Monday, 25 October 1999

India's Taliban - Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth

(Originally appeared in the 1990s in the Times of India, as published in M. D. Nalapat's book "Indutva", Har-Anand Publications, 1999)

Today, despite all the media blitz against them, it cannot be
denied that 'lower-caste' politicians such as Annadurai, Laloo
Yadav and Kanshi Ram have exploded the feeling of caste
superiority over much of India, just as one of the world's greatest
sages, Sri Narayana Guru, did in Kerala a century ago. Thanks
to the democratic model that we imported from the West, more
than 80 per cent of the population is now free of caste oppression.

Religious persecution too is becoming unfeasible in a society in
which the overwhelming majority favour a moderate and secular
polity where all religious groups are made to feel secure. As the
recent Maharashtra election results have shown, the electorate
does not take kindly to attempts by so-called 'Hindu'
organisations to adopt the methods of Lahore’s Maulana Fazlur
Rehman or Kabul's Mullah Omar.

Indeed, despite their self-affixed 'Hindu' tag, there is nothing
in common between the desecrators of Maqbool Fida Husain’s
Mumbai home, and Sanatana Dharma, which is one of this
civilisation’s greatest contributions to humanity. A true sanatani
will recognise as a kindred soul any individual (whether called
a Muslim, Jain, Sikh, Buddhist or Christian) who adopts the
creed of Himsa Dooyathe, or moderation, in his or her life. An
Abdul Kalam or an M. F. Husain (whatever one may think about
his paintings) is much, much more a sunaztani than the Taliban-like
individuals who are trying to convert Mumbai into another
Kabul. By adopting an ISI-type view of society, and thus
promoting polarisation between the two biggest religious groups
in India, Pakistan’s plot of dividing India comes closer to

No Difference
As Balasaheb Thackeray once remembered, Hindus can be safe
only in a country where all other religions feel the same sense of
security. Should a community feel itself to be under threat (as
happened with the Sikhs after the 1984 Delhi pogrom and the
Muslims after the 1992 destruction of the Babri Masjid), its
elements will be more easily enticed by the efforts of China and
Pakistan to recruit them for insurgency.

Apart from following the Taliban's example in social policy,
some ‘Hindu’ organisations are also emulating its example in
economics. Today, there is virtually no difference between the
ISI fanatics (who seek to drive away foreign investment from
India), the Chinese agents (who seek the same goal) and a section
of the Swadeshi brigade, which rants against the "dangers"
posed to the Hindu way of life by, say, Coca Cola or Kentucky
Fried Chicken. Such individuals are allied to the eco-fanatics,
who have been using legal means to stop new enterprises from
being set up in India. These days, in the US or the European
Union, Indian food is everywhere. In far away Lubeck in
northem Germany, this writer tucked into a sumptuous meal of
mm and alu sabzi, while the best idlis he has ever tasted were
from a tiny South Indian restaurant in Atlanta—capital of the
home state of India’s friend, Newt Gingrich, speaker of the US
House of Representatives. Fortunately, although the US still has
a Ku Klux Klan, it has not yet discovered that idlis and dosas are
fatal to the American way of life.

Communist China has in the years since the 1985 Deng
reforms attracted over $ 400 billion in foreign investment. This
has enabled the Red regime to stamp out dissent and to quietly
work towards making Communist China the world’s dominant
power. If democratic India is to checkmate this, it needs to attract
at least $ 200 billion of foreign investment in the next 10 years.
This is not possible if projects get halted on flimsy legal or
political grounds, or if foreigners are regarded as unwelcome.
Many of these ’aliens’ are the sons and daughters of our own
people, who migrated abroad to escape the tyranny of Nehruvian
socialism. As the warm reception to Sonia Gandhi shows, the
Indian people are not inherently xenophobic the way some other
peoples are. There may be differences over Gandhi's style of
functioning, but this is unrelated to the accident of her origin.

The Clinton White House is the most pro-Communist China
government in the democratic world, as subservient to Beijing's
security interests as the Chamberlain-Daladier governments
were to Hitler’s in the 1930s. Germany and Japan have joined the
US in seeking to actualise the China-Pakistan plan of crippling
the Indian economy, so that New Delhi cannot challenge Beijing's
hegemonic drive in Asia, However, it must not be forgotten that
all three of the former are democracies, and there should be no
identification of the German, Japanese and US administrations
with the peoples of these three countries.

Emerging Threat
While counter-action against those harming India's interests
must be swift, this should be matched by a welcome mat for
foreign investment, as well as the putting into place of policies
that are friendly to local taxpayers. Corporates should be enticed
to invest in facilities within India through a combination of
higher customs duties and lower domestic taxes. There should
be minimal curbs on the creation of production and other
facilities in India, whatever be the ownership of these units. As
one of the world’s major powers, India need not be afraid of a
new East India Company. Provided, of course, that it can
confront the Taliban-like enemy within as effectively as it has
thus far countered the external threat from Pakistan and China.
Today, post-Pokhran II, the emerging threat to India's security
comes from the intolerance and bigotry practised by some of the
self-appointed defenders of Bharat Mata.

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