India Votes: A Lucid Dream And Reality

General Elections 2004The 2009 General election is going to witness a dawn of professional politics where political parties will be marketed as commodities to lure potential voters. It will not be merely a traditional competition between Congress and BJP but a plethora of small parties with regional interest will compete to get a share of people’s sympathy. Isn’t it good news for the general voter? Continue reading India Votes: A Lucid Dream And Reality

India Votes: Democracy, Elections And Minorities In India

Indian ElectionsThe General elections in India are about to take place within three months and all political parties are readying themselves to draw up their winning strategies. Elections are like a day of judgment for political parties. And, they have to stand before their voters and render account of their deeds and misdeeds. They have begun to woo their voters once in five years again. They have to woo different castes and religious groups and reconcile their conflicting interests in the context of the complex Indian reality. Continue reading India Votes: Democracy, Elections And Minorities In India

Hindutva Terror: Why?

He who troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind. And the foolish shall be servant to the wise.” Proverbs 11:29

In a very important development in Indian history, members of a few Parivar groups were arrested and are to be charged with carrying out terror attacks. These charges are yet to be proved in a court of law, but it is clear that they stood to gain most from the terror strikes, as it stoked up communal feelings and discredited the congress government. Nobody will risk the wrath of Hindutva brigade without solid proof given their political power, and the political backing of the BJP. Continue reading Hindutva Terror: Why?

Rethinking Kashmir Politics

Dal Lake, Kashmir

Many Kashmiri Muslims vociferously insist that the demand for independence of Kashmir has nothing to do with religion. Instead, they argue, that the conflict in and over Kashmir is essentially ‘political’. What is conveniently ignored by those who make this claim is that religion and politics, particularly in the case of the Kashmir dispute, involving as it does the rival claims of Muslim-majority Pakistan and Hindu-dominated India, can hardly be separated. Continue reading Rethinking Kashmir Politics

CK Jaffer Sharief – A Resigned Man

Mr. C.K. Jaffer Sharief has been Member of Parliament for a long time. He has been part of every Lok Sabha from 5th to 13th Lok Sabha except 11th. This means that he has been in the apex body of Indian legislation from 1971 to 2004. He wasn’t part of 11th Lok Sabha so you can take two years out of that and you have an experience of 31 years as an MP. Continue reading CK Jaffer Sharief – A Resigned Man

Death Of A Patriot

On the 24th of last month, the body of a 94 year old poet prince was led to rest. He was Imamuddin Khan Babi, who wrote poetry by the pen name of Ruswa Mazloom, and was the erstwhile ruler of Pajod, a small jagir in Junagadh district of Gujarat. Few in India have heard his name, and even fewer know that in spite of being the jagirdaar of one of the smallest princely states in India he towered above the other princes of pre-independent India. Continue reading Death Of A Patriot

Jamiat in Jeopardy: Uncle-Nephew Strife Splits Leading Indian Ulema Body

The recent split in the Jamiat ul-Ulema-e Hind, the leading body of the Indian Deobandi ulema, has received considerable coverage in the Urdu press. Most of those who have written on the subjected have lamented the split and have called it entirely avoidable. Continue reading Jamiat in Jeopardy: Uncle-Nephew Strife Splits Leading Indian Ulema Body

Nagaland – Dreamers Under The Dark Tunnel

Nagaland

Nagaland is back on national radar for the simple reason that elections are being held there. I was seeing a long news clip that brought out different facets of this state. One that makes me to comment on this issue is about the youth of Nagaland who to me seem look like belonging more to the globalized world than to any tiny geographical entity that’s sandwiched between India and Burma.

Thanks to the work done by American Christian missionaries the head hunting people of Nagaland are socially and culturally much more advanced then their counterparts in the tribal population in Indian mainland. I was amazed to find the high level of spoken English expertise that exists there and that makes me feel that these guys can be comfortable anywhere in the world. I also heard some of the compositions of their pop bands and can not hold myself relishing at their high quality. Their music videos were very impressive. I was wondering if they are marketed by the big labels they have all the trappings to become chart busters.

Among such youth I could feel the yearning to break the shackles of geographical boundaries and become part of the globalized world. However, their dreams seems to be blossoming in vacuum, in isolation. The very fact that they continue to dream big that’s something that needs to be admired.

The other facet of the same issue is the open declaration by the leadership of the Nagaland that they do not recognize the constitution of India. They want the entire Naga inhabited area that falls deep into the adjoining states, including those that lie in Burma, to be merged together and a greater Nagaland be created. They want to have a separate constitution of their own. Its after that they want to have an honorable settlement with India. To realize their demand they have been waging an armed struggle since last 60 years or so. They have two armed groups NSC (IM) and NSC (K). The first one is based in India, the other in Burma. A sizable number of youth of Nagaland are sucked in as fighting force of these groups. There is another group that has come up recently and is called Unity group that too commands some following.

India has been negotiating with the Naga leadership since the independence of the country and has signed number of agreements with them. It has been able to sign a ceasefire agreement with the rebel groups and that’s being ratified every six months. India’s problem is it cannot accept Nagaland to be out of the preview of its constitution. It can not break the geographical boundaries of its other states in the northeast region for the creation of greater Nagaland. India also cannot reclaim the Naga inhabited areas that lies in Burma.

India has been able to maintain its sway over Nagaland through many channels. One ofcourse is very heavy deployment of the security forces. Second is creating factions that would neutralize the other groups. The Congress party in Nagaland is quite formidable and often comes to power through the periodic elections that’s held there despite boycott calls by many groups. India is also playing upon the tribal divisions that exist in Nagaland to maintain its supremacy. All this has been able to keep this restive state under check but then they are hardly permanent solution to the actual problem.

India’s interlocutor Mr Padmanabhaiah who has been negotiating with the Naga leadership since many years has been enjoying his post retirement benefits engaging in this exercise. The national security advisor MK Narayanan who was recently in Nagaland, reportedly said that India is willing to give Nagaland maximum autonomy within the Indian constitution. In his election speech Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too talked about having honorable settlement with Nagaland.

However, all these talks has not been able to dilute the actual demand.The two sides remain firm on their actual positions. It appears there hardly seems to be any light at the end of the tunnel. Imagination seems to blinker when one thinks when and how this problem is going to be resolved.

I do not want to bring John Lennon here but can’t help citing his ‘dream lines’ that seems to inspire the generation next of Nagaland. They seem to nurse the belief that all their issues would be resolved one day, when a global village is established without national boundaries. They are the dreamers but are not the only ones.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is working journalist based in Chennai. He received his PhD degree from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi where he was a Jefferson fellow in fall 2003. He blogs at Mujtabas Musings.

Photo: Nagaland

The Nuclear Deal and the Desperation

So now we do not even need a President of a country to tell us what to do. We can take instructions as happily from a junior official, be it Burns or Boucher, as they come here cracking the whip and we to the last man in the government stand happily in line, hands raised in servile salute as we shout in orchestrated chorus, “we want the nuclear deal, yes we want the nuclear deal.” Continue reading The Nuclear Deal and the Desperation

Whither Justice – Trajectory Of Srikrishna Report

Ram Puniyani

Bombay Riots 1993The communal violence in India has been a festering sore on its body politic. Due to its peculiar nature, the crimes are not registered-investigated and guilty are usually not punished. The state while sloppy in these matters has been forced to appoint the inquiry commissions in to the violence, mainly due to public pressure. Most of the inquiry commissions have met with indifference from the political-administrative-legal system. The fate of Srikrishna Commission is no different. Its recommendations have not been honored so far. Continue reading Whither Justice – Trajectory Of Srikrishna Report