Narendra Modi’s own goal
None of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “bold moves” has actually achieved anything, other than cause both short-term and long-term damage to India’s social cohesion, economic progress and political stability. But such is the Hindutva-inspired euphoria that people are applauding nonetheless.
(Published in the Daily Times, 18 October 2019)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hundreds of millions of Hindu followers are rejoicing over the subjugation of the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir. But soon they will wake up to a grave new reality – a deeply fractured Indian society and polity.
Every Muslim Kashmiri, down to the last man and woman, now feels stabbed in the back by India. This includes even those who held the highest political offices in the state and who had kept faith with India even when a majority of their people had lost it decades ago. Kashmir is now a self-inflicted wound that will fester for a long time and may never heal.
With leaders like Modi and Amit Shah, the “Hindu generals who conquered Muslim Kashmir”, India needs no enemies. They have scored a pyrrhic victory at best. Its negative ramifications will spread far and deep in the diverse and multi-ethnic, multi-religious country that is India.
The Modi-Shah duo has gone after Kashmir and Muslims first. Many minorities – religious, sectarian, ethnic and caste – will now ask, “who is next”?
The Great Leader has scored an own goal against his people and country. The Kashmir assault is actually Modi’s second own goal. His first was the ill-conceived and harsh demonetization of all high denomination rupee banknotes. It caused a huge loss of productivity, not to mention human suffering. All pain, no gain!
Then came the dramatic, but reckless and futile, so-called surgical strikes against Pakistan. To his admirers, demonetisation, the “surgical strikes” and now the Kashmir “victory” together show their Hindu leader’s boldness and decisiveness, compared to his predecessors’ timidity and dithering.
None of these “bold moves” has actually achieved anything, other than cause both short-term and long-term damage to India’s social cohesion, economic progress and political stability. But such is the Hindutva-inspired euphoria that people are applauding nonetheless. They regard any obvious hardship and tribulation caused by these moves as necessary sacrifices for India’s march to great glory under Modi.
Modi had gained both fame and infamy for himself with the so-called Gujrat Model, which he fashioned as the state’s chief minister for over a decade. This model meant different things to different people.
For most Indians, the Gujrat Model meant economic development, jobs and poverty alleviation. For many, it meant the restoration of India’s Hindu pride and its rightful place in the comity of nations. And to the Hindu fanatics, chief minister Modi had demonstrated his capacity to teach the Muslims of Gujrat a lesson. As prime minister he would show all Indian Muslims (including Kashmiris) their rightful place as second class citizens in India.
But a few years as prime minister in New Delhi taught Modi that India is not Gujrat. It is a lot harder to successfully manage a large economy in a huge, diverse country than it is to consolidate power through gimmicks, chicanery and fear mongering.
So, from jobs and the “make in India” motto, he shifted focus to Pakistan and, by implication, to the Muslims of India. People with dubious loyalty to Mother India were everywhere and they had to be ferreted out. If Modi chose his words carefully, home minister Amit Shah and some other ministers and chief ministers did not mince words.
It is a sad irony that those Muslims who chose to remain in India despite partition and the Kashmiris who, however controversially, had decided to accede to India at partition, are the ones who are now being punished for the perceived sin of partition.
For his second term, Modi transformed himself from the promised economic miracle man to his country’s resolute “chowkidar”, its gate-keeper. It was as if the enemy was at the gates and only he could thwart this grave national threat. That external threat was Pakistan, but there was also a fifth column internally. It is the Muslims, from Kashmir in the west to Assam in the east, thundered his able assistant Amit Shah.
For a start, Kashmir’s special, autonomous status guaranteed by Article 370, which is an affront to India, had to be annulled. Kashmir headed the list of the country’s many “pampered” minorities which had to be put in their place.
Modi’s Kashmir gambit is his boldest and finest stroke, or so his admirers think. In one fell swoop, their Hindu Leader has greatly avenged centuries of “Islamic” victories over a weak Hindu nation. A few articles of the Indian constitution and a couple of months of curfew and communication blockade in Kashmir are like road-kill on the drive to India’s greater glory.
Modi abruptly and secretively bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir, a State with a special status, and demoted it to the lower position of a Union Territory, without any reference whatsoever to the will of the Kashmiri people or the state legislature. In so doing, he has torn to shreds each and every agreement whereby Kashmir has been a State within the Republic of India for the last seven decades.
What next? In the name of economic development, the Modi government will alter the demographic ground reality of the Kashmir valley. Indian entrepreneurs will overwhelm the valley with investment. And mostly Hindu workers from the rest of India will follow in its wake, flooding the valley by their sheer numbers. This will be an Indian adaptation of the West Bank settler model perfected in Israel by Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing administration.
If Modi succeeds in his plan, the Kashmir which Kashmiris, Indians, the United Nations and the world know, will be no more. Given the wider and deeper consequences of this unfolding Hindu crusade in what is perhaps the most profoundly diverse country in the world, Modi’s own goal may prove decisive not for, but against India.
The Hindu fedayeen of the Sangh Parivar and the legions of Hindu nationalists and Hindutva patriots may be rejoicing too early. It is their critics who may have the last laugh.
by Razi Azmi
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Razi Azmi has very ably presented the stark reality in this very well researched article of his. One has to agree with the title he has chosen. For the well being of the minorities in both India and Pakistan let’s all pray to the Almighty that things don’t get any worse than what they are now.
Modi has directly attacked and undermined India’s secularistic credentials, which made it stand out in the region and beyond. India as a “Hindu Pakistan” will be as unstable and morally delegitimised as its Muslim neighbour. Modi’s actions have ended up bringing India down to the level of Pakistan and this irony is yet to sink in. It is becoming untenable to defend and support India for a person who has staunchly admired India for its inclusiveness, pluralism, democracy and secularism.
Beautiful article, very well written taking all aspects of the Kashmir issue. Modi and his fanatic associates have in fact demolished the very foundation of the great secular India and have done incalculable damage to the social fabric and Integrity of India.
Quite persuasive and timely.
Well articulated and best concluded article. For almost a decade, I have been telling my circle of friends that India is doing exactly what Pakistan was doing two decades back and going to suffer the same way as Pakistan did. The reason was only because Pakistan followed instructions from outside the country, which India adopted slowly after moving away from the Russian block. This happened only because morally ill people got hold of politics. No one has the ability to lead, they only can follow instructions as they are weak themselves.
You have written a very good article on Modi’s Hindutva thinking. In my opinion you should circulate in a media where more people can read it. Demonetization, surgical strike, article 370 in Kashmir and diverting attention of followers towards Pakistan are not going to achieve for India or its economy. I hope people (followers) wake up and put some resistance against Modi-Shah duo and their policies and save India from spoilage.
The only justifiable reason for condemning India’s recent action about the status of Kashmir is the breach of UN brokered commitment for plebiscite in Kashmir seven decades ago. However, it is also a fact that seeds of what has been harvested today was sown immediately after 1947 partition, and irrigated throughout the decades. The leaders of both India and Pakistan are to be blamed for that. The people in both countries cannot also absolve themselves for supporting jingoism and militant nationalistic euphoria their leaders wanted them to support. it’s no point arguing who did the wrong thing first – Pakistan or India – that’s a chicken or egg question – and a fair verdict on this is almost impossible. Had Pakistan not interfered militarily and covertly for decades, Kashmiris would not have ended up in today’s situation and could possibly remain “a State within the Republic of India” – as you mentioned. If you agree on this, then who is to be blamed mostly? Undoubtedly Pakistan. Pakistan’s performance as a state in every sphere – domestic, neighbourly relations and international – has been a miserable failure. It better oil its own machine and not try to be the saviour of other Muslims – be it next door or elsewhere.
You wrote about “Hindutva-inspired euphoria that people are applauding nonetheless.” BJP/Modi’s Hindutva is the highest form of militant communal nationalism and is actually fascism and needs to be condemned. However, its counterpart – Muslim-supremacist ideology, including its byproduct pan-Islamism – that Pakistan has always been implementing since 1947 is nothing different. What surprises me is majority of Muslims in the subcontinent are shocked by Hindutva but fails to call spade-a-spade and condemn Pakistan’ s identical policy in perpetuity. Has Pakistan as a state ever treated its religious minorities in a different or fairer way? Has Pakistan even treated its Muslim population belonging to other ethnic groups who are not Punjabis or North Indian origin ruling migrant elites, in a fair way. How did Pakistan treat for 24 years its own majority Muslim population group – the Bengalees? Did not Pakistan brutally colonialise them? So, why shed crocodile tears now for Kashmiris?
I do not find any reason to believe that Kashmiris will be better off by being part of Pakistan or even becoming a protectorate of Pakistan. For the last 70 years, Kashmir has been a protectorate of India, similar to Azad Kashmir – a protectorate of Pakistan. Geopolitically, given the current circumstances, I don’t think it is a realistic idea for Kashmir to become an independent state sandwiched between India and Pakistan. The annexation of Kashmir by India may not be a preferred solution to the Kashmir issue but may well prove to be a cure to the malignant situation in Kashmir created by both Pakistan and India.
You wrote: ” It is a sad irony that those Muslims who chose to remain in India despite partition and the Kashmiris who, however controversially, had decided to accede to India at partition, are the ones who are now being punished for the perceived sin of partition.” It’s not clear to me what you meant here by the “perceived sin of partition.” The partition of India a “perceived” sin? No sin had been actually committed? Who committed that sin? Not the British and their stooges – Gandhi- Nehru-Patel and Jinnah-Liaquat?
You concluded: “The Hindu fedayeen of the Sangh Parivar and the legions of Hindu nationalists and Hindutva patriots may be rejoicing too early. It is their critics who may have the last laugh”. I agree with the first sentence. Yes, BJP fascists are rejoicing. Not sure whether it’s too early or timely though. But to conclude: “It is their critics who may have the last laugh” – seems a bit premature though ( However, I acknowledge you said ‘may have’, meaning only a possibility.
A short reply to Sayed’s very informed and detailed comments, though they merit a long and comprehensive reply. I agree with much of what he has said. What I find absent from his comments is any reference to the reign of terror unleashed on the Kashmiri people concurrently with the bifurcation of the State and its demotion to the status of a Union Territory. This is not just a technical issue, but a fundamental issue of human rights, the rights of Kashmiri people guaranteed not just in the Indian constitution but in many other agreements and pacts, unilateral, bilateral and multilateral.