Sunday, September 14, 2008

Here we go again

Serial Bomb blasts rocked the Indian capital taking 21 lives and leaving scores of others injured.
The ineptitude of the administration is borne out the fact that this blast follows close on the heels of similar blasts in Bangalore,Jaipur and Ahmadabad. If you go back further in fact no convictions have been obtained in blasts that happened in 2005.
So while the United States has found to its detriment, that invading nations under the guise of pre-emptive action or the Bush doctrine has serious drawbacks, one thing they can say in their defence is that there has not been a single attack on US soil since 9/11.
Not for a minute am I advocating the need for military action against some of India's neighbors who have no doubt harbored elements behind these blasts. However one has to point out the typical Indian response of condemning the blasts, pleading for communal peace, and breathing a sigh of relief when no riots take place, is not going to put an end to these blasts.
India's current woes have many reasons and I don't know that I'll have a chance to touch on all of them , so I'll list them as I go along.

Treatment of minorities:
One of the sad repercussions of the manner in which our independence was accompanied by a most bloody and brutal partition, is that there is a certain hostility towards minorities within sections of Indian society. That hostility has only sharpened in the recent past with the the rise of Islamic terror the world over.
Sure Hinduism preaches tolerance, but somewhere in the past 60 years relations between the two major communities has frayed. This has not been adequately acknowledged so the chances that this situation would be remedied anytime soon are remote.
Economically Muslims are relatively disadvantaged by a large portion of the population not having access to a modern education system. And the ones who have had educational opportunities have no doubt faced a subtle and sometimes not so subtle discrimination in the job market.
Recently I read an article of how certain housing societies discriminate against Muslim tenants and owners. For the life of me I can't understand how that would be legal or permissible. We aren't talking about some back room practice, but a widely prevalent practice.
We complain of ghettoisation while ignoring the causes.
None of the state police forces have adequate representation of the Muslim community, which makes intelligence gathering difficult.
The community often perceives the state as being partisan in going against its interests as it saw in Gujarat 2002.
Such issues cannot be solved by police alone. Reservations , I don't think will have the desired affect either. A more concerted effort to work towards integrating The Muslim community into the main stream is needed. More money has to to be spent on education in areas where Muslims reside. Laws that protect against discrimination in housing, education and employment must be invoked and enforced. Laws currently protect Scheduled Castes and Dalits from insults, slurs and atrocities in general. Such protections should be extended to the Muslim community.
So will all this fix the issue?
No , since the animosity amongst the majority community against the minority community has its origins in the way the community has been handled by the administration in general.
Uniform Civil Code , can't be forced down people's throats, however laws which are imposed in modern moderate Islamic Republics such as Indonesia should be fair game for us. There is no excuse for our personal laws being more regressive than an Islamic nation , when we are a "Secular" nation.
Subsidies for pilgrimages of any and all kind should be withdrawn.
Now all this can only be achieved in partnership with an enlightened Muslim leadership which actually believes that these steps are indeed directed towards the betterment of their community.
The message has to be sent out to the right wing loonies, that no re-jig of the partition is possible. Close to 15% of India's population is Muslim and there is no way they can alter that reality. So the only way in which we can move forward as a nation is together. Leaving behind such a huge chunk of our population is neither conscionable nor wise.

A demoralized police force and an overwhelmed judicary
The backlog of cases in Indian courts is stuff of legend. The police in most parts is feared but not respected. The quality and training of Police forces in India vary from state to state. However the mediocrity is frighteningly consistent.
Being a policeman in India usually means you are overworked and underpaid and defintely under-trained. Politcial interference means that the few in the force who are both capable and honest have very little scope for advancement.
Just recently Israeli Police interrogated their Prime Minister on bribery charges. Would this have ever been possible in India.
Most people go about their day today lives praying that they wont have to encounter the police or the legal system in any way, shape or form.
I just finished reading a book which basically applies the broken windows theory, to explain how crime in New York suddenly dropped off in the 90's.
So though you can argue(quite effectively) that the broken windows theory can't be applied to the bizzare logic of islamic terorism, surely there are things on this front that need fixing which will allow us to respond to law and order threats affectively?

Need to foster a give and take relationship with our neighbors
Like it or not India is viewed as a bully in the neighborhood.
And often enough its the small things that make a difference. I am not advocating the Gujral doctrine of buying love from the neighbors, but surely there are certain issues on which we can give without losing much.

I don't expect that Anyone of consequence is going to read this and sit up and take notice.
So dear reader its incumbent on you to pass on the good word, till it reaches the ears of those who matter.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

How can you say muslims aren't given enough importance? Did you forget that the president of India is a muslim himself?
And! India is not a bully! When have we ever gone to war unprovoked???
I have enjoyed reading your blogs for sometime now. But this one just doesn't make sense.

Pradyot Dhulipala said...

I really appreciate that some one out there has been reading what I have to say.So thanks , I am flattered.
Now for your comment.
I merely stated a fact. In our neighborhood, the perception of us is as a bully. And to be honest when you are the pre-eminent power in your neighborhood, being viewed as a bully is an occupational hazard.
I don't believe I have used the words "Muslims have not been given adequate importance". My point is that the relations between the communities is not as sound as it should be.
I beleive that you might be inclined to agree if you have spent time in India.
Not to nit pick but the President is a largely ceremonial post, and an Indian being made the President of India did'nt help the community as a whole.
Also the current President of India isn't muslim.I'd be happy to expand on what I have written, if you still disagree.

Anonymous said...

I do disagree. We are a pre eminent country among our neighbors not just coz of natural resources or our intelligent hardworking people, its also coz our country propogates socialism, secularism etc. Do you really think Pakistan would allow hindus as much freedom in their country as india does for them? That being said i'm not a racist, i have muslim friends as well.

The only way the relations between the communities would improve was if the kashmir issue was resolved which probably never will. I believe if the govt of both countries show goodwill towards one another then the goodwill among people would be mutual but some of the measures taken by our govt towards this goal has been thwarted by the other country. How then will there be mutual trust among people? Its not just in a relationship, even in a community trust is the key source that binds people together and thats missing both in political as well as personal relationships here.

FYI, I haev lived in India for 21 years. I flew off the handle after reading your post so yes the former president of india was muslim not the current.
Watch the movie Aamir, its good.

Pradyot Dhulipala said...

Again I really appreciate that you care enough to check back and leave a comment.
It would be great to know who you are, since you already know who I am. If you choose , you can mail me at pradyot_s@yahoo.com.
Now back to you comment.
I asked or rather suggested that you would probably agree that the relationship between hindus and muslims in India is not as sound as it should be.
So when you say you disagree I assume you think all is hunky dory and you really believe in Hindu-Muslim bhai bhai.
Why should the relationship between hindus and muslims in India at large be held hostage to our troubles in Kashmir?
Also say that India is the pe-eminent power in our neighborhood because of seularism/socialism is akin to saying China is the pre-eminent power in its domain because of its communism infused with capitalism or that America is a pre-emeinent power because of democracy/capitalism etc.
Also except in textbooks, socialism is as dead as Nehru.
Pakistan is teetering on the brink of being a failed state, and comparing India to Pakistan does not do justice to India.
We were founded as a secular democratic republic, so we se should aspire to that ideal. And not only because its a noble ideal, but also its the best we can aspire for in a practical sense.
It is a huge mistake to subject relations between hindus and muslims in India , to India's relationship with Pakistan.
Yes Pakistan and India's relationhip will be determined by the intractable Kashmir issue.
But I ask you again, why should either of those issues affect the way India treats its minorities.
I am not sure how well you know me, but I can assure you I am no Arundhati Roy or Praful Bidwai who never cease to amaze me with there level of hostility to India.
But I do believe in caling a spade a spade.