In the last 10 months
When the 2ndlook blog started, 10 months ago, the beginning was tentative – and I didn’t know where to start with. Too many threads and very little structure.
As the posts started etting written, the 2ndlook blog took a life of its own, and there has been progress. In the first months there were a 200 readers. These days, everyday, nearly 200 readers reach the blog.
Both these blogs appear in the Blogroll – so you can click and start reading.
As the name suggest is simple, quick snappy look at news, happenings, events, books – which may have an ‘in-built load’. The idea is to decode these in a pithy short manner. For more info and details, 2ndlook blog is the place.
As you know, the pope has kindly consented to consider PT Barnum for canonization. The papal college is expected to convene soon. The beatification process has started. I have been appointed as the devil’s advocate. So, if any of you know why PT Barnum should not cannonized, please get in touch with me!
I have already received enough information of the miracles that he brought about – and especially in the area of propaganda. It is proposed, that St.PT Barnum be declared as the Patron Saint of Propagandists.
Propaganda practitioners are elated at the prospect of having their own Saint – at long last.
The 2ndlook blog has been good till now – and all of you readers have made that experience a great one.
Kapil Sibal made a private visit to Mumbai to talk to a gathering of around 200 Muslims. It was an honest attempt to understand why Muslims are feeling so insecure, ignored and alienated. In the gathering were two maulanas. When it was their turn to speak, both broke down, cried like children and could not continue. On September 18, the Mumbai edition of only one national daily published a picture showing minister for minorities affairs A R Antulay crying, with Sibal and another Union minister, Ram Vilas Paswan, trying to console him. The caption did not say why the minister, a Muslim, was crying. Why do you think he was crying, liberal Indian? (Hey, you liberal-Subverse-Opinion-The Times of India).
While you are busy accusing the media of selective amnesia, there are 4 aspects of Indian system which you are either ignorant of or possibly you suffer from amnesia yourself! Either be specific as this article is, which shows cases where the system has failed - or if you are being general, some balance is essential.
- India has the lowest prison population in the world – bar none. At 250,000-350,00o for a population of 110 crores, it is remarkable achievement in crime management. Why not talk about this?
- India has also the lowest police-to-population ratio in the world. So, India does not qualify for being a ‘police state’ either. No go!
- Just like Muslims are being detained ‘illegally’ by the police, so are ‘Hindu’ naxalites and Christian ‘extremists’ in North East. So this does not wash either.
- India has the largest Muslim minority in the world – and in fact the 3rd largest Muslim population in the world. Unlike many other countries of the world, the Muslim population in India is increasing. So, no Muslim pogroms! Bad luck, Brother Javed!
Causes and Effects
Now MJ Akbar (reportedly) pointed out the ‘probable’ problem – the ‘loss of Muslim leadership’, from emigration to Pakistan and the West. From being the ‘rulers of Hindustan’, if Muslims are asking for reservations, it is misplaced sense of victimhood being fanned by a ‘motivated’ and ineffective leadership.
The Indian Dalits are an excellent role model – for all minorities. From being at the bottom of the ladder (possibly due to colonial perversions in Indian society), I am looking forward to the Mayawati becoming the Prime Minister of India. In another few years, we will see no need for any reservations – unless, some minorities decide to stake a claim for benefits that were earlier meant for the Dalits. In the new Bombay Parsi Panchayat elections, some candidates have promised that they will ‘fight with the Government’ for reservations for the Parsi community.
Another set of role models are the Bollywood Khans. Gone are the days, when Yusufbhai had to become Dilip Kumar to succeed. Now (possibly) the Kapoors and Kumars are wanting to become Khans. Salman Khan in a recent interview said that due to his prosecution in the poaching case, possibly, the Chinkara (Black Buck) has made a come back in the wilds of Rajasthan. Salman did not lay down and die – or start crying like the ‘sobbing maulanas’ and you are! He did not allege that the ‘Hindu’ state was out to get him!
Some faith and more हरकत (‘harkat’) can do wonders, Javedbhai. There is nothing wrong with India.
Find something real or someone else to blame, Javedbhai!
The India China Relationship
To most in India, China is possibly the biggest defence threat and is a ‘feared’ competitor.
However, the 2ndlook blog has discounted the ‘threat of the Chinese dragon’ based on an active engagement with China – and not benign neglect.
No less than Arun Shourie has weighed in on the ‘Chinese threat’ side of perception. This puts the 2ndlook blog in a minority. In the 2ndlook blog dated May 31st 2008, there was a significant analysis of the China-India face off. More on that later.
Two Books – Opposite Themes
In the meantime, Arun Shourie’s book has evoked scant interest – excerpted below.
… important parallels, as Shourie points out, between the situation pre-1962 and the situation now. Border talks are regressing, Chinese claims on Indian territories are becoming publicly assertive, Chinese cross-border incursions are rising, and India’s China policy is becoming feckless … India has always been on the defensive against a country that first moved its frontiers hundreds of miles south by annexing Tibet, then furtively nibbled at Indian territories before waging open war, and now lays claims to additional Indian territories. By contrast, on neuralgic subjects like Tibet, Beijing’s public language still matches the crudeness and callousness with which it sought in 1962, in Premier Zhou Enlai’s words, to “teach India a lesson”. (Stagecraft and Statecraft: Lessons for today’s India from the 1962 Chinese invasion).
The lack of coverage in Indian media for an important book like this is a matter of concern. At the same time, another book on a similar subject, from an American perspective is vastly different – and closer to the views of the 2ndlook blog.
This one, … (by) Ms Shirk (former deputy assistant secretary of state who dealt with China) … should become a must read for every Indian who cowers and cringes at the very mention of China. For, as Shirk shows, there is no reason to do so. The core of her message is that only one thing has changed over the last two decades: instead of being a paper tiger, China has become a cardboard tiger.
… recall how China responded to the Tibetan uprising just before the Olympics to get a sense of its vulnerabilities and the resultant paranoia. The Chinese embassy in New Delhi was surrounded by three rings of defence against attacks by Tibetan women. You don’t become a super power merely because you have some money and some guns.
the Chinese leadership no longer has to fear the foreign devil who speaks English; it has to fear the average Chinaman who does so. She also shows how there is no shortage in the variety of unrests in China: you name a type of discontent, and it is there. But unlike India, China has not had the sense to develop political outlets for the head of steam that is building up. The only way it knows of dealing with mass discontent is repression.
Shirk also deals with the aspect that the Chinese leadership is most anxious to hide: a split not in the ranks of the party, but in the highest echelons of the leadership. And the second- and third-level Chinese leadership knows this. The drive against corruption, for example, when mayors are hanged, is seen as just a tea leaf, a straw in the wind that the big boys are pulling in opposite directions.
contrary to popular belief, especially in India, China can’t get along with anyone. Japan, Taiwan, Korea, India all have difficulties with a neighbour whose word can’t be trusted and who tends to rely more on strong-arm tactics than diplomacy. This, too, seems to be a part of the Communist party repertoire, merely their way.
As we see in this book, when push comes to shove, China always backs down. Its leaders simply don’t have the stomach for a confrontation because they don’t know how it will turn out for them personally. That’s the key thing: the personal interests of the Chinese communist leaders. It now always comes before the country’s interests, or is at least seen as being coterminous with it. (Book Review of FRAGILE SUPERPOWER by Susan L Shirk).
The Chinese Paper Dragon
The Chinese success is similar story. Much like USSR’s break-up, the Chinese monolith is more fragile than apparent. Apart from the usual suspects of democracy, economic disparities, social upheavals, etc, there are 3 factors, which most Chinese analysts miss.
One, the Tibetan’s are held together by force – and no one imagines that this holding them together by force, can be in perpetuity. The Muslim provinces of Xinjiang (another one-third of China) is usually ignored. These issues are usually minimized by the current strength with which China holds these provinces together.
But possibly, the biggest issue is the share of revenues of the Chinese central governments.
Secondly, the Chinese Central Government commands less than 25% of the total tax revenues - and the 75% goes to provinces. This, possibly is why the Chinese Government cannot reduce cigarette usage in China. Most expenditures on health, education, pension, unemployment, housing etc. are borne by the local government – and hence there is patchwork of systems which run across China. Most of executions and imprisonments of bureaucrats (including the Mao’s Cultural Revolution) is to demonstrate central authority. The PLA is the only factor that keeps China together. A Chinese Lech Walesa or a Nelson Mandela could unwind China very quickly.
Significantly, and thirdly, the Chinese diaspora and Western MNCs are biggest investors in China – and also the main beneficiaries. This currently keeps resentments of the local Chinese under control – as the neighbour is not getting much richer. But at one stage the domestic Chinese will want to greater say and control over the Chinese economy. He may not be happy with just a well paying job and abundant, low quality goods.
India vs China
On these three counts India scores significantly better than China. India’s problems with Kashmir are a British legacy, an external creation – as is the North East problem, to a degree. India’s significant issue (probably temporary) is the Naxalite problem. India’s central Government has greater control and share over total revenues – than the Chinese. India’s recent economic and political successes are entirely home bred – with the exception of remittances from the expat workers in the Middle East.
2ndlook blog proposes a different way out of this India-China stalemate.
As various colonial powers were forced out of various colonies, left behind was the garbage of colonialism. This post-colonial debris has become the ballast, that is dragging down many newly de-colonized countries. And it is the stereotypes and images of each other that seem to be determining the relationships between the two countries.
Vietnam suffered from a prolonged war (1956-1976) – and finally peace had a chance after 20 years of war. Korea remains divided. The Cyprus problem between Turkey, Greece and the Cypriots has been simmering for nearly 100 years. The role of the Anglo Saxon Bloc, in Indonesia, the overthrow of Sukarno, installation of Suharto and finally the secession of East Timor is another excellent example. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict (1935 onwards) will soon enter its 75th year. The entire Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a creation of the Anglo-French-American axis. The many other issues in the West Asia and Africa are living testimony of the Western gift to the modern world.
Closer home is the Kashmir problem. After 60 years of negotiations, India-Pakistan relations have remained hostage to the Kashmir issue. Similarly, between China and India, the border issues remain 60 years after the eviction of Britain from India.
We Hereby Resolve
Let us (India and China) decide that for the next 60 years, these legacy border issues will remain in cold storage! There are far more pressing issues that need our attention. Let us focus on those issues. We have a lot of catching up to do.
Democrat chairman of the house foreign affairs committee and non-proliferation hard-liner Howard Berman continued with his negative tactics and introduced a new version of the nuclear deal bill in the House Representatives that would be unacceptable to India. The Berman bill also has a killer provision on Iran that links India’s cooperation on Iran to the nuclear agreement, sources said. – (N-Deal: Berman introduces killer amendment, in Economic Times, dated 26 Sep, 2008, 0439 hrs IST, ET Bureau)
My post dated , September 20, 2008,123 Agreement – What Manubhai Does Not Tell Us, But Hurts Us talked about what could be the real reason why the US is so eager to do this deal with India. Iran with its Iran Oil Borse is a significantly determined effort to shake up the dollar hegemony. And that is something that has the USA rattled. No question!
With the 123 Deal – or without it, India will get the technology. That is not in question. It is another question whether India can at all partner with Iran to establish an alternate world currency (system).
So, my friends at the ET bureau, please note that the ‘negative tactics’ by Howard Berman are really desperate measures – to save the dollar hegemony.
Rules laid out in the Bill of Rights 1688, the Act of Settlement 1700 and the Act of Union 1706 state that the monarch must be a Protestant, and any royal who marries a Catholic is barred from the line of succession. (from’Britain mulls allowing Catholic monarchs: report in Hindustan Times)
Not British enough
Wow! This is indeed a major step for ‘multi-cultural’ Britain! I am so highly impressed!
Now that this Catholic issue is resolved, what happens to Presbyterians, Methodists, Calvinists, Quakers, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, Lutherans, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Episcopal Church? Are they not Christian enough?
What if Prince Harry marries a Buddhist?
Does the ‘modern State Of Great Britain differentiate between people based on choice of faith made 7 generations ago? Are people of different faith not ‘people’ enough?
What was the reason for Tony Blair to convert to Catholicism? Is that ‘dog-whistle’ religiosity with a unified Christian army against the ‘evil forces?
Jeb Bush, brother of George Bush has already converted to Catholicism – and will George Bush follow? In February 2004, a post in Tehelka magazine documented a new aggressive campaign by US Christian evangelical groups – approved by George Bush.
Daniel Burke writes Washington Post thus,
Bush attends an Episcopal church in Washington and belongs to a Methodist church in Texas, and his political base is solidly evangelical. Yet this Protestant president has surrounded himself with Roman Catholic intellectuals, speechwriters, professors, priests, bishops and politicians. These Catholics — and thus Catholic social teaching — have for the past eight years been shaping Bush’s speeches, policies and legacy to a degree perhaps unprecedented in U.S. history.
- Lessons of History (behind2ndlook.wordpress.com)