Sunday, November 25, 2018

Book Review – The myth of Hindu Terror

What's common between Shivraj Patil, Digvijay Singh, P. Chidambaram, AR Anthulay, etc.? If you think the common factor is that they are all from Congress, better think again. Alright. I'll add one more name - Ramachandra Guha, the self-proclaimed scholar, Nehru-Dynasty sycophant, and hagiographer. Still didn't get? Let me reveal - they all in some capacity are the procreators and purveyors of the myth of non-existent "Hindu Terror" or "Saffron Terror". The whole echo chambers of the carefully cultivated ecosystem of Congress reverberated with the sound of Saffron for some years and they still do.

The book runs in two levels - one that covers the broader aspect of setting the tone for the narrative of Hindu terror and the other of the author, RVS Mani and his first-hand experience dealing with the dispensation at that point in time. It's the story of sitting government taking sides, abandoning neutrality, twisting facts and painting the majority religion as evil without a shred of evidence, or worse - manufacturing or fixing evidence to suit its agenda and narrative of the day. The "secular narrative" that was run by the government, the author concurs - had the potential of destroying the social fabric to shreds.

The author touches upon the concept of 'other governing elites' propounded by Italian sociologist Vilfredo Pareto on the theme of the dominant coalition; the dominant coalition consisted of political elites, retired public servants, members of the judiciary, non-governing elites from corporate, media and social activists and NGO's. These entities collectively form public opinion. This public opinion will be used as a ruse for public policy. This is relevant to Indian context because one can remember the power the unconstitutional group NAC exerted on the UPA government. This group consisted of all the elites that Pareto mentions and exerted inordinate influence on the government and many times acted as a proxy cabinet. The framing of the narrative by the government is validated in many cases such as Ishrat Jahan story, J & K narrative, Binayak Sen story, and the story of arms loot in Maharashtra.

The seeding of Hindu terror

It was in the year 2006 that the first seed of saffron terror was sown. The author was an undersecretary in MHA and this one time, all the officers of the Internal Security division were in Pakistan. Since all the seniors were unavailable, the author was called for by the Home Minister, Shivraj Patil. He was accompanied by two others - Digvijay Singh, ex-CM of Madhya Pradesh and Hemanth Karkare, Police officer who later got killed in 26/11 attacks. Shivraj Patil was uninterested and unconcerned in the conversation but the other two were 'seeking information' about the recent terror attacks. From the intermittent conversation between the other two, it was clear that they were not happy with the information 'a particular religious group was involved in most of the terror attacks'. This was the information from the investigating agencies. But the two were clearly not happy with the intelligence input the at Muslims were aiding terrorist. They wanted to take control and change the narrative - there were repeated references to Nanded, Bajrang Dal etc. 

The investigations in some of the cases like Malegaon bomb blast, Samjauta express blast etc. by the local agencies were taken over by the NIA and were given Hindu twist. The author gives cases after cases how facts were twisted and engineered to paint them saffron. An agency like ATS which was headed by Hemant Karkare which was not successful in solving 2006 Mumbai blast even after 5-6 months was given the responsibility of solving Malegaon blasts. Till then, Ahl-e-Hadith was the responsible party for the blasts. But once ATS took over, the entire narrative changed (Recent Acquittal of Sadhvi Pragya reaffirms the position that ATS and its chief at that point in time were dishonest, to say the least)

26/11 blasts

By any yardsticks you can think of, 26/11 incident of Mumbai was a monumental mismanagement on all levels - the politicians, security, media, bureaucrats, etc - that a group of 10 terrorists was able to keep the world's largest democracy as hostage for a few days and kill people willfully, speak volumes on the lapses we had. 

The author gives the background of the attacks - saying there were definite intel inputs saying that there were chances of a terrorist attack through our porous coastline. In his detailed assessment of the incident and the chain of incidents - starting from Home Secretary-level talks in Pakistan where the entire security weights were present on the same day of the attack, the episode of Chitkala Zutshi (additional home secretary who escaped the attack unscathed even though present in Taj hotel and was privy to information of the attack before the attack), strong possibility of local help to terrorists - he strongly says there is a mole or moles at an institutional level from the government who helped the terrorists, siding with the enemy. This is a disturbing assessment and a testimony as to what kind of people governed us during the said period. 

Furthering the narrative 

The inefficient and disinterested Home Minister Shivraj Patil was replaced by another inefficient minister (who was a big failure as Power Minister was promoted for inefficiency) Sushil Kumar Shinde. After a while, P. Chidambaram (PC) was made the home minister. He assumed the role with all pomp and always assumed monopoly over wisdom. For eg, he handpicked the DG for NIA - this he did by throwing all the well-laid procedures in the air. He used NIA to propagate the narrative of Hindu terror repeatedly. 

PC misused his office when made sure parts of David Headley's testimony was excised where he clearly stated that Ishrat Jahan and other companions of hers were terrorists, fidayeen whose sole job was to assassinate Narendra Modi. In his speech at CM conference, in Darul-al-Islam, he repeated the narrative of Saffron terror.

The intelligence reports reported that the flow of funds to terrorists, the growth of madrasas in India-Bangladesh and India-Nepal border by organizations like Jamat and HuJI. Major funding was from Saudi and Kuwait. These reports were never paid heed to. Efficient police officers like Rajinder Kumar who identified and neutralized many sleeper cells were harassed. From Ishrat Jahan case to POTA repeal ordinance UPA was interested in bailing out the terrorists. 


The author was harassed and was constantly pestered by the government even when he moved out of MHA - he took a stand saying the Delhi police were innocent in the Batla encounter (a fatwa was issued against him). He was almost kidnapped, traded - but somehow escaped -  for Ajmal Kasab (the only terrorist of 26/11 to be captured alive)

It was a dangerous coterie which ruled India from 2004-14. It was the time India witnessed the highest number of terror attacks - Mumbai attacks, Samjauta blasts, Malegaon blasts, IISc blasts, Batla house encounter, Delhi, Modasa, Rampur blasts, 26/11 attacks, Ishrat Jahan case etc. and many more. It was a weak government at the center - Manmohan Singh as PM - controlled by the proxy NAC calling shots, Shinde as Home Minister, indecisive defense minister AK Anthony. At another level, it was the most sinister government after independence which had its own divisive agenda which pushed the country into the deep abyss. The author has done a great job in uncovering some of the secrets from his 'insider' knowledge and access and thus systematically demolishing the narrative that was carefully built over a decade.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Fault in our genes

Every time I pass by the multiple metro construction sites in Bangalore – I ask myself in genuine contemplation, why are we like this? By ‘we’ I mean all Indians – why are we the way we are? Slow, sloppy, lethargic, disorganized – that’s not a loaded description or the one filled with prejudice or typecast. I will refresh your memory and try to paint a picture for you – remember ‘Mahamana Express’, the brand new train which was supposed to herald the fast and clean trains in India? If not, just google it and see for yourself the pathetic state at which it was left after being in operation for just a few days of time. As some people pointed out in frustration (the feeling which I share) – we Indians don’t deserve good things. We don’t know how to keep the good things we have. As I write these lines, I read a new report where Indians screw the cruise experience for all in Australia. Also, we are one of the worst behaved tourists in the world.

When we try to contrast this behavior with say the Japanese (perhaps the highest benchmark in the world), the observation is very sad. When I was growing up as a kid and also as an adult, I always looked down on the people who have migrated to other nations – permanently or for a long time. Now with the passage of time, I have come to realize there’s nothing wrong with what they have done. They can get better deals, leverage their talent better elsewhere than in India. Not in their lifetime, nor for several more generations are we able to match the living standards of Western Europe or for that matter North America. Maybe that of course, I concur not all are perfect anywhere. But your talent is valued more, you are valued more outside than inside India. Those mavericks who have taken up a fight against the system – to correct it and improve it – are also up against slumbering and compliant masses who are so accustomed to the life here, who don’t aspire for the betterment. 

I understand – contrasting India with Western Europe maybe is too much. But let’s consider what now called as ‘Asian Tigers’ – countries like Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, etc. They were nothing some 6-7 decades ago. But if you look at them now, they have the same coveted living standards of the west. Their relatively small size is the excuse we give for ourselves – but when we think of China, that argument falls flat. There are so many countries that could inspire us. But we refuse to be inspired.

There are two extreme views on the same subject – one that says that India had a glorious past once and the other which says we are good-for-nothing people and whatever we have/are bequeathed to us by our conquerors. I think we need to tread a middle path where – we may have been great at some point in time. But we have lost track or whatever that was a long time ago and a large portion of the population is deracinated – indeed there is hope, intent, effort but the sheer scale of people we are – the efforts seem lackadaisical. 

Yes, India doesn’t represent and has largely moved away from the imagery of Slumdog Millionaire – the typical ‘cow, caste, curry’ as Rajiv Malhotra calls it. Yet, a lot to be done and a lot to be desired. But we have progressed, but not enough. If not for Indians, if anyone else were there in their place there could easily have been a revolution in India – we are too docile to think and act in those lines; politicians and other ringleaders should be thanking their stars for that. We definitely lacked inspired leadership – but inspired leader comes from an inspired populace. I've talked about the same in one of my earlier posts.

I understand we have too many problems, more problems than any other country could fathom – population, diversity, innumerable opinions, fatalistic attitude, lack of ownership, leadership…I can go on – but if we really had an inspired people, each one of these could be addressed. But alas, we don’t have it.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Illiberal ignominy

All it took was one tweet – for his employer to sack a man from his star job, to lose his reputation, to fall into the abyss of (il)liberal ignominy. I’m writing about Atul Kochhar, the celebrity chef based out of the UK. 

Twitter was abuzz with outrage heaping (and rightly so) on Priyanka Chopra for a role in the recent episode of Quantico. The recent episode of the television drama showcased a scene where PC thwarts a plot by “Hindu nationalists” to “frame Pakistanis” ahead of the summit on Kashmir. Stop laughing, now! Notwithstanding the obvious massive holes in the plot, the protagonist foils the plot by finding out ‘rudraksha’ – the sacred chain worn by the “saffron terrorists” – a term conjured by the despicable likes of Chidambaram, Diggy Raja and the clique serving & protecting the Italian queen and her dynasty called UPA. 

Coming back to the episode in the discussion, there couldn’t be anything irreconcilable with reality than this. With 25165464616 terrorist attacks directly indicting the involvement of Muslims in all corners of the world, and zero of Hindus, the makers of the series didn’t think it will a travesty of reality to present this twisted plot. Nevermind! It’s (f)art and pardonable and they have the freedom of expression and all other sundries. But for an Indian actor PC to accept this role doesn’t seem too innocent. It’s not like somebody pushed her to do it. She would obviously be aware of the script and willingly she would have donned the role. 

After backlash in twitter, PC apologized and said she was a ‘Pround Indian’ while she should have actually apologized to Hindus if she has chosen to apologize. This again prompted various reactions. One among them was that of Atul Kochhar’s. 

Let’s see the veracity of the content of Kochhar’s tweet. He was indeed wrong about the number of years he quoted, which he corrected in the subsequent tweet. The attempt of Islamic invasion of India had started way back in the 7th century; there were initial setbacks but were eventually successful in invading India. This is a part of recorded history - from Alberuni to Firishta, and other Persian & Arabic historians. But since India is a Shariah-compliant country, and whitewashing of Islamic history in India is a state policy, a vast majority of the people are not aware of how bad was the Islamic invasion of India. 

This is another matter and let's keep that aside. How did the fiberals of India react to this? If you can't take a guess, keep this as heuristics - whenever there is a conflict between Islam Vs anything, the fiberals take the former's side. This episode was no different - all in the day's job of the fiberals. One went a step ahead to flagged the tweet to the employer, JW Marriott which severed its ties with him. He was constantly harassed, threatened, and was made to apologize. Finally, he had to delete his twitter account. All these just for a single tweet. Fiberals deliberately tried to destroy the career of a man for just speaking out his mind. These are our self-appointed guardians and purveyors of free speech. 

This episode brought out a well-known fact - the self-proclaimed 'liberals' of India don't give two hoots for the principle of free speech. They stand for a party, religion, tribe etc. per their convenience but never for the principle. If you think they stand for "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it", you are in for a big disappointment. As Joker says in the iconic movie The Dark Knight - "their morals, their code... it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble". The self-same people never stop virtue signalling, shouting from the rooftop that the democracy and "liberal values" are under threat.

Second, if you are too vocal and have gained considerable fame and are politically incorrect in social media, it's good not to advertise your employers. Or even better - be anonymous. Because the first place they want to hurt is your livelihood. 

Lastly - in India like in the contemporary West, actors are accorded a high status in the society and their opinions valued. It's people's stupidity that keeps the actors on a high pedestal in the society. Actors' opinion should be confined to acting allied topics, not beyond that. We have seen how incoherent, uneducated an opinion can be on issues of national importance when you see an Aamir Khan, a Kamal Hasan or the latest a Prakash Raj. Clueless about the lurking realities, yet showing missionary zeal to preach and educate the nation. Nana Patekar summed it up in this short clip

In ancient Rome, actors were accorded low societal status and more importantly, Romans gave actors pariah rank in the society because "they are faked by profession" as NN Taleb puts it. Roman emperor Julian prohibited Pagan priests from attending theatre so that actors don't get the elevation in their status in the society because of their presence and attendance. Perhaps Romans went too far but we have a thing or two learn from Romans.