Thursday, March 09, 2006

letters to the editor, the economist

mar 9th

i fully endorse any snide remarks about arundhati roy, but other than that, simon long was not very correct in his analysis, which the letter writers fully expose.

India rising

SIR – The advice you gave to George Bush on his departure for India stuck with the belief that the failed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is the best way to curb the spread of nuclear weapons ("A passage to India", February 25th). A quick review of the treaty's history shows that the established nuclear powers either actively proliferated nuclear technology (China and the Soviet Union), or ignored such activity in case it ran against other pressing matters (America's relationship with Pakistan). We should also note that being a signatory to the treaty did not prevent North Korea from developing a sophisticated and extensive nuclear programme. Moreover, India has adopted two policies that none of the five established nuclear powers follow: no first use of nuclear weapons, and no weapons to be used against a non-nuclear nation. Can we expect the established nuclear powers to follow Delhi's example?

Kunal Bhaumik

Mount Prospect, Illinois

SIR – I read your imaginatively titled leader and it left me cold. I am not particularly nationalistic, but your remarkably condescending tone, the depressing eagerness to merely operate as honorary advisers to the United States, and the underlying naive and historically absurd belief that nuclear (or any other military) technology is somehow safer in the hands of an American than an Indian makes me wonder why we in India should give a toss about views that don't take account of anyone east of America's eastern seaboard. The world is changing. And it is surprising that a paper as astute as yours has either not grasped this or just cannot bring itself to accept it.

F. D. Sorabjee


SIR – While Mr Bush may well benefit, as you suggest, from reading E.M. Forster, it is pertinent to remember that Dr Aziz, the main Indian character in "A Passage to India", denied the possibility of friendship between unequal protagonists; only a relationship of patronage and supplication.

Supriya Guha

Basel, Switzerland

SIR – You make the case that Pakistan is of much greater strategic significance to America than India based largely on the former's help in fighting al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and seem to be convinced (Mr Bush's spin doctors will be happy to hear) that the war on terror is still America's biggest challenge. If you had considered other strategic issues, you would see that America and India are more natural allies than America and Pakistan.

Madhuri Pai

Amstelveen, The Netherlands

SIR – Many Indians will take offence at the derogatory reference you made to our writers in general, and Arundhati Roy in particular, as "the chattering classes" and at your statement that "when celebrated novelists worry that a country is melting into the darkness, its prospects are probably bright" ("The great Indian hope trick", February 25th). Indian democracy thrives on debate and dialogue with its writers and intellectuals, which is probably why an illiterate rickshaw-puller on the street is better informed and has far greater critical thinking skills than the "educated" average American.

Sudha Rao



Kalyani said...

Posting in full Sri.Gautam Sen's from The Pioneer:-

"Death in Varanasi

Never has secular politics anywhere in the world been so steeped in communal blood, says Gautam Sen

When do successive acts of mass murder and carnage enter the phase of ethnic cleansing and civil war? The mass murders in Varanasi, Delhi and scores of others place are a routine tactic used by militant Islam everywhere, from Bangladesh and Pakistan to Dafur and numerous locations in West Asia, cowing and eventually expelling vast numbers of non-Muslims. India's politicians, with an eye exclusively on the main chance, which is a hand in the till through the tiresome business of electoral politics, are making the usual inane noises about 'mindless violence'. The steadfast refusal to recognise what is happening to their country suggests that India's national bird should be an ostrich rather than a peacock since wilful self-denial is the hallmark of its people.

The mass murder is anything but mindless, unfailingly orchestrated by India's newly discovered dear friend General Musharraf, for whom the world's media, Indian included, is lost for words coining paeans of praise. So bedraggled and morally bankrupt is India's English language television that it's entirely appropriately imitating in every detail the execrable BBC, the most determined surreptitious apologist of Islamic terror. One particularly dim interviewee insisted yesterday that Varanasi was like Mecca, while the interviewer confessed breathlessly to 'being frightened', presumably at a potential backlash rather than for the inconsequential dead Hindu worshippers of Varanasi.

As it happens, at the last count, there were no Hindu temples in Mecca though I could be wrong, nor are kafirs allowed into Islam's sacred city. Varanasi itself, by contrast, is barely a sacred Hindu city since it is now teeming with mosques. Adding insult to injury, at a moment of rising anger and profound distress, was the utterly deceitful suggestion that Muslims regarded the Sankat Mochan temple as somehow worthy of respect because Bismillah Khan played there. Is there no end to arrogance and deceit, no respect for the dead, no self-respect?

Just in case there is any misunderstanding, friend Gen Musharraf is letting his Indian supplicants know that President Bush may come and go and goodies may flow, but Pakistan will always be there. And tormenting India is its sole raison d'être and its GNP is mainly in the business of producing and exporting terror. As it happens, it is the hand of their friend, Gen Musharraf, the truly worthy successor to Jinnah, that is always behind terror attacks in India. He controls the ISI personally on a daily basis and it is they who train, fund and despatch its killers to do their deadly work. And such activities barely register on their moral Richter scale since they remain unpunished for monumental crimes in Bangladesh during 1971. And now we have a female descendant of Subhas Bose being quoted triumphantly by the Pakistani army, denying that it ever committed mass rapes in Bangladesh during 1971!

The Indo-US accord may be an unfortunate necessity, despite all the incomprehensible opposition to it, but the counsel of many, that a very long spoon is imperative while supping with the US, is well taken. A half-hour examination of what the US has done to Iraq and its people should remove any illusions about US propensity for honesty and goodwill. Alas, supping with the US has become an unavoidable necessity for India though remaining alert to the danger of betrayal must remain a constant refrain.

It also needs to be recognised that the US will choose Pakistan over India if push comes to shove. And, of course, the price that Americans are prepared to pay for snubbing Gen Musharraf, because US domestic politics no longer permits the earlier carte blanche sanctioned by the evil Dick Cheney for Pakistan's nuclear programme, is always denominated in the bodies of dead Hindu women and children.

Yet every bomb blast, leaving a trail of dead, consolidates the minority vote-bank in India, benefiting its unbearably misnamed secular parties. It is hardly credible that India's cynical politicians have allowed this marvellous happenstance to escape their attention. Hindus react by performing the sad last rites on their loved ones because they have no defenders in the quasi-Islamic State that India has already become. Muslims simply go out to vote in larger numbers and with greater conviction in favour of their temporary Hindu surrogates as Jamat leader Ansari, honourably, made clear in a public meeting at the IIC that I attended.

This is the price India's ruling elites are prepared to pay in the unseemly and no-holds-barred scramble for the additional 40 or so parliamentary seats they require to rule the roost in Delhi unhindered. Never has secular politics anywhere been so steeped in communal blood and the voiceless distress of one's own kin.

The pro forma Muslim denunciations of violence lack all conviction since nothing is allowed to happen in the interim that might reduce the Islamic truculence, fuelled by lies and incitement that constitute the backdrop to murdering Hindus. The restoration for POTA is not a measure Muslim leaders are now demanding for the security of their Hindu 'brethren' nor the scrutiny of illegal aliens nurturing assassins in their midst. Business as usual, until the next bomb and more dead Hindus, while worshipping in the most sacred sites in their own country. The expressions of sympathy remind one of a goat being petted with knowing cynicism just before its head is due to be chopped off. As for the defenders of civilisation, the less said the better because their credibility is at nadir. Their behaviour reminds one of communities who navigated successfully, making money and duplicitously betraying fellow Hindus, at the height of Muslim power in India.

By now, any self-respecting country would have announced its intention of breaking off diplomatic relations with both Pakistan and Bangladesh. The borders should also be sealed and new paramilitaries raised to enforce it. If there is opposition to such a move from the Government of West Bengal, a national emergency should be declared. No more than two divisions will be required to pacify the region. It took only a few months and two divisions, if I recall correctly, to crush the Leftist menace in 1972 though the campaign was masterminded by India's greatest military genius since Shivaji. A systematic and ruthless rooting out of infiltrators and terrorists requires that the two officers most capable of accomplishing it, one from the IPS and the other the IB, who have worked together in the Punjab and the Northeast in the past, should be given a free hand. The one word they should be debarred from uttering is mercy.

Any third country, like puny Australia or Sweden, raising human rights concerns, should have their historical record thrust in their face and diplomatic relations downgraded. It may cost the country, but given India's size, the economy can easily survive. Furthermore, India should be prepared to enter into a full-fledged alliance with Shia Iran, exchanging energy for whatever Iran seeks. India is at war and normal rules of diplomacy no longer apply. Finally, any business house seeking to subvert national security by lobbying for Pakistan, often the real problem in India beneath the surface, should simply be extinguished. India's survival as a nation is at stake and nothing less will do. Enough is enough"!

i3i said...

Guys, any chance of smartening up this site or doing someting better than say NRO- an Indian Nationalist online magazine?

i3i said...

No offence, but by smartening up I meant presentation and clarity of organisation, navigation etc.

I agree about better ties with 'Persian' Iran, possibly the Shia aspect is ok too; if Indians cannot respect themselves and look after their own interests, why should any one else?

i3i said...

At War, with a big W: we have been at war since 1948;we should act justly but without compromising our self-interests.