Why India is Clueless about China

A prosperous, militarily strong China cannot but be a threat to its neighbours, especially if there are no constraints on the exercise of Chinese power, notes Brahma Chellaney, professor of strategic studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.

The latest round of the unending and fruitless India-China talks on territorial disputes was a fresh reminder of the eroding utility of this process. It is approaching nearly three decades since China and India began these negotiations.

In this period, the world has changed fundamentally. Indeed, with its rapidly accumulating military and economic power, China itself has emerged as a great power in the making, with Washington’s Asia policy now manifestly Sino-centric. Not only has India allowed its military and nuclear asymmetry with China to grow, but also New Delhi’s room for diplomatic maneuver is shrinking. As the just retired Indian Navy Chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, has put it plainly, the power ‘gap between the two is just too wide to bridge and getting wider by the day.’

Of course, power asymmetry in inter-State relations does not mean the weaker side must bend to the dictates of the stronger or seek to propitiate it. Wise strategy, coupled with good diplomacy, is the art of offsetting or neutralising military or economic power imbalance with another state. But as Admiral Mehta warned, ‘China is in the process of consolidating its comprehensive national power and creating formidable military capabilities. Once it is done, China is likely to be more assertive on its claims, especially in the immediate neighbourhood.’

It is thus obvious that the longer the process of border-related talks continues without yielding tangible results, the greater the space Beijing will have to mount strategic pressure on India and the greater its leverage in the negotiations.

After all, China already holds the military advantage on the ground. Its forces control the heights along the long 4,057-kilometre Himalayan frontier, with the Indian troops perched largely on the lower levels.

Furthermore, by building new railroads, airports and highways in Tibet, China is now in a position to rapidly move additional forces to the border to potentially strike at India at a time of its choosing.

Diplomatically, China is a contented party, having occupied what it wanted — the Aksai Chin plateau, which is almost the size of Switzerland and provides the only accessible Tibet-Xinjiang route through the Karakoram passes of the Kunlun Mountains. Yet it chooses to press claims on additional Indian territories as part of a grand strategy to gain leverage in bilateral relations and, more importantly, to keep India under military and diplomatic pressure.

At the core of its strategy is an apparent resolve to indefinitely hold off on a border settlement with India through an overt refusal to accept the territorial status quo.

In not hiding its intent to further redraw the Himalayan frontiers, Beijing only helps highlight the futility of the ongoing process of political negotiations. After all, the territorial status quo can be changed not through political talks but by further military conquest.

Yet, paradoxically, the political process remains important for Beijing to provide the façade of engagement behind which to seek India’s containment.

Keeping India engaged in endless talks is a key Chinese objective so that Beijing can continue its work on changing the Himalayan balance decisively in its favour through a greater build-up of military power and logistical capabilities.

That is why China has sought to shield the negotiating process from the perceptible hardening of its stance towards New Delhi and the vituperative attacks against India in its State-run media. Add to the picture the aggressive patrolling of the Himalayan frontier by the People’s Liberation Army and the growing Chinese incursions across the line of control.

Let’s be clear: Chinese negotiating tactics have shifted markedly over the decades. Beijing originally floated the swap idea — giving up its claims in India’s northeast in return for Indian acceptance of the Chinese control over a part of Ladakh — to legalise its occupation of Aksai Chin. It then sang the mantra of putting the territorial disputes on the backburner so that the two countries could concentrate on building close, mutually beneficial relations.

But in more recent years, in keeping with its rising strength, China has escalated border tensions and military incursions while assertively laying claim to Arunachal Pradesh.

According to a recent report in Ming Pao, a Hong Kong newspaper with close ties to the establishment in Beijing, China is seeking ‘just’ 28 per cent of Arunachal. That means an area nearly the size of Taiwan.

In that light, can the Sino-Indian border talks be kept going indefinitely? Consider two important facts:

First, the present border negotiations have been going on continuously since 1981, making them already the longest and the most-barren process between any two countries in modern history. The record includes eight rounds of senior-level talks between 1981 and 1987, 14 Joint Working Group meetings between 1988 and 2002, and 13 rounds of talks between the designated Special Representatives since 2003.

It seems the only progress in this process is that India’s choice of words in public is now the same as China’s. ‘Both countries have agreed to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement of this issue,’ Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna told Parliament on July 31. ‘The matter, of course, is complex and requires time and lots of patience.’

It was as if the Chinese foreign minister was speaking. Isn’t it odd for India — the country at the receiving end of growing Chinese bellicosity — to plead for more time and patience after nearly three decades of negotiations?

Second, the authoritative People’s Daily — the Communist Party mouthpiece that reflects official thinking — made it clear in a June 11, 2009 editorial: ‘China won’t make any compromises in its border disputes with India.’ That reflects the Chinese position in the negotiations. But when Beijing is advertising its uncompromising stance, doesn’t New Delhi get the message?

The recent essay posted on a Chinese quasi-official Web site that called for India to be broken into 20 to 30 sovereign States cannot obscure an important fact: Dismember India is a project China launched in the Mao years when it trained and armed Naga and Mizo guerrillas. In initiating its proxy war against India, Pakistan merely took a leaf out of the Chinese book.

Today, China’s muscle-flexing along the Himalayas cannot be ignored. After all, even when China was poor and backward, it employed brute force to annex Xinjiang (1949) and Tibet (1950), to raid South Korea (1950), to invade India (1962), to initiate a border conflict with the Soviet Union through a military ambush (1969) and to attack Vietnam (1979).

A prosperous, militarily strong China cannot but be a threat to its neighbours, especially if there are no constraints on the exercise of Chinese power.

So, the key question is: What does India gain by staying put in an interminably barren negotiating process with China? By persisting with this process, isn’t India aiding the Chinese engagement-with-containment strategy by providing Beijing the cover it needs?

While Beijing’s strategy and tactics are apparent, India has had difficulty to define a game plan and resolutely pursue clearly laid-out objectives. Still, staying put in a barren process cannot be an end in itself for India.

India indeed has retreated to an increasingly defensive position territorially, with the spotlight now on China’s Tibet-linked claim to Arunachal Pradesh than on Tibet’s status itself.

Now you know why Beijing invested so much political capital over the years in getting India to gradually accept Tibet as part of the territory of the People’s Republic. Its success on that score has helped narrow the dispute to what it claims. That neatly meshes with China’s long-standing negotiating stance.

What it occupies is Chinese territory, and what it claims must be on the table to be settled on the basis of give-and-take — or as it puts it in reasonably sounding terms, on the basis of ‘mutual accommodation and mutual understanding.’

As a result, India has been left in the unenviable position of having to fend off Chinese territorial demands. In fact, history is in danger of repeating itself as India gets sucked into a 1950s-style trap. The issue then was Aksai Chin; the issue now is Arunachal.

But rather than put the focus on the source of China’s claim — Tibet — and Beijing’s attempt to territorially enlarge its Tibet annexation to what it calls ‘southern Tibet,’ India is willing to be taken ad infinitum around the mulberry bush.

Just because New Delhi has accepted Tibet to be part of China should not prevent it from gently shining a spotlight on Tibet as the lingering core issue.

Yet India’s long record of political diffidence only emboldens Beijing. India accepted the Chinese annexation of Tibet and surrendered its own British-inherited extraterritorial rights over Tibet on a silver platter without asking for anything in return. Now, China wants India to display the same ‘amicable spirit’ and hand over to it at least the Tawang valley.

Take the period since the border talks were ‘elevated’ to the level of special representatives in 2003. India first got into an extended exercise with Beijing to define general principles to govern a border settlement, despite China’s egregious record of flouting the Panchsheel principles and committing naked aggression in 1962. But no sooner had the border-related principles been unveiled in 2005 with fanfare than Beijing jettisoned the do-not-disturb-the-settled-populations principle to buttress its claim to Arunachal.

Yet, as the most-recent round of recent talks highlighted, India has agreed to let the negotiations go off at a tangent by broadening them into a diffused strategic dialogue — to the delight of Beijing. The process now has become a means for the two sides to discuss ‘the entire gamut of bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual interest.’

This not only opens yet another chapter in an increasingly directionless process, but also lets China condition a border settlement to the achievement of greater Sino-Indian strategic congruence. Worse still, New Delhi is to observe 2010 — the 60th anniversary of China becoming India’s neighbour by gobbling up Tibet — as the ‘Year of Friendship with China’ in India.

Brahma Chellaney

Sorce: REDIFF

 

Lets’ be the Change that we want to see in our Nation!

According to one of the statistics, 70 per cent of India’s population falls under the youth category ie, below 35. The questions arising at this stage is – can the country’s largely youth population, change India? The obvious answer to this is YES if one uses the ideas, has the ambition to do something, has the confidence to win, and has a righteous heart. Everywhere we hear people complaining about lack of amenities, increasing crimes, sky rocketing food prices, corruption, red tapism , terrorism, injustice etc. – but do we ponder on how can we change it all?

The 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai saw people coming to streets demanding some action. Less than a year later, we cannot even compel the government to take stern action against the culprits. Why? It’s high time every individual realises that we should raise our voices demanding action. Youth are the leaders of tomorrow, so it’s our duty to raise ourselves with the goal to serve the nation, however petty it may be. Remember each and every Indian can make a difference. You need not belong to the Gandhi family or be a descendant of the Scindias, Ambanis or the Birlas. You just need to inculcate intellectualism, human values and observe a commitment to service. With everyone following this, India will surely become more tolerant.

Our politicians are using the British policy of “divide and rule” in their selfish interests Let us remind them “United we stand and we will”. We crib of our government not providing world class solutions and facilities, but how many of us follow our fundamental duty to vote? Remember, to vote is a right and a duty. It is the building block of tomorrow. If we do not use our franchisee, we have no right to complain of corrupt people in the political arena.

It’s on account of our apathy that our farmers are dying out of debts when agriculture is said to be India’s prime sector. We keep on complaining about rising food prices but we do not give any thought that it may be due to agriculture land being converted to SEZ (Special Economic Zones). Can’t we raise our voices for thepoor, uneducated farmers rebelling against SEZ and demand irrigation facilities. Can’t there be a hundred Medha Patkars in a population of billion plus. We believe corruption is the root of most problems, but we don’t hesitate individually when we bribe a peon just to avoid long queues? We, the face of India tomorrow, should practise what we preach.

Self realisation is important to an individual and there are millions of alternatives if one wants to really do something. One can be a part of a NGO and can at least give physical support if not monetary help. Join the armed forces to protect our motherland. Create an environment of sound health facilities for those who cannot afford health facilities. Feed the poor, encourage parents to send their children to schools. Practice and preach family planning which will help keep population growth under control. IT companies can create IT solutions for upliftment of villages to reduce the urban-rural divide. Use public transport which will help India maintain environmental standards. Stop deforestation and plant more tress for a greener India. Raise voices against crimes against women, children, or anyone for that matter. Use the Right to Information (RTI) to get answers from the government. Be a law-abiding citizen. Use the media constructively. Join the IAS and be an active part of society. And there are numerous other options available.

Albert Einstein once said,“Problems cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them”. Youth, its time for you to wake up before it’s too late.

A call to YOUTH on this Independence Day

“Hesitating to act because the whole vision might not be achieved or others yet not share it, is an attitude that only hinders the progress.”- MK Gandhi

CELEBRATING ITS 63rd Independence Day, today (August 15), India has come a long way since 1947, with a mixture of both success and failure. The next decade is going to be extremely critical for our nation. If everything falls in place then we might eradicate few really tricky problems that are gripping our country. This will bring more prosperity and peace to the country. India’s biggest assets are its people. The underlying potential of our nation’s youth, needs to be unleashed. As young citizens of India we must realise that the development of this nation is wholly dependent on us. The development of a strong nation demands youth possessing steely will power, mighty determination and tremendous grit. To date, there has been a lot of cribbing and complaint.

It is time to act and do something constructive. The best thing that we can do is to bring some changes in the life of one person in our lifetime. If all of us can do this then the entire state of the nation can be given a new life. And let me tell you that this is not a difficult or impossible task. What is required is a motivation and willingness to contribute to the nation’s progress. We must make a start at least. You will find many guides and commentators in this nation. These people always appreciate/criticise what others are doing but will always show inability to do something themselves. These set of people must also understand that lip service is good for gossip but cannot serve any purpose. We must set goals for our life. We are here to make some changes. We must decide what we want to leave for the coming generation. It is our responsibility to hand over a better nation to our children. If we fail to do so we will be labeled villains by the coming generation.

Though problems plague India, there are solutions. A steely resolve can certainly provide answers to all riddles. Instead of blaming the system, young India should come together and mould our nation for a better tomorrow. Instead of asking questions, we must give solutions to the problems of corruption with good administrators, professionals, soldiers, education, population, environment, and leaders. There was a line in the film, Rang De Basanti: “Koi bhi desh perfect nahi hota, use perfect banana padta hai (no country is perfect, we have to make it perfect).” In order to make our nation perfect, the youth must get involved in every sphere they belong to – be it the IAS, IPS, defense, politics, or education. Now the youth of this nation must start a freedom struggle to secure independence from poverty and corruption. We must enlighten ourselves. The feeling of patriotism clubbed with morality, ethics and social responsibility will definitely make our nation great.

Let us unite together and make this nation great.

China should break up India: Chinese strategist

Almost coinciding with the 13th round of Sino-Indian border talks (New Delhi , August 7-8, 2009), an article (in the Chinese language) has appeared in China captioned ‘If China takes a little action, the so-called Great Indian Federation can be broken up’ (Zhong Guo Zhan Lue Gang, www.iiss.cn, Chinese, August 8, 2009).
Interestingly, it has been reproduced in several other strategic and military Web sites of the country and by all means, targets the domestic audience. The authoritative host site is located in Beijing  and is the new edition of one, which so far represented the China International Institute for Strategic Studies (www.chinaiiss.org).

Claiming that Beijing’s ‘China-Centric’ Asian strategy, provides for splitting India, the writer of the article, Zhan Lue (strategy), has found that New Delhi’s corresponding ‘India-Centric’ policy in Asia, is in reality a ‘Hindustan centric’ one. Stating that on the other hand ‘local centres’ exist in several of the country’s provinces (excepting for the UP and certain northern regions), Zhan Lue has felt that in the face of such local characteristics, the ‘so-called’ Indian nation cannot be considered as one having existed in history.

According to the article, if India today relies on any thing for unity, it is the Hindu religion. The partition of the country was based on religion. Stating that today nation states are the main current in the world, it has said that India could only be termed now as a ‘Hindu religious state’. Adding that Hinduism is a decadent religion as it allows caste exploitation and is unhelpful to the country’s modernisation, it described the Indian government as one in a dilemma with regard to eradication of the caste system as it realises that the process to do away with castes may shake the foundation of the consciousness of the Indian nation.

The writer has argued that in view of the above, China in its own interest and the progress of Asia, should join forces with different nationalities like the Assamese, Tamils, and Kashmiris and support the latter in establishing independent nation-States of their own, out of India. In particular, the ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) in Assam, a territory neighboring China, can be helped by China so that Assam realises its national independence.

The article has also felt that for Bangladesh, the biggest threat is from India, which wants to develop a great Indian Federation extending from Afghanistan to Myanmar. India is also targeting China with support to Vietnam’s efforts to occupy Nansha (Spratly) group of islands in South China Sea.

Hence the need for China’s consolidation of its alliance with Bangladesh, a country with which the US and Japan  are also improving their relations to counter China.

It has pointed out that China can give political support to Bangladesh enabling the latter to encourage ethnic Bengalis in India to get rid of Indian control and unite with Bangladesh as one Bengali nation; if the same is not possible, creation of at least another free Bengali nation state as a friendly neighbour of Bangladesh, would be desirable, for the purpose of weakening India’s expansion and threat aimed at forming a ‘unified South Asia’.

The punch line in the article has been that to split India, China can bring into its fold countries like Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan, support ULFA in attaining its goal for Assam’s independence, back aspirations of Indian nationalities like the Tamils and Nagas, encourage Bangladesh to give a push to the independence of West Bengal  and lastly recover the 90,000 sq km territory in southern Tibet .

Wishing for India’s break-up into 20 to 30 nation-States like in Europe, the article has concluded by saying that if the consciousness of nationalities in India could be aroused, social reforms in South Asia can be achieved, the caste system can be eradicated and the region can march along the road of prosperity.

The Chinese article in question will certainly outrage readers in India. Its suggestion that China can follow a strategy to dismember India, a country always with a tradition of unity in diversity, is atrocious, to say the least. The write-up could not have been published without the permission of the Chinese authorities, but it is sure that Beijing will wash its hands out of this if the matter is taken up with it by New Delhi.

It has generally been seen that China is speaking in two voices — its diplomatic interlocutors have always shown understanding during their dealings with their Indian counterparts, but its selected media is pouring venom on India in their reporting. Which one to believe is a question confronting the public opinion and even policy makers in India.

In any case, an approach of panic towards such outbursts will be a mistake, but also ignoring them will prove to be costly for India.

— By: D S Rajan, is Director, Chennai Centre for China Studies.

Source: REDIFF

Lets’ not Forget Them

It’s that time of the year again.
Every July since the year 2000, the Indian media and the Army in that order, celebrates the eviction of Pakistani intruders from the forbidding heights of Drass and Batalik (and not Kargil, as we all in the media keep referring to for some completely unfathomable reason).
The Army, of course, appropriately remembers its martyrs — the young and not so young officers and several hundred jawans — who sacrificed their lives in recapturing a piece of real estate that the Pakistanis had encroached upon. It was a heroic battle against heavy odds. After that conflict, Vikram Batra, Anuj Nayyar, Manjo Pandey, to cite just three martyrs, became household names.
This year, on the 10th anniversary, the Army has planned a larger celebration and rightfully so.
We in the media have also gone into an overdrive to commemorate the occasion.
After all, Kargil was this generation’s first war. It was also India’s first televised war. We made citizens feel that they were part of the war by beaming images right into their bedrooms.
In many ways, Kargil (I actually hate using the word, but Drass or Batalik do not have the same resonance in the people’s mind as Kargil has) is also a landmark in the military-media relationship in India.
Till 1999 the Army establishment generally looked upon the media as a nuisance. Post-Kargil, the armed forces have woken up to the media’s potential as, what the military fondly calls a force-multiplier. An uneasy relationship till then gave way to greater awareness about one another facilitating meaningful interaction.
This year in fact the Army has made special efforts to invite all those who had reported the conflict from the area that summer. This, the Army says, is its tribute to media’s contribution in the Kargil conflict.
I, like many others, was in the sector in 1999, reporting the events for Outlook magazine. Every year since 2000, I too have written or spoken about the experience in the Kargil-Drass-Mushkoh-Batalik sector.
I am also hoping to be at the Drass memorial on 25th and 26th July later this month to meet up with friends who made Kargil (that word again!) such a memorable experience in our life a decade ago.
And yet, ever since I went there last week to report on what has changed and what has not in the decade since the war, a sense of unease has gripped me. At first I thought it was plain tiredness. After all, one is older by a decade and the body doesn’t take the rigours of travelling in the high mountains as easily as it did 10 years ago.
But deep down, I knew there was something more to my disquiet than just creaking old bones.
Then suddenly it hit me this morning: Are we in the media guilty of over hyping Kargil and its martyrs at the cost of totally ignoring the others? To be honest, the answer is yes.
By admitting this, I am in no way taking away the sacrifice and heroism of our soldiers during the 1999 conflict. Or trying to belittle the tough conditions under which we in the media operated and reported the conflict.
But I will also be less than honest if I don’t admit that collectively we in the media are equally culpable in ignoring or downplaying the unending internal battles fought by the Army as well as other security forces across India.
How many of us for instances, know the names of Col. Vasanth or Subedar Chunni Lal? Or for that matter Constable Tukaram Ombale? How many of us remember the faces of the unnamed police and CRPF constables who die by the dozens in the battlefields of Chhattisgarh and Orissa? Or for that matter army jawans who continue to sacrifice their lives in counter-insurgency skirmishes in India’s north-east?
In Kargil, nearly 500 people lost their lives.
Every year since then at least 400 security personnel have died in action across India.
Is their martyrdom less significant? Don’t their families deserve similar adulation? They certainly do but I am afraid even we in the media tend to report on these incidents for a day or two and move on to our next story.
In the process, we have ignored the interminable internal security threats that India faces, be it in Kashmir, the north-east or in the heartland from the Maoists. And underplayed the sacrifices made by the gallant soldiers who fight them.
In less than a fortnight, when the nation pays a collective tribute to the Kargil martyrs, all of us can perhaps introspect and review our attitude towards other, lesser known but equally valiant soldiers who fight on without expecting anything in return.
As I look ahead, post the Kargil anniversary, it is perhaps time for me to do away with my Kargil obsession and refocus on the current and future battles.

Source: NDTV Written by Niting Gokhale

Nervous China may attack India by 2012: Expert

A leading defence expert has projected that China will attack India by 2012 to divert the attention of its own people from “unprecedented” internal dissent, growing unemployment and financial problems that are threatening the hold of Communists in that country.

“China will launch an attack on India before 2012. There are multiple reasons for a desperate Beijing to teach India the final lesson, thereby ensuring Chinese supremacy in Asia in this century,” Bharat Verma, Editor of the Indian Defence Review, has said.

Verma said the recession has “shut the Chinese exports shop”, creating an “unprecedented internal social unrest” which in turn, was severely threatening the grip of the Communists over the society.

Among other reasons for this assessment were rising unemployment, flight of capital worth billions of dollars, depletion of its foreign exchange reserves and growing internal dissent, Verma said in an editorial in the forthcoming issue of the premier defence journal. In addition to this, “The growing irrelevance of Pakistan, their right hand that operates against India on their behest, is increasing the Chinese nervousness,” he said, adding that US President Barak Obama’s Af-Pak policy was primarily Pak-Af policy that has “intelligently set the thief to catch the thief”.

Verma said Beijing was “already rattled, with its proxy Pakistan now literally embroiled in a civil war, losing its sheen against India.” “Above all, it is worried over the growing alliance of India with the US and the West, because the alliance has the potential to create a technologically superior counterpoise.

“All these three concerns of Chinese Communists are best addressed by waging a war against pacifist India to achieve multiple strategic objectives,” he said.

While China “covertly allowed” North Korea to test underground nuclear explosion and carry out missile trials, it was also “increasing its naval presence in South China Sea to coerce into submission those opposing its claim on the Sprately Islands,” the defence expert said. He said it would be “unwise” at this point of time for a recession-hit China to move against the Western interests, including Japan.

“Therefore, the most attractive option is to attack a soft target like India and forcibly occupy its territory in the Northeast,” Verma said. But India is “least prepared” on ground to face the Chinese threat, he says and asks a series of questions on how will India respond to repulse the Chinese game plan or whether Indian leadership would be able to “take the heat of war”.

“Is Indian military equipped to face the two-front wars by Beijing and Islamabad? Is the Indian civil administration geared to meet the internal security challenges that the external actors will sponsor simultaneously through their doctrine of unrestricted warfare? “The answers are an unequivocal ‘no’. Pacifist India is not ready by a long shot either on the internal or the external front,” the defence journal editor says. In view of the “imminent threat” posed by China, “the quickest way to swing out of pacifism to a state of assertion is by injecting military thinking in the civil administration to build the sinews. That will enormously increase the deliverables on ground – from Lalgarh to Tawang,” he says.

Source: Times of India dated 12th July 2009

Sarabjeet Singh: The case of mistaken Identity, must not be hanged

PAKISTAN SUPREME COURT has rejected the mercy plea of the Indian prisoner, accused of Lahore bombing in 1990. Sarabjeet’s news is often in the news and that made me curios to know more about the case. I was doing a fair bit of reading on the same. Yesterday, a news channel has also started a campaign to save Sarabjeet. The family of Sarabjeet is toiling hard for the last 18 years.

What I have got to read from various sources creates an impression that Sarabjeet is being punished for the crime, which he never committed. Sarabjeet is accused for espionage and is labeled as the man behind the Lahaore Bomb blasts in 1990. He was awarded death sentence by a Lahore anti-terrorism court in October 1991, for allegedly carrying out serial bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan in Pakistan. But this case is definitely of mistaken identity. Pakistani security agencies say that he is Manjit Singh who is sought for the bomb blast case. But the fact is that Sarabjeet is a resident of Bhikhiwind, a border village in India’s Amritsar district, strayed into Pakistan territory in an inebriated state. Even the officals in Paksitan also claim the same.

Writing in Pakistan’s The News in an opinion piece titled ‘Why Sarabjeet Singh must not be hanged’ (some years back), Senator Farhatullah Babar of the Pakistan People’s Party has linked Sarabjeet’s case to that of Alfred Dreyfus — a Jewish captain in the French Army who was banished in 1894, after being accused of being a spy but was allowed to return home in 1906 when the charge was found to be untrue. “We may have serious differences with the Indians but it must not persuade us to hang every Indian at the drop of a hat. Sarabjeet Singh’s trial must not be allowed to become our national embarrassment as was the Dreyfus trial in France. He must not be hanged,” Babar, a close aide of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, said.

The key witness of this case, Salim Shaukat also said in an interview that he was forced to identify Sarabjeet as perpetrator. Rediff carried his interview and he said, “I was told by the (prosecution) lawyer that I should identify Sarabjeet as the main accused in the serial blasts and I did it,” said Salim Shaukat, cited as the main witness in the Lahore bombing, in which his father was killed. He admitted that he had not seen the accused as he had fainted during the blast. Acknowledging that he was forced to give such a testimony, he told Indian TV channels, Star News and Aaj Tak, from Lahore that “I am not sure if he is responsible for the blasts…. I was asked to say that I had seen him. But I had not seen him as I had fainted at the time of the incident. The moment I identified him as the accused, Sarabjeet asked me to swear by the Quran but I declined to do so. Sarabjeet kept looking at me after my statement but I was helpless as I was under the influence of law enforcement agencies,” Salim said in reply to questions.

Pakistan’s leading human rights activist Ansar Burney is also of the view that hanging Sarabjeet Singh would be tantamount to murder of humanity as the Indian national had been convicted without any substantial evidence. “I cannot allow the government to hang Sarabjeet Singh on the basis that he is a non-Muslim and non-Pakistani and because of pressure from extremist fundamentalist groups,” he said.

There is no doubt that Sarabjeet’s case had become a matter of prestige for the law-enforcement authorities in Pakistan. They have cooked up spying charges against him and produced false witness to ensure his conviction. There is also pressure from extremists also. Sometime back Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, chief of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the parent wing of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, has come out against any move to free death row prisoner and Indian national Sarabjeet Singh.

In a statement posted on the Jamaat website, Saeed said, freeing Sarabjeet would be equivalent to ‘ridiculing’ the country’s courts.

Ansar Burney is going to file the petition again for acquittal of Sarabjeet Singh. It is extremely disappointing that his petition as dismissed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan because the counselor of Sarabjeet failed to turn up for the hearing. Rana Abdul Hamid, the lawyer who was representing Sarabjeet, had been unable to appear in court after he was appointed last year an additional advocate general by Punjab province. The family of Sarabjeet is running from pillars to post to get him freed. It is of vital importance that the government of India urges Pakistan to set free the innocent man who has already served over 18 years in Kot Lakhpat Jail of Lahore. This case of Sarabjeet is now a national case and we must urge the government to pursue for immediate release of Sarabjeet. We must also support Pakistan Human Rights Activist Ansar Burney in his battle to secure freedom for Sarabjeet.

References for this post has been taken from REDIFF

We’re even more racist than Aussies

The attacks on Indians in Australia have once again raised the ugly head of racism. Once again India is caught up in the midst of a racist storm. A while ago, the Big Brother controversy launched Shilpa Shetty as an international anti-racism icon from India. This is entirely appropriate as Indians are arguably the biggest targets of racism in the world. And they are targeted not just by unlettered British yobs or Australian thugs but, first and foremost, by their own compatriots. It’s because we are so racist ourselves that we are so quick to react to a racist slur: it takes a racist to catch a racist. And our racism is colour-coded in black-and-white terms: white is intrinsically superior and desirable; black is inferior and undesirable.

In the Indian colour scheme of things, black is far from beautiful. The colloquial word for a black person of African origin is ‘habshi’, an epithet as offensive as the American ‘nigger’, both terms derived from the days of the slave trade.

For all India’s official championing of the anti-apartheid crusade in South Africa’s erstwhile white regime, north India at least is steeped in colour prejudice – ask any African student who’s had a taste of Delhi’s campus life. For the north Indian, fair is lovely, as those abominably tasteless TV commercials keep proclaiming: Don’t get sunburnt, use skin whitening creams, or you’ll end up dark and no one will marry you. (When did you last see a matrimonial ad seeking an ‘attractive, dark-complexioned life partner’?)

Why is dark literally beyond the pale for so many of us? Is it an atavistic throwback to the supposed superiority of ‘white’ Aryans vis-a-vis the ‘non-white’ original inhabitants of the subcontinent? Is it the result of 250 years of white rule under the British? Is a pale skin, as against a deep tan, a testimonial to social rank, segregating those who don’t have to toil under the sun from those who do? Is it an amalgam of all these?

Whatever the reason, ‘chitti chamri’ (fair skin) is a passport to fawning social acceptance — which might partly explain why an increasing number of Caucasians look for assignments in India, be it as MNC executives or bartenders in 5-star hotels.

Our racism is largely, but not exclusively, based on colour. Caste is India’s unique contribution to the lexicon of racial bigotry. Whether ‘caste’ – a result of cultural and social segmentation – can legitimately be conflated with ‘race’ – with its genetic and physiological underpinnings – is a matter of academic debate. However, as only too many horror stories testify, the average rural Dalit fares worse on the human-rights scale than her ‘kafir’ counterpart in the worst days of South African apartheid.

Caste apart, real or imagined ethnic traits compound our racism. People from the north-east are said to have ‘Chinky’ (Chinese) eyes and are routinely asked if they eat dogs. Even in so-called ‘mainstream’ India we sub-divide ourselves with pejoratives: ‘Panjus’, whose only culture is agriculture; stingy ‘Marrus’; mercenary ‘Gujjus’ who eat ‘heavy snakes’ for tea; lazy, shiftless ‘Bongs’; ‘Madrasis’, who all live south of the Vindhyas and speak a funny ‘Illay-po’ language. In our ingrained provincialism is our much-vaunted and illusory unity.

No wonder we can’t stand racism. It reminds us disquietingly of the face we see in our own mirror.

Source: TOI

Hindi is not our National Language – Setting things right

Hindi is not our National Language. OK. You have read it on the blog earlier. But, how many people around you know this fact? Just practically check it out. Ask people around you and you’ll know.
This is an initiative to spread this lesser known fact.

We had done this blogpost in October of 2007 called “You think you know what India’s National Language is?”, and it is till date one of the most commented posts on our blog.

It’s an eye-opener which talks about the citizens of India being under an hypnotization by the system, which has very widely embedded in the minds of all of us that our National Language is Hindi. Our blog post has got around 4,500 odd views, which is not even 0.01% of India’s Internet population. People have the right to not stay under this hypnotism. The people of India need to know that India doesn’t have a National Language instead of blabbering around that Hindi is the National Language.

This post is an attempt to raise awareness about this fact.

What we need to do is very simple. If you are sitting here and reading this post, you are definitely present on atleast one of these channels on the Internet:

  • Email
  • Chat
  • Social Networks(Orkut, Facebook, etc)
  • You own a website
  • You have a blog
  • Microblogs
  • Lots more…

What you need to do is leverage each of these mediums you are on to let people in your circle know this fact.

  • If you are on email, send this to all Indians in your contacts list
  • If you have a website or a blog, publish this.
  • If you are on Social Networks(most of us are), use the different mediums(scrapbooks, walls, communities, groups, etc) to spread the word
  • If you are on microblogs like twitter, post it there. Retweet it.
  • If you are someone from the media, communicate this fact through your medium(TV, Print, Radio, etc)
  • Make it a part of your dinner-table talks, party discussions, gossips.
  • Most importantly, when you communicate this, insist your friends/readers to pass on the message to their circle/network

  • Motive: JUST SPREAD THE WORD

I hope this initiative takes some concrete form and we can see lesser people living with the misconception.

Muslims in India after the 26/11 attacks

Muslims across the country are a worried lot post 26/11. Whenever there has been a terror strike in the country, Muslims are subject to suspicion and discrimination from the other communities and investigating agencies. Their loyalty to India is doubted. Unfortunately, some elements from both the communities (Hindus and Muslims), along with the dubious political class always ensures that there is continuous rift between the two communities so that may take advantage of it.

The common man is full of anger post-Mumbai attacks and Muslims too are not leaving any stone unturned to condemn the terror attacks. Even the celebration of E’id was scaled down. They want to present their viewpoint that terrorists are enemies not only of humanity, but also of the country, Indian Muslims and Islam. The clerics of the community have also refused to allow the burial of terrorists in any of their graveyard. “The bodies of these inhuman plotters against our motherland must not be buried anywhere on the Indian soil,” they said.

Terrorism in India has affected the Muslims of this country badly. It has provided a more conducive atmosphere for the political parties who survive on divisive ideology and destructive politics. There was a story in ‘Hindustan Times’ where the teacher who was upset with a Muslim girl in a Delhi convent school, called her ‘Pakistani’ in front of the entire class. There was an incident in Jet Airways flight where a passenger heckled a Muslim flight attendant citing her religion. There are various other instances as well. What is coming out of this is that across urban India there is anger and open prejudice against the Muslims.

I have no doubt that majority of Muslims in the country believe in the concept of one nation and are as patriotic as you and I are. I would like to question all those hypocrites who would look upon Muslims with an eye of suspicion but will watch SRK’s latest film or will cheer when Zaheer topples the batting order of opposing teams or will admire APJ Abdul Kalam as an icon or recite the poetry of Javed Akhtar. But this same group will not think twice before raising doubts over fellow countrymen.

Simi Grewal does not know the difference between the Islamic and Pakistani flag and makes absurd comments only to apologise later. But dear Simi, you have already done enough damage. The same is true for the majority population, which is proud of India’s secular fabric but will not think twice before raising suspicion about Muslims.

The problem within our country is that we have never developed a thinking of our own and have always played into the hands of selfish, power-hungry politicians. They have ensured that there is always an atmosphere of animosity between the two communities. BJP and Shiv Sena protest over the use of the word ‘Hindu Terrorism’ but have no qualms in accusing Muslims after every terror activity. Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav project themselves as messiahs of Muslims and will see every action in the interest of national unity as a bid to suppress the minority community.

Let’s face the real scenario. We as a citizen of this country are slowly and slowly shedding the concept of national integration. Muslims are made to believe by their top religious and political “messiahs” that they are being targeted in this country while Hindus leaders will attribute each and every problem related to internal security in the country to the Muslims. As a citizen, I want that there should be trust among all communities and we should be internally strong. The investigating agencies should carry the probe without any bias and influence from political authorities. If there is an anti-social element in any community we need to ensure that he is dealt with seriousness and is punished for his crime.

Greater political will is required to strengthen internal security. The issue of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants must be dealt with seriously. There should be no blame game in an hour of crisis until concrete evidence is available. Muslim clerics should also take the responsibility to protect their community members from any prejudice. Instead of issuing stupid ‘fatwa’ against Sania Mirza or Imrana, they should push for greater reforms within their community. They have the power to convince millions and they should use their reach for the betterment of the community.

On other hand, we should take a lesson from Pakistan that a nation formed on the basis of religion would end as a failed state and even an “international migraine”. The concept of India is based on its diversity and this makes our country special. We must not lose the beauty of our nation to such prejudice and bias. We need to work collectively to make our nation even stronger and that will be the fitting reply to all the anti-India forces.