Saturday, November 30, 2019

The Economic Slowdown Needs Immediate Address

The Buck Stops With the Duo (Courtesy: Bloombergquint)

The fracas in Maharashtra notwithstanding, things are at a critical juncture with respect to the economic scenario. Not undertaking critical labour and land reforms in the previous terms of course have contributed; however, the lack of steps is not really the problem right now. The real problem at this stage is a dampened sentiment about the state of the Indian economy. This sentiment has essentially been harmed by a handful of reasons that are not being addressed suitably:

  1. GST – yes, it is proving to be a dampener. While I had back then too stated that its benefits were being overstated, the GST mechanism per se needs fixation. While tax collection is immediate and even before payments are received by the suppliers of goods and services, the input credit necessary to keep many businesses afloat and flush with working capital is taking unduly long. Steps have been announced to attempt tax reform; however, this step is yet to be addressed by the GST council. The government really needs to face the truth on this.
  2. Tax terrorism and tax litigation – tax inspectors are proving to be the proverbial Pandora’s box. The genie has been let out of the box and the government has frankly not gotten a grip on this bureaucratic setup. Steps have finally been announced; however, much damage has been done. Similarly, the tax litigation of pre-GST era is still ongoing, with more than 60 lakh crores stuck at various levels of tribunals and courts. On top of that cases like Vodafone only serve to make the central government look like a banana republic.
  3. Poor industry-financial sector relations – there is minimal trust between the two. Largely driven by the Reserve Bank of India’s crazy rules on identification of non-performing assets (NPAs), banks are hell bent of declaring any and every loan, even if serviceable, as an NPA. Some level of backing down by the RBI is certainly necessary. In the same vein, the country’s institutions also need to be less obsessed with fiscal deficits and inflation targeting, and with a strong rupee.
  4. Bureaucratic intransigence – Fear of being deemed corrupt thanks to a bunch of over-eager watchdog institutions and voices of the public, as could be seen in the case of Rafale purchases. This has meant that those who want to move the agenda are tied down, delaying critical decision making. Political shenanigans are creating further pressure, hurting India’s image when it least needs it.

Steps are ongoing in this direction to resolve, and the Finance Minister has also been candid in accepting that all is not well. However, it needs to be understood that big ticket spending in certain areas can become a catalyst right away. Only so much of highway building can help. Disinvestments will certainly help, but only in terms of raising liquidity. Addressing the issues mentioned above on war footing is certainly going to help. This is where a few big-ticket projects can really help to turn the tide around. Some projects have been under discussion, though I feel a few stand out in really pushing the agenda on economic growth in multiple ways:

  • Jewar airport near NOIDA in Uttar Pradesh, whose tender has just been awarded.
  • Building a high-speed rail in an alternate corridor, given the new Maharashtra government’s opposition – possible Hyderabad-Bengaluru.
  • RRTS corridors between Delhi-Chandigarh, feasibility study already being undertaken.
  • City gas distribution system layouts, as the licenses have already been awarded against bids.
  • Building new river ports in the Indo-Gangetic basin, given the perennial nature of the rivers.

These projects have been under much discussion. Getting these projects rolling off the ground immediately can prove to be test cases in themselves on several points. Involving the private sector, both Indian and international, will certainly help. Successful implementation of these projects can also help to build a case of India truly meaning business, and can help showcase the improved business sentiment globally. These projects will also involve significant skilled and semi-skilled labour participation, which can help to bolster the job market in a big way. Further, these cities can bolster the national economy as they will have multi-sectoral impacts – industries can set up along these corridors to take advantage of the infrastructure, and also push city economic growth. Furthermore, these projects will necessarily can help to utilize the liquidity that is now available in the market in a positive manner by tapping into the bond markets and utilization of innovative financial instruments to raise funds.

The problem exists, and in my opinion, there are immediate answers as well. This is a trial through which the government must come out of successfully, but will require out of the box thinking and some guts. The political mandate for it exists; it is now for the Prime Minister and Finance Minister’s offices to give the necessary push. It is now or never. The buck stops at the duo's offices.


Saturday, November 16, 2019

What Being Hindu Really Means to Me



It is still clear in front of me. Daytime had started to make way for evening on a December day. I and my family stood in front of BrajRaj Swami ji in Nurpur in Himachal Pradesh Legend goes that the idol, worshipped by no less than Mirabai herself, was brought to this land from Chittorgarh. Mirabai herself was the consort to this idol, perhaps the only place in the world of its kind.

Even as we stood there to partake of the caranAmrita, thoughts of all that I had read and learnt about my ancestors came rushing back. This very idol was nearly a victim of iconoclasm, and my ancestors were among those who fought to save it, to protect it till their last breaths. Was it just another idol anymore? Something that invoked reverent love among one and all could not just be another museum piece - it was rather a living being for us, whose protection and upkeep was our responsibility. 

Even as I had gone there after visiting my ancestral village, where we had prostrated before our clan deity who manifests as a snake, there was no contradiction within us in reverence for either of them. Someone who we believe has protected and taken care of our community deserves our reverence just as much. There was no conflict in any sense between them, even as they are different. The sacred is everywhere, and possesses different attributes. No one is superior to the other; rather, they each hold an importance to us which goes beyond just fear or wanting some goodies and boons from them. They are our guides, our philosophers who tell us how to live our lives the right way. This very definition of civilization, or Dharma as it has been identified with by none less than Rabindranath Tagore, is what defines our existence, our very raison d'être.

This Dharma teaches us that there are right and wrong ways of approaching situations, circumstances and scenarios. Aacharan or the right conduct tells us how to deal with things, with the Devas rendering the answers to our questions through their lilas. However, to learn that every action has a consequence, and the fruits of our actions have to be ultimately borne by us are not a scare tactic - that's a very low level understanding of the way karma is understood. The whole concept is about understanding to deal with situations in life and how one can overcome obstacles in particular. Remaining steadfast and unaffected by joy or adversity is much more than just a psychological therapy for us. All of these together are our guide in this world, the guidebook having been written by those who have not been seen but have been experienced. The anubhav, or experience of witnessing something inexplicable, remains a pivotal guiding force for us.

This way of life is not for the defeatist and the faint hearted. Having undergone several centuries of unrenderable torture and punishment for just being who we are, it has hardened us and strengthened our resolve only further to be who we are. Our Devas didn't create this universe for their own glory - rather, this vanity has no place in our pantheon. Our deities invoke all kinds of emotions, but that has little to do with scaring the adherents - rather, it is about teaching us to be fearless even in the face of crisis and fighting it out towards victory. Our ancestors never accepted defeat at any cost. They persevered and kept at it, even with the odds stacked against them. They gave us reasons to be proud of them, to remember them during shraadha and connect to their memory and thank them for our manifestation. We fought, and we fight to date for the sanctity of our spaces, for upholding our beliefs, our customs and traditions. We change when we feel that the community has raised valid concerns, not to accommodate whims and fancies of the disconnected.

Being Hindu means that life is a reminder that extremes exist at every step. The mourning of a deceased or the exhilaration of a festival both teach us valuable lessons on life, even as we recall the feats of our Devas and loved ones, while somberly pay homage to the sacrifices that our ancestors made that make us a reality today. The puja bells and the lamps make many of us teary eyed, just like the final rites of our loved ones. And yet, both are invaluable to us.

Being of this Dharma also binds us to our land and gives us our identity. One can claim whatever they want, but the core argument always is about identity. This identification with the path of Dharma is a great benefactor - it gives us an identification that we can only imagine and be ever grateful for. It serves as testament to the fact that whenever I go, I will always be identified in a certain way, and I will be accepted gracefully just like I humbly accept the other identity. That acceptance of the Divine rope of unity present and knotted in a sea of diversity, pulling us in all together in this unique churn is a definition of who I am. That doesn't in any way however mean pacifism - we are a group that has fought hard at every given instance to save our way of life, our civilizational values and beliefs. This inherent patriotism is not from some European construct but from the soul stirring mantras that have been chanted for centuries and have become an entity unto themselves over the times.

The identity that I get reflects in my music, my sense of aesthetic for art, my ability to identify the rhythm of life in music. The arts have a higher purpose in life, and are not supposed to be propaganda. Yes, there's Dharma in music, there's Dharma in dance. The identity that gives us the ability to transcend all limitations and create absolute gems of art when painting Lord Jaggannatha, of deciphering the complexities of shruti with ease when singing about the childhood of Krishna, of reading the anger of Shiva in the tandava of the artist with awe and fear - that is my identity in Dharma.

This identity also surfaces in the understanding of my body, its physical ability and shortcomings, and attempting to balance it with the surroundings. Living in harmony with nature by being at peace with oneself. It is also accepting and acknowledging the divinity of living beings, of accepting the sanctity of the cow for all who adhere to Dharma, of offering the first morsels to the Devas, then to the animals, and then partaking the balance. This very path also teaches that we always have to have karuna or kindness to the less next and do whatever one can within their capacity to help the incapacitated, the next, the powerless. Not treating the cow as good but as the Divine itself is nothing short of a non negotiable. This association of the sacred with the everyday life is a powerful message for one and all to understand, accept and follow, for it is their support that lets us survive and flourish into a prosperous civilization. Without that acknowledgement, we would be barely any different from the deracinated, the aimless and the mediocre.

This identity is such that it validates an existent Continuum that has been going on for thousands of years, shaken but not impacted, which has distilled itself ever increasingly. It is an identity that has often attempted to correct and recalibrate itself whenever the sense of wrong has been identified. Reformers did not have to attempt to establish themselves as Messiahs of new religions. The strength of the original framework was good enough to accommodate the various storeys of Dharma that have developed over centuries. This strength amalgamated itself with times to produce geniuses of various kinds, and yet did not at any time get refuted or declared false. It did not need any validation from the scientific, for they found a natural refuge in it that cannot be explained but has to be experienced.

This is perhaps an incomplete assessment of what being a Hindu really means to me. One may write a thousand books on the subject, may make a thousand claims on their Hinduness. However, the very fact that we can call ourselves Hindu is not because I was merely born into it. Even asuras, rakshasas and danavas of our itihasas were born Hindus. It is about living in a certain way that makes us stick to the path of Dharma workout being daunted by the mountain of problems that we face on a daily basis that we can call ourselves Hindu. Being Hindu for me is to venerate the cow. Being Hindu for me is to hold our temples and their traditions sacred. Being Hindu for me is to never bow down to injustice. And being Hindu for me is much more - it is being on the bath of Dharma, which emanates from the viveka the intellect, ripened by thousands of years of thinking and practice, which always leaves room for accepting right without too much of a fuss.

Being Hindu for me is being a part of a civilization that I am immensely proud of. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Six Quick Takes from Today's Results of Maharashtra and Haryana

Results Have Thrown Up Some Trends (Courtesy Indian Express)

1. People are really upset on the issue of jobs. They won't vote for others, but they sat out on BJP. Hence the reduction in the vote share also can be seen compared to even last Vidhan Sabha elections. Many people have tried to cash upon it, but with limited success.

2. Caste factor wasn't entirely a problem, since voteshares haven't swung as much compared to the previous assembly elections. Sena and NCP don't get any more or less than each other. Clearly the vote shares haven't entirely changed for the smaller ones. BJP won more seats frankly last time because Sena caused four way fights. Similarly in Haryana, while Congress did gain compare to 2014, the real loss was for OP Chautala's INLD, which bled votes to everyone else.

3. Miracle leader Mr. Fadnavis should be credited to have managed three digit seats in Maharashtra despite two way fight this time. However, some of his wife's shenanigans have certainly not been appreciated.

4. Mr. Khattar deserves accolades just as much. Pre 2014 there was no party, just 4 seats for BJP. 2014 was won by Mr. Modi; 2019 saw Mr Khattar make BJP Haryana's single largest party.

5. Jats are for some more time going to remain out of the power game. They tried tactical voting but it clearly didn't work. Similarly, Marathas are in the fray but their Chief Minister aspiration isn't going to get resolved any time soon. Some level of caste polarization has happened within the states which cannot be ignored socially.

6. Agri distress is a serious challenge not getting resolved despite efforts. This issue will continue to haunt BJP like this in other states that have major farming communities.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Why the Rama Mandir Matters to Me



As the arguments come to a close and a judgment is given, I cannot but marvel how defeatist I feel about the entire subject of the Rama Janmabhoomi dispute. That the word dispute is attached to something that archaeological and historical references prove beyond doubt is beyond my comprehension. Even with mountains of evidence, I have to prove that my deity, my Bhagavana was born there, at that very spot, where a building was repurposed to use the liberal and Marxist historian lexicography, to become a symbol of power, of slavery, which continued to rankle people even after coming down.
I do not have anything new to say, I guess, to add to the importance of the Rama Mandir. It is NOT (emphasis added) a political issue for the likes of me. It is a civilizational issue, one that literally goes to define who I am. Whatever may be the geography internally, that temple is a mark of my identity as a Hindu, whose ethos has long been lost somewhere. Fightbacks and heroics of the battle hardened ancestors of our land are innumerable; yet, the fact that we tried unsuccessfully to get back what we really had has always had a demotivating effect. Much like the ‘nothing can change’ attitude that many of us carry, despite learning (or not learning) from our own history and Dharma how one should never give up, whatever be the circumstances faced. Karmanye vadhikaraste, Sri Krishna, Rama in another birth, had directed Arjuna in the Kurukshetra, and yet, in this Kurukshetra, we felt cheated, humiliated, defeated all the time – sometimes by our own, other times by the unknown.
There is nothing new when I say that Rama is a matter of faith for many like me. He is that paragon of virtue who never lost his way on the path of Dharma, come what may. No, I cannot be Rama, for I do not have the ability to find out opportunity in adversity for fulfilling the uddeshya of my life. But it cannot be emphasized enough that his life is not just a kavya for me; it is a guide, a darsana on behaving in line with Dharma. He looks over us, as we consider him our very own, a figure that protects us all, even in the darkest of times. Guiding us through the turbulence and the muck of stagnation, he has been a beacon, of oneness, of hope for those who had nearly forgotten what it means to have an identity that is not cloaked in shame and is not drowning in the filth of depression, of chaos, of depravity. He is a symbol of that ideal society that we want – where no one has a reason to complain, and where everyone is committed to the path of Dharma.
Rama for us is that name which, as Hanuman had shown, is bigger than Rama itself, guiding us through this world and into the afterlife, towards mukti, freeing us from our Karmic connections. Rama is that son that we can never be, who for his mother’s happiness gave up all without batting an eyelid. He is the ruler we all want, who kept his own subjects way above him, and ensured that there was never a reason for suspicion, for worry and for doubting. Rama for us is that warrior who did not hesitate to take on evil, however mighty and daunting it may seem, and see to its just end. Rama for us is that scion of a lineage which starts with Ikshvaku, and has the likes of Shibi and Bhagiratha, who teach us what sacrifice and perseverance for Dharma are all about, and in whose footsteps a worthy descendant came.
Rama Mandir for us is a symbol of an idea of Bharat that is India. A civilization that had lost its path somewhere by rediscovering a powerful lost symbol has tried to understand its place in the pantheon of civilizations. Rama Mandir is proof that Bharat that is India is not a dead, ancient and forgotten civilization for academics to study; rather, it is a powerful entity that exists, and exemplifies its survival with pride. There were turbulences of Sri Rama’s life, and as if on cue, the civilization of Dharma also saw turbulence. But it withstood each onslaught, each bruise, each ram and battery to defiantly tell the others in the world that Bharat cannot be subdued, for it is in each of the Dharmiks that it survives and thrives. Its vivid memories live in its songs, dances and stories; its impressions survive in its art and sculpture, which express divinity in beauty beyond compare when taken to the zenith of excellence. It is a rally point for all Dharmiks – Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs and others – that we are all tied through our understanding of the story of Rama, with their varying hues, to this land, to its civilization and to its faith, and that remains with us irrespective of wherever we go. The power of the moment that could or could not dawn upon us today is vindication of the centuries of absence of memory, the absence of identity that was thrust upon nearly a billion people, who knew not what it meant to be someone.
The name that inspired a thousand bhajans, a thousand prayers, a thousand kavyas and mahakavyas, a thousand kritis, a thousand plays, a thousand grandmother stories, a thousand Dussehra lilas, a thousand Diwalis for many – that name is Rama. Rama is not just a name in fact, it is a summation of this civilization and all that it encompasses. The impact on our lives of that single name is perhaps reason enough to mention why the Rama Mandir matters.

Friday, October 11, 2019

China-India Powwow - Smart Diplomacy on Display

Narendra Modi with Xi Jumping at Mahabalipuram (Source:MEA on Twitter)


The informal dialogue between Indian Premier and the Chinese President is going on even as we speak. Few people will note the subtlety with which Communist China's civilizational claims have been shown a mirror of reality check by Modi's foreign policy tonight at Mahabalipuram.

China's entire 'legitimate claim' to a high seat on the global power high table is surmised from the basis of its ancient civilizational glory and past, which is extended to every sphere of their diplomacy, even border dispute resolution. What people often ignore is that the Chinese mentality often needs to be confronted to some extent with a dose of reality check and nerves of steel. China only respects countries and people who actually demonstrate a spine and also play the game on equal footing with a genuine challenge to their ancientness.

Some time back, Modi was taken once to Xi'an and once to Wuhan by the Xi administration in an attempt to overawe him with the ancient grandeur of the Chinese civilization. An attempt to show him the true strength and the greatness of the civilization was made.

However, the Chinese forgot one thing, or clearly till now had not been shown one small fine print detail. India still continues to qualify as proof of what a living ancient civilization looks like, uninterrupted by centuries of onslaught, and is proud of its roots, its original in every way imaginable. It is not some ancient civilization which has been artificially propped up again like the post Cultural Revolution Communist China.

Xi and his government officers after tonight will be like - what on earth is this? They have an actual existing ancient civilization unlike ours. This messaging is important, because that is the only way the Chinese can really be made to respect you vìs-a-vìs themselves.

An interesting anecdote from history to explain this cultural context. Those were the times when the famous eunuch Ming Admiral Zheng He was conquering the world and was doing many things, even supposedly discovering America in one of his expeditions. The experiences were recorded in many annals, but perhaps his experiences with the South of India are one of the most fascinating ones to know about. In Sri Lanka, the Kandyan King was supposedly taken captive by Zheng He and taken back to China as a war trophy. It was also supposed to serve as a lesson for disobedience in the Indian Ocean and the Indo-China region.

In contrast the Kerala and Tamil Nadu coasts, the grandeur and the wealth of the regions had shocked him into silence, and no military adventures were attempted. Instead, there was greater cultural exchange and respect that happened consequently with the Indian ports like Kochi and MahaMallapuram, with the Indian spices actually being significant imports for China, eventually leading to a relationship of respect for the country at large.

The foreign policy of India has taken a refreshing turn, that openly glorifies its past without shame. The second term of the Modi government has started off on a great foreign policy foray. Hopefully other spheres will play ball to strengthen the Indian hand on the foreign policy front.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Observations from Srinagar, Two Months into the Post 370 Situation


I visited Srinagar briefly, and I must say that what is visible on the ground is something the government should be brave about and confront, instead of hiding behind statistics and numbers, which, while true, are still not representative of the Kashmir valley’s reality in its entirety. Interestingly, security forces seemed somewhat relaxed in some of the areas like Parraypora, Hyderpora, Raj Bagh and Lal Ded hospital belt, though by the evening their numbers were up. However, it did seem like there was a terror threat or some input, given how checking and frisking picked up, with cars being stopped for verification of the passengers.

There is a tenuous peace clearly visible in the Valley’s capital, especially areas like the Lal Ded Hospital, Rani Bagh all the way up to the airport. Shops are mostly shut, clearly the sign of a civil lockdown. The odd shop seems to be open, indicating a kind of bravado that may prove fatal from these people. However, what is driving this lockdown? One can see multiple layers on the answer. Separatists, militants, partly popular sentiment within the Kashmir valley, all seem to be contributing this lockdown of sorts. Hospitals, pharmacies, banks – these three services are running fine, though banks seem to be marked by thin attendance. The government offices are reporting less than usual attendance, even though there are orders to be reporting regularly. Efforts are on to ensure that government work does not suffer despite somewhat lower attendance – one could see dredging activities in the Jhelum river bed, which is essential to prevent it from becoming a breeding ground for diseases while ensuring navigability. Interestingly, traffic is somewhat normal in the area, though the numbers would be in the usual times at least fourfold of the current volume.

Businesses have been hit very badly by the shutdown. I overheard a businessman who while complaining about other issues also mentioned how militants had already threatened him twice to shut his factory, the consequence being bombing. He was undertaking production discretely in the night to avoid detection; in any case, his output was down to forty per cent of his capacity in a single shift, hurting him hard. Consequently, labour demand is down, which will add to the already humongous challenge of employment that the youth in the state and the valley in particular face. This also highlights the level of coercion that constitutes the civilian lockdown.

Tourism has been hit the hardest within the Valley. Stories of empty hotels in Gulmarg and Pahalgam abound. Temporary layoffs have happened in the hundreds in these places, and people are certainly not happy about it. One can also see several taxi drivers who have been sitting at home for more than two months now, having little business opportunities to earn from. Nearly all of these people are among the lower middle classes of Kashmir, who would rather be called people who could gain the most with the reformation of Article 370 as done by the government; however, sentiments in general are so poor that tourists are barely a trickle. Airports can see people; however, they are mostly locals or military personnel marching to orders of transfers. Tourists are barely a trickle, and seem to be mostly Amarnath yatris; other types are conspicuous by their absence.

Even among the supporters of the move of the government, there are serious complaints emanating about internet and mobile telephony controls. The common refrain seems to be about the government inability to ban Whatsapp and Facebook, and instead curtailing internet and mobile telephony altogether. For them, it is the proverbial throwing the baby with the bathwater. GST and income tax returns, school admissions, registration processes are all coming to a standstill. The government is unable to collect many duties in Srinagar, especially things like stamp duties, which are hurting the government revenue in the Kashmir division. This is one area where the nationalist elements are finding it difficult to defend the government at all, and clearly some thoughtful action is merited.

Increasingly, it feels like a kind of a staredown taking place in a metaphorical sense. A battle of nerves is on, with winner takes it all stakes only for one side so far. Good things could happen, and much merit could be garnered in the process if only some more humane steps could be garnered. The problem within Kashmir valley is that the economic mess of the last four decades literally needs another six decades of repair work, and that too in a somewhat peaceful environment free of interference of elements of restive irritant neighbours.  The closed silk factory near Raj Bagh, once famous for its products globally, stands testament to much that went wrong in the region. The answer to many of the problems perhaps lies partially in the economy; however the current environment will not enable it for the Valley.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Article 370 May Finally Deliver Justice to Those Who Need It the Most

The Redrawn Map (Courtesy: India Today)

In 1947, the violence singing Hindus in the newly created West Pakistan had forced a whole bunch of them across the border with the then independent state of Jammu and Kashmir. The forces of then Maharaja Hari Singh halted their progress, and had started to deliberate on the potential rehabilitation, given cultural affinities, when the invasion of the Pakistani army irregulars happened, leading to an imbroglio on their status that was never resolved completely. They got the right to vote for the Lok Sabha elections, but under the then extant Article 370 and the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, they had no resident status in the state. Their only crime perhaps was to choose to be Indians.

Cut to the 1950s, with the renewed status of the Wazir-e-Azam of Jammu and Kashmir of Sheikh Abdullah, and Valmikis were called into the state to be sanitation workers. Incidentally, the idea must have spawned from how Pakistan even today only hires Valmikis left behind as sanitation workers in government offices, and discriminates as a policy of the state against them. Generations passed, but they never got the status of state residents. And they continued to be discriminated against by a state that did nothing else but pretend to be an Islamic state within India.

This article 370 whittling down by the Narendra Modi government has finally given a shot to people like these, giving them a shot at being fully integrated into the Indian state, and not be homeless even after seventy one years. Such open discrimination was allowed in this country only because we wanted to allow a bunch of Islamists to continue their hegemony in India – a position that can only dubbed as shameless. Those who pretend otherwise cannot hide their faces on the reality of the Kashmir valley, a miniscule geographical region within the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, on how Islamists within the region were allowed to run riot in the state unabated. The so called Jammu Kashmir National Conference changed its name only in the 1940s – it was a breakaway of the Muslim Conference that decided to be more militant in its approach to overthrow the rule of Maharaja Hari Singh. Subsequent actions within the state were undertaken, whenever a ‘democratically elected government’ came through – land was taken away from Kashmiri Pandits deliberately in the garb of land reforms and targeted them to the point of driving them out of the Valley entirely; the state allowed Pakistani citizens to be declared residents of the state, and penalized cultural relations between Jammu Hindus with those of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, just because they were Hindus; they deliberately tried to alter demography of both Jammu and Ladakh regions just so to ensure that Islamic hegemony could be the overall mandate. Islamists were deliberately allowed Islamism to be the state policy through education and literally tried to blackmail India on so many occasions. Rights were never given to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the state, and a State Minority Commission was never created. Sheikh Abdullah and his men deliberately played the Islamism card so often, one can not even recall now. Let me quote Shakir Mir from the Wire for those who may doubt me: 

More worrisome was also the renewed attempt by NC leaders to arouse pro-Pakistan emotions to undercut the popular anger against the party. During the election campaign, “Mirza Afzal Beg used to carry a lump of Pakistani rock salt in his pocket wrapped in a green handkerchief,” writes Victoria Schofield in Kashmir in Conflict: India, Pakistan and Roots of Unending War. “As his speech reached its climax, he would take out salt with a dramatic gesture and exhibit it to his audience indicating thereby that ‘if his party won, Pakistan would not be far away’.”

Frankly, I am tired that there has been so much tacit acceptance of an Islamic state for so long in this country. Allowing a state within a state, which will decide what laws apply to the state residents instead of seeing if they alleviate problems of people, just so that an Islamist agenda can be continued, should be condemned roundly. People forget how the Kashmir valley Islamists had behaved when Pandit Ramchandra Kak, the Prime Minister under Maharaja Hari Singh was treated in the Valley when Abdullah came to power. He was paraded, tied to a donkey, his face blackened, and faeces was thrown at him. He was called Kafir, and was eventually thrown into exile, where he died a death in dire poverty – his assets, whatever little, were snatched away from him as punishment of being an administrator of a Kafir state. 


Jammu and Ladakh, turn by turn, had to wait for the breadcrumbs being thrown at them, their punishment essentially being their avowed support to the state of India, calling themselves Indians first before anything else. Samples can be seen in the conveniently forgotten histories of crushed movements like Jammu Praja Parishad and the Ladakh autonomous council movements. They were expected to live like second class citizens in their own country, in their own home, only because they did not ascribe to the Islamist supremacist ideology strongly advocated by the political families that dominated the Kashmir valley and Jammu and Kashmir politics for more than seven decades.


Why does it matter to me? Some of these West Pakistan refugees are my relatives, and perhaps, they will finally get a roof on their heads after a long time of pleading, and waiting for people with hopes. They have had enough from that erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, that treated them as second class citizens in their own country. Perhaps, them, like many others, will finally get some modicum of justice in a country that they chose to be a part of, to get their demands addressed by a state they made their home out of their own volition.

The Economic Slowdown Needs Immediate Address

The Buck Stops With the Duo (Courtesy: Bloombergquint) The fracas in Maharashtra notwithstanding, things are at a critical juncture ...