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UNGA: Decoding Modi’s fortes and foibles

Amjed Jaaved

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India’s view is that abrogation of special status and Kashmiris’ hereditary proprietary rights is an internal matter. They harp that Kashmir is an integral part of India. Kashmiris’ struggle to shake off Indian yoke amounts to terrorism. And that its legislative coup d’état would be harbinger of peace, amity, and lasting prosperity in Indian-held Kashmir. Pakistan’s view is, unless revocation is withdrawn and curfew lifted, the situation would result in blood bath. There are eight million Kashmiris under clampdown by nine lac Indian troops.  What’s the truth?

Terrorists or freedom fighters

Unlike Kashmir, Bangladesh was not a disputed state like Jammu And Kashmir State. It was an integral part of Pakistan. But, harboured, nurtured, trained and armed Bangladeshi `freedom fighters’ in India’s lexicon. Pakistan calls them `terrorists’. USA’s gallery of `freedom fighters’: Noam Chomsky recalls USA sheltered gallery of Latin American terrorists, extolled as `freedom fighters’. Jallaludiin Haqqani (founding father of formidable Haqqani taliban) `was once a White House guest! (Indiavision news  September 28, 2011).

Kashmiris, not `terrorists’, but India, a `rogue state’

Let India not forget that Kashmir is a disputed state as per UN resolutions and the Simla accord. A state that flouts international treaties is called a `rogue state’ (Noam Chomsky’s Rogue States).

To refresh India’s memory: (a) It was India, not Pakistan, which internationalised or multilateralised the Kashmir issue by rushing a reference to the United Nations under Article 35 (Chapter VI). This Article enables any member to draw the Security Council or the General Assembly’s attention to any dispute or situation, which might lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute. Both India and Pakistan accepted ceasefire from Jan 1, 1949, onwards, and supervision by UN observers. (b) No UN resolution incorporates India’s view that Indian-held Kashmir has acceded to India by virtue of the Maharaja’s decision to accede to India. (c) Kashmir is not a domestic or strictly regional issue, as the UN has already intervened. The government of India has itself invoked and submitted to the jurisdiction of the UN and has accepted its role for resolution of the dispute, and acquiesced to the resolutions passed by the Security Council on Jan 17, 1949, Jan 20, 1948, April 21, 1948, and June 3, 1948. (d) Kashmir is still on the agenda of the Security Council though dormant due to culpable default. (e) The UN resolutions stand validated by the Simla agreement of 1972.

India is reminded of jus cogen, pacta sunt servanda (‘treaties are to be observed’) and are binding upon signatories. India may try to wriggle out of this maxim by pleading that the UN resolutions stand antiquated under another principle clasula rebus sic stantibus (‘things as they stand’ or ‘fundamental change of circumstances’).

But it has not yet so done for obvious reasons. It cannot renounce international and bilateral treaties without being declared a rogue state.

Terrorism against minorities

Why pro-India bloc is mum about terrorism and minorities’ persecution by ruling-BJP-RSS-Sangh Parivar conglomerate (maha gathbandhan)?  Why international community is blind, deaf and dumb towards persecution and killing of beef-eating Indian minorities, arson of Muslim houses at Meerut, hounding of Kashmiri students, girls included, and manhandling and looting of Kashmiri traders, across India?  When he was a chief minister, prime minister Narendra Modiled an 11-phase gaurav or papadshahi yatra (pride parade) to terrorise Muslim community in July 2002. He winked at Gujarat carnage, and Babri masjid demolition. Why UNO is hesitant to designate him a terrorist?

RSS’s anti-Muslim stance

Rashtrya Swayem Sevak Sangh (RSS) is busy r-imaging it in media as just a cultural entity without any political ambitions. But its severalacts unmask its brutal face.

Indian newspapers (datelined Kanykumari, July 6, 2003) have highlighted the anti -Muslim and -Christian resolutions, passed at RSS’s national executive’s meeting held at Kanykumari from July 5-6, 2003. The resolutions inter alia criticised so-called Christian terrorism against the Hindus.  The meeting appealed to the Christians not to submit themselves to the dictates of the `extra-territorial’authority of the Pope.

The RSS called upon the Hindus, particularly  Swayamsevaks, to be vigilant about `anti-national and terrorist’ Christian groups, posing a threat to the country’s internal security. It urged the Government to take strong measures against said groups. In a separate resolution, the RSS condemned Pope John Paul II’s statement criticising Indian states’ legislations banning conversions of the Hindus by missionaries. 

The executive declared that such conversions were a direct challenge to the sovereignty of the country (It is significant to mention that the Pope had just said that `free exercise of the natural right to religious freedom was prohibited in India’. Besides, the right to change one’s religion is enshrined in the UNO’s Charter of Human Rights, also). It urged the Centre to lodge a protest with the Pope for exhorting the Christian missionaries to carry on their campaign of conversions defying the law of the land.

RAW officers’ confessions

Some Indian diplomats and RAW’s cover officers have made startling revelations in their books about involvement in insurgencies or terrorism in neighbouring countries. . For instance, RK Yadav, and B. Raman (The Kaoboys of R&AW: Down Memory Lane)   make no bones about India’s involvement in Bangladesh’s insurgency.  They admitted that India’s then prime minister Indira Gandhi, parliament, RAW and armed forces acted in tandem to dismember Pakistan.  Raman reminds `Indian parliament passed resolution on March 31, 1971 to support insurgency.  Indira Gandhi had then confided with Kao that in case Mujib was prevented to rule Pakistan, she would liberate East Pakistan from the clutches of Military junta. Kao, through one R&AW agent, got hijacked a plane Fokker Friendship Ganga of Indian Airlines from Srinagar to Lahore. India’s security czar Doval publicly claims that he acted as a spy under a pseudonym in Pakistan for 11 years. In an article, titled How India secretly armed Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance, in Hindu dated September 1, 2019, India’s former ambassador tells about India’s secret support to Northern Alliance. He discloses India’s ambassador Bharath Raj Muthu Kumar, with consent of then foreign minister Jaswant Singh, `coordinated military and medical assistance that India was secretly giving to Massoud and his forces. The support involved `helicopters, uniforms, ordnance, mortars, small armaments,  refurbished Kalashnikovs seized in Kashmir, combat and winter clothes, packaged food, medicines, and funds’. These supplied were `delivered circuitously with the help of other countries’ or ` through his [Masssoud’s] brother in London, Wali Massoud’. The less said about Kalbushan Jadhav, the better.

Mujeeb, a `terrorist’

Roedad Khan, in his book Pakistan: A Dream gone Sour’ ( page 70) writes Agartala Conspiracy Case was withdrawn, not because the prosecution case against Mujeeb was weak, but because over a million people were out on the streets of Dhaka, several government offices and the houses of ministers including Kawaka Shahabuddin’s  house-were burnt. .Ayub had no choice but to withdraw the case’.

`Free Balochistan’

Through its proxies like Naila Baloch, India sponsored offensive posters on taxi cabs and buses in Switzerland and Britain. USA has recently outlawed Balochistan Liberation Army. However, earlier, in 2012, a handful of Republican had moved a pro-separatist bill in US Congress. It demanded `the right to self-determination’. Diplomat Bharath Raj Muthu Kumar’s involvement in anti-Pakistan/taliban activities as well known.”

Pushtun Tahafuzz Movement 

Pushtun Tahafuzz Movement is apparently being backed up by India. In their over-ebullient speeches, PTM’s leaders openly scold Pakistan’s National Security institutions. For instance, Manzoor Pashteen, in his interview (Herald, May 2018, p.48), berates Pak army operations and extols drone strikes. He says, ‘The army did not eliminate even a single Taliban leader.  All the 87 Taliban commanders killed in the last 18 years were eliminated in drone strikes’. At a PTM meeting in Britain, even Malala Yusafzai’s father (Ziauddin), like His Master’s Voice, echoed anti-army sentiments. He said, “Pakistan army and intelligence agencies knew that Fazalullah was a terrorist who continued to operate radio station in Swat’. 

Kalbushan Jadhav’s episode

Jadhav was an Indian-navy officer, attached to the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). His mission was to covertly carry out espionage and terrorism in Pakistan. Pakistan also alleged there were Indian markings on arms deliveries to Baloch rebels pushed by Jadhav. To India’s chagrin, India’s investigative journalists confirmed from Gazettes of India that he was commissioned in the Indian Navy in 1987 with the service ID of 41558Z Kulbhushan Sudhir. A later edition of the Gazette showed his promotion to the rank of commander after 13 years of service in 2000. His passport, No E6934766, indicated he traveled to Iran from Pune under the name Hussein Mubarak Patel in December 2003. Another one of his Passports, No. L9630722 (issued from Thane in 2014), inadvertently exposed his correct address: Jasdanwala Complex, old Mumbai-Pune Road, cutting through Navi Mumbai. The municipal records confirmed that the flat he lived in was owned by his mother, Avanti Jadhav. Furthermore, in his judicial testimony before a Karachi magistrate, Karachi underworld figure Uzair Baloch confessed that he had links with Jadhav. India’s prestigious Frontline reportage (Praveen Swami, February 16, 2018, India’s secret war) surmised the possibility that Jadhav still served with the Indian Navy. Gazette of India Files bore no record of Jadhav’s retirement. India told the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Jadhav was a retired naval officer. But, it refrained from stating exactly when he retired. The spy initially worked for Naval Intelligence, but later moved on to the Intelligence Bureau. He came in contact with RAW in 2010.

The myth of `revocation’ benefits

The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill is no panacea for the region’s prosperity and multifarious problems. It has in fact exacerbated Kashmiri’s misery (lockdown, no food, communication, sense of security).

The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill could not plug up `infiltration’ routes. The walnut and apples crops have been destroyed for want of buyers, rain, or immobility. No new jobs. The state already had over 484,901bloated jobs in 27 government departments. Where would Governor Satya Pal Malik absorb announced (August 28, 2019) new 50,000 jobs to be created  in three months. A Global Investor Summit is scheduled to be held in October. It is unlikely that Indian investors, let alone global, will come to the Union Territory in an risky environment.

Azad Kashmir

One of the outcomes of the reorganisation legislation is the renewed claim to “Azad Kashmir”. In the IHK’s 114-seat assembly, 24 have been kept aside for Azad Kashmir.During the debate in Parliament on the resolution on the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, Home Minister Amit Shah mentioned that the region included “Pakistan Occupied Kashmir” and that “we would be willing to sacrifice our lives for it” (that is, having it within the boundary of India). At a public event, a few days later,  India’s defence minister Rajnath Singh said that “in future, if talks are held with Pakistan, they will be on the issue of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and no other issue”.

Gilgit and Baltistan Tensions:  they are closer ethnically to Kargil, which has a mosaic of distinct ethnic and religious groups from the rest of the undivided State.

International fallout

Informal discussion of the issue in a closed-door format at the Security Council led to no resolution. Yet, it is a source of concern to India.  As soon as the situation becomes a threat to peace and security, P-V and security council would spring into action. 

China is executing several infrastructural projects in Gilgit and Baltistan bordering Ladakh and Azad Kashmir. The U.S. position tilts in Pakistan’s favour for consideration of Afghanistan exit. Pakistani diaspora in Britain and sikhs may increase Pakistan’s leverage.

Internal tensions and dissensions within IHK

The supporter and detractors of abrogation are now rigidly polarized. The pro-abrogation camp is frightened by demands in Jammu, including by local BJP leaders, to de facto continue the current practice of allowing only current State subjects to buy land or get local jobs. 

They have argued for the adoption of domicile rights as prevalent in States such as Himachal Pradesh.

In Ladakh, the tensions are already visible between the Buddhist-majority Leh and the Shia-majority Kargil districts. While Leh is in a celebratory mood, a different reality prevails in Kargil. There are significant minorities in both districts. Leh got its Autonomous Hill Council in 1995 when the State was under President’s Rule. Then people from Kargil opposed a collective Ladakh Council for Leh and Kargil. This was preceded by long bouts of tension between the two districts. In 2003, chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed decided to give Kargil its own council. In a memorandum to the Governor on August 30, 2019, Joint Action  Committee Kargil Chairman Sheikh Nazir demanded that the new Union  Territory be called Kargil-Leh, the rationale being that Leh had become  synonymous with Ladakh. On the other hand, the Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) wrote to home minister Amit Shah seeking protection of the Buddhist community in Kargil. The letter written by LBA president P.T. Kunzang accused Sheikh Nazir of instigating communal tension in the region. Too, like the people of Jammu, the people of Leh want a check on outsiders acquiring lands and jobs in the new Union Territory.

Dalit residents of the State also are demanding permanent resident  Certificates  (PRCs). Over 1, 50,000 refugees who came from neighbouring Sialkot in 1947 also are clamouring for PRCs.. On February 8, 2007, the IHK’s Legislative Assembly rejected  a bill giving them the right to become citizens of the State. Speaking in the Assembly, the then State Finance, Law and Parliamentary Minister, Tariq Hamid Karra, said: “We have full Assembly sympathies for West 

Pakistan refugees. But the matter has to be resolved in a consensual manner as it has many dimensions.” A similar demand for PRCs was made by a section of the Dalit (Valmiki) community. Its members had come from the Gurdaspur and Amritsar areas of neighbouring Punjab province in 1957 to work as sweepers because sweepers in Jammu and Kashmir had gone on  strike.

Nuclear Armageddon: A fair worry? Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan warned war

between the nuclear rivals could `have consequences for the world’ (Washington Post Sep 27, 2019) Kashmir is the flashpoint that triggered the past wars in 1948, 1965, 1971 and 1999, besides a quasi-war or the military standoff in the years 2001-2002. It is the real casus belli between the two next-door nuclear-capable neighbours. Even today, it remains the nuclear tinderbox. India wants the issue to remain on the back-burner, but Pakistan wants its early resolution. John Thomson, in his article ‘Kashmir: the most dangerous place in the world’ has analyzed whether it is a myth or reality to perceive Kashmir as the most dangerous place in the world (Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu, Bushra Asif and Cyrus Samii (eds), ‘Kashmir: New Voices, New Approaches’). He has given cogent arguments to prove that the Kashmir issue could once again spark another Indo-Pak military confrontation with concomitant risks of a nuclear war.

Most western analysts, also, do not rule out the possibility of a nuclear war because of the Kashmir dispute. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has, inter alia, pointed out that ‘avoiding nuclear war in South Asia will require political breakthroughs in India-Pakistan’. The earlier India revamps its attitude to Kashmir dispute, the better. India is stoking up entente by alleging that Pakistan is air-dropping munitions in East Punjab through drones (Pakistan, drone, Punjab Police, Punjab, State Special Operations Cell,  NIA,The Statesman September 27, 2019).

India’s forte: Modi assures the world that India is headed for a five-trillion-dollar economy. He is a Buddha incarnate, a doyen of world peace. Some of his slogans may nevertheless be hollow. India has seen numerous slogans in 16 general during 72 years of independence_ Nehru’s slogan of “aaraam haraam hai.” (rest is not kosher), Lal Bahadur Shastri’s “jai jawan jai kisan” (long live farmer, long live soldier),  Indira Gandhi’s    “garibi hatao” (eradicate poverty),  post- 1977 echo of “Indira hatao, desh bachao” (remove Indira, save the country),  post-Indira-assassination (October  31, 1984) “jab tak suraj-chaand rahega, Indira  tera naam rahega” (till sun and moon shines Indira will live on) , BJP (1996) slogan “sabko dekha baari-baari, abki baari Atal Bihari” (now it’s Bihari’s turn), BJP (2014)  “achchhe din aane waale  hain” (good days are in the offing), BJP (2019) Modi hai to mumkin  hai (If Modi is there, then it’s possible), jal sey nal jal shakti (water power), jal jeevan (water is life ), ayushman bharat’ (happy India) and swachh bharat (clean India). . Prime Minister Narendra Modi was ‘Global Goalkeeper Award’ for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by the government. The world is enamoured of Modi’s reformist programmes.

Pakistan’s foible or Achilles’ heel

Indian propaganda is that Pakistan is headed for bankruptcy. Invisible `establishment’s rule’ has ruined its economy. Some `intellectuals like Ayesha Siddia Agha (author of military inc.) caricatures life-style of Pakistan’s armed forces visa-vis that of the common. Hey make no mention that successive civilian governments did nothing to provide universal healthcare or education to the people. In actual fact, the Military Inc. shares its blossoming profits with its burgeoning civil employees. One sore point however remains. The civilian governments shun defence-paid civilian employees. The civilian health and institutions regard them as pariah, as celestial aliens. Besides they are woefully inadequate to meet the burden of existing civilian employees in various ministries and departments.

The incompetent civilian governments wasted funds on deco rational projects, instead of establishing new hospitals. By a stroke of pen, the government shifted burden of general public to Federal government Services Hospital. As a result, the hospital became good for nothing for both serving civilians and general public. The Mil Inc. is nice enough to extend them medical and educational facilities at par with serving officers till superannuation. But, overpowered by its own load of retirees, the Inc. disentitles them from medi-care upon superannuation.  That, unfortunately is the time when the sexagenarians need medi-care, shelter and education most for their children. I, for one, spent over Rs.  60, 000 at Ali Medical for treatment of a  `disentitled’ family member without reimbursement. The defence establishment could benevolently extend benefit of `revolving fund’ to their defence-paid employees. In case of fund crunch, their proportionate share could be extracted from civil-hospitals budget. As a last resort, this fund could be insurance- or contribution (50% department, 50% retiree) –based. This is how the defence establishment could snatch away one propaganda lever from hands of `Inc.-bashers.  The contributory or insurance based formula could be extended by do-nothing civilian governments to all citizens.

Pakistan government could learn a lot from Ayusman Bharat and Thailand’s success in achieving universal healthcare in 2002. Thai lesson stressed importance of tight control within very limited resources at their disposal. They built a careful architecture which allowed them, through their Health Intervention and Technology Assessment Program, to clearly specify medically validated protocols and associated prices for all the available services, including diagnostics and medicines.

A few words about housing. Like Defence Housing Authority, two civilian bodies, federal government Employees’ Foundation and Pakistan Housing Authority, are supposed to cater for shelter needs of retired civilian officers. The DHA allots plots and flats to all military officers according to strict criteria. So is not the case with civ bodies. I, for one, have not been allotted any plot or flat despite 40 years of service. Look at my misery, a septuagenarian with heart, diabetes and kidneys ailment. Instead of following date-of-birth/retirement criterion, the civilian housing authorities allot plots only to Grade 22 officers, for sure, leaving other in the lurch. It is unfortunate that civilians devolve blame for their incompetence to the Inc. India propagates that defence allocations are lopsided.

Inference

Conflict of interests and war are natural to communities, societies and countries. Lasting peace has been unprecedented in history. A bitter lesson of history is that only such states survived as were able to strike a balance between constraints of security and welfare. Garrison or warrior states vanished as if they never existed. Client states, living on doles from powerful states, ended up as banana republics. We should at least learn from the European security experience.

Just think of what great status were empires like Austria-Hungary, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden and Tsarist Russia (exposed to the 1917 revolution) and even the erstwhile USSR.

A common feature of all strong states had been that they had strong harmonious military and civil institutions, de jure capability to defend their territory and policies that favoured the citizenry rather than dominant classes _feudal lords, industrial robber barons and others. Pakistan needs to weed tout mafias,  put its economic house in order, and provide, at least,  universal healthcare to its people.

The clusters of sub-sets around the hegemon, with unequal capabilities may not share US vision. USA’s hegemony is imperiled by Venus effect, fanaticism (terrorism), political fragmentation of hegemon’s society, and chemical-biological terrorism. USA pampered India to be its proxy in the sub-continent. But she is tight–rope balancing Iran, Russia, and China.

EU experience shows how weak but intelligent states coalesced to ensure their survival by constraining the hegemon. Alternatively, they would have been on hegemon’s bandwagon in a subordinate position. India should read the writing on the wall and coalesce toward Pakistan.

Mr. Amjed Jaaved has been contributing free-lance for over five decades. His contributions stand published in the leading dailies at home and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, et. al.). He is author of seven e-books including Terrorism, Jihad, Nukes and other Issues in Focus (ISBN: 9781301505944). He holds degrees in economics, business administration, and law.

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South Asia

Dearth of Humanity

Sabah Aslam

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A significant portion of the world is recovering from Covid-19, however there is a place where people not only fears corona virus but also the brutal human right abuse. Its been more than 9 months and Kashmir’s future is still dawdling questioning the whole world that in times of global freedom why they don’t have any? The constitutional genocide which was done on 5th of the August of last year is still in force and there is no one either internally or any international community who can question the Indian authorities over Systematic and serious human rights violation which are taking place.

Moreover Covid-19 has been seen as an opportunity by Modi and his government in order to inflict more sever pain to the Kashmiri’s. For India Covid-19 has been seen as a weapon through which they can agonize the Kashmiri people while going unnoticed.

Even in time of such despair the gross human rights violation has been continued by the Indian forces. This ranges from mass killings, force disappearances, torture, rape and sexual abuse to political repression and suppression of freedom of speech. Human rights group Amnesty claim that thespecial powers under (AFSPA) gives the security force immunity from violations committed and condemn it. In other words Indian forces have carte blanche in Indian Occupied Kashmir and there is no oversight on it. There was journalists oversight but that also was barred after 5th August.

According to a September 6 report of the Indian government, nearly 4,000 people have been arrested in the disputed region. According to a September 6 report of the Indian government, nearly 4,000 people have been arrested in the disputed region. Among those arrested were more than 200politicians,including two former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), along with more than 100 leaders and activists from All Parties Hurriyat Conference. Forced disappearances, rapes, killings are new norm in Occupied Kashmir as Indian law enforcement authorities rule with guilty pleasures.

While mainstream India becoming mouth piece of Delhi Government and sewed its lips to object and even mention Kashmir in their news, social platforms reveals the reality. With passage of every day new stories of heinous acts dusts the previous. Use of pallet guns inflicted eye injuries to more than 3000 people, BBC file reported. Disturbing videos and images often circulate on social platforms unveiling the lies of Delhi.

These lies are not restricted only Kashmir, but inside India situation is also murky. Conditions of Muslims inside India more or less emulates that of Kashmir. In 2013, a government survey found that the largest minority group which accounts for 14% of the total population lives on an average of 32.6 rupees ($ 0.43)per day. The government in Maharashtra—the state with the biggest concentration of corona virus cases—said Muslim-majority areas had a “paucity of health facility” in a 2013 report. It said the “threat of communal riots” forced Muslims to “live together in slums and ghettos” where social distancing is often impossible. The Covid-19 gave another reason to spew hate to Muslims and pursuit Islamophobia to new heights. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s human rights body has strongly condemned the “unrelenting vicious Islamophobic campaign in India maligning Muslims for spread ofCOVID-19.

A report published by Business Recorder in April 19, 2020 revealed that Delhi is exploiting Covid-19 to hump the subjugation of Muslims in a genocidal manner. The Muslim population is suffering not just from COVID-19, but from a crisis of hatred, from a crisis hunger. The situation of the minorities has been serious especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. When Covid-19 spiked in India, New York Times Reported that Indian authorities have blamed Muslim groups for spreading the virus. Despite the fact the Indian atrocities against Muslims are clearly visible international community is quite.

Pakistan has been supporting its Kashmiri brothers from very first day and had been voicing the Kashmiri case at every international fora. Recently Pakistan wrote a letter to United Nations Human Rights Council against Indian atrocities on Kashmiri Muslims. Former Prosecutor General Punjab, Senior Advocate Syed Ihtesham Qadir Shah along with other renowned lawyers and Social Activists wrote the letter to UNHCR. It highlighted every aspect of how India is waging gross violent acts against Muslims of India as well as Kashmir. The letter is supported by many local and international legal firms and organizations working for Human Rights as well. It also highlighted that India is not only abusing its own Human rights values but also violating basic values of International Human Rights values i.e. Article 25 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

As the world moves there is a society which is static in its every aspect. It becomes more painful when that society sees the world watching in silence.

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NOTA: A Step Forward Or Just A Toothless Tiger?

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Authors: Nakul Chadha and Abhay Raj Mishra*

 “ I went to vote once, but I got too scared. I couldn’t decide whom to vote for.”[1]Andy Warhol

The above-mentioned statement by an American artist to a certain extent defines the situation of almost every voter while casting his vote in a democracy. Every voter gets stuck in the dilemma that to whom he should vote so that it can be in a best interest for him as well as for the nation. Democracy is something which provides the citizens to participate and help in the formation of a good governance with their choice of change. It is essential that best of the men should be chosen for the survival of a democracy in a country.[2] Thus sometimes there comes a situation when voter has no confidence in the candidates that are standing in the fray, so he does not want to cast his vote to any of them.

Before NOTA, if a person wanted to abstain from voting to show his rage against the candidates, he has to go through a process that annihilated his secrecy. Hence, it pushed a need for a provision that allowed secrecy of every voter intacted even if he does not want to vote to any of the candidtes standing in the fray.

Hence, NOTA was introduced in the year 2013 keeping above points in mind by the Supreme Court through People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India[3] judgement. Although, It does not provide the Right to Reject and thus candidate who has got the maximum vote eventually wins the election irrespective of the number of  NOTA votes. Still, India became the 14th country to introduce a concept of negative voting.

The authors have critically analyzed the situation for which NOTA was required. The purpose of this article is to evaluate whether this reform in election process i.e. introduction of NOTA has contributed to strengthen the democracy or not. The authors have criticallly analysed the judgement of the Supreme Court in the case of PUCL v. UOI, 2013 and it also takes into consideration the belief and opinion of ECI about NOTA. It reviews the role of NOTA in the election process.

The authors have taken into account the issues like flaws and loopholes that are present in the provision and thus analyzing it and suggesting some of the measures that can be taken to make it more helpful in conduction of free and fare election and thus strengthening the backbone of democracy.

Background – Need For The NOTA

India stands as a paragon in front of many arising democratic countries and is also designated as one of the spirited democracy across the globe. One of the principle virtues of a democratic state is its free and fare elections. It is the fundamental principle for every democratic state to have Right to Vote as a constitutional right for the citizens and conduction of election in free and fair form. Although we are proud of our democratic system but there are many area that has to be strenghtened or renewed and in such a large country it cannot be done in one go but through a gradual development until we realize the true potential of a well-operative democracy.[4]

The main objective of NOTA was to increase the number of voters in the election and for maintaining the secrecy of a voter in an election. As secrecy of voting is one of the pivotal factor that keeps up the purity of a election. Introduction of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) and implementation of rule 49-0 of The Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 raised the foremost concern for the Election Commission of India (ECI) as it made impossible to protect the privacy of voters who wanted to abstain from voting.

In order to fix the critical flaw regarding the secrecy of voters with respect to Right to Reject,

the Election Commission on 10.12.2001, addressed a letter to the Secretary, Ministry of Law and Justice. The letter declared subsequent opinions that the electoral right present under Section 79(d) also includes a right not to cast vote. It also suggested to provide a panel in the EVMs so that an elector may indicate that he does not wish to vote for any of the aforementioned candidate and at last gave the viewpoint that Such number of votes expressing dissatisfaction with all the candidates may be recorded in a result sheet. Although no actions were taken by the ministry in this regard.[5]

The fate of the Right to Privacy while voting was finally decided in the case of Peoples’s Union For Civil Liberties v. Union of India. In the afore-mentioned case, the Apex court stuck down Rules 41(2) and (3) and 49-O of the Election Rules as being ultra vires section 128 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and Article 19(1)(a) and Article 21 of the Constitution to the extent they violated the secrecy of voting.[6]

Rule 49-O – Elector deciding not to vote – “If an elector, after his electoral roll number has been duly entered in the register of voters in Form 17A and has put his signature or thumb impression thereon as required under sub-rule (1) of rule 49L, decides not to record his vote, a remark to this effect shall be made against the said entry in Form 17A by the presiding officer and the signature or thumb impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark.”[7]

Citing section 128 and section 79(d) of RPA, court duly quoted that ‘secrecy of casting vote is duly recognised and is necessary for strengthening democracy’ to maintain the purity of elections.

Section 79(d) defines electoral right of a person to vote or refrain from  voting at an election whereas section 128 of the Act obliges any person performing any duty in connection with the recording or counting of votes at an election to maintain secrecy and penalizing in failure.

If the international provisions would be taken in consideration then Article 21(3) of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 25(B) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) provides for secret vote for ballot for guaranteeing the unbound expresssion of the will of the electors.

Court said that no distinction can be drawn between the voter for the right of secrecy, regardless of the fact voter decides to cast vote or or to not cast vote in the fray.[8]

With this it was fully ensured that voter’s may or may not cast vote with maintenance of  their secrecy and purity but without the fear of being victimized if his vote is disclosed.

NOTA – As A Provision

NOTA is basically an option which gives voters a right to reject all the candidates. It is present at the bottom of the Electronic voting machines (EVMs) after all the contesting candidates and the voter can cast his NOTA vote by pressing it. Provided that democracy is all about choices and furthermore it is a essence of democracy, NOTA made it easier for voters to have a choice without being victimized.

Earlier, if the voter wants to cast a negative vote then he had to inform the presiding officer which surely was infringment of the Right to secrecy of the voter thus making him stand in a position of being victimized but this does not requires any involvement with any officer on duty and one has to give no information even if he do not want to vote to any of the candidate  contesting in the fray.

‘NOTA’ or None of the above came into existence in September, 2013 when the Supreme Court, in the case of PUCL v. Union Of India upheld the right of the voter to reject all candidates contesting elections saying it would help in cleansing the political system of India as it would lead to political parties contesting clean participants in election. So, Supreme Court in its judgement said “We direct the Election Commission to provide necessary provision in the ballot papers/EVMs and another button called ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) may be provided in EVMs so that the voters, who come to the polling booth and decide not to vote for any of the candidates in the fray, are able to exercise their right not to vote while maintaining their right of secrecy”[9]

The NOTA option was first introduced in 2013 assembly election in four states Chhattisgarh , Mizoram , Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and one Union Territory, i.e., Delhi.

Positive Aspects Of NOTA

Addition of NOTA option on EVMs has helped in several ways in the election process such as by giving voters their freedom of expression, preserving their Right to Secrecy and with all this making a systematic change in elections.

NOTA as a tool for protest:

NOTA preserves freedom of Expression by allowing voters to express dissent or their right to reject all the contesting candidates. This would lead to potentially improve the voter turnout by providing an option to disapprove all the candidates, by this it can encourage more participation in the democratic process i.e. Elections. It also prevents bogus voting as a result of higher voter turnout.

Someone would go for NOTA option only if the ruling party has not done enough work in their previous election term and the opposition party is very weak. For e.g. we can take Gujarat legislative assembly election 2017, there seemed to be an incumbency on the part of Bharata Janata Party(BJP) rule in the state due to several factors and people wanted to change the ruling party but the opposition was Indian National Congress (INC) which has lost its significance in Gujratover the years due to Modi government .

So, it would have been a different scenario if voters chose NOTA option, there was a possibility that BJP would not have won the election in the first place or won it with a very little margin, helping them realise that the party has not done enough and thus encouraging them to work hard for the next election.

NOTA as a tool to protect secrecy:

NOTA also preserves voters Right to secrecy because before NOTA if a voter wants to reject all the candidates i.e. give a blank vote then according to rule 49-O of Conduct of Election Laws, 1961, voter had to sign a form with their name on it which would lead to violation of their right to secrecy and the blank voters could be traced and punished for their choice but with this there was no disclosure of any names to anyone helping voter to have his secrecy.

NOTA as a tool for change in politics :

After, NOTA there is a possibility that most of the candidates selected are honest because after NOTA the contestants representing the parties are also with good and clear public image as the political parties have fear that voters can give votes to the NOTA option.

By utilizing this power, electorates can send a clear signal to the political parties that some people are not happy regarding the candidates that are contesting in the election and thus creating extreme pressure on the parties to only field those candidates who are more acceptable to the electorates. This empowerment of the voters may also result to more systematic change in the election process.[10]

Negative Aspects:

Although NOTA to a certain extent has fulfilled its major cause, that is, to protect the voters of the country from being victimized by safeguarding their Right to secrecy but no rule or provision comes without flaws.

  • No significant increase in participation:

NOTA seems to fail in increasing the participation of voters in the elections, which signifies the strength of democracy as the court implied that turning up to booths and voting on NOTA is far better that not voting at all.

  • Not equal to Right to Reject:

The observation behind it was to give the voters a feeling of empowerment. But the meaning of the order has not been taken correctly. It in no way provides a Right to Reject. The Supreme Court just assserted that as people have right to show the liking for a candidate to be elected, in the same way they should have a choice for the Negative voting.

Yet, as former CEC, S.Y. Qureshi, points out by giving a example that even if 99 votes out of 100 total votes goes to NOTA still the candidate who has got that 1 vote will be treated as a winner, as he has got the highest number of valid votes. The rest of votes given to the NOTA are considered to be invalid or as no vote.[11]

  • Only a moral obligation to parties:

It only bounds the political parties to nominate a better and more ethical and moral valued candidate as larger number of votes going to NOTA shows a kind of disafffection towards the candidates that are present in the fray. But in general, it only puts a moral pressure on the parties rather forcing them by rules and regulations which in some ways is a bit more optimistic and thus political parties refuse to stop the candidates from contesting in the election making NOTA a tool of participation for voters and nothing more than that.

S.Y. Qureshi along with Mr. Rajeev Dhawan and Subhash Kashyap, Former Secretery General of Lok Sabha also believed that Supreme Court is in some way too optimistic in thinking that NOTA will by-product in a cleaner politics. While K.K. Venugopal and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) forced to elongate it a Right To reject.[12]

NOTA by far can be said said as toothless tiger as it does not result in re-election or disqualification of the candidates that once have got less vote than NOTA itself and thus, in no way it influences the result of elections. It is not a direct substitute to a bad governance but only is a motivation to change and improvement. Candidates also began to campaign against NOTA and said it be a wastage of vote and thus influencing the voters against it who may not have a full knowledge about the provisions.[13]

Conclusion And Suggestions:

With this, a conlusion can be drawn that a country like India having vibrant democracy, adding NOTA button in the EVM will certainly increase the political participation but only if, it is provided with more power and is implemented in better way. In order to further strengthen the NOTA, there are several suggestions.

There should be addition of rules that votes casted to NOTA should also be counted and if in an election where NOTA has got the most number of votes, none of the contestants should be elected and all the candidate contesting in that particular election would be barred from contesting again as they have already been opposed by voters.

Other than that, political parties should also think about the fact that they should only field such contestants in the election who have a certain qualification, experience in public service rather that by seeing his ability to spend money or to which caste or religion he belongs.

Also door to door campaigning should be stopped as it can help in manipulation of voters and mal-practice and corruption. Above all there is dire need of awareness programs to make voters more cognizant of the concepts of NOTA as one can only take a decision about certain things when he is fully aware of its repercussions and keeping in mind the fact voters are backbone of a democracy in a country.

*Raj Mishra, Maharashtra National Law University, Nagpur


[1] Edward D. Powers, “Third-Party Politics: Andy Warhole’s ‘Vote McGovern’, 1972, Zeitschrift Für Kunstgeschichte, vol.75, no. 3, pp. 391–416, 2012< www.jstor.org/stable/41642670 >Accessed May 3, 2020

[2] Ms. Mamta D. Awariwar, ‘Supreme Court Guidelines on Right to Reject and its Implication : A Study’, University Grants Commission, Pune, July 2017

<http://bvpnlcpune.org/Results%20PDF/Executive%20summary.pdf>

 Accessed May 3, 2020

[3] AIR 2003, SC 2363

[4] Sanjeev Kumar Chaswal ‘A Paradox of Right to Recall and Reject- A boon or a bane’ The Institute of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies  

<https://www.academia.edu/8249541/_A_Paradox_of_Right_to_Recall_and_Reject_-_A_boon_or_bane_> Accessed April 29, 2020

[5] Report No. 255 , Electoral Reforms, ‘Nota and the Right To Reject’, ch.1, pp.190, March 2015,

<http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/reports/Report255.pdf>

Accessed April 29, 2020

[6] People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India, AIR 2003, SC 2363

[7] The Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, Rule 49-O

[8] Pooja pandey, ‘ The NOTA Judgement in India: A Bigger Narrative’

 <https://www.academia.edu/35272294/NOTA_Judgement_in_India_Bigger_Narratives.pdf

 Accessed April 30, 2020

[9]                  PUCL v. Union Of India, 2003, SC 2363

[10] Arindam Mandal, Biswajit Mandal, Prasoon Bhatthacharjee, ‘Does NOTA Affect Voter Turnout? Evidence From State Legislative Elections in India’, Asian Journal of Economic Modelling, Vol. 5, No. 3, August 17, 2017<https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318008834_Does_Nota_Affect_Voter_Turnout_Evidence_from_State_Legislative_Elections_in_India>

Accessed April 30, 2020

[11] S.Y. Qureshi, Pressure of a Button, The Indian Express, October 3, 2013

 <https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/pressure-of-a-button/>

 Accessed May 3, 2020

[12] Katju Manjari, ‘The None of the Above Option’, Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 48, no. 42, October 19,    2013 <https://www.epw.in/journal/2013/42/commentary/none-above-option.html>

 Accessed May 3, 2020

[13] Dr. Vijaya Laxshmi Mohanty, Ms. Ramneet Kaur, NOTA- A  Powerful Opponent or a Toothless Tiger?- In Perspective of General Election 2014, Institute of Public Policy Studies and Research, Odisha, December 14 2014<https://www.academia.edu/9787108/NOTA-A_powerful_opponent_or_a_toothless_tiger_-in_perspective_of_General_elections_2014>

Accessed April 30 2020

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South Asia

Populism: Effects on Global Politics and Pakistan

Maham S. Gillani

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Populism is a concept in political science that postulates that the society is divided into two groups that are at odds with each other. According to Cas Mudde who is the author of Populism: A Very Short Introduction, these two groups consist of:  ‘the pure people’ and ‘the corrupt elite’. The term ‘populism’ is often used as a kind of a political insult. For instance, Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party in Britain has often been accused of invoking populism over his party slogan ‘for the many not the few’, but it’s not actually the same thing. According to Benjamin Moffitt, author of The Global Rise of Populism, the word “is generally misused, especially in a European context.” A populist leader in the true sense of the word claims to represent the uniform will of the people, stands in opposition to the enemy – that is often embodied by the current system which is aimed at either ‘draining the swamp’ or ‘tackling the liberal elite’. Dr. Moffitt continues, “It generally attaches itself to the right in a European context… but that’s not an iron rule.”

In the contemporary world, Populism is everywhere in the political spectrum: there are politicians like Marine Le Pen in France, Donald Trump in the US, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, and Narendra Modi in India. Political scientists believe that populism is not a new phenomenon but in the past decade it has certainly accelerated, and has taken many forms in the 2010s – which were often overlapping. In some countries a socioeconomic version was observed, where the working class pitted against big businesses and cosmopolitan elites who were believed to be benefitting from the capitalist system, such as, in countries like France and the US. While others saw an overwhelming focus on the cultural form thrive with emphasis on issues like immigration, national identity and race, for instance, in countries like Germany and India. However, the most common type of populism was the anti-establishment populism that pits the common masses against the political elites and the mainstream political parties represented by them. These forms of populism are likely to also continue into the next decade, although the main focus may probably shift from immigration to climate change.

Associate professor of comparative politics at the University of Reading in England, Daphne Halikiopoulou opines, “If the 2010s were the years in which predominantly far-right, populist parties permeated the political mainstream, then the 2020s will be when voters are going to see the consequences of that.” Although in some ways the results are already beginning to manifest in some states, a case in point being the 2016 vote in Britain to exit the European Union – Brexit – and the consequent political fallout that led to the resounding victory of the populist Prime Minister, Boris Johnson in the general election. Moreover, in other countries also the populist parties are beginning to make their impact in various ways – if not through directly passing legislation then by exerting pressure in the opposition.

In the near future i.e. the 2020s, many populist political figures are expected to rise to power and prominence. For example, Italy’s Matteo Salvini, who is the leader of the far-right and nativist League party has sworn to return to government as the prime minister, and if successful he is likely to forge alliances with his fellow populist leaders, inter alia, Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. Such alliances could herald a reinvigorated wave of populism in the world. On the other side of the globe, Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister, has also signaled to continue his quest of deepening his Hindu-nationalist agenda. It is in this context that his government enacted a controversial Citizenship Amendment Act – which grants citizenship to refugees belonging to every major South Asian religion except Muslims – leading to weeks of protests and unrest across the country, in addition to continuing his policy of political repression and harsh lockdown in Kashmir.

Pakistan is, of course, not immune to the global move towards populism. Imran Khan is viewed by many political science experts as a populist prime minister. Ever since coming to power he has pursued divisive politics by sometimes silencing and at other times discrediting dissenters. The arrest and imprisonment – often on groundless allegations – of many opposition leaders can be viewed in this context. Moreover, on more than one occasion certain quarters of the media have been targeted and demonized in a bid to kill the messenger if you can’t kill criticism. These policies of the incumbent government led by Prime Minister, Imran Khan, to stifle opposition negate principles of pluralism and democratic tolerance. Pakistan is indeed on a slippery slope vis-à-vis the rise of populism in politics.

Populism is likely to persist as a fixture of politics for the foreseeable future. How countries choose to respond to it may become the defining feature of the remaining part of the twenty-first century. Propagation of values of democracy such as international cooperation, religious tolerance, pluralism and diversity seem to offer the only ray of hope in this, otherwise, dark tunnel of populism.

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