To a large number of Indians who want to see the country emerge as a “tough nation”, Israel is a ready role model. This is a country that has survived in the teeth of constant hostility, winning several wars against a united Arab force; and, as the legend goes, never gives in to hostage-takers, kidnappers and those who try and use ‘terror’ as a tool to marginalise it. Added to all this are accounts of its commando rescue operations in bestsellers like 90 minutes in Entebbe and incidents like that in Srinagar in June 1991, where five of six Israeli tourists escaped after managing to overpower their Kashmiri captors. Such events have bolstered its macho image and deepened Indians’ admiration.
But Israel’s popular image differs from its perceptions in Indian strategic and political thinking. The picture is a little more nuanced at the political level—especially between New Delhi and Tel Aviv. It is not without significance that despite Jewish insistence, India continues to describe the capital or political centre of Israel as Tel Aviv and not Jerusalem. However, at the same time, it is no coincidence either that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s private secretary, Sanjeev Shringla, has come to the PMO from India’s mission in Israel, while his predecessor Manmohan Singh’s private secretary, Joydeep Sarkar, was rewarded with the ambassadorship to Israel. Though few would publicise it, those in the political establishment here are well aware of Israel’s growing importance in India’s scheme of things.
“There is now bipartisan support in India for improving and deepening our ties with Israel without diluting our support for Palestine,” says former foreign secretary Lalit Mansingh.
However, this stand took several years to evolve, because Mahatma Gandhi’s 1939 statement, “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense as England belongs to the English and France to the French,” remained the guiding principle both for the Congress as well as independent India. India’s recognition of Israel, which came into being in 1948, came only in 1950. But for more than four decades there was no diplomatic relations. Though this did not prevent various Indian governments from seeking, and getting, Israeli military help during the wars that India faced since 1962, such cooperation was always done away from the public glare.
It was only in January 29, 1992, that PM P.V. Narasimha Rao announced India’s decision to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel. Though this came as a surprise to most Indians, an indication came the month before, when in December 1991 India for the first time voted in favour of a UN resolution which called for the recognition of the Jewish state. The changed international environment that came about at the end of the Cold War and a split in the Arab world in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait allowed Rao the opportunity to bring about this major change in India’s foreign policy.
There have been many occasions in the past where India has differed publicly with Israel, adopting a traditional, pro-Palestinian position.
However, questions are now being raised whether under the Narendra Modi government India would follow a more pronounced, and public, pro-Israeli stance. Apprehensions expressed by various political parties following the ruling party’s attempt to prevent a debate on Israel’s military campaign on Gaza, fearing parliamentary criticism of Israel, has somewhat died down with India’s vote (against Israel) at the UN Human Rights Commission yesterday. Mansingh feels this stand is not going to change any time soon.
But public demonstrations in support for Israeli action on Gaza by pro-Hindutva groups in New Delhi and elsewhere indicates the emergence of a new force openly proud of its admiration for Israel. Is it then just a matter of time before the new political dispensation in New Delhi also tears its veil and comes out in open support of Israel and its military solutions to deal with the Palestinians?
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
If Sonia's Congress were to be in power at Delhi,even the IS(Islamic State) of Syria and Iraq would have been recognised by this time.Afterall Muslim votes are more important than anything else for her.Can one forget Mahatma Gandhi's deep anguish when Caliphate was abolished in 1919?His attitude encouraged the fanatical Mopla Muslims of Malabar to indulge in mass murder of unconnected Hindus there.Only because Narendra Modi government is there in Delhi Hindus are being spared of being killed by the Islamists of India when Gaza is getting bombed by Israel and the IS is having a slow growth.
'' But public demonstrations in support for Israeli action on Gaza by pro-Hindutva groups in New Delhi and elsewhere indicates the emergence of a new force openly proud of its admiration for Israel. Is it then just a matter of time before the new political dispensation in New Delhi also tears its veil and comes out in open support of Israel and its military solutions to deal with the Palestinians?'' Indian , English speaking middle class, with deeper wallet, will support Israel. It is the new face of emerging India, an India which will never compromise its territory, and never will give in to terrorist blackmail. An India, who understands the world politics, and asserts its strength and demands its rightful position in the high table. It is very silly and childish on the part of the author to brand them as hindutva brigade. It sounds like a congi leaflet. It is not going to work. The next election is in 2024 (Modi will run at least ten years).
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