DALITS, THE caste which was subjected to the humiliation for years play a huge role in Indian politics. There have been several leaders within the community and outside the community who focused on empowering them. One such leader in today’s time is Mayawati, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. The state has large population of dalits and is staunch supporter of her.
There has been lot of furore over the erection of statues of Mayawati along with other icons of Dalit in the various part of the state especially in Lucknow. A survey was conducted by a private news channel and over 70 per cent of people were against such extravaganza on part of the state government. But if you voice your opinion, Maywatiji will come on camera saying that upper caste people are conspiring against her. Even today they consider upper caste people as the one ready to annihilate them.
The biggest problem is that even the leaders try to feed them the same. True, that the atrocities on Dalits is a matter of concern and must be dealt stringently. But these sorts of behavior on part of community leaders will only aggravate the problem. The dalits in the state are happy though with the recognition that their leader is getting. But I term it as narcism. Whatever be the case, it is not going to stop Mayawati from erecting more memorials and parks in the name of development.
But this blind support of the dalits to their leaders is something that they must introspect. I feel that they are utilized as mere vote banks. To a certain level, their leaders show interest in their upliftment but then they get busy with themself. Even Mayawati has accumulated huge wealth. The money which she has spent on statues of herself might give them “sense of dignity” but they would have been far more benefited if Mayawati could have assured them better living standard. There is some problem with this statue thing as well. Dr BR Ambdekar, Godly figure of the Dalits and a national icon said that “India is still par excellence a land of idolatry. There is idolatry in religion and in politics. Heroes and hero worship is a hard if unfortunate fact in India’s political life. Hero worship is demoralizing for the devotee and dangerous for the country.” The hero worship of Ambedkar has perhaps been the greatest failing of the modern Dalit movement.
The under privilege section must be empowered and it would be far better had the state government focused on the main issue. Their would have been no problem in erection of Mayawati’s statues if it would have been done by someone else as a tribute to her work done for marginalized. But this narcist behavior must be questioned. The other example being the way she celebrates her birthday.
The response by the government on the statement of Rita Bahuguna Joshi (July 2009) was also presented as an insult of Dalits. We appreciate Mayawati then it is only her appreciation and if you say anything against her then it is against Dalits. The comment made by Joshi was not casteist. Vir Sanghvi has written in his piece “If Mrs. Joshi has, as a woman, insulted all women by talking so loosely about rape then hasn’t Mayawati, as a dalit, insulted all dalits by taking on the mantle of caste victimhood to settle a few political scores? India’s dalits deserve better than leaders who misuse their suffering for their own gain. UP deserves better — at the very least, it deserves a functioning government.”
It is time that the community starts questioning its leaders on valid points raised. It will be beneficial to the community and state as well. I say so because the leaders are certain of the votes of this section and that needs to be shaken up.
There has been stay on death sentence of our “dear” Ajmal Amir Kasab.
Iqbal Mirchi has been arrested in London.
Now our immaculate government is pushing for the extradition of Mirchi in connection with 1993 Bombay blast case. We made similar attempt in 1990s but failed to do so. Now we will give it another try.
But for What?
As it is efficiency of our judicial system and investigating agencies is there for everyone to see.
Our NATIONAL INVESTIGATING AGENCY has solved all the cases in their dreams and all the culprits have been booked. Atleast, they release some sketches for people to show that how successful they are. Successful in wasting time!!
Abu Salem was extradited and we were unable to prove him guilty and now his extradition has been cancelled by Portugal court. Let’s see if our agencies can win the case. Somehow agencies were able to solve Parliament attack case of 2001 but the main culprit is still enjoying in jail. The government is acting like a sitting duck and passing time.
Forget these, What can you say about the judicial system of a nation who still has not been able to prove mass killer caught on tv screen, newspapers, eye witnesses, etc gunning down hundreds. We wanted him to bring to justice within constitutional frame work which was very fine. But shouldn’t there be any time limit. It has been 3 years since Kasab was caught and we still are spending crores on his security. The money that could have been utilized for many development scheme. The court wants Kasab to give fair chance. I ask fair chance of what??? You may not feel this way if you have not gone through the trauma and agony of losing your loved ones. Go and ask the family who lost their only earning member in Mumbai 26/11 attacks or the parents who lost their children or families of soldiers who sacrificed their lives while eliminating the bastards. We have forgotten them because we were not the one who suffered. Imagine what they must be feeling when they see how the culprit is enjoying feast in India for 3 years. What a pathetic situation that person caught live on TV hasn’t been hanged till now. We are looking after him as if he has done some great thing. The soldiers who lost their colleagues are being made to plan for his security. What a travesty of justice? After 3 years, we want to hear him again. What were we doing for three years? Just serving him Biryani!!
The spineless representative of 120 crores is largely responsible for this mess. One after another he has only done condemnation and nothing else. I just wonder what we will do even if Mirchi is extradited. He will enjoy hospitality of police and may have to spend few years because of our judicial system and then will walk free. Imagine we are thinking of booking a culprit in 18 year old case. I will be happy if we are able to do so but our track record shows it otherwise. We will be carrying out a futile exercise of wasting money and giving hope to victims. The efficacy of our system is zero. We have bunch of selfish, spineless, power hungry people who will not make daring moves. They will buy time and use the same for their advantage.
One fine day, another plane will be hijacked and we will release Afzal Guru, Ajmal Kasab and Mirchi/Salem.
Because we couldn’t do justice to the people of India!
So nothing new has happened on Wednesday, 07 September 2011! Just a blast at Gate No 5 of Delhi High Court with 9 dead and 91 injured. The news and reactions which is being poured is so very similar and seems that old tape is being re-run. As far as those who have lost their loved ones, loss is beyond any repair but with nation of having second highest population, these numbers are minuscule and hence no action will be taken to book perpetrators. We are not Israel or US for that matter so we will do lip service and then forget it in next week.
As always our dearest and one of the most prolific PM, Dr MMS has condemned the blast and has roared like tiger saying that we are not going to succumb. We will not be bogged down by this cowardly act of the terrorists. Our Home Minister pointed finger to our friendly neighbouring state. Few VIPs have visited the injured at hospitals with lot of media.
All said and done but they have not said that they will act but only react. Few days of coldness with our neighbour and then extend the hand for FRIENDSHIP because that is the best way out as per Indian Govt is concerned because these blast have happened to derail the peace process which has given tremendous output ever since beautiful Pakistan Foreign Minister met ours in New Delhi.
But few points linger on my mind:
1. Why is that we have become so dud in doing anything of national importance?
2. Why is that our govt is spineless?
3. Why is that specialist investigating agency NIA has failed to solve any of the cases till date?
4. Why something happens when govt is in some trouble? I just hope that this may not be a diversionary attack.
5. Why is that we cannot do justice by punishing “few” perpetrators we have captured and spending crores for their security but not a penny for the citizens of this nation?
6. Why the victims are always common people and never one from political class?
And above all, what credibility do we have to show the world when we can never act to safeguard our national interest. Perhaps, the life of a common man is very cheap! We are being governed by shameless and submissive set of people who have no guts and nuts to act. This is the fate of world’s largest democracy. and who’ll change it.
None but we can only bring the change!
Over the last year or so, the incursion of Chinese troops on Indian soil has gone up. The Indian Army has said that it has registered the protest with Chinese officials but it still looked lethargic in their approach to me.
The government is just playing down these border violations by saying that it is not a big deal since the Line of Actual Control is not clearly defined. Whatever the case, if these issues are not addressed seriously then India will face tough times ahead.
China is clearly a stronger power than India, both militarily and economically. As former Indian Navy Chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, put it, “The power gap between the two is just too wide to bridge and getting wider by the day.” The day China will be confident enough; it will assert its claim on disputed land more aggressively. Diplomatically also India has performed very badly.
The talks over the border dispute have been going on since the year 1981, making them already the longest and the most-barren process between any two countries in modern history. Thus, 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.
The futile discussion and time buying process will put India under even tremendous pressure. It seems the only progress here 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 SM 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 hostility, to plead for more time and patience after nearly three decades of negotiations?
One thing is clear that New Delhi does not have any well defined plan and strategy to go around settling the disputes. More time means, more time for Beijing to define its strategy. 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 (1969) and to attack Vietnam (1979).
India’s long record of political diffidence only emboldens Beijing. India accepted 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. Indian diplomats failed miserably and even in registering protests they appear to be defensive. It gives a feeling that they are clueless about China.
If the situation goes like this then one day, the duo might again be at war. The history has shown that the cost of weak politics and diplomacy has been paid by the soldiers.
Some part of the article has been referred from Rediff.
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.
THE OPPOSITION, Bhartiya Janata Party is making news for a week now. The “Chintan Baithak” held in Shimla last week gave no solutions to the ailments of the party. Instead it was overshadowed by the expulsion of senior leader Jaswant Singh and the leakage of the election analysis report.
The expulsion of Jaswant Singh over a book is overzealous. And the manner in which he was expelled made matters even worse. There can be no justification to ban his book in Gujarat. What Jaswant Singh has expressed is only his personal view and not of the party’s. The party could always disassociate from his viewpoint, present its own thoughts on the discussion and make its stance clear. If the BJP was so miffed then they should have answered Jaswant’s book by another book on their viewpoint.
The day you start banning a book for political scores, democracy is in danger. A close aide of Atal-Advani, Sudheendra Kulkarni has also resigned from the party. He has resigned citing the “ideological differences” with the party. Arun Shourie has also lambasted the party and its top leadership. The way BJP is tackling the issues, he might be the next to be expelled from the party.
One thing clearly visible is that BJP has lost its vision and is in a leadership crisis. Rajnath Singh must be held responsible for this. A leader is the one who owes responsibility and introspects the causes of failure. But the current leadership is just not doing it. They don’t want to hear some very valid points being raised within the party.
So, the party is ignoring the lack of accountability and factionalism. They are just looking for scape goats. Instead of rebuilding the party, leaders are busy with the media commitments and speaking nonsense on TV channels. If it continues to function this way then these are not a good signals for the party and country as well. It is imperative for the RSS to ensure smooth transition of generation in the party. There is so much infighting among the next generation leaders that it is denting the image of party with each passing day. The party appears to be in complete disarray and disjointed.
BJP is needed for the smooth functioning of our democracy. As Tarun Vijay said, “Suppose if there was no Jan Sangh or the BJP, there would have been no Kashmir movement, no demands to scrap two flags and two constitutional provisions for an Indian state and abolishing two Constitutional heads system for it. Who would have taken up the cause of an invincible Indian security and carried out the Pokaran II nuclear tests while preparing for Pokaran III?”
In a nation where most of the political parties are known by the names of their dynasties turning the political process into a kind of family fiefdom, the existence of a party that still runs on democratic norms and represents a completely different ethos, must be valued. That is the Bharatiya Janata Party. It is useless to indulge in the contemporary dichotomies and scuffles that mar its current framework.
It is important that the party conveys its ideology and packages itself in a way that can impress 21st century India. The party needs to take some tough decisions and devote time in getting a makeover. There is no shame if it represents itself as the party catering to Hindu interests as long as it does not becomes communal.
BJP needs to remember the words and vision of its founder, Deen Dayal Upadhyay and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee. At the first all India session of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, its founder president Dr Shyama Prasad Mookerjee had said, “We must be able to carry all sections of the people with us by creating in their minds a healthy and progressive attitude of co-operation based on true equality of opportunity and mutual tolerance and understanding. Our party’s door remains open to all who believe in our programme and ideology irrespective of considerations of caste and religion. ”
Without mincing any words he declared, “Our party though, ever prepared to extend its hand of equality to all citizens, does not feel ashamed to urge for the consolidation of Hindu society. We are not so mean as to forget that in this gigantic process our country came into contact and conflict with many foreign races and ideologies and our great ancestors had the courage to fashion and refashion the country’s structure in accordance with new ideas and with the changed conditions of our society. If India’s freedom is to be purposeful, a correct appreciation of the fundamental features of Indian culture – the discovery of that unity in diversity, which is the keynote of her civilization — is highly essential.”
BJP is party of nationalists and it needs to remain one. However, it has to rebrand itself and become the saviour of the middle class which it once represented. It is equally important to refrain from any sort of communalism. It is a national alternative to the Congress, more so after this election which has pushed regional parties and their identity politics to the margins. There are, after all, no full stops in politics.
“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.
It was just as I thought it would be. Amidst all the rage over frisking of our former president, A P J Abdul Kalam himself never registered a protest. From whatever I have known of him through papers, one minor brush with him at the Ahmedabad airport following his visit to Gujarat after the 2002 riots and his books, I felt he would not have objected to going through a security check.
He comes across as a humble and learned man and he reflected the same when the incident happened at New Delhi. Perhaps he understands that the security requirements of the present time are much different from the law that was written in 1934. 9/11 had never happened then and certainly IC 814 had not been hijacked. He knew his responsibility and he acted accordingly.
While it can always be debated whether Kalam was particularly checked for the way his name sounds, we should also hope that other “VVIPs” act in the same dignified manner when asked for security checks. They are no super mortals and they need to realise that. In fact at a time when the agencies across the world use diplomatic channels to carry out espionage activities, it is time we think over a “VVIP” Act, written nearly seven decades ago. Our VVIPs are incensed because they consider themselves demi gods and frisking would dent that image. And therefore this entire song and dance.
We have always been complaining that most of the acts under our law are archaic. Then doesn’t this act be one so as well? Shouldn’t we work toward amending this too? The security needs have changed and so the act must change too.
Coming back to Kalam, he has again come forth as a model citizen and its not only MPs and VVIPs who should learn from him but we too need to realise that security checks help us. Be it at malls, stations or airports, if we complain about them, then we should not complain about terror acts.
And as far as getting even with America comes, we should frisk all VVIPs and could have done it when Hillary Clinton was in India. Remember the old adage? Don’t get mad, get even.
By Shailendra Mohan, Monday July 27, 2009 , New Delhi, India
It used to be an eerie landmark; the tree I saw everyday in the summer of 1999, blackened and ripped by incessant bombing at the old brigade headquarters, is green again.
But much else has withered. The legacy of the Kargil war, one of the toughest wars of modern military history — far tougher than Iraq and Afghanistan — has been shortchanged by India’s politics.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government has mostly looked away since 2004 when it came to observing the anniversary of the BJP government-era war. President Pratibha Patil was requested to come to Drass, but declined, army sources said.
“I think it’s just disgraceful. They are trying to politicise the issue for no reason,” retired Colonel VN Thapar, father of the late Kargil war hero Capt. Vijayant Thapar, told the Hindustan Times as he prepared to head to Drass, the world’s second coldest inhabited place after Oymyakon in Russia.
That is the casualty in a country where a major section of its under-15 population of 350 million have no recollection of the war and no sense of what it meant for India.
“We used to think armymen live a cushy life and zoom around in cars and waste money — I had no empathy for the Army,” said Manraj Singh, 19, a physical education student from Punjab’s Abohar town, as he sat back after dinner at a restaurant in Drass, a town of 2,000 people. “After we came here and saw how and in what kind of place they fought and won the war for the nation I felt really proud of them.”
More than 520 soldiers died in the Kargil war.
In 1999, Indian soldiers had to clamber up impossible, vertical cliffs amid gunfire to retake strategic Ladakh mountains from hundred of Pakistani raiders, including army regulars who sat on the height and could easily bring down approaching soldiers.
On July 26, the day when victory was declared in 1999, Defence Minister A.K. Antony will only pay a wreath in New Delhi, staying away from the massive 10th anniversary celebration planned in the operational hub of Drass on the weekend when top generals from across India and the families of slain officers and soldiers are to arrive here.
Congress MP Rashid Alvi called it “Bharatiya Janata Party’s war”. Coal Minister Sri Prakash Jaiswal said he did not know about the anniversary.
A top army officer shrugged it off. “We chose this life. We aren’t cribbing or hankering after praise. We shall honour our heroes ourselves,” said the officer, declining to be named as he is not authorised to talk to the media.
But Thapar, whose son Vijayant died fighting as he led an advance on a mountain feature called Knoll, said: “This is going a bit too far. I think we should not expect anything from the leaders and have the army and citizens celebrate.”
That is what is happening.
Unlike previous years when Drass hosted mostly western backpackers Indians dominate the tourists who have come here for the summer.
Yes, the former bombed-out dusty town is now a tourist hub.
The town where the ‘market’ was a row of crumbling wooden-shuttered shacks, and just a tea shop for some shelling-time reprieve, now has several small hotels “with complete sanitary fittings” — as one proudly advertised.
“It’s amazing so many Indian tourists are coming this year,” said Mohammed Saleem, 45, of the Afzal hotel. “They want to know what happened at Tiger Hill and Tololing peak and Drass.”
Businessman Saleem Iqbal, 25, sees a greater opportunity.
“If we get permission to take tourists to Tiger Hill on horseback, there will be a big boom,” he said.
Not like the ones he heard everyday in the summer of 1999 as he hunkered fearfully in his first floor marketside home.
Source: Hindustan Times