New India as the Old Pakistan, according to some
Amb Kanwal Sibal

Former Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal at his biting best in this subtle satire.

Sections of our political class, those wedded to a certain version of secularism, and the sensation-seeking media seem determined to erode the legitimacy of the Modi government. The political and emotional fissures between various communities, including between the Dalits and Hindus at large, are being wilfully deepened in the process. If the ruling party should rein in elements in its ranks whose statements and actions create social and religious disharmony, the opposition and sections of the media should also act responsibly and not pretend that the BJP/RSS is responsible for all the ills of India, and blow out of all proportion every reprehensible incident involving a Muslim or a Dalit to give force to accusations about rising intolerance in India.

The recent World Culture Festival organized by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s Art of Living provided one more occasion to secular diehards to denigrate any occurrence in the country under the present political dispensation that reflects the country’s Hindu personality and traditions. One particular commentary that has appeared encapsulates most eloquently the anti-Hindu prejudices of this group. One needs to quote from the text of the commentary point by point and expose its many false assumptions and exaggerations, with the help of some irony, humour and satire.

“Snake oil”, “scabrous”, “monstrous”, that is how the event has been described on what the commentary would have us believe are the pristine, unpolluted flood plains of the Yamuna. If the river was as transparent as the Ganga at Gangotri when traversing the capital and not foaming with chemical discharges between Delhi and Noida as we have seen, we should indeed be shocked at the “ravage”, the “sustained damage” that this cultural fest has done to the Yamuna.

The National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) decision to allow the event will now lead to “real estate sharks, strip miners, illegal quarries to exult and policemen, if they stumble upon a rape in progress, can argue that the victim should have come to them before it started, it’s already a fact accomplished, and a slap on the rapist’s knuckles and wallet later, without unreasonably interrupting him now, should be restitution enough. Consent is unnecessary.” These would seem very reasonable conclusions to be drawn by intelligent men from the abdication of responsibilities by the NGT.

“The World Culture Festival… will in the main be Hindu, kitsch and chaos.” A pity it will be a Hindu, not a Sufi festival that would reflect our composite culture. “Hindu” sits so well with kitsch and chaos, given the organic link between it and poor taste and disorder.

“For us, as the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh has reminded us, the enemy is Pakistan”, showing how unschooled he is because our prime minister has just dropped in there for tea and India and Pakistan have now become chai pey charcha friends.

Why should it be seditious for students to yell ‘Pakistan Zindabad‘ and land up in jail “if a stool pigeon coos into a ministerial ear that they have”. There is no distortion of facts there, as they have been ascertained very punctiliously. The students were truly booked for shouting an anodyne and pardonable slogan about wishing long life to a friendly country, not for yelling that they yearned for the destruction of India into small bits, inshallah, inshallah.

A slogan like “Pakistan Zindabad”, it is claimed, is akin to saying “My name, your name is Vietnam” in the 60s. We were a mature democracy then as such slogans wee tolerated. This comparison is relevant as Vietnam has been our enemy since 1947, occupies a large part of territory, has inflicted wars on us, has bled us with a thousand cuts through terrorism, and has been involved in jihad against us for years. If shouting pro-Vietnam slogans was forgivable then, so should the shouting of pro-Pakistan slogans be now. Our mature democracy should take all this wish for Pakistan’s eternal well-being in its stride- after all despite all what Pakistan has done to us we are surviving. Aren't we? Maturity means forgiveness and a willingness to suffer pain. Turning the other cheek, as the Bible says. All countries (especially the Christian ones who take the Bible seriously and bring about regime change while praying in church), except us, are immature. They hit back when attacked, which is immature of them. We, in India, have a global lien on maturity.

“But Pakistan stays the auld enemy, inveterate in its hostility, implacable in its hate, diabolical in its use of terrorism as state policy, which of course no other nation does and India, tauba tauba, would never dream of doing”, says the commentary. How right! It is self-demeaning for us to think of Pakistan in such blinkered, narrow-minded terms. Pakistan is not our enemy, it is not implacable in its hate, and is not diabolical in the use of terrorism as state policy. All this is a figment of our imagination. On the other hand, we ourselves do all this terrorism stuff, like others. So, why this holier than thou attitude? We are as soiled as Pakistan, except that Pakistan has provided no proof of this to us or the world. Actually, they don’t want to embarrass us, but secularists in India know India bears only ill-will to Pakistan and they will therefore hint at the truth as a service to the country.

“The hyperventilating anchor (Arnab Goswami, no doubt) whose programme every evening is in every way like online pornography which no one will admit to watching, reminds us of the cost the nation has had to bear, of the lives lost”, which “as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation told the Supreme Court this Wednesday, stray dogs have killed more people in that metropolis than terrorists have.” Actually, it was stray dogs that entered the Taj and Oberoi hotels and other places and bit 166 people to death. Earlier, they killed several hundred in Mumbai twice with bombs tied to their tails. They went on a rampage in the streets of Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Pune and our religious places, biting so many people that security guards have to now open the hoods and trunks of our cars to check if stray dogs may spring out of them suddenly and insert their canines into unsuspecting flesh. It is because of them that one has to take off shoes and belts and laptops at airports and, generally, there is fear around, and the quality of our urban life and international travel has suffered. The stray dogs are active on the social media so much that their bark can incite others of their kin far away to go on a biting spree. We must view the so-called terrorist menace in proper perspective and worry more about stray dogs.

“If Pakistan is the enemy, it is disconcerting how much like the old Pakistan the new India is becoming. We are increasingly them, not in empathy but in emulation. The spirit of reasoned dissent, without which democracy withers, is being snuffed out, as unpatriotic”, according to the commentary. Absolutely. One does not recognize India any more. We are killing our Shias and Ahmadis because they are not good Muslims. Also, all sorts of blasphemers who don’t subscribe to the tenets of RSS orthodoxy. Our school books demonize the secularists. Our terrorists are blowing up our kids in schools. We are using airpower, tanks and artillery to decimate Kashmiri terrorists, and have displaced millions of them from their homes so that we can wreak havoc on their land. We were actually harbouring bin Laden but sneaked him into Abbottabad just to put the heat on Pakistan. We have jihadi groups seeking the destruction of Pakistan. The Shiv Sena has cadres for doing just that, except that their dinghies leak when they are put to sea to target Karachi. Our military intelligence is doing this too, except that those trained want the full benefits of OROP. We don't allow reasoned dissent anymore. Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s mouth has been taped. Mani Shankar Aiyar cannot abuse Modi. The BJP cannot be attacked, every statement made by fringe elements of the party cannot be conflated with the views of the government, the horrible killing of an individual from the minority community cannot be projected as a national calamity, awards cannot be returned, and words like genocide and pogroms are banned.

“The nation has been raised to the pantheon.” This is bad for our youth. Calling for the destruction of the nation is a part of the process of growing up of our university lads. It is part of their political training so that when they have the levers of power in their hands, they can actually destroy the nation. In any case, in this world of globalization nations are now obsolete. All these damn fool Americans flying huge American flags on their porches are so retrograde in their thinking. All this God Bless America and putting their hand on there hearts when the national anthem is sung is so primitive. And America is the foremost democracy in the world, apparently.

“The religion of the greatest number is the greatest good” cannot apply in the case of Hindu India. If we were a Muslim country, then of course we would proudly be the “Islamic Republic of India”. But this Hinduism is such a godmen-infested religion with long prefixes, full of charlatans and so much mumbo-jumbo that associating India with it would be a tragedy.

“The government is ridden by decrepit sadhus and swayamsevak zealots, an unholy alliance of the knackered and the knickered.” So true, especially because of the alliteration. All these ministers and bureaucrats are smeared in ashes and wear khaki shorts to office. They are wielding lathis in parade grounds every morning, with Amit Shah and Gadkari in the lead. The budget was actually drawn up at Nagpur. Modi’s agenda is decided during Kumbh Melas when the knackered are there in countless numbers.

“The army is now the touchstone on which patriotism is tested, the symbol and the saviour of the nation.” How shocking! The army has always let us down- in 1947-48, 65, 71, and at Kargil. They let these fellows from a friendly country across the border to go on a shooting spree at Udhampur, Pathankot, Pampore and the like. They don't deserve any recognition. Actually, they are gambolling in the snow at Siachen just like our tourists do at Gulmarg. We have General Dalbir Singh’s photo on bill-boards all over the country as India’s saviour, much like Raheel Sharif’s portraits in Pakistan.

“Even the judiciary is not immune to this infection: the sermon with which the Delhi high court granted bail to Kanhaiya Kumar astonishingly told “all concerned that they are enjoying this freedom only because our borders are guarded by our armed and paramilitary forces”. How stupid of the judge to remind those who want to break India into bits that there are those who are sacrificing their lives to not let that happen. In fact, those guarding our frontiers feel encouraged by the likes of Kanhaiya Kumar because their morale gets boosted when they know that such icons can exercise their freedom of expression without restraint. That is the kind of liberal country they want to defend. Kanhaiya Kumar gives them inspiration to make more sacrifices for the motherland.

Our forces (are)… now, on the Yamuna outside Delhi, where they should not, slaves for a god person. Pakistan has been there, done that…. though its army would refuse to be free labour for any pir or shaikh…”. One did note that our three service chiefs were prostrate, in chains, before the god person in question and forces had been moved from active duty from Kupwara to build a temporary pontoon bridge or two at the event site, and all those raring to begin a Cold Start with Pakistan were asked to pull all the divisions back to the Yamuna to please Sri Sri. The Pakistan army would, of course, never bend before a pir for the simple reason that they make the country bow before them and drive it like a slave in the direction they want, especially when it comes to India and Afghanistan. Nawaz Sharif, of course, meets Raheel Sharif eye-ball to eye-ball.

“…As we become more like them, Pakistan is becoming more like we used to be”. Absolutely. Pakistan is now truly secular and all jihadi elements have been eliminated, beginning with Hafiz Saeed. Lakhvi and all those responsible for Mumbai have been judged and hanged. The Jaish Chief Masood Azar is now been confined to his grave. Muridke has been shut and Dawood Ibrahim has been handed over to us with a note of contrition. The funeral of the Lal Masjid sheikh has been announced. The Washington Post, the impeccable source of unbiased information on South Asia, has noted the transformation in Pakistan.

“(And let us note that, unlike Afzal Guru and Yakub Memon, who were hung to pander to majoritarian bloodlust, Mumtaz Qadri was executed in the teeth of popular opposition, with the government knowing there would be a price to pay), says the commentary. Of course, the Supreme Court judges in India are hanging people galore like Saudi Arabia does, at the behest of the RSS. There is no independent judiciary in India.

“Pakistan’s prime minister understands that modernity cannot coexist with bigotry and obscurantism”, unlike his ignorant Indian counterpart whose development agenda is actually intended to take India backwards.

“Or with the fevered nationalism which is the stock in trade of so many of our ministers, the erudite minister for HRD among them. (She did quote Shakespeare to Sitaram Yechury. Fair is foul and foul is fair, she said, and nothing could be more apt, because those were the words of the witches in Macbeth.)” Ergo, she is a witch who has been stirring the poisonous brew in her cauldron to force it down the throats of these nation-loving patriots of the JNU who want Azadi.

Citing a Tagore work, the central figure of Bimala, who has fallen under the spell of Vande Mataram, says at the height of her infatuation, “I want an image of the nation that I will call Ma, Devi, Durga, before whom I will offer sacrifices in a deluge of blood”. Her husband, Nikilesh, through whom Tagore spoke, tells his wife, “I am prepared to accept my country as the best there is, but what I worship is much greater than the nation. To worship the nation is to bring about its destruction”. A century later, that still says it all.” Does it? The country that existed a century ago was not free. What existed under the colonial jackboots was cut into two nations, in accordance with the two-nation theory. What is greater than the nation that one worships, one may ask? The United Nations? (Didn’t exist then) God? (Doesn’t exist for many) One’s religion? (The seculars are afraid of it). One has to first become a nation to think of worshipping it. The Kanhaiya Lals and Umar Khalids and the Marxists, who want to destroy the nation should actually worship it as that seems to be the best way to attain their goal.

“Vande Mataram is our national song, now being lifted to a catechism, odd in a secular democracy.” So, secularism and nationalism are antithetical, is it? Or is being nationalistic being anti-democratic? “Across the border, the alternative anthem is “Hum dekhenge”, the marvellously subversive ghazal of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, a Marxist like Kanhaiya Kumar, jailed by military dictators and then sent into exile.” (Kanhaiya Lal has now become a renowned poet and a shaheed like Bhagat Singh after a few days in jail) Obviously, our salvation will come from the civil society in Pakistan which is on the verge of successfully defying the military-bureaucratic-Allah complex that governs the country. The civil society there, far more vibrant than ours, is turning Pakistan into a secular democracy. All those who participate in Track 2 dialogues with India are going to become rulers of Pakistan very shortly. The great country Pakistan is becoming will show our region and the world what moderation and enlightened governance is. All the commentaries on Pakistan are misinformed.

“If Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has invited anyone from Pakistan to perform at his jamboree, it would be a small saving grace if he or she, or anyone, sang Faiz’s immortal song when the powers that now rule India’s destiny are in the audience. The double Sri prefix should not be a licence only to kill a flood-plain.” In reality, one does not need to invite a few Pakistanis to India to sing “Hum dekhenge”, as that country as a whole has been shouting this at us for the last 69 years.


Published Date: 25th March 2016, Image Source: http://www.youtube.com
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Vivekananda International Foundation)

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
10 + 3 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.
Contact Us