Date: 09 Aug 2008


Assert India's Hindu identity
Gautam Mukherjee

India is its own worst enemy because it artificially denies the sentiments and inclinations, if not the rights, of the majority of the people in the name of a bizarre and unsustainable 'secularism'. This has been so from the birth of this nation, 62 years ago, grown out of a desire to differentiate ourselves from Islamic Pakistan, even though we often disguise this arrogant perversity as robust democratic discourse. But can we afford to go on denying our majoritarian birthright and debilitating our will? Can we afford to ignore that those gaining from our stance are the enemies of our nation? 
India must realise that rescue lies in shifting the entire polity sharp right, standing up and being counted as a Hindu-majority country, with equal rights and protections for our many minority communities. It may well feel akin to moving a very heavy oak conference table. But making this move to the right, and truthfulness, would change the political tone, tenor and content of debate, and signal, once and for all, that we have had enough of being exploited by fringe elements.
We all realise, patently, that every Leftist is not a Maoist, every rough-hewn citizen is not a gangster, and every Muslim is not a terrorist. But we need to protect the one and destroy the other if we, the rest of us, want to survive. And we need to get much better at telling one from the other. And also, very importantly, we have to stop subverting the interests of the majority continually in favour of one minority or the other that seems committed not only to irritating brinkmanship but ultimately to a dark and mysterious self-destructiveness.
We have too many permanent burning issues and a much-bloodied landscape already. But with a shift to the right by the demands of common sense led by the major political parties, we will benefit the economy as well, combining pragmatic policies with an openly majoritarian bias to replace an unsustainable hypocrisy. 
Otherwise, in the face of political cant and apathy, it is anarchy, fuelled by the frustration of both motivated and ordinary people, that will inexorably take over. It is anarchy unchecked that animates all agitations in India nowadays, more so than when VS Naipaul called it "a million mutinies now," with the law and its enforcers missing in action. 
And everywhere, whether it be a land acquisition related protest or anti-industrialisation agitation at Nandigram or Singur in West Bengal, Maoist mayhem in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa, Gujjar self-assertion in Rajasthan, anti-Dera agitation in Punjab and, of course, the mother of all institutionalised ferment, that crown of thorns called Kashmir, no one seems to be the least bit scared of retribution.
If only we were Chinese, we wouldn't have a Jammu & Kashmir problem at all. If we were Chinese, we would set about reneging on Article 370 even before the ink was dry on the document sanctioning it. The Chinese do not allow previous commitments to get in the way of present expediency, let alone their strategic interest. They have learned their lessons well, from being at the receiving end of their own colonial experience replete with horrendous European and Japanese exploitation and opium-addicted slavery. The Chinese have also learned from the solemn treaty-breaking ways of the imperial British Empire and, indeed, from the actions of the current king-of-the-world, the unilateral and all-powerful United States of America. 
So if we were Chinese, we would not hesitate to put down the cynical and unruly politics of the Kashmir Valley, pressing it into ruthless submission. We would have no compunctions about disabusing the Valley politicians of their grandiose notions. We would engineer a massive demographic rebalancing -- aided, abetted, and incentivised -- all over this multi-religious and vast country. We would deliberately and swiftly change the character and dynamics of Jammu & Kashmir once and for all. There would be no Muslim-majority Kashmir any more than the Dalai Lama and his followers can hope to see a Tibetan-majority Tibet.
If we were Chinese, we would set about putting right historic wrongs. We would put all the shamefully displaced Pandits back where they belong, restoring their homes, land and dignity to them. In addition, we would extract reparations and indemnities for their trauma, suffering and humiliation from their erstwhile friends and neighbours turned tormentors and usurpers.
We would drive most, if not all, of the rabid Islamist terrorists and their vociferous supporters across the border. We would drive them into so-called 'Azad Kashmir' where they can savour life on the other side, much closer to their friends, compatriots and benefactors.
We would let the rest of the Islamists -- appropriately reoriented to ground realities and reminded of their duties as much as their rights from time to time -- participate in democratic discourse and hold high office if elected at all by the reformed electorate and the restorative magic of universal suffrage.
But being India, we continue to meekly accept, even as we may be forced to reconsider by popular outrage as is being witnessed in Jammu, the national humiliation enshrined as Article 370. An article and covenant which enables a coterie of fifth columnist politicians to openly favour Pakistani intervention and influence in the Kashmir Valley and and allows terrorists to hold the Indian Government as well as the Indian nation to ransom. 
The infamous and unfair Article 370 is not only a bizarre historical inheritance but also lies at the root of much that is wrong with our national politics of appeasement. Article 370 was an act of capitulation from the start, understandable in the aftermath of 1947 when it was used to assuage the apprehensions of a Muslim-majority province in the backdrop of the partition. But why do we uphold it today? Where were such niceties when we stripped the princes of their titles, land and privy purses, and nationalised banks at will? 
Indeed, in the face of Government paralysis and endemic impotence on issues concerning Kashmir, it is the people of Jammu who are showing the country the way forward. They are likely to get their way on Amarnath sooner or later and signal to all of us that the time has come to stop taking for granted the docile support of the majority community in the face of continuous injustice.