SACW | 14 March 03
- View SourceSouth Asia Citizens Wire | 14 March, 2003
#1. Indo-Pak: the gains from peace (Akmal Hussain)
#2. Partition, Cold War, and the conflict in Kashmir (Uday Singh Mehta)
#3. Eyewitness account of Indo-Pak match in Austin
#4. The Politics of Cricket - Some Reflections - by Lalita Ramdas
#5. Cricket, women and war (Kalpana Sharma)
#6. On War, Peace and Cricket: Reflections on the India-Pakistan
World Cup Encounter (Ravi Rajan)
#7. Dial-a-mantra (Rukun Advani)
#8. Letter to Ali Chacha (Mukul Dube)
#9. Gujarat riots film banned [in India] (Monica Chadha)
#10. Hindutva at Work: Hindutva newsletters mailed to defence officers
#11. India's hard men (Financial Times)
#12. 'European Union and Netherlands should suspend official aid to
Gujarat' (India Committee of the Netherlands)
#13. Committee Against War on Iraq is also organizing a human chain
on the 15th in Delhi.
#14. U.S. Academics in India and Sri Lanka Against War
#15. Book Review : Has Shiv Sena a future? (A.G. Noorani)
The Daily Times
Friday, March 14, 2003
Indo-Pak: the gains from peace
Dr Akmal Hussain
Underlying the persistent tension between India and Pakistan is the
misconceived notion that relations between the two countries can only
be conducted within the framework of a zero-sum game: Where
Pakistan's gain constitutes a loss for India and vice-versa. This
misperception is rooted in the mindset of bureaucracies and some
members of the ruling elite in both countries. It is the basis of the
view that patriotism requires maintaining a combative posture towards
the neighbouring country.
Yet an objective assessment of the imperatives of state security and
nation building in India and Pakistan requires a more enlightened
view: Patriotism can be better expressed through seeking cooperation
which can enable an improvement of the material well-being and
flowering of the creative potential of their respective peoples. This
becomes apparent when we focus on the human condition and the
physical environment of South Asia.
Consider, because of inadequate diet of lactating mothers and poor
health facilities, millions of children are born stunted in body and
mind. Similarly millions of people die from water-borne diseases, due
to the fact that the majority of the population in South Asia does
not have access to hygienic drinking water. A large proportion of the
population that manages to survive, lives in a state of malnutrition
due to inadequate food and is subjected to life long suffering
because of lack of health facilities. Of those who manage to survive
these hazards only a few succeed in acquiring an education and many
of those who do, face unemployment. Continuing conflict between India
and Pakistan will only mean continuing suffering for their people.
Peace and cooperation will help to overcome this suffering. Therefore
it is not a zero-sum game. Not only the present life of the people of
South Asia but their physical life support systems in the future
depend upon cooperation.
In spite of the great variety of culture, language and perception
amongst the sovereign states of South Asia, it is an undeniable fact
that the geographical entity of South Asia constitutes an integrated
eco-system. This is dominated by two sub-systems, namely the
Himalayan mountain system and the seas in the south, which influence
the entire region in terms of climate, the rivers, the state of soils
and other vital resources. The consequence of a common ecology is
that human intervention in one country affects human existence in
another. For example rapid depletion of forests in the water-shed
areas of Nepal results in devastating flash floods in Bangladesh.
Similarly deforestation in water-shed areas in India results in
increased soil erosion, more muddy rivers and hence premature
clogging up of the dams downriver in Pakistan. Again if neighbouring
countries set up thermal plants without treating the poisonous
sulphur exhaust, wind currents in summer will carry the pollutants
from West to East and in winter from East to West across
international borders. Finally throwing untreated industrial waste
into a river upstream by one country can cause toxicity and the
consequent elimination of fish species and mangrove forests
downstream for another country.
To the extent that the people of South Asia share the same air and in
some cases the same rivers, it means that the lungs and intestines of
people in one country are being affected by the way people of the
neighbouring country dispose of their industrial effluents. In this
sense the relationship between our peoples even where it is not
visible, is truly organic! Therefore, as in the case of society, the
environment provides a dimension for reaching out across national
frontiers in South Asia for collective well-being.
What are the specific areas in which Regional Cooperation could be
pursued in South Asia? Some of the more urgent ones are as follows:
i) Cooperation to build economic infrastructure to enhance
investment, growth and employment in the two countries.
ii) Sharing of knowledge on institution building and low cost
technologies for improving health, sanitation, provision of clean
drinking water and education.
iii) Joint efforts at re-forestation of water sheds, and the
treatment of industrial and urban effluent waste could help reduce
soil erosion, devastating flash floods and toxicity of rivers.
iv) Sharing of bio-saline research and technical know-how on
controlling desertification of soils. (For example use of plants such
as Halogenic Phradophytes for controlling salinity).
v) Sharing of know-how on ecologically sound industrial
technologies and cost effective and safe methods of effluent disposal.
vi) Sharing of information on water-flow of rivers, especially
vii) Engaging in joint projects for the development of Himalayan
resources, especially the prevention of deforestation and soil
erosion on the mountain slopes.
viii) To collect, systematise and subject to scientific evaluation
the traditional knowledge systems of South Asian communities, which
have experience of innovative techniques of conducting their economic
existence in a harmonious relationship with nature.
India and Pakistan can increase their individual gains through peace
and cooperation. It is not a zero-sum game. The attempt to improve
the conditions of human life and to conserve the natural environment
can be a powerful cohesive force in the region. There is nothing to
lose but our misconceptions and our lives to win!
Dr Hussain is a leading economist and author and co-author of many books
Boston Review | February/March 2003
NATIONALISM'S MIRED HOPES
Partition, Cold War, and the conflict in Kashmir.
Uday Singh Mehta
Date: Wed, 5 Mar 2003 11:16:12 +0530
Eyewitness account of Indo-Pak match in Austin
After hesitating initially on whether we could summon what it takes
to stay up all night, a friend and I decided to go ahead and check
out the India-Pakistan world cup cricket game. For me, it was at
least as much to watch the crowd reactions as anything else (it was
the first cricket match I was about to watch after many years). But
the prospect of watching some potentially great cricket after being
out of the loop for so long was also fairly enticing.
First stop: Bismillah restaurant, a smallish Pakistani-owned joint a
couple of miles north of the campus area (where I live). The crowd
strength here was about 30 - 35 Pakistanis and perhaps 10-12 Indians.
I discerned three groups - about 8-10 older (50's) Pakistanis sitting
behind me, another group of 8 or so much younger, Westernized gang
and a third group that seemed to be more from a working class
background. The Indian group was all bunched up at the back of the
room, except for me and my friend who were sitting right up front
near the large TV screen.
Pakistan opened, and the initial cheers were for Saeed Anwar's
strokes, which I joined in. For a while things were fairly calm. Then
Zaheer Khan picked up Taufiq's wicket. "Wafadarwafadari dikha raha
hai!" ("how loyal .trying to show his loyalty") shouted someone from
behind me. I spotted a man with glasses, probably in his late 50's.
Some of the Pakistanis sniggered. It was all too obvious why Zaheer
Khan had been singled out for the sarcasm. Pakistan continued to
build up a respectable total, and the cheering grew louder and more
enthusiastic. The hip crowd of guys and gals sitting near me were now
clapping enthusiastically. Two Pakistani fans next to me, I noticed,
were also clapping politely at good Indian deliveries.
Pakistan racked up a respectable total of 273. After the lunch
interval, Sachin the superstar let loose an incredible set of strokes
that were a delight to watch. The loud roars from the Indian camp at
the back of the room were met with expressions of irritation among
the Pakistani fans. The working class group however reacted in a
fairly poker-faced manner, except for one particular (again, older)
fan with a thick moustache and a craggy face who, at one point, let
loose a sarcastic comment about the cheering.
Then Sehwag fell in one of his carefree hitting sprees. The next ball
trapped Saurav Ganguly for an LBW. The Pakistani crowd was now
roaring. As Mohammad Kaif walked in to take his place, I heard
another loud comment behind me "Dekho, aur ek wafadardikhade teri
wafadari!". I couldn't help turning around and casting a baleful
glance at the group of grinning men. The atmosphere had turned
electric. The match was poised in balance, and everyone in the room
knew that it was anybody's game.
The next two overs were marked by aggressive appealing by Pakistani
players, but Kaif seemed unruffled. Then Sachin was back; and more
boundaries followed. As the runs continued to mount, it seemed that
India had regained the upper hand. The Indians in the room were now
smiling, and the smiles stayed even when Sachin survived a couple of
close calls. As the applause grew more confident, I heard a
muttering, and then "Unhone qualify kiya hai na, isiliye morale oopar
hai unka, nahin to abhi out ho jaate." The man with the glasses
behind me, again. I turned to my left and noticed that craggy-face
was scowling. The hip youngsters had fallen silent, and one young
woman had her head sunk as though in silent contemplation.
About 100 runs short of victory, Tendulkar fell to a brilliant
delivery. The Pakistanis showed signs of tremendous relief rather
than joy. I sensed that the Indians were disappointed but not overtly
At this point, we decided to leave for another venue: Shalimar
restaurant. It was a whole different world over there. The proprietor
had rigged up a huge room with two big-screen projections. The crowd
strength was at least 300. It was clear that the Indian fans
outnumbered the Pakistanis here; my guess at the ratio was 3:1.
Within minutes I spotted two core groups of Indian supporters - one
about 30 strong in the center that seemed to be led by a young man
with a red T-shirt. At the back was another enthusiastic Indian
group, smaller but almost as vocal. At this point it seemed to me
that it was going to be India's day. The crowd clearly felt the same
way. As the magic number of 274 galloped closer, red-shirt was having
the time of his life.
The cheers were getting wilder and slogans were being raised. At
first I heard "That's the way, aha, aha, I like it, aha, aha". It was
quickly followed by "Bharat Mata ki JAI". The JAI was ear-splitting,
even the quieter Indian fans were now bellowing their hearts out. "Jo
jeeta wo sikandar" and "Hame jeetna aata hai" were followed by
another round of "Vande Matarams" and then "aha aha" was back. Then a
short burst of "Pakistan Hai Hai" and "Pakistan Murdabad".
The Pakistanis attempted to launch their own weak counter attack with
"We want Shoaib", which was cut off by another sound stroke by
Yuvraj, and the Indian cheers were back. Red shirt was now dancing
and flaying his arms wildly. I could almost swear that I saw him
froth at the mouth. The Vande Matarams were now much more aggressive,
being directed directly at the Pakistanis.
Then the magic figure was reached and all hell broke loose. The
Pakistanis began leaving quickly, clearly sullen and disappointed.
Red-shirt was surpassing himself, his group began a little jig. The
wild gesticulations and jeers were not hard to miss. The chauvinism
Good cricket was surely appreciated by many in the crowd, but for
many others, clearly, darker emotions were at work. I have never
witnessed a communal riot, and never once did I sense the slightest
possibility of violence among this crowd. Yet the emotions were not
pleasant, the perfectly acceptable joy of a victory was laced with a
raw meanness that won't be easy to forget. The certainty that I would
have seen probably the exact same spectacle from the other side had
Pakistan won was doubly depressing.
Later I heard that back home in cities with names like Bombay and
Delhi, India exploded with raucous celebrations and processions
through the night; in Ahmedabad Muslim shops were looted and burnt,
and in Bangalore Hindus and Muslims clashed violently. And at the
Indo-Pak border in Punjab this remarkable incident - thousands of
enraged fans throwing stones and hurling abuses at each other at the
It may be the last India-Pakistan cricket match I will dare to see
for a long time.
-- Sarang Shidore
South Asia Citizens Web
The Politics of Cricket - Some Reflections - by Lalita Ramdas - Feb 27/28 2003
Last evening I had a call from a journalist friend in a major English
language newspaper, asking me to share my responses on the way almost
warlike noises were being made in several quarters around the
forthcoming cricket match between India an Pakistan - for a piece
they were planning to write. I asked her to send me the kinds of
questions they wished to address - and I am forwarding for your
interest, the questions and also my answers.
The India Pakistan cricket match is being played in south Africa on
sat March 1. Let me also add that today is the 28th Feb - yesterday
marked one year after Godhra, Gujarat, and today the `anniversary' -
of some of the worst sectarian killings - nothing short of state
sponsored genocide of thousands of innocent Muslim citizens of `free,
independent and secular' India, home to approx 135 million Muslims.
Door Darshan broadcasts - [which is the only channel which we in
rural India are privileged to watch on our increasingly digitalized
TV system] - have only focused on the `tributary' events by the Shiv
Sena and the VHP in Godhra and sanctimonious comments on how there
should be `no more Godhras'. Till this morning there was no mention
of the killings that continued unchecked for days, even weeks, after
Godhra - and no comment to say that the country remembered and
mourned them too, and this is something we never want to see again.
Instead, in the regional newspaper reports of the early morning news
coverage, was a prominently displayed computer generated photograph
in a Gujarati daily, of the match between India and Pakistan where
our players are shown in army fatigues holding guns (Kalaskhinovs?)
instead of cricket bats in their hands. Can our youth and our public
that seeks instant excitement and sensationalism for a daily diet,
possibly escape making the connections between Pak-India cricket -
war - enmity - and Mians ?
The next section carries the questions from the newspaper [in smaller
black print], with my responses in colour.
Newspaper Editor - Here are our questions:
-- Do you feel it is important for areas like sports
to be free of political enmity? Is this possible?
LR: The answer is an emphatic yes - there should be no question of
`enmity' - political or otherwise either in sports, culture, the arts
and crafts, or in business, trade and commerce for that matter.
We will probably find that a large majority of Indians would share
this view if they were left to form their own opinions without the
nuances and interpretations to which we are subjected.
Do you feel sorry when you see the manner in which
the India-Pakistan match is being built into a `war'?
Why do you think this is happening?
LR: It is with a deep deep sense of sadness at one level, and yes,
with some anger and helplessness, that one has observed over the
years how we have allowed our obsession about Pakistan to vitiate
almost every sphere of interaction between the two countries and
peoples. When this is superimposed on our other `national obsession'
- namely cricket - the outcome is bound to be nothing short of
incendiary! And it would be true to say that there is a definite
undercurrent of this being `built' into a war - almost like the
`proxy' war which we are constantly told about, most likely with an
eye to the elections.
The answer to your second question, as to `why this is happening' is
less easy. Those answers have to be sought in the complex web of
history, of our colonial past, of the bitterness of partition, of the
shared heritage, and of our fractured and fragmented present. Above
all else it is my firm conviction that leadership in post
Indepedence India has to bear the primary responsibility for having
been unable to educate and prepare our people to understand and
accept 1947; to be able to point with pride to our being the second
largest Muslim nation in the world after Indonesia; and above all
else to build on the foundations of our Constitution and its deep
commitment to honouring and protecting secularism, pluralism and
diversity. The present party in power in this country must accept a
large part of the responsibility for the present atmosphere of
heightened suspicion bordering on hatred, of both Pakistan, and by
extension through having created a highly inflammatory set of
connections, with the Muslim in India today.
To my mind there is no disputing the fact that the roots of this
lie in the dangerous ideology of Hindutva, Hindu Rashtra, and the
two nation theory as propounded by the founders of the RSS long
before Independence. And across the border in Pakistan there is a
similar mind set together with an understandable fear, bordering on
paranoia with respect to India and our intentions, which permeates
into the very fibre of their being. Finally, media on both sides
plays into these fears and paranoias instead of allaying them.
I remember the piece you did for us on the fleet
parade. Why did you feel that having involved Pakistan
would have been an important gesture?
LR: Yes, I was happy that your newspaper saw fit to carry it -
although there were many angry reactions to my plea that Pakistan's
Navy should have been invited to participate in the International
Fleet Review! Involving Pakistan together with the host of
neighbourhood navies would have sent out a very positive signal that
even though there are deep seated, one can say intractable, political
differences, we are still ready to engage with each other as
professionals, especially in the armed forces. The Indian Navy
advertised the event far and wide as `Building Bridges of Friendship'
- and it would have been in keeping with the well known philosophy of
those who sail the seas and who view the sea as their common home and
one that unites those whom it touches. Imagine what it would have
done to gain us worldwide acclaim for displaying a high level of
maturity! Even at the height of the cold war, the Russians and
Americans kept meeting and talking. It is utter foolishness on the
part of our leadership to refuse to dialogue with Pakistan. If
anything, this mantra of "we shall not talk until Cross Border
terrorism ends" has now become an irritant in the comity of nations -
be it within SAARC or NAM or various other bi and multi-lateral
-- Why do you feel it is so important for people in
India and Pakistan to interract?
LR: Generations of Indians and Pakistanis have grown up without
knowing anything about each other - people who share a thousand years
of history, not to mention linguistic, cultural, religious and other
ties. This has done incalculable damage - especially to young people
who have no historical memory of a pre-partition era, and whose
images of each other have relied solely on the biased projections of
their leaders, text books and media. When people start meeting and
getting to know each other, the myths and stereotypes gradually get
clarified and relationships begin to develop. The realization will
soon dawn that there are more things that we have in common than
those that divide us, and once people have a stake in building peace
and friendship, there is little that governments can do to sustain
prolonged hostility. Millions of decent, ordinary families found
themselves separated geographically and politically in 1947, but
emotional bonds have not been wiped away. It is time that leaders on
both sides understood this. In the context of the dignity, security
and wellbeing of the 12% Indian Muslims who live in the geographic
entity that is India - this is critical.
The constant taunt that they are more loyal to Pakistan, and are
secretly all `Pakistanis' at heart, is totally undeserved as it is
mischievous. Loyalty to country and patriotism is not the preserve of
-- Are people-to-people initiatives becoming more
difficult? What are the increasing obstacles that you
Sad but true - yes it is becoming increasingly more difficult to
sustain and strengthen the several people-to-people initiatives that
exist in both countries. The march of events ever since 9/11 2001 has
inexorably worsened the environment. Events in our own backyard - be
it the attack on Parliament, or the eye-ball to eye-ball
confrontation on the borders between two nuclearised armies, all of
these have collectively contributed to the present impasse and
created more and more obstacles in the way maintaining contact. There
is no direct means of communication between us [Pakistan and India]
any more - no Dosti Bus, no Samjhauta Express - no flights. Those who
can afford it have to pay a vast amount to come and go via Dubai -
the bulk of citizens can no longer visit each other for Id, for a
workshop, for a peace march, or for a shaadi or a funeral. Our
diplomatic missions are reduced to a formality. Officially at the
highest levels our leaders refuse to acknowledge each other - be it
at SAARC or NAM or other similar forums. And on the ground, the
simple folks are those who suffer. Militants and terrorists are not
waiting for visas and official permissions to cross over for their
nefarious purposes! Politically let us talk, identify and deal with
the issues which give rise to militancy and terrorism; at the same
time liberalise contact, travel, communication without adding to the
war psychosis all round.
There seems to be a feeling that it is wrong to be
playing cricket with or interacting with Pakistanis
when "they are killing our boys at the border". As
somebody with a services background, how would you
respond to this overwhelming belief?
As someone who has grown up in the armed forces - being daughter and
wife of Naval men - both of whom who reached the highest rank in the
service, I should possibly have had every reason to react in the way
you describe above. Fortunately I grew up in an environment where we
were taught to respect human beings and their dignity regardless of
their nationality or creed - and although we were aware that
`Pakistan' was a difficult neighbour, that did not mean that you
treated them for ever as the sworn enemies. Over the years one has
been able to separate the `people' from `the state' - whether it is
India, Pakistan or the USA today - where even as their president
tramples on all forms of domestic protest, the voices of people in
their millions are speaking up for peace and against waging war on
If they are killing `our boys', let us not forget that we too are
killing or have killed `their boys'. We need to remember the courage
and the love that spoke through women like the mother of an officer
killed in Kargil when the body of her son was brought home to Kerala
- just praying that no more young men - Indian or Pakistani -should
have to die in vain; or the widow of Daniel Pearl - who did not see
that seeking revenge would solve the problem of terrorism; or all
those families of the victims of 9/11 who have called for peace and
not attacks on innocent Arabs and Muslims.
We need to play cricket together - and in each others' countries -
and remember what the sporting spirit is all about , not see it as
`war' - a fight to the finish; we need to sing and dance together at
youth camps, jamborees and training programmes; we need to send
Shahrukh Khan and Amir Khan across the border; and we need to bring
their best singers and qawaals across here. TV and Newspapers need to
talk about all the good things that are also happening on both sides
- like the children coming for heart or kidney transplants to
Bangalore from Pakistan, or youth exchanges where young Pakistani and
Indian boys and girls have become friends for life .and , and
and. And it is only then as people begin to rediscover the joys of
being good neighbours at peace with themselves and each other again,
that they will themselves begin to reject the politics of hate and
divisiveness which is what keeps both politicians and the armament
industry in business!
You had asked for short answers - once before I had told you that if
we really want answers and to explore the truth about Indo-Pak
relations - it cannot come through one liners!
But I know you will do a good job in getting to the sense of this,
despite having to wield the inevitable editorial axe.
Lalita from Bhaimala Village, Alibag
Magazine section of The Hindu
Sunday, Mar 09, 2003
Cricket, women and war
Date: Mon, 03 Mar 2003 10:05:36 -0800
On War, Peace and Cricket: Reflections on the India-Pakistan World
By Ravi Rajan
The Magazine section of The Hindu
Sunday, Feb 23, 2003
25 February 2003
Dear Ali Chacha,
Your unusually sharp response to my jibe about the Chief Minister of
Madhya Pradesh makes me state my case against him at some length. As
I told you, Digvijay Singh and I were at the same school, where he
was two or perhaps three years my senior. He was the squash champion
and beat me regularly, though I like to believe that he had to work
to win. I remember him as well mannered, sartorially elegant, and not
at all a bully ñ which last endeared him to the younger boys. He was
a decent enough role model. So much to establish that I have nothing
against the man personally. Digvijay Singh is today the head of a
large province. That M.P. is run by the Congress makes him an
anti-ruling party figure of prominence. His public statements must be
seen against this backdrop. If, in the privacy of his home, Digvijay
Singh chooses to worship termites and drink the urine of bandicoots,
I can have no objection: that is, I could not care less. But when in
his role of Chief Minister and opposition leader he makes a public
statement that the slaughter of cows should be banned throughout
India and that he personally values and drinks cow's urine, he is
well outside his own home. No Chief Minister has any business to
declare what is good for provinces other than his own. By doing that,
he meddles in their affairs and challenges their right to decide
their own policies. Second, when the country is ruled by
obscurantist forces which claim to be Hindu, any attempt by an
opposition figure to portray himself as more Hindu than them is
suspect. When such an attempt is made by a leader of a party which
claims to be secular, it is a great deal worse than merely
mendacious. Clearly the man wants to retain the constituency he
holds as a "secular" leader and at the same time to win over the
decidedly un-secular voters who have climbed on to the Hindutva
band-wagon. By mincing his words, he hopes to attract a group which
is fundamentally opposed to the one he is pledged to lead and defend.
I see in this a gaoler who with one hand fetters a captive and with
the other, pretends to offer to to the poor wretch the wide expanse
of sky. Doing some good does not license a person to do bad things
as well. This is not a matter of summing positive and negative to
arrive at zero. Your foundation has benefited from the munificence
of Digvijay Singh's secular persona, and no doubt he has helped other
secular or Muslim causes too. But in his pronouncements relating to
bovines, I see only a shabby cheat playing a filthy game.
Thursday, 13 March, 2003, 08:57 GMT
Gujarat riots film banned [in India]
By Monica Chadha
BBC correspondent in Bombay
Hindutva newsletters mailed to defence officers
Saturday, February 22, 2003 (New Delhi):
Hindutva organisations have now begun spreading their propaganda
within the defence forces. Over the past year, a number of army
officers across the country have been receiving a newsletter with
The banner headline on the letter reads: "Stop Islamisation of India.
Karo ya maro. Hindutva ke naam par shastra uthaao
This propaganda is cleverly designed to influence the minds of
defence officers who are being sent a 12-page monthly newsletter.
"Everyone has a right to propagate their views but that does not mean
that you spread communal hatred. This is criminal and punishable
under Section 298 of the Constitution," says former attorney general
B L Sharma Prem, a senior VHP leader and former BJP member of
parliament, who is responsible for bringing out the newsletter, says
he is only exercising his democratic right.
"It is for the Indian army and not the Pakistani army. We are sending
this to the police also. If anyone doesn't like it, they can return
it," says B L Sharma 'Prem', Central Secretary VHP and publisher
When NDTV asked Defence Minister George Fernandes whether he was
aware of the propaganda drive, he professed ignorance saying he had
no knowledge of the matter.
"I interact with army and Defence Ministry on a daily basis. But I
don't know anything about this. This is the first time we have heard
of this," George Fernandes said.
One of the great strengths of Indian democracy has been that the army
has remained completely apolitical. Now a number of officers are
upset with this attempt to draw serving officials into what is
essentially a political debate.
Financial Times (UK) Feb 24, 2003
LEADER: India's hard men
A year ago India was scarred by some of the worst sectarian violence
since partition, when up to 2,000 Muslims were killed in pogroms in
the western state of Gujarat, ostensibly sparked by an arson attack
by Muslims on a train that killed 59 Hindu activists. Human rights
organisations in India, the US and Europe implicated two
organisations in the well-orchestrated attacks, the Vishwa Hindu
Parishad (VHP or World Hindu Council) and its youth offshoot, the
Bajrang Dal (devotees of the monkey-god Hanuman).
Now a Financial Times investigation has established that these groups
receive extensive funding from Indians abroad, collected mainly as
tax-free charity donations to front organisations in the US and the
UK. This fundraising is coming under increasing scrutiny. So it
should-as should the links between these groups and India's ruling
Bharatiya Janata party (BJP).
Behind the VHP and the Bajrang Dal stands a quasi-paramilitary body,
the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS or Association of National
Volunteers), which is the mother organisation of the Hindu revivalist
BJP. Described by Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister, as
"an Indian version of fascism", the RSS is at the centre of a protean
network of front organisations. This structure facilitates
arm's-length money-raising. It also makes it easier for the RSS to
deny it is inciting agitation against Muslims and Christians.
Tragically, the BJP is increasingly adopting RSS campaigning tactics;
the combine won a landslide in December's election in Gujarat, after
a string of crushing defeats, blamed by RSS leaders on the party's
attempts to blunt its fundamentalist agenda. The BJP rules in
coalition in New Delhi, but without any such restraint in Gujarat,
which has become the RSS laboratory. But even in the national
government in Delhi, 16 of the 30 cabinet ministers are RSS
members-including Atal Behari Vajpayee, the prime minister-and the
influence of this shadowy group on government is palpable.
The Indian subcontinent, trapped in a stand-off between Muslim
Pakistan and predominantly Hindu India-both nuclear-armed-has more
than enough instability without a replication of this conflict inside
India. Friends of democratic India such as the US and the UK need to
make this point forcibly and to choke off the flow of funds to the
RSS and its front organisations.
The RSS spends heavily on welfare and religious schools, but so do
Islamist groups in the Muslim world-a danger the world has woken up
to. Such ostensibly charitable activities are one reason for the
groups' success. They also help pull in donations from people unaware
of how some of their money is used.
The UK is formally investigating two RSS fundraising affiliates, and
is considering an inquiry into the VHP. The US has also started
carefully scrutinising RSS front organisations. That probe should go
ahead unimpeded by Washington's ambition to develop a strategic
alliance with India as a counterbalance to China's weight in Asia.
India Committee of the Netherlands Utrecht, March 11th 2003
'European Union and Netherlands should suspend official aid to Gujarat'
Both the European Union (EU) and The Netherlands have thus far
continued their official development co-operation with the state
government of Gujarat (India), also after Chief Minister Modi of the
ruling BJP won the elections in December 2002 after a hate campaign
against the Muslim minority. Since June 2002 the EU and The
Netherlands have not publicly raised their voice again about the
massacre supported by the Modi-government on more than 2000 Muslims
in Gujarat, even though it is becoming clear that surviving victims
have no access to justice and are hardly being rehabilitated and
compensated. The position of The Netherlands and the EU calls for an
explanation in the light of 'good governance' criteria, including
respect for human rights, that especially The Netherlands considers
to be thé cornerstone for government to government development
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have end of February
2003 send out press releases making statements that those guilty of
the violence in Gujarat still go unpunished and that there has hardly
been any relief and rehabilitation for the victims. According to
Amnesty International 'the right to equality before the law is also
routinely violated in Gujarat' and the recommendations of the
official National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) have so far been
ignored. The NHRC has published some very critical reports on the
issue in the first half of 2002 but had to stop its activities after
the election victory of Narendra Modi. Modi is the new hero of the
Hindu nationalist BJP party (which is in power in Gujarat and also
leading a national coalition government-and in Gujarat), but also a
number of strongly related mass organisations of Hindu
fundamentalists that are working to create a 'Hindu Nation'.
Both The Netherlands and the EU financially support programmes of the
government of Gujarat in the areas of primary education, health care,
drinking water and rehabilitation of the victims of the earthquake
that hit Gujarat in 2001. In 2002 The Netherlands supported the
government of Gujarat with ¤12,5 million. Through non-governmental
organisations the Dutch also supported a programme for victims of the
massacre. The EU supports the government of Gujarat in 2002 and 2003
with ¤40 million for a health sector reform programme and post
earthquake re-development. In addition the EU supports
non-governmental organisations in Gujarat with an amount of ¤55
million. However, neither the European Union nor The Netherlands have
taken a public position on the question if official development
co-operation with the government of Gujarat is still justified, and
if so why, in a situation which can certainly not be characterised by
'good governance'. Two questions seem to be crucial here: -is the
continued co-operation with the government of Gujarat not a
justification of a government that is co-responsible for mass murder,
does not punish those that are responsible, ignores the victims and
discriminates the Muslim minority? -are the programmes supported by
The Netherlands and the EU being negatively effected by a government
that discriminates Muslims?
The India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) is of the opinion that
the official development co-operation with the government of Gujarat
should be suspended until these questions are answered and until the
recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission, Amnesty
International and Human Rights Watch are satisfactorily implemented.
The statements of both Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights
Watch are supported by the conclusions of a recent visit (27-29
January) of a team consisting of, among others, the directors of
Action Aid (New Delhi) and the Confederation of Voluntary Agencies
(COVA) from Hyderabad. According a report from the COVA director Ali
Asghar about this visit, the police is pressurising victims to
withdraw cases and complaints they have filed and several of them are
still living in makeshift camps and rented rooms in small towns
because they cannot return to their village. The reason is 'the
economic boycott imposed by the Hindu right wing parties'. Asghar
also writes: 'There are a number of welfare schemes of the government
that could benefit the victims. Bu they have not been able to access
these because of non-cooperation from the officials and also because
of rampant corruption'. Asghar further describes a recent case of
setting on fire 31 houses of Muslims in the city of Dahod 'with the
police as a bystander all the time'. The main accused, including a
BJP leader, are still roaming free. Instead the police arrested 40
young Muslim men, part of whom are still in police custody. Around
600 people are now living in a relief camp and they have not received
any assistance from the administration so far.
Previous history On February 27th a train coach with mainly Hindu
pilgrims was set on fire and 59 person were burned to death. It is
still not clear who the perpetrators of this horrible act are. Right
after this 'violence of unprecedented brutality targeting the Muslim
community spread in the state and continued in the next three months,
leaving more than 2000 people killed. The state government,
administration and police took insufficient action to protect
civilians and in many cases may have colluded with the attackers and
actively participated in the violence'. (Amnesty International in
press release on 26 February 2003). In a systematic manner,
pre-planned according to a large number of independent reports,
properties of Muslims-houses, shops, mosques etc. worth roughly ¤700
million-were looted and burned. Many women were raped on a large
scale by mobs and often killed thereafter. According to the same
independent investigations, the government of Gujarat - especially in
the first few days after the attack on the train in Godhra - did not
interfere in the orchestrated violence while ample evidence has been
provided that the police, other officials and politicians have in
fact actively participated in the violence and protected the guilty.
On 23rd of April the Indian Ambassador in Madrid was officially
summoned by the Spanish chairmanship of the European Union on the
issue of Gujarat. Furthermore on the 2nd of May the European Union,
during a official meeting high-level meeting between India and the EU
in New Delhi, expressed its deep concern about the situation in
Gujarat to the Indian authorities. During the same period an internal
EU-report was leaked mentioning 'the clear evidence of complicity by
state ministers [of the Modi government] in the Gujarat killings'
(The Week, May 12 2002). Another leaked Netherlands report also
referred to the targeting of Muslims and indicted Gujarat Chief
Minister Modi for his failure to protect the minorities (The Week).
The government of India, 'loosing its diplomatic cool.. responding in
a tone of unseemly anger' (tehelka.com, 24 April 2002), accused the
EU of playing 'a partisan role which could affect the friendly
relations between India and the European Union, as well as with the
European countries (The Hindu, April 26 2002). This didn't stop the
European Parliament to adopt a resolution on May 16th 2002 asking the
government of India and Gujarat to 'continue their investigations
independently and impartially and to bring those responsible to
justice, irrespective of their positions, religion, identity of
political belief'. The resolution also stated that 'numerous
independent inquiries by human rights organisations confirm that
state officials and police of Gujarat were involved in the clashes'.
At the end of June 2002 the Dutch Minister of Development
Co-operation, Mrs. Eveline Herfkens, wrote in a letter to ICCO, the
India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) and six other NGO's that
'the governance situation has come under considerable pressure
because of what happened'. Furthermore she wrote: 'I assure you that
I will continue to follow up on the developments in Gujarat. It is of
great importance to follow up to what extent the Indian central and
Gujarati state government will match deeds with words, will take
preventive measures to stop repetition of violence, will undertake
action to bring the perpetrators of violence to court, take care of
an adequate rehabilitation of the victims and implement measures to
counter discrimination of religious minorities (in particular in
programmes that are financed with Dutch funds). I have requested Her
Majesty's Ambassador in New Delhi to continue to report about this to
o o o o
For the press reports of both Amnesty International and Human Rights
Watch about Gujarat see: -www.indianet.nl/pb030226.html
For six recent stories by Navaz Kotwal of Commonwealth Human Rights
Initiative (CHRI) about individual victims of the violence and
impunity in Gujarat see: www.indianet.nl/gujarat.html
Further information mail to Gerard Oonk, co-ordinator India Committee
of The Netherlands; E-mail: g.oonk@...
Global campaign against the threat of war against Iraq by the
aggressive, imperialist American political establishment on the
increase. Irrespective of this fact, the American regime is bent on
going for war. To resist this global threat for peace, security and
global integrity, the Global Peace Movement is planning to hold
demonstrations all over the world on the 15th.
To resist war and to express our solidarity with the global peace
initiatives, the Committee Against War on Iraq is also organizing a
human chain on the 15th in Delhi. The programme is as follows:
Human Chain Formation
Date: 15th March, Saturday Time: 3.30 pm Venue: Mandi House, New
Delhi Please do come and mobilize
others to come.
Prakash Louis For Committee Against War on Iraq 13.3.2003
Prakash Louis Executive Director Indian Social Institute 10,
Institutional Area Lodi Road New Delhi 110003 Tel: 4625015, 4622379,
4611745 Fax: 011-4690660 Email: prakash@...
o o o
The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace [India] is fully
backing the anti-war movement in India and is part of the Committee
Against War on Iraq and will be participating in the proposed
March 15 and subsequent actions. Please join us.
The onus is on the US
As American scholars in South Asia, we feel a responsibility to
express our grave concern with, and disassociation from, the recent
direction of the United States foreign policy as it has been
expressed by the administration [...].
Frontline, March 01 - 14, 2003
REVIEW ARTICLE: Has Shiv Sena a future?
The Charisma of Direct Action: Power, Politics and the Shiv Sena by
Julia M. Eckert; Oxford University Press; pages 307, Rs.595.
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