(high-explosive) Toys for child soldiers

“They [army] would
give us one gola (grenade) each and send us to throw them on the
Indians,” Ali, a cook at Nadra, said. “The children were small and were
hard to detect at night. And plus we knew all the inside routes that
even the adults didn’t. So they gave us a gola each and off we went,
running up the hills.”

Kargil is/was hopefully the last time that we will see hand to hand combat in South Asia. While war is exciting for some people, for us ordinary humans, it is the human factor that is of primary interest, the fact that war (always) creates hidden victims who will never find the support they need from a society which has forgotten them.

On the Indian side, one example was particularly shocking. This was the Adarsh society scam, a building which was intended for widows of the Kargil war dead (soldiers). The top people from politics, bureaucracy and (shamefully) military were involved. Here is the kicker- after all the investigations (as they say in vernacular) not even a single hair was touched. The culprits (alleged) are all out on bail due to a technicality (CBI did not charge-sheet them in a timely manner…why was that??). Ashok Chavan resigned as Chief Minister of Maharashtra and now elected as Member of Parliament in the latest Lok Sabha elections.

People who opine that corruption is the necessary grease that propels developing nations towards developed nation status should stop and reflect about the implications of Adarsh (and a thousand other scams, most of which have not seen any light of the day) and what it means for a country to disgrace the memory of her fallen soldiers.

On the Pakistani side, the report below confirms what was well known- the fact that Pakistan Army disowned its own soldiers as mujahideen and went to the extreme extent of refusing to take the bodies back. The soldiers (who fought for a lost cause) did not get a penny as compensation for their heroics in the battlefield.

However the most shocking revelation (for us) is as follows: child soldiers who were advised by the Army to lob grenades at the enemy. We are not from a military tradition so we would not know about all the intricacies, but it seems that the lines between a professional force and a religious cadre bent on jihad is a very thin one. 
[Ref. Wiki] The Adarsh Housing Society is a posh, 31 storey building constructed on prime real estate in Colaba, Mumbai, for the welfare of war widows and personnel of India’s Ministry of Defence.
Over a period of several years, politicians, bureaucrats and military
officers allegedly conspired to bend several rules concerning land
ownership, zoning, floor space index and membership get themselves flats
allotted in this cooperative society at below-market rates.

The scam was unearthed in November 2010 which forced the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Ashok Chavan, to resign (Sidnote: he has now been elected as a member of Parliament).

In January 2011, the Maharashtra government
set up a two-member judicial commission to inquire into the matter. The report highlighted 25 illegal allotments, including 22 purchases made by proxy.
The report also indicted four former chief ministers of Maharashtra: Ashok Chavan, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde and Shivajirao Nilangekar Patil, 2 former urban development ministers: Rajesh Tope and Sunil Tatkare and 12 top bureaucrats for various illegal acts. The allottees included Devyani Khobragade (Sidnote: main actor in the non-payment of wages to maid case in New York).

There was a spate of petitions filed in Bombay High Court seeking to monitor CBI investigation. The petitions are Criminal PIL
No. 34 of 2010 by former Journalist Ketan Tirodkar, Criminal Writ
Petition No. 3359 of 2010 by Simpreet Singh and Criminal PIL No. 36 of
2010 by Mahendra Singh. Ref. Bombay High Court order dated 17th Feb.
By this order High Court asked CBI to amend the F.I.R. by adding Benami
Properties Transaction Act section 4. Also, the High Court transferred
the missing filed probe from Mumbai Police to CBI. Praveen Wategaonkar
filed Criminal PIL later seeking invoking of Prevention of Money
Laundering Act (PMLA) into the case. So it has been invoked and
Enforcement Directorate came into picture.

Reacting to these petitions and based on the slow pace of the investigation in the last two years, Bombay High Court severely castigated Enforcement Directorate for its failure to initiate any probe in the matter on 28 February 2012. 
Expressing its unhappiness the court observed, “It
is unfortunate that ED has remained a mute spectator. There is a
serious lapse on the agency’s part for not probing into money laundering
offence. ED has not moved an inch. It reflects a sorry state of
affairs. We are summoning the director as there has been no assistance
from his department to the court.” 

The Court also rapped the CBI for the tardiness in its investigations (begun in January 2011).
The High Court, again on 12 March 2012, severely castigated the CBI for
not arresting any of the accused in spite of having evidence and
ordered it to take action without fear or favour.
ED having registered a case under Prevention of Money Laundering Act,
has decided to launch attachment proceedings of the flats after going
through the latest charge-sheet filed by CBI.

Following the Court’s criticism, the CBI carried out eight arrests including two retired Major Generals
TK Kaul and AR Kumar, retired brigadier MM Wanchoo, former General
Officer Commanding(GOC) of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa, Adarsh promoter
Kanhaiyalal Gidwani and Pradeep Vyas, the then city collector and currently, finance secretary (expenditure) in the Govt. of Maharashtra.
Accordingly on 22 March 2012, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Prithviraj Chavan announced in the legislative assembly that the two IAS officers whose names have figured in the scam, Pradeep Vyas and Jairaj Phatak have been suspended from government service.

In a further twist to the case, the CBI
officers arrested their own lawyers, J K Jagiasi and Mandar Goswami.
Jagiasi allegedly asked an Air India (AI) official, one of the accused
in the case, to pay a bribe of Rs 5 million in exchange for diluting
charges levelled against him. The petty cash books maintained by Jagiasi
helped unearth the conspiracy. 

In addition, Rs 2.5 million was
allegedly paid to Goswami. He was the Special Counsel in the Ministry of
Law and Justice and at present is working as Retainer Counsel for CBI.
According to CBI sources, the tainted AI official approached the CBI for dilution of the case filed against him. Jairaj Phatak
and Ramanand Tiwari were arrested by the CBI on 3 April 2012, for their
alleged involvement in receiving illegal gratification in the Adarsh
Housing Society Scam.

On 29 May 2012, a special CBI court granted bail to seven of the nine
arrested accused in the Adarsh scam since the CBI failed to file a charge-sheet within the stipulated 60 days from the time it took them in custody.
Those granted bail include Maj. Gen. (Retired-retd) A. R. Kumar, Maj. Gen. (retd) T. K. Kaul, Brig. (retd) M. M. Wanchu, IAS officer and former Mumbai district collector Pradeep Vyas, former Defence Estate officer R. C. Thakur, IAS officer P. V. Deshmukh and former Congress member of the Legislative Council Kanhaiyalal Gidwani (the chief promoter of Adarsh). 


I needed a new guide to help me
find the elusive colony of people displaced by the Kargil conflict and
living somewhere behind Islamabad’s Bari Imam shrine. Wars between
Pakistan and India have claimed thousands of victims but forgotten among
them are the living victims of the Kargil war who have sought uncertain
refuge in the squalor of shanty towns around the country.

Across a
bridge and up and down narrow streets lined with palm trees and mud and
brick houses, their doors painted in shades of orange and green, Baqir,
our pied piper, led me and a long line of local children to a small
hamlet teetering on the edge of the creek. 

A sheepish Wafadar found us
again somewhere along the way. “Why did your family move here?” I asked
him. “I don’t know,” Wafadaar said. “Ask my father.” Something terrible
had happened to Wafadar’s father — something senseless but dreadfully
common among hundreds and thousands of people who have been displaced
from several parts of Pakistan brutalised by war.

A sepahi in the
Pakistan army, Shah returned to his village across the border from
Kargil one morning to find that an Indian shell had crashed through the
roof of his two-storey house and left his son and daughter dead. His
second daughter, 10-year-old Sidra, was lying semi-conscious under a
tree, her skull crushed by the bombardment.

As he gathered his
children’s bodies, Shah says he remembers fretting that the bales of hay
stacked on the roof for the goats’ winter fodder had caught fire during
the shelling. He worried for his animals. A few days later, after India
blocked water to the area, Shah fled, his bleeding daughter bundled in
his arms. Sidra died a few days later. But grief and remorse
trailed him to Islamabad, combining with other stresses: financial
troubles and the absence of support from relatives and friends. 

years later, Shah is a driver at the Earthquake Reconstruction and
Rehabilitation Authority, surviving on a meagre salary and a Rs5,000
pension. He blames Nawaz Sharif. “Kashmir was in our hands,” he told me
at his house, sitting in a blue plastic chair under harsh fluorescent
lights and a clock that read 6:54, no longer keeping time.

then Sharif went to the United States and we had to give Kargil back.”
For Shah, and his neighbours, many of them ex-army men, Sharif’s
greatest betrayal was calling the Kargil fighters mujahideen. “Kashmiri
mujahideen?” he scoffed. “He said we were mujahideen! I’m retired from
the army. He disowned his own army.” While Shah has never been
compensated for what he left behind, and several trips to the GHQ have
borne nothing, Sharif will travel to India next week to make gains for
the future.

A neighbour’s son Ali Raza, now 20, also remembers
shells: exploding Indian shells dripping like rain every day on his way
to school. A shell fell near his school bus once, so close it rocked the
bus from the side to side. He tells me about the 12-year-old girl whose
nose was sliced off by shrapnel. He also tells me about how the war
changed children’s lives — and their toys too.

“They [army] would
give us one gola (grenade) each and send us to throw them on the
Indians,” Ali, a cook at Nadra, said. “The children were small and were
hard to detect at night. And plus we knew all the inside routes that
even the adults didn’t. So they gave us a gola each and off we went,
running up the hills.”

As Ali tells me about the unusual toys and
the invented games, his infant daughter plays with a rattle by his feet.
She chuckles. At least for her, one can pray, the war is over.

Link: http://www.dawn.com/news/1108390/footprints-kargils-leftovers



11 bullets? one, two..not enough??

Moral of the story: it is hazardous to do good deeds on this earth and in this life, even though you may benefit from it in the next life. These incidents have become commonplace now, the only reason this story is being covered is because the good doctor was an American.

We are curious but is APPNA (and any other medical association of Pakistani doctors in America) also segregated by communities? Will anybody on BP be knowing the family? It must be a terrible thing for them as a family and as well as the community. How do people heal after something like this? Please note our sincere condolences.

And this must be emphasized above all: please do not risk your life and limb (as well as inflicting terminal harm to your immediate family) by taking unnecessary risks such as traveling to your native land. If you must engage in charity work please carry on by any remote means possible (or better yet focus on opportunities in your adopted country). Please.
An American volunteer cardiologist was shot dead in Pakistan on
Monday, a member of his minority Ahmadi community said, the latest
attack on a group which says it is Muslim but whose religion is rejected
by the state.

Mehdi Ali had taken his five-year-old son and a cousin to
a graveyard in Punjab province at dawn to pray when he was shot, said
Salim ud Din, a spokesman for the Ahmadi community.

“He came
here just one or two days ago to work at our heart hospital, to serve
humanity and for his country,” Din said. “Two persons came on
motorbikes. They shot 11 bullets in him.”

Ali was born in Pakistan
but moved abroad in 1996. He had returned to do voluntary work at a
state-of-the-art heart hospital built by the Ahmadi community in the
eastern town of Rabwah.

Ali, 51, moved to Columbus, Ohio, in the
United States, where he founded an Ahmadi centre and raised funds for
medical charities in Pakistan, Din said. He is survived by a wife and three young sons, Din said. 

The US embassy said it was providing consular assistance but declined to give further details. “We express our deepest condolences to his family and friends,” the embassy spokeswoman said.




Great Expectations

The novel had imparted quite a nasty shock at an impressionable age, hopefully the real-life drama will play out on a happier note for the sake of India and Indians.

Key takeaways (yes we know, the following are all anecdotes):

(1) Indian elites are really really shallow (as expected). To them Hindutva is a visit to the mandir a few times in their lives, on happy occasions as well as sad, and sometimes because your bike ran out of gas (as you were on a solo trip to Rhotang pass) and you saw an abandoned temple by the road-side and you were gullible enough to believe some made-up story about how the Devi appeared in a vision one night.

So do businessman Vipul and Shilpi Sharma, both 33…..Long-term
BJP supporters, the Sharmas are not attracted by the nationalism, or
the religious revivalism
that is part of the party’s ideological
heritage, but because “India has been under-performing” at home and
abroad during the last decade of Congress government. Shilpi believes
that with Modi in charge she will have a better chance of realising her
dream to have a holiday in Europe, the UK or Canada.

(2) India’s poor are really, really idealistic. They are politically aware, and do have lot of expectations from the government (why not?) and they have hopefully lost the humbleness that you have to bow before the king throws a bit of alms your way. They are the first pillar of democracy. If the revolution ever comes, they will be slaughtered to the last (wo)man, and this will be explained away by the need to lose memories of the poor.

Sanjeev Pal …has rent to pay, loan instalments on his new car to
meet and a family to look after back in his village
500 miles away. Time
is tight.

Not tight enough to stop him voting though. “This was a
duty, not a right only. We had to pick the best man to represent us,”
the father-of-two said.

That man, according to Pal, is Narendra Modi…. Analysts say the
election is the most significant in India for decades, possibly since the country won its independence from Britain in 1947.

This alone has
already fulfilled one of Pal’s hopes.
“This country needs someone who
can get things done. And that leader needs to be strong, with real

For the moment, Pal the taxi driver is
relieved to be a little less worried about the future now than he was a
month ago.
“I know where Modi came from. Only a man who has been poor
can really understand what being poor means,” he said.

(3) The para (not very well supported) that is likely to send Pankajists (hey Omar, look at me!!!) into a bout of hysterics.
This is what they fear most, millions of upwardly mobile neo-Hindus, who are corrupted by the Satan of a system in which at the end there will be a few winners and the rest will all lose out.

Even among the most deprived, sensibilities are changing. The desire
for a hand-up rather than a hand-out, particularly among those who are
only just beginning to see their standard of living improve, is a
significant factor, say political scientists. “A lot of the dole
programmes are very popular, but just not enough any more,” said Milan
Vaishnav, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Migration,
cellphones and economic growth have reshaped the realm of the

(4) The young voted for Modi and how
The biggest
election winner for the BJP may have been young people. Around 100m
voters cast a ballot for the first time and some pollsters estimate that
up to 90% of 18 to 25 year olds, increasingly urbanised, aware and
aspirational across the country, voted
for Modi.
In one Dwarka coffee bar, Sartak Menon, 20, said the new
prime minister “aims to give the youth and the poor more power to have a
better lifestyle”. 

(5) The tentacles of caste are loosening, especially in urban areas (which will become much more prominent in terms of vote-shares)
factor is the decline of caste, the tenacious Indian social hierarchy
which still determines the status of hundreds of millions.
The realities
of living in overcrowded Indian cities or zones like Dwarka have made
reinforcing social separation and discrimination through rituals or
violence much harder. Pal said that, though he previously always voted
for a party representing lower castes such as his own, he was not even
aware that Modi was from a similar community.

(6) So, what can possibly go wrong?
Over half of all
respondents in a poll published in the India Today news magazine said
Modi represented the national interest and the people’s aspirations, but
the proportion among Muslims, who number around 140 million in India,
was only 16%.

As Arundhati Roy explains (convincingly), the fear is misplaced, muslims will not be killed any more. Indeed on this count the BJP record may actually turn out to be superior than that of the secular armies…..just because the world will be watching very closely. It will be the tribals that will get knocked up…and very few people will care about that.
On the ragged edges of a fast-changing city, Sanjeev Pal is a
man on the move. The taxi driver has little time these days to stop and
talk politics. He has rent to pay, loan instalments on his new car to
meet and a family to look after back in his village 500 miles away. Time
is tight.

Not tight enough to stop him voting though. “This was a
duty, not a right only. We had to pick the best man to represent us,”
the father-of-two said.

That man, according to Pal, is Narendra Modi,
the 63 year-old provincial politician who, with 31% of votes cast in a
record turnout, won a landslide victory this month. Analysts say the
election is the most significant in India for decades, possibly since the country won its independence from Britain in 1947.

Monday, Modi will be inaugurated as his nation’s 18th prime minister.
From relative political obscurity, the former tea-seller has risen to
the highest executive office in this developing, troubled nation of 1.25
billion people. His Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party now
commands a crushing majority in the lower house of parliament. The
Congress party, in power for all but 18 of the 67 years since
independence, has been reduced to a historic low.

This alone has
already fulfilled one of Pal’s hopes. “This country needs someone who
can get things done. And that leader needs to be strong, with real

Pal lives and works in Dwarka, a new town that has
sprung up over the last 20 years on the outer rim of Delhi, the
sprawling Indian capital which is home to 17 million people. Dwarka is a
zone of transition. Less than a generation ago, it was just fields and
scrub. Now there are a million people living in rows of apartments
blocks, short of water but served by scores of private schools, malls, a
luxury hotel, a metro line, dusty parks and the occasional temple.
Fruit-sellers hawk mangos outside air-conditioned coffee bars and carts
laden with buffalo dung cakes used for fuel hold up Audi SUVs.

is the rapid and traumatic change leading to such contrasts that
explains the BJP’s win, and has given rise to the enormous expectations
now centred on Modi.
A sharp economic slowdown after decades of boom has
only sharpened the hope that, as the new prime minister told campaign
meetings, “good days are coming”.

Despite the buffaloes, Dwarka is
part of the West Delhi parliamentary seat, an urban constituency. In
elections a decade ago, there were only 120 such seats out of 543. Now
there are 180, according to Rajeev Karandaikar, a statistician and
election specialist at the Chennai Mathematical Institute, plus at least
another 100 which are semi-urban. For the first time, the BJP’s vote
share across cities and India’s vast countryside was similar, a
significant reason for the party’s success.

was enormous support for Modi and deep anger at Congress. There was a
definite swing across all social and economic categories,” said

In the capital, Congress lost in every seat. In West Delhi, Parvesh Verma,
a debutant 36-year-old BJP candidate, beat a Congress veteran by
460,000 votes out of 1.3m cast. The newly formed Aam Aadmi, or common
man party, came second. “Everybody – Muslims, Hindu, ladies, boys –
wanted a strong government and a strong prime minister. People have
faith in Mr Modi. He has a clear vision for the country and he will
definitely deliver,” Verma said. The new MP’s father was once chief
minister of Delhi, a reminder of how politics in India is often a family affair.

Mishra, the son of the outgoing Congress MP and an organiser of his
61-year-old father’s unsuccessful campaign, blamed “anti-incumbency” –
the traditional reaction of Indian voters against those in power – as
well as a “communication gap between the government and the common man”.
Mishra, 31, diplomatically avoided blaming Rahul Gandhi, the scion of
India’s most famous political dynasty and the face of the Congress
campaign, preferring to suggest the 43 year old Cambridge-graduate had
been badly advised.

If a general sense of instability, insecurity
and drift helped bring Modi to power, the desire for rapid progress,
order and direction is likely to now prove an immense challenge for the
new prime minister.

Pal, the taxi driver, believes that Modi, who is
seen as having brought development to the state of Gujarat while in
power there from 2001 until last week, can do the same on a national

So do businessman Vipul and Shilpi Sharma, both 33. The
couple commute from Dwarka, driving three hours everyday to work in the
booming hub of Gurgaon, 15 kms away. Vipul runs a business. Shilpi works
for a multinational. With their Hyundai and top-of-the-range
smartphones, they are part of what overseas analysts call the Indian
middle class and poorer locals call simply “rich people”.

BJP supporters, the Sharmas are not attracted by the nationalism, or
the religious revivalism that is part of the party’s ideological
but because “India has been under-performing” at home and
abroad during the last decade of Congress government. Shilpi believes
that with Modi in charge she will have a better chance of realising her
dream to have a holiday in Europe, the UK or Canada.

The biggest
election winner for the BJP may have been young people. Around 100m
voters cast a ballot for the first time and some pollsters estimate that
up to 90% of 18 to 25 year olds, increasingly urbanised, aware and
aspirational across the country, voted
for Modi.
In one Dwarka coffee bar, Sartak Menon, 20, said the new
prime minister “aims to give the youth and the poor more power to have a
better lifestyle”. 

According to Indian government statistics, about a
fifth of Indians live in poverty, down from more than a third in 2004.
Even among the most deprived, sensibilities are changing.
The desire
for a hand-up rather than a hand-out, particularly among those who are
only just beginning to see their standard of living improve, is a
significant factor, say political scientists.

“A lot of the dole
programmes are very popular, but just not enough any more,” said Milan
Vaishnav, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Migration,
cellphones and economic growth have reshaped the realm of the

Vaishnav points to a blurring of the divide between
town and country in India, and says surveys show voters everywhere share
the same preoccupations of jobs, corruption and price rises.

factor is the decline of caste, the tenacious Indian social hierarchy
which still determines the status of hundreds of millions.
The realities
of living in overcrowded Indian cities or zones like Dwarka have made
reinforcing social separation and discrimination through rituals or
violence much harder. Pal said that, though he previously always voted
for a party representing lower castes such as his own, he was not even
aware that Modi was from a similar community.

On the very edge of
Dwarka, where fields meet cement, Choudhury Dilichand, a retired teacher
said he voted Congress at the election. The 73-year-old, who recently
sold six acres of land bought for a pittance in his village 20 years ago
for millions of dollars, said the scale of BJP’s victory was easily

“The young people voted for Modi because he is honest
and there is hope that something can be done for jobs and development
and so on. If Modi can keep clean people only in government, then
something can be done. But if he can’t, then there will be problems,”
Dilichand said.

Some observers voice concerns. Since taking power
Modi has signalled a policy of conciliation abroad and unity at home,
but fears remain that if the new prime minister cannot fulfil the huge
expectations of his countrymen, he or his party could be tempted to
shift to the right.

The very factors underpinning his victory
could make this a tempting strategy to adopt. Over half of all
respondents in a poll published in the India Today news magazine said
Modi represented the national interest and the people’s aspirations, but
the proportion among Muslims, who number around 140 million in India,
was only 16%.

By 2050, at least half a billion people in India are
predicted to move from rural areas to towns and cities, fundamentally
changing the nature of the country. Many will end up in places like

“The traditional hypothesis is that urbanisation is part
of a modernisation process, which involves an inevitable moving away
from traditional affiliations of community such as religion and caste,”
said Vaishnav.

But it is also possible that the dislocations
associated with rapid change can lead to communities consolidating and
this can provide an opportunity for politicians “harping on those social
cleavages”, he said.

For the moment, Pal the taxi driver is
relieved to be a little less worried about the future now than he was a
month ago. “I know where Modi came from. Only a man who has been poor
can really understand what being poor means,” he said.

Link: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/25/narendra-modi-inauguration-huge-expectations/



(neo)Maoism for memory loss (in 3 steps)

Sometimes it takes just one line (or a few words) to make things crystal clear. Normally when we talk about totalitarian ideologies we have only a vague understanding of what it means (and we working class folks pride ourselves in being intellectually, a grade above trust-fund a-holes).  
In our opinion, the quote below* fairly captures the sentiment and motivation of Mao, and possibly that of the neo-Maoists, who yearn intensely for utopia on earth.
In Mao’s terms, suffering clears your head — even death clears your
head, using “your” in the plural. China had suffered for hundreds of
years, becoming enslaved by people they considered barbarians.

When Mao
says “chaos” he’s not talking like that trust-fund asshole in your dorm
who used to spray-paint circles with an ‘A’ in the middle when he was
sure nobody was looking.

He’s talking about mass death for generation
after generation. That’s how you get a clear head: you sweep all the
“human, all too human” baggage out of it. Once you have that “mind of
winter,” you can face down the nukes easily. Which he did.


If any Dear Leader is planning to be implement this “chaos” plan in India today, he or she must have the fortitude (and vision) to get rid of people located at the bottom of the pyramid (which is where most people live). Maoists however may argue that in order to remove mental baggage of the society most effectively, we must start (and finish) with the bourgeoisie because it is they who tend to have the longest memories (this is how it worked in the cultural revolution as well).

A three step program is suggested
(1) We have 40% of the country suffering from malnutrition, so they must be at the head of the queue (memories of extreme poverty will go with them).
(2) Next up the order will be muslims and christians. Off with their heads as well (memories of colonization over a thousand years will vanish). 
(3) Depending on our tolerance level for enhanced culling, we can perhaps eliminate all except the (neo) middle class, which clocks in at about 20% of the population.

The principal payoff for having sent 1 Bil people to the gas chambers will be that the memories of mass poverty and colonization will be lost for good. That would indeed make India a wonderful place to live in. Not to forget, there will be now many more kids who are trust-fund a-holes.


* Reference: comments section in http://brownpundits.blogspot.in/2014/05/ineuqality-caused-by-neoliberal.html 


Shri Hemkunt Sahib

Guru Govind Singh meditated at this spot, high up on the Garhwal Himalayas.
The nearby valley of flowers is an unforgettable place to visit as well.

While the fact is that lakhs of pilgrims would love to visit the place, we wish they take all appropriate precautions. We forget easily even the most horrible events (it is probably a defense mechanism, else we all will go mad). But last year’s tragedy must still be fresh in people’s minds.

If any BPeeps are headed that way we will appreciate if you share your travel experiences.
The portals of the famous Hemkund Sahib Gurdwara located in snow-capped Garhwal Himalayas were thrown open to pilgrims today. Shri Hemkunt Sahib, where Guru Gobind Singh meditated before his incarnation
as the 10th Sikh guru, is one of the most revered places and attracts
lakhs of pilgrims every year.

Braving chilly weather, over
3,000 Sikh pilgrims offered their prayers at the star-shaped Gurdwara
situated at a height of 16,000 ft in Chamoli district.

shrine opens for four months in a year as the area remains snow-bound
during the rest of the period. It had remained closed since October 10
last year.

Link: http://shrihemkuntsahib.com/home.html



Inequality caused by “neoliberal, neopatriarchy”

Please everybody, stop with the NEO- prefix, for some reason it causes our brain wires to short-circuit (already there is a new meme that neo-Hindu, neo-middle class was responsible for the Modification of India). This is just like that -GATE thingy, every single scandal is tainted by that suffix.

Beatrix Campbell in the Guardian makes a (not so) neo-point that a neo-woman’s revolution is required (yes, we did add the NEO-s on purpose). A commentator “royaltea” then responds to a particularly egregious claim that Chinese women were better off under Maoist times. 

It underlines the motto of the
left. We should be all equal and poor. Inequality is bad because some of
us are winners and others are losers (even while we are all richer). 

BTW “royaltea” is being kind when he (we presume) says that millions starved to death under Mao. It was in pure and simple terms, the genocide of 45 mil (of their own people). It should be the benchmark by which other genocides are ranked. The fact that it is not (along with Stalin’s gulags) has to do with the West-Left assertion that communism was good for mankind but was poorly implemented.

I’m of a certain age; I came alive politically with the women’s
liberation movement in 1970. It changed my life. It changed the world.

Except, of course, it didn’t entirely. No sooner had it bounced on to
the world’s stage than there was a counter-revolution – feminism didn’t
die, but it didn’t thrive either. It just survived, heroically
optimistic as ever. We believe in the best of ourselves; we believe in
the best of men.

But something dire happened between the Women’s Liberation Movement and now. That’s why I have written a manifesto, End of Equality. It became apparent to me that in the first decade of this century the
conditions necessary for achieving equality between men and women had
been extinguished.

End of Equality argues that there is a new
global settlement: neoliberal neopatriarchy. This is an ugly term for an
ugly relationship. Neoliberalisation is the subordination of the social
state to the market, and neopatriarchy tolerates girls being astronauts
or bankers, but resists genuine reform of the sexual division of

It helps to be clear about what this new sexual settlement is
not. It is not just a backlash, or a relic of olden times. It is not the
temporary brutality of globalisation, or the collateral damage of
austerity. It is an epochal enemy of feminism because it is a
repudiation of the social solidarities and welfare states without which
feminist agendas wither.

In this perceived era of gender equality,
there is a new articulation of male social power and privilege. There
is no evolutionary trek towards equality, peace and prosperity.
The new
world order is neither neutral nor innocent about sexism: it modernises
it. Masculinities and femininities are being made and remade as
polarised species.

When feminism fades, femininities are taken to
extremes. Some bodies are veiled and hidden, while others are plucked,
shaved and sliced.
Bosoms are built, stomachs are shrunk: the covered
body and the built body are oddly united. Their shared outlook involves a
pessimistic engagement with masculinity – it is either to be feared and
managed, or aroused and managed. But not actually changed.

between men’s and women’s money, time, respect and resources are static,
or growing. Decades of reform have not transformed our most
masculinised institutions – the police, the criminal justice system, the

Corporate culture reinstates the chasm between mothers’
time and men’s time. In the City of London 70% of young fathers work on
average 10-hour days. The City, then, is organised in the image of young
patriarchs, who may be providers but are scarcely parents. Instead,
they are visitors to women and children.

neopatriarchy is shaping the world. Before China embraced capitalism in
1979, workers were poor, but pretty much equally so. In 1988, women
earned 87% of men’s pay – now they’re down to 67%.

Commentator “royaltea” responds:

Oh dear.
I wouldn’t bother commenting on such silliness, but this bit is actually offensive.

neopatriarchy is shaping the world. Before China embraced capitalism in
1979, workers were poor, but pretty much equally so.

But they were very, very, very poor, with no freedom at all.

Under socialism, they were so poor that 45 million of them starved to death. Starved to death as the completely avoidable consequence of the imposition of socialist economic polices. (You might not have heard of this, but you can look up the “great Chinese famine” on line.)

suggest than people were better off in China under socialism they were
“equally poor” is beyond ignorance. It really is quite revolting.

In 1988, women earned 87% of men’s pay – now they’re down to 67%.

In 1988, average wages were about 3,00 Yuan, now it is 47,000 Yuan. Maths test – which is greater?
87% of 3,000 or 67% of 47,000. It’s the latter.

Chinese women have become massively better of, and more free since China ditched communist socialism.
Link: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/25/we-need-new-womens-revolution


Feelings (fears) of a (expat) Coconut

If this is the best of times for Gujarati expats, it is also the worst of times for non-Gujaratis like Saptarshi Ray.

These non-Gujju expats – (mostly) upper-caste folks, brought up in the non-UKIP, non-Tea Party traditions of the West, which celebrates minorities (and some minorities more than others) are also known as Coconuts (his expression).  
Right now, the Coconuts are suffering from a complex set of emotions:
(1) burning shame (our motherland is now run by RSS fascists who even make Nazi like salutes),
(2) bright-white anger and bewilderment (how could they vote for a shudra chaiwallah, we thought BJP is a manuvadi, Brahmin dominated party, controlled by Brahmin bosses from Nagpur) and,
(3) a tiny, little, nanoscopic bit of envy (these Gujarati baniyas, we will never give them our hard-earned money even if they promise better returns).

The following excerpts (expanded below) summarize the fears and feelings of a Coconut as he views India under Hindutva rule:
The money train of the Indian diaspora is especially pronounced among Gujaratis, and so many of them seem to love Modi,
as rupees, pounds and dollars from around the world fund everything
from schools to political campaigns. As chief minister of their home
state, he is held up as a man who can do business, and do politics.
He’ll make India great, goes the argument, and a great India certainly
doesn’t kowtow to any NRIs. Especially ones who disagree.

Modi and his goons—both within and without the mother country—want a
mythical India that celebrates Hinduism at the cost of other religions,
rides rough over its neighbours and looks purely inward. This is not
the India I know and love. A more confident India is to be welcomed,
but a global India is even better. 

There is currently a full-fledged Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions regime targeting Israel that has been put in place by a coalition of the West-Left and Islam. It reached its pinnacle when in 2013 several US academic bodies endorsed the boycotts. As we understand, the BDS program accelerated due to the provocations (settlements) unleashed by PM Binyamin Netanyahu and there was also a deadly raid of  the Turkish flotilla carrying humanitarian cargo for Gaza (May, 2010) which attracted severe international condemnation.

Members of the American Studies Association have voted in favor of endorsing the academic boycott
of Israel by a 2–1 margin, making it the second major U.S. scholarly
association, after the Association for Asian American Studies, to do so.

The resolution approved by a plurality of ASA members cites
as a rationale the lack of “effective or substantive academic freedom for
Palestinian students and scholars under conditions of Israeli occupation” and
calls for the association to boycott Israeli higher education
which are described as being “a party to Israeli state policies that
violate human rights and negatively impact the working conditions of
Palestinian scholars and students.”

“I think what the vote indicates is that people recognize the illegal
occupation of Palestine as one of the major civil rights issues of our time globally,”
said Bill Mullen,
a professor of English and American studies at Purdue
University and a member of the ASA’s Caucus on Academic and Community
Activism, which first put forward the boycott resolution.  

“American scholars
now understand the physical violence that’s part of the Israeli occupation;
they understand the massive restrictions on academic freedom for Palestinian
scholars that is part of living under an illegal occupation.
These facts are
now irrefutable to so many people that the vote indicates a kind of coming to
consensus around the illegitimacy of Israel’s occupation of Palestine.”


Now we know that India will be ruled by a man who prevailed in an election remote controlled by Mossad (aided by the Jewish controlled global media), and a direct nexus has been established between Hindutva and Israeli groups. Is it not high time that the American Studies Association and other groups take up the case of India as a regime ripe for BDS style sanctions? TBH, how are things fundamentally different between Palestine and Kashmir? (Pankaj Mishra has written a book exploring this very issue. Arundhati Roy is of the opinion that the cleansing of the Pandits was a stunt allowed by India in an attempt to gain high(er) moral ground)

And if India is on the radar, can the People’s Republic of China be far behind (btw please dont even think about sending a humanitarian army to Xinjiang, the activists will be all thrown into boiling water…or something). Also we have Russia which recently annexed Crimea and placed the minority muslim population (Tatars) in open air prisons…the term normally used to describe Gaza. Burma, Thailand, Philipines…the list goes on and on.

Then we have the most curious set of culprits… the Islamic nations themselves (many of which have been formed to explicitly protect muslims). How many (muslim) folks are dead or dying in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, Iran, Saudia and elsewhere at the hands of goons who receive protection from the State? Prof Bill Mullen should also find the time to comment on all these “Palestines” such as Balochistan (for example). If not, why not?

To be clear, human rights is not a competition game, and all victims (muslims, non-muslims) are equally deserving. Inhumane actions (by humans) must be condemned (by other humans) and we should attempt to restore humanity as quickly as possible (India, for example, has the largest number of slaves in the world, Pakistan follows closely). But…..we still wonder, how will the Coconuts adjust to this new (harsh) reality of India, and how will they shape global attitudes and policies towards their beloved motherland as sublime love turns into bitter hate?

My friend Ramesh and I have a running joke that we will one day write a travel book called The Coconut’s Guide to India
(©)—an instructive, descriptive work for our brothers and sisters born
throughout the diaspora making their first trip to the motherland,
all the dastardly pitfalls it might entail. To be taken with a pinch
of salt, and a dash of garam masala, naturally.

The title may need some tweaking, coconut is after all a rather offensive term:
brown on the outside, white on the inside,
and as frequent visitors to
our homeland who speak the lingo and know the customs, we thankfully
don’t qualify; but we’ve always felt our fellow British Asians who
cannot or will not make a trip to their ancestral country are missing
out. Not just due to its beauty, history or notions of connecting with
one’s identity, but also because of the welcome extended to those that
hold the status of NRI. 

The generation that emigrated in the post-empire rush in the 1950s
and 60s were predominately born in India, so had the natural affinity
that comes from being an expat rather than an outsider—but for their
children born in the UK or US, Germany or Australia, the relationship
with the des (homeland) has always been more complex.


At first we were novelties,
familiar looks yet bemusing accents, unseasonable clothing and odd
music. As an infant I remember the children in my grandad’s village
used to come and stare at me when word got round we were visiting, as
they wanted to see the boy who was born in England—and I could see the
disappointment in their eyes that I looked just like them. We were both
foreign and domestic, it was an exciting and confusing time. It led to
some books and films and stuff.

But now I fear that Modi’s crude mix of jingoism and capitalism will
damage relations with India’s satellite communities, or certainly
create schisms within it. Outside his rather sycophantic, predominantly
Gujarati fan club, the rest of us might wonder what use he has for us
if we do not give him our cash.

Will this now lead to the Indian diaspora becoming a Modi diaspora? One
where rightwing Hindu ideology is extolled and secular tolerance
becomes a shibboleth for us NRIs? Entry allowed only if you believe
Indian Muslims shouldn’t get the vote? Or there should be a new temple
at Ayodhya? Even if you don’t say it, perhaps you should think
it—otherwise, on your rickshaw pal; if you’re not with us, well then …
you’re not really Indian. Resident or not.

After all, two-score and more years of the NRIs—which has come to mean us born abroad as well as those who emigrated—turning up
has already meant familiarity, adaptability and, in more recent times, a
little bit of hostility. NRIs pay tourist rates at the Taj Mahal,
prices will jump at restaurants, people end up in arguments that
usually begin with: “You NRIs, you think you own the place.” 
effect, we are losing our insider status; we are becoming just any old
tourists. But now will we have to pledge allegiance to a divisive

I am happy to pay more to see beautiful buildings and enjoy nice meals—I
am after all a guest, albeit a regular one—but there is a discernible
change in dynamics. The Indian middle class are becoming wealthier, and
when I say wealthy, I mean dollar wealthy, and more robust. Indian
business, well some of it, is booming. As are its sports.

And it is this nexus of tradition and commerce that Modi knows only too well.

The money train of the Indian diaspora is especially pronounced among Gujaratis, and so many of them seem to love Modi,
as rupees, pounds and dollars from around the world fund everything
from schools to political campaigns. As chief minister of their home
state, he is held up as a man who can do business, and do politics.
He’ll make India great, goes the argument, and a great India certainly
doesn’t kowtow to any NRIs. Especially ones who disagree.

Modi and his goons—both within and without the mother country—want a
mythical India that celebrates Hinduism at the cost of other religions,
rides rough over its neighbours and looks purely inward. This is not
the India I know and love. A more confident India is to be welcomed,
but a global India is even better.


Link (1): http://www.outlookindia.com/printarticle.aspx?290765

Link (2):  http://www.slate.com/articles/life/inside_higher_ed/2013/12/israel_academic_boycott_american_studies_association_joins_the_fight.html




On Tianenmen 25 Yr eve, tanks roll out in Urumqui

The Silver Jubilee of the massacres in Tianenmen Square (dated June 05, 1989) is just around the corner. The episode is mostly forgotten.

If people remember it at all, then the sentiment is most likely to be open admiration- there are no dearth of Chicom fan circles in the left-liberal universe in the West, and amongst dictator wannabes (hint, hint) in the third world.

However people who forget history (and historical crimes) are justly condemned to experience it once more….right now the tanks are rolling out in Urumqui, Xinjiang (aka Chinese Kashmir). The islamist nut-jobs have (in our opinion) made a terrible mis-calculation. The Han Chicom leadership is a very different proposition than Vladimir Putin, George Bush, Binyamin Netanyahu and even Narendra Modi.

There are four great lakes in Xinjiang, natural wonders all of them. These can all (are about to) turn red any moment. There is nothing anyone can do to save these people.

announced a security crackdown on Saturday in China’s Muslim northwest
after a deadly bombing raised questions about whether tightening
Beijing’s grip might be feeding anti-Chinese anger and a rise of
organized terrorism.

Thursday’s bombing at a morning street
market selling vegetables and other produce in Urumqi, capital of the
Xinjiang region, killed at least 43 people and left the region’s ethnic
Chinese on edge.

“We don’t know why there have been explosions,
but we are definitely worried about personal safety,” said Luo Guiyou, a
member of China’s Han ethnic majority who manages an auto parts store.

Police announced names of five people blamed for the attack and said
they were part of a “terrorist gang.” Based on their names, all appeared
to be Uighurs, the region’s most populous Muslim minority. Police said
four were killed in the bombing and the fifth captured Thursday night.

An anti-terrorism campaign with Xinjiang “as the major battlefield”
will target religious extremist groups, underground gun workshops and
“terrorist training camps,” the official Xinhua News Agency said.
“Terrorists and extremists will be hunted down and punished.”

Beijing blames unrest on extremists with foreign ties, but Uighur
activists say tensions are fueled by an influx of migrants from China’s
dominant Han ethnic group and discriminatory government policies.

“The violence is an indication that people are willing to take more
drastic measures to express their opposition,” said David Brophy, a
Xinjiang historian at the University of Sydney.

A heavy-handed
response might backfire by inciting sympathy from Central Asian radicals
about “the plight of Muslims in Xinjiang,” said Ahmed AS Hashim, a
terrorism expert at Singapore’s Nanyang Technical University.

“In fact, groups like al-Qaida and others are now beginning to think
that China could be a new oppressor of the Muslim world,” he said.

In Beijing, the nation’s capital, police announced that they were
canceling vacations for officers and would step up patrols at train
stations, schools, hospitals and markets.

A measure under which
passengers at stations in central Beijing are required to undergo
security checks will be extended to three additional stations, the city
government said. Passengers at all stations already are required to
submit handbags and parcels for X-ray examination under rules imposed
ahead of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

violence was the deadliest single attack in Xinjiang’s recent history,
and the latest of several that have targeted civilians in contrast to a
past pattern of targeting police and officials. It was the highest death
toll since several days of rioting in Urumqi in 2009 between Uighurs
and members of China’s dominant Han ethnic group left nearly 200 people

On Saturday, paramilitary police with rifles stood every
20 meters (70 feet) along the streets around where the bombing had taken
place. The street where the market had been was closed to vehicle

Li Shengli, who was in Urumqi on a business trip from Shanghai, brought three stems of yellow chrysanthemums. “I am here to remember the dead,” he said. He was quickly pulled away
by a propaganda official who warned him not to talk to reporters.

The family of one victim, Lu Xiangwang, a 58-year-old driving teacher, said they were waiting to receive his body.

In his parents’ apartment near the market, Lu’s mother sat sobbing on a
couch, surrounded by relatives. A neighbor, Ji Jinzhu, said Lu spent
the night before the attack at the apartment to look after his ill

“He was hit by an explosive just moments after he
stepped outside this residential compound into the street,” Ji said.
“The father is feeling very guilty because had it not been for his
illness, his son would not have had to come to take care of him.”

Ji, 80, said he was shopping in the crowded market Thursday morning
with his wife when the two off-road vehicles raced into the street. “When they passed me, I heard explosions and saw flames going up into the sky and smoke filling up the air,” he said.

An Associated Press reporter who visited a Uighur neighborhood was
escorted away by 11 uniformed police officers and street wardens.

The influx of ethnic Han Chinese has left Uighurs feeling marginalized in their homeland and excluded from decision-making.

Beijing has responded with an overwhelming security presence and
additional restrictions on the ability of Uighurs to travel and on their
culture and religious practices.

Recent attacks show increased
audaciousness and deliberateness. They are aimed at the public instead
of police and government targets. But their planning and weapons still
are relatively simple, suggesting a lack of foreign support.

don’t think there’s any doubt that these acts qualify as acts of
terrorism,” said Brophy, the Xinjiang historian. “But there’s still very
little hard evidence that would allow us to describe a terrorist
network or a terrorist organization operating in Xinjiang.”

Security was tightened still further after a bomb attack at an Urumqi
train station as Chinese President Xi Jinping was visiting the region
last month. Three people were killed, including two attackers, and 79
were injured.

Prior to the train station attack, Urumqi had
been relatively quiet since the 2009 ethnic riots. The city’s population
of more than 3 million people is about three-fourths Han Chinese.

In March, 29 people were slashed and stabbed to death at a train
station in the southwestern city of Kunming. That attack was blamed on
Uighur extremists.

On Friday evening, some major roads in
Urumqi were closed while more than 100 army trucks and police vehicles
drove down them in a show of force, according to state media.

One banner carried by a vehicle read: “Fighting against violent crime
according to law to resolutely safeguard social stability.”

Beijing says an organized militancy with elements based overseas is
behind the attacks. However, little evidence has been provided to back
up the claim and many analysts doubt such an organization exists.

Xinhua, the government news agency, said the group blamed for this
week’s attack “took part in illegal religious activities, watched and
listened to terrorist violence video and audio materials.”

Beijing promotes the notion of a “terrorism movement” in Xinjiang to
justify heavy security while avoiding foreign criticism and possible
damage to relations with Islamic nations, said Hashim, the terrorism

A handful of Uighur activists might be veterans of fighting in Afghanistan, he said. “They seem to be getting better at what they are doing in terms of
causing violence,” Hashim said. “But it’s still, from my perspective,
not the dire threat that China wants to paint it to the outside world.”

Link: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/China-launches-anti-terror-drive-after-bombing/articleshow/35564350.cms



How alike are Pakistan and Israel?

In much of our discourse we take postures based on a common body of “privately held” information, so naturally when people ask questions, we are taken aback (it cannot be helped that the archives are destroyed so a simple pointer will not suffice).

We think this question is primarily interesting because Israel and Pakistan are supposedly sworn enemies. In Bengali (Hindu) there is a phrase that a particular (religious) ritual is incomplete without singing the praise (sarcasm) of the person you detest with every fiber of your body. For the RSS/Hindutva types that would be the non-dharmic Muslims (to a lesser extent Christians) who cant even be bothered to say “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and pay respect to the national anthem (not to mention, the national song). 

For conservative muslims in general (and nationalist Pakistanis in particular) the above sentiment seems to hold true for jews- every single act of badness is because of a jew hiding behind the curtain. So to aver that Israelis and Pakistanis are soul brothers can be almost slanderous. But then curiously enough there is no lack of Pak nationalists who make that very charge- with a difference. The charge is that the Pakistani govt is a puppet of the Jews (because it is controlled by America, which itself is a puppet….of the Jews).

The response starts with (in Pankaj Mishra style) with a quotation:
Pakistan is like Israel, an ideological state. Take out the Judaism from
Israel and it will fall like a house of cards. Take Islam out of
Pakistan and make it a secular state; it would collapse — Zia ul-Haq, Pakistan’s ruler, December 1981

P. R. Kumaraswamy is a research fellow at the Harry S. Truman Institute of The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. At a superficial level, it appears that a dastardly Indian is throwing stones on Pakistanis while hiding behind the Temple of Mount. But the thesis is actually well thought out and merits an honest response.

And if this source is a problem then there are other reputed sources to consider, in particular “Muslim Zion: Pakistan as a Political Idea,” by Faisal Devji, which is reviewed at this link: http://www.haaretz.com/culture/books/.premium-1.549739 





Pakistan and Israel share the unique heritage of having been created
in the aftermath of World War II as religiously defined states.
In each
case, the new state emerged as the result of a twentieth-century
ideological movement, came into existence accompanied by violence, and
attracted a large immigrant population. Both met with initial rejection
from religious elements who more recently, on second thought, aspired to
gain political power. Despite these and many other similarities, the
two states have hardly ever been compared.2 We do so here in the hopes of understanding each one better by seeing it in the context of the other.


To begin with, however, it helps to note some of the outstanding
differences between Israel and Pakistan, starting with their historical
backgrounds. With the single and marginal exception of the medieval
Khazar kingdom, Jews were never sovereign after a.d. 70. In contrast,
Muslims in India had a grand tradition of rule that began in the
eleventh century and lasted until 1858 when India came under direct
British rule. While Jews learned how to adapt to rule by others, Muslims
always expected to be in charge.

“The Muslims were, or had been, the
ruling race. How could the former master now allow themselves to be
ruled by … slaves?”3 

Statehood in the 1940s thus had very
dissimilar meaning for the two: to the Zionists, it appeared as the only
solution to two millennia of discrimination, destruction, and death;
for the Muslim League, it offered a return to exclusive political power.

This difference lives on, for while Israel actively seeks to be the
homeland for its diaspora, Pakistan is even unwilling to absorb its own
people stranded in Bangladesh following the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971.

The states that came into existence make an unlikely pair. They
differ greatly in political structure, with one a modern pluralistic
society and the other wavering between military autocracy, feudalism,
and democracy. They differ in standard of living, with Israel now
counted among the advanced economies and Pakistan still mired with a
per-capita income of about $415 a year. In international outlook, the
former is a close ally of the United States, the latter holds to a
policy of non-alignment even after the demise of the cold war. Israel
has a population of 5 million, Pakistan one of 130 million. The Arabs
who left Mandatory Palestine remain a first-order political issue while
the Hindus who left Pakistan have long since integrated into Indian
society. And, of course, one is predominantly Jewish, the other Muslim.

These differences notwithstanding, the Zionist and Pakistan movements
shared much in common, including their timetables, the irreligiosity of
their leaders, the novel nature of their nationalist ideas, and the
challenge of a minority population gaining political power.

Origins. The “love of Zion” goes back to early Judaism but modern
political Zionism began with the publication in 1896 of Theodor Herzl’s Jewish State4;

it acquired political reality with the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and
only at the Biltmore Conference of May 1942 did Jewish nationalists
formally declare their intention to establish of a Jewish state in
Palestine. Pakistan has a similarly recent history. Although nationalist
scholars and politicians tend to romanticize the notion of 

with some even tracing its origins to the founding of Islam itself,5 the term Pakistan was coined only in 1933 by a Cambridge student, Choudhary Rahmat Ali. “Pakistan is both a Persian and Urdu word,” he wrote.

It is composed of letters taken from all our homelands-
“Indian” and “Asian.” That is, Punjab, Afghania (North West Frontier
Province), Kashmir, Iran, Sindh (including Kutch and Kathiawar),
Tukharistan, Afghanistan and Balochistan. It means the land of the Paks
— the spiritually pure and clean. It symbolizes the religious beliefs
and ethnical stocks of our people; and it stands for all the territorial
constituents of our original Fatherland.6

In March 1942, almost simultaneous with the Biltmore meeting, the
Muslim League (the organization pushing for an independent Pakistan) met
at Lahore and adopted the “Pakistan resolution,” endorsing the position
of Mohammed Ali Jinnah (1876?-1948) the founding father of Pakistan and
a successful Westernized lawyer, that Hindus and Muslims could “never
evolve a common nationality” and any move that disregarded this would
inevitably lead to the destruction of any fabric of statehood.7

Irreligiosity. Ironically, the leaders of both these religiously
defined national movements were personally irreligious, and some even
outspoken atheists.
“Even Jews who opposed formal religion saw
themselves or at least were seen by others as having a common Jewish
culture, with its own literature, language, and modes of social
relations.”8 Zionism was not a religious doctrine; pioneers
of the Jewish state like David Ben-Gurion were motivated by
non-religious socialist ideals, not by messianic dogma. Jewish manual
labor, not prayer, was their chosen means. Jinnah was anything but a
religious person. Rather, he was known for his aristocratic tastes and
lifestyle. Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Rajmohan aptly sums up Jinnah’s
complex personality:

He seemed on the way to leading India; he founded Pakistan
instead. For much of his life he championed Hindu-Muslim unity; later he
demanded, obtained, and, for a year, ran a separate Muslim homeland.
Neither Sunni nor mainstream Shiite, his family belonged to the small
Khoja or Ismaili community led by the Aga Khan; yet Mohammed Ali Jinnah
was in the end the leader of India’s Muslims. Anglicized and aloof in
manner, incapable of oratory in an Indian tongue, keeping his distance
from mosques, opposed to the mixing of religion and politics, he yet
became inseparable, in that final phase, from the cry of Islam in

A nation? Zionist and Pakistani thinkers both had to cope with the
same question: Did their religious community qualify as a nation?
could Jews, dispersed for over two millennia, constitute a single people
analogous to the Portuguese or the Chinese? Why should Indians who
converted to Islam make up a nation distinct from their non-Muslim
neighbors? In short, how could Jews from Berlin and Baghdad or Muslims
from Madras and Multan have enough in common to make up a single people?

In reply, Zionists held that history has treated the Jews as a
separate and distinct entity and nation. Any realistic solution to the
prolonged “Jewish problem” lies not in looking for new rulers but for
Jews to become rulers themselves.
Similarly, Jinnah held that Muslims
are “a nation by any definition.”10The Muslim League argued
that there were historical as well as cultural differences between
Hindus and Muslims that neither the passage of time nor interaction
could satisfactorily bridge.

Neither was willing to live as a protected or tolerated minority in a
post-British dispensation. Just as the Zionists rejected the idea of a
federal Palestine, the League turned down suggestions of autonomous
Muslim units within a unified India. Zionist arguments for a state
shared much with Jinnah’s justification of the Muslim minority retaining
its separate identity through the realization of a state.

In both cases, a substantial body of opinion argued against
religiously based nationalism. Binationalists like Martin Buber argued,
vainly one might add, that instead of exclusive Jewish or Arab nations,
Palestine could become a multinational state. In their view such a state
“represents a higher, more modern and more hopeful idea than the
universal sovereign independent state.”11 

Likewise, Muslim
members of the Indian National Congress belonged to an organization
vehemently opposed to the idea of religious faith’s defining a person’s

Redefining the population. Palestine consisted of Arab and non-Arab
populations, British India of Hindu and non-Hindu populations; any other
classifications ignored the prevailing demographic reality.
But such
divisions had little appeal to Zionists or the Muslim League, who needed
a demarcation that would strengthen their respective constituencies. 

Both daringly and successfully reversed the formula: Palestine was thus
composed of Jews and non-Jews, India of Muslims and non-Muslims. Thus
did the Balfour Declaration promise to maintain civil and religious
rights for the “non-Jewish communities in Palestine,” as though they
were a minority, and not some 90 percent of the population. Although the
League projected itself as the sole spokesman of the Indian Muslims, in
the first general elections in 1937, it won only 108 of the 485 seats
reserved for Muslims and was rejected by the Muslim majority areas which
later became Pakistan.

Cool to democracy. Zionists and Indian Muslims both suffered from
being a minority; both had to deal with a British administration
inclined to handle cultural problems with elections. And both responded
with vehement opposition to the principle of determining the
post-British political arrangement through democratic means.

Zionists’ rejection of self-determination in Palestine, plus their
effort to link the fate of Palestine to that of diaspora Jews, followed
mainly from the minority Jewish position in Palestine; a
one-man-one-vote policy would have placed them under perpetual Arab
control and domination. Muslims were always very aware of their minority
status in India and similarly shied away from democracy. 

For Jinnah,
“democracy can only mean Hindu Raj all over India. This is a position to
which Muslims will never submit.”12 Muslims also feared that “Western representative institutions would place them under permanent Hindu Raj.”13

Parity. Instead of democracy, Zionists and Indian Muslims preferred a
different formula, that of parity. Demographic considerations delayed
the Zionist demands for parity but the arrival of the fourth and fifth
wave of diaspora Jews making aliya enhanced the position of the
Yishuv (Zionist community) to the point that in 1936 Jews constituted
over 28 percent of the Palestinian population. This improved demographic
situation enabled the Zionist leadership to seek parity in British
consideration with the non-Jewish population.

Likewise, the Muslim League demanded that Muslims be treated
differently from non-Muslim Indians, then projected itself as their
exclusive representative.14 It thereby challenged the rights
of other political parties (the Congress Party in particular) to
represent Muslim interests or even to include Muslims among their
delegations and representatives. Jinnah’s “claim for parity developed
steadily from simple political parity between League and Congress to
communal parity between Muslims and Hindus and culminated finally in the
demand for ideological parity between Muslims and non-Muslims.”15


Once they came into existence as states, both Pakistan and Israel
experienced similar sorts of problems as nations in the making,
involving boundaries, migration, language, identity, and the legal

Geography. Both states had awkward borders at their start. Israel’s
territory resulted from the happenstance of war and led to such
anomalies as a divided capital city and a country with a waist only nine
miles wide; only in 1967 did Israel end these irregularities.
had an even more bizarre geography, for it consisted of west and east
wings separated by a thousand-mile Indian territory. Those two halves
“were remote from each other in everything from language and high
cultural tradition to diet, costume, calendar, standard time and social
customs.”16 The cession of the east wing in 1971, though very painful, did provide geographic contiguity and national focus to Pakistan.

In-migration. Between 1948-51, more than 600,000 immigrants arrived
in Israel, doubling the Jewish population and drastically altering
Israel’s cultural map, as most of the new immigrants came from Arab
countries. Pakistan’s formation was accompanied by the influx and
outflow of huge numbers of refugees, estimated at fifteen million, the
vast majority of whom arrived with little property (those with
possessions tended to stay behind in India). Absorbing this refugee
population proved a monumental task for both Israel and Pakistan (and
India too).

Besides having to provide for housing, employment,
education, and distribution of wealth and opportunities, and having to
allow for social and cultural adjustments, each new state had to provide
a sense of belonging and national identity. The challenge was
heightened in Israel’s case by the immigrants’ worldwide origins and in
Pakistan’s by the ethnic diversity of its native population as well as
the Mohajirs (immigrants from India).

Language. In both countries, few spoke the language that served as
official tongue. Hebrew, revived from millennia past as a vernacular,
had to be learned by nearly everyone. In many families, parents
continued with their diverse mother tongues while Hebrew became the
language of the children.
Had demographic considerations predominated in
Pakistan, Bengali would have been the national language, spoken as it
was by more than half of Pakistan’s original population. Instead, Urdu
— spoken primarily in the Gangetic belt that lay outside its borders17 and not the principal language of any province that composed Pakistan — became the country’s official language.18

Establishing a national identity. Internal disagreements among both
Israelis and Pakistanis are acute. The religious-secular debates are at
times extremely intense and eventually could damage the state. Tensions
between the Ashkenazi (i.e., Europeans) and the Sephardi (Middle
Easterners) has a lesser role but played a crucial role in the defeat of
the Labor alignment in 1977.
Pakistan was anything but a homogeneous
entity at the time of its formation; other than being Muslims, the
citizens had very little in common — and even as Muslims, the Sunnis,
Shi`is, Ahmadis, and Isma`ilis differed ferociously among themselves.
Establishing a Pakistan identity among a divided population was the
primary task of the new state, one not fully achieved, for the country
remains riven by these divisions, especially the Sunni-Shi`i one.

Who is a Jew, a Muslim? Who is an Israeli or a Pakistani? What is a
Jewish or Islamic state? Both states have struggled to define their core
identity. Internal divisions prevent a consensus on the question of who
is a Jew or Muslim. As a nation committed to “the ingathering of the
exiles,” one would expect a general agreement on the Jewish identity. On
the contrary, “who is a Jew?” has become among the most controversial
and contentious issues in Israel and the passage of time only
intensifies the tension. For example, the massive immigration from the
former Soviet Union led to major disagreements when, on halachic
grounds, the religious establishment questioned the Jewish credentials
of many immigrants. 

Because of their questionable Judaism, those who
fought and died in defense of the country have at times been refused
burial in Jewish cemeteries. Likewise, conversions to Judaism under
Conservative or Reform auspices are not accepted in Israel.

In Pakistan, a fundamentalist Jamaat-i Islami group put this issue on the national agenda in 1953 by demanding that Ahmadis19
be declared non-Muslims. When the government rejected this demand, the
Jamaat engaged in anti-Ahmadi violence. The chief justice of the Supreme
Court, Mohammed Munir, headed an commission of inquiry that drew an
interesting observation: the ulema (religious authorities) could not
agree on the question of who is a Muslim.20 The
fundamentalists lost this battle but not the war; to retain their
support, Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1973 conceded to include
an amendment to the newly promulgated constitution that declared the
Ahmadis non-Muslims. 

Take the case of Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, a
political and legal luminary who consciously opted to live in Pakistan
and make it his home: he served the new Islamic Republic as its first
foreign minister, skillfully articulated Islamic positions in
international fora, took Pakistan into the SEATO alliance, and became
the first Pakistani judge at the International Court of Justice in the
Hague. Yet the 1973 constitution of Pakistan declared Sir Zafrulla a
non-Muslim and he died in 1985 a kafir (infidel) in his own country.

Constitutions. In Israel, domestic differences impeded a written
constitution; for the same reason, Pakistan had too many of them.
Conflict over the role and position of halacha (religious law) in
the Jewish State significantly inhibited Israel from enacting a
constitution. What began as a compromise British model of not having a
written constitution gradually became a Pandora’s box. With the growing
influence of religious parties, writing a constitution has become more
distant than ever. In its five decades, Pakistan has had seven
constitutional arrangements — those of 1935, 1956, 1958, 1962, 1969,
1973, and 1985.


Secular movements. The parallel religious response to the new states
holds particular interest. Supporters of the Zionist and Pakistani
enterprises came primarily from the secular middle-class and neither
intended to create a theocratic polity. Reflecting on the Declaration of
Independence, David Ben-Gurion later remarked that it

said something that I know conflicts with the Halacha,
universal and equal suffrage without distinctions of sex, religion, race
or nationality; and this was adopted even though according to the
Halacha women do not have equal rights…. We must undoubtedly respect
any Jew who is faithful to the Halacha, but the Halacha does not
obligate every Jew.21

At a press conference on July 4, 1947, just a month before partition,
Jinnah remarked that it was “absurd” to think that Pakistan would be a
religious state.22 On the eve of partition, he categorically told members of the Constituent Assembly,

You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to
your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of
Pakistan…. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that
has nothing to do with the business of the State…. Hindus would cease
to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims –not in the
religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual,
but in the political sense as citizens of the State.23

According to first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, “Pakistan came
into being as a result of the urge felt by the Muslims of the
sub-continent to secure a territory, however limited, where Islamic
ideology and the way of life could be practiced and demonstrated to the
world.”[24] The recognition of the centrality of Islam in the new state
was not aimed at making its Shari`a the guiding principal. In the words of Paul Brass,

The League leaders were oriented towards achieving secular
political power in a modern constitutional-bureaucratic state structure,
in which the shari’a would be respected but would not prevent
legislatures from acting in a sovereign manner and in which secular
political leaders would be dominant in a representative regime. In both
their goals and their political skills, the Muslim League leaders were
more oriented towards and ultimately more successful in the secular
political arena in which the political choices had to be made.25

Early opposition. In both cases, religious leaders responded
negatively to nationalist demands for a religiously-based state.

Orthodox Jewry found Zionism unattractive because it contradicted their
view that the Jewish state must be formed by the Messiah and not by some
nonobservant Zionist mortals. Even today, a substantial body of the
Orthodox rejects the state, some going so far as to consort with its
enemies. This applies even to government functionaries: a former chief
rabbi remains seated and studies a religious text while the audience at
an official function sings the national anthem; a deputy mayor of
Jerusalem dismisses the Israeli flag as a rag.

The idea of a separate Islamic political entity runs counter to the
universal brotherhood preached by Islam; if Islam is the authentic
nationality of the Muslims everywhere, then political divisions within
the Islamic world can only be temporary. If were Pakistan somehow
attained, it would confine the sway and glory of Islam to mere corners
of the country, Muslims remaining in India would be weakened, and
Pakistan would not be a truly Islamic state.26 Thus, the
principal “opposition to the Pakistan demand and to the Muslim League
among Muslims came from that segment of the Muslim elite most concerned
with the protection of Islam and Muslim culture, from the ulama.”27
In addition, their opposition had much to do with self-interest; the
ulema did not see in the Muslim League and in the Pakistan idea an
appropriate leadership position for themselves as the true protectors of
Islam and Shari`a.28 They also opposed Pakistan on the grounds that Pakistan was an unrealistic goal.

As a result, influential elements of the ulema, especially the
Jamiyyat-i-Ulama-i-Hind, sided with the Congress Party and against the
Muslim League.29 Kifayatullah (1872-1952), mufti of Delhi and founder of Jamiyyat-i-Ulama-i-Hind, also raised doubts in his fatwas about Jinnah’s Islamic credentials.30
He pointed out that Jinnah was expert “of English law, not of Islamic
law of British politics, not Islamic policies.” He lacked even an
elementary acquaintance with Islamic jurisprudence. Other of the ulema
of the Barelvi school pointed out that as a Shi`i, Jinnah should not
lead the faithful. Even those who sought a theocratic state in the
sub-continent, like Maulana Abul A`la Maududi (1903-79), had
reservations over Jinnah’s non-Islamic orientation and approach. Jinnah,
whom Indian Muslims had hailed as Quaid-i-Azam (Great Leader), Maududi
once dubbed Kafir-i-Azam (Great Unbeliever) because he felt Jinnah “was
not a practising Muslim.”31

The religious reconsider. Oddly, some of those initially indifferent
or even hostile to a state based on religion latterly became among its
most fervent advocates and then ambitious to seize control of it.
non-Zionist Orthodox Jews “soon realized that, in a western style
democracy, a determined minority has the power to prevent the government
from passing laws that ostensibly threaten their sacred principles.”32
Before long, they became key players in the Zionist Knesset and at
times indispensable coalition partners. Once Pakistan was created as a
“homeland” for the subcontinent’s Muslim minorities, religious elements
would inevitably try to take control of it.33Besides making
Pakistan an Islamic Republic the ulema played a crucial role in the
legitimization of military rule.

An otherwise powerful dictator like
Ayub Khan had to make concessions to the ulema and declare Pakistan an
Islamic republic. Democracy has been good to the growing ambitions of
the religious, with elections enhancing their strength and influence as
rival secular parties are compelled to court and solicit the support of
the religious leaders and establishment. Religious activists in both
countries want such personal and community functions as marriage,
divorce, adoption, conversion, burials, and food and travel regulations
to come under religious control.

Religion’s increased role. The year 1977 was a major landmark in the
approach to religion in both countries, as unprecedented political
changes compelled rulers to be more accommodating to the religious
The ninth Knesset elections of that year abruptly ended
the Labor Party’s perpetual domination of Israeli politics and when
Menachem Begin became prime minister, he was joined, after a gap of over
two decades, by the Agudat Israel, a non-Zionist party.34
Begin conceded various demands made by the religious establishment that
previous Israeli governments had hitherto denied. For example, he gave
the National Religious Party control of the coveted education ministry,
with its ample financial resources and extensive education network.

Pakistan also underwent serious change in 1977 with the imposition of
martial law and the overthrow of Zulfiqar Bhutto by General Zia ul-Haq,
who ruled until 1988. In need of ways to legitimize his rule, Zia ul-Haq
looked to Islam. Projecting himself as a pious Muslim seeking to
promote the cause of Islam, he introduced a series of legislative acts
toward this end.

Today, both countries face severe fundamentalist pressures. Religious
parties made significant gains in the 1996 elections, to the point that
Binyamin Netanyahu, a secular, modern, and American-educated leader,
had to court the religious establishment to ensure his election as prime
minister. The Oxford-educated Benazir Bhutto’s alienated the religious
establishment in Pakistan partly contributed to her downfall as prime
minister on two occasions.

The historical circumstances of their creation mean that secularism
is not an option for Israel or Pakistan; that would question their very
raison d’être. Israel and Pakistan both fall somewhere between theocracy
and secularism. Both engage in intrusive scrutiny of individual and
collective behaviors; yet greater religious influence would accentuate
internal discord and divisions.


Israelis spend little time publicly discussing Pakistan but are
favorably disposed toward the country. The first known Zionist contacts
with the Indian sub-continent were with Muslim League rather than
Congress leaders: Chaim Weizman met Shaukat Ali in London in January
1931. Israel sees Pakistan as an important Islamic state, a key player
in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and a country with
nuclear capability. In the public sphere however, relations are not so
good, as symbolized by Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s abortive attempt
to visit the Palestinian autonomous areas in Gaza in August 1994 without
“any contacts or coordination” with Israel; this drew sharp rebuttal
from Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the visit did not take place.

As this incident suggests, Pakistani leaders long placed themselves
at the forefront of the “anti-Zionist” struggle and saw their commitment
to the Palestinian cause as a way to display their Islamic credentials.
In 1947, Pakistan led Islamic opposition to the partition plan, and the
passage of time only intensified this zeal. No other Arab or Muslim
figure could have presented a more vociferous defense in support of the
Palestinians than did Sir Zafrulla Khan, the first foreign minister of
Pakistan, at the United Nations debate to partition Palestine.35
He deemed any comparison between the partition of the Indian
subcontinent and similar demands in Palestine false, even preposterous,
because unlike the Jews in Palestine, the Muslim minority was part of
the sub-continental population.36 Conspiracy theories are
often used in Pakistani public life to discredit political opponents as
Zionist agents and spies; during the 1997 election campaign, some have
charged that “Jewish money and power” is trying to influence and control
Pakistan’s domestic and foreign policies. 

That the father-in-law of
former cricket star and founding leader of Imran Khan, founder of the
new political party Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf, is a British Jewish
billionaire adds flavor to the debate. Reacting to reports that
Pakistan’s ambassador to the United Nations had attended a reception
hosted by his Israeli counterpart Gad Ya’acobi, one Urdu daily warned:
“Any Muslim or patriotic Pakistani will consider making contact,
developing relations, or attending the receptions of Israeli leaders as a
conspiracy against the country and the community until the independence
of Jerusalem is secured and a sovereign Palestine is established.”37


As states that came into existence to protect and promote the
interests of religious minorities, Israel and Pakistan have more in
common than is generally recognized. Their histories overlapped in many
ways. As nations in the making, they had to create identities, impose
languages, and contend with strange boundaries. While both have
consciously avoided theocracy, in both places an initially reluctant
orthodox segment has successfully gained disproportionate power. 

Although Israel and Pakistan came into existence to serve as a homeland
for all Jews and all Indian Muslims, both confront the fact that more
Jews and Indian Muslims live outside the new countries than in them,
suggesting that these national enterprises are far from complete.


1 The Economist, Dec. 12, 1981, p. 48.
The few exceptions mostly aim at painting Pakistan in a positive light
vis-à-vis Israel; thus Moonis Ahmar, “Pakistan and Israel: Distant
Adversaries or Neighbors,” Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Fall 1996, pp. 20-45.
Sadiq Ali Gill, “Anglo-American diplomacy and the emergence of
Pakistan, 1940-1947,” unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Kansas,
1984, p. 206.
4 Theodor Herzl, Der Judenstaat (Leipzig: M. Breitenstein, 1896).
“Official historiography in Pakistan traces the origin to the idea, if
not the country itself, to at least a half a dozen different dates and
places. There are writers whose expansive Pan-Islamic imaginings detect
the beginning of Pakistan in the birth of Islam in the Arabian
peninsula.” See Ayesha Jalal, “Conjuring Pakistan: History as Official
Imagining,” International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Feb. 1995, pp. 78.
6 Quoted in Hector Bolitho, Jinnah, Creator of Pakistan
(London: John Murray, 1960), p. 125. Hardly all the homelands, for
Bengal, the most populous province of the future state, was not
included. To which Salman Rushdie remarks in Shame (New York:
Alfred A. Knopf, 1983), p. 91: “No mention of the East Wing, you notice;
Bangladesh never got its name in the title, and so, eventually, it took
the hint and seceded from the sessionists.”
7 Quoted in Rajmohan Gandhi, Eight Lives: A Study of the Hindu-Muslim Encounter (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1986), pp. 153-4.
8 Daniel Shimshoni, Israeli Democracy: The Middle of the Journey (New York: Free Press, 1982), p. 36.
9 Gandhi, Eight Lives, p.123.
10 Quoted in Stanley Wolpert, Jinnah of Pakistan (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984), p. 182.
11 Judah Magnes and Martin Buber, Arab-Jewish Unity (London: Victor Gollancz, 1947), p.55.
12 Quoted in Bolitho, Jinnah, p. 125.
13 S. M. Burke, Mainsprings of Indian and Pakistani Foreign Policy (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1974), p. 9.
14 Farzana Shaikh, “Muslims and political representation in colonial India: The making of Pakistan,” Modern Asian Studies, July 1986, pp. 539-57.
Shaikh, “Muslims and political representation in colonial India,” p.
550. Congress rejected this position, holding that the role of Hindus in
the organization merely reflected demographic realities and worried
that accepting the Muslim League demands would imply accepting those of
other ethnic and religious groups, and thereby the viability of the
Congress. Much to Jinnah’s displeasure, Congress continued to give
prominent positions to Muslims within the party, even appointing Maulana
Abul Kalam Azad as its president.
16 Daniel Pipes, In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power (New York: Basic Books, 1983), p. 153.
And therefore the mother tongue of Muslims from North India who
migrated to the new state. The difficulties facing the absorption of
Mohajirs even decades after Pakistan’s formation are manifested in the
protracted violence in the port city of Karachi. See Farhat Haq, “Rise
of MQM in Pakistan: Politics of ethnic mobilization,” Asian Survey, vol. 35, no. 11,Nov. 1995, pp. 990-1004; and Feroz Ahmed, “Ethnicity and politics: The rise of Muhajir separatism,” South Asia Bulletin, vol. 8, 1988, pp. 33-45.
The imposition of Urdu partly contributed to the disharmony between the
two wings and led to the eventual cession of the East and emergence of
Bangladesh in 1971.
19 Followers of Mirza Ghulum Ahmad
(1839-1908), who believe him to be a prophet and thereby reject the
Islamic tenet that Muhammad was the last prophet.
20 Rubya Mehdi, The Islamization of the Law in Pakistan (Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press, 1994), p. 22.
21 David Ben-Gurion, “Who is a Jew?” New Outlook, June 1970, pp. 44-5.
22 M. J. Akbar, India: The Siege Within, revised edition (New Delhi: UPS Publishers, 1996), p. 21.
23 Quoted in Bolitho, Jinnah, p. 197.
24 Quoted in Burke, Mainsprings of Indian and Pakistani Foreign Policies, p. 116.
25 Paul R. Brass, Language, Religion and Politics in North India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974), p. 165.
26 Arun Shourie, The World of Fatwas: Or the Shariah in Action (New Delhi: ASA Publications, 1995), p. 244.
27 Brass, Language, Religion and Politics in North India, p. 163.
28 Ibid., pp. 178-80.
Yohanan Friedmann, “The attitude of the Jamiyyat-i-Ulama-i-Hind to the
Indian national movement and the establishment of Pakistan,” Asian and African Studies, 7 (1971): 157-80.
30 Shourie, The World of Fatwas, pp. 223-45.
31 Rafiq Zakaria, The Widening Divide: An Insight into Hindu-Muslim Relations (New Delhi: Penguin, 1996), p. 205.
32 Menachem Friedman, “The Ultra-Orthox and Israeli society”, in Keith Kyle and Joel Peters ed., Whither Israel? The Domestic Challenges (London: I. B. Tauris, 1993), p. 185.
33 S. M. Burke, Pakistan’s Foreign Policy: An Historical Analysis (London: Oxford University Press, 1973), p. 66.
34 Ira Sharkansky, “Religion and State in Begin’s Israel,” The Jerusalem Quarterly, Spring 1984, pp. 31-49.
35 Michael B. Bishku, “In search of identity and security: Pakistan and the Middle East, 1947-77,” Conflict Quarterly, Summer 1992, p. 36; Burke, Pakistan’s Foreign Policy, pp. 137-8. His eloquence yet lives on; for example, an article on “Palestine at the U.N.O.” was reprinted in Walid Khalidi, From Haven to Conquest (Washington, D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1987), pp. 709-22.
36 Burke, Pakistan’s Foreign Policy, p. 138.
37 “Contacts with Israel,” editorial, Khabrain (Islamabad), Feb. 21, 1995, in Foreign Broadcast Information Service (hereafter FBIS), Daily Report: Near East and South Asia, Feb. 22, 1995. See also “The Islamic summit: Attempt to secure recognition of Israel and Pakistan”,Nawa-i-Waqt, Dec. 11, 1994, in FBIS, Dec. 13, 1994.

Link: http://www.meforum.org/348/the-strangely-parallel-careers-of-israel


S Anand

Outside the activist world not too many people know about S Anand, CEO of publishing house Navayana. We have covered him many times here at BP:




In Pali, the word “navayana” means “new vehicle”. Dr BR
Ambedkar used the word in 1956 to describe the branch of Buddhism that wouldn’t
be mired in the Hinayana-Mahayana divide, but would help dalits gain equality
in India.
It’s a fitting name for the publishing house that S Anand and
Ravikumar set up in 2003 because their Navayana, which won the British
Council-London Book Fair International Young Publisher
of the Year award in
2007, continues the good fight for a more equal and unprejudiced society. 
publishes books that tackle caste and caste-based prejudice and in just a few
years, their titles have won praise from all over the world for being produced
beautifully and provocative. Go to their website and you’ll see bravos from
people like Noam Chomsky and Mohammed Hanif. 

In the first section of a two-part
interview, publisher S Anand talks about running an independent publishing
house at a time when big players are fretting about the future of publishing. 
When did you start Navayana and why?  
Navayana was started in November 2003 by
me and Ravikumar, an intellectual and activist in the civil rights movement in
Tamil Nadu and a bank employee back then. I was a journalist then and I worked
for Outlook. 
By 2006, Ravi became a member of a political party, Viduthalai
Chiruthaigal (Dalit Panthers’ Tamil version) and became an MLA;
and in 2007, I
turned to full-time publishing quitting my day job as journalist. Spurred by
winning the British Council-London Book Fair International Young Publisher of
the Year award in 2007, by when Navayana had done only 12 titles, I moved to
Delhi in May 2007. 
It took me a year to find my bearings in this megapolis. In
some senses, Navayana really took off as a serious venture only in 2008. In
2003, we had started Navayana on a whim – the need for Navayana was felt simply
because there were publishers engaging with environmental issues, ‘communalism’
(as the Hindu-Muslim question is called in India); there were independent
publishers engaging with Left issues, such as LeftWord; you had specialist
children’s publishers, women’s movements and feminist publishers, but you did
not have anybody in English language publishing saying that caste is an issue
that infects and inflects everything in India. So there was clearly what we identified
as a ‘gap’ and we decided to try and address this gap with an exclusive focus.
Publishing seems to be a shrinking business. 
Were you ever daunted by the task
of bringing out the titles that make up Navayana’s catalogue? 
In fact, one
finds that in trade and commercial publishing, risk-taking has drastically come
down. Most mainstream publishers want to do ‘safe’ titles that do not incur
financial, political or intellectual risks. The sad part, as the pioneering
American publisher of Pantheon and founder of The New Press, Andre Schiffrin,
says is that publishing was for the longest time not seen as a ‘business’ as
such. A collage of titles published by Navayana. A collage of titles published
by Navayana. Image courtesy: Navayana website People were happy with 4 percent
profits—what you got from a savings bank account. Suddenly with conglomerates
entering the market, with holdings companies treating books like any other
‘investment’, books came to be treated like FMCG products; expectations of
profit went up to an unreasonable 20-25 percent. 
A friend who returned from the
recent London Book Fair says the most interesting titles in the UK are being
done by small and medium-sized independents like Saqi, Serpent’s Tail, Comma
Press, etc. The same holds true for India where presses like Yoda, Blaft, and
Navayana have shown that you can do cutting edge books. Older players like
Seagull and Zubaan have fortified themselves. Seagull has in fact gone
seriously international; they have a Nobel laureate like Mo Yan in their list;
they have all of Mahashweta Devi. So all this gives me courage to be bold,
innovative and experimental at Navayana. But do not forget that the guesstimate
for per capita spending on books in India is an abysmal Rs 80 – per person per
year. Even if only 20 million of the 1.2 billion have the luxury of reading for
pleasure in India, that’s a huge market. And they don’t seem to be reading as
much as they ought to, the mind-numbing sales of the Chetan Bhagats and Amish
Tripathis notwithstanding. 
How involved are you as far as the commissioning
books is concerned? Are you also involved with the design and production of the
Well, I have to do all of that. Navayana works with very low overheads.
I have one assistant editor working with me and one full-time admin person. So
all the commissioning and selecting and handholding of authors and raising
finances has to be done by me. I respond to emails, handle orders, organize
launches, oversee my website, lobby for reviews etc etc. In most post-DTP small
presses, the publisher wears many hats. Since 2008, I have worked with an
excellent designer Akila Seshasayee, on all our covers, but yes I do get
involved with design. A project like Bhimayana was conceived of and curated by
me, and with such excellent artists as Durgabai Vyam and Subhash Vyam it mostly
designed itself. 
What has been the biggest challenge as far as Navayana is
Money! And most small publishers would give you the same answer
likely. I do not seem to have a good head for the business end of things.
Bhimayana has been our only funded project, but otherwise it is quite hand to
mouth. Navayana survives primarily on the generosity of friends, though since
2010, after Slavoj Zizek’s first annual Navayana lecture, our market presence
matches the best. We do make sure all our titles are well reviewed. In terms of
profits, I doubt if even the bigger presses really make any profits with all
the heavy overheads they have. The real profit-earners in Indian publishing are
textbook publishers. Ratna Sagar’s turnover could well be more than
HarperCollins or Penguin’s, but the overall visibility of a Ratna Sagar will be
poor. What has been the most satisfying part of Navayana? The fact that one has
done a range of titles which no one else would have done. And that I get to
pursue my passion as an anti-caste junkie. 
Could you pick five titles from your
catalogue that you would categorise as “must-have”? 
 This is a tough
choice to make since I do not publish books that you ought not have on your shelf.
But still, since list-making is one of journalism’s many ways of simplifying
things, here we go: Bhimayana Ajay Navaria’s Unclaimed Terrain Anand
Teltumbde’s The Persistence of Caste, pegged to the Khairlanji carnage Namdeo
Dhasal’s A Current of Blood Srividya Natarajan and Aparajita Ninan’s A Gardener
in the Wasteland, a graphic adaptation of Jotiba Phule’s 1873 text, Gulamgiri.
I do feel bad leaving out Gogu Shyamla’s Father May be an Elephant…, Namdeo
Nimgade’s In the Tiger’s Shadow and Shashank Kela’s A Rogue and Peasant Slave.
Among the forthcoming titles you must look out for A Word With You, World, the
autobiography of Siddalingaiah, a Kannada poet and co-founder of the Dalit
Sangharsha Samiti. Out in July, it is a Chaplinesque work that will make you
laugh and cry. Then in 2014 we will have Jeremy Seabrook’s as yet untitled work
on the sweatshops of Bangladesh, a work that will tell you what’s so terribly
wrong with the Katherine Boo school of nonfiction that’s made to read like