Thursday, October 29, 2009


21st DECEMBER, 2009 - THE TRIPARTITE MEETING

THE MINDSETS AND A FEW RELEVANT QUESTIONS

- B.B.Lamichhaney, Gangtok
Kalimnews :
Gorkhas from all over India are very keenly waiting for the outcome of the forthcoming Tripartite Meeting being held at Darjeeling between the state, the centre and the Gorkha representatives. Well it may not be the ultimate decision making meeting for the Gorkhaland issue, nevertheless, many are hopeful that it may pave a way for the future. The mindsets of the stakeholders participating may not function in unison but still a new thinking process may evolve, even from their disagreement. On the positive side there may be some points of agreement. At least they may agree to disagree which is definitely better than disagreeing to agree.

As far as the political pundits are concerned, barring some die-hard protagonists, all predict this meeting will prove to be a damp squib, a straight ‘no can do’ thing. But again, we are well aware unpredictable things do happen sometimes. One thing that is of most interest in this meeting is the appointment of the INTERLOCUTOR to oversee and mediate through the proceedings. One high ranking officer of the Gorkha Regiment is being entrusted with this tricky TASK of maintaining equilibrium between three viewpoints that are poles apart. No less a feat than capturing a Pak occupied territory. We wish him good luck.

Also this is the first time that an ‘interlocutor’ is being appointed for such a case. There is not a single instance of this kind of an appointment in the past when such meetings were held for creation of a new state under the provision of article 3(a) of the Indian Constitution. Only in a bilateral or matters of Territorial Dispute, an ‘interlocutor’ has been pressed into the service. But the ensuing tripartite meeting being neither a case of bilateral nature nor a territorial dispute an appointment of such kind has raised quite a few eyebrows.

Is the Central Government deliberately trying to confuse or complicate the matter or is it totally unaware of the raison d’etre of the Gorkhaland movement, is the question in the minds of the people following the issue with an avid interest. Does the Government think that this demand has something to do with Nepal? Or does it visualize it as other separatist demands of the north-east? Had this been the case then the presence of an interlocutor would have been justified but his presence in a simple matter of carving out a state from the already existing one smacks of some ulterior political motive. Furthermore, why an army officer is being engaged in such a matter of out and out political nature is also another intriguing question. Wouldn’t a political observer with sound knowledge about the Indian Gorkhas and the north-eastern geopolitics have been a better choice? That is, if the Government is keen on the idea of having an interlocutor at all.

Now coming to the mindsets of the participants at the tripartite meeting, there are three distinct diverse mindsets who will sit on the table and all of them will try to pull the conclusion of the discussion towards their own end.

The overall tussle will be, primarily, on the following subjects:

1- The Govt. of West Bengal representatives will try to play the ‘Development Card’ and appease the Gorkha delegation by lucrative offers like more administrative and financial power. They may even go to the extent of offering limited legislative power as given to the BODOLAND TERRITORIAL COUNCIL. But their bottom line will be – all these structural changes will be within the framework of the state of West Bengal. That is no ‘BANGA-BHANGA’.

2- The members of the Gorkha delegation will stick to their guns on the Gorkhaland Demand. For them, they will say, Gorkhaland is not a developmental issue. Indian Gorkhas have not struggled for the past hundred and two years just for the economic benefit of the people of Darjeeling. Both the Governments at the Centre and the State must see it in a broader perspective. They may put forward two strong points defining the basic reason behind the Gorkhaland movement:
(A) Though the movement is concentrated and intensified within the region of the district of Darjeeling and the adjoining Dooars area only, we believe and it is also a fact, creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland is the only solution to solve the problem of the IDENTITY CRISIS faced by the Indian Gorkhas all over India. (from the published literatures of GJMM and CPRM.)
(B) A state being the lowest unit of the governance at the national level, the Indian Gorkhas can have a participation in the national governance only if they have a state of their own, without which they will be forced to live in India as the victims of a misconstrued and misconceived identity. All the north-eastern ethnic communities who can be loosely described as the ‘un-INDIAN-like-INDIANS’, like Gorkhas, have established their pucca INDIAN IDENTITY by having a state of their own. The West Bengal Government, presenting the case of the Gorkhas as a developmental issue, has totally ignored the political aspiration of 12.5 crore Indian Gorkhas, nearly 80 per cent of whom live outside Bengal. (from the published literatures of BHARATIYA GORKHA PARISANGHA).

3- The participants from the Central Government may or may not come with a fixed agenda in mind as such. They may like to hear first what the others have to say. Definitely, they would like to play their cards close to their chest this time. It is for everybody to see that the Gorkhas have a very logical and justified case if they present it as a national issue of 12.5 million Indian Gorkhas. If the whole issue is visualized as for the ‘National Identity’ crisis of the Indian Gorkhas and not against the government of West Bengal then the state Government also has to counter it at that level, not a very easy task to perform. Now the pertinent questions rising here at this juncture will be-
(a) Will the Central Government representatives, mostly high level bureaucrats and administrators, have the acumen to understand and grasp the highly sensitive political ethos of such nature?
(b) Will they admit to the fact that the Gorkhaland issue is a national issue of the Indian Gorkhas and has a national support base?
(c) Will they realize that this issue is the most sentimental and emotional one for all the Indian Gorkhas scattered all over the country?
(d) Will they sensibly judge the magnitude of the demand and that if not handled properly the agitation, regional at present, has a potential to spill over to the other states, since they already have a strong Gorkha Organisation operating in 22 states of India?
(e) Will they be sensible enough, at least for once, and try to analyze this problem in a modern pragmatic way and abandon the old habit of depending upon the Home Ministry’s files of Nehru and Patel era?
And lastly,
(f) Will they have the POLITICAL WILL to give justice to the fiercely patriotic Gorkha citizens of India who want to live as Indians and die as Indians, with a place to show where they belong to?

And as for the INTERLOCUTOR sahib, I believe, he will have to burn quite a few liters of midnight oil for his homework. Till then let us keep our eyes focused on the D-DAY, the 21st Day of December, 2009.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Operation Saffron Hunt?
Satya Sagar, Countercurrents.org, 25 October, 2009: As the UPA government embarks on its ‘Operation Green Hunt’ against the Maoists maybe what it should really be carrying out is an ‘Operation Saffron Hunt’ - against Hindu extremists who pose a far greater threat to the internal security of India.
Truth is, despite all the official and media hype about the spread of Maoists and their dramatic attacks against state forces in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and parts of West Bengal, they are simply no match for what the shadowy network Hindu fundamentalists have been doing or are capable of doing.
Let us compare the overall threat to the Indian nation from these two movements, one fighting for a ‘New Democratic Revolution’ and the other for a ‘Hindu Rashtra’:
a) The claim is that Maoists are spreading rapidly in different parts of the country and operating in 180 districts of India. They are further said to be building a Red Corridor through the forested tracts of central India from Telangana all the way to the Indian border with Nepal. Once they establish their bases here it is feared they will launch an armed assault to take over power in the country.
First of all the Maoists are not really as strong as they are made out to be by both State as well as Maoist propaganda. Even if they capture the entire forest belt of central India this is not going to help them come to power in rest of the country as they have no presence anywhere else at all. They are not to be found among the peasantry, unorganised or organised workers, the urban poor or even among students who used to be their ardent supporters once upon a time. Taking over a country as large and diverse as India with a powerful state machinery in command is simply not on the cards.
In contrast Hindutva extremists are there everywhere around the country and their political front the BJP has already been in power at the national level and still controls several state governments around the country. The RSS, the fountainhead of Hindutva, has a presence in all districts of India and runs dozens of front organisations and institutions. The VHP and various other extremist Hindu outfits even more to the right of the RSS too have a presence in most parts of the country and carry out attacks on religious minorities, others who oppose them and on all democratic institutions with impunity.
Even more disturbingly extreme Hindutva elements have penetrated the Indian army as the case of Lt.Col. Purohit, arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) for his role in the Malegaon blast case, showed. There is no doubt they are also well entrenched within the bureaucracy all over the country and have a presence even within sections of the judiciary.
The simple fact is while the Maoists are still struggling to build their Red Corridor the Hindu extremists have already completed construction of the Saffron Scaffold all over the nation for takeover of power anytime they want
b) Yes, the Maoists don’t believe in the Indian Constitution, call for a boycott of elections and are waging an armed struggle to overthrow the Indian state. In recent years they have also acquired modern weaponry and collect substantial funds through taxes on businesses, contractors and companies operating in the areas under their control.
Hindutva extremists are more dangerous as they are sophisticatedly using both Constitutional as well as extra-Constitutional means to establish a ‘Hindu Rashtra’. So they put up candidates to fight elections wherever possible and even if they lose continue to subvert Indian democracy by setting up a parallel state within the country.
What’s more, the Hindutva fanatics are far better armed than the Maoists with military training schools of their own, bomb and gun making factories and have been carrying out terrorist attacks in different parts of the country for at least the past two decades. They are also better funded than any non-governmental force in India with money pouring in from both within and outside India.

c) It is claimed if the Maoists ever come to power they will establish a brutal dictatorship. That could well be true as there is little indication that the Maoists believe in democratic processes of any kind in dealing with even dissidents within their fold leave alone their opponents. If they do come to power at all there is bound to be a frightening arbitrariness to their rule.
However, if the Hindu extremists come to power there will be nothing short of a fascist dictatorship along with a genocide of religious minorities and the end of every democratic institution in the country. Members of the Abhinav Bharat, as mentioned in the chargesheet filed against them by the Maharashtra ATS, had already drawn up a new Constitution that would make all religious minorities into second-class citizens. It would be truly back to the Dark Ages as far as Indian democracy is concerned.
What all the sensational media and state focus on Maoist activities is really obscuring is the fact that all around South Asia the biggest internal security threat to each country in the region comes from religious fundamentalist movements from within the majority communities.

This is only too obvious in Pakistan right now where the same military establishment that encouraged and used Islamic fundamentalists for various purposes over the decades is engaged in a life and death struggle against them. In Bangladesh the rising tide of religious fundamentalism has been barely stemmed by the military there through a coup and at the cost of the country’s nascent democratic institutions.
In Sri Lanka the Buddhist fundamentalists have actually won power by annihilating the LTTE along with some 20,000 Tamil civilians, while another 300,000 Tamils are interned in concentration camps reminiscent of Nazi Germany. The Mahinda Rajapakse regime in Colombo is a glimpse of what would happen in other South Asian countries if the religious fundamentalists come to power.
In India too it is Hindu extremists who really pose the biggest threat to the Indian republic, its secular and democratic Constitution. Turning a blind eye to their subversive activities and even worse- pampering them as successive governments and state agencies have done could well result in their becoming for India what the home-grown Taliban have become for Pakistan.
The main reason why the Maoists are being targeted by both the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P.Chidambaram is because their presence in the forested tracts of central India is an obstacle to domestic and foreign corporations trying to grab land and resources in these areas. Nobody was really interested in what the Maoists were doing in these forests through the eighties and nineties but when global and domestic corporations started signing MoUs for mining operations the Indian ruling class has woken up to the ‘Maoist Menace’!
In fact, a better name for the planned mobilisation of army and paramilitary troops against them by the Indian government would be ‘Operation Mineral Hunt’. A hunt that will only result in a horrific bloodbath of innocent tribal people doing further injustice to the indigenous people of the country who have been pushed around for centuries and treated like dirt by ‘Aryan’ India.
Satya Sagar is a writer, journalist and video-maker based in New Delhi. He can be contacted at sagarnama@gmail.com

Is It Not Time For The Minorities To Become The Majority?
Dr.K.Vidyasagar Reddy Countercurrents.org, 14 October, 2009
Of late the religious minorities in India have been subjected to discrimination, harassment and atrocities of all kinds. Not many such incidents are brought to the notice of the law-enforcing authorities, for; those at the helm of affairs by and large belong to majority-community, otherwise known as Hindu community. Even those incidents that are highlighted are either manipulated or hushed up somehow. The incidents that are marked by anti-minority attitude of the government employees are being set aside for want of follow-up from Publish Postthe minorities. At times, such incidents are diluted and portrayed as those that stem from the individual rivalry on account of trespass and civil tort. Attempts are also made to show them as such incidents which are not smacked of any communal bias. But then, there are innumerable incidents, be they apparent or latent, speak volumes to vindicate the point that it is communal angle that is predominant in all of them. Again, it is minorities who are at the receiving end in most of the cases. Gujarat killings are still fresh in our memory.
Suffice it to cite a case of a naked atrocity to secure forcible migration of a 70-year old minority community widow, Mrs Ahmadi Khan in the village of Jassipur of Mayurbhanj district in the state of Orissa on January 28, 2009. More than the agony that the old lady suffered due to the atrocity of Anil Modak and others on another occasion (May11, 2009) also, the criminal role of local VHP/Bajrangdal activists with the connivance of local police that caused her depression added injury to the insult. Despite her request to the Mayurbhanj SP, the FIR was not filed till date. In contrast, a false case was foisted against her, courtesy another police official in the district. There were attempts to approach the National Human Rights Commission, the Minorities Commission, besides the PIL in the Cuttack Court. But no significant remedy is available to the aggrieved party, the old lady. It seems that the Orissa High Court had directed the CB-CID last week to conduct enquiry and submit status report within a week, but in vain. There are several such incidents that are marked by communal colour seemed to be happening in various parts of the country. The society is so polarised that such cases are being viewed as communal ones, and thus justified if that victims does not belong to them. Sensitivity to such heinous crimes is lost and humanity has become a casualty.
While it is unfair to brand all Hindus as communal, it is also unfair to paint all minorities, be they Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, jains etc., as fundamentalist. In other words, it is pointless to generalise all the religious people as communal as there are only a handful of such people in any religion who, at times, become narrow-minded and chauvinistic. Their overt and covert actions of spontaneous nature might provoke reactions from the rival groups that tend to jeopardise the peace and tranquillity in the society. Sometimes such actions lead to the rise of communal riots, whereas at some other times, they might lead to the vertical division of the society on the basis of religion, as was the case with the partition of India in 1947!
Besides, there are also times when mere doubts and apprehensions about the minority communities are raised and propagated in the public and private fora. Although such deliberate acts do not lead to any violent incidents these would certainly create mental agony and distress among the minorities. As a result, minorities feel humiliated and harassed even when they are not at fault. Meanwhile, the religious fundamentalists and communalists take this opportunity to their advantage and attribute malintentions and treachery to the minorities. In fact, there are occasions (International Sporting events etc.,) when the minorities are treated as traitors of the country and thus, abused as antinationalistic once for all! This sort of sectarian attitude in the majority community towards the minorities would keep them insecure. Thus, their apprehensions about lack of protection of right, liberty and property are understandable. It is time the governments implement the reports of Rajendra Sachar Committee that concern the overall development of minorities in the country.
Thanks to the prevailing socio-economic conditions that are responsible for marginalising them would compel some such aggrieved persons to behave in an abnormal manner. In any democratic society it is numbers that matter. But it does not mean that minorities and their views are to be neglected nor undermined during the course of decision-making. Majority always does not represent common interest, leave alone rational interests. At times, it so happens that even minority would also represent the interest of majority, if not interests of all. Viewed in that perspective, one should be careful about the views of both majority and minority, and due recognition is to be paid to both the views invariably.
As a matter of fact, majority has been viewed as ‘’mobocracy’ from the ancient times onwards. Sometimes, its practice would lead to development of perverted form of governance whereby reason and rationality become casualties. Incidentally, ancient philosophers like Socrates and Plato suffered during the regimes of democrats, for being truthful and straightforward. Even Lord Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammad also faced the same wrath of mobs of their times. There were several such examples that can be traced in the history. Thus, democracy should not be treated as merely head-counting and thereby giving the reason, rationality and logic a go-bye!
Meanwhile, the concept of minorities has been understood in many ways. It is not religion alone that could be the basis for categorizing people in terms of majority and minorities. Language, culture, geography, gender, colour, caste, sub-caste and other aspects could also to be taken as factors for categorization. For instance, in the case of Hinduism, all castes and sub-castes are further categorized as distinct communities that constitute different sizes of population. Given this sort of categorization, Hindus per se do not become the majority-community. It is a community of communities of different castes and sub-castes, whose interests clash each other and one another. In the recent past, Hindus are found to be engaged in acrimonious battles for sharing power, political and otherwise. Failed to inculcate the noble feelings of Dr.BRAmbedkar, father of Indian constitution, the upper caste Hindus are not treating the so-called lower castes as brothers and sisters. The social evil of untouchability has been practised though it is prohibited in the Constitution, the sacred document of India.
The marginalised communities like Dalits, Adivasis, OBCs and women have been deprived of their constitutional rights on end. Obviously, the majority Vs minority controversy has taken a different turn with the spread of Ambedkar philosophy, and more so with popularisation of the concept of Bahujan Samaj of Manyasri kanshiramji! While the majority Hindus are polarised in terms of minority-Upper castes that constitute Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vyshyas on the one hand, the majority-Lower castes that constitute the Shudras and Atishudras, on the other hand. Since the majority-Lower castes are found oppressed socially and otherwise at the hands of Upper castes, they wish to break the chains of Hinduism only to join the religious minorities of Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism as a larger entity. Since the idea is based on apprehensions of the marginalised communities, its implementation would certainly alter the social composition of the majority and minority notions. Ultimately, this larger entity would make them majority for political purpose that would ensure political power over a period of time. That alone would assure minimum rights for the minorities who are otherwise feel suffocating due to communal perpetuation.
The author is a Research Associate, Dept. Of Political Science, Osmania University, Hyderabad,kvidyassagarr@gmail.com.