POSTED BY K.V. Bapa Rao ON Mar 22, 2013 AT 14:47 IST ,  Edited At: Mar 22, 2013 14:47 IST

Here comes Markandey Katju, again, this time demanding that Sanjay Dutt, convicted by the Supreme Court in an arms charge related to the merciless terrorist slaughter of hundreds of Mumbaikars, be let off by the government. Here is the full, unedited text of his letter to the Governor of Maharashtra: 'Pardon Sanjay Dutt And Set Him Free'

According to Katju, here are the extenuating circumstances that justify his demand for impunity for Sanjay Dutt:

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POSTED BY K.V. Bapa Rao ON Mar 22, 2013 AT 14:47 IST, Edited At: Mar 22, 2013 14:47 IST
POSTED BY K.V. Bapa Rao ON Apr 30, 2010 AT 13:52 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 30, 2010 13:52 IST

In a public appeal, carried by this website, a number of individuals have come together ostensibly to protect Famous Person Arundhati Roy from being arrested by Chattisgarh police, who it is said, are readying a jail cell for the lady, allegedly for the crime of  writing, at length, in praise of the Maoist enemies of India. On its meandering way to the point, the appeal gushes for a while about the various virtues oozing out of Ms. Roy's now-famous paean  to the people's pistol-packing pol-potist potentates, including honesty, sensitivity, and, astonishingly, being more or less India's secret weapon in the war against the Maoists. Here is an excerpt:

It is a detailed, sensitive and honest account of their history, their motivations, their thinking and their methods. Precisely because the account provides the perspective of the Maoists, it is a very valuable account, one that the people of the country need to hear. It is after all a phenomenon which has been described as the most serious security threat to the country. It is important for the people of the country to be as well informed as possible about the phenomenon of Maoism and how it has arisen so that a properly informed decision can be taken about how to deal with its challenges. In our view, the authorities on their own should have elicited inputs on the Maoist activity across the States, from as many diverse sources as possible and formulated its strategy to deal with the problem in a holistic and sensitive manner, essentially keeping the interests of the tribal central to such a strategy. Arundhati Roy's inputs need to be viewed in this context.

Here is the full article.

The problem with appealing to the presumed high utility and righteousness of Ms. Roy's article to save her from a possible lifetime of penal servitude under the tender tutelage of the Chattisgarh constabulary (who, all the right kind of people seem to agree, are unspeakable savages to a man, perhaps barely even human) is that its logic condemns our heroine to the very fate from which it strains so hard to save her. 

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POSTED BY K.V. Bapa Rao ON Apr 30, 2010 AT 13:52 IST, Edited At: Apr 30, 2010 13:52 IST
POSTED BY K.V. Bapa Rao ON Dec 07, 2009 AT 01:56 IST ,  Edited At: Dec 07, 2009 01:56 IST

Author Pankaj Mishra makes it seem in an article that appeared in the New York Times  of November 28th, 2009, that, in mainstream India, outside the excitable and--according to him--right-wing news media, there has been little resonance with the commemoration of the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai. Mishra says said media have been attempting, without much success, to resort to an analogy with the attacks on America on September 11, 2001, in order to whip up an exaggeraged mass emotional hysteria directed against Pakistan, where he says the attacks were "partly" planned and financed. He notes that these right-wingers remain enraged and frustrated because Pakistan has boxed India into a corner where there are no aggressive options for the latter. The reason 26/11 has not resonated with mainstream India, says Mishra, is that Indians are too fatalistic and preoccupied with various ongoing crises. Mishra registers his disapproval of America's response to the September 11 attacks, and expresses his relief that, mainstream India's indifference to 26/11 would prevent India from responding to assured future major attacks from Pakistan in America's manner, that is to say, driven by arrogance and hubris.

The full article is here.

Going by Mishra's article, the only way to understand Indian emotions flowing from the attacks is to see the emotions as a phony product of a vast conspiracy of rich right-wing urban twits. In sharp, Sarah Palinesque  contradistinction to this group, Mishra sets up the real India, which is (of course) fatalistic, lives in villages, and doesn't give a damn about the attacks on Mumbai. He doesn't mention them, but presumably the left wing, of the rich and  twitty as well as the other kind, is also a part of this real India. Does this mean that Indians espousing left-wing politics are barred from expressing honest grief and outrage at the attacks on their country? Mishra doesn't say.

About the only support Mishra presents for his assertions regarding his putative real Indians' feelings about the attacks on their country is his use of the "fatalism" codeword, an implicit allusion to a vast and persistent body of Orientalistic  writings and prejudice about the passive and fatalistic Indian. Certainly logic and internal consistency are not Mishra's friends here: Rural Indians could well have chosen to ignore the attacks (assuming that this is demonstrably the case)  or even cheer the attack, but their choice would not necessarily be an account of their fatalism, which is doubtful in point of fact. As Mishra himself says in the article, many of those Indians are busy coping with their personal crises or  engaging in Maoist insurgencies or even suicide--none of these behaviours is fatalistic or passive, suicide least of all.

Mishra's message is that this questionable Indian fatalism has prevailed over an overwrought right wing to save India from the latter's hankering to emulate America's response to 9/11, which Mishra labels with the twin epithets of arrogance and hubris. These are two terms that hearken more to timeworn anti-American liturgy than imagination, let alone fact.  Mishra, aside from the Pakistani leadership, the Taliban, and understandably Afghan civilians, is likely one of the few who thinks America and NATO's UN-approved 2001 effort to dethrone the odious Taliban in Afghanistan was morally wrong. The Taliban did, demonstrably, have a major role in the 9/11 slaughter in Manhattan, Washington and in the skies over Pennsylvania. The 2003 attack on Iraq was, of course, the universally-deplored war, and also hardly controversial, but in an opposite sense. The two are not to be conflated, as Mishra does.

The deeper, moral problem here is that in Mishra's world, a country responding to an attack to the limits of its ability is arrogant and hubristic, whereas, the country launching the attack deserves the benefit of every doubt, real or made up. Thus, to Mishra, the Mumbai attacks were "partly planned and financed" in Pakistan, with the remainder of the planners and financiers no doubt ensconsed in the land of perennial mystery that also harbours the real assassins of John F. Kennedy. (While we are at it, why not also magnanimously concede that the British were "partly responsible" for Jalianwala Bagh?)  And, while he doesn't say it outright in the flagship newspaper of the city that is about to re-experience its 9/11 trauma with the upcoming trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Pakistani architect of the 9//11 attacks, Mishra's exclusive focus on the orchestrated aspects of the 26/11 commemoration, their alleged "right-wing" associations, and the efforts to link the attacks to America's 9/11 experience, suggests that  that America's response to 9/11, including the mass emotional outpouring of its people, was somehow phony and disreputable. Certainly, Mishra's cheap if unoriginal gibe at the erstwhile War on Terror as a "war ... on abstract noun[s]" telegraphs his withering contempt for the American people's heartfelt outrage and their government's robust if ruthless steps that have kept Americans from experiencing any further direct attacks since 2001.

Mishra himself recognizes that Indians, by contrast, are virtually guaranteed to be the victims of further major attacks from a Pakistan. Now that is a country which remains unrepentant and determined to harm India in relentless pursuit of what its thought-leaders see as the righteous cause of supremacism. In view of this, Mishra's own determination to tag India, rather than Pakistan, with arrogance and hubris represents a perverse inversion.

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POSTED BY K.V. Bapa Rao ON Dec 07, 2009 AT 01:56 IST, Edited At: Dec 07, 2009 01:56 IST
POSTED BY K.V. Bapa Rao ON Nov 05, 2009 AT 00:01 IST ,  Edited At: Nov 05, 2009 00:01 IST

Outlook carried an article by Pakistani author Khurram Hussain, To Understand Pakistan, 1947 Is The Wrong Lens purporting to tell Indians something about Pakistan that he thinks Indians don't know.

Here is a quote:

"But again, no one in India accounts for 1971 when making such grand universalising (and, if I may add, genuinely noble) plans for the future of the region. Pakistani intellectual elites share with their Indian counterparts the normative horror of what the West Pakistani military did in the East. How can anyone in their right mind not deem such behaviour beyond the pale? But horror does not preclude abiding distaste for the Indian state's wilful opportunism in breaking Pakistan apart. It is for this reason that while the intellectual classes in Pakistan, especially the English language press and prominent university scholars, have almost always condemned their state's involvement in terrorist activity inside India proper, they have remained largely quiet concerning Kashmir. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Kashmir does not seem so different to them than East Pakistan."

Here's the full article.

1971 is indeed the right measure with which to understand Pakistan, but not in the way the author paints it. Khurram Husain's token pieties about "such behavior" (can he come up with even less judgmental terms, maybe?) notwithstanding, this kind of bogus moral equation between Kashmir and Pakistan's 1971 genocide sums up the problem that is Pakistan,  more clearly than any sophistry by that country's intellectuals. "Moral bankruptcy" is not too strong an expression to describe their continuing indifference to the realities of what their country did in 1971.

As for Pakistani concerns about India's plotting against them, even pretending for a moment that there is actually something to that,  they still fail to consider that it would  make perfect sense for India to take firm and assertive action in Kashmir and elsewhere to forestall and roll back any additional expansion by a military power that represents a monstrous culture and a mindset that (a) slaughters and rapes a mind-boggling number of its own citizens because they were not proper Muslims, or short, dark and lungi-wearing instead of tall, fair & salwar-wearing--these were the Pakistanis' actual stated moral justifications in those less artful times--and (b) seems perfectly content to remain what they have shown themselves to be, by virtue of (a). I mean, they don't exactly say that they are proud of what they did in 1971, but as a culture and a nation, they don't seem all that ashamed of it, either, in the way that the Germans learned to be ashamed of their Nazi doings. (And yes, that's a perfectly fair analogy, if anything a bit unfair to the Nazis who took about a decade to exterminate 7 million or so, while the Pakistanis took less than 6 months to kill upwards of a million. And mass rape wasn't part of the Nazi agenda, albeit for their own sick reasons.)

This article is a perfect example of what is really wrong with what is sadly, an example of perhaps the best and most thoughtful brains that Pakistan has to offer--they can't, or won't, come to terms with the fact that there is something wrong with being focused on their loss to what they consider an inferior "Hindu" India, all the while having no interest to speak of in examining what it is about their civilizational mindset that makes it all right for them to blithely gloss over one of the most sickening crimes against humanity their country committed in 1971.

Most Indians, and certainly those that were alive in 1971, understand this instinctively (and this understanding is not just conveniently confined to the Indian "state" either but extends to the people), but are generally too polite or otherwise inhibited to say it out loud. That reticence probably accounts for what I'll charitably call this author's confusion. Others might see it as classic Pakistani sophistry that is meant to manipulate a generation of young Indians who might be unfamiliar with the historical and human realities of what happened in 1971.

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POSTED BY K.V. Bapa Rao ON Nov 05, 2009 AT 00:01 IST, Edited At: Nov 05, 2009 00:01 IST
POSTED BY K.V. Bapa Rao ON Oct 02, 2009 AT 23:36 IST ,  Edited At: Oct 09, 2009 18:31 IST

It is Gandhi Jayanti and I am thinking about a man who, in 1922, at the height of apparent political success, called off the largely peaceful Non-cooperation Movement because of a single incident at Chauri Chaura in which a mob killed several policemen. His driving principle was that a righteous end can never be achieved by immoral means.

Kobad Ghandy, with a very similar sounding family name, is a man I had never heard of till he was arrested as a Naxalite and media web sites started ringing with paeans to his righteousness and charm, albeit with pro forma disclaimers as to his being "misguided" (there are fairly broad laws in India that make it a crime to aid and abet Naxalites, so perhaps the disclaimers were a wise precaution). Evidently this Kobad is an heir of plutocrats, a fellow whom it amused to play the revolutionary. You have perhaps seen the type in college, the rich guy under no pressure to get grades for a living, who endlessly spouts Marxist jargon, knowing all the while that he can always go into Daddy's business any time he wants. Apparently, our Kobad just took the game a step farther and actually became a Naxalite.

Now that may well be an overly unkind and harsh assessment of this individual whom I do not know, but I believe we are all shaped by our life experiences and background--what the Marxists call our class identity--to a greater extent than we would like to believe.

It is possible to understand and respect a man who is driven to fight for his and his family's survival as a last resort, because that is something any of us would instnctively do under similar circumstances. Most of us would probably like to come to the aid of such a person; however we don't go off and expropriate that man's fight and make it our own, firstly because we have lives of our own to live, and struggles to wage. But more fundamentally, there is something disrespectful and wrong in blithely waging a war on behalf of the poor--contrasted with assisting the poor--when one is far from poor oneself and is therefore in an inherently more powerful position. It reduces the original subject from an owner of his life and struggle to an object of some rich guy's fight. It makes no difference that the man may not have been free in the first place--the rich person is, in effect, replacing that man's previous master.

If Ghandy had risen from comparative poverty and earned his own wealth, we might say he has also earned the right to be a partner of the person who has no choice but to fight; but evidently Ghandy is a steretotypical Richie Rich  who was born to wealth, and chose to use the freedom his inherited riches bought him to carry out warfare against the state,  on behalf of the poor. Such a man must be presumed to be playing a romantic adventure game from his imagination, albeit a deadly one with people's lives.

When played by the rich, the object of this game is rotten at the core. It is highly doubtful that either Kobad Ghandy or many of his evidently privileged cohorts have much of an idea of the life of an average working stiff, worrying about bills, children's education, and so on. Yet people like Ghandy take it upon themselves to wage war against a lawful government elected by the same working stiffs, in the course of which they give themselves permission to rob and murder and terrorize at will. Their avowed ideology is not so much the empowerment of the working stiff as it is to set up their own privileged selves in the vanguard of an elite dictatorship over those working stiffs. When Naxalites and their sympathizers talk of "liberating" the working class, it actually means taking control of the lives of people constituting said class.

Here is an excerpt from an article by Jyoti Punwani that says more than any commentary about the nature of playboy-revolutionaries and their groupies. In an unabashedly uncritical and fawning article, Punwani has this to say:

"Kobad has been a foodie ever since I've known him. After a whole morning wrestling with Lenin's "Imperialism" at some open-air camp outside Mumbai, Kobad would start making lunch, insisting that we learn to wring the necks of chickens, else how would we stand the sight of blood when revolution actually came? This was as much part of our "toughening up" as the laborious hikes up the Western Ghats he took us on."

Isn't it nice to have a choice. Normal people eat what food they can, when they can get it, while the privileged get to be foodies. Actual labourers trudge up and down the Ghats, but Ghandy and his cohorts have time to take laborious hikes. That contrast aside, most people, even many soldiers who kill for a living, I imagine, would be disgusted at the sadism involved in gratuitiously wringing the neck of a chicken, just to get used to the idea of killing. Here is a moral tip for Punwani and Ghandy: People kill when they must, for food, or for self-defence--just ask young Rukhasana Kausar of Jammu who did what she had to do when terrorists attacked her family--but normal people who wish to retain their humanity would be concerned if they find themselves making a habit of killing. Certainly, they wouldn't go around deliberately cultivating the habit of causing hurt, systematically killing off the sense of empathy with life that is inherent in everyone. And normal people who witness such things--or perhaps engaged in them in their youth--don't recall them with gushing fondness.

If the viciousness and moral perversity related so approvingly by Punwani seems appalling, imagine a society run and controlled by people who engage in such actions by choice. People habituated to killing, and maybe even having learned to enjoy it to some extent, aren't going to simply switch off and become empathetic souls just after they come to power. The mass killings by Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot et al stand out as examples of this. A humane society requires leaders, and thought-leaders, who have retained consciences that are capable of apprehending  the impact of life-and-death decisions on the lives of real people.

Gandhi, unlike this Ghandy, was a man who delved deeply into questions of truth, violence, morality, and the health and sustainability of society. He made many tough and controversial decisions as a leader such as the one to call off Non-Cooperation. They made him very unpopular at the time, but in hindsight, his rigorous insistence on right means was the key to keeping a measure of peace, harmony and order in Indian society after all this time. To the extent he is remembered, he represents the nation's "still, small voice within."

So, let us take a moment from the lionization of Kobad Ghandy and remember Mohandas Gandhi, who insisted that "means are, after all, everything."

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POSTED BY K.V. Bapa Rao ON Oct 02, 2009 AT 23:36 IST, Edited At: Oct 09, 2009 18:31 IST
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