic state. Even Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi of Jama’at-i-Islamic was of the view that the form of government in the new Muslim state, if it ever came into existence, could only be secular. Everybody … agreed that Ahrar was a subversive force.” The report concludes: “…if Ahrar had been treated as a law and order question without any political considerations, one District Magistrate and one Superintendent of Police could have dealt with them.”
We mix religion with politics at various levels and forums. Our Constitution has a long list of Islamic rights. But they are circumscribed the proviso that they are not enforceable through courts. Our law of evidence lays down conditions to qualify as a competent witness. But, a proviso makes any witness acceptable if a competent one is not available.
Islam protects the rights of people from all walks of life, weak and strong, including parents, children, relatives of the poor, spouses, minorities, and prisoners. For instance, Islam gives: right to protect life (Quran 17:33), to protect own and others’ properties (2:188), to protect female modesty (4:24), privacy, own and others’ (24:27), one’s faith, even if it be other than Islam (2:256, 6:109), right of expression (29:46, 4:148), of holding function (3:104), to oppose corruption (5:33), receive education (2:129), justice (2:129), and equality (49:13).
Likewise Islam outlines duties of its followers like the duty to follow the instruction (4:59), abide by the law (7:85, 2:229), maintain peace (25:63), protect life (15:32), to follow persons (2:83), obey parents (17:23-24 31:14), duty to be fair in dealings (55:9, 4:10).
He believed in Islamic principles and democracy and advocated the cause of Pakistan and its masses. The use of the Islamic idiom was not limited to confrontational situations involving India but extended to domestic reconstruction policy. Thus, on February 4, 1948, he told a Sibi audience that he, in wanting to give Balochs a voice in the administration of their province, had been moved by his commitment to the Islamic principles of democracy.
God had taught Muslims that they should settle the affairs of the state through mutual discussion and consultation. “It is my belief that our salvation lies in solving the golden rules of conduct set for us by our great law giver, the Prophet of Islam. Let’s lay the foundations of our democracy on the basis of truly Islamic ideal and principles.” The architect of Pakistan had a dream; he visualized a welfare state. He had conceived Pakistan based on foundations of social justice and Islamic socialism which stress equality and brotherhood of man. Like Allama Iqbal, he was concerned with the problem of poverty and backwardness among Muslims for the eradication of which they looked, on the one hand, to the urges of dynamism, struggle and creativity in Islam and, on the other, to the Islamic principle of distributive justice.
Pakistan needs to change the status quo. A report in Pakistan Economist Intelligence Unit notes “Change is hindered not least because the status quo suits the wealthy landowners who dominate the sector, as well as federal and provincial parliaments. Large landowners own 40 per cent of the arable land and control most of the irrigation system. Yet assessments by independent agencies, including the World Bank, show them to be less productive than smallholders. They are also poor taxpayers, heavy borrowers and bad debtors”.
Our major problem is structural. The economy rests on a narrow production base, heavily dependent on the fallible cotton crop and the low-value-added textile industry; irrigation supplies are erratic (deficiency or floods), and soil erosion and salinity widespread. Low productivity in agriculture can only be reversed through the implementation of serious land reforms (opposed by feudal aristocracy). The opulent wealth in the upper strata of our society need to be ferreted out, and cut to size through radical land reforms and wealth taxation.
Stanley Wolpert paid tributes to the Quaid in following words, “Few individual significantly alter the course of history. Few still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone could be credited with creating a nation State. Muhammad All Jinnah did all three”.
Mr. Jinnah’s speech at the 30th session of the Muslim League during the freedom struggle reflected his vision. “It will be a people’s government. I should like to give a warning to the landlords and capitalists who have flourished at our expense by a system which is so vicious, which is so wicked and which makes them so selfish that it is difficult to reason with them. The exploitation of the masses has gone into their blood. They’ve forgotten the lesson of Islam. Greed and selfishness have made these people subordinate to the interests of others in order to fatten themselves…If they’re wise they’ll have to adjust themselves to the new modern conditions of life. If they don’t, God help them; we shall not help them.”
Aside from Post –Partition Muneer Report on Ahmedi Riots, Moghal-period religious scholars were muckrakers. Aurangzeb’s chief justice, who died in 1675, left behind a fortune of one lac ashrafi (precious coins) and cash of Rs five lac, besides a lot of gold and jewellery (Mubarik Ali, barr-e-saghir main mussulman muashrey ka almia [The trajedy of Muslim Society in the Sub-Coontinent]. page75). Soofis (dervishes) were ruling clique’s touts. They lived in Hindu-majority areas. And never made a genuine effort to spread Islam in non-Muslim communities. Only one non-Muslim embraced Islam at the hands of Nizamuddin Aulya during his life-time (Mubarik Ali, page 45 ibid.). Through their edicts (fatawa), Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Maulana Abdul Bari Farangi Mahal exhorted others to migrate from India (darul harab) to Afghanistan. But, they themselves stayed back in India (Mubarik Ali, page 105 ibid.).
The Mughal and Sultanate rule was neither equitable nor Islamic but dynastic. Jehangir hanged the light-man who happened to have slept during the night. Not merit, but proper connection and pedigree was the Palladian which determined key appointments to the moghul durbar(Moghul court). Mubarik Ali caustically observes the history of the sub-continent would have been different if Muslim communities had aligned with the jat, sikh and other non-Muslims (Mubarik Ali, pages 16, 58, 64 ibid.).
Should India and Pakistan toujours remain at daggers drawn?Jinnah’s vision should be a beacon of light to both India and Pakistan-democracy, equality, peace and welfare of the masses.
India’s Belligerence in Kashmir
Love begets love, tyranny gives birth to tyranny
Kashmir, a valley, where humanity is bleeding, the valley itself is burning with the brutality of Indian occupation forces, people are groaning under the weight of an occupation that is becoming harsher day by day. This brutality might be the reason why Adil Ahmad Dar, a local Kashmiri, blew himself up on Feb 14 killing 44 paramilitary personnel convoy with an SUV packed with explosives. As the militarisation of Kashmir has grown, so have victimization of Kashmiri people at large.
It is not at all surprising that right after the event India has blamed Pakistan to be responsible for this terrorist attack linking its connection with Jaish-e-Mohammad. Though Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs clarified that the attack has nothing to do with Pakistan and that Pakistan has always highlighted and condemned the rising violence in the Kashmir valley.
Such an approach is clearly manifested in India’s attempt to:
(a) Divert global attention from the continuing grave human rights and international humanitarian law violations in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir,
(b) Brand those seeking to safeguard their legitimate political and human rights including the right to self-determination as “terrorists.”
Also, the Prime Minister of Pakistan has strongly rejected the Indian allegations and stated that India has just blamed Pakistan without any supporting evidence. He also referenced India’s government to come up with some proofs if they have any and Pakistan will cooperate in every way to capture the culprits. Pakistan strongly denies providing any support to Kashmiri combatants in any way.
India continues to brutally and violently suppress the Kashmiri people’s rights to life and self-determination through a belligerent occupation. Adil Ahmed Dar, who carried out the deadliest attack has been described as shy and kind by his family. The family of the Adil claimed that a government militia called the Special Task Force had humiliated him in the past, detaining him and making him rub his nose on the ground. This can be the reason why the Pulwama attack was carried out by a Kashmiri militant who was also under the Indian captivity — a combatant — against enemy combatants belonging to the Indian occupying forces. Keeping this in mind the causes of extreme discontentment and resulting violence are not hard to find.
The right of self-determination is considered a foundational part of customary international law, recognised in the UN Charter under Articles 1(1) and 55. It is also enshrined in both Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The right of self-determination of colonial people and those under foreign occupation has been reaffirmed in scores of Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions, including GA Res. 1514, 2526 and GA Res. 37/43 passed in 1982, which
“reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle”.
However, any use of force in occupation or in an armed conflict must comply with international humanitarian law. This leads to many question that still go unanswered i.e. Under which canon of fundamental law is blinding of innocent protesters by pellet guns is a justified action? Where in the world will you find such a heavy concentration of armed forces, equipped with draconian laws meant to institutionalize violence by these forces against an unarmed civilian population? Where will you find mass rape and sexual abuse being used as instrument of torture? The Kuna Poshpura incident that led to gang-rape of over one hundred innocent women by Indian army personnel back in 1991 is without a parallel in modern history? Where’s justice for eight-year-old Asifa Bano of Kathwa who was raped to death? Every new day in occupied Kashmir witnesses the Indian army’s devilish acts. The use of pellet guns for crowd control has also intensified, which led to what is now known as the world’s first case of mass blinding. This troubling situation in Jammu and Kashmir warrants attention from the international humanitarian law perspective to bring peace in the region.
In this context it is, therefore, imperative that India must now work towards a genuine resolution to the Kashmir issue in line with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. It’s time now to stop themselves in rhetoric and vitriol to isolate the other within the international community and delay the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. India must fulfil its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian laws besides implementing UN Security Council’s resolution for conduct of plebiscite in Kashmir.
A peek into India’s 2019 elections: Past trends and portents
A bird’s-eye view
Some 814 million voters speaking 1,652 languages will vote in 900,000 voting centers across the country over 35 days in 2019. India’s imminent (April 2019) elections will cost parties a flabbergasting Rs. 30,000 crore ($5 billion). That parallels cost of a U.S Presidential election. The difference is that most of the money spent in India will be in the form of untraceable cash. Much of it will have been brought back
Into the country from tax havens, such as Switzerland, where industrialists and politicians stash their illicit fortunes. Money stashed illegally in Swiss banks comes back into the country through the hawala (unregistered) channels and havens such as Mauritius, Dubai and Caribbean.
Regular elections are raison deter of democracy in Western notion of democracy (Westminster model). The `equal citizens’ exercise their political right to choose representatives to rule them through their vote. India could be proud to hold elections regularly. But, the way influential people contest or win elections through malpractices leaves nothing to rejoice. Elections are only a formal part of political representation, not its essence. Only the affluent and socially powerful sections of society can make it to the parliament. Is the Indian democracy in name only or in substance also?
The social conditions in India rule out possibility of free and fair elections. The poor and the marginalised have a bleak chance to contest and win elections. India, the world’s largest democracy, stands divided into two worlds, the affluent and the poor.
India’s Constitution provides for equality of rights to all citizens, regardless of social differences. The golden words in the objectives resolution promise to secure to all the people social, economic and political justice, equal opportunity, and equality of status before the law. Practically, justice to all has been a far cry. Let us explore some contours of India’s elections that shape India’s democracy.
Let us look at some contours of India’s democracy. India is a democracy only in ‘form’, not in substance.
Influence of money power in elections
There is a relationship of direct proportionality between electoral win and wealth. Money plays an important part in determining poor voter’s electoral choice. Narendra Modi spent US$115 million to win the Indian election in 2014. In all, the BJP spent Rs714.28 crore ($115 million) on the 2014 general election campaign. Congress spent Rs200 crore ($32 million) less than the BJP’s expenditure during the 2014 polls.
The BJP spent over one third of all the money on one item: media advertising. The biggest individual recipients of this money were two firms, Madison World and chartered aviation provider, Saarthi Airways. Saarthi Airways is promoted by Delhi-based Gulab Singh Tanwar, reportedly a close friend of former BJP’s president and current home minister, Rajnath Singh. The party spent Rs77.83 crore ($12.57 million) on chartering aircrafts for its key campaigners, of which Rs60 crore ($9.7 million) was paid to Saarthi Airways alone.
No place for a pauper
Political parties mainly nominate those candidates who can raise money for contesting elections.
Elections in India are expensive. Candidates in the 2014 election spent a total of $5bn (US election in 2012 cost around $6bn). The longer a party stays out of power, the fewer the
Opportunities to `raise’ money from a variety of sources including large donors, small donors and organizational donations.
The BJP is the richest party followed by Congress party. The Congress has ruled the country for 49 of its 71 years as an independent nation. It appealed for the first time in its 133-year history for funds, perhaps as a catchy slogan. It had an income of $33m (£24.7m) in 2017! Ruling Bharatya Janata Party (BJP) is the richest with an income of $151.5million.The Congress income in 2017 decrease by $5.3m. The BJP’s income has doubled from what it earned in 2016.
Although political parties are required to declare their income, their finances are far from transparent. The penalties imposed by election commission are slaps on wrist.About 69per cent of parties’ income originates in unknown sources, “illicit money” or “black money”. The BJP and its allies are in power in 22 of India’s 29 states. The Congress is now in power in only two big states – Karnataka and Punjab – and two smaller ones. Individuals and companies can buy electoral bondsto fund political parties anonymously. These bonds come in specified amounts and, at the end of 15 days, must be deposited in to the bank account of any political party that has earned 1% or more of the votes in the last election. Intra-party democracy has withered. Leading parties enjoy the support of corporate business groups. Regional parties are invariably controlled by families.
Preposterous expenditure ceiling
Individual candidates can spend only Rs 70 lakh ($120,000) on his campaigns. This amount is too little to meet even poster printing costs in important contests. Key candidates spend between Rs 75 – 300 crore ($12-50 million). Lesser stars spend between Rs 15-50 crore ($2.5-8.25 million) and marginal ones between Rs 1-10 crore ($600, 000K-1.8 million).
Mammoth rallies where half a million people cheer candidates cost upwards of Rs 3 crore ($500,000). Every major party holds at least one major rally or counter-rallies a day.
Add to it the cost of sending thousands of workers out in cars, trains, planes, rickshaws, bicycles, bullock carts, tractors, camels, horses and boats to woo voters with speeches, street plays and songs.
Unfortunately, in reality, most candidates spend much more than the prescribed limits, and the amount spent by major national and regional parties is anyone’s guess. For instance, in 2013, Gopinath Munde, a well-known parliamentarian and a former minister, admitted that he spent more than 32 times the limit in the last election. Many believe that even this sum is an understatement.
Elections are marred by anti-democratic features like violence, en bloc voting, voting along religious and caste lines, so on. Leading parties nurture a number of local toughs on their payrolls. In urban war zones, they often intimidate voters from even venturing out of their homes. In feudal rural areas, upper caste militias threaten lower caste voters. Electing a `wrong’ candidate could lead to punishment like manhandling molestation, and torture.
Often, these vigilantes wields words, shotguns and homemade bombs frighten local election officials away from poll booths. If rival toughs show up, there are scuffles, fistfights, maybe even a few hand-made bombs hurled.
Even electoral voting machines were no good in stopping abuse of elections. Some voters demand that it should be done away with. The familiar traditional abuses include buying away competitive candidates, hounding out or abducting candidates before they file a nomination paper. Use of a pre-poll hearty meal or booze, coupled with free air or road travel is un-noticed malpractices. Up to the 1990s, India’s elections results were generally decisive with wide majorities. But recent results have been close with winning coalitions getting wafer-thin majorities. Such narrow margins mean even minor incidents of vote tampering, booth capturing etc. can swing results in 25 percent of all parliamentary seats, ten times the government’s own majority.
Deleting voters from lists
In remote villages, such problems often go entirely unreported. Both parties accuse one another of the vice.
Paid advertising shown as free reporting
India’s `free’ press, numerous newspapers and TV channels charge local-candidates coverage for a fee.
A plethora of parties
Existence of plethora of parties and candidates results in splitting of votes. Gandhi foresaw this problem. He ‘wanted Congress to be disbanded after independence. Implementing his advice could have created two parties_ one led by Jawaharlal Nehru and the other by Sardar Patel’. (“Political Parties and Indian Democracy”. Raju Ramachandaran suggested a system of proportional representation to reflect popular will. (Raju Ramachandaran, “Myths of Parliamentary Democracy”, 266-267). Ramachandaran suggested ‘proportional representation’ to reflect popular will more accurately. Speakers at the National seminar on “Indian Democracy: Recent Trends and Issues” inter alia highlighted collapse of political institutions in India (Dr. K. S. Saxena and Anil Gupta (ed.), Indian Democracy: Recent Trends and Issues”, p. ix). Saxena was so pessimistic that he began his paper with an epitaph for India’s democracy _ ‘all hostile elements have conspired to put our democracy to death’. (Dr K. S. Saxena, “Plight of Indian Democracy”, p. 283, 285). Saxena claimed India’s democracy had failed to ensure ‘freedom, justice and social and economic equality’ to all. Dissenters in India were dubbed as traitors and fascists’. A party securing 33 percent of the votes could occupy three-fourths of the legislatures.
(Editorial, “Cost of Elections”, The Tribune (Chandigarh), December 1, 1984; cited in Ghani Jaffer (ed.), Elections in India 1984-85, Islamabad Institute of Regional Studies, 1987).
Financial Contributions to Parties and Candidates
Corporate contributions, upto five per cent of a company’s net profits to political parties are legal. In reality, huge funds are collected from individuals and companies by extortion or as a consideration for past or future favours.
Political corruption has become integral to India’s governance process. The disclosure norms are very feeble and un-enforced. Most expenditure is illegitimate. It is spent on buying votes, distributing liquor, transporting voters, bribing local power brokers, bribing polling agents, payoffs to police and polling personnel in several places and hiring hoodlums for rigging and booth capturing.
Most major parties no longer attract voluntary party workers motivated by principles and goals, and therefore hire them at great expense during elections. Large mobilisation of poor people for election meetings, spending enormous sums for lorries and bribes to the hired audiences, and ostentatious campaign in the form of large fleets of cars and jeeps, huge cut-outs, banners, posters, tents, loud speakers etc. account for other expenditures.
Caste-Influence and Communalism
Caste influence has always been predominant in secular India. Khushwant Singh says, ‘Yet, strange enough, Gandhi obliquely supported the Hindu caste system’. Peter Myer points out ‘importance of caste in the election of candidates’ and ‘caste-based factionalism’ is a significant factor in campaigning (Peter Myers, “The year the vote-banks failed: the 1967 general elections and the beginning of the end of Congress Party dominance”, pp. 154-155; cited in Jim Masselos (ed.), India: Creating a Modern Nation (Bangalore, Sterling Publishers Pvt Ltd., 1990), 154, 165-167).
The importance of caste politics has also been highlighted in Selig Harrison’s India: The Most Dangerous Decades. Rasheedudin Khan points out “India’s State structure is democratic but not all aspects of the political system’. The social structure and equipoise of the traditional polity legitimised ‘the power and control of land-based jatis over a disaggregated and alienated mass of the landless, the bonded labourers, low castes and sudras’ (Rasheedudin Khan, “Impediments to democratic change in India”, 384, ibid).
Ever since independence, the politicians made no serious effort to reduce influence of caste on elections. They continued to hoodwink masses with buzzword-subsumed themes of ‘removal of poverty, illiteracy and disease by bridging the gulf between the rich and the poor, between the urban and rural, through industrialization, spread of education and building of an egalitarian-cum welfare state’. The slogans brought no change in condition of scheduled tribes (girijans), scheduled castes (harijans), castes (jatis), religious communities (dharmic sampratya) and language communities (bhashai sampratya).
Noble laureate Amartya Sen, delivered a lecture on “Democracy and its Critics”, organised by the United Nations Foundation in New Delhi on December 16, 2005. While discussing success and failure of Indian democracy, he said, “The rise of casteist politics was a failure”.
Atul Kohli is disgusted at erosion of democratic institutions owing to politicisation of bureaucracy and bypassing of constitution. He has serious doubts about future of India’s democracy. He says that ‘personal rule has come to replace party rule’. Economic development within an elite-dominated framework has thrown up social groups which are demanding share in society’s power and wealth (Atul Kohlie (ed.), Interpreting India’s Democracy: An Analysis of Changing State-Society Relations (Hyderabad, Orient Longman Ltd., 1991), xv, xvi, 1-11).
Corruption galore (Bofors, Rafale, etc) in India has become a serious socio-political malady. The society is generally passive and resigned to its fate. Corruption cases filed in courts drag on for years without any results. To quote a few cases: (a) There was no conviction in Bofors gun case (Rs 64 crore) though the case was filed on January 22, 1990 and charge sheet served on October 22, 1999. Among the accused were Rajiv Gandhi, S. K.Bhatnagar, W. N. Chaddha, Octavio, Ardbo and S. K. Bhatnagar. The key players in the scam died during proceedings (b) No recoveries could be made in the HDW submarine case (Rs 32.5 crore). The CBI later recommended closure of this case. (c) Corruption in recruitment of armed forces.
There is popular pressure to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill (Citizen’s ombudsman Bill), draft anti-corruption bill, drawn up by prominent civil society activists seeking the appointment of a jan lokpal, an independent body that would investigate corruption cases, complete the investigation within a year. And envisages trial in the in the next one year. The Jan Lokpal Bill, drafted by Justice Santosh Hegde (former Supreme Court Judge and present lokayukta of Karnataka), Prashant Bhushan (Supreme Court Lawyer) and Arvind Kejriwal , envisages a system where a corrupt person found guilty would go to jail within two years of the complaint being made and his ill-gotten wealth being confiscated. It also seeks power to the Jan Lokpal to prosecute politicians and bureaucrats without government permission.
In December 2005, by voice vote, Indian parliament expelled 11 parliamentarians. Ten of them belonged to the House of People (lok sabha) and one to the Council of States (rajya sabha).The peoples’ representatives were sacked as they were involved in demanding cash to ask questions of “donors’” interests. Secret cameras caught the MPs while negotiating or taking bribes. To avoid such ‘stings’ in future, the MPs have now begun to keep detective gadgets.
The un-sacked parliamentarians remained unruffled by expulsion of their colleagues. This is obvious from the fact that the MPs supported the Rs 8,000 crore development fund to be spent at the discretion of the MPs _ each MP to get Rs two crore. The Statesman, New Delhi, December 24, 2005, observed _ ‘The [cash for queries] sting ‘testifies to the extent of criminality that has permeated the ranks of the elected representatives. Seven MPs were shown accepting or demanding bribes for sanctioning funds ostensibly for local development.
(“Good riddance: Even expulsion is insufficient” (editorial), The Tribune (Chandigarh), December 24, 2005.
Parliamentarians use pocket-sized radio frequency detectors and jammers in the shape of room fresheners or computer to avoid being caught by spy cameras. It is widely known how warring industrial houses have set up MPs to ask embarrassing questions in the past to embarrass the opponent or deny the rival company a license or a benefit. It has not been uncommon for some ministers to collude with corporates. Some feel that with the end of the licence-quota raj, the problem has become less grave. “In the license-quota raj, some industrialists had to permanently camp in Delhi, and there was a time 50 per cent of the people flying between Delhi and Mumbai were doing so for liaison work.”
observed, ‘Even expulsion is insufficient. In fact, this is the minimum punishment they deserved.The Indian Express commented, ‘Our politicians are brazen in their defence of illegal land use. They are scared of losing money, not votes’.
Another slap in the face of democracy after ‘ Operation duryodhan’ (expose’ of 11 Members of Parliament taking bribes in exchange for raising questions in Parliament), a new sting operation by Star News has MPs asking for commission for sanctioning funds under the MP Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) scheme. This time, elected representatives of Parliament are caught on camera asking for cuts ranging from 5 per cent to 45 per cent for sanctioning funds under the MPLADS, a kitty of Rs 8,000 crore, to be spent at the discretion of members of both Houses.
(“Criminality spread, MPLAD scheme should be scrapped”,
Who would take action against India’s corrupt? ).
The media continues, ad infinitum, to point out legislators’ corruption. About one-fourth of the over 540 people elected to Indian Parliament face criminal charges ranging from murder to extortion and even rape. India’s election laws allow politicians facing criminal charges to run for public office, disqualifying them only in case of convictions, which are rare in India’s corrupt judicial system. It is understandable why no Indian parliament has ever passed anti-corruption legislation aimed to bring top public offices within the ambit of accountability.
More than half the members of the Lower House of Parliament have assets of over five million rupees ($109,400), in a country where a quarter of the billion-plus population lives on less than a dollar a day. The rich legislators enriched themselves further by a salary hike to 12,000 rupees, besides allowances. They enjoy heavily subsidised housing, free air and rail tickets, electricity and water. Nearly half of all MPs have not repaid loans to public financial institutions. (“Cash-for-query: Netas, babus take sting off spy cameras “Times of India, December 14, 2005),
Honest men like even Acharya Narendra (the doyen of Indian socialism) and Acharya Kirplani got rejected at the hustings (G. P. Srivastava, “Curbing booth capturing and election rigging in India”, p.193; cited in Grover and Arora, Indian Government and Politics at the Cross Roads).
The people have now realised that repeated elections are no real test of a democracy. India’s democracy accepts right of cheats and bullies to rule (Satish Saberwal, “Reconstituting Society”; cited in Grover and Arora, The Tribune, Chandigarh, December 24, 2005, in its editorial, “Good riddance”).
Unity in Diversity?
RSS_BJP-VHP-Bajrang Dal combine influences elections. India is no longer an epitome of unity in diversity. It is now a cauldron of ‘religious, communal or caste conflicts in every nook and corner of the country’. The net result of separatist movements by ethnic, religious or ethno-religious minorities is a demand for sovereignty which threatens India’s territorial integrity. Social unrest is due to the dissonance between the rulers and the ruled.
Breach of public trust
S. G. Sardesai is of the view that voters are disgusted with ‘unprincipled squabbling and mud-slinging between various political parties. They are losing faith in the democratic elective process itself. In our given conditions, candidate, the best candidate for playing that role is the RSS-BJP- VHP-Bajrang Dal combine.
(Verinder Grover and Ranjana Arora (ed.), Indian Government and Politics at Crossroads. New Delhi, Deep and Deep Publications, 1995, ix).
Being the richest party, the BJP is well placed to form at least a cozy coalition. Electoral abuses caricature shiny face of India’s democracy. There are too many loopholes in the laws. Authorised ceiling of the election expenses does not take into account ‘expenditure incurred by the political parties, friends and well-wishers in furtherance of the poll prospects of a candidate’. Donations by companies, including public-sector companies, are not subject to audit. Unless the electoral system is radically revamped, the rituals of elections would continue to throw up unrepresentative governments in India.
“Elections (in India) are being increasingly seen by people as devious means, employed by the rulers to periodically renew their licence to rule_more often to misrule.( S. G. Sardesai, “Election Results: Writing on the Wall”, cited in Grover and Arora (ed.), “India’s democracy accepts right of cheats and bullies to rule”.
Democracies can succeed only if their institutional foundations are strong. The masses who are victims of the caste system lose confidence in democracy. Regrettably, at all levels of government, the upper castes are holding the positions of decision-making.
Persecution of religious minorities and the so-called untouchables (who prefer to call themselves dalits) is endemic to the social and cultural systems that circumscribe the Indian polity — in class terms, abject poverty permeates huge sections of Indian society. A four-year-old girl, named Surjo, was boiled in a tub and then beheaded to please gods as part of a religious sacrifice. The police said, “In a country where sons are sold for paisa 25 and women are thrown into fire to please sati, goddess of chastity, such events cannot be foreseen or forestalled”. 38.Manoj Joshi, “Indian girl boiled alive and beheaded as a religious custom” (Manoj Joshi, “Indian girl boiled alive and beheaded as a religious custom”, Times of India, August 13, 2000).
Crimes against women are generally ignored. It is given name of eve teasing as escapism. The cases of rape have grown by 700 per cent since 1953. Last year 20,000 rapes were reported in the country. And India’s rape capital New Delhi has seen average of 10 cases in a month. And these are just the cases that have been reported. The number of unreported cases is far higher. India ranked fourth primarily due to female foeticide, infanticide and human trafficking. (“Dubious record: Four rapes in UP in 24 hours”, Times News Network, July 16, 2011, 03.49am IST. Also see “Shame: Rape is India’s fastest growing crime”, Jatin Gandhi, Hindustan Times (New Delhi), January 14, 2008).
The independent candidates are handicapped. They cannot pass off their excess buck to any political party. India’s Supreme Court ordered that expenditure incurred by a sponsoring political party or candidate’s friends and supporters also should be included in a candidate’s election expense sheet. But, the then Congress government nullified the Supreme Court’s decision through legislation.
India is a democracy only in ‘form’, not in substance. Hindutva supporters want to convert it into a centralised state for the brahmans only. Poverty and hunger continue to afflict large sections of Indian society. Also, there is a tangible threat that India could become a majoritarian tyranny or even a cultural fascist state. The rise of the BJP from a marginal Hindu nationalist party of the 1980s to the majority party in parliament in 1999 vindicates ascendancy of Hindutva trend.
If the Allahabad High Court had not unseated Indira Gandhi in June 1975 and held her election victory as an MP in 1971 as invalid, the Indians today would well have no fundamental rights.
A democracy subsumes equal political, economic and cultural rights. So is not the case with India. The political class is drawn from the affluent, educated and socially powerful sections of society. The society has been religionalised and religion commodified. India’s cosmetic progress is most visible in use of cars, aviation, mobile telephony, cable television, outsourcing, and automobiles. Such progress is meaningless when less than 5 per cent of Indians can fly, or own a car.
The then Congress-led UPA government has accepted the late Indrajit Gupta Committee report on the state funding of elections. The state funding for elections required setting aside Rs 6,000 crore to Rs 7,000 in a five-year cycle. The government realises that ‘criminal activity can generate such large sums of money’ easily. But, the government will have to raise, ‘on an average Rs 1,200 crore to Rs 1,500 crore’ ‘which the state might find it extremely difficult to raise’.
The Indrajit Gupta Committee finalised its report on December 30, 1998. But, it kept lying in cold storage. Earlier, the Tarkunde Committee had observed 31 years ago that ‘state funding of elections was impracticable under the conditions prevailing in the country’. The Dinesh Goswami Committee (May 1990) also made wide-ranging recommendations. (“Elections and Role of Money Power in India). The state financing of elections was one of the recommendations, made by N. S. Gehlot. (D. L. Seth, Crisis of Representation, p. 179).
The central and state governments in India do not necessarily represent rule by a majority. Through coalition politics a party with less than fifty per cent votes can form government at the centre or in states. There are several ways to determine majority in an electoral system. In India’s system, whoever gets the largest number of votes is elected.
China’s Diplomatic Tightrope Amidst Rising Indo-Pak Tensions
Since the dramatic rise in Indo-Pak tensions earlier this month, the entire South Asian region has once again been propelled on to the international forefront amidst fears of all-out nuclear war. Even though these tensions have receded significantly over the last couple of weeks, they had earlier reached near an unprecedented tipping point with both countries prepped to launch a series of ballistic missiles at each other following one of the modern age’s first aerial dogfights. As the specter for further military engagements is replaced by concerted efforts at diplomacy, the ongoing situation offers a unique look at the varying roles being played by one of the region’s primary stakeholders, namely China.
This is evident from recent reports that have revealed the important role that was played by diplomats from China, Saudi Arabia and the US in bringing both India and Pakistan back from the brink of all-out war. China’s role however demands closer inspection especially considering how it is widely expected to take on a more prominent leadership role based in part on the US withdrawal from global affairs, as well as in part on its own rise as a major power.
Despite China’s clear and long-standing history of close cooperation with Pakistan, China has repeatedly avowed playing a more neutral role amidst the rising tensions between both India and Pakistan. In official statements given by Foreign Minister Wang YI, as well as Foreign Office Spokesman Lu Kang both during and after the recent crisis, China repeatedly called for restraint and dialogue presenting itself as a willing and able mediator. It showed itself as willing to play a more stabilizing role in the region through a more normative approach to conflict resolution. This stands in contrast to a perhaps more unilateral approach steeped in (super) power politics that would otherwise aim to redraw the region’s strategic fault lines.
Even with regard to the divisive issue of Kashmir, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has espoused a more conciliatory approach emphasizing the need for economic development and poverty alleviation as issues that should be addressed collectively. This is especially evident in the case of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its overarching Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) where Beijing has repeatedly emphasized the inclusivity of this initiative. Citing how the BRI can serve as a platform for enhancing Indo-Pak Cooperation, China’s offered solution has been directed towards meeting the infrastructure requirements of both countries at a broader regional level.
However, China’s so called neutrality has been vociferously brought into question by India especially as a result of China’s most recent diplomatic maneuvers at the UN. This is because China has for the third time blocked a UNSC resolution aimed at blacklisting JeM leader Masood Azhar under the 1267 sanctions committee. Accused by India as being the mastermind behind the Pulwama attacks, India along with France, the UK and the US have repeatedly pushed for blacklisting Azhar subjecting him to a travel ban, arms embargo and asset freeze.
In contrast, China’s position on the issue has been to implement a technical hold on the decision calling for a more responsible solution to the issue based on greater dialogue and consultations. This has been widely perceived in India as not only favoring Pakistan at India’s expense, but also as an implicit justification of Pakistan’s support of cross-border terrorism within Indian occupied Kashmir.
Despite China’s claims to the contrary, these actions have led China to face growing diplomatic pressure as it finds itself increasingly unable to justify its position; especially in light of its own internal concerns with regard to terrorism such as in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Furthermore, Chinese policy towards India is still built on close trade ties, with China still being India’s second largest trade partner. Recent calls within India to ban Chinese goods bears witness to this fact which China is well cognizant of.
Hence, with regard to China’s self-avowed desire to remain neutral amidst the Indo-Pak rivalry, the onus does perhaps lie on China to reduce its inclinations towards Pakistan to some degree in favor India. However, considering India’s own ambiguity and uncertainty with regard to its role as an emerging power, India has itself offered little room or incentive by way of addressing the rise of China. India’s obsession and deep seeded insecurity with respect to Pakistan has instead greatly limited its ability to form a clear and forward-looking policy for the wider region. As evident in the recent rise in tensions following Pulwama, the Indian approach can only be characterized as being more reactive than proactive in nature, lacking any hint of direction or vision it might have for the South Asian region.
Therefore, the fact remains that even though China has been looking to adopt a more neutral position between India and Pakistan, India’s own uncertainty, lack of political will, and its incessant obsession with Pakistan has done little with regard to its attempt of serving as an emerging power within the region. Hence, while China may be unwilling to alter the regional status-quo based on its actions and policy towards South Asia, it is the uncertainty and lack of a clear direction from India that has allowed bilateral ties between Pakistan and China to have a profound regional impact even beyond South Asia.
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