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Archive for category INDIAN AGENT NAWAZ SHARIF:FREE ARY

India’s Offensive-Defensive Doctrine By Sajjad Shaukat

 

India’s Offensive-Defensive Doctrine

By Sajjad Shaukat

Since the leader of the ruling party BJP Narendra Modi became Prime Minister of India, various developments like unprecedented rise of Hindu extremism, persecution of minorities, forced conversions of other religious minorities into Hindus, ban on beef and cow slaughter, inclusion of Hindu religious books in curriculum, creation of war-like situation with Pakistan, unprovoked firing at the Line of Control in Kashmir and Working Boundary across Pak-Indian border clearly show that encouraged by the fundamentalist rulers, Hindu extremist outfits such as BJP, RSS VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena including other similar parties have been promoting religious and ethnic chauvinism in India by propagating ideology of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) which has become genesis of India’s offensive-defensive doctrine.

 

As part of its offensive-defensive doctrine, New Delhi is destabilizing Afghanistan—all regional states, while its major focus has always been towards Pakistan, a policy of weakening Pakistan. In this regard, double game is particularly part of India’s offensive-defensive doctrine.

 

In fact, Ajit Doval, the ex-spymaster who is now National Security Advisor of Indian Prime Minister Modi is the real author and controller of India’s offensive-defensive doctrine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It is notable that on January, 20, this year, at least 21 persons were killed at Bacha Khan University in Khyber Pakhtunkha’s Charsadda town, when heavily-armed terrorists of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) entered the university and opened fire on them. Reliable sources disclosed that Indian consulate located in Jalalabad, Afghanistan played a key role in targeting the Bacha Khan University. The operatives of the Indian secret agency, RAW in connivance with Rahmatullah Nabil, the former director of Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS) and the TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah planned this assault. Indian consulate gave rupees 3 million to the Talban commander to arrange this brutal act at the university. Ajit Doval directed this attack.

 

While, the Army Public School Peshawar—carnage incident resulted in killing of more than 140 children. It was also carried out by Ajit Doval’s stooges in connivance with the TTP, as he is fond of manipulating radicalized proxies.

 

In order to implement Indian offensive-defensive doctrine, Ajit Doval also advise to arrange various terror attacks and to shift the blame game to Pakistan. In this respect, on January 2, this year, a terror attack at Indian Air Force Base in Pathankot was preplanned under his directions. Without any investigation and evidence, since the first day of the incident, Indian media and top civil and military officials claimed that the attackers had arrived from Pakistani Punjab’s Bahawalpur district, and had links with Jaish-e-Mohammad and Pakistan’s primary intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). But, despite Islamabad’s cooperation in the joint investigation, New Delhi failed in providing any proof of Pakistan’s involvement in the Pathankot incident. India orchestrated that drama to postpone secretary-level talks with Pakistan, scheduled to be held in Islamabad on January 15, 2016.

 

Nevertheless, India is not serious in advancing Pak-India dialogue process, agreed upon between the two countries during Indian Prime Minister Modi’s recent visit to Pakistan. Under the cover of Pathankot episode, New Delhi wanted to postpone the secretary-level parleys as part of its delaying tactics in settling various issues, especially the Kashmir dispute with Islamabad.

 

As mater of fact, like other past episodes, as part of Doval’s offensive-defensive doctrine, Indian intelligence agencies, especially RAW have themselves arranged terror attacks at the Pathankot airbase including some other terror incidents to fulfil a number of anti-Pakistan designs.

 

As regards the case of cross-border terrorism, India has shown ambivalent approach which can be judged from some other developments. In this connection, on July 27, 2015, three gunmen dressed in army uniforms killed at least seven people, including three civilians and four policemen in the Indian district of Gurdaspur, Punjab. Without any investigation, Indian high officials and media started accusing Pakistan, its banned militant outfits and intelligence agencies for the Gurdaspur incident. Indian Police remarked that the attackers were from Indian-held Kashmir, and some said that they were Sikh separatists, while Indian Punjab police chief claimed that the three gunmen were Muslim, but as yet unidentified. Contradicting speculations, India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh told parliament that the gunmen came from Pakistan.

 

Khalistan Movement Chief Manmohan Singh stated that the Gurdaspur incident is “a conspiracy of Indian secret agency RAW to defame Pakistan.”

 

Notably, on December 31, 2014, prior to the US President Obama’s second visit to New Delhi, Indian intelligence agencies orchestrated a boat drama to defame Pakistan, allegedly reporting that a Pakistani fishing boat as a Pakistan-based outfit group Lashkar-e-Taiba was intercepted by Indian Coast Guards, off the coast of Porebandar, Gujarat. And Indian Coast Guard crew set the boat on fire and it exploded. The Indian government had claimed that it had foiled another 26/11-type attack of Mumbai. But, its reality exposed Indian terrorism, when some Indian high officials admitted that there was no such boat which came from Pakistan.

 

As regards Afghanistan, India is playing a double game in accordance with the offensive-defensive doctrine of Ajit Doval. RAW has well-established its network in Afghanistan and is in connivance with the TTP and Islamic State group (ISIS or Daesh). On January 13, 2015, at least seven personal of the Afghan security forces died during the suicide attack which targeted the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad. ISIS claimed responsibility for the terror assault.

 

The attack, which coincided with efforts to restart the stalled peace process with Taliban insurgents and ease diplomatic tensions between India and Pakistan, added a dangerous new element to Afghanistan’s volatile security mix. In this context, delegates from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States had met to try to resurrect efforts to end nearly 15 years of bloodshed in Afghanistan. However, we need to know the real peace disruptors in Afghanistan.

 

In this respect, in the recent past, cordial relations were established between Pakistan and Afghanistan when Afghan President Ghani had realized that Afghanistan and Pakistan were facing similar challenges of terrorism and would combat this threat collectively.

While, it is misfortune that on direction of New Delhi and like the former regime of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s present rulers have also started accusing Pakistan of cross-border terrorism. In this context, after hours of the Taliban captured Kunduz city, on September 28, 2015, during his address to the UNO General Assembly, Afghanistan’s chief executive Abdullah Abdullah blamed Islamabad for carrying out cross-border attacks and destabilizing Afghanistan.

 

Differences exist between chief executive Abdullah Abdullah and President Ashraf Ghani, as the former wants cordial relations with New Delhi at the cost of Afghanistan and the latter prefers Islamabad, because Pak-Afghan stability is interrelated.

 

It is mentionable that on December 10, President Ghani accepted the resignation of Rahmatullah Nabil as director of the Afghan intelligence agency, NDS, after developing differences of the spymaster with him over Ghani’s move to attend the regional conference in Islamabad.

 

And Prime Minister Sharif and President Ghani also showed their determination that their countries would cooperate in fighting the threat of ISIS.

 

As the US is playing double game with Islamabad, because it is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World, which irritates America and Israel. Hence, secret agents of American CIA, Israeli Mossad and Indian RAW which are well-penetrated in ISIS are making efforts to weaken Tibetan regions of China, Iran and especially Pakistan’s province of Balochistan by arranging the subversive activities, promoting acrimonious sense of dissent, political volatility, sectarian violence and arousing sentiments of separatism.

 

Here, it is of particular attention that the foreign-backed Baloch separatist leader, Manan Baloch, the secretary general of the Baloch National Movement and number 2 of the Balochistan Liberation Front was killed by the security forces on January 30, 2016. It is a great achievement, as on the directions of his external handlers, Manan was criticizing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and was provoking the Baloch people against this agreement.

 

Again, in case of Afghanistan, there are several groups of Al-Qaeda, ISIS and Taliban like the TTP. Some of them are being used by secret agencies like CIA, Mossad and RAW to obtain the collective and individual designs of their countries against Pakistan and Middle Eastern countries. India and Israel which want to prolong the stay of the US-led NATO troops in Afghanistan which have become the center of covert activities, are exploiting their dual policy, especially of America against Pakistan, China and Iran. Particularly, terrorists of TTP which are strategic assets of the CIA, RAW and Mossad have claimed responsibility for several terror attacks inside Pakistan, including the recent ones in Balochistan, Karachi and in Afghanistan.

 

In fact, in collusion with Afghanistan’s NDS, particularly, RAW has set up its secret network in Afghanistan, and is fully assisting cross-border incursions and terror-activities in various regions of Pakistan through Baloch separatist elements and anti-Pakistan groups like Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA), Jundullah (God’s soldiers) and TTP.

 

It is an undeniable fact that Ajit Doval’s cronies are creating law and order problems in Balochistan. Doval in his recent lecture clearly threatened that Islamabad will lose Balochistan—a video is a clear confession by India that it is behind the separatists in the province of Balochistan and has a huge network of its operatives against the state of Pakistan.

 

Particularly, Indian nexus with TTP leaders like Hakimullah Masood and Mulla Fazalullah has been proved by the recent revelation of the TTP militant Latifullah Mahsood regarding the incident of Army Public School Peshawar and exploitation of Baloch sub-nationalists. It has also exposed Ajeet Doval’s offensive-defensive doctrine—anti-Pakistan statements of India’s BJP leadership, while pointing out that New Delhi is the main spoiler of peace in Afghanistan, and is still manipulating the militants of TTP, ISIS, ETIM etc. against Pakistan, China and Afghanistan.

 

It is misfortune that with the start of 2016, frequency of terrorist incidents has increased manifold in Afghanistan, indicating the frustration of the spoiler (India), after her proxies were uprooted from Pakistani soil. Moreover, Afghan people also feel wary of protracted proxy warfare, strife and lawlessness in their country and are desirous for peace. But, India does not want it.

 

Besides, Indian media has created frenzy and volley of allegations against Pakistan. It is a true reflection of Indian establishment and Hindu mindset which are intolerant to any improvement in the bilateral relations between both neighboring countries.

 

Nonetheless, if not checked in time by the US-led western powers, India’s offensive-defensive doctrine will destabilize Pakistan and Afghanistan including the whole region, jeopardizing the political and economic interests of America and NATO countries which demand stability and peace in the region.

 

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

 

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

 

 

 

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India a regional wild bull Asif Haroon Raja

India a regional wild bull

Asif Haroon Raja

India occupies a unique position in the South Asian region by dint of occupying nearly 72 percent of the land surface in South Asia, being a home of 77 percent of the region’s population, and accounting for nearly 75 percent of the regional economic output. It has the third largest Army (1,325,000) in the world and its economy is ranked 10th strongest ($2.0 trillion). Notwithstanding its political, economic and military prowess, India is viewed as a hegemonic power by all her six neighbors – from Bangladesh in the east to Pakistan in the west, from Nepal and Bhutan in the north to Sri Lanka in the south since all the six South Asian States have suffered at the hands of India.

Indian political scientist (late) Dr. Bhabani Sen Gupta wrote in the India Today April 30, 1984, “The Indian elephant cannot transform itself into a mouse. If South Asia is to get itself out of the crippling binds of conflicts and cleavages, the six neighbors will have to accept the bigness of the seventh. And the seventh, that is India, will have to prove to the six that big can indeed be beautiful.” India instead chose to become a wild bull suiting her inner chemistry.

Drunk with power, India would not hesitate to attack a country if it were in her interest to do so and if she felt that the other side was too weak to resist. Indian leaders are staunch followers of infamous Chanakya (author of Arthasastra during Chandragupta rule) and they feel no penitence in implementing the deceitful policies of their Guru to undermine the neighboring countries in pursuit of their geo-economic interests. Believing in the dictum ‘everything is fair in love and war’, they befriend the enemy of the neighbor, carryout false flag operations, create misgivings through propaganda war, anarchy and destabilization through covert operations and put their sins in the basket of others.

RAW is notorious for conducting clandestine operations in the neighborhood. Once India fails to assert its authority through coercion, it then projects itself as the big brother to draw brotherly respect from younger brothers. Its behavior as a big brother however leaves much to be desired. Rather than earning respect by behaving maturely and generously, it behaves arrogantly and expects one-sided respect and concessions. It has believed in the policy of taking all and giving nothing in return. It considers unilateral concessions as its birthright.

By the virtue of its size, economic potential and military power, India claims a regional leadership position for herself, while her South Asian neighbors accuse her of exercising hegemony. Her neighbors that have been repeatedly bitten have reasons to complain. India has frequently resorted to military force in the region and is the initiator of terrorism. It befriended Mukti Bahini in East Pakistan and then treacherously split Pakistan into two in 1971. India ousted the Ranas in Nepal and put King Tribhuvan on the throne in 1950. India pressed him to sign a treaty of peace and friendship that is viewed by many Nepalese politicians as imperialist. India trained the Tamil Tigers to kick-start a rebellion in Sri Lanka in 1983 which raged till 2009. India restored Prime Minister Gayoom’s rule during the attempted military coup in Maldives in 1988. India didn’t spare even Bangladesh which she helped in gaining independence in 1971 and pitched Chakma rebels (Shanti Bahini) against Gen Ziaur Rahman government and subsequent regimes. Hasina Wajid, daughter of Mujibur Rahman is in India’s best books. To please India and hurt Pakistan, she has undertaken farcical trials of aged Jamaat-e-Islami leaders allegedly involved in war crimes during 1971 war and some have been hanged.

 

 

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In terms of forcible seizure and land grab, India has occupied Muslim-majority J&K (October 1947), Muslim-ruled Hyderabad (1948), Portuguese-administered Dadra & Nagar Haveli (1954), and Goa, Diu & Daman (1961), and Buddhist-ruled Sikkim (1975) through a surfeit of vicious and fraudulent means, often discounting people’s wishes. For instance, an opinion poll by CSDS in 2007 showed that 87% of people in the Kashmir Valley didn’t want to live under India. And yet, India, the so-called largest democracy in our world, has no wish to hold such a referendum in the occupied territories.

In violation of the UN Resolutions and pledge given by Nehru, India stubbornly clings to the occupied territory and claim it as integral part of India. In order to retain her illegal occupation, India has stationed 750,000 occupying forces in Indian Occupied Kashmir and has subjected the hapless Kashmiris to a reign of terror. To keep Pakistan restrained from voicing concern and seeking a plebiscite, India waged a massive proxy war in FATA and Balochistan in 2003 which is still continuing and is now resorting to water terrorism. India has water disputes with Bangladesh and Nepal.

The neighbors see India as an overbearing oppressor and a rogue, which uses her territories to dump poor quality Indian goods while putting unnecessary restrictions to exporting their goods into India. SAARC has not progressed essentially because of India’s efforts to set rules of tariffs in accordance with her wishes and to monopolize the trade. All SAARC members trading with India suffer from trade deficit.

India’s policies remain myopic and short-sighted, if not self-centered and often lethal. She has failed to wipe out the pervasive negative perceptions held by all her regional neighbors. So far, from Bhabani Sen Gupta’s utopian view, India has become a regional wild bull, if not an elephant or even worse. And no one likes such a beast! Truly, the stamp of a regional hegemon is written all over India’s face. As a matter of fact with the resurgence of the Hindutva fascist forces in the national politics of India, she has the potential to become a regional pariah. And that is an ominous sign for the entire region! Just as the United States of America and Russia are hated today in many countries globally for their hegemony, so is India in South Asia.

India being an imperialist power and ruled by 2.8% Brahman rulers wants to become super power of South Asia and a world power. This ambition is essentially driven by the myth of Mahabharata, fanaticized by every Brahman. Not only Brahman leaders behave callously towards the neighbors, their behavior towards minorities in India is also atrocious. Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and even low caste Hindus have suffered a great deal at the hands of Hindu extremists. India’s oppressive policies have given birth to dozens of insurgencies.

Indigenous freedom movement in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) has become a bleeding wound for India and a cause of embarrassment that despite deploying such a large force in a small Valley and using excessive force, rape and torture as tools to crush the movement for over 22 years, it has failed to extinguish the flame of liberty. Maintenance of 750,000 security forces since 1989 in IOK is a huge drain on India’s economy. So is the burden of 700,000 troops employed to fighting dozens of insurgencies/separatist movements in various parts of India.

India considers Pakistan as the lone obstacle in the way of her imperialist ambitions. India’s dangerous plan conceived after 9/11 in 2001 to denuclearize and balkanize Pakistan through proxy war has run into difficulties because of NATO’s and ANA’s inability to defeat Afghan Taliban and ISAF’s withdrawal. Increasing intimacy between USA and Pakistan as well as between new Afghan regime and Pakistan is happening at a time when Indo-Pakistan relations are sailing through choppy waters. This change in the outlook of USA trying to remove the distrust accumulated over a period of time and to rebuild friendly ties with Pakistan is vexing India. Not knowing how to disrupt growth of Pak-US and Pak-Afghan ties, India is continuing to play the terrorism card.

After heating up the LoC in Kashmir and working boundary in Sialkot sector together with abortive false flag operations, RAW in concert with elements within Afghan NDS, is using runaway Fazlullah and Khurasani to carryout terror attacks against soft targets inside Pakistan to cause maximum pain. Attack on Army Public School Peshawar was masterminded by RAW. Now targets of similar nature including DHAs and Askari colonies are listed as future targets. Several terror attacks in Balochistan in quick succession are link of the same chain to build up pressure on Pakistan and force the Army to give a breather to the FATA militants and get deflected towards the eastern border. The US must be firmly told to discipline the wild bull if it is serious in getting rid of the scourge of terrorism. At the same time, Pakistan should impress upon other South Asian States that if they desire to live as independent respectable nations and want to progress, they will have to find ways and means how to tame the wild bull.   

The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran/defence analyst/columnist/book writer, Member Executive Council PESS, Director Measac Research Centre, Member Board of Governors TFP.asifharoonraja@gmail.com   

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Gambling against Armageddon by Amb.Munir Akram, former Pakistan ambassador to the UN

Gambling against Armageddon

By

Munir Akram, former Pakistan ambassador to the UN | 

 

IN an opinion piece last year, Henry Kissinger observed that over the next couple of decades a nuclear war was likely to take place between India and Pakistan. The nuclear factor was in play in four major and one minor India-Pakistan crises: in 1987, 1990, 1998, 1999 and 2002.
 
In 1987, when an Indian army chief launched the Brasstacks military exercises along Pakistan’s exposed desert borders, Pakistan responded by deploying its forces in the north where India was vulnerable. Prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s agreement to a mutual stand-down no doubt also took into account the informal threat from Islamabad to bomb India’s nuclear reactors in case Pakistan was attacked. (After the crisis ended, the Pakistan-India agreement not to attack each other’s nuclear facilities was jointly formulated in one day.)
 
In January 1990, when the anti-Indian insurgency erupted in Kashmir and India threatened Pakistan, a conflict was forestalled by US intervention. The US acted when it learnt that Pakistan had begun to arm its nuclear-capable aircraft.

The operation of mutual deterrence between India and Pakistan is being eroded.


armageddon21During the night of 26-27 May 1998 — the night before Pakistan conducted its nuclear explosions in response to India’s tests — Pakistani radar detected unidentified aircraft flying towards its territory. Islamabad issued warnings of instant retaliation to India and relayed these to the US and Israel. This may have been a false alarm; but it illustrates the danger of accidental conflict in the absence of real-time communications.
During the 1999 Kargil war, the nuclear dimension was implicit, given that the crisis occurred a year after the India-Pakistan nuclear tests.
 
During the 2002 general mobilisation by India and Pakistan, the director general of the Pakistan Armed Forces Special Plans Division enunciated its nuclear ‘doctrine’ in a news interview. The ‘doctrine’ envisaged that Pakistan would use nuclear weapons if: it was being militarily overwhelmed; its nuclear or strategic weapons or facilities were attacked; and it was subjected to an enemy blockade.
 
The projection of this doctrine, including at a UN news conference by this writer in July 2002, sparked a fall in the Indian Stock Exchange, the evacuation of foreign personnel and embassy families from New Delhi and a demarche by Indian business leaders to prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, and reportedly led to the Indian agreement for a mutual drawback of forces.
 
The operation of mutual deterrence displayed in 2002, however, is being eroded by several developments.
 
One, the conventional military balance is becoming progressively unfavourable to Pakistan. India is engaged in a major arms build-up. It is the world’s largest arms importer today. It is deploying advanced and offensive land, air and sea weapons systems. Pakistan’s conventional capabilities may not prove sufficient to deter or halt an Indian attack.
 
Two, India has adopted the Cold Start doctrine envisaging a rapid strike against Pakistan. This would prevent Pakistan from mobilising its conventional defence and thus lower the threshold at which Pakistan may have to rely on nuclear deterrence.
 
Three, Pakistan has had to deploy over 150,000 troops on the western border due to its involvement in the cross-border counterterrorism campaign in Afghanistan, reducing its conventional defence capacity against India.
 
Four, the acquisition of foreign nuclear plants and fuel, made possible by the Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, will enable India to enlarge its nuclear weapons stockpile significantly. To maintain nuclear balance, Pakistan has accelerated production of fissile materials. Both nuclear arsenals are now large and growing.
 
Five, given its growing conventional disadvantage, and India’s pre-emptive war fighting doctrine, Pakistan has been obliged to deploy a larger number of nuclear-capable missiles, including so-called ‘theatre’ or tactical nuclear-capable missiles. The nuclear ‘threshold’ is now much lower.
 
Six, the Kashmir dispute — once described by former US president Bill Clinton as a nuclear flashpoint — continues to fester. Another insurgency is likely to erupt, certainly if the Bharatiya Janata Party government goes ahead with its platform promise to abrogate Article 370 of the Indian constitution (which accords special status to Jammu & Kashmir). A renewed Kashmiri insurgency will evoke Indian accusations against Pakistan and unleash another Indo-Pakistan crisis.
 
Seven, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has obviously decided to adopt an aggressive posture towards Pakistan, no doubt to appeal to his hard-line Hindu constituency. The recent ceasefire violations along the Line of Control are an ominous indication of such belligerency.
 
Eight, India is reportedly involved in supporting the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and the Baloch Liberation Army to destabilise Pakistan internally.
 
Nine, India has terminated the ‘composite dialogue’ with Pakistan. Its precondition for talks — an “absence of violence” — is impossible for Pakistan to meet.
 
Ten, the US and other major powers evince little interest in addressing the combustible mix of live disputes, terrorist threats, conventional arms imbalance and nuclear weapons in South Asia.
 
During the parallel dialogue initiated by the US with Pakistan and India following their 1998 nuclear explosions, Pakistan proposed a ‘strategic restraint regime’ with India which would include mechanisms to resolve disputes, including Kashmir; preserve a conventional arms balance and promote mutual nuclear and missile restraint.
India rejected the concept of a mutual restraint regime.
 
The US at first agreed to consider Pakistan’s proposal. However, as their talks with India transitioned from restricting India’s nuclear programme to building a “strategic partnership” (against China), the Americans de-hyphenated policy towards Pakistan and India, opened the doors to building India’s conventional and nuclear capabilities and disavowed any interest in the Kashmir dispute. Currently, Indian belligerence is bolstered by US pressure on Pakistan to halt fissile material production and reverse the deployment of theatre nuclear-capable missiles.
 
If a South Asian Armageddon is to be prevented, it is essential to build a structure of stable deterrence between India and Pakistan and find ways to deal with Kashmir and other outstanding disputes. Reviving consideration of a strategic restraint regime would be a good place to start.
 
The writer is a former Pakistan ambassador to the UN.

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Is India on a Totalitarian Path? Arundhati Roy on Corporatism, Nationalism and World’s Largest Vote

Editor: Maqsood Kayani,Pakistan Think Tank
 
Is India on a Totalitarian Path? Arundhati Roy on Corporatism, Nationalism and World’s Largest Vote  
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As voting begins in India in the largest elections the world has ever seen, we spend the hour with Indian novelist and essayist Arundhati Roy. Nearly 815 million Indians are eligible to vote, and results will be issued in May. One of India’s most famous authors — and one of its fiercest critics — Roy is out with a new book, “Capitalism: A Ghost Story,” which dives into India’s transforming political landscape and makes the case that globalized capitalism has intensified the wealth divide, racism, and environmental degradation. “This new election is going to be [about] who the corporates choose,” Roy says, “[about] who is not going to blink about deploying the Indian army against the poorest people in this country, and pushing them out to give over those lands, those rivers, those mountains, to the major mining corporations.” Roy won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel, “The God of Small Things.” Her other books include “An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire” and “Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers.”

 

 
 
TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Voting has begun in India in the largest election the world has ever seen. About 815 million Indians are eligible to vote over the next five weeks. The number of voters in India is more than two-and-a-half times the entire population of the United States. The election will take place in nine phases at over 900,000 polling stations across India. Results will be known on May 16th. Pre-election polls indicate Narendra Modi will likely become India’s next prime minister. Modi is the leader of the BJP, a Hindu nationalist party. He serves—he served as the chief minister of Gujarat, where one of India’s worst anti-Muslim riots occurred in 2002 that left at least a thousand people dead. After the bloodshed, the U.S. State Department revoked Modi’s visa, saying it could not grant a visa to any foreign government official who, quote, “was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom.” Modi has never apologized for or explained his actions at the time of the riots. Modi’s main challenger to become prime minister is Rahul Gandhi of the ruling Congress party. Gandhi is heir to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that’s governed India for much of its post-independence history. Several smaller regional parties and the new anti-corruption Common Man Party are also in the running. If no single party wins a clear majority, the smaller parties could play a crucial role in forming a coalition government. Well, today we spend the hour with one of India’s most famous authors and one of its fiercest critics, Arundhati Roy. In 1997, Roy won the Booker Prize for her novel, The God of Small Things. Since then, she has focused on nonfiction. Her books include An Ordinary Person’s Guide to EmpireField Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers and Walking with the Comrades. Her latest book is titled Capitalism: A Ghost Story. Nermeen Shaikh and I recently sat down with Arundhati Roy when she was in New York. We began by asking about her new book and the changes that have taken place in India since it opened its economy in the early ’90s.

ARUNDHATI ROY: What we’re always told is that, you know, there’s going to be a trickle-down revolution. You know, that kind of opening up of the economy that happened in the early ’90s was going to lead to an inflow of foreign capital, and eventually the poor would benefit. So, you know, being a novelist, I started out by standing outside this 27-story building that belonged to Mukesh Ambani, with its ballrooms and its six floors of parking and 900 servants and helipads and so on. And it had this 27-story-high vertical lawn, and bits of the grass had sort of fallen off in squares. And so, I said, “Well, trickle down hasn’t worked, but gush up has,” because after the opening up of the economy, we are in a situation where, you know, 100 of India’s wealthiest people own—their combined wealth is 25 percent of the GDP, whereas more than 80 percent of its population lives on less than half a dollar a day. And the levels of malnutrition, the levels of hunger, the amount of food intake, all these—all these, you know, while India is shown as a quickly growing economy, though, of course, that has slowed down now dramatically, but at its peak, what happened was that this new—these new economic policies created a big middle class, which, given the population of India, gave the impression of—it was a universe of its own, with, you know, the ability to consume cars and air conditioners and mobile phones and all of that. And that huge middle class came at a cost of a much larger underclass, which was just away from the arc lights, you know, which wasn’t—which wasn’t even being looked at, millions of people being displaced, pushed off their lands either by big development project or just by land which had ceased to be productive. You had—I mean, we have had 250,000 farmers committing suicide, which, if you even try to talk about, let’s say, on the Indian television channels, you actually get insulted, you know, because it—

NERMEEN SHAIKH: I mean, that’s an extraordinary figure. It’s a quarter of a million farmers who have killed themselves.

ARUNDHATI ROY: Yeah, and let me say that that figure doesn’t include the fact that, you know, if it’s a woman who kills herself, she’s not considered a farmer, or now they’ll start saying, “Oh, it wasn’t suicide. Oh, it was depression. It was this. It was that.” You know?

AMY GOODMAN: But why are they killing themselves?

ARUNDHATI ROY: Because they are caught in a debt trap, you know, because what happens is that the entire—the entire face of agriculture has changed. So people start growing cash crops, you know, crops which are market-friendly, which need a lot of input. You know, they need pesticides. They need borewells. They need all kinds of chemicals. And then the crop fails, or the cost of the—that they get for their product doesn’t match the amount of money they have to put into it. And also you have situations like in the Punjab, where—which was called the “rice bowl of India.” Punjab never used to grow rice earlier, but now—

AMY GOODMAN: In the north of India.

ARUNDHATI ROY: Yes, in the north. And it’s supposed to be India’s richest agricultural state. But there you have so many farmer suicides now, land going saline. The, you know, people, ironically, the way they commit suicide is by drinking the pesticide, you know, which they need to—and apart from the fact that the debt, the illness that is being caused by all of this, in Punjab, you have a train called the Cancer Express, you know, where people just coming in droves to be treated for illness and—you know, and—

AMY GOODMAN: And the train is called the Cancer Express?

ARUNDHATI ROY: Yes, it’s called the Cancer Express. And—

AMY GOODMAN: Because of the pesticide that they’re exposed to?

ARUNDHATI ROY: Yeah, and they are. And this is the richest state in India, you know—I mean agriculturally the richest. And there’s a crisis there—never mind in places like, you know, towards the west, Maharashtra and Vidarbha, where, you know, farmers are killing themselves almost every day.

AMY GOODMAN: I was wondering if you could read from Capitalism: A Ghost Story.

ARUNDHATI ROY: So, “In India, the 300 million of us who belong to the new, post-IMF’reforms’ middle class—the market—live side by side with the spirits of the nether world, the poltergeists of dead rivers, dry wells, bald mountains and denuded forests; the ghosts of 250,000 debt-ridden farmers who have killed themselves, and the 800 million who have been impoverished and dispossessed to make way for us. And who survive on less than half a dollar, which is 20 Indian rupees, a day.

“Mukesh Ambani is personally worth $20 billion. He holds a majority controlling share in Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), a company with a market capitalization of $47 billion and global business interests that include petrochemicals, oil, natural gas, polyester fibre, Special Economic Zones, fresh food retail, high schools, life sciences research and stem cell storage services. RIL recently bought 95 per cent shares in Infotel, a TV consortium that controls 27 TV news and entertainment channels in almost every regional language.

“RIL is one of a handful of corporations that run India. Some of the others are the Tatas, Jindals, Vedanta, Mittals, Infosys, Essar. Their race for growth has spilled across Europe, Central Asia, Africa and Latin America. Their nets are cast wide; they are visible and invisible, over-ground as well as underground. The Tatas, for example, run more than 100 companies in 80 countries. They are one of India’s oldest and largest private sector power companies. They own mines, gas fields, steel plants, telephone, cable TV and broadband networks, and they run whole townships. They manufacture cars and trucks, and own the Taj Hotel chain, Jaguar, Land Rover, Daewoo, Tetley Tea, a publishing company, a chain of bookstores, a major brand of iodized salt and the cosmetics giant Lakme—which I think they’ve sold now. Their advertising tagline could easily be: You Can’t Live Without Us.

“According to the rules of the Gush-Up Gospel, the more you have, the more you can have.”

AMY GOODMAN: Arundhati Roy, reading from her new book, Capitalism: A Ghost Story. We’ll be back with her in a minute. [break] AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!democracynow.orgThe War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue our conversation with the world-renowned author Arundhati Roy. Voting has just begun in India in the largest election the world has ever seen. About 815 million Indians are eligible to vote over the next five weeks. The number of eligible voters in India is larger than the total population of the United States and European Union combined. Arundhati Roy won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel, The God of Small Things. Her latest book is called Capitalism: A Love Story [sic]. Democracy Now!‘s — Capitalism: A Ghost StoryDemocracy Now!‘s Nermeen Shaikh and I talked to Arundhati Roy about the changes in India she describes in her latest book and the implications for the elections.

ARUNDHATI ROY: So, I’m talking about how, when you have this kind of control over all business, over the media, over its essential infrastructure, electricity generation, information, everything, then you just field your, you know, pet politicians. And right now, for example, what’s happening in India is that one of the reasons that is being attributed to the slowdown of the economy is the fact that there is a tremendous resistance to all of this from the people on the ground, from the people who are being displaced, from the—and in the forests, it’s the Maoist guerrillas; in the villages, it’s all kinds of people’s movements—all of whom are of course being called Maoist. And now, there is a—you see, these economic policies—these new economic policies cannot be implemented unless—except with state—with coercive state violence. So you have a situation where the forests are full of paramilitary just burning villages, you know, pushing people out of their homes, trying to clear the land for mining companies to whom the government has signed, you know, hundreds of memorandums of understanding. Outside the forests, too, this is happening. So there is a kind of war which, of course, always existed in India. There hasn’t been a year when the Indian army hasn’t been deployed against its own people. I mean, I’ll talk about that later—

AMY GOODMAN: Since when?

ARUNDHATI ROY: Since independence, since 1947, you know? But now the plan is to deploy them. Now it’s the paramilitary. But this new election is going to be who is the person that the corporates choose, who is not going to blink about putting the Indian—about deploying the Indian army against the poorest people in this country, you know, and pushing them out to give over those lands, those rivers, those mountains, to the major mining corporations. So this is what we are being prepared for now—the air force, the army, going in into the heart of India now.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Before we go to the elections, could you—one of the operations, the military operations, you talk about is Operation Green Hunt.

ARUNDHATI ROY: Yeah.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Could you explain what that is, when it started, and who it targets?

ARUNDHATI ROY: Well, Operation Green Hunt, basically—you know, in 2004, the current government signed a series of memorandums of understanding with a number of mining corporations and infrastructure development companies to build dams, to do mining, to build roads, to move India into the space where, as the home minister at the time said, he wanted 75 percent of India’s population to live in cities, which is, you know, moving—social engineering, really, moving 500 million people or so out of their homes. And so, then they came up against this very, very militant resistance from the ground. As I said, in the forests, there were armed Maoist guerrillas; outside the forest, there are militant, you know, some call themselves Gandhians, all kinds. There’s a whole diversity of resistance but, although strategically they had different ways of dealing with it, were all fighting the same thing. So then, in the state of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, which are where there are huge indigenous populations—

NERMEEN SHAIKH: In central India.

ARUNDHATI ROY: In central India—the first thing the government did was to—very similar to what happened in places like Peru and Colombia, you know, they started to arm a section of the indigenous population and create a vigilante army. It was called the Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh. The Salwa Judum, along with local paramilitary, went in and started decimating villages, like they basically chased some 300,000 people out of the forests, and some 600 villages were emptied. And then the people began to fight back. And really, this whole Salwa Judum experiment failed, at which point they announced Operation Green Hunt, where there was this official declaration of war.

And there was so much propaganda in the media. As I explain to you now, the media is owned by the corporations who have vested interests. So there was this—you know, the prime minister came out and said, “They are the greatest internal security threat.” And, you know, there was this kind of conflation between the Maoists with their ski caps and, you know, the Lashkar-e-Taiba and all these people who are threatening the idea of India.

What the government wasn’t prepared for was the fightback, not just from the people in the forest, but even from a range of activists, a range of people who were outraged by this. And, you know, they passed these laws which meant that anybody could be called a Maoist and, you know, a threat to security. And thousands—even today, there are thousands of people in jail under sedition, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and so on. And—but that was Operation Green Hunt. But that, too, ran aground, because it’s very difficult terrain and—you know, so now the idea is to deploy the army. And now the corporations feel that this past government hadn’t—didn’t have the nerve to send out the army, that it blinked. And so—

AMY GOODMAN: This is the Congress party.

ARUNDHATI ROY: The Congress party and its allies. So now all the big corporations are backing the chief—the three-times chief minister of the state of Gujarat, the western state of Gujarat, who has proved his mettle, you know, by being an extremely hard and cold-blooded chief minister, who is now—I mean, he is, of course, best known for having presided over a pogrom against Muslims in Gujarat.

AMY GOODMAN: So talk about who Modi is—I mean, this moves us into the election of April; it’s going to be the largest election in the world—who the contenders are, who this man is who could well become the head of India, who the United States has not granted a visa to in years because of what you’re describing.

ARUNDHATI ROY: Well, who is Narendra Modi? I think he’s, you know, changing his—changing his idea of who he himself is, you know, because he started out as a kind of activist in this self-proclaimed fascist organization called the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the RSS, which was founded in 1925, who the heroes of the RSS were Mussolini and Hitler. Even today, you know, their—the bible of the RSS was written by a man called Golwalkar, you know, who says the Muslims of India are like the Jews of Germany. And so, they have a very clear idea of India as a Hindu nation, very much like the Hindu version of Pakistan.

AMY GOODMAN: Where, you’re saying, the Muslims should be eradicated.

ARUNDHATI ROY: Where they should be either made to live as, I think, second-class citizens and—

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Or they should move to Pakistan.

ARUNDHATI ROY: Yeah, or they should move to Pakistan. Or if they don’t behave themselves, they should just be killed, you know? So, this is a very old—you know, Modi didn’t invent it. But he was—he and even the former BJP prime minister, Vajpayee, the former home minister, Advani—all of these are members of the RSS. The RSS is an organization which has 40,000 or 50,000 units across India, extremely—I mean, they were at one point banned because a former member of the RSS killed Gandhi. But now—you know, now they are of course not a banned organization, and they work—

AMY GOODMAN: Killed Mahatma Gandhi.

ARUNDHATI ROY: Yeah, assassinated him. But that—but, so, Modi started out as a worker for the RSS. He, of course, came into great prominence in 2002, when he was already the chief minister of Gujarat but had been losing local municipal elections. And this was at the time when the BJP had run this big campaign in—they had demolished the Babri Masjid, this old 14th century mosque, in 1992. But they were now saying, “We want to build a big Hindu temple in that place.” And a group of pilgrims who were returning from the site where this temple was supposed to be built, the train in which they were traveling, the compartment was set on fire, and 58 Hindu pilgrims were burned. Nobody knows, even today, who set that compartment on fire and how it happened. But, of course, it was immediately, you know, blamed on Muslims. And then there followed an unbelievable pogrom in Gujarat, where more than a thousand people were lynched, were burned alive. Women were raped. Their abdomens were slit open. Their fetuses were taken out and so on. And not only that—

AMY GOODMAN: These were Muslims.

ARUNDHATI ROY: These were Muslims, by these Hindu mobs. And it became very clear that they had lists, they had support. The police were, you know, on side of the mobs. And, you know, 100,000 Muslims were driven from their homes. And this happened in 2002, this was 12 years ago. And subsequently, they have been—you know, the killers themselves have come on TV and boasted about their killing, come on—in sting operations. But the more they boasted, the more it became—I mean, for people who thought other people would be outraged, in fact it worked as election propaganda for Modi.

And even now, though he took off his sort of saffron turban and his red tikka and then put on a sharp suit and became the development chief minister, and yet, you know, when—recently, when he was interviewed by Reuters and asked whether he regretted what happened in 2002, he more or less said, “You know, I mean, even if I were driving a car and I drove over a puppy, I would feel bad,” you know? But he very expressly has refused to take any responsibility or regret what happened.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: But that’s one of the extraordinary things that you describe in the book, is that following liberalization and the growth of this enormous middle class, 300 million, there was a simultaneous shift, gradual shift, to a more right-wing, exclusive, intolerant conception of India as a Hindu state. So, simultaneously, this class embraces neoliberalism, the neoliberalism in India, and also a more conservative Hindu ideology. So can you explain how those two go together, and how in fact, along with what you said now about Modi, how that might play out in this election?

ARUNDHATI ROY: You know, whenever I speak in India, I say that in the late ’80s what the government did was they opened two locks. One was the lock of the free—of the market. The Indian market was not a free market, not an open market; it was a regulated market. They opened the lock of the markets. And they opened the lock of the Babri Masjid, which for years had been a disputed site, you know, and they opened it. And both those locks—the opening of both those locks eventually led to two kinds of totalitarianisms. One—and they both led to two kinds of manufactured terrorisms. You know, so the lock of the open market led to what are now being described as the Maoist terrorist, which includes all of us, you know, all of us. Anybody who’s speaking against this kind of economic totalitarianism is a Maoist, whether you are a Maoist or not. And the other, you know, the Islamist terrorist. So, what happens is that both the Congress party and the BJP has different prioritizations for which terrorist is on the top of the list, you know? But what happens is that whoever wins the elections, they always have an excuse to continue to militarize.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So the two main parties who are contesting this election are Congress, which is the ruling party now, and the BJP, the Bharatiya Janata Party, of which Narendra Modi is the head. And you’ve said that the only difference between them is that one does by day what the other does by night, so as far as these policies are concerned, you can see no difference, irrespective of who wins.

ARUNDHATI ROY: Yeah, well, you know, when it comes down to the wire, I agree with what I’ve said. And yet, you know, there is something to be said for hypocrisy, you know, for doing things by night, because there’s a little bit of tentativeness there; there isn’t this sureness of, you know, “We want the Hindu nation, and we want the rule of the corporations,” and so on. But, yes, I mean, what happens is that everybody knows. It’s like whoever is in power gets 60 percent of the cut, and whoever is not in power gets 40 percent. That’s how the corporates work. You know, they have enough money to pay the government and the opposition. And all these institutions of democracy have been hollowed out, and their shells have been placed back, and we continue this sort of charade in some ways.

AMY GOODMAN: Indian writer Arundhati Roy, author of the new book, Capitalism: A Ghost Story. India is in the midst of the largest election in world history. We’ll be back with Arundhati Roy in a minute. [break] AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!democracynow.orgThe War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. Together with Nermeen Shaikh, we sat down with the world-renowned author Arundhati Roy when she came to the United States last week. Arundhati Roy won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her novel The God of Small Things. She begins with a reading from her new book,Capitalism: A Ghost Story.

ARUNDHATI ROY: “Which of us sinners was going to cast the first stone? Not me, who lives off royalties from corporate publishing houses. We all watch Tata Sky, we surf the net with Tata Photon, we ride in Tata taxis, we stay in Tata Hotels, sip our Tata tea in Tata bone china and stir it with teaspoons made of Tata Steel. We buy Tata books in Tata bookshops. We eat Tata salt. We are under siege.

“If the sledgehammer of moral purity is to be the criterion for stone-throwing, then the only people who qualify are those who have been silenced already. Those who live outside the system; the outlaws in the forests or those whose protests are never covered by the press, or the well-behaved dispossessed, who go from tribunal to tribunal, bearing witness and giving testimony.”

But this—you know, I’m talking about this because, as I said, you know, for the poor, India has the army and the paramilitary and the air force and the displacement and the police and the concentration camps. But what are you going to do to the rest? And there, I talk about the exquisite art of corporate philanthropy, you know, and how these very mining corporations and the people who are involved in, really, the pillaging of not just the poor, but of the mountains, of the rivers, of everything, are now—have now turned their attention to the arts, you know? So, apart from the fact that, of course, they own the TV channels and they fund all of that, they, for example, fund the Jaipur Literary Festival—Literature Festival, where the biggest writers in the world come, and they discuss free speech, and the logo is shining out there behind you. But you don’t hear about the fact that in the forest the bodies are piling up, you know? The public hearings where people have the right to ask these corporations what is being done to their environment, to their homes, they are just silenced. They are not allowed to speak. There are collusions between these companies and the police, the Salwa Judum, which I was talking about earlier.

And, you know, the whole—the whole way in which capitalism works is not just as simple as we seem—as it seems to be. We don’t even understand the long-term game, you know? And, of course, America is where it began, in some ways, with foundations like the Rockefeller and the Ford and the Carnegie. And what was—what was their idea? You know? How did it start? It was—now it seems like part of your daily life, like Coca-Cola or coffee or something, but in fact it was a very conceptual leap of the business imagination, when a small percentage of the massive profits of these steel magnates and so on went into the forming of these foundations, which then began to control public policy. You know, they really were the people who gave the seed money for the U.N., for the CIA, for the Foreign Relations Council. And how did they then—when U.S. capitalism started to move outwards, to look for resources outwards, what roles did the Rockefeller and Ford and all these play? You know, how did—for example, the Ford Foundation was very, very crucial in the imagining of a society like America which lived on credit, you know? And that idea has now been imported to places like Bangladesh, India, in the form of microcredit, in the form of—and that, too, has led to a lot of distress, to a lot of killing, this kind of microcapitalism.

AMY GOODMAN: These corporate foundations you talk about, how are they evidenced in India?

ARUNDHATI ROY: Which ones? You mean—

AMY GOODMAN: Like the Ford, the Carnegie, the Rockefeller.

ARUNDHATI ROY: Rockefeller. Well, you know, I mean, in this, I’ve talked about the role not just in India, but even in the U.S. For example, how do they even—how do they deal with things like political people’s movements? How did they fragment the civil rights movement? I’ll just read you a part about what happened with the civil rights movement.

“Having worked out how to manage governments, political parties, elections, courts, the media and liberal opinion, the neoliberal establishment faced one more challenge: how to deal with the growing unrest, the threat of ’people’s power.’ How do you domesticate it? How do you turn protesters into pets? How do you vacuum up people’s fury and redirect it into a blind alley?

“Here too, foundations and their allied organizations have a long and illustrious history. A revealing example is their role in defusing and deradicalizing the Black Civil Rights movement in the United States in the 1960s and the successful transformation of Black Power into Black Capitalism.

“The Rockefeller Foundation, in keeping with J.D. Rockefeller’s ideals, had worked closely with Martin Luther King Sr. (father of Martin Luther King Jr). But his influence waned with the rise of the more militant organizations—the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Black Panthers. The Ford and Rockefeller Foundations moved in. In 1970, they donated $15 million to ‘moderate’ black organizations, giving people grants, fellowships, scholarships, job training programs for dropouts and seed money for black-owned businesses. Repression, infighting and the honey trap of funding led to the gradual atrophying of the radical black organizations.

“Martin Luther King made the forbidden connections between Capitalism, Imperialism, Racism and the Vietnam War. As a result, after he was assassinated, even his memory became toxic to them, a threat to public order. Foundations and Corporations worked hard to remodel his legacy to fit a market-friendly format. The Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, with an operational grant of $2 million, was set up by, among others, the Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Mobil, Western Electric, Procter & Gamble, U.S. Steel and Monsanto. The Center maintains the King Library and Archives of the Civil Rights Movement. Among the many programs the King Center runs have been projects that work—quote, ‘work closely with the United States Department of Defense, the Armed Forces Chaplains Board and others,’ unquote. It co-sponsored the Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture Series called—and I quote—’The Free Enterprise System: An Agent for Non-violent Social Change.’”

It did the same thing in South Africa. They did the same thing in Indonesia, you know, with the—General Suharto’s war, which all of us now know about because of The Act of Killing in Indonesia. And very much so in even places like India, where they move in and they begin to NGO-ize, say, the feminist movement, you know? So you have a feminist movement, which was very radical, very vibrant, suddenly getting funded, and not doing—it’s not that the funded organizations are doing terrible things; they are doing important things. They are doing—you know, whether it’s working on gender rights, whether it’s with sex workers or AIDS. But they will, in their funding, gradually make a little border between any movement which involves women, which is actually threatening the economic order, and these issues, you know? So, in the forest, when I went and spent weeks with the guerrillas, you had 90,000 women who were members of the Adivasi Krantikari Mahila Sangathan, this revolutionary indigenous women’s organization, but they are threatening the corporations, they are threatening the economic architecture of the world, by refusing to move out of there. So they’re not considered feminists, you know? So how you domesticate something and turn it into this little—what in India we call paltu shers, you know, which is a tame tiger, like a tiger on a leash, that is pretending to be resistance, but it isn’t.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: But before we conclude, Arundhati Roy, you have not written a novel—you’re probably sick of being asked this question—since The God of Small Things. And you said that you may return to novel writing now as a more subversive way of being political. So could you either talk about what you intend to write or what you mean by that?

ARUNDHATI ROY: I’ve been writing straightforward political essays for 15—almost 15 years now. And often, they are interventions in a situation that seems to be closing down, you know, whether it was on the dam or whether it was about privatization or whether it was about Operation Green Hunt. And I feel now that, you know, in some ways, through those very urgent political essays, which are all interconnected—they are not just separate issues, they are all interconnected, and they are, together, presenting a worldview. Now I feel that I don’t have anything direct to say without repeating myself, but I think what—you know, that understanding, which was not just an understanding I had in the past and I was just preaching to my readers, you know; it was I was learning as I wrote and as I grew. And I feel that fiction now will complicate that more, because I think the way I think has become more complicated than nonfiction, straightforward nonfiction, can deal with. You know, so I need to break down those proteins and write in a way which—I don’t have to write overtly politically, because I don’t believe that—I mean, I think what we are made up of, what our DNA is and how we are wired, will come out in literature without making a great effort to raise slogans. And—

AMY GOODMAN: Before we end, and before you come out with this next novel that we’ll ask you to read next time when you come to the United States, I was wondering if you could read from an earlier essay. It’s an excerpt that you read at the New School, when hundreds of people came out to see you here recently.

ARUNDHATI ROY: Well, it was—it was really the first—in a way, the first political essay I wrote, anyway, after The God of Small Things, and it was an essay called “The End of Imagination,” when the Indian government conducted a series of nuclear tests in 1998.

“In early May (before the bomb), I left home for three weeks. I thought I would return. I had every intention of returning. Of course, things haven’t worked out quite the way I planned.” Of course, by which I meant that India just wasn’t the same anymore.

“While I was away, I met a friend of mine whom I have always loved for, among other things, her ability to combine deep affection with a frankness that borders on savagery.

“’I’ve been thinking about you,’ she said, ‘about The God of Small Things — what’s in it, what’s over it, under it, around it, above it…’

“She fell silent for a while. I was uneasy and not at all sure that I wanted to hear the rest of what she had to say. She, however, was sure that she was going to say it. ‘In this last year,’ she said, ‘less than a year actually—you’ve had too much of everything—fame, money, prizes, adulation, criticism, condemnation, ridicule, love, hate, anger, envy, generosity—everything. In some ways it’s a perfect story. Perfectly baroque in its excess. The trouble is that it has, or can have, only one perfect ending.’ Her eyes were on me, bright with a slanting, probing brilliance. She knew that I knew what she was going to say. She was insane.

” She was going to say that nothing that happened to me in the future could ever match the buzz of this. That the whole of the rest of my life was going to be vaguely unsatisfying. And, therefore, the only perfect ending to the story would be death. My death.

“The thought had occurred to me too. Of course it had. The fact that all this, this global dazzle—these lights in my eyes, the applause, the flowers, the photographers, the journalists feigning a deep interest in my life (yet struggling to get a single fact straight), the men in suits fawning over me, the shiny hotel bathrooms with endless towels—none of it was likely to happen again. Would I miss it? Had I grown to need it? Was I a fame-junkie? Would I have withdrawal symptoms?

“I told my friend there was no such thing as a perfect story. I said in any case hers was an external view of things, this assumption that the trajectory of a person’s happiness, or let’s say fulfillment, had peaked (and now must trough) because she had accidentally stumbled upon ‘success.’ It was premised on the unimaginative belief that wealth and fame were the mandatory stuff of everybody’s dreams.

“You’ve lived too long in New York, I told her. There are other worlds. Other kinds of dreams. Dreams in which failure is feasible. Honorable. And sometimes even worth striving for. Worlds in which recognition is not the only barometer of brilliance or human worth. There are plenty of warriors that I know and love, people far more valuable than myself, who go to war each day, knowing in advance that they will fail. True, they are less ‘successful’ in the most vulgar sense of the word, but by no means less fulfilled.

“The only dream worth having, I told her, is to dream that you will live while you’re alive and die only when you’re dead.

“’Which means exactly what?’

“I tried to explain, but didn’t do a very good job of it. Sometimes I need to write to think. So I wrote it down for her on a paper napkin. And this is what I wrote: To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.”

AMY GOODMAN: Arundhati Roy, reading from her essay, “The End of Imagination.” She is the author of the new book, Capitalism: A Ghost Story. To read an excerpt of that new book, you can go to democracynow.org. We will also link there to our full archive of interviews with Arundhati Roy, as well as her speeches. That’s democracynow.org. To watch this broadcast, to listen to it, to read the transcript of what Arundhati Roy said, you can go to democracynow.org, as well. Reference

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India’s Election Remakes our World by Martin Wolf, Financial Times

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Excerpt:

 “First, India has shown yet again the signal virtue of democracy: the peaceful transfer of legitimate power. That this is possible in such a vast, diverse and poor country is an inspiring political achievement……

Second, Indians have rejected the dynastic politics of the Congress party, which, alas, brought to a sad end the distinguished public service of Manmohan Singh, a man I have known and admired for four decades……

Third, Mr Modi truly is a self-made man……Indians have chosen a man who promises to improve their lives. He is not chosen for his origins. That is testimony to India’s transformation over the past quarter of a century…..

This election might prove to be a big step towards the economic modernisation of India that was relaunched in 1991. But this round of reforms will also be far harder than those were…..Mr Modi remains an enigma. He is a man of action, a nationalist and a committed member of the Hindutva movement. It is hard to believe he would match Mr Singh’s emollient reaction to Pakistan’s promotion of terrorism. It is impossible to know what he might mean for India’s communal relations. Nobody knows either how far he feels obliged to the business people who funded his campaign

 

The captioned article in today’s FT is excellent and points towards the same issues that our policy makers should be focussing on .

India’s Election Remakes our World

By Martin Wolf

Modi must accelerate economic progress to benefit the vast majority, not just the elites

©Ingram Pinn

An Indian economist, has written to me that India’s recent election is “the most momentous election in world history”. I disagree: the elections of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt were more significant.

But the idea is not absurd. India’s population is 1.27 billion. Soon it will overtake China as the most populous country. If the election of Narendra Modi were to transform India, it would transform the world.

It is already possible to identify at least three ways in which the Indian election is remarkable.

FirstIndia has shown yet again the signal virtue of democracy: the peaceful transfer of legitimate power. That this is possible in such a vast, diverse and poor country is an inspiring political achievement.

Second, Indians have rejected the dynastic politics of the Congress party, which, alas, brought to a sad end the distinguished public service of Manmohan Singh, a man I have known and admired for four decades. The most important Congress-led government since the days of Jawaharlal Nehru was that of Narasimha Rao in the early 1990s, under whom Mr Singh served as reforming finance minister. If Mr Modi succeeds, it will be because he builds on that foundation. Congress still has the best chance of being the strong secular party India needs, but only if it liberates itself from its dependence on the Gandhi family.

ThirdMr Modi truly is a self-made man. Even though his party won just 31 per cent of the vote, he has gained an overwhelming majority in the lower house. He has done so by promising to spread the perceived successes of Gujarat to the rest of the country. There is debate in India over whether Gujarat is the model it is alleged to be. Yet that is not the main point. What matters more is that Indians have chosen a man who promises to improve their lives. He is not chosen for his origins. That is testimony to India’s transformation over the past quarter of a century.

The outgoing government is condemned as a failure. Yet, as Shankar Acharya, former chief economic adviser to the Indian government in the 1990s, points out, “economic growth has averaged 7.5 per cent a year, the fastest in any decade in Indian history. This rapid growth in gross domestic product has raised average income . . . by nearly 75 per cent in real, inflation-adjusted rupees.” This sounds good. But, he adds, it also hides the truth.

Growth slowed sharply over the past three years “because of the cumulation of bad economic policies”, while consumer price inflation has risen to between 9 and 11 per cent over the past five years. At the same time, Mr Acharya says, the government’s policies became steadily worse. He points to exorbitant spending on subsidies for oil, food and fertilisers, wasteful entitlement programmes, exorbitant pay settlements and huge fiscal deficits. Other failures include the refusal to lift disincentives to employment, crony capitalism, capricious regulation, retrospective taxation, excessive jumps in food procurement prices and corruption.

Mr Acharya argues that all this has contributed to a daunting legacy: a failure to create jobs for the 10 million young people entering the job market each year; stagnation in manufacturing; inadequate infrastructure; huge overhangs of incomplete projects; vulnerability of agriculture due to water stress; badly run entitlement programmes; the weakening of the country’s external finances; and further deterioration in the quality of governance itself.

Mr Acharya is a sober analyst of Indian economic realities, who worked closely with Mr Singh in the 1990s. His damning assessment is persuasive. Yet India can surely do better. The latest estimates suggest that GDP per head is just a tenth that of the US, and half that of China. It must be possible for this country to catch up even faster.

Mr Modi has above all been elected to accelerate development. But if one recalls the failure of his Bharatiya Janata party’s “India shining” campaign of a decade ago, he must do so in ways seen to benefit the vast majority of the population, not just its elites.

It is not clear whether Mr Modi can rise to such big challenges in this vast and complex country. His motto – “less government and more governance” – has caught the public mood. Yet it is not clear what this will mean in practice.

An analysis by JPMorgan suggests that in fact “there is a remarkable convergence of broad economic thinking” between the two main parties. The difference, if so, might be more in implementation, an area Mr Modi’s supporters also stress. This suggests that the goods and services tax (a national value added tax) might be put into effect, investment projects might be accelerated, energy prices might be liberalised, shares in public enterprises might be sold – albeit without full privatisation – and fiscal consolidation might be accelerated.

This would be to the good, but probably not enough to bring about the needed acceleration of growth and jobs generation. Vital further reforms would be in employment regulation, education and infrastructure, with a view to making India a base for labour-intensive manufacturing. With Chinese wages rising, this is a plausible ambition. Improvement in the administration of law is crucial. Agriculture needs big advances, including a more modern supply chain. The states need to be forced to compete with one another for people, capital and technology.

This election might prove to be a big step towards the economic modernisation of India that was relaunched in 1991. But this round of reforms will also be far harder than those were. It is not now just a matter of pulling the state out of the way. It is more about making the government an effective and honest servant of the Indian people. This challenge is possibly an order of magnitude more daunting than those Mr Modi once overcame in Gujarat.

Mr Modi remains an enigma. He is a man of action, a nationalist and a committed member of the Hindutva movement. It is hard to believe he would match Mr Singh’s emollient reaction to Pakistan’s promotion of terrorism. It is impossible to know what he might mean for India’s communal relations. Nobody knows either how far he feels obliged to the business people who funded his campaign. But one thing is sure: India has a new game. Pay attention.

 

Read more: http://www.terminalx.org/2010/12/threat-of-hindu-saffron-terror-to-india.html#ixzz32xITqUqU

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