Prime Minister Narendra Modi has imparted remarkable energy to India’s foreign policy. Leading from the front, he has visited 25 countries, taken part in seven multilateral conferences and addressed the UN General Assembly in a short span of 14 months. He has also been communicative on social media. Notably lacking though has been a comprehensive conceptual articulation at the political level of the government’s view of the world, India’s place in it and how its diplomacy would achieve that position. Addresses on bilateral and regional relationships or on specific issues are poor substitutes. Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar has sought to partially fill this gap. In two noteworthy speeches (July 17 and 20), he dwelt on the government’s thinking on important foreign policy issues and the new diplomacy. Many aspects of Jaishankar’s remarks are reassuring; some are troubling. He asserts that Modi’s foreign policy represents change more than continuity; that India’s aspiration is to be a “leading” power rather than “just a balancing” power. And in this context he asks, “…whether India should raise its level of ambition. Are we content to react to events or should we be shaping them more, on occasion even driving them?” Of course, countries should be ambitious. But should ambition not be rooted in realism? Nowhere was the word “realism” used in either of the foreign secretary’s speeches. Does the word now connote passivity, reactivity and perhaps even defeatism? India’s foreign policy has always been realistic, even as it used openings to change the course of history, as in 1971. Action and reaction are often a dubious binary in diplomacy. Modi has taken laudable initiatives. The Indian Ocean strategy is imaginative, bold and timely. The emphasis on economic diplomacy and dovetailing it with the need for advanced technologies and capital serves the domestic development agenda. The Act East thrust imparts new vigour to relationships that will only assume a higher priority in the future. The invitation to the Pacific island countries is praiseworthy. However, traditional relationships in Africa and West Asia also have to be nurtured. It appears that Modi is now turning to them. “Connectivity, contacts and cooperation” is the mantra of Modi’s neighbourhood policy. To what extent does this represent a departure from the past? Modi’s decision to invite Saarc leaders to his oath-taking was pathbreaking. His visits to Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Bangladesh redressed a lamentable neglect. The emphasis on connectivity and cooperation is in keeping with the traditional Indian approach towards South Asia. The key now lies in convincing neighbours that Indian policies do not represent a desire to curtail their space for autonomous action. Modi wishes to include Pakistan in his overall South Asian approach. As Jaishankar says, “…the relationship with Pakistan has its share of challenges but is part of the neighbourhood agenda”. The fact is that Modi has, as yet, failed to formulate a consistent policy towards Pakistan. Is it realistic to include it in the ambit of the South Asian policy when its most important institution considers India as a permanent enemy? Modi has laid greater emphasis on culture and the Indian diaspora. While his attitude to both derives from his ideological background, they are potent factors that could push Indian national interest. Modi’s emphasis on yoga, gifts of Indian spiritual texts, visits to temples and profiling the Buddhist connection resonates in many countries. But India’s cultural diplomacy has to take care to reflect the totality of its rich and varied traditions. These diplomatic tools have also to be handled with subtlety and finesse. Modi’s diplomatic style is markedly different from his predecessors’. Jaishankar notes, “Personal chemistry has emerged as a powerful tool in our diplomatic kit.” Good relations between the top leaderships of countries can help in ironing out wrinkles in bilateral ties. They can never impact on core issues unless there are objective reasons for a leader to change direction. The recent negative response of the Chinese to Modi’s reported personal demarche with President Xi Jinping on Beijing’s approach to Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi illustrates the limits of personal chemistry. Professional diplomats can scarcely ignore the lesson this incident provides. Many world leaders reached out to Modi because of his decisive mandate and the intrinsic importance of India. Overall, Modi has responded well and successfully, but now the diplomatic terrain will be more difficult. The writer is a former diplomat
Gurdaspur district features in one of the enduring conspiracy theories in Pakistan, a land afflicted with such talk. Many believe that despite a Muslim majority, Gurdaspur was deliberately denied to Pakistan in 1947 only because it provided a direct road link from Jammu &Kashmir to the rest of India. Imperial Britain favoured India then, and all the subsequent wars and insurgencies have not been able to undo this cartographic conspiracy theory.
The terrorist attack on Monday on Dinanagar in Gurdaspur is par for the course, so to say.
Over the last few months, there has been a murmur within India’s security circles — which happens to also be given to conspiracy theories, albeit at a far lesser scale than their counterparts across the Radcliffe Line — about a ‘Big One’ that was coming, ‘Big One’ alluding to another Mumbai 2008-type of terrorist attack.
There was a certainty in the murmurs, because terrorist groups operating from Pakistan are habitual about attacking India.
By the wildest stretches of imagination, the Dinanagar attack cannot be taken as a ‘Big One’. Going by the scale, the audacity and even the sheer visual impact, this one doesn’t fit the bill of a ‘Big One’.
The Dinanagar attack is on the scale of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplan (NSCN-K) ambush at Chandel in Manipur on June 4 that killed 20 Indian Army personnel. Easy target, plenty of itchy fingers, shock value and security forces lulled into complacency.
Things had fallen into place on June 4in Manipur. They also fell into place on July 27 in Punjab.
If and when — and there’s a big ‘if ’ —the ‘Big One’ comes, it is likely to operate on the benchmark set by Islamic State (IS): shock and awe at its most grotesque. New and audacious recruits come not from madrasas, but from the world of digital decapitation.
As intelligence agencies and security forces race round the clock to prevent and prevail upon terrorists, goalposts are constantly shifting.
The unemployed and unemployable Ajmal Kasab-types are a thing of the past. The ‘Big One’ will involve techies on a ‘mission from god’. If it does happen, that is. Meanwhile, the signals from Dinanagar should not be lost. Some questions are always trending during terrorist operations.
Was it intelligence failure? Who did it? What are the casualty figures? Of course it was an intelligence failure since they came in and killed people. Intelligence successes never make it to breaking news and headlines because that is the nature of intelligence.
Its failure makes it to page one and prime-time news. It matters less who did it, than what the intention was.
In this case, the most likely target were the family quarters of Punjab Police, the barracks and to create a hostage situation. By all accounts, that was averted, and Punjab Police must be complimented. It was not a posh target à la south Mumbai. But it was just enough to instigate and irritate the Indian state.
There are some in the Pakistani state for whom India is anathema. They can never come to terms with it, even if some politicians in Pakistan would like a normal relationship with India. These elements support and sustain anti-India groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed. There are enough volunteers in the terror factories of Pakistani Punjab who can be motivated to launch a terror mission. So, it is likely that as investigations into Monday’s attack get underway, the names of such groups will come up.
What should also not come as a surprise is that the attackers sneaked into India within the last 24 hours and were guided to their target. Without a prior reconnaissance, it would be very difficult for attackers to hone in on their target so accurately, even with a global positioning system. Their short duration in India is the main reason why intelligence failed.
Any longer period of moving around would have triggered off alarm bells. Much like an animal in an unfamiliar terrain leaving a trail that doesn’t fit any pattern, a short-stay fidayeen squad won’t carry identifiable signs. Until they open fire.
The primary lesson from the June 4 Chandel attack was: never take eyes and ears off the terrorists, especially those who have broken a longterm contact. In the case of Dinanagar, the primary lesson is: what was learnt from Mumbai 26/11 has not been implemented.
Granted, Punjab Police contained the terrorists and didn’t break contact. Well done. But the mobilisation of special operations forces that was planned around hubs across the country has not been activated. They rehearse house-entry and room-entry drills daily, but were not used in Dinanagar on Monday, thereby prolonging the siege.
It is the prerogative of the state concerned to take or decline the Centre’s help. In the case of Punjab Police, they have the motivation and some skills to undertake this type of operation. Another state at another time may not be so fortunate.
(The writer is BJP MLA from Rajasthan and former member, standing committee on defence.)
Supplement direct pressure on Pakistan by regional action
THE recent terrorist attack in Gurdaspur district has outraged public opinion across India. There is now credible evidence that the terrorists came from across the international border. The modus operandi of the terrorists was clearly that of the Lashkar-e-Taiba. What is, however, significant is that the attack came in the wake of intensified shelling by Pakistani forces that followed the Modi-Nawaz summit in Ufa. Hafiz Mohammed Saeed was scathingly critical in describing the outcome of the Ufa Summit as a virtual surrender. The army, operating as always, from the background, got its protégés to accuse Nawaz of virtual betrayal of the “Kashmir jihad”. General Raheel Shareef, who has lost an uncle and brother in conflicts with India, is known to breathe fire about India and to have blocked moves for promoting economic ties.
No Indian Prime Minister has escaped unscathed from vitriolic criticism that virtually always follows a summit meeting with his Pakistani counterpart. If Jawaharlal Nehru was pilloried for the Indus Waters Treaty, Indira Gandhi was in the firing line for allegedly bartering away the fruits of military victory in Bangladesh, while at Simla, Mr Narasimha Rao was criticised for “doing nothing” to improve ties with Pakistan (he had a healthy distaste for Benazir Bhutto’s ravings and ranting). Mr Vajpayee was labelled as naïve when the Kargil conflict followed his Lahore Summit with Nawaz Sharif, and the attack on India’s Parliament soon followed his disastrous Agra Summit with General Musharraf. Dr Manmohan Singh faced flak, even from his own party, after the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit.
Mr Modi has faced a similar criticism after the Ufa meeting with Nawaz Sharif. But a close scrutiny of the joint statement and the post-summit remarks of Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz reveal that India largely got what it wanted from the summit. The most significant outcome of the Ufa meeting was an agreement to focus attention predominantly on ending cross-border intrusions, infiltration and terrorism. New Delhi thus succeeded in its aim of discarding the mindless Composite Dialogue process. Humanitarian issues like release of detained fishermen and promoting religious tourism — Hindus from India visiting sites like Katas Raj and Sadhu Belo and Pakistani Sufis visiting Ajmer — also figured in the Ufa talks.
Sartaj Aziz made it clear that the meeting in Ufa was “not the formal start of any dialogue process”. He referred to setting the stage to “identify areas where the two countries could promote cooperation right away, in order to reduce tensions and hostility”. It was agreed that the NSAs of India and Pakistan would soon meet and to have early meetings of heads of paramilitary border personnel and DGMOs, to ensure peace and tranquillity along the LoC and International Border. This enables India to stick to an agenda primarily designed to meet its concerns on terrorism. It is, however, clear that Sartaj Aziz will dwell substantively on Pakistan’s allegations about Indian actions on this score. While this issue will take time to address and may involve future contacts between the ISI and R&AW, one hopes that meetings between senior representatives of military and paramilitary forces will bring an end to infiltration. But a note of caution on this is required. There is nothing to suggest that the hawkish General Raheel Shareef will be in a hurry to rein in the likes of the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
While the Modi government has made it clear that it will respond in more than ample measure to cross-border intrusions and infiltration, this is not a new phenomenon. It is often forgotten that the Indian response to infiltration, between 2000 and 2003, was so devastating that in areas like Neelum River Valley life was regularly brought to a standstill. It was this policy that forced General Musharraf to ask for a ceasefire in November 2003. But rather than exult about this development, Mr Vajpayee got pressure mounted by the Americans for General Musharraf to pledge that “territory under Pakistan’s control” would not be used for terrorism against India. This is a lesson that those who loudly articulate a policy of “uninterrupted dialogue at all costs” would do well to understand and learn from.
The US and China are now playing an active, behind-the-scenes role in shaping the discourse between India and Pakistan. They are also working together in getting Pakistan to encourage its Taliban protégés to enter into a meaningful dialogue with the all-too willing and subservient regime of President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai. Both the US and China are engaged in boosting Pakistan’s military capabilities, supplying submarines, attack helicopters, F16s and JF 17 fighters. It is no wonder General Shareef is confident that US protestations about Pakistan-sponsored terrorism are not to be taken seriously.
Since the dialogue process agreed to in Ufa focuses exclusively on infiltration and terrorism, the proposed meetings between NSAs, DGMOs and the heads of paramilitary border forces should be held, while making it clear that there can be no discussions on other issues till there is substantive movement forward on these concerns. At the same time, measures need to taken, which need not be spelt out explicitly, to raise the costs for the Pakistani establishment, within and beyond their country’s borders. The message to powers like the US and China should be that whatever their compulsions, we will take all necessary steps to safeguard the sanctity of our borders.
Direct pressure on Pakistan needs to be supplemented by regional action. India should ensure that other South Asian neighbours will make it clear to Islamabad that SAARC will become institutionally irrelevant if Islamabad pursues its narrow objectives of undermining India, in the lead up to the Islamabad SAARC Summit, by advocating membership of SAARC for China or resisting efforts to promote connectivity and economic integration. India has substantial and expanding cooperation, both bilaterally and sub-regionally, and common borders with all its eastern SAARC neighbours. Pakistan has neither the resources, nor connectivity, nor capabilities, to match Indian influence in the region. Its duplicity is legendary in its western Islamic neighbours.
Although the evidence is not conclusive at this time, themodus operandi and initial findings from GPS sets retrieved from the terrorists who attacked Dina Nagar in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district on Monday suggest they came from Pakistan.
The exact location apart, that the terrorist attack took place at all is hardly a surprise. The Pakistani army has been raising the level of violence along the Line of Control (LoC) and international border for the last several months, in parallel with its gaining a handle in Afghanistan. It is likely, though, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to revive the dialogue process with the Nawaz Sharifgovernment was the immediate trigger for the Pakistan’s military establishment to stage some high-profile terror theatre.
Pakistan’s generals have challenged Modi: will he bite the bullet and continue with the dialogue process he initiated atUfa last month, or retaliate forcefully as his personality and earlier speeches indicate? If he chooses to continue engagement despite the provocation, he risks both losing credibility at home and the next provocation from across the border. If he decides to respond with force, he will be distracted from the unprecedented opportunity he has to transform the Indian economy. This is not a pleasant dilemma for Mr Modi. It is also an expected consequence of his unexpected overture to Sharif.
There is a little bit of space between these options that the Modi government ought to explore: New Delhi should announce further investments in preventing cross-border infiltration and connecting the Border Security Force, state police, intelligence agencies and the army onto a common counter-infiltration and quick reaction grid. The government should order security forces along the border and the LoC to be on higher alert, with more intensive and aggressive patrolling. Mr Modi should also disengage personally from the India-Pakistan dialogue and delegate it to theNational Security Advisor and the Foreign Secretary. In any case, Pakistan does not warrant the Prime Minister’s personal attention.
That does not mean that Mr Modi should not concern himself with our Pakistan policy. He should. Our most effective Pakistan policy is eight per cent economic growth and eight per cent social capital growth. In other words, Mr Modi should focus on dismantling the straitjacket that still envelops our economic life and on improving the trust among Indians of different faiths, castes, ethnicities and geographies. Do this on a sustained basis and the power of compound interest will put so much distance between India and Pakistan that solutions on our terms become more likely (and even if they do not, we still win because our people will be much better off).
Similarly, our social capital is important and is the reason why Pakistan’s military leaders repeatedly fail. Almost exactly 60 years ago, they infiltrated troops (disguised, as usual, as locals) into Jammu and Kashmir and carried out terrorist attacks hoping to stoke a rebellion. They failed. Among the other mistakes they made, they underestimated our social capital. This week’s attack on Gurdaspur might be an attempt to do something similar. If Pakistani online propaganda is anything to go by, they might have calculated that the attack will catalyse pro-Khalistan groups to engage in violence.
There has been enough political churning in Punjab’s politics that could give them such an impression, not least if they have also been encouraging it. Unless politicians in our country indulge in monumental folly, the hopes in Rawalpindi and Islamabad will be dashed again. The community at Dina Nagar braved gunfire to set up a langar to feed the police forces battling the terrorists. A courageous bus driver saved scores of lives. Two alert railwaymen uncovered a bomb that might have exploded under a train. This is the heroism and the underlying social capital that allows India to defeat the designs of its adversaries. It might sound mushy and reminiscent of patriotic newsreels, but it has gotten us through far worse times.
Every Indian Prime Minister is attracted to the business of resolving our problems with Pakistan. This is a laudable sentiment. However, our strategic establishment has not presented them with analytical frameworks, which allow them to understand what they are getting into. Pakistan is not one geopolitical entity, but two: the nominal Pakistan government (which Sharif heads) and the military-jihadi complex that controls everything. The latter consists of the armed forces, militant groups, organised crime syndicates, media groups, many businesses and segments of the bureaucracy.
The army keeps the balance between its militant groups focussed on Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. As the ongoing Pakistani army operation in Waziristan and Karachi, and Wednesday’s killing of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi leader Malik Ishaq show, the generals can prune their thorn-bushes when they want to. What they cannot do, however, is take on all three types of militants at the same time. This is part of the reason why anti-India militants are stepping up their act. Another reason is that Pakistan’s generals are feeling more optimistic about an Afghan settlement on their terms, and more confident about their regained pre-eminence in Pakistani politics. They see Indian attempts to strike deals with Sharif as a threat to their dominance and act to nip these in the bud. Broken ceasefires and fedayeen attacks follow.
It is unnecessary for Mr Modi to get involved in this mess. Pakistan does not matter much to India’s growth and development. But a bigger, stronger and more open Indian economy will transform our relations with Pakistan.
The writer is co-founder and director of the Takshashila Institution, an independent think tank and school of public policy.
India Tomorrow presents great Indian kingdoms whose mention has been deliberately omitted from the country’s history books.
All we have ever studied in our history books has been all about the glorified history of a few kingdoms like the Mughal Dynasty, Mysore Dynasty and the various Delhi Sultanates.
In this article, India Tomorrow briefly brings out the legacy of Indian kings and dynasties under whom India progressed and flourished as a cultural, spiritual and social nation.
THE PALLAVA DYNASTY
The Pallavas ruled the area of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka from 275 BCE to 882 BCE with Kanchipuram as their capital.
They are famous for their architectural work with rocks which produced marvels like the Mahabalipuram temple and creating the modern form of the ancient Brahmi script which influenced the genesis of almost all Southeast Asian scripts, particularly the scripts of Thailand, Indonesia, Burma and other Southeast Asia. The Pallavas contributed greatly to the development of the Brahmi script.
THE MARATHA EMPIRE
The Marathas were a Hindu warrior group who established an empire that existed from 1674 to 1818 in the present day Maharashtra that rose to prominence by establishing ‘Hindavi Swarajya’. To the Marathas goes the credit of ending Mughal rule in India.
They ruled almost the whole of India with the exception of Andhra and Tamil Nadu and a part of Kerala. They were known to be fierce warriors of medium stature who were devout Hindus and never ate meat. Pune and Thanjavur were their capitals.
Some of the famous rulers include Chhatrapati Shivaji, Baji Rao 1 and Rajaram Chhatrapati.
THE VIJAYANAGARA EMPIRE
The Vijayanagara Empire lasted for three centuries from 1336 to 1660 before losing it to the Deccan sultanates. This period is said to be the golden period for the Telugu and Kannada cultures as they have established many monuments across South India and enabled fine arts and literature to reach new heights in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit, while Carnatic music evolved into its current form. They ruled the whole south India with Vijayanagara as their capital city.
Srikrishna Devaraya was the famous king of Vijayanagara samrajya. He was a devotee of Lord Venkateshwara and the diamonds and gold we see on lord Balaji in Tirumala are mostly his donations. It was known that the Vijayanagara kingdom was equal to the rule of Lord Sri ram where people where happy and prosperous. He was called as “Kannada Rajya Rama Ramana” (Lord of the Kannada empire) and Andhra Bhoja.
THE KINGDOM OF COCHIN
The Cochin kingdom lasted for 7 centuries from the early 1200s to 1947, surviving every foreign invasion. They were excellent negotiators and tacticians. They formed relations with all their surrounding kingdoms and played their cards wisely. Their capital changed over time but they mainly ruled in the areas surrounding Cochin.
THE KAKATIYA DYNASTY
The Kakatiyas ruled from 1083 to 1323 with Orugallu (Warangal) as their capital extending to the whole of Andhra along with a part of Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The Kakatiya kings are said to be given low importance to the caste system as a social identifier, anyone, regardless of birth, could use the nayaka title to denote warrior status and the inscriptions suggest that people were not bound to an occupation by birth. This helped them flourish in war and arts alike. Agriculture was encouraged and many tribal people who previously had been nomadic settled as farmers and remained loyal to the Dynasty.
The Warangal Fort, Thousand Pillar temple and the famous Kakatiya Toranam stand as an epitome of the Kakatiya legacy.Rani Rudramadevi, the famous queen of the Kakatiya dynasty set the path for women to lead kingdoms in India as early as 12th century.
THE GAJAPATI KINGDOM
The Gajapatis were a medieval Hindu dynastythat ruled over Kalinga (the present day Odisha), large parts of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, and the eastern and central parts of Madhya Pradesh and the southern parts of Bihar from 1434-1541. They were claimed to be descended from the Surya Vansha (Sun Dyanasy) of the Mahabharata age.
“Gaja” means elephant and “Pati” means master. As such, Gajapati etymologically means a king with an army of elephants. Literature in Oriya flourished during this period and there was also a merging of Oriya, Telugu and Kannada cultures.
The Gajaptis ruled from Mukhalingam of Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh and later moved their capital to Cuttack. Religious leader Ramanujacharya had a great influence on the Raja Choda Ganga Deva, who renovated the Puri Jagannath Temple. Another king from the dynasty, Narasimha Deva built the Sun Temple at Konark, which are both archaeological wonders.
THE PANDYA DYNASTY
The Pandyan Dynasty was an ancient Tamil dynasty, one of the three Tamil dynasties, the other two being the Chola and the Chera.
No other dynasty in the world has ruled more duration than the Pandyas, if you refer ancient Mahabharata text you can see the name of Pandyan kings. They survived till the early British conquest.
The Pandyans were experts in water management, agriculture (mostly near river banks) and fisheries and they were eminent sailors and sea traders too. They controlled the pearl fisheries along the South Indian coast, between Sri Lanka and India, which produced some of the finest pearls in the known ancient world.
THE CHOLA DYNASTY
The Chola Dynasty was one of the longest-ruling dynasties in the history of southern India spanning between 300s BCE–1279 CE.
Together with the Chera and Pandya dynasties, the Cholas formed the three main Tamil dynasties of Iron Age India, who were collectively known as the Three Crowned Kings.
They mainly ruled the area between the Kaveri and Tungabhadra rivers. Their rule extended out of India when they successfully invaded the cities of Srivijaya in Malaysia, Indonesia and Southern Thailand.
THE SATVAHANA EMPIRE
The Satavahana Empire, also known as the Andhra kingdom, was an Indian dynasty based from Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh which is now back as Capital of Andhra Pradesh State. This dynasty extended to Junnar and Prathisthan in Maharashtra during the later years.
The territory of the empire covered much of India from 230 BCE onward. History suggests that it lasted about 450 years from 230 BCE to 22 CE.
The Satavahanas are credited for establishing peace in the country, resisting the onslaught of foreigners after the decline of the Mauryan Empire.
THE HOYSALA EMPIRE
The Hoysala Empire was a prominent Southern Indian Kannadiga empire that ruled most of the modern-day state of Karnataka between the 10th and the 14th centuries. The capital of the Hoysalas was initially located at Belur, but was later moved to Halebidu.
The empire is remembered today primarily for its temple architecture. Over a hundred surviving temples are scattered across Karnataka, including the well known Chennakesava Temple at Belur, the Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebidu, and the Kesava Temple at Somanathapura. The Hoysala rulers also patronised the fine arts, enabling literature to flourish in Kannada and Sanskrit.
THE MAGADHA EMPIRE
Magadha as a kingdom existed right from the Vedic period. As legend goes, the kingdom rose to prominence during the Mahabharata age. It was expanded into an empire by King Jarasandha with present-day Rajgir in Bihar as its capital.
Later, Jarasandha was slain by Bheema, the second Pandava, in a wrestling duel. In later periods, Pataliputra (Patna) was chosen as the new capital of this empire during the age of Gautam Buddha. In later years, the Magadhan kingdom transitioned into the celebrated Mauryan Empire that spanned almost the whole of India.
THE CHALUKYA EMPIRE
The Chalukya dynasty was an Indian royal dynasty that ruled large parts of southern and central India between the 6th and the 12th centuries.
They had their capital in three cities, namely Badami and Kalyani in Karnataka and Vengi on the banks of the river Godavari. This marks the first time a southern India-based kingdom took control and consolidated the entire region between the Kaveri and the Narmada rivers.
The rise of this empire saw the birth of efficient administration, overseas trade and commerce and the development of new style of architecture called “Chalukyan architecture”. Kannada and Telugu literature flourished during their reign.
THE MAURYA EMPIRE
The Maurya dynasty was the superpower of the Iron Age India, which existed between 320 BC and 185 BC. It was founded by Chandragupta Maurya in Pataliputra and later extended its sway to Afghanistan.
During the rule of Ashoka the Great, the Maurya Empire managed to conquer the entire Indian subcontinent and rule it as one political entity. The Mauryans were the only power that defeated Greek-Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great. Jain and Buddhist cultures flourished during this empire.
The Rajputs are an ancient Hindu warrior clan that ruled a vast area of the subcontinent which includes western, central, northern India and current eastern Pakistan.
The Rajputs rose to prominence from the late 6th century CE and governed with Rajasthan as their base.
They are credited as one of the very few dynasties who could not be dislodged from their capital by successive Muslim sultanates.
THE NANDA DYNASTY
The Nanda dynasty originated from the region of Magadha in ancient India during the 4th century BC and lasted between 345–321 BCE. At its greatest extent, the empire ruled by the Nanda Dynasty extended from Bengal in the east, to Punjab in the west and as far south as the Vindhya mountains.
The rulers of this dynasty were famed for the great wealth which they accumulated. The Nanda Empire was later conquered by Chandragupta Maurya, who founded the Maurya Empire.
The Nandas are described as the first empire builders in the recorded history of India. They inherited the large kingdom of Magadha and expanded it to yet more distant frontiers. To achieve this objective they built a vast and oowerful army, consisting of 200,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalry, 2,000 war chariots and 3,000 war elephants.
The Gupta Empire, which existed at its zenith from approximately 320 to 550 CE, covered much of the Indian subcontinent. This period is called the Golden Age of India and was marked by extensive inventions and discoveries in science, technology, engineering, art, dialectics, literature, logic, mathematics, astronomy, religion, and philosophy that crystallized the elements of Hindu culture.
Chandragupta I, Samudragupta, and Chandragupta II were the most notable rulers of the Gupta dynasty. The Gupta period produced scholars such as Kalidasa, Aryabhata, Varahamihira, Vishnu Sharma and Vatsyayana who made great advancements in many academic and scientific fields.
The great sage Vatsayana, who lived in this kingdom, wrote the world-famous Kama Sutra. One of the greatest inventions ever “0” (zero) was invented by Aryabhata in the Gupta period as Shoonya. Imagine the world without it now!
Over thirteen centuries ago, in 712 CE, an external force made an incursion into Indian civilisation. For the next thousand years, Indian people accommodated it in different ways. In 1947, they came to believe they could buy permanent peace with it by giving away a piece of our territory, thereby creating Pakistan. Once again in 2015, political analysts, acting on behalf of this external force, have convinced us and our government that we must buy peace. On July 10 in Ufa, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to ride a peace plane to Pakistan next year.
Speaking of planes, our media has been teaching Indian youth since 1999 that the Indian Airlines plane IC814 was hijacked to Kandahar that year by terrorists. This is contrary to facts. The plane was hijacked by the Pakistani state to bargain for the release of Maulana Masood Azhar, the chief of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) imprisoned by India in Kashmir. This jihadist organisation is a branch of the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI. In interviews, three terrorist commanders have testified that the JeM is part of the ISI.
On June 25, Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) released an interview of Adam Gadhan, the American spokesman of Al-Qaeda killed in a drone strike in Waziristan this year. Gadhan shed fresh light on the Pakistani state’s support to JeM. For his final trip to Pakistan in late 1998, Gadhan stayed at Kuwait Hostel of the Islamic International University in Islamabad. From the Kuwait Hostel, Gadhan said he was picked up by “two Pakistani brothers” who “told me they were from the group headed by Maulana Masood Azhar, who was still in an Indian prison.” Jaish-e-Muhammad, along with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), is the lead group fighting in Kashmir. Two more interviews of Adnan Rasheed and Shamsh Kashmiri establish that JeM is a branch of the ISI. Shamsh Kashmiri, a former JeM deputy chief, revealed last year that when Pervez Musharraf ‘shut down’ offices of jihadist groups under global pressure, Ashfaq Kayani, then ISI chief, raised salaries for JeM, LeT, Hizbul Mujahideen and others. Kayani was elevated to the post of army chief by Musharraf on whose watch 26/11 attacks were planned.
Adnan Rasheed, a commander with the Pakistani Taliban, revealed in 2013 that as a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) staff he was sent to a JeM training camp where he realised: “We are soldiers in uniform” and JeM members “are soldiers without uniform”; “we follow them and they take instruction from our institution – the ISI.” Adnan also revealed that he was part of a unit in the PAF called Idarat-ul-Pakistan (the Institution of Pakistan), whose stated objective was to create a jihadist network across the Pakistani armed forces. AQIS is its new offshoot.
The worry is that Pakistan continues to support the JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar, much as it protected Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Mullah Mohammad Omar and protects Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, and others. Al-Qalam is an Urdu-language jihadist weekly sold across Pakistan, published by the JeM’s Al-Rehmat Trust. In a July 14 report, Al-Qalam celebrated “two weeks of success by Jaish-e-Muhammad mujahideen” in Nowgam sector in Kashmir. The external force that arrived under Muhammad bin Qasim is now led by the JeM-ISI combine.
In Kashmir, it is testing India’s spirit for coexistence. During July 1-19, Pakistani troops violated ceasefire along the Line of Control in Kashmir for 11 times and ISI-backed terrorists from Jaish-e-Muhammad and LeT fought against Indian troops. On July 13, Pakistani national Mohammad Anwar of LeT was killed in Poonch district. On July 3-4, five militants were killed in Uri sector. There are recurring cases of incursions and militant attacks. A private website must compile the list of Indian soldiers being killed by Pakistan in this manner.
A divided Punjab is acceptable to this force but a division of Kashmir isn’t because it is a Muslim-majority region. Lead organisations fighting against the Indian civilisation are: Pakistani military, LeT, JeM and Indian Mujahideen, the last three backed by the first. This singular force also aided non-Muslim proxies like pro-Khalistan terrorists who should ideally be fighting to take back Lahore as their capital instead of fighting against India. This is the force that shot Malala Yousafzai, who is an Indian; Pakistani is not an identity; the identity is only Indian. Former PAF chief Asghar Khan has testified that all wars with India were initiated by Pakistan.
To this external force, peace is unacceptable; peace is merely a tactic. The historic peace bus to Lahore by AB Vajpayee led to Kargil war in 1999. When Musharraf was talking, terrorists were trained to attack Mumbai. When Nawaz Sharif was talking of talks, India’s consulate in Jalalabad was attacked in August 2013. Trust talks of peace with this external force after Pakistan amends its constitution allowing non-Muslim Pakistani citizens to become head of the state.
Countries like Pakistan that do not allow their non-Muslim citizens to become the head of state are the anti-thesis of Indian civilisation and Malala Yousafzai. The jihadism in Kashmir is their continuing war against Indian civilisation. This writer was questioned on Twitter for arguing that teaching India’s history could undercut Islamic extremism. The argument remains: this external force subverts the process of India’s history; Multan was a Hindu city, Lahore a Sikh metropolis. Teaching our kids that we all are Harappans will indeed aid Islamic reformation in India. Actor Salman Khan, holding a torch of hope in his new movie Bajrangi Bhaijaan in which he helps a lost mute girl return home in Pakistan, tweeted that Modi and Sharif should watch the film “because love for children is above all boundaries.” Khan the Bajrangi is indeed the impulse of Indian civilisation; the Pakistani identity is an interim construct; the identity, the civilisational impulse, remains Indian. Today’s jihadism is external to Indian civilisation. Attempts to buy peace with this force must be discouraged, more so since the Syria-based Islamic State has already made an incursion into India, like Muhammad bin Qasim led Iraqi and Syrian fighters to India.
The author is director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington.
Dear Brothers & Sisters :Saprem Namskar !
Utsavas – festivals are for cultural continuation, for expressing the joy of life, strengthening the collectives like family, community, society, and nation and for expressing the gratitude towards the creation. Utsaratiitiutsava – Festival is that which elevates. India is full of various festivals. The characteristic of our festivals is that no festival is without pooja. No festival is just for merry-making though in every festival we do enjoy. The festivals are to make us relevant in time as well as to continue our tradition. That is what made Hindu dharma and our nation as NityaNootanChiraPooratan – that is ‘ever new and most ancient’. Some festivals are celebrated ceremoniously with all splendour on large scale and some are celebrated quietly but very meaningfully. The festival of Gurupurnima comes in the second category. This year the Gurupurnima festival is coming on 31 July.This festival is celebrated on AshadhiPurnima which is Jayanti – the birth anniversary of Maharishi Veda Vyasa a son of a Rishi Parashar and a fisherwoman Satyawati. What was his work that made him so exalted a being that on his birthday Gurupurnima is celebrated? He did a fourfold work.
Firstly, when he saw that the Vedas – AnantaVaiVedah – a voluminous store of knowledge discovered by seers over the ages was in the fear of getting extinct, he collected and compiled it.
Secondly, to protect Vedas, he allotted its Shakhas-branches to various families to be preserved by Guru-Shishya tradition. That is in a family, father would teach to his son and along with that to some other willing and deserving children. It would also happen that the children would come from far off places and stay with the reputed Guru who would treat them as part of his own family. Gradually, the famous Gurukula system of India developed. In today’s language it was the most extensive and privatized system of education in the world. Thus a very natural way of protection of knowledge as it was family based was devised by him.
Thirdly, it was not just the Vedas but all the other branches of knowledge called as Upavedas like Ayurveda including Surgery (which was generally with barber community); Sthapatya Veda which means sculpture including everything related to construction with metals, stones, mortars and wood; Gandharva Veda covering music, vocal and instrumental, dance, dramaetc; Dhanurveda all skills and knowledge related to military warfare were also systematized by Veda Vyasa allotting its branches to various families and communities. Thus each family of every community became a repository of a branch of knowledge and so continuing the family tradition got equated with continuance of knowledge.Fourthly, for the common man to understand the Vedic truth he also composed Puranas, Mahabharat so that the application of Vedic truth in life is clear to all. Religion is not just in believing but in being and becoming. Not just the information about one’s religion but realizing the truths and then expressing it in our lives was the aim of Sanatana Dharma. In this Guru- shishya tradition, the knowledge is learnt by observing the life of the Guru who may be one’s own parents or a realized soul. Veda Vyasa succeeded in preserving and inculcating the respect for tradition.
Therefore, traditionally this is the day to remember our whole tradition of Guru starting with Bhagwan Siva and to offer our respects to the Guru who guides us in life, who has handed over the tradition of knowledge and wisdom to us. This is also a day to express our gratitude and commitment to the Guru for carrying forward our culture vibrantly, with the vision of ‘KrinvantoVishwamaryam – let us make the whole world noble.’In Vivekananda Kendra we are doing the IshwariKarya of ‘Man-making and Nation-building’. For this Ishwarikarya we have Ishwara as our Guru. Thus Omkaris our Guru. It is because of Vyasa that our Vedic knowledge survived and also the importance of Guru-tradition got established. Thus this is a day to remember all the Gurus who have contributed in continuation and propagation of the Vedic tradition. Actually when we bow down to Omkara as Guru we are paying our obeisance to all the Gurus in our culture. Paying our obeisance to Guru on the day of Gurupurnima also means that like Veda Vyasa we shall work to protect our culture in changed times and also by our work shall devise a system which is self-propelled – a system that can sustain and drive itself toward the goal. In short we shall have team-based functioning.
Om represents that from which come creation, sustenance and destruction – all phases of the cosmos. It is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. It represents all the gods and goddesses of all the people. It is all-inclusive and encompassing all castes and creeds. Yogashastra says “TasyaVachakahPranavah” Omkara is expression of Ishwara. Om is Ishwara, the perennial source of inspiration for all of us, Om is our Atmaswaroopa. Praying to Omkara as Guru meansit is awakening the Atmaguru, as Dattatreya had done. We have to train our mind that we learn from everything and everyone around us about how to move toward our goal.
For us this is special year. We are celebrating Mananeeya Eknathji JanmaShatiParva with the central theme ‘One life one mission.’ The celebration of Gurupurnima should be more to focus on this theme, that whether in our life our time and energy are focused on performing our Dayitva to the best of ability? Eknathji used to say,‘One life one mission’ means when you choose one path, you reject of millions of other paths. Are we focused on our dayitva, how best we can carry our dayitva that can be the thought for contemplation on this Gurupurnimaday.
On this sacred occasion of Gurupoonima we should see that all the youth that had come for YuvaPrashikshan, all the dayitvavankaryakartas with their family members and also all those who were associated with us during the Swami Vivekananda SardhaShatiSamaroh are invited. We can have prayer, speech on this theme and then some introspective discussion.If we have not yet started Kendra Varga this could be the best occasion for starting it. The involvement of the youth in YuvaSeva also can be revitalized on this occasion.
Gurupurnima should strengthen our resolve and also can be used as an occasion to make new acquaintances become active workers for the nationalist cause. Thus the occasion should reflect the solemnity, clarity and also divine touch to make deep impressions on the mind – to awaken the need of furthering our tradition and energize them to work for it.
Message of Mananiy Nivedita Didi , ,Vice Pesident of Vivekanand Kendra ,Kanyakumari on the occasion of Gurupurnima .
It requires an extraordinary degree of idiocy and lack of class to speak poorly of a dead person, but when you are a low-life like Abdul Qadeer Khan, being déclassé comes easily. The Pakistani nuclear “scientist,” better known in world circles as a man who helped his country get the nuclear technology through theft and skullduggery, and worse, tried to spread it to such rogue states as North Korea and Libya, has said in a BBC interview that India’s just deceased former President Abdul Kalam was an “ordinary scientist.”
Khan may well be correct. Abdul Kalam did not boast of being an extraordinary scientist, nor did India recognize him as one. What Khan has missed — and this is probably not important to him considering his dismal reputation as a thief, a smuggler, and a proliferator of nuclear technology – is that Kalam was an extraordinary human being.
In his death, Kalam in being mourned in India and beyond as a great teacher who ennobled a country and its people with his wisdom and humility. Heck, even the Pakistan government, not known for its fine graces, sent its condolences, not to speak of tributes from President Obama and leaders across the world.
Contrast this with A.Q.Khan’s own ragged reputation and rotten standing as a fugitive who lives under protection of an intelligence agency best known for fomenting terrorism, a man despised by his own peers and doubted by his own people. Unlike the much-loved Kalam, who traveled across India and across the world – including to the US and Europe – Khan remains confined to Pakistan, fearful that if he steps out of the country he will be spirited away either by terrorists eager to lay their hands on a nuclear weapon or foreign intelligence agencies wanting to see how much damage he has done in nuclear proliferation.
A metallurgist whose contribution to Pakistan’s nuclear program consisted largely of stealing centrifuge blueprints from a European firm that employed him in the 1970s, Khan’s role in Pakistan’s bomb-making effort is questioned by his own colleagues. In fact, Pakistanis involved in this operation, commissioned by Z.A.Bhutto after being routed in the 1971 war, squabbled for credit like schoolboys – or like bank robbers fighting over booty – when they finally tested their device in 1998 in response to India’s nuclear test.
To this day, Pakistanis have a hard time deciding who among A.Q.Khan, Munir Khan, and Samar Mubarakmand, the three principals involved in the testing, had a greater role in Pakistan’s nuclearisation. Teamwork it certainly was not judging by their very public scraps.
Again, contrast this with Kalam, who as team leader took the rap for the failure of SLV-3 in the 1980s even as his own boss, Satish Dhawan, also tried to take responsibility as head of ISRO. When ISRO did get its act together and took flight, Kalam was also the first to give credit to his colleagues and subordinates.
Indeed, both under Kalam and subsequently, DRDO’s record has not been spectacular, and its failures are many. But no one remembers Kalam for that. That is the reward you get for not thieving, smuggling, and resorting to assorted skullduggery that was AQ Khan’s stock in trade. The intellectual chasm between the two men is also evident in their public writing. Anyone who reads AQ Khan’s rambling columns in Pakistani newspapers will have a hard time believing he even passed high school.
The yawning gap in technological accomplishment that comes from India having a scientific-industrial base and Pakistan’s record of stealing+smuggling or begging+borrowing (from China and North Korea) is best illustrated in the relative strength and status of the space program in the two countries. Notwithstanding the empty boast of Khan’s one-time patron Pervez Musharraf that Pakistan’s space program is superior to that of India, Pakistan actually has no worthwhile space industry or launch capability.
ISRO meantime has moved on to not just launching satellites for U.K. Germany, Canada, and Japan, but also missions to moon and mars. Musharraf himself would later chastise Khan like one would a schoolboy for shaming Pakistan.
What else can you expect of a disgraceful country that disdained the one great scientist of repute it produced. An apt epitaph for Pakistan’s scientific accomplishment (with AQ Khan in the lead role) will be the tombstone of Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam, a son of the Indian subcontinent (since Pakistan disowned him) that was disfigured under official sanction. After declaring him a “non-Muslim” (because he was an Ahmadi), a local magistrate ordered the word Muslim to be erased from Salam’s tombstone that read “First Muslim Nobel Laureate.” It, ridiculously, became “First Nobel Laureate.”
On his part, AQ Khan can lay claim to be being called Pakistan’s First Ignoble Laureate. Or First Muslim Ignoble Laureate, if he prefers.
Padma Bhushan Dr Vijay Bhatkar on Tuesday offered his tribute to Dr Kalam by saying that Kalam had given India a new vision, which freed the country from its dependency upon other countries, and resulted in building capacity so that the country could become a Vishwa Guru.
Dr Bhatkar delivered this tribute during the program Rokhthok on Zee24Taas. He described Kalam as a humble human being who always made the impossible possible. Bhatkar recalled that he first met Kalam in Trivandrum (presently Thiruvananthapuram) when Kalam was leading the satellite launch vehicle development for the country’s space programme. Bhatkar recollected that in those days, “Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre was at Thumba and Kalam used to stay in a very small and simple lodge, despite holding a big post and leading the team of scientists working on launch vehicles.”
Bhatkar said that when he met Kalam for discussions about the electronics involved in the project, it was Kalam who said that import substitution in certain parts was necessary. Bhatkar said that Kalam’s insistence upon indigenization has brought India a long way in the space programme. Bhatkar said, “Kalam’s insistence has given all of us in the field of electronics the great confidence that we can do it, and this was his extra-ordinary contribution.”
Recalling Kalam’s simple ways, he said that during those days, despite being head of the satellite launch vehicle development programme, Kalam would sit on the ground without waiting for any chair to be brought to him. Bhatkar said that Kalam used to work right from the morning till late night. He was, Bhatkar said, a true leader who led by example. The youngsters under Kalam, Bhatkar said, would be inspired by him. Kalam had the habit of doing things with a great deal of planning, which, Bhatkar said, was rare.
Bhatkar said that Kalam lived according to the precepts of the Bhagavad Geeta. The holy book underlines the importance of having a sense of duty, and doing one’s duty diligently. Bhatkar said that the Late Vikram Sarabhai was Kalam’s guru, and Kalam followed in his guru’s footsteps by preparing a long-term plan for the country.
This book review is jointly authored by Saradindu Mukherji and Shoumendu Mukherji.
The Nobel laureate in economics makes tremendous use of history, contemporary politics and value systems, with a generous mixing of moral judgement in The Idea of Justice (Amartya Sen, Allen Lane, 2009), like many of his publications and public lectures. This review primarily takes up only such matters.
The idea of justice—the origin of the very concept, its tumultuous growth battling the impediments on its forward journey, its mechanism, and the debate over its effectiveness, is a formidable intellectual challenge, and so is Sen’s critique of Rawls, regarded perhaps rightly as one of the most renowned philosophers of our times. There is a very interesting discussion of the ‘Rational Choice Theory’ and ‘Sustainable Development and the Environment’ and more admirable is the way Sen makes them intelligible to the uninitiated. Throughout the course of history, the idea of justice has been conceived and administered in varying ways depending on the socio-cultural ethos and political systems that prevail in various countries.
The Supreme Court of India has opined, ‘justice may be social, moral or legal, meaning between two contesting parties in a court of law, as per the record of the case based on evidence after a fair and impartial trial. Further, it has been held that to secure the ‘ends of justice’ is to act in the best interest of both parties within the four corners of the statute preserving the balance and sanctity of the Constitutional and statutory rights of the individual and public at large.’
However, in the present times, the idea of justice as propounded by the Supreme Court of India has often been nixed by the belief that ‘justice must be seen to be done (R v Thames (1974) 1 WLR 1371) ’ at the cost of ‘natural justice i.e. the right to a fair trial’ in order to please our society at large where perception often triumphs over ‘realism’.
An adverse public opinion is manufactured against the accused prematurely on sub-judice matters without weighing the evidence. This precedent is not only irresponsible but damaging to the very root of our legal framework. ‘Rule of law’ has two aspects—substantive and procedural, where each element complements the other. Compromising on any one over the other owing to exigency or for ‘playing to the galleries’ critically scuttles the ‘due process of law’ and results in‘rule of law’ becoming nugatory.
Be that as it may at the operational level, Sen offers a cross-country scenario of the concept of justice, spread well over many centuries in this work. We note with much optimism his plea for clearly remediable injustices around us which we want to eliminate’ ( p.vii).
Since Amartya Sen functions in an European-American intellectual milieu, the Western backdrop that he provides does not satisfactorily explain the symbiotic relationship between a more accountable system of governance, i.e, ‘Tudor Revolution of Government’(Elton), the rise of opposition in the late 16th Century British Parliament, the Puritan contribution to the emergence of a democratic spirit, the struggle between the King and the Parliament culminating in the Glorious Revolution(1688), the Bill of Rights (1689), and the growing acceptance of some foundational ideas like ‘rule of law’ , ‘equality of all before law’, origins of the ideas of state engineering, and similar other related attributes.
The absence of such political developments in his sketch leaves a gap, and more so, because he has Magna Carta (1215), as one of his starting points followed in due course by the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).
If Hobbes was rejecting the liberal prescription (p.308-309, fn), it might be explained more by the fact that Cromwell had come to power by then, and England was ruled (1649-60) without a king. The English politics and social relations had undergone much transformation from the time when he first wrote in 1640, and then came out his Leviathan (1651).
The last time an English King had been executed was in 1649, and the ‘Commonwealth’ was in power in a very chaotic situation, while the ‘true Levellers’ or Diggers were trying to practice some sort of ‘communism’ so to say. It is no coincidence that Winstanley’s ‘Law of Freedom’ was published in 1651 too. We may note here, how the missing dimension has been so deftly sketched in Christopher Hill’s path-breaking ‘World Turned Upside Down’. Theorising, as we may think, does not necessarily emerge out of contemplation, but often because of the ground reality.
While tracing the uneven course of the evolution of ‘redressable justice’, one would have expected a mention of the Court of Star Chamber, and the role of the Habeas Corpus Act, if not the Code of Justinian, and the basics of Roman law and Grotius (1583-1645), famous for his seminal idea of the modernization of jurisprudence, having ‘freed natural law from its ancient alliance with theology’.Similarly, the Stuart legislations against the havoc-creating ‘enclosures’, another practical measure to provide justice to the deprived, fail to find a mention.
Methodologically and logically, Sen trips occasionally as on Bruno, Akbar’s Din-i-Ilahi or in the case of the Jewish philosopher Maimonides seeking shelter in Saladin’s (12th century) Cairo (p.333), to draw an untenable conclusion regarding Islamic intolerance and a certain mind set .
Sen is oblivious of the account of the severe sufferings of the Coptic Christians of Egypt as described by the Muslim historian of Copts, Taqiy-al-Din –al Maqrizi in Saladin’s time. One may however, remember that much of the adoration of Saladin in Europe owes its origin to Sir Walter Scott and the visit of William II of Prussia to Saladin’s tomb, and the latter being just another dimension of the Berlin-Baghdad railway project as a component of the Pan-Islamic project.
While one would easily overlook Sen’s confusion over a date (p.1) regarding Hastings ‘commanding’ East India Company, when Burke tore him apart in the House of Commons in May 1789 (Hasting’s ‘command’ in India had ended by 1785), it would be difficult to explain his inconsistency in uniformly applying standards, when he applies it to others . ‘Can there be a satisfactory understanding of ethics in general and of justice in particular that confines its attention to some people and not others, presuming-if only implicitly-that some people are relevant while others simply are not ?’(p117)
We would take up two scenarios, to see if Sen himself follows the standard he lays down.
As one who had ancestral roots in Dhaka (Bangladesh), and happens to be a frequent visitor to Bangladesh, how is it that Sen misses out the implication of the Enemy/ Vested Property Act which has further crippled the long-suffering Hindu minorities there? See the path-breaking research by A.Barkat, S, Zaman, A.Poddar, M.Ullah, KA Hussain, and S.K. Sen Gupta, ‘An Inquiry into Causes and Consequences of Deprivation’, Dhaka, 2000.
It would be difficult to believe that Sen is really oblivious of this. But if he has deliberately pushed it under the carpet, then the question arises: does it reveal his concern for justice or is it his abetment/approval of injustice? And mind you, Sen has a chapter on ‘Minority Rights and Inclusive Priorities’ (pp352-354).
As Sen asks in another context, ‘So what is fairness ? This foundational idea can be given shape in various ways, but central to it must be a demand to avoid a bias in our evaluations, taking note of the interests and concerns of all stakeholders as well, and in particular, the need to avoid being influenced by our respective vested interests, or by our personal priorities or eccentricities or prejudices’(p.54).
Amartya Sen may set himself againstthe standard he so eloquently sets for others, and ask himself where does he really stand? While he applauds the role of ‘impartial spectator,’ where would lesser mortals place his ‘close friend,’ a ‘visionary’ named Mahbub-ul-Haq, the former Pakistani Minister of Finance and Planning (1982-1988), (p.226) when Pakistan-sponsored terrorism was at its height in Indian Punjab. The question begging an answer: was Haq despite his ‘human development approach’ an ‘impartial spectator’ or had he ever shown any normal humanitarian concern for the hapless and persecuted religious minorities as a Cabinet Minister? There is a concept of ‘guilt by association’, and one would like to know who all could be guilty of this?
Sen’s studied reticence on this issue raises uncomfortable questions in light of the fact that another Nobel laureate, V.S. Naipaul has described Pakistan as a ‘criminal enterprise’ while the rest of the world, including we Indians, look at it as a rogue and a failed state. And once again, we experienced that at Gurdaspur day before yesterday.
This not only takes us to another contested domain that Sen Takes up, the so-called ‘Asian values’ and its homogenizing reach in the context of what Chris Patten had once observed. For example, one can compare and contrast India’s handling of the tribal people as in our north eastern states and that of Malaysia regarding its non-Muslim Orang Aslis or the treatment of the Buddhist Jummas (commonly called the Chakmas) in the Chittagong Hill Tracts by the Pakistani/Bangladeshi regimes.
India is tolerant and accommodative of other religions because of its 80 per cent Hindu population, and has consistently sustained a system of parliamentary democracy and much higher growth of its religious minorities unlike so many other countries in Asia, and particularly in its immediate neighbourhood. Is it not a fact that Islamic countries, exceptions apart, even with some rudimentary trappings of a ‘westernized’ state, are rapidly erasing even that window-dressing, and sliding back into the Middle ages from which they had barely emerged?
The omission of Gladstone (1809-98: who was Britain’s Prime Minister four times), whose bold experiments in practical liberalism (both in Ireland and India, including the abortive Illbert Bill (1883), all reflecting his concern for some justice even in a colonial situation, his sympathetic views on the Armenian genocide by the Sunni Ottomans/Caliphate looks galling, especially when Sen has space for a lot of unsubstantiated history and Bollywood.
There is still lesser explanation for ignoring Cornwallis’s Criminal Code (1790,1793) in India, which provided a rule for guidance of Muslim law officers, that in a murder case, they were to be guided by the intention of the murderer. This was a remarkable contribution. Indeed, Cornwallis did more. Amputation of limbs (Islamic shariat) was replaced by temporary hard labour or fine. He further stopped the practice of withdrawal or seeking compensation by an heir and relative of the deceased in a murder case. Despite the Permanent Settlement (1793), this was a remarkable contribution by the British colonial masters.
Sen not only overlooks that but also completely ignores another piece of legislation by Cornwallis (1793), that non-Muslims could give testimony against Muslims in criminal cases previously prohibited in Islamic law. Sen’s studied reticence on the indefensible, true specimens of an intolerant theological code, is easy to understand in light of his admiration for the Islamic rulers of India, and their legacies. Powerful, ‘vested interest’ which he theoretically, and otherwise considers a serious impediment in the administration of justice but casually smothers in his own analysis and public lectures.
Sen discusses nyaya, niti and matsya nyaya. While Manu-smriti comes under the scanner, Yajnavalka Smriti is not mentioned, and so are the Mosiac law and Hamburabi’s Code. He overlooks that despite Manu’s code, there were many transgressions of it without inviting severe punishment, as one finds in the effectiveness of the women’s right to inheritance in the Dayabhaga system which prevailed in his native Bengal, as distinct from mitakshara, that prevailed elsewhere in India.
Amartya Sen however, concurs with those who have characterized Manu with ‘some modicum of veracity, as a fascist law-giver’ (p.20). Knowing Sen’s known habit of unjustified Hindu-bashing, it does not come as a surprise that Sen comes to the defence of Islamo-fascists so consistently. He remains oblivious to what Tagore, in his own version, one of the influences on him, uses the term ‘Bhagwan Manu.’ Tagore cites his advice to treat reward as poison and accept calumny as a divine nectar (Letter to Pulin Bihari Sen, 20.Nov 1937), when the controversy over Jana Gana Mana was raked up by some. Sen might do well to remember that the polytheististic tradition of the ‘unbelievers’ has no concept of a fatwa and mass murder as in other ‘sacred traditions’ he rationalizes so often.
It would be revealing to take a look at what all he writes and smothers in‘Minority Rights and Inclusive Priorities,’ in claiming how Gandhi had emphasized ‘inclusiveness’. But we know that it was no sudden invention in 20thcentury India, and that is why an overwhelmingly Hindu-Buddhist-Jain-Pagan Bharata, with its unsullied tradition of ‘inclusiveness’ provided shelter, safety and honor to the persecuted refugee victims -the Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians throughout the ages.
Amartya Sen again ascribes too much to some vague ‘public discussion that followed the attacks, to which both Muslims and non-Muslims contributed richly’ in the context of ‘a murderous attack in Mumbai in November 2008 by terrorists from a Muslim background (and almost certainly of Pakistani ancestry), that the much-feared reaction against Indian Muslims did not emerge’.
Sen is wrong in suggesting that Hindus routinely attack Muslims whereas in reality, the latter indulges in their periodic genocidal attacks on the Hindus. Immediately after the partition of India, while Pakistan, true to its ideologues (including Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and Mohammad Ali Jinnah, now being sanitized as ‘Makers of Modern India’ by India’s ‘eminent’ and ‘secular’ historians) succeeded in eliminating its Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian population.
In fact, Hindus suffer in various parts of the world at the hands of the Muslims including England, over issues ranging from Palestine to Ayodhya. Would Sen recollect the pogrom of the Hindus in East Pakistan (I964) over the Hazratbal theft in Kashmir, which affected his ancestral city of Dhaka? Would he remember what the Pakistanis and their local collaborators did to three million people (90 per cent of the victims being Hindus) during the Bangladesh war of liberation? And if Hindus had routinely done what the Muslims did, how would Sen with his command over statistics, explain the decline of Hindu population in India while the population of Muslims continues to increase?
As for the public discussion between Hindus and Muslims, one wishes it really works in Pakistan, Bangladesh and our own Jammu and Kashmir, so that the Hindus have some sense of safety and security, and Hindu refugees from the Kashmir valley now refugees in their own land, were restored their landed property and honor.
We all might wonder as to why it did not work when Gandhi and Nehru were at the helm, and had to deal with the ‘constitutionalist’ and ‘Maker of Modern India’- that mass murderer, Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Well, Sen and his band of ‘secularists’ know in the heart of hearts that it was the infinite patience of Hindus and their inherent tolerance of ‘others’ that prevented a retaliation. Anyway, Sen might still do a tremendous service to humanity if he can work out similar dialogues between the ‘Holy warriors’ of the ISIS and the persecuted Yezidis, Shias and Christians in the areas under the new Caliphate.
In paying a rare compliment to the Hindus, while saying that India with more than 80 per cent Hindus has a Sikh prime minister and a ruling party president of ‘Christian background’ and a Muslim President (and having had several Muslim presidents in the past), with ‘none of the three principal governing positions of the country being occupied by non-Hindus-while ‘there was no noticeable sense of discontent’ ( p.353), Sen smothers a very important dimension: he refrains from saying that the then president of Congress, India’s ruling party, is just not a Christian, but also an Italian. Was he deliberately pushing it under the carpet ? Would Italy accept a Hindu Indian in similar position or if Bobby aka Piyush Jindal, in his Hindu persona would have been a serious political aspirant in America?
After all, Indian National Congress of yore had its first President, a converted Christian, (Womesh Chandra Banerjee), and so have been various Cabinet Ministers and Defence Service Chiefs after independence. No Hindu ever opposed or criticized that. So to have a Christian president of the ruling party was no cause of concern for the Hindus. To have a non-Hindu Defence Service Chief or Chairman of the UPSC, or a Chief Election Commissioner besides Cabinet Ministers in Central government or States, Governors or important Ambassadors are not unknown to the Hindus of India. How many Hindus in similar positions would Amartya Sen find in his beloved Pakistan and Bangladesh? What justice does Sen talk of and for whom, is often difficult to fathom.
Yet, one must admit, that Sen reveals, in this rarest of rare passage, a streak of atavism perhaps, and shows that he has not totally forgotten some of the basic ideas that Kshitimohan Sen (his grandfather) had put down so evocatively in his important study on Hinduism. Be that as it may, Sen is back with his campaign of disinformation after a few paragraphs. He goes on to talk of ‘the organized riots in Gujarat in 2002, in which close 2000 people, mostly Muslims died…’ (p.354). Sen had completed this book seven years after that incident, and now, and even six years after that, no one has found a shred of evidence to say that it was organized, unless of course Sen has his own Court of Enquiry. Sen does not mention the roasting alive of the 58 Hindu pilgrims in the railway coach at Godhra which led to the subsequent violence. How could he smother the all-important cause, and yet inflate the figures? This is Amartya Sen at his best.
‘According to the statement of the GOI, the community-wise break-up of the victims in Gujarat is as follows: 790 Muslims killed, 254 Hindus killed, 2,500 wounded and 223 gone missing. In a state with 88 per cent Hindus and 10 per cent Muslims, ruled by an allegedly pro-Hindu government, the casualty figures do not fit into the pattern of a genocide or pogrom of a particular community.’
This had been pointed out (27 Nov 2007, The Indian Express) earlier. Sen might well ask this to himself if this is fairness. Has it ever happened in Pakistan or Bangladesh, where so many members of the majority community have suffered at the hands of the minority or their security agencies? Did it ever happen in Hitler’s Germany when the Jews had taken the lives of German Christians? Sen’s sympathies are obvious and with such a worldview, can he really pontificate on the idea of Justice?
Among various other issues, he misses out the practice of meting out justice to the so-called war-criminals, and the politics of vested interests and blatant partiality that go into its operation, or the growing practice of seeking apologies by the perpetrators of grievous wrongs to many traumatized communities as in the case of the aborigines of Australia or the Americas.
Sen says, ‘There is something very appealing in the idea that every person anywhere in the world, irrespective of citizenship, residence, race, class, caste or community, has some basic rights which should respect’. (p.355). Let the readers find out if he has really taken us any forward in this direction ?
If one is dealing with historical experiences and wants to be fair, and has something original to contribute to the concept of Justice and its dispensation, too much of an ideological preference could be a serious disqualification, and the whole purpose of any theorizing and the claim of taking a moral stance might be defeated. Moreover, with arbitrary and selective examples, unlike that of Sir Vidia Naipaul and Nirad Chandra Chaudhury, there are all-too visible gaps in Sen’s highly readable but extremely biased narrative.
Many of us by now, are made to wonder like that character in a famous Tagore play who finally exclaimed, ‘I really don’t know what is justice and what is injustice’ (‘nyaya anayaya Janine Janine’).
But then, as Richard II (Shakespeare) profoundly pontificated: ‘Not all the water in the rough rude sea can wash the balm from an anointed king’ !
Shoumendu Mukherji, graduated from the National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata and at present is an advocate at the Supreme Court of India and Delhi High Court.
Views in this article are the authors’ personal opinions and do not reflect those of the organizations they are affiliated to.
Dr Saradindu Mukherji is an academic and historian, He was a Charles Wallace Visiting Fellow, department of Politics, Centre for Indian Studies, University of Hull. He was a former Member of ICSSR, He retired as Head of Department of History, Hansraj College, University of Delhi. He is currently a Member, Indian Council for Historical Research.