What We Have Done to Democracy

Arundhati Roy’s New Book Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers Looks at What We Have Done to Democracy

Written by Al Huebner     Cross-Post from Toward Freedom 

The essays in this new book by the brilliant Indian writer Arundhati Roy cover topics that range from the attack on the Indian Parliament to the Armenian genocide, and the terrorist attack on Mumbai to George Bush’s “triumphant” visit to India and Pakistan. But what runs through all of these essays is a critical look at democracy, as practiced in those countries that claim to be democracies.

Her examination prompts some important questions. What have we done to democracy? What have we turned it into? What happens when democracy has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning?

One place where Roy looks for answers to these questions, although not the only place, is the Indian state of Gujarat. There, in 2002, a railroad coach was ser afire and the fifty-three Hindu pilgrims in it were burned to death. In response, as collective punishment for this unsolved crime, acts of genocide were carried out against the Muslim community. (The term genocide is used here with precision – that is, exactly as defined in Article 2 of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.)

In a carefully planned “retaliation,” squads of armed killers, organized by militias and backed by the Gujarat government and by the national administration, slaughtered two thousand Muslims in broad daylight. Muslim women were gang-raped and then burned alive. Muslim shops, Muslim businesses, and Muslim mosques were systematically destroyed. One hundred and fifty-thousand people were driven from their homes.

Roy notes that even today many of them live in ghettoes, with no water supply, no street lights, no health care. Meanwhile the killers, police as well as civilians, have been embraced, rewarded, promoted. And only a short time after the genocide, two of India’s leading industrialists praised Gujarat as a dream location for finance capital.  

In Gujarat the genocide has been celebrated as the epitome of Gujarati pride, even of Indian-ness. What Roy calls “this poisonous brew” has been used twice to win elections. She concludes that this, and a dozen similar incidents that she describes, are “enough to make you wonder whether there is any connection at all between elections and democracy.”  

One of these incidents directly contrasts the corrupted form of democracy that Roy deplores in her book.

When India and Pakistan were partitioned after British rule a bloodbath followed that claimed the loss of more than a million people. In the contested region of the Kashmir valley a war has been going on for decades that has taken more than seventy thousand lives. Tens of thousands more Kashmiris have been tortured, thousands have “disappeared.”  Women have been raped and tens of thousands of them widowed. Half a million troops patrol the Kashmir valley, making it the most militarized zone in the world.

With this as background, in the summer of 2008 a dispute over land being allotted to the Amarnath Shrine Board escalated into a massive, nonviolent uprising. Day after day hundreds of thousands of people defied soldiers and police, who fired straight into the crowds, killing scores of people. From early in the morning until late at night the city reverberated with chants of “Azadi! Azadi!.” (Freedom! Freedom!)

Despite the Indian government’s reaction, enforcing a harsh curfew with shoot-to-kill orders, arresting the major pro-freedom leaders and hundreds more, the massive, nonviolent protest continued. Although she is horrified by the government’s response, for Roy this people’s plebiscite is democracy at its best .

During the protests banners proclaiming “We want freedom” were often accompanied by others reading “Long Live Pakistan.” Some of this expression of affection for Pakistan has to do with the support for what Kashmiris see as their freedom struggle, and the Indian state sees as a terrorist campaign. Roy has no illusions about either Pakistan or India.

She writes that it’s “easy to scoff at the idea of a ‘freedom struggle’ that wishes to distance itself from a country that is supposed to be a democracy and align itself with another that has, for the most part, been ruled by military dictators.”  A country whose army committed genocide in what is now Bangladesh and a country that is presently being torn apart by ethnic conflict. These are important issues but “perhaps it’s more useful to wonder what this so-called democracy did in Kashmir to make people hate it so.”

What it did, of course, was to spend huge amounts of money on weapons, concertina wire, and prisons in Kashmir, money that could have been spent instead for schools, hospitals, and food for an impoverished, malnourished population. Elsewhere in the essay Roy looks more analytically at the meaning of the word itself, reeling at the insanity that permits the world largest democracy, as India markets itself, to administer the world’s largest military occupation and continue to call itself a democracy.

Nor do democracies reject using torture when there is what they consider a legitimate reason. Roy reports, with as much restraint as she can muster, the words of one superintendent of police in India: “Torture is the only deterrent for terrorism,” he says, adding “I did it for the nation.” This need to use torture against alleged terrorists is chillingly similar to what we heard from the highest elected officials in the US. Torture became policy in India, as it did in the US, although sometimes the US sent presumed terrorists to other countries to be tortured.     

The subtitle of the book, Listening to Grasshoppers, refers to Roy’s visit to Istanbul where she gave a lecture about genocide. She was appalled to learn there that people who speak about the Armenian version can be jailed under the Penal Code. Some of them have even been killed by “patriots.” And like those in India who terrorized innocent Muslims after the burning of Hindu pilgrims, these patriots were celebrated as heroes by some Turks.

In addition to being dismayed about how democracy is practiced in India (and many other countries), Roy is outraged at how development is carried out by that democracy. What is happening, in the name of development, is that multinational corporations are plundering India’s natural resources, with the cooperation — indeed with the encouragement — of the government. Forests, agricultural land, and water systems are ravaged, the livelihood of millions of people destroyed. By some strange perversion of language this is called “progress.”

Clearly Roy worries that what passes for democracy is compatible with, or actually promotes, torture, repression, and ecological destruction, reversing among other things the policy of land reform declared by the newly-independent India. On this last point, farmlands have been modernized, which means saturated with chemical fertilizers and pesticides that farmers go into debt to buy, and then gradually leave the land exhausted and infertile. The consequence of this “progress” is that over the past few years more than 180,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide.

Roy mourns for these and the millions of other victims of this false progress and perverted democracy. And she fears that the debased democracies on the planet may be doing even more harm to humanity than the brutal tyrannies that afflict the globe.

95 Comments

Filed under Books, Democracy, Environment, human rights, India, Kashmir, Pakistan

95 responses to “What We Have Done to Democracy

  1. Hayyer

    Everyone of those figures is exaggerated-Cooked up either in A. Roy’s imagination or that of the reviewer. Such hyperbole damages her credibility, making her akin to SAS Geelani who spoke yesterday of lakhs of martyrs.

  2. Milind Kher

    The figures of tens of thousands for Kashmir may be exaggerated, but the figure of 2000 dead for Gujarat is accurate. The barbarities described for the Gujarat riots are also correct.

    The barbarity was indeed on that scale. This can be verified from several sources including Harsh Mander and Teesta Setalvad. The brutality of our society can be gauged from the fact that many educated people have even justified those riots.

  3. Natasha

    It takes courage to say what this woman has been saying lately.Im sure she’s a ‘traitor’ for many Indians.

  4. Natasha

    What India has had all these years is what is called ‘ballot democracy’.Pakistan rarely got a chance to even practice that.There’s no true democracy in this part of the world.

  5. Milind Kher

    Arundhati Roy is an anathema to all fascists in India. However, you cannot stop her from expressing herself. That is the beauty of India.

  6. Sudarshan

    Lets see what happens should a minority crowd burns two coaches of a train full with women and children coming from a religious tour in a Muslim Counrty. Worse, throw stones when women/children try to come out and let 60 women/children perish. That too after partitioning the country in the name of religion while remaining in India.

    Tolerance does not fall from the sky. Let Muslims practise tolerance.

    Hindus have been bullied for over last 1000 years by Muslims. People will accept it no longer.

  7. Milind Kher

    Just so that you know, the Muslim women who got raped and burned alive were not the ones who threw stones at the train or burned it. Nor were the children who were orphaned.

    This is precisely the kind of rhetoric that is used whenever Muslims are massacred, whether it is during the Babri Masjid riots, or the Gujarat riots.

    Thankfully, a majority of Indians do not think in a bigoted and intolerant way, and had the good sense to boot out the Sangh Parivar.

  8. Sudarshan

    >>Thankfully, a majority of Indians do not think in a bigoted and intolerant way, and had the good sense to boot out the Sangh Parivar.

    yeah ! That’s why 75% Indians believe had there been no Godhra, there would have been no post Godhra.

  9. Natasha

    Sudharshan,

    Why comparing India to Muslims countries.India is secular according to your constitution isn’t it?

    And India has a history of engineered communal riots for serving political purposes.Has it been proven that it was the minority Muslims who DARED to burn the train carrying ‘devout’ majority Hindus?As an outsider it is hard to believe that minority elements would dare do such an act keeping in mind the history of communal riots in your country.Even if it has been proven that they were indeed the provocators and the perpetrators of the godhra massacre do you believe that two wrongs make a right?

    What ‘hindu’ spirit are you saving by slitting the wombs of pregnant women and killing their unborn babies?Raping women and calling it acts of ‘heroism’ – is that how you take revenge?

    BJP has now started to reconsider (I hope) their ‘hindutva’ strategy after losing two elections in a row.It’s about time you wake up as well.

  10. vajra

    @Sudarshan

    Don’t quote your dreams as the thoughts of the Indian people, far less of 75% of the Indian people. First of all, the entire Godhra episode is so suspicious, so fundamentally unsound as it has been explained that 78.33% of people really believe it never happened the way the Sangh Parivar pretended it did.
    Second, it is amusing that when Milind pointed out that a majority of Indians refused to think bigoted and intolerant, and had the good sense to boot out the Parivar, you lost your temper, changed the topic entirely, not being able to refute him and concocted your wild imaginings as some sort of a study. Get sober, man!

    @Milind Kher

    Try to ignore venom-spewing bigots like this. They are the brain-dead refuse of our educational system, and we don’t have to take responsibility for their blathering.

  11. vajra

    @Natasha

    Nothing has been proven about Godhra; the evidence that the following riots were led by the Chief Minister and the Police Minister is emerging step by step, in spite of the frenzied denials of the khaki chaddis.

    This particular specimen represents nobody but his own lunatic segment.

  12. Sudarshan

    >>What ‘hindu’ spirit are you saving by slitting the wombs of pregnant women and killing their unborn babies?

    Which Court has proved it?

  13. Milind Kher

    These are the kind of posts that should make the Ummah think. The hatred for Muslims is now so deep that people are willing to condone and justify the most barbaric atrocities against them.

    There is a tremendous need to really reach out to all other communities, and build bonds of friendship and peace.

    The irony is that when one feels the hurt and pain of it all, there are still people like Ummi who snap and make sarcastic comments. C’est le vie.

  14. Sudarshan

    >>the evidence that the following riots were led by the Chief Minister and the Police Minister is emerging step by step, in spite of the frenzied denials of the khaki chaddis.

    Only lunatic Jihadis say that. Not even a single case exists against the CM.

  15. Milind Kher

    sorry, should read as c’est la vie. Gender error (done in a hurry)

  16. Sudarshan

    We are told (though a fabicrated lie) that because one Muslim Girl was taken INSIDE THE TRAIN COMPARTMENT, Muslims burnt the train !

    Has anybody heard anything more dumb? If it were true, mob would have tried to rescue the girl, not put on fire that will also kill that girl !

    Psuedos and Jihadis loose all their chaddis and brain when they justofy muslim terror against Hindus.

  17. vajra

    @Sudarshan

    The same court that showed that the Godhra incident was the work of Muslims.

  18. vajra

    @Sudarshan

    Only lunatic Jihadis say that. Not even a single case exists against the CM.

    Since you rave in many languages, you perhaps did not spot that it was nowhere claimed that any cases existed against your dear ape-man.

    Read it again, and this time, get someone to translate for you:

    the evidence that the following riots were led by the Chief Minister and the Police Minister is emerging step by step,

    No case was claimed to have been lodged; you are anticipating events and it is your guilty conscience speaking.

    I am neither a lunatic nor a Jihadi, and I look forward to the day when the evidence is sufficient to book him

  19. Milind Kher

    I would like to say something for the benefit of all here.

    The Hindu culture is a rich, vibrant and accommodative culture which teaches its votaries the art of bonding and assimilating any culture into its fold.

    Hindutvavadi bigots no more represent Hinduism than the jihadists do Islam. This is so that nobody may harbor ill feelings and form a wrong impression.

  20. vajra

    @Sudarshan

    We are told (though a fabicrated lie) that because one Muslim Girl was taken INSIDE THE TRAIN COMPARTMENT, Muslims burnt the train !

    Has anybody heard anything more dumb? If it were true, mob would have tried to rescue the girl, not put on fire that will also kill that girl !

    Perhaps you should read Aesop’s Fables. They are written in simple language, that should not tax even the strange physiological objects that serve as a Jan Sanghi’s ‘brain’ (excuse my exaggeration).

    Your story is the same as the story of the Wolf and the Lamb. Any story is good enough to launch communal riots with.

  21. vajra

    @Milind Kher

    Nobody will make the mistake of thinking that this particular foaming-at-the-mouth crazy represents anyone but his own corner of the asylum.

  22. Natasha

    //Which Court has proved it?//

    Confessions during sting operations are not enough proof for you?

  23. Sudarshan

    >>And India has a history of engineered communal riots for serving political purposes

    Read Gandhiji’s biography. In 1920s, some Hindus from same Godhra complained to him that local Ghanchi Muslims used to bully them, not pay after taking stuff from their shop.

    Gandhi asked them to treat those muslims as their brother and no press for price :)-

    Guess, people said enough is indeed enough!

  24. Natasha

    Sudharshan,

    If for the sake of argument I believe you that Muslims instigated the riots by burning a train – do you believe that the massacre shouldve been avenged as it was in Gujrat?

    A yes or no would do.

  25. vajra

    @Natasha

    Oh, these types hate the free press. They don’t follow that moustache Pete from Nagpur’s diktat.

  26. Sudarshan

    >>If for the sake of argument I believe you that Muslims instigated the riots by burning a train

    Oh Dear Natasha !! You don;t have to be so big hearted. As per findings of the Judicial Commission looking into Godhra , its indeed the local muslim mob who burnt the train!

  27. vajra

    @Natasha

    Read Gandhiji’s biography. In 1920s, some Hindus from same Godhra complained to him that local Ghanchi Muslims used to bully them, not pay after taking stuff from their shop.

    Gandhi asked them to treat those muslims as their brother and no press for price –

    Guess, people said enough is indeed enough!

    Did you get the connection? No? You silly creature! No wonder you didn’t. You are missing some essential equipment.

    Go put on your khaki unmentionables. Everything becomes clear then.

    These cretins think with their khakis, having nothing else which could serve.

  28. vajra

    @Natasha

    If for the sake of argument I believe you that Muslims instigated the riots by burning a train – do you believe that the massacre shouldve been avenged as it was in Gujrat?

    A yes or no would do.

    Oh Dear Natasha !! You don;t have to be so big hearted. As per findings of the Judicial Commission looking into Godhra , its indeed the local muslim mob who burnt the train!

    I told you: the world looks different from the way it does when these guys drop their khaki p***s.

  29. Sudarshan

    The post of average educated Muslim crowd here shows Muslims to a great degree support violence when perpetrated by fellow muslims.

    I don’t blame them – its a 1000 year old habit coupled woth appeasement of psuedo class.

    Guess, what society does not work that way.

  30. Natasha

    Sudharshan,

    This is what vajra – your fellow Indian says :

    //vajra
    December 3, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    @Natasha

    Nothing has been proven about Godhra; the evidence that the following riots were led by the Chief Minister and the Police Minister is emerging step by step, in spite of the frenzied denials of the khaki chaddis.//

    Again – do you think the way the massacre was avenged was FAIR?

  31. swapnavasavdutta

    These same people who shed copious tears when Muslims were killed in India did nothing when copious Muslims and Hindus were butchered in Bangladesh.
    Has anyone been convicted of any murder that Pakistanis committed against their fellow Muslims and countrymen?

  32. Sudarshan

    >>These same people who shed copious tears when Muslims were killed in India did nothing when copious Muslims and Hindus were butchered in Bangladesh

    hehe..That’s what Pukustanis are good at!

    Guess what, now even the world has understood what Pakistan really is.

  33. Milind Kher

    @Swapnavasavadatta,

    When the genocide in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) took place India sent troops in who liberated Bangladesh. From a Pakistani perspective that may have been the dismemberment of Pakistan, but for Indians it was the liberation of Bangladesh.

    How much stronger did you expect the Indian response to be?

  34. swapnavasavdutta

    Milind, I am not sure what you are
    trying to say.

  35. Natasha

    Swapna,

    71 is irrelevant.Pakistanis are regretful of how they treated the Bengalis.We atleast don’t DEFEND the crimes committed unlike some chaddi jawans here.

    Let their be a post on 71 and see what Pakistanis have to say.

    For the time being have a look at a good article regarding 71 and what we Pakistanis think about it :

    http : // pakistaniat . com / 2009 / 1 1 /30 /1971 – bihari – stranded – pakistanis /

  36. Milind Kher

    @SVD,

    If you are saying that people wept only for Muslims killed in India, that is not the case. The Indian army rescued the Bangladeshis who were being massacred too.

  37. Natasha

    Sudharshan seems to have no answer for a simple question that couldve been answered in a single word. Hmmmm……

  38. vajra

    @Sudarshan
    @Swapnavasavadatta

    Guess, what society does not work that way.

    Guess what, you don’t know either. How would you know how society works? Have you ever tried to make society work? All that you and your sick tribe of psychopaths have tried is butchering the helpless.

    These same people who shed copious tears when Muslims were killed in India did nothing when copious (sic) Muslims and Hindus were butchered in Bangladesh.

    Which same people? My mates and I were volunteers in the refugee camps, carrying medicines and critical provisions to them; what did you do in 71? Stand up and talk about it; don’t spout hot air about what others did, and about what others didn’t do.

    Guess what, now even the world has understood what Pakistan really is.

    Guess what, it has understood the Gujarati pus-balls as well.

  39. Sudarshan

    >>71 is irrelevant

    Guess what- Pakistan and Pakistanis are irrelevant.

    Nobody gives two hoots to worst Islamic state that was founded by Jihad and KILLED MORE HINDUS/SIKHS/BUDDHISTS/MUSLIMS IN SHORTER TIME THAN HITLER.

  40. vajra

    @swapnavasavdutta

    Milind, I am not sure what you are
    trying to say.

    1. You have seldom understood what anyone is trying to say, including yourself; nothing has changed.

    2. In carefully chosen simple language, Milind is saying that you addressed your perverted little bit of spite at “these same people”. That includes those of us who are Indians. He pointed out in very polite language (one reason for your lack of comprehension, no doubt) that his response, and that of every other Indian on the forum, is summed up by the following:

    India sent troops in who liberated Bangladesh. From a Pakistani perspective that may have been the dismemberment of Pakistan, but for Indians it was the liberation of Bangladesh.

    How much stronger did you expect the Indian response to be?

    I know this is strong stuff for your propaganda-disabled brain, but this is the plain truth.

  41. Natasha

    //Guess what- Pakistan and Pakistanis are irrelevant.//

    What are you doing here then?

  42. swapnavasavdutta

    Why is 71 irrelevant? Does it not show
    the mindset of Pakistanis?
    Here Modi is chided for inaction, there
    Pakistanis did not stop and convict
    those who were doing the action.
    Why was not Yahya Khan convicted
    for murders?
    You are all clamouring for justice in
    India, convict your butchers at least
    posthumously, may be you will be taken
    seriously after that!

  43. vajra

    @Sudarshan

    Tathagata, you idiot, do you think nobody knows who you are or for that matter, anybody cares, you murderous bigot?

    Guess what- Pakistan and Pakistanis are irrelevant.

    Nobody gives two hoots to worst Islamic state that was founded by Jihad and KILLED MORE HINDUS/SIKHS/BUDDHISTS/MUSLIMS IN SHORTER TIME THAN HITLER.

    Amazing how much time you spend on the irrelevant and on the people and state that you do not give two hoots for.

    If you followed your own logic, you’d have vanished far, far away. But you can’t, can you? After yesterday’s depredations and rioting, even your own state people can’t stand you and your friends.

  44. vajra

    @swapnavasavdutta

    Why don’t you look at the article first, and then start jumping up and down like a chimp at a tea party?

  45. Natasha

    Swapna,

    What Pakistanis did in 71 was indeed bad.We are regretful.Shameful that the perpertrators were not punished.We dont DENY anything.

    However pointing fingers at Pakistan won’t cover up crimes committed in India.The post is about an Indian talking about India – In case you failed to realize.71 is indeed irrelevant in this discussion.

  46. swapnavasavdutta

    vajra,

    it would help if you mind your
    langauge no matter how agitated you
    may get.
    Please no name calling, have some
    dignity while interacting.

  47. Hayyer

    Sorry, I should have said that my comment applied only to Kashmir.
    Sudarshan and Swapnavasavdatta:
    Are you defending the massacre of Muslims organized by that ogre Modi. Nothing happened, did it? All those Muslims burned themselves to death, or slit their own wombs. The police never looked away, did not participate, never needed to register murder. No murders took place? No Muslims died? It is all a bit of anti Hindu propaganda. That poor MP called the CM on phone but for Modi Ebrahim was better dead; and you guys want him as PM. Thank God there are good Gujaratis, as there are those awful ones who voted him back.
    Even the devil can quote Gandhi to suit his purpose. Was Godhra a respone to all those unpaid 80 year old grocery bills?

  48. swapnavasavdutta

    Natasha,

    OK, last post regarding 71 from me,
    what stops you from prosecuting
    your criminals posthumously?
    Talk is cheap, feelings are cheap,
    action only will demonstrate your
    remorse.
    Why does not Pakistan embark on that
    journey, it would be cathartic!

  49. vajra

    @Natasha

    Please don’t get distracted. This is standard khaki chaddi tactics. Don’t respond to their vomit.

    As a great man on another mailing list put it, this logic can be summed up very simply:

    “Your shirt is torn.”

    “So what? Your zip is open!”

    There is no end to the amount of mindless, robotic energy that these jerks bring to their chosen profession of destroying any discussion anywhere, especially Tathagata Mukherjee, the past master of mindless meanderings. You can’t match it without becoming a zombie like him/them.

    Let me make it plain that I don’t hold with your views and Mustafa Shaban’s. But you are arguing on principle; these creeps, on prejudice. Nothing is lower and less worthy of the light of the heavens above than bigots like these two.

  50. swapnavasavdutta

    Easy hayyer, nobody is defending the
    actions committed by criminals
    who buthchered Muslims?

    Do you take the same umbrage at the
    Muslims Kashmiris who butchered
    and expelled their fellow Hindu Kashmiris?
    How come Pakistanis are not so
    agitated what Muslims Kashmiris
    did in Kashmir?
    Is blood of Muslims only worth?
    Why is Arundhati Roy not so riled up
    what Muslim Kashmiris have done
    in Kashmir to Hindu Kashmiris?

  51. vajra

    @swapnavasavdutta

    It would help if you mind your
    langauge no matter how agitated you
    may get.
    Please no name calling, have some
    dignity while interacting.

    Help whom? and if I see you backing a murderous bigot, why should I not call you one too?

    And why should I let up on someone who says the following:

    You are all clamouring for justice in
    India, convict your butchers at least
    posthumously, may be you will be taken
    seriously after that!

    This is a Pakistani blog, you use language like that, and then you whine to be let off easy?

    Think again.

    Trust me, you haven’t had the rough edge of my tongue yet. But the way you’re going, it won’t be too far away.

  52. swapnavasavdutta

    vajra,

    When and where did I back a
    murderous bigot? Can you point
    out an exact line?

    Language like what? What did you
    find offensive in that line?

    Are you YLH with a new nick ‘vajra’?

  53. vajra

    @swapnavasavdutta

    vajra,

    When and where did I back a
    murderous bigot? Can you point
    out an exact line?

    Sure.


    #
    swapnavasavdutta
    December 3, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    These same people who shed copious tears when Muslims were killed in India did nothing when copious Muslims and Hindus were butchered in Bangladesh.
    Has anyone been convicted of any murder that Pakistanis committed against their fellow Muslims and countrymen?
    #
    Sudarshan
    December 3, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    >>These same people who shed copious tears when Muslims were killed in India did nothing when copious Muslims and Hindus were butchered in Bangladesh

    hehe..That’s what Pukustanis are good at!

    Guess what, now even the world has understood what Pakistan really is.

  54. swapnavasavdutta

    vajra, you display a very intolerant
    mindset. If you are indeed YLH, I am
    sorry to say, Pakistan is still far far
    away to have a pluralistic democracy
    and tolerance it needs to differing views
    and opinions.
    One simple chiding and your facade
    comes off!

  55. swapnavasavdutta

    sudarshan is not same as me.
    You are mixing up quotes.

  56. vajra

    @swapnavasavdutta

    “What big principles you have, Grandma!”

    And what’s the answer?

    “All the better to lecture you with, my dear!”

    vajra, you display a very intolerant
    mindset. If you are indeed YLH, I am
    sorry to say, Pakistan is still far far
    away to have a pluralistic democracy
    and tolerance it needs to differing views
    and opinions.
    One simple chiding and your facade
    comes off!

    Yes, I have an intolerant mindset. I have no tolerance for the interminable whining litany of abuse, of your sort.

    You never stop, no matter what evidence is shown to you: interminable;
    You never cease to express yourself except in the language of professional victims, like for instance beggars at a street crossing: whining;
    You follow a formula, a kind of prayer said in a pre-determined way: litany;
    Finally,
    You lurk in cyber-space and emerge into real space when there is an opportunity to say nasty things about Pakistan or about specific individuals: abuse.

    So, interminable, whining litany of use.

  57. vajra

    @swapnavasavdutta

    It will be a cold day in hell when you can detect a mistake that I have made.

    I quoted the quotations, yours and TM’s, in juxtaposition, so the natural alliance between you and that creature would emerge.

  58. swapnavasavdutta

    vajra, that is very unnecessary and
    unproductive venting.
    I am not the real enemy which is
    against your country.
    You need to take “them” on instead of
    me for perceived derailing of the
    discussion here which again is just a
    vacuous meaningless exercise.
    In anycase, Have a good rest of the day.

  59. Luq

    Hi Sudarshan, are you sure you (and your friend) are coming only for the hunting?
    Luq

  60. Akash

    Arundhati Roy has the following formula as a way to look at all problems:
    1) There is problem A
    2) US is blame or some other imperialist forces.
    3) I cannot find any correlation .
    4) But there must be a correlation.
    5) Let’s try harder.
    6) Damn, I can’t find it. There is a deadline; hell, let’s just blame US or India or any other convenient scapegoat.

    Any one who claims to be convinced by her obtuse arguments has to get their heads examined. She is a good novelist and should stick to writing fiction. Her analytical skills are a shade better than our local doodhwallah.

  61. Natasha

    Akash,

    What is so unreal about what she’s written.Please enlighten.

  62. Majumdar

    Sadly this thread seems to have become a battleground, looks more like chowk than PTH.

    Ms A Roy’s points regarding democracy having failed millions and millions of Indians is very valid but let us remember that democracy is a process as much as a destination. We are not going to become an ideal democracy overnight and even the flawed democracy that exists is better than many autocratic systems in the neighbourhood. Just to give an example, Godhra may have won Modi Gujarat for 10 years but it has also ensured that BJP has never had a look-in at the centre again. And some ministers and officials who were part of the pogrom are now being brought under bars- although whether they will actually be punished remains to be seen. By contrast, Pakistan was responsible for a far bigger carnage-in Bdesh- and yet no one has been punished for that.

    Perhaps the only democracies which will measure up to Ms A Roy’s standards (barring obvious favourites North Korea and A’stan 1995-2001) wud be the Scandinavians. And they have been in evolving in that direction for about 200 years based among others on strong economic prosperity, (and let us not forget that a small part of this well-being was earned by exporting arms to less fortunate countries).

    Regards

  63. Hayyer

    Swapnavasavdatta:
    “Do you take the same umbrage at the
    Muslims Kashmiris who butchered
    and expelled their fellow Hindu Kashmiris?
    How come Pakistanis are not so
    agitated what Muslims Kashmiris
    did in Kashmir?
    Is blood of Muslims only worth?”
    Indeed I do. But are you entering into a tu quoque sort of argument? No Muslim is innocent ever because some Pandits were killed? Or that killings of Hindus in Bangladesh must be answered by killing Muslims in India. I cannot condemn Godhra unless I simultaneously each time condemn the killings of Pandits in Kashmir. You don’t believe we should hold ourselves to higher ethical standards than that?
    If ordinary Kashmiri Muslims, who had nothing to do with expelling Pandits needed punishing because of what happened to the Pandits, then quite a few, enough to satisfy even the blood thirst of the Parivar, have already paid the penalty, separately from the huge numbers of militants killed.
    Are you suggesting that all Gujrati Muslims killed in Godhra and elsewhere are also expatiating collective Muslim guilt. By your logic it is perennial open season on Muslims everywhere in India because of what happened in Kashmir. Is it some sort of original Muslim sin for which they should either forever chant mea culpa, mea culpa or be struck down without mercy?

  64. Milind Kher

    @Hayyer,

    This is the mentality that the Sangh Parivar is espousing, and this is what their Hindutva is all about.

    A classic example of how an organization can exist having no features except a blind hatred of “the other”.

    They were conspicuous by their absence on 26/11

  65. ravinder

    “http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/oct/04/india-slums-children-death-rate”

    This and much much more like this is what Gangudin cares for. This is what Gangudin signed up for when he gave up on maharaja dhiraj and listened to Ghandi. There are hindus and muslims in this. There are also people who dont even know of PTH and AR. This is both a genocide and should rightly be our next target.

    As for those Abduls who are a wanna be Akhmed, the bad news is Gangudin is an old horse, and his old tricks suggest that Akhmedpan can be taken to at least 2 other countries in the subcontinent and a babelish multitude of others in this wide wide world. But good thing is Gangudin has given birth to Pappu, and Pappu has just completed a damn serious MBA (and has great looking girls round him too). Pappu is the new all improved and ever improving version of Gangudin and pappu is still signed up for what traditions dictate namely the link above. Alas Pappu being young and hot headed, sala pappu naach nahi sakta. The middle ground is Pappu knows very well how to balance books and knows that the closing balance is not rosy because the opening balance was pretty crap and he will have to work in an entirely new direction if he has to leave a closing balance that is a little less murkier then the opening.

    So wanna be Akhmed will have to take his shiyappa to the babel of the lovely desert where the real Mr. Akhmed first saw the sabz bagh and began propagating it as a reality.

    The stupid traditions of the pagan gangudin and gangumaa that pappu has taken up are quite categorical, phal ki chinta mat kar, woh to kabhi bhi kisi ke haat main nahi thaa. Not even in the hands of the real Mr. Akhmed.

  66. ravinder

    BTW, AR must have much clearer ideas about the sure shot solutions considering the fact that she feels so much for the problems at hand.
    Lets just wish our blood birather breathing out there likely bloody last are feel all they want in the company of Ms. AR.

    But pappu naach nahi sakta

    We are like that only.

  67. Ranjit

    The bottom line is that communal riots are an unacceptable form of mass behavior……nobody in the world displays this kind of mob violence except in India and Pakistan…….and it is high time that India took severe action against anyone from any community that provokes or participates in communal riots…….there should be special laws in place targeting communal riots…….in fact, I feel that there should be minimum mandatory 10 years rigorous imprisonment for anyone who provokes and just participates in riots…….and anyone who is proven to harm someone else, would of course have the book thrown at them………

    Guys, if we ever want to become a developed country, an economic superpower, it is absolutely ridiculous that we would have communal riots going on once in a while…….this sort of nonsense must be stopped and there should be strict deterrence……you come outside your house and join a mob for anything, you go to prison for 10 years, period…………

    The same strict approach should be taken in Kashmir as well……..anyone who took the law in their hands, whether they are Kashmiri militants, local muslims who tormented pandits, or whoever, they should face severe criminal action……..last year saw communal, mob actions in both Jammu and Kashmir Valley……..if strict laws are enacted and practiced, no one would dare to come out on streets and indulge in such practices……..it is okay to gather together non-violently……..but the moment you throw stones or pick a fight with the police or innocent bystanders, you get arrested and imprisoned for 10 years……….we need a Zero Tolerance policy for unruly mob behavior……….

  68. vajra

    I rather agree with Ranjit, as the Indian state, under the staggering impact of the pre-independence dictum that breaking the laws of the land is legitimate if propelled by a higher moral purpose has continued into independent India. Today it is misused by all sorts of elements to initiate a process that more often than not ends up in violence. Non-violence has very little to do with it.

    As a result, laws are rapidly becoming unenforceable. Gunnar Myrdal’s soft state is a reality and is flourishing in at least this part of South Asia. Until the rule of law is restored, without compromise, we have little hope of stability.

    The whole democratic process of electing legislators – law-makers – and the whole legislative process of enacting laws that are binding on the whole people are then rendered ineffective and fruitless, because nobody has to obey these laws, nobody is held accountable for implementing those laws, nor is anybody held accountable for breaking those laws.

    Unfortunately, there is worse news than this.

    In this connection, the complete isolation of popular and elected political leaders from executive authority, whether exercised directly or indirectly, has to be enforced. It was not for nothing that the English method of resignation prescribed to members of Parliament was application for secretaryship of the Chiltern Hundreds. Even the expression of a desire for an executive position was incompatible with the role of a law-maker, that is, a policy maker. It is more than overdue that the entire executive machinery should be shielded from the manipulation of the political classes.

    Without these steps being taken, politicians will take up incendiary and hate-based campaigns; these campaigns will be funded, and will land up in bloodshed; such bloodshed will not be punished or prevented in the first place because the executives responsible will wait to see what is permitted of them.

    Time to wake up.

  69. Milind Kher

    Zero tolerance for communal behavior is indeed the way to go. To be a respected nation internationally, a top class law and order situation is a sine qua non.

    Let us hope that the latest law which is on the anvil helps. Under that, central security forces can be pressed into service without the state asking for them. It will go a long way in building credibility too.

  70. ravinder

    We need police reforms but there is no demand for them. Not even by the worst affected segments of society. The child never cries and the mother doesnt feed.

    Partly or is it mostly because our unsophisticated people dont even know what is meant by police reforms and judicial reforms and what it should mean. They dont know because the ones who could have taught them about these matters (as against ones to whom the responsibility was delegated) never took the initiative to make these citizenship issues the primary part of the education process.
    These issues were not made a primary focus because something else was…. what was it? how to get rid of it? how to ensure that the resources so freed up (I wish) are best utilized to create an understanding of civic and morality issues among the third world citizenry with third world learning curve?

    Dont more prohibitions mean more the sadistic desire to circumvent them? Why to increase the size of the target? Why not to increase the size of the demand for better governance as against my governance? Why not to allow &/or encourage the creation of a new vote bank? Why not create conditions where people actually have something due to which people take a pragmatic decision to protect that something? Is it not the case that unsophisticates who get led by the sorry sobs only to turn on their neighbours already believe that it is a zero sum game? Why to allow ourselves to get overawed by emotional knee jerk reactions? Can the reaction of criticizing the effect (ie. the communal riots) after they have already happened inter alia to satisfy ones sense of morality be a knee jerk? Why not prevent the cause? How to improve the sanchit karm?
    Can a pragmatically selfish Vaishya mentality be of any help?…..

    Bloody mongrel raises more questions then answers.

    I guess even an ordinary plan with extraordinary efforts can provide acceptable if not desired results! I am trained and engaged in commercial matters. Would it be of any help that I be a better commercial manager instead of trying to match the guy next door emotion for emotion? Would such matching make us two of a kind when what we actually need to ensure better hedge may be to have two of different kinds who can cover each others a _ _ better? How to find the balance between the demand through numbers in a democratic setup and limits of human ability diversity?

    Even though this post is not strictly classifiable as a contribution, but still request the mods to let this post remain. I am just thinking aloud and probably someone can help me find some answers.

  71. swapnavasavdutta

    Much better tone of discussion.
    Nobody is suggesting what happened
    in Gujrat is justifiable because
    something was done by somebody
    in the past.

    But you are going to hound criminals
    who perpertrated Gujrat, let us go with the same vengeance against Congresswallas who perpetrated riots against Sikhs, let us go with the same vengeance against Kashmir Muslims who hounded out and killed Kashimiri Hindus, let us go after those Muslims who burned Deccan Herald office in Bangalore. Why this selective outrage against Hindutvawadis? Because victims were Muslims?

  72. vajra

    @swapnavasavdutta

    How gracious of you to let us have your opinion on the tone of discussion. Just remind me please: who asked you?

    And why are you taking it as license to raise issues about which you have no knowledge whatsoever? Do any of us on this board or any other have to obtain your certificate that we have been vocal about the murders of Sikhs in 84? about the hounding of Kashmiri Pandits? How do you know, and not knowing, how do you have the impertinence to assume that it has not been asked? Who appointed you arbiter in the first place?

    We know what we have and have not said – and done. What we do not know is where you stand, except that you respond to every reference to bloodshed with an effort to balance the blood with alternative blood. Do you think any of the victims cared how many of the opposite faction were killed, then or later?

    I find this attitude hypocritical and sickening; it revolts me to the core. The tone of this discussion was indeed good; it was so precisely until 8:21 PM.

  73. Milind Kher

    @SVD,

    Everybody agrees that the guilty in the 1984 riots need to be punished. However, people will need to bring forth evidence as is being collected in the case of the Gujarat riots.

    In Kashmir, interestingly, it has not been the Kashmiri Muslims who have killed the Hindus. Though there may have been some incidents, it was largely the Afghan, Pathan and Uzbek militants many of whom have been killed. Kashmiri militants of the Hizbul mujahideen have also been killed. What punishment can be more severe?

  74. vajra

    @Milind Kher

    Because I didn’t want to bandy words with the man, I didn’t add the details that you did. Please note the wording of my reply. I left it very clear to be understood that the Kashmiri Muslim had nothing to do with the campaign of fear and victimisation that was launched against the Pandits.

  75. Milind Kher

    @Vajra,

    I did it because the disinformation that these Sanghis spread has to be countered.

    And based on the talk of people like that, others may draw wrong conclusions about Hindus, who are mostly a very peaceful and secular community.

    I call Sanghi Hindus pseudo Hindus just like they call right minded Hindus pseudo secular.

  76. swapnavasavdutta

    Milind, have you talked to any Kashmiri Pundit who or whose family
    has been displaced from Kashmir and can never go back?
    I have. I had one such roommate at
    the university.

  77. vajra

    @Milind Kher

    Oh, absolutely.

    It is just that he drives me crazy with his constant attempt to justify every creepy act of genocide and murder with his law of parity; one murder therefore justifies another equal and opposite murder. So much for the Vizarat-e-Sait!

    They are not pseudo-Hindus, they are no Hindus at all. Their monstrous attitudes and opinions go in the teeth of everything that Hindus should be. They are just pisachas with caste-marks.

  78. Milind Kher

    @Vajra,

    I agree with you. When you think of the lofty ideals of the Gita, Ramayana and the Vedas and then contrast it against the modern trishul weilding bajrang dal etc, you wonder whether these could ever be part of the same religion

    @SVD,
    I have known closely many Kashmiri Pandits. They all spoke about foreign militants. If you have read your history, you would have understood that Kashmiri Muslims were never fighters

  79. swapnavasavdutta

    Milind,

    “Kashmiri Muslims were never fighters”, that is absurd logic.
    Now when were Gujrati Hindus killers?
    So they could not have killed Gujrati
    Muslims? But we know that happened.

  80. Milind Kher

    @SVD,

    Refer to the Cambridge history of India volume 4.

    The Kolis in the south, the Bhils in Baglan, the pseudo Rajputs on the eastern frontier, the Kathis in the west and Girasias in most districts led to Gujarat being called “Lashkar Khez”, or a land teeming with soldiers.

    Read the medieval history of India edited by Habib and Nizami, you will find the same terminology there.

  81. swapnavasavdutta

    Milind, OK. will read it.
    But what about JKLF, were they not Kashmiris? Just because it did not happen in the past does not mean it would never happen? Did not Maqbool Bhat kill Ravindra Mhatre (ok, Mhatre
    was not Kashmiri, but none the less it was a murder and a Kashmiri Muslim did commit it)?

  82. Milind Kher

    @SVD,

    Left to themselves, the Kashmiri Muslims would not have done anything. Till 1947, they did not.

    Thereafter, they have been upset about the fact that plebiscite did not happen. They are therefore asking for independence, which we may not look at kindly from an Indian frame of reference.

    Mirwaiz Maulana Farooq, Qazi Nissar, Abdul Ghani Lone and many Kashmiri Muslims have been killed by the militants just the way the Kashmiri Hindus have.

  83. swapnavasavdutta

    Milind, Kashmiri Pundits have been
    driven out and killed by fellow Kashmiri
    Muslism for no fault of their own.
    I do not have time to bring each and
    every thing that has happened and get
    references.
    If you do not agree with it, that is fine.
    May be I will have some time some
    other day to try to convince you the
    religious motivation and the criminality
    of Kashmir Muslims.
    Till then, goodbye and Thanks for
    a civil discussion, unlike vajra/ylh.

  84. Milind Kher

    @SVD,

    Will wait for that.

    Also, if you have differences with Vajra/YLH, please resolve it with them.

    We are all here to exchange points of view. It is nothing personal.

  85. swapnavasavdutta

    Milind, thaks for the offer but I have better things to do than worry about
    such things.

  86. Sudarshan

    Hayyer>> Are you defending the massacre of Muslims organized by that ogre Modi. Nothing happened, did it? All those Muslims burned themselves to death, or slit their own wombs. The police never looked away, did not participate, never needed to register murder. No murders took place? No Muslims died? It is all a bit of anti Hindu propaganda. That poor MP called the CM on phone but for Modi Ebrahim was better dead; and you guys want him as PM. Thank God there are good Gujaratis, as there are those awful ones who voted him back.
    Even the devil can quote Gandhi to suit his purpose. Was Godhra a respone to all those unpaid 80 year old grocery bills?

    ———————–

    Being a Pukustani, what rights you have to speak here when PAKISTAN KILLED MORE PEOPLE IN MUCH SHORTER TIME THAN EVEN HITLER?

    Babbling same old lies does not make it true. Not a single case exists against Modi.

    Or no court has proved muslim womens wombs were slit.

    FACT IS- PEOPLE , EVEN THAT OF TOLERANCE GUJARAT, HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF MUSLIM ARROGANCE.

    Those who burn train should have thought before they did that.

  87. Sudarshan

    >>“Kashmiri Muslims were never fighters”

    Swapan- here we have Jihadis (mainly from Pak origin) who as per classic jihadi polemic belives muslims can do no wrong and its always the infidels (hindus, sikhs, buddhists….) are at fault in south asia.

    So, the responsibility of kashmir terrorism (its not terrorism to them) does not lay with their terrorist brothers , but with Hindu India.

    Who was responsible for Godhra? Obviously Hindus, because no muslim can ever do any wrong.

    95% riots of Indian subcontinent starts because of this muslim arrogance.

    They can start using roads , blare mike 24×7 at odd hours caring little for rule of law, or for others sensitibilities. But when a Hindu procession passes near a mosque- they will start fighting.

    guess what- they are not going to change. we should speak in a langue that they speak and understand, i.e., the force.

  88. swapnavasavdutta

    Sudarshan, I do not know about the solution, but you are correct, when it comes to Hindu muslims interactions, it is always fault of Hindus/Indians.
    That is a given.
    I challenge you to come up with any
    situations where there is a interaction
    between Hindus and Muslims and a
    Muslims are at fault! It can never happen.

  89. Sudarshan

    Swapan>>Sudarshan, I do not know about the solution

    Solution is very simple.

    Sarat Chandra Chatterjee, pre eminent Indian Novelist, in a speech before Bangiya Banhitya Parishad stated thus in 1926-27:

    “The Hindu Muslim problem will be solved in a day when Hindus unite.”

    Hindutva is the medicine of all these problems.

  90. Hayyer

    So Sudarshan, have you united and solved the problem, or are you carrying on killing Muslims regardless?

  91. Hayyer

    Swapnasavadatta:
    “have you talked to any Kashmiri Pundit who or whose family
    has been displaced from Kashmir and can never go back?”
    That last bit is an exaggeration. There are still about 15000 Pandits living in the valley. Every year for six months Pandit government employees do go back and live there. Furthermore Pandits visit Kashmir to look after property, or for religious festival such as that of Kshir Bhawani. Your friend in college misled you.
    Pandits are not willing to go back for a permanent resettlement in their old homes. The reasons are mostly economic, combined with an unwillingness to risk being uprooted again.
    Government has introduced various schemes to lure them back permanently but without much success.
    The Pandit exodus in early 1990 was a result of the activities of the JKLF. The man responsible for the bulk of the killings, one Bitta Karate, was released from jail recently, without trial. So your questions should be directed at the government of India fundamentally for failing to build up a case against him in the seven years of central rule.
    There were two other massacres of Pandits subsequently, in 1997 and 98, in which a total of about 20 Pandits were killed, most likely by terrorists from Pakistan operating under the banner of Pak based groups, not the JKLF.

  92. Milind Kher

    @Hayyer,

    I believe that arguments can continue as long as they are within the framework of logic. When it goes beyond that, the best thing is to drop it.

  93. vajra

    @Milind Kher

    While agreeing with you, I wonder if you are not preaching to the choir.

  94. Milind Kher

    @Vajra,

    It may be the case. However, when confronted with completely illogical arguments, the best of us can lose it. In a way, I was also conveying the message to Hayyer that I was with him, so that it would just catalyze his process of discarding meaningless dialog.

  95. stuka

    Why is everyone getting on Sudarshan? It is pretty straught forard that Sudarshan would kill Muslims if there was no downside of retaliation, law cracking down etc. So what is the solution, the nation has to crack down.

    Modi’s failure was in as much to prevent the riots from happening and then to not aggressively use the machinery of the state to minimize the situation.

    In hindsight, Modi probably regrets his actions / inaction. The riots have scarred him where he can no longer aspire to be a global leader. He talks of Gujarati Asmita only because he cannot talk of Hindutva – since many (not all) who are otherwise BJP supporters do not condone the Gujarat riots either.

    End of the day, we have people like Sudarshan. There is nothing we can do about them. They have the right to fantasize about killing Muslims and that is fine. They don’t have a right to actually do that, and if they do attack fellow Indian citizens they should be hanged from the neck until dead. That is the minimum requirement we need to have from our country.