Article 370 done! One Nation, One Flag.

Article 370 done! One Nation, One Flag.

August 5, 2019. Kashmir is finally free. Free to grow, free to make a future. Having visited the kashmir valley more than twice , it is an incredibly  emotional moment for me to see this happening in my lifetime. I can proudly say kashmir belongs only to India and it is part of the same soil that I belong to.

Article 370 never gave Kashmiris freedom. It only created selfish leaders who created a terror filled society and robbed Kashmiri youth of opportunity. It is finally time for it to go. Anyone objects, tell them loudly: One Country, One System

HISTORY OF KASHMIR AND INDIA

At the time, the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, which had a majority Muslim population, was governed by maharaja Hari Singh, a Hindu. Unlike most of the princely states which aligned themselves with one nation or the other, Singh wanted independence for Kashmir. To avert pressure to join either new nation, the maharaja signed a standstill agreement with Pakistan that allowed citizens of Kashmir to continue trade and travel with the new country. India did not sign a similar standstill agreement with the princely state.

As partition-related violence raged across the two new nations, the government of Pakistan pressured Kashmir to join it. Pro-Pakistani rebels, funded by Pakistan, took over much of western Kashmir, and in September 1947, Pashtun tribesmen streamed over the border from Pakistan into Kashmir. Singh asked for India’s help in staving off the invasion, but India responded that, in order to gain military assistance, Kashmir would have to accede to India, thus becoming part of the new country.

Singh agreed and signed the Instrument of Accession, the document that aligned Kashmir with the Dominion of India, in October 1947. Kashmir was later given special status within the Indian constitution—a status which guaranteed that Kashmir would have independence over everything but communications, foreign affairs, and defense.

 

What is Article 370?

Included in the Constitution on October 17, 1949, Article 370 exempts J&K from the Indian Constitution (except Article 1 and Article 370 itself) and permits the state to draft its own Constitution. It restricts Parliament’s legislative powers in respect of J&K. For extending a central law on subjects included in the Instrument of Accession (IoA), mere “consultation” with the state government is needed. But for extending it to other matters, “concurrence” of the state government is mandatory. The IoA came into play when the Indian Independence Act, 1947 divided British India into India and Pakistan. For some 600 princely states whose sovereignty was restored on Independence, the Act provided for three options: to remain an independent country, join Dominion of India, or join Dominion of Pakistan — and this joining with either of the two countries was to be through an IoA. Thus through IOA , Jammu and Kashmir joined India.

 

In simple words , the implications of Article 370 before and after are :

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Now we come to some of the most complex parts of this historic decision and try to unfold them legally, constitutionally and morally.

First, what is to be taken into consideration here is that Instrument of Accession(IOA) and Article 370 are two different things! If one can understand this difference then the confusion is almost clear.  Through Instrument of Accession , the state of Jammu and kashmir has permanently been integrated as a part of India therefore nobody can take it away from India, not even the elite political families of Kashmir as they have been claiming to do so since a long time and reaping political benefits over false claims and creating fear in the mind of local people over the years. On the other hand Article 370 was drafted few years later after the IOA was signed to give special status to Jammu and kashmir and give special autonomy.

Now this Article 370 has been done with by the presidential order and this “special status’, ‘temporary provision”, “special Autonomy” whatever one might want to call it no longer applies to Jammu and Kashmir. Therefore it must be noted that it is absolutely crystal clear that Jammu and kashmir is, was and will be a part of India through IOA and not Article 370.

Secondly, Whether the consent of Jammu and kashmir Assembly is required  to abolish Article 370? Here is the actual wordings of Article 370:

Article 370 of the Constitution of India

1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Constitution,—

(a) the provisions of article 238 shall not apply now in relation to the state of Jammu and Kashmir;
(b) the power of Parliament to make laws for the said state shall be limited to—

(i) those matters in the Union List and the Concurrent List which, in consultation with the Government of the State, are declared by the President to correspond to matters specified in the Instrument of Accession governing the accession of the State to the Dominion of India as the matters with respect to which the Dominion Legislature may make laws for that State; and
(ii) such other matters in the said Lists as, with the concurrence of the Government of the State, the President may by order specify.

Explanation: For the purpose of this article, the Government of the State means the person for the time being recognized by the President on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly of the State as the Sadr-i-Riyasat (now Governor) of Jammu and Kashmir, acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers of the State for the time being in office.

(c) the provisions of article 1 and of this article shall apply in relation to that State;
(d) such of the other provisions of this Constitution shall apply in relation to that State subject to such exceptions and modifications as the President may by order specify:
Provided that no such order which relates to the matters specified in the Instrument of Accession of the State referred to in paragraph (i) of sub-clause (b) shall be issued except in consultation with the Government of the State:
Provided further that no such order which relates to matters other than those referred to in the last preceding proviso shall be issued except with the concurrence of that Government.

(2) If the concurrence of the Government of the State referred to in paragraph (ii) of sub-clause (b) of clause (1) or in the second provision to sub-clause (d) of that clause be given before the Constituent Assembly for the purpose of framing the Constitution of the State is convened, it shall be placed before such Assembly for such decision as it may take thereon.

(3) Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this article, the President may, by public notification, declare that this article shall cease to be operative or shall be operative only with such exceptions and modifications and from such date as he may specify:
Provided that the recommendation of the Constituent Assembly of the State referred to in clause (2) shall be necessary before the President issues such a notification.

 

Now when the Home minister spoke in the Rajya Sabha, he citied the (3) clause of Article 370, thereby making Article 370 more or less null and void via a “Presidential order”. This point is very important as a presidential order is an executive order and not a legislative one. Also as there is currently no state government in Jammu and kashmir, the person who represents the state is the Governor himself via Governor’s rule that is in place. Therefore the Central government merely needed to take the permission of the Governor to imply clause (3) in this place.  This is what you call a political masterstroke.Hence it is completely within the limits of Constitution and totally applicable. Therefore as a conclusion , the concurrence of state assembly is not required.

One more issue that is complicated is the bifurcation of Jammu and kashmir. The earlier state is now divided into two separate Union territories that is one UT of Jammu and Kashmir with legislature (like that of Delhi) and other UT of Ladakh region without a legislature. This is of very much significance especially to the Ladakh region as it has been in the shadows of Kashmir valley region over the years and been facing discriminations in terms of development, representations etc. Also now that Jammu and kashmir will be an UT with legislature, it will have its own MLA’s and also there will be a direct control of central government in the form of Lt Governor. This is also done to further increase the powers of Centre over the region and therefore give it more stability and accountability

To conclude, some of the things that needs to be looked upon on a priority basis now are the reintegration of Kashmiri pandits, bringing Investment and development to Kashmir and most importantly keeping the ‘Kashmiriyat’ alive along with the ‘Insaniyaat’. Jai Hind

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The Anatomy of BJP : Ahead of 2019

The Anatomy of BJP : Ahead of 2019

 

Disclaimer : I am not writing in support of any political party. These are just my views based on analysis of one party over last 3-4 years trying to give constructive criticism. Shortly I would be coming up with another blog about the opposition party as well.

 

The BJP has a unique cocktail of voter bases. They are all right wing, but differ in the degree to which they are so. There are three main types. The first is the Extreme Right (ER). This is the hardcore ‘Hindus are the best, screw the rest’ category. These include the Karni Sena types. These voters may secretly say ‘only Modi can keep Muslims in check’ or ‘women should be fully covered’. Some call them ‘The Fringe’. This fringe is a solid chunk of the BJP’s support base. Sure, only a few engage in the actual violence or make loony statements in public. However, the number of people mentally nodding their heads and saying ‘sahi baat hai’ to them runs into millions. The ER is a fantastic set of voters. They don’t think much. They feel. Once voters can be swayed by emotion, they are easier to manipulate. The BJP laps them up as they come in hordes, take Lord Ram’s name and press the lotus button.

The second set of BJP voters are the Liberal Right (LR), or the Aspirational India voter. These are the educated ones, who need jobs, GDP growth, economic activity and opportunities. They want a government that can give them that. They also want modern values like freedom — to date, drink, marry whoever they want. They want an India they can be proud of. More than anything, they want more money in their pocket. The LR are in fact the economically right-wing voters. They can be college students, doctors, lawyers, MBAs and of course, don’t forget the stereotypical ‘software programmer’ type. The coding guys who want to tell their US friends that India is doing well.

The third category is the Middle Right (MR), who lie somewhere in the centre. They harbour a certain sense of Hindu entitlement — Hindus being in majority — but they won’t get violent over it. They also want economic growth, although they aren’t sure about the freedom aspects that younger, educated Indians want. These are the small and medium businessmen and government servants. Many ‘Sanghis’ fall in this category. The MR are somewhat passive, hugely loyal and the biggest chunk of the BJP’s support base.

Here’s the thing. The BJP needs all three to win 2019. If one group slips, BJP loses. During L K Advani’s time, it had the ER and MR, but not the LR. Hence, the BJP lost. In 2014, however, it discovered the perfect glue to bring all three together — Modi.

All of them, from the Karni Sena to the RSS uncle to the software programmer, loved the idea of Hindu resurgence that the new regime promised. The ER, MR and LR live in peace most of the time. Sometimes, they want things the other group doesn’t want, and that’s okay. The software programmer type may love to see Modi in Davos. It doesn’t really matter to the Karni Sena. Similarly, the ER may want a temple in Ayodhya, the LR don’t really care.

However, sometimes there is a problem. Trouble brews when agendas clash between these groups, particularly the ER and LR. That’s when the BJP gets a massive headache. That’s what happened in the Padmaavat drama. The Karni Sena protested against the movie. The BJP, not wanting to annoy its ER base, looked the other way. The Karni Sena went on a rampage, even scaring a bus full of school kids. That’s where the LR began to panic (as would any sane person). After all, software programmers may want Hindu pride, but not mobs scaring their kids. As the LR watched the ER go out of control, and the BJP doing little, they began to get nervous.

For the party, this is worrisome. The last thing BJP wants is to be seen as the BJP under Advani. It needs the ER, but also the LR.
So what is the party to do? It’s always going to be a tightrope walk. However, in the case of Padmaavat, the Karni Sena was given too much slack. From a moral and legal standpoint, it should have been quelled much earlier. Politically, the party came dangerously close to a major blunder. Had the mob violence led to lives being lost or people getting hurt, things could have gone out of control. The BJP should have acted faster. It needs to know which ‘fringe’ act is just empty noise, and which one can become a national-level blowup. It did act finally. The censors cleared the film. The courts supported it too. However, looking back, it could have been handled better.

The BJP’s three bases are still somewhat intact. However, the LR are nervous. The party needs to check the fringe on a war footing. It not only makes India unsafe, but also shakes the BJP’s own foundation. It should remember its base is no longer just the Karni Sena. It is also the software programmers.

Standing up to “Jana-Gana-Mana”

Standing up to “Jana-Gana-Mana”

Let me begin with a simple declaration. I believe that India is a better country when not only the government protects the right of free speech but also the culture values that right. I believe Indians should be tolerant of dissent, even when they believe dissenters are offensive and wrong, and that the best cure for bad speech isn’t censorship but rather better speech.

I absolutely love India’s national anthem and  the hope and pride it triggers when I hear it. Composed by Nobel Laureate (Sir) Rabindranath Tagore, who would later return his knighthood to protest the British Army’s massacre of unarmed Indians in 1919, the anthem was first sung at a convention of the Indian National Congress in pre-independence India. In a multi-religious country that speaks 780 languages, the anthem is a great unifier, which binds the left and the right of India’s incomparably colorful population. We learn how to sing it before we can read the alphabet. And we stand rod straight as a mark of respect when it plays. Above all else, my country’s anthem reminds me that, unlike so many other parts of the world, I am free in India, even if ours is an untidy and argumentative democracy.

That the anthem is now the subject of petty bickering on TV talk shows is a trivialization of what it stands for. The debate first erupted when a Supreme Court judge (now the chief justice) passed an interim order in November 2016 directing that the anthem be played and the Indian flag be compulsorily displayed before any movie is screened in theaters.

Personally, I am very happy to stand in movie halls for the 52 seconds it asks of me. But I am also terribly uncomfortable with labeling fellow citizens who challenge the court’s original diktat as ‘anti-national.’ If you see the anthem like I do, as the song of our hard-won liberty, that freedom encompasses the right of citizens to disagree and dissent. And some of them are also asking — why only  movies?  Why not make the anthem mandatory in government offices, parliament, and the courts?

In 1945, George Orwell warned that “nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism.”   And this is exactly the problem — our ‘nationalism’ is being contorted into hashtags and hate. The cruel judgments we make of those who may challenge inherited wisdom undermine the very republic we claim to be defending.   This streak of violence — in words, thought and action — is the defiling of patriotism.

In an age of populism, nationalism is being peddled like soap. Nativist television anchors encourage a competitive circus in which “experts” fight over who is more ‘nationalist.’ This banal point-scoring reduces love for nation to a chessboard of one-upmanship.

And this totally overlooks those who are quietly patriotic:  the dignified soldier who serves his country in battle, the philanthropists and activists who feed the hungry and fight the corrupt, the honest, hard-working citizen who voluntarily cleans the public beach or the neighborhood park, the high-flying, dollar-earning Wall-Street banker who returns home and never converts the green card into a U.S passport — love for your country is expressed in many ways. But when you need to boast about it or look down on others for not matching up, it’s not patriotism; its jingoism.

Most national anthems are not meant to codify or police our behavior; they are songs of freedom. They are a celebration of what our countries are- or should aspire to be. This is why I admire the take-a-knee campaign by NFL players and other athletes in America. Their contentious decision to kneel whilst the anthem is played is a rights-driven activism that demands an end to the discrimination of people of color. This is not an insult to America; it’s a citizenry that is peacefully engaged in wanting better for their people. What could be more patriotic than that? Many anthems around the world are songs of defiance and resistance in their genesis. The French national anthem, “La Marseillaise,” written as a war song against foreign invaders but was adapted in modern times to show the power of a united people.

When we start policing patriotism we are in danger of pushing the sublime to the ridiculous. As one of judges on the Supreme Court bench said: “Next thing will be that people should not wear T-shirts and shorts to movies because it will amount to disrespect for the anthem; where do we stop this moral policing?”

I want to see people stand for the Anthem out of love, not fear, and so long as the fear remains, a decision to stand means nothing but an empty victory in a culture war that will tear this nation apart.

I love my anthem. But I dislike coercion of thought. I think that makes me a patriot.

China: The Awkward Neighbour

China: The Awkward Neighbour

 

All about understanding the Chinese mind

Just when the stand-off between India and China over the Doklam plateau threatened to go the way of the 1986-1987 incident (Arunachal Pradesh), the two sides agreed to step back and disengage, thus avoiding a confrontation. The Indian side has pulled back its personnel and equipment to the Indian side of the boundary, while China has agreed to make ‘necessary adjustments and deployment’ on its part. It is unclear, however, whether China will patrol the region, which it claims to have been doing earlier. Road construction will not continue for the present.

Behind the scenes, quiet diplomacy by the two sides and ever dominant Indian Foreign policy under Prime Minister Modi, no doubt, led to the defusing of what could have been a serious crisis. Those on either side of the divide currently claiming victory must, hence, pause to think what the future holds.

To savour victory without understanding the factors at work would be a serious mistake. To begin with, China and India have a kind of competitive coexistence. While professing friendship, both sides nurse a mutual suspicion of each other — at times prompting several degrees of alienation. Both countries remain wary of each other’s intentions and actions. Understanding the way the Chinese mind works is, hence, important. The Chinese mind tends to be relational, i.e. dictated by context and relationship. When the Chinese state that they have halted road building in the disputed Doklam area, while adding that they may reconsider the decision after taking into account ‘different factors’, what China means is that it is willing to wait to implement its decision, but at a time of its choosing when an opportunity exists for a settlement suited to its plans. Little finality can, therefore, be attached to any of China’s actions.

Any belief, hence, that China has been deterred by India’s firm position at Doklam could be misplaced. Since the China-Vietnam conflict in 1980, China has avoided getting into any outright conflict. By stepping back from a confrontation with India over a minor issue at this time, what it had in mind were two significant events, viz. the BRICS summit in China in September and the forthcoming 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. Also, it possibly believes that this would help China dilute global perceptions about its aggressive designs.

 

The BRICS summit and the 19th Party Congress both have high priority for China today. Nothing will be permitted to disrupt either event. Extreme factors would not be allowed to affect this situation. For President Xi Jinping, presiding over the BRICS Summit at this juncture will help consolidate his informal leadership of the group. As the undisputed leader of BRICS, China believes it can take a signal step towards global leadership.

China is currently seeking to reshape the regional and international order, and is keen to fine-tune its ‘Great Power diplomacy’. It, hence, needs to be seen as preferring peace over conflict. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a potent instrument in this direction, but needs a peaceful environment to succeed. Limited wars or conflicts, even with the possibility of successful outcomes, would damage China’s peaceful image globally.

The 19th Party Congress is even more important from President Xi’s point of view. It is intended to sustain his legacy and leave his stamp on the Party in the mould of Chairman Mao. To achieve comprehensive success, he needs peace to achieve his target. Till then everything else will need to wait.

This is again a delicate moment for China on the economic planes. China’s growth rate is actually declining, debt levels are dangerously high, and labour is getting more expensive. At this moment, hence, it is more than ever dependent on international trade and global production chains to sustain higher levels of GDP growth. For the present, development, therefore, is the cardinal objective.

The Achilles’ heel of the Chinese economy is the lack of resources, specially oil. Oil from the Gulf region is critical for China’s growth. Peace in Asia is thus vital to ensure uninterrupted supplies of oil. Uncertainties and disruptions across the Asian region would hamper China’s economic progress.

For all the above reasons, China currently leans towards the pragmatic when it comes to relations with countries other than those in its immediate periphery in East Asia. It is not keen to follow a policy adopted by its new-found strategic ally viz. Russia which has paid a high cost for its ‘interventionist’ policies. China tends to take a longer term view of its future and, despite the rising wave of nationalism in China today, is anxious not to upset the international political or economic order. For this reason alone, it would shun a conflict with India in the Doklam area.

China is not a sleeping giant , and aspires to be a Great Power. It is well-positioned to achieve this if it maintains its present course. Any interruption, by indulging in a conflict with nations small or big, would not only damage but derail the levels of progress that are essential to achieve this objective. President Xi’s China dream seems predicated on this belief. It implies support for a rule-based international system, linked to ‘Tianxia’,in the belief that this would help China overtake the U.S. as the dominant world power.It is unlikely to do anything to deviate from this goal.

China is definitely not a ‘Pakistan’ that, it would show its emotions  in a defeat or a victory. The Chinese don’t fire bullets and there is no cross border insurgency but more effective than that, is the Chinese policy of ambiguity and unresolved tensions, for what it is, the Chinese are made of nerves of steel and are ever comfortable with the awkwardness that surrounds its neighbours. The Chinese would never show their cards not even in a crisis or in a state of dominance.

While this attitude cannot be taken for granted for all time, the current Chinese leadership seems comfortable in following this prescription. It appears to believe in the ideal that ‘the longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward’.

For China this is a game of Chess and not that of a T20, for that they are ready to play the long waiting game and sacrifice some of its pawns.

Hindutva Vs Hinduism

 

Hinduism and Hindutva now stand face to face, not yet ready to confront each other, but aware that the confrontation will have to come some day. It is my belief that it will be a struggle unto death.

Hindutva has nothing to do with Hinduism as a faith or a religion, but rather as a badge of cultural identity and an instrument of political mobilisation.Hinduism is a religion without fundamentals – no founder or prophet, no organised Church, no compulsory beliefs or rites of worship, no single sacred book…What we see today as Hindutva is part of an attempt to ‘semitise’ the faith – to make Hinduism more like the ‘better-organised’ religions like Christianity and Islam, the better to resist their encroachments.

Speaking pessimistically, Hindutva will be the end of Hinduism. Hinduism is the faith by which a majority of Indians still live. Hindutva is the ideology of a part of the upper-caste, lower-middle class Indians, though it has now spread to large parts of the urban middle classes. The ideology is an attack on Hinduism and an attempt to protect the flanks of a minority consciousness which the democratic process is threatening to corner.

On this plane, the sources of Hindutva are no different from that of Islamic fundamentalism.

Hindutva, if it wins, might make Nepal the world’s largest Hindu country. Hinduism will then survive not as a way of life or the faith of a majority of Indians. It will survive in pockets, cut off from the majority who will claim to live by it. It will also perhaps survive in odd places, outside Hinduism. Perhaps directly in Bali and some sections of the Sikhs and the Jains in India; less directly in aspects of Thai and Sri Lankan Buddhism, in the pre-imperial forms of Christianity in South India and, to the utter chagrin of many, in many strands of South Asian Islam.

That death of Hinduism in India will be celebrated by all votaries of Hindutva. For they have always been embarrassed and felt humiliated by Hinduism as it is. Hinduism, I repeat, is a faith and a way of life. Hindutva is an ideology for those whose Hinduism has worn off. Hindutva is built on the tenets of re-formed Hinduism of the nineteenth century. Reformed according to the reading of those who saw Hinduism as inferior to the Semitic creeds, in turn seen as well-bounded, monolithic, well-organized, masculine, and capable of sustaining the ideology of an imperial state.

Speaking optimistically Hindutva has its geographical limits. It cannot spread easily beyond the boundaries of urban, semi-westernized India. It cannot penetrate southern India where Hinduism is more resilient, where it is more difficult to project on to the Muslim the feared and unacceptable parts of one’s own self. Hindutva cannot survive for long even in rural north India where Hinduism is more self-confident and the citizens have not been fully brainwashed by the media to speak only the language of the state. Nor can it survive where the Hindus are willing to be themselves–proudly “backward” superstitious sanatanis rooted firmly in their svadharma and svabhava.

That is why the RSS considers its first task to be moral and physical “improvement” of the Hindus. It does not much like the so-called fallen, compromised Hindus presently available in the back-waters of Mother India. It loves only the Hindus who have been dead for at least one thousand years. If the RSS has its way, it will make every peasant in India wear khaki shorts. For its ideal Indian is the brown- skinned version of the colonial police sergeant, reading the Gita instead of the Bible.

That is why the late Nathuram Godse did not kill the modernist and “pseudo- secular” Jawaharlal Nehru but the ‘arch-reactionary’, ‘anti-national’ sanatani — Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. After the murder, Nehru could only say that the killer was insane. The modernist Prime Minister found it too painful to confront the truth that Godse was sane, that he knew who was the real enemy of Hindutva.

Many of these formations cut across cultures, faiths and state boundaries. The struggle for cultural survival has begun not only in India, but all over the world. In every case, it has also faced a sizable opinion within the community that the struggle must be given up, that pragmatism demands that the culture must adjust to the modern world by giving up its essence to become a part of global mass culture. However, cultures are turning out to be less obedient and docile than many social engineers thought.

Perhaps Hindutva too will die a natural death. But, then, many things that die in the colder climes in the course of a single winter survive in the tropics for years. May be the death of Hindutva will not be as natural as that of some other ideologies. Maybe, post-Gandhian Hinduism will have to take advantage of the democratic process to help Hindutva to die a slightly unnatural death. Perhaps that euthanasia will be called politics.

We see what extreme forms in any religion have done to the nations, Past is full of Church’s hegemony in Europe  and the present can be well reflected in our own neighbourhood – The country they call “Pak” as in pure.Whereas the future seems more grey than white in the middle east threatened by the ISIS ideology of Khorasan and Darl-Al-Harb. We as Indians need to ask ourselves, Where do we want to go?-The idea of “Right” that is Hindutva or the idea that was born as India which is Hinduism!

Moving from Indira to Nehru, Mr Modi.

Once in a lifetime does a person gets to be The Abraham Lincoln of America,the Nelson Mandela of South Africa, The Mao of China  or  The Nehru of India.Its an opportunity for Mr.Modi to be a part of the elite league of World leaders, to become immortal ever with the country’s name.Its upto him to make the shift from Popular to Legitimate!

The BJP’s monumental electoral triumph in Uttar Pradesh, especially after a massive victory in the state’s parliamentary elections in 2014, invites reflection on two important political concepts: Dominance and hegemony. The BJP’s political dominance is now a commonplace observation, but Is it the beginning  BJP’s hegemony as well? Real political matters are involved. And the success of future political strategies might well depend on which concept best captures the realities of Narendra Modi’s India.
Let us start with the differences between Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, viewed as the two most powerful leaders of India after Independence. What was the nature of their power and the polity they ruled? Which one does Modi resemble most? Where might a polity ruled by Modi be headed?
The basic question here is not about Modi’s economics, which is fundamentally different from Nehru’s and Indira Gandhi’s, both of whom were on the left. While Modi is no free market proponent, he is best described as right of centre on economics. The question about hegemony and domination concentrates on politics, not economics.
The basic difference between hegemony and dominance is that the Dominance represents power stemming from persuasion, while Hegemony represents, power from coercion. In democracies, we don’t get pure hegemony or pure dominance. Hegemony is often associated with totalitarian polities, like communism on the left and fascism on the right. The Soviet Union and Maoist China did exercise coercion, but most minds had been ideologically captured. Even the non-state citizen space, the so-called civil society, was inhabited by ideologically conforming and state-supporting organisations.
Democracies construct hegemony differently. They allow freedom to civil society; opposition parties also openly contest the government. They don’t curtail freedom of speech. Even with such freedoms and adversarial opportunities, the power of the Congress party under Nehru spread to all parts of India, with the exception of Kashmir and parts of the Northeast. Only in 1957, 10 years into Nehru’s tenure as PM, did one state, Kerala, acquire a non-Congress government. Opposition parties fought hard, but could not win against him. Also, there was vigorous debate within the Congress. Nehru was sometimes defeated in intra-party debates. Finally, civil society was not repressed.
Nehru was one of the “unchallenged rulers of the world, perhaps the only one who ruled by love and not fear”. Ruled by love, not fear!These words explain why Nehru came to be viewed as a democratically legitimated hegemon of India.
In political practice, despite genetic lineage, Indira Gandhi was anti-Nehru. The masses, on the whole, adored her. But intra-party dissent was crushed; civil society organisations were harassed; government interfered in universities, getting left-leaning academics in positions of power; disagreeing judges were afraid; state-level leaders came to be appointed by her, not by regional wings of the party. Regardless, based on her personal popularity, the Congress party kept winning power in most states (except for 1977), though not in as many as under Nehru. She was dominant, not hegemonic.
In his politics, Modi is more like Indira Gandhi than Nehru. Under his leadership, the BJP is ruling in many more states than ever before. But opposition within the BJP rarely raises its head. Marginalised by Modi’s popularity, the seniors are fading away. An independent voice like Arun Shourie’s could not be accommodated in power, whereas Patel, Nehru’s adversary, was inside the cabinet. Hindu nationalist academics are being imposed on universities. Civil society organisations, opposed to Modi, fear retribution. It is extraordinarily hard to win 40 per cent or more of UP’s vote twice in a row, as Modi did. To this, add winning Maharashtra, a Congress bastion; Haryana and Assam, where the BJP was insignificant; increasing BJP vote share in Bengal, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana; and keeping Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh intact. Punjab, Bihar and Delhi are Modi’s only notable electoral failures.
With this electoral record, Modi has become contemporary India’s most dominant political figure. When Karnataka goes to polls next year, he might even win a southern state. His victorious arc will thus touch all parts of India. No politician since Indira Gandhi has had such cross-regional electoral appeal.
However, like Indira Gandhi, his functioning between elections also departs from democratic principles. He does not stop intolerant organisations from running amok and unleashing violence. Freedom of speech is not a principle he loves. Ideological conformity and/or loyalty shape his political functioning.
Can Modi move from dominance to hegemony? From electoral legitimacy to rule by persuasion? Namely, consolidation of power is often necessary before it can be dispersed. Would he pick power dispersal as a preferred strategy? And what will be his approach to groups that remain suspicious and fearful, especially Muslims (and Christians)?
It is unlikely Modi would pick power dispersal over further power consolidation. The former is not his style

To remain Indira forever or become Nehru for a lifetime will be a challenge for Mr.Modi.For now, we should celebrate the man, the vision and the hope he brings for India.

The ‘Unsung’ Refugees: Rohingya

“People floating like pollen in search of more fertile soil.”

The Rohingyas are a people struck by tragedy: persecuted at home in Myanmar, rejected or barely tolerated abroad, and sacrificed at the altar of strategic calculations by powerful neighbours. To add to it, the refugee crisis in Europe has overshadowed their plight. Both institutionally discriminated and denied basic human rights in a legally-sanctioned manner as well as removed from the mainstream, over a million Rohingyas have no land they can call home. It is as though they have been expelled from humanity itself.

Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, neighbouring Bangladesh, are not recognised by the Myanmar government as an official ethnic group and are therefore denied citizenship. Most Rohingyas are not qualified to be citizens of Myanmar as per the 1982 Citizenship Law, which was promulgated by the erstwhile military rule. While it is claimed that there were no Rohingyas in Myanmar before the British brought ‘Bengalis’ to Burma, there is sufficient evidence to show that the Rohingyas pre-existed the British-engineered migration (during the British occupation of the Arakan State in 1823) from present-day Bangladesh to Burma. Even those who arrived in Burma post-1823 could not go back to Bangladesh now given that they have no citizenship claims there. This effectively makes them a stateless people.

Hundreds of people have been killed at the hands of the military, many more hundreds have disappeared, scores of women sexually assaulted, villages razed to the ground, and tens of thousands have fled the country. A large number of those escaping the brutal violence end up in the well-oiled trafficking networks of the region who smuggle them out for huge amounts of money. Some die en route, some make it to the borders of neighbouring countries only to be turned away: hordes, including little children, often get stranded at sea.

Myanmar, however, denies that its military has committed any wrong. A government-appointed inquiry committee recently concluded that “there were no cases of genocide and religious persecution in the region”.

What makes the anti-Rohingya violence in Myanmar even more distressing is that all of this is now happening under the stewardship of Aung San Suu Kyi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her courageous and inspiring “non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights”.Clearly, Ms. Suu Kyi’s precarious political position makes it hard for her to respond to the crisis as effectively as she could have. Despite the return of democracy in 2015, the military continues to have a strong hold over the civilian government in Myanmar, especially on key issues such as defence, border affairs and home affairs. The country’s constitution also reserves one-fourth of the seats in Parliament for the military. And though Ms. Suu Kyi’s party is in power, she herself is barred from becoming the country’s president (she holds the post of State Counsellor) since her children are British citizens. Under such circumstances, her ability to take on the powerful military establishment remains limited.

The predicament of the Rohingyas is also a result of contemporary geopolitical realities and strategic calculations by key stakeholders in the region and elsewhere. The Western world is busy with the unfolding of events in Syria and the resultant refugee crisis. Hence they would not want to get bogged down with the Rohingyas, whose plight has no direct bearing on the West’s interests. Having steadfastly invested in the pro-democracy movement led by Ms. Suu Kyi, and by recently lifting the 20-year-long sanctions against Myanmar, the U.S. finds itself in no position to bargain or put pressure on the country.No Oil No party!

The UN has also proven to be powerless on the Rohingya question, as it has been on most questions lately. In May 2015, when the UN Security Council held a closed-door briefing on the human rights situation in Myanmar, China made it clear that it was an internal matter of Myanmar. For China, its relationship with Myanmar’s Generals is important to gain access to the country’s natural resources, and recruiting Myanmar for China’s larger economic goals which include opening a land corridor to the Bay of Bengal.

India, a traditional home for Myanmar’s pro-democracy activists, has been reluctant to either speak out about the violence against the Rohingyas or accommodate them in significant numbers. China’s closeness to Myanmar clearly worries New Delhi. Its reluctance also comes from the fact that Myanmar’s assistance is seen as significant in dealing with the insurgency in the Northeast. In any case, the Rohingyas are of no strategic value to anyone. Compare this to how both India and China rushed in with aid during the earthquake in Nepal nearly two years ago. Today, many Rohingyas are either turned away while trying to enter the country or sent to jail for illegal entry. Recall that India has not signed the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol which require countries to accept refugees.

Although India’s reluctance to speak out publicly about the violations against the Rohingyas is understandable, it can ill afford to ignore the crisis in Myanmar. Even if human rights considerations are the least of India’s worries, it is clearly in its interest to ensure that stability and peace return to the Rakhine state. For one, as and when peace returns to Myanmar, India can ask the latter to rehabilitate the Rohingyas (like it did vis-à-vis East Pakistan refugees after the 1971 war). Second, a stable and democratic Myanmar will naturally gravitate towards India. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the Rohingya crisis, if it remains unsettled, can become a path toward radicalization and pose a greater security threat for India. There are reports of increasing radicalisation among sections of the Rohingya community. A December 2016 report by the International Crisis Group spoke precisely about this challenge and highlighted how rights violations can lead to radicalisation.

India should use creative diplomacy to persuade Myanmar to resolve the Rohingya crisis. It should perhaps consider appointing a special envoy for this purpose who should hold discreet negotiations with Myanmar’s military, Ms. Suu Kyi, Dhaka and Beijing in order to bring an end to the crisis.

“HUMAN BEINGS,WHILE CAPABLE OF BEING THE WORST,ARE ALSO CAPABLE OF RISING ABOVE THEMSELVES,CHOOSING AGAIN WHAT IS GOOD AND MAKING A NEW START ,DESPITE THEIR MENTAL AND SOCIAL CONDITIONING” – Pope Francis