Saturday 29 February 2020

After Kurds, now Afghans get betrayed (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat

Trump is seeking to insert a Trojan horse into Kabul in the shape of Taliban elements backed by Ankara, Doha and Islamabad.

During most of the first two years of his first term as President of the United States, Donald J. Trump embraced the imperative of ensuring that global Wahhabism be prised loose of its leadership role in the Muslim world. While Qatar has remained chained to past doctrines, Saudi Arabia has sought to move away from Wahhabism, despite the tenets of that creed having been intertwined from the very beginnings of perhaps the only state named after a family, the Al Sauds. Given the youthful population of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it is essential that the education imparted to its people reflect the needs and knowledge of the 21st century rather than the 16th, and it is to the credit of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman that this is finally being attempted, if in some matters through baby steps, to widespread domestic appreciation. President Trump has stood by the Crown Prince, which is what makes the 45th US President’s abrupt transformation into a cheerleader for a prominent leader of the Wahhabi International, President R.T. Erdogan of Turkey, so much of a mystery. In a foreign policy and security disaster, Trump abandoned the Kurdish fighters who had fought together with US forces to ensure the defeat of ISIS, and is now seeking to insert a Trojan horse into Kabul in the shape of Taliban elements backed by Ankara, Doha and Islamabad. What was once a unified group is now, in effect, divided into three groups, of which the segment which is being portrayed by Islamabad as representing the entire Taliban is the weakest on the ground, despite being financially the strongest. Meanwhile, the Afghan National Army (ANA) is growing in manpower and capabilities, and the “peace agreement” designed by Zalmay Khalilzad, with the assistance of GHQ Rawalpindi, is in actuality a “Pieces Agreement” that will shred the Afghan government in Kabul into factions whose rivalry will destroy any chance of peace in Afghanistan. President Ghani is being nudged to go the Najibullah way, by agreeing to the one-sided conditions of the Pieces Deal, including the release of nearly 6,000 hardcore Taliban fighters captured at great human cost by the ANA. Their release will shatter the morale of the only legitimate army in the country, and one that the international community should be backing rather than sabotaging. Decades of experience ought to have taught Washington and the NATO command in Brussels of the folly of expecting the Taliban to adhere to the terms of any agreement, yet once again a leap of credulity has taken place. All that President Trump wishes to achieve is to reduce to zero the number of US casualties in Afghanistan during an election year. If such a process leads to heightened bloodshed and chaos in Afghanistan, the calculation is that such mayhem would not have the same negative impact on US voters as even a few returning body bags of US soldiers would.
The scurrying away from the Kurds and now the Afghans reveals an unmistakable—and broad—peacenik streak within the White House. Once again, it has been demonstrated that Trump’s tough talk over Afghanistan is merely camouflage for a policy little different from that of Mikhail Gorbachev during his years in power, which was to avoid supporting the use of the military, even when such forbearance caused immense damage to the overall national interests of the Soviet Union. Vladimir Putin is a contrast to both Gorbachev and Trump, in that he has not hesitated to place boots on the ground wherever these have been found by him to be necessary to defend Russia’s interests. Whether it be in Georgia, Ukraine or Syria, President Putin has not hesitated to resort to force to get results suiting his geopolitical designs. Had Putin been in charge of the Soviet Union during the 1980s, he would have taken the war to Pakistan in a manner that Gorbachev lacked the courage to do. By doing so, he would have defeated the “freedom fighters” who captured Kabul in the manner that his intervention in Syria has checkmated the Wahhabi “freedom fighters” who are being backed by the US, the EU and Turkey, despite their killing Christians, Druze, Shia and other contra-Wahhabi elements in the Pol areas that they have temporary control of. Clearly, Erdogan believed that Putin was as credulous and as neglectful of allies as Trump has proved to be in both Syria as well as Afghanistan. Instead, Putin has stood by Bashar Assad and his Iranian allies rather than with Erdogan despite the latter’s purchase of S-400 missile systems. Erdogan has therefore been denied the easy victory that he secured over the Kurds through the surrender of their interests by Donald Trump. Just as history books relate as a cautionary tale the abandonment of the Czechs to Hitlerite Germany in 1938 by Neville Chamberlain, books will in future detail the betrayal of the Kurds and the Afghans by President Trump during the past year and a half, at substantial cost to the credibility of the US as a reliable partner. Small wonder that voices within the inner councils of the Gulf Cooperation Council are considering whether to substitute the Sino-Russian alliance for the US and its NATO partners to protect the existing ruling structures in the Middle East. The first significant sign of a possible shift in superpower alliances (replacing the US and its allies with China and Russia) is the reality that the White House faces today. None of the GCC states appear willing any more to permit the US to use the military bases in their territory to launch an armed attack on Iran. Now that “good behaviour” (i.e., fealty to US-EU dictates) has been met with the scrapping of the Iran nuclear deal, the odds are substantial that Teheran will follow the path of Pyongyang and work at speed on developing a nuclear deterrent. Given the probable chaos that would follow an armed attack by the US on Iran, it is probable that the window for a rollback of the Iranian nuclear program by force has already closed, given that country’s ample stocks of both missile systems as well as WMD. Not to mention the assistance it will receive from Moscow and Beijing to ensure a military stalemate in any such confrontation.
The betrayal of the Afghan people is by those who are aware that their surrender is to extremists who seek to deny any education or gainful occupation at all to women. Their surrender is to a congeries of militias that severally seek to enforce a Wahhabi version of the Spanish Inquisition. A force that the ANA could defeat in a year, were it given the means to do so. It is fortunate for the world that today’s leaders were not in mindset the wartime Heads of Government in the US or the UK during 1940, or these countries would have sought to surrender most of Europe to the Germans the way they are doing with the Afghans, a people who made the error of trusting in US-EU promises.

Saturday 22 February 2020

President Trump, welcome to India, the essential U.S. ally (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat

The visit of President Trump to India is about more than a meeting between two friends, Donald and Narendra. It is a sign that the relationship between Delhi and Washington is now poised for a breakthrough.

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is about the only world leader to have excellent personal relations with US President Donald J. Trump despite being on cordial terms with his predecessor, Barack H. Obama. Both are wary of conventional media, preferring to reach directly to the people through the medium of the internet. Modi’s motto is “India First”, while that of Trump is “America First”. While both have core support from a clearly defined base, each points to the economy as the strong point in their resume as Heads of Government of the two biggest democracies in the world. Trump and Modi both have political and other opposition in their respective countries that are willing to go the extra mile to defeat them at the polls. Modi appears to be secure in his present job until 2024, while Trump looks with confidence on once again besting an ideologically fractured Democratic Party on 8 November. Winning a second term could mean the difference between freedom and incarceration for President Trump and some of his family members, as the numerous bureaucrats in the Washington Beltway, who are unreformed Clintonites (and therefore Never Trumpers), are sharpening their knives to tangle him as well as close members of the Trump family in a welter of cases fuelled less by fact than by prejudice against this very unusual of US Presidents who has exhibited his disdain for the Establishment by filling his team with outliers and outsiders in a manner last seen since Jimmy Carter occupied the White House at the start of the 1980s. In contrast, Prime Minister Modi has been careful to retain within his administration seasoned elements of the bureaucracy rather than take a chance on those without government experience. Indeed, the manner of functioning of Trump and Modi has been a study in contrasts, with the US President going full steam ahead on tossing aside conventional advice and pumping up the economy with assistance from the Federal Reserve Board, which has printed over $2 trillion in dollar bills during President Trump’s term, while Prime Minister Modi has cut back on expenditure almost across the board in an effort at keeping the fiscal deficit to levels that the global financial community would find attractive. Both President Trump as well as Prime Minister Modi dislike sending troops into conflict. While Modi has been as insistent as his BJP predecessor, A.B. Vajpayee in refusing to allow troops from India to deploy abroad except in the usually anodyne circumstances provided by UN peacekeeping missions, Trump has not hesitated to hand over a lifeline to ISIS in Syria by ditching the Kurds who were fighting them and stepping back, as President Erdogan of Turkey (who has been an open supporter of religious fighters who are almost entirely indistinguishable from regulars in ISIS formations) moved into Northern Syria in an effort at saving elements of ISIS and its clones from being overwhelmed by Russia, Syria and Iran. The US President arrives in India after having signed what, in effect, is an instrument of surrender to the Taliban in Afghanistan, throwing President Ashraf Ghani and the Afghan National Army to the wolves in much the same inexplicable way as he forced the Kurds to surrender their well-defended forward posts to the Turkish military less than two years ago. Despite his claims about destroying terror hubs, in reality President Trump has sometimes been less than helpful to the many determined professionals in the Pentagon who seek to extinguish the fires lit by ISIS. Part of such ambivalence may be explained by his strange affinity towards the current leader of global Wahhabism, President R.T. Erdogan of Turkey. However, a world leader with the intellectual capacity of President Trump is unlikely to remain tied to such policy missteps for much longer.
It must be added that Prime Minister Modi has remained true to the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. He has been firm that India will not send boots on the ground in Afghanistan, despite the urging of those outside the government who point to the security challenges India will face should the Taliban once again establish control over Afghanistan the way they did with the backing of President William J. Clinton in the 1990s. There is, of course, a halfway house between sending troops and doing nothing to prevent the Taliban from its Bajwa-Trump-sponsored forward trajectory. This would be to train much larger numbers of the Afghan military and security services than is presently the case, and assist Afghanistan to set up ordinance factories that could provide the war materiel needed to roll back the inevitable moves of the Taliban to regain complete control over a country crucial to the security of Iran, Central Asia and India. Such a move would find favour in the Pentagon, which would seek to assist in such an effort by New Delhi. The difficulty facing India is that President Trump has long adopted a mindset that regards only dollars and cents of being of any value in the world, and assisting India to roll back the Taliban would involve expenditure and concessions that Trump seems loath at present to give. The good news is that US corporates active in defence production are anyway looking to India not simply as a market but as a production base. Given the porous nature of technology seepage in China, the only other country that has equivalent reserves of skilled manpower to handle mass production of defence and other hi-tech items is India. Whether it be Lockheed or Apple, the case for relocating production facilities from China to India is becoming stronger. Modi has the capacity to ensure changes in the regulatory and overall administrative matrix in India as would attract investment on the massive scale witnessed in China during the 1990s. Given the importance of a close defence and security alliance with India to evolving US interests, it is doubtful that such a substitution of China with India in US and EU supply chains of defence and other hi-tech manufactures would meet with resistance from the 45th President of the US. Such a partial shift of production lines would in particular assist both EU as well as US-based entities to meet the challenge offered by high-quality competitive wares from Russia and China. The future is likely to witness a joint Sino-Russian push in ramping up weapons sales to the Middle East and elsewhere, and a supply chain alliance between the EU, the US and India could effectively compete with the strengthening Sino-Russian production base, including in such matters as Artificial Intelligence.
As important as President Trump will be First Lady Melania Trump, First Daughter Ivanka Trump and First Son-in-law Jared Kushner, all of whom will be accompanying the US President during his brief but significant visit to India. Ivanka Trump already has had exposure to India through earlier visits, and has established contact with elements of the Indian diaspora resident in the US and elsewhere. Her open and syncretic mindset has ensured a deep understanding of the wellsprings of Indian culture and tradition, and hopefully this visit will add to her affinity with one of the world’s oldest surviving civilisations, besides the Jewish civilisation to which she belongs through marriage. Senior Advisor to the President, Jared Kushner has a considerable degree of influence over policy, and should he make it part of his list of priorities to get the US to place the question of India’s entry into the UN Security Council permanent membership, that would represent a great leap forward for Indian diplomacy in the era of S. Jaishankar. Washington could place India, Brazil, Japan and Germany separately onto the UN agenda, leaving it to each country to secure the votes needed for entry into a club that Jawaharlal Nehru passed up the opportunity of joining in the 1950s out of his commitment to the People’s Republic of China. Of the four countries, India has the better chance of entry, and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) ought to make it clear that any earlier insistence of “All or None” of the four powers has been replaced by each country separating itself in practice, so that it is not obligatory on countries favouring one of the four (Germany, Japan, India and Brazil) to have to back the others as well. China, for example, may decide to back two or three of the four, while the other members of the UNSC and the UN General Assembly would do the same. Each country could be separately placed on the UN agenda by the US, should Jared Kushner succeed in persuading President Trump of the advantages to the US of such a course. Should a permanent member of the UNSC block India despite New Delhi being supported by the other four, such a move needs to have substantial and long-term effects on relations, both political as well as economic. Given the excellent personal chemistry between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping, it is likely that Beijing will support India as a Permanent UNSC Member, most likely without a veto. Rather than wait for a time when the five powers with a veto decide to extend that privilege to another, it would be best for India to accept a permanent seat even if it is not given veto power. The UNSC could have more Permanent Members (including the veto-wielding five) and ten Non-Permanent Members, thereby remaining a compact body with better representation than now within the list of Permanent Members.
First Lady Melania Trump has proved to be a dignified and charming presence in the White House, and it is not impossible that she will find her first albeit fleeting look of India such as to make her wish to come again, possibly during a second term for her husband. It may be remembered that First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy (who resembles Melania in physical appearance in numerous ways) visited India without her husband and created an enormous amount of goodwill for the US. A visit by the current First Lady may prove equally successful. Certainly her choice of a school to visit has gone down well among the people. The sights, sounds and colours of the country may inspire a First Lady who has repeatedly and obviously unfairly been underestimated by commentators. As for her husband, by his visit to India despite his grumblings on trade, it is clear that the world’s biggest democracy has resonance in the mind of the billionaire businessman turned politician. The fact is that global geopolitics calls for India to step up and partner with the US to ensure that key zones such as the Middle East do not plunge further into chaos. “Arab Spring” model changes in the power structure of GCC members would put at risk the occupations of several million citizens of India who are working there and sending substantial amounts of their savings back home. Prime Minister Modi has been careful to ensure that he is friendly to both the Crown Prince of the UAE and Saudi Arabia, while also being close to the Prime Minister of Israel. Importantly, India has maintained its links with the Assad regime in Damascus, as it has with Teheran, despite grumbling from policymakers in the US, whose strategists seem to not have noticed the importance of a friendly country serving as a link between Washington and Teheran as well as Damascus. Despite the present stand within the Lutyens Zone that India will not send boots on the ground even to nearby Afghanistan, geopolitical currents are going to make that inevitable in future, just as it has made the recapture of PoK a necessary task for the Modi government.
The visit of President Trump to India is about more than a meeting between two friends, Donald and Narendra. It is a sign that the relationship between Delhi and Washington is now poised for a breakthrough. A phase in which India will replace China as the manufacturing platform of choice for the US, and Indian soldiers will replace (clearly unreliable) Pakistani troops tasked with securing the safety of the governments in the GCC. As for Afghanistan, the only way to undo the damage caused by Trump’s headlong retreat from Kabul is for India to step forward and help train the Afghan National Army, besides setting up not just schools but ordinance factories there. Missile systems developed by India need to be used against the Taliban once the present make-believe peace deal breaks down.  The boundaries of the security zone of India extend into the Indo-Pacific, into the Middle East and into Central, Southeast and South Asia. The 24-25 February meeting of two of the four most influential leaders on the planet at Ahmedabad and Delhi reflects that 2020 reality.

For Nehru, ‘freedom’ was only for himself (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat

Nehru made freedom of speech conditional on the will of the bureaucracy.

In a democracy, governments cannot be equated with the people. During British rule, any effort against that government was treated as an attack on India and punished, as though the “nation” comprised only of the British. It took only 16 months before the Constitution of India was amended to ensure that the maxim of “Government equals the Nation” once again took effect in jurisprudence. Mao Zedong brought together into a single country more territory than China had effectively controlled throughout its long history, while those who led India after the British left accepted a cruelly truncated subcontinent with merely a rhetorical shrug (“not wholly or in full measure but very substantially”). Abraham Lincoln waged war on the seceding states that formed the Confederacy in order to keep the country united, while Nehru was horrified at even the thought of bringing together what had been torn to pieces. Tripurdaman Singh has written a book on the first amendment to the Constitution of India, an episode which merits inclusion in school and university syllabi. The book, Sixteen Stormy Days, narrates the methodical way in which Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru overturned the freedoms that had been guaranteed to the people of India by the foundational document that had been unanimously approved by the Constituent Assembly just 16 months earlier. Freedom of speech was made conditional on the will of the bureaucracy, while lapsed British-era powers of the state to take away the wealth and liberty of the citizen were reinstated. Sections 124A and 153A of the Indian Penal Code were brought back into life, while Article 15 assuring equality of every citizen before the law had several exceptions tacked on to it. The government was in effect identified as the nation, which meant that criticism of the government was tantamount to an attack on the state. And as Jawaharlal Nehru in actuality was the government, criticism of the Prime Minister was treated as anti-state and anti-national. Once the First Amendment to the Constitution got passed in 1951, the colonial overlay of the governance mechanism regained its supremacy, a dominance that it has since never lost, despite 73 years after “freedom”. To this day, the civil service has mastery over civil society much the way it did during the days of British rule. It seems futile to expect any ruler of the country to divest the government of colonial-era powers that are routinely utilised, but until this happens, the country can never move into the stable double digit trajectory that is needed to be societally stable and economically prosperous. A persisting colonial mindset seeks to enforce a uniformity across the country that is destructive of innovation and enterprise. There was once an expectation that technology, in the form of an expansion of high-speed bandwidth across the country (coupled with a reduction in the costs of access) would create an ecosystem in which new knowledge-based industries would be set up and thrive. Instead, the three branches of the state have, over the course of a decade, ensured that the telecom sector in India has been denuded of almost all of the players who at different times entered it. It now consists of just three enterprises, two of which are in the ICU, while the other is just barely in a state of health, despite repeated doses of vitamin shots. Given the broadband and telecom morass in the country, it is difficult to fathom where those who sought to achieve a miracle and convert India’s economy from cash to (digitally enabled) cards in an instant acquired the optimism which caused them to carry out in 2016 a demonetisation of the currency unprecedented both in scope and effect anywhere in the world and anytime in history.
In this era, where jail time is the fate of many who are less than respectful to those in authority, it needs to be remembered that such a trend began during the very first years of freedom. Given the curbs to freedom of expression caused by the First Amendment, was it any wonder that textbooks and the media soon got filled with encomiums to Nehru? Or that nascent efforts at examining the causes and legacy of Partition were soon replaced with the government-approved version of events, which was that the vivisection was inevitable and indeed, desirable? The government got back the licence it enjoyed during the colonial period to curtail multiple freedoms of citizens on the grounds of “public interest” (where the well-connected constituted the “public”). The only individual who had the will and the stature to stand up to Nehru—Vallabhbhai Patel—died towards the close of 1950, and from then onwards, Nehru began to insert the government into the daily lives of citizens so as to denude them of rights, including liberty and property. Security of property is essential to rapid development and to the creation of an entrepreneurial rather than a carpetbagger class. The fragility of the right to property in India has caused several well-connected businesspersons in India not to look for a return on equity but a return of equity. In other words, by under-invoicing, over-invoicing and in numerous other crooked ways, to soon get back what money of their own they had invested in an enterprise. From then onwards, their only motivation is to grab as much pecuniary and other benefits from an enterprise as the bureaucrats and politicians allow. Another side effect of the perpetuation of the colonial system of governance has been the propensity of HNIs to send money out of the country rather than grow it within India. Small wonder that there has been such a rush to the door opened by the Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code (IBC). Several thousand enterprises of varying size are now gleefully enmeshed in the coils of the IBC, especially those that have borrowed large sums of money from financial institutions without any expectation on the part of either lender and borrower that these sums would get repaid. While Vijay Mallya’s reported offer of paying back 80% of the moneys he owed was rejected in favour of a UK court proceeding of indeterminate result, secretive hedge funds registered in external banking havens have been successful in persuading banks to agree to 80% or even 90% “haircuts” of select loans. In very short order, these funds have managed to dispose of the same loans at a huge profit, a path to wealth through bank NPAs that gained traction during the period when P. Chidambaram was Finance Minister. The saving grace is that in this era of internet banking, any permanent scrubbing away of transaction records has become much more difficult than during the days when a fire could fortuitously break out and burn records to a crisp. Sometime in the future, those who are taking advantage of the immense powers of the bureaucracy to scam their way to mega wealth will get exposed, just as sometime in the future, the young of India will succeed in their demand that the colonial edifice of control get off their backs. Someday, the Constitution of India will return to its original form, in which the people will no longer be bullied by government into surrendering their freedom and their possessions. A book such as Sixteen Stormy Years would have never been allowed to get distributed in India during the days when Nehru, that exemplar of the freedom of the individual as defined by freedom of an individual to rule over the rest (and the ideology he spawned), was in charge of the mechanism of governance. These, fortunately, are days when criticism of Nehru is unlikely to lead to the penal consequences that have accompanied condemnatory writings and speeches about VVIPs in India ever since the First Amendment to the Constitution of India got passed in 1951.

Saturday 15 February 2020

India must rectify Aurangzeb’s excesses (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat

Rediscovering the truth of the past is essential to the building of a better future.

Holocaust denial is a thought atrocity that mocks and belittles the suffering and eventual death of millions of the most talented people on earth during the period when Adolf Hitler ruled Germany. But there are other mass killings that have been sought to get pushed away from public consciousness, such as the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire. Or the death of millions of colonised human beings through enforced poverty and starvation by miscellaneous European empires, including that of the British in India. Or the mass killings and distress caused by an emperor whose coronation site is soon to be refurbished by the Archaeological Survey of India. Emperor Aurangzeb was the slayer of millions. Sadly for the truth, history books in India are filled with denial of the massacres of the past, and an honest examination of their causes and effects. And so it has been with Aurangzeb, a situation that calls for rectification, and not just in textbooks. The coronation of Aurangzeb in 1658 marked the start of the decline of the Mughal Empire. The cause of such a collapse was the zeal with which the new emperor sought to erase the past and fashion the present in a manner that reflected his own cruel and narrow beliefs.
The first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, dealt with the failure of the Congress Party to prevent the partition of India by acting as though such a tragedy never happened. He repeated in his policies several of the causes of Partition and ignored the need to rectify at least some of the consequences. Nehru’s consistent policy of Genocide Denial caused him as Prime Minister to look the other way when hundreds of thousands of Hindus and Sikhs were killed in both the western as well as the eastern parts of Pakistan, a state set up as a consequence of the convenient (to British objectives) fiction that Hindus and Muslims could never live in harmony with each other. In order to protect Pakistan from even verbal barbs from India, Nehru got passed the first amendment to the Constitution of India within less than a year of that bedrock of the law coming into force. The legislation he got enacted was transparently intended to silence critics and give his government a degree of power that was never envisaged by the authors of the Constitution.
In our textbooks, history has been written so as to reflect Nehru’s views, so much so that in some works, there is a transformation of Bigot Aurangzeb into Saint Aurangzeb. Reading the “Partition Denial” version of history that is taught in our schools and colleges to this day, students may be forgiven for believing Aurangzeb to be a medieval version of Vinoba Bhave. The despot has been portrayed as a well-intentioned ascetic. The self-proclaimed champions of religious freedom who wrote history textbooks forgot that it was this ruler who demolished the three holy sites of the Hindu majority in his realm, at Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi. As long as this wound on the traditions of India remains to fester, communal harmony will remain out of reach. Just as Muslims deserve their holy sites as Christians do theirs, surely Hindus in a country torn apart into two on the explicit basis of religion in 1947 deserve their three holy sites to be returned to what they were in before Aurangzeb wreaked his rage on them. Neither Mathura nor Kashi nor Ayodhya is in Pakistan. All three are in India, and yet 73 years after Independence, these three holiest sites of the Hindus have not been restored to what they were before each got destroyed by Aurangzeb. The case of Mathura is especially poignant, as the temple built on the birthplace of Lord Krishna had once been destroyed by Central Asian marauders, but was rebuilt with assistance from none other than Emperor Jehangir. After the structure got rebuilt, each night a lamp was lit atop the temple spires, and it was the sight of the light on that tall and distant spire as he was on his way to Mathura from Agra that so annoyed the Wahhabi in Aurangzeb that he ordered the destruction of the temple. More than three hundred years later, the structure has yet to be rebuilt to what it was before Aurangzeb’s act.
Fanaticism and intolerance are evil, no matter who the perpetrators are. Those Hindus who lynched Muslims whom they suspected of eating beef are as much terrorists as village lads from Pakistan who have been brainwashed into zombies by GHQ Rawalpindi and sent across the border to cause mayhem. Some of the hateful remarks, including on social media, made by those in the majority community who claim to be defending tradition in India go entirely counter to the philosophies that evolved in a continuing civilisation that is countless years old. Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq and other countries bear witness to what happens when the intolerant seek to enforce their brutal will on the people. A practical way of ensuring that the people of India understand the fell effects of fanaticism would be to convert the coronation site of Aurangzeb into a museum that would showcase his evil deeds and the consequences of them on the people and finally the empire, whose weakening and eventual dissolution he caused. There are those who believe that the Archaeological Survey of India (in a context when even the path followed by Lord Ram from Ayodhya to Lanka and back remains forgotten and the Ram Setu has yet to be declared a national monument) should expend taxpayer cash on the coronation site of Aurangzeb only after Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura have been restored to what they were before the depredations of Aurangzeb. An alternative course would be to create from the coronation site a museum that illustrates the kind of ruler that Aurangzeb really was, rather than continue with the fiction that he was the saintly figure depicted in Nehruvian history books. Citizens can thereby understand the lessons in the destruction of a state because of the intolerant and genocidal impulses of its ruler. Along with a memorial to the legacy of Aurangzeb, the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata needs to be converted into a museum showcasing the loot and suffering caused by British rule in India. Not that life before the Mughal invasion and British conquest was perfect. The people of India need to come to terms with misdeeds committed during each phase of the past of this land. They need to be educated about the follies committed by the Hindu kings of ancient India that caused them to be serially defeated by Mughal invaders. The lessons of history should teach us to ensure that mistakes be avoided that permit colonial practices and mindsets to continue; that avoid the repeat of follies that so weaken a people that they get overcome by invaders; that never permit intolerance to reign. These are lessons that three museums dedicated to these subjects would help embed in the psyche of the people.
Rediscovering the truth of the past is essential to the building of a better future rather than remaining stuck in the morass caused in large part to attitudes fashioned by a refusal to acknowledge the imperative of recorded history being rendered in a manner hewing to the motto of Satyameva Jayate.


Saturday 8 February 2020

Women deserve the right to command in battle (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat

Whether or not soldiers would respect their commanding officer would hinge on the perceived qualities of that commander and not his or her gender.

Among Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s more memorable aphorisms is “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao”. This is good advice. Only those countries have done well in the Knowledge Era as have ensured equal rights to women. The immense panoply of Goddesses (as of course also Gods) in the divine pantheons of ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt and India show that the gender who alone has the ability to be mothers has been acknowledged by the heavens as co-equal, and not simply as having been born to serve as an appendage of the male. That respect for women transcends the narrow boundaries of faith became clear in India at the largely welcoming response of the Muslim community towards the abolition of the practice of triple talaq in India. Next followed a similar acceptance of the repeal of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir. Such accommodative stands took place despite opposition by the fundamentalist 5% of the community. This small segment till recently was accepted by successive governments as well as the media of speaking for the entire Muslim community. In such an atmosphere, a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) could with minimal friction have been passed, but in its wisdom, the Government of India next decided to enact the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Given that Muslims were excluded from its provisions for speedy granting of citizenship to those arriving in India from three countries (two of which have governments friendly to India), it did not require rocket science to realise that the CAA would create a strong reaction within the Muslim community, in contrast to the situation with other initiatives of Prime Minister Modi. It is assumed that such a reaction would have been foreseen and that there must be a strategy to cool things down, a healing touch that will, hopefully, shortly be revealed. The sooner this is done, the better, as the interpretations given to the CAA among tens of millions of citizens is leading to a rejuvenation of the fundamentalist fringe in the Muslim community and its inevitable corollary, the growth of fundamentalist impulses within the Hindu community. Both fringes have viewpoints that have substantial commonality with each other. Together with opposition to customs such as the alcohol, birth control or the celebration of Valentine’s Day, the fundamentalist fringe within several communities in India are transparent in their patriarchal (“the male knows best”) approach to society. Even in the relatively enlightened Parsi and Jewish communities, children born of Parsi or Jewish mothers are not regarded by religious zealots as being Parsi or Jewish, unless their fathers too belong to the same faith. Orthodox Jews and Parsis deny children the option of following the faith of their mothers, of course in the name of “tradition”, the same argument that was used in the past to justify discrimination.
At a time when even the Catholic Church is witnessing a period of reform and introspection under Pope Francis, it is disheartening to witness the continuing strength in policy councils of policymakers who believe that women should be content to remain “children of a lesser god”. Such individuals clearly favour the move by the Government of India to continue to deny women the same opportunities for career progressions as men within the military. It may be noted that in the ranks of the police, women are rapidly establishing their competence and racing forward to occupy positions of higher rank. But in the case of the military, the government would have us believe that men serving in the uniformed forces guarding our external boundaries are unwilling to go into the field if commanded by a female. If men who have women as their superiors are working without apparent protest in commerce, industry, education, healthcare and in multiple other sectors, on what basis is it considered a certainty that males in the armed forces would balk at serving under a female officer? While this may be true of a few males, such regressive views should not be accepted as the norm. For it would also be correct to say that some males who are fixated on the customs of the past may feel a hesitation in wholeheartedly accepting a commander from particular faiths or caste groups. Fortunately, no government since 1947 has yet barred individual soldiers from leadership positions on the basis of their faith or caste. Similarly, whether or not those serving in a platoon or a brigade or even a division would respect their commanding officer would hinge on the perceived qualities of that commander and not his or her gender. Both Queen Elizabeth I and Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi won the hearts of the men under their command by their personal attributes.
When the Government of India insisted to the Supreme Court that women in the military should be blocked from posts where they command men, the learned Justices Rastogi and Chandrachud asked why women could not serve in command-level posts where combat was not involved. Even this was an ask too much for the government. The reality is that women have proved their skill in combat in numerous conflicts. Most recently, in a conflict where ISIS, the ideological successors to Hitler’s NSDAP, are involved, among the most effective fighters against that scourge have been Kurdish women. It is true that some of them have endured horrible atrocities upon capture, but those in the field accept risks, as indeed do men. The brutality shown to some PoWs of the Indian Army by elements of the Pakistan army demonstrates that both men as well as women face practically the same risks in war against such foes, and therefore should share them. It may be added that the terrible experience of “Nirbhaya” indicates that even the streets of the national capital have the potential to morph into pits of horror for women. Thanks to the rigidity of the codes followed, the then juvenile who inflicted grievous bodily harm on Nirbhaya escaped almost unscathed. Even his name has yet to be revealed, despite the probability that he may be of a temperament that could result in a repeat of his crime, and that therefore society needs to be warned of his presence by at least knowing his identity. As for Nirbhaya herself, the same codes have prevented her name from being made public, despite the fact that she is no more (and therefore beyond further hurt) when doing so would give the identity of a true heroine. The example set by Nirbhaya shows the bravery and determination of women in India, both qualities as would qualify them for combat responsibility. The Republic Day march past featured in the lead a lady officer, and none of the males marching behind her exhibited the slightest symptoms of the supposedly universal male phobia against being led by a woman. Prime Minister Modi can intervene to ensure that whether in the workplace or in the battlefield, a level playing field between women and men is made the norm.

Saturday 1 February 2020

Xi Jinping bets China’s future on slaying the Devil Virus (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat

Before Xi Jinping took personal charge of measures to battle the novel coronavirus, official response to the crisis took nearly five weeks to evolve from initial puzzlement to the hypersonic action initiated during January.

Bangkok: The onset of the 2019 n-CoV coronavirus is proving to be the most rigorous test of the leadership capabilities of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping and the team he has assembled and empowered since 2013. Since the days of Chairman Mao, China has never had a leader as powerful and decisive as Xi, but such vast power concentrated in a single individual may sometimes be a mixed blessing, as was the case with Mao. This is because there is likely to be much less of even verbal resistance to any move favoured by the leader, even if several individuals have doubts about its practicality and value. Over the past three years especially, as a consequence of his immensely popular drive against corruption in the CCP, whatever Xi decides that the immense party-government machinery should do gets attempted and usually completed without question. Second thoughts are non-existent unless they come from Xi himself. While the unprecedented response of the authorities to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak from the second half of January 2020 would not have been possible without the domination of the governance mechanism in China by President Xi, it is also true that the five weeks lost since early December 2019 in putting in place comprehensive and nationwide measures against the novel coronavirus 2019-n-CoV epidemic were because the matter was yet to be personally handled by President Xi. Of course, once he took personal charge of the novel coronavirus counter-measures, swift and unprecedented action followed that was designed to create firebreaks against a greater spread of the novel coronavirus. Barring Mao Zedong, none of his predecessors would have been able to implement measures as drastic and dramatic as the quarantining of Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, followed by a similar lockdown in other cities. Just as only Prime Minister Narendra Modi could have goaded the bureaucracy in India to drain away 86% of India’s currency stock with almost no notice on 8 November 2016, only President Xi could have enforced such severe restrictions on what is now a total of nearly 90 million individuals. The rollout of such unprecedented measures in an effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus 2019 n-CoV may turn out to be as consequential for economic growth in China as was India’s 2016 demonetization. Just as the population of India accepted the pain and dislocation caused by the drastic demonetization of their currency because of their faith in Prime Minister Modi’s promise that such immediate sacrifice would generate huge gains in future, overall public confidence in President Xi has resulted in the Chinese people enduring without significant protest the conversion of entire cities into ghost towns devoid of almost all commercial and industrial activity. Of course, just as questions began to be asked by the close of 2017 about whether the 8 November 2016 “currency famine” was worth its touted benefits, voices are likely to be raised in China in the future about whether President Xi’s policy of scorched earth that was adopted by the Chinese authorities—albeit after nearly six weeks of the confirmed appearance of the novel coronavirus—was the best course to follow. A few economists warn that the sequence of measures and responses taken by the Chinese government following the November onset of the earliest traces in Wuhan 2019 novel coronavirus may shave off as much as 2.1% annually of growth of China for 2020-2023. Defenders of the basket of measures adopted by the authorities claim that the alternative would have been mass deaths in China and a global pandemic by mid-February, whereas now they expect the virus to begin declining in spread by the close of March even within China, and be well within controllable limits in the rest of the world because of the Xi restrictions.
Before taking personal charge of measures to battle what Xi has repeatedly termed the “Devil Virus”, official response to the crisis took nearly five weeks to evolve from initial puzzlement to the hypersonic action initiated during January. In fact, doctors who warned in mid-December about the virus and its toxicity were referred to the police as “rumour mongers”. Even after confirmation of test results and spread were communicated to the WHO by China on 31 December 2019, the 1.3 billion people in the country were at first not told. It was only after Xi Jinping’s direct involvement that transparency began to be witnessed in the country. By then, the novel coronavirus had already spread within the country and outside, whereas prompt action by early December could have contained the situation. The delay in reporting to the highest levels and thereby ensuring a proper reaction to 2019 n-CoV was caused by the usual tardiness within the official machinery to disseminate bad news to higher levels. In contrast, good news gets relayed rapidly up the chain of command. The preference of lower level officials being to give “positive” rather than “negative” news to higher-ups, the consequence is that the higher echelons are often slow to know when a crisis occurs. Rather than serving as an independent source of “situation input”, the Communist Party machinery has during the Xi period become inextricably interlinked with the formal government machinery. The result has been that the feedback received by the higher leadership is usually the joint consensus of Party and Government rather than presented separately.
Briefings and information from authorities on the ground indicate that it was sometime in November 2019 that hospitals began to suspect that a new strain of the coronavirus family had manifested itself in Wuhan. Rather than raise the alarm with sufficient velocity, nearly three weeks were spent on further tests and investigations, during the course of which the new coronavirus spread uninterruptedly. Only by the middle of December was there acknowledgment among provincial authorities that a new and potentially deadly coronavirus strain was afflicting Wuhan. A check on the Baidu search engine reveals the very low level of activity concerning searches within China on the novel coronavirus, while the announced figures for patients (including fatalities) were at a level below that which would have been normal for such a virulently infectious strain. Several cases apparently went undetected. After Singapore reported its first suspected case of the Wuhan coronavirus on 5 January 2020, searches on Google rose exponentially, while those on Baidu remained at very low levels, indicating that the public in China was still unaware of the magnitude of the crisis that was confronting them. Figures that were released by concerned officials about victims of the new virus strain in China suddenly tripled on 20 January, indicating that orders from the top had come to ensure a greater level of transparency on the 2019 n-CoV situation. The wake-up call for the global community came when the Chinese leadership ordered the lockdown of Wuhan, which was later extended to several other cities. This unprecedented measure brought home to the world the dangers faced should the novel coronavirus spread. However, the roughly 12,000 reported cases of 2019 n-CoV as on date sits uneasily with the fact that nearly 20 countries in multiple continents have reported novel coronavirus cases, most concerning Chinese visitors. If the figures for such infections outside China are juxtaposed with official figures for those infected with the virus in Hubei province, it would seem that the virus has a particular affinity for frequent flyers. The alternative hypothesis is that the number of those affected within China is substantially higher than the figures made available. As a consequence of the slowness in reporting and the initial downplaying of the figures for those afflicted by 2019 n-CoV (until corrected by orders from General Secretary Xi Jinping), countries receiving visitors from China (including from the focus of the epidemic, Wuhan) were unaware for about five weeks of the need for screening, as were places within China but outside Wuhan. As a consequence, the novel coronavirus spread rather than got contained. Late but perhaps not too late, the city was placed in quarantine on Xi’s orders, thereby ensuring that its spread beyond the boundaries of China remains manageable. Within China, the lost window of opportunity to fence off the virus in a limited area that was caused by the delay in giving full and factual information to the highest levels about 2019 n-CoV has resulted in cases being diagnosed in every province of China. The persisting low level of searches about the novel coronavirus in Baidu until the close of January 2020 is evidence that the initial window of virus suppression was lost. The low level of public awareness as evidenced by the infrequent Baidu searches confirms that.
The R-0 (R-naught) of 2019 n-CoV is 2.9, which indicates that more than half of those infected will need to be quarantined if the spread of the virus is to be halted and reversed. Given that the virus is infective even when there is no fever (the common manner of separating healthy from infected travellers at airports), and some cases may be wholly asymptomatic throughout the duration of the infection in an individual, human-to-human transmission carries a high risk of occurrence. By way of comparison, the R0 of SARS was 2.5. However, the mortality rate from the novel coronavirus is much below that of SARS, with fatalities reaching a peak of 2% of severe cases. Several mild cases have gone undetected, the virus running its course within the body within ten days, often with few or no overt symptoms. The low mortality rate of the novel coronavirus may be the reason why the World Health Organisation (WHO) hesitated for over a month before declaring a 2019 n-CoV global health emergency on 30 January. The WHO has continued its post-2016 practice of excluding Taiwan from its reporting mechanism, despite the island being a mere hundred miles from the Chinese mainland. Were President Xi to take a humanitarian initiative and ask the WHO to include Taiwan within its 2019 n-CoV reporting matrix, that single step would win him substantial goodwill in Taiwan. It is irresponsible on the part of the WHO to continue to exclude Taiwan from its global matrix of measures to contain the spread and toxicity of 2019 n-CoV. Both Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada have asked the WHO why such a Taiwan exclusion was made that would affect the efficacy of the global campaign to stamp out the virus, but have not received a reply from the Director-General of an international organisation that has done creditable work despite having a budget that is lower than that of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. It may be added that the heads of the two biggest democracies in the world, President Donald Trump of the US and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, have yet to comment on the matter. Given the ability of the virus to spread, it would be reasonable to assume that the number of those infected in China alone would rise to around 240,000 by the close of March 2020, although reported figures may be lower in view of the fact that several cases may remain undetected because of the mildness of symptoms. The measures now put in place should be sufficient to ensure that the novel coronavirus outbreak remains largely contained within China, which is good news for the global economy.
The effects of the outbreak on the Chinese economy are expected to begin tapering by March, but weaknesses to commerce and industry caused by the epidemic will linger. Among the more problematic could be the fact that China as an investment destination will be much less attractive to outside capital, given the perception of elevated health risks, views that may linger for at least three years. Another factor is the disruption caused to global supply chains by the closure of manufacturing units in China as a consequence of both quarantine as well as silent panic manifesting itself in most of the citizenry staying indoors. Such a situation is likely to be temporary, and should be over by the close of April 2020. However, added to the disruption already caused by the Trump Trade War on China, investment into the manufacturing sector in China is likely to remain subdued, to the advantage of countries such as Vietnam and possibly India. Given the leadership style of Xi Jinping, which is inspirational in nature as was that of Mao Zedong, it is certain that intense efforts will be launched to revive the economy once the “Devil Virus” is finally sent first to the ICU and then the grave. Organised efforts by the Chinese Communist Party-PRC Government at reviving the “animal spirits” of hundreds of thousands of Chinese entrepreneurs are likely to be accompanied by increased leeway shown to private enterprise, which has long been shackled by the CCP’s preferential treatment to the many dinosaurs owned by the state. The Chinese Central bank may need to forget about pleasing Trump by trying to keep the price of the RMB stable against the US dollar. Small units in particular already face a crisis of working capital, and only the Central bank’s printing press can rescue them from closure. China is likely to follow the example of the US during the Presidency of Donald J. Trump. The Federal Reserve Board has printed money on a scale never even dreamed of before, and has stopped the presses (perhaps temporarily) less than a month ago, after two straight years of trillion dollar expansion of money supply. This has kept US stocks high, so much so that their total value amounts to 150% of the US economy. Should the Chinese economy remain depressed, Europe continue on a reduced growth trajectory and the Middle East remain wracked by US-Iran tensions, the US economy may begin to slide two to three months before the 2020 US Presidential elections, thereby making it possible for a genuine “Contra Trump” candidate (rather than a faux Contra Trump candidate such as Joe Biden) of the calibre and competence of Elizabeth Warren to defeat the 45th President of the US. This would have an immediate impact on US foreign policy. Given that every Democratic Party candidate except Joe Biden favours the shutting down of gas and oil fracking in the continental US, that single step would take away almost half of US output. This would make short-term global oil prices unacceptably volatile in a fragile economic environment unless Venezuela and Iran were allowed to resume normal oil production. This would contrast with the systematic manner in which President George W. Bush and his Republican successor Donald J. Trump have brought oil production in both Iran as well as Venezuela close to zero through overt sanctions and covert sabotage. Despite the Trump-induced near-total loss of output in Venezuela and Iran, the effects of 2019 n-CoV are likely to drag oil prices down to around $50 a barrel. Even this value can only go lower as alternative energy feedstocks gain in cost advantages.
By blockading Wuhan and other cities, the Chinese leadership is likely to be able to contain the effects and spread of the novel coronavirus, and ensure its rollback by April 2020. As US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross truthfully, if somewhat insensitively, said, the pain that China is now experiencing could be converted into gain for much of the rest of the world, provided that the transmission of 2019 n-CoV from China to elsewhere gets reduced within ten days and the spread of the novel coronavirus is slowed down and stopped in China within the next four to five weeks. The month of February 2020 will show if the 2019 n-CoV novel coronavirus outbreak is a painful but temporary distraction to the global economy or a catastrophe.

In India the Supreme Court is supreme (Sunday Guardian)

By M D Nalapat

In the 21st century, any policy based on religion is an anachronism.

According to the Times of India (30 January), the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) claims that the Supreme Court of India has no authority to rule on whether or not women should be allowed to enter mosques. In their view, “the matter falls squarely in (sic) religious domain”. While the AIMPLB graciously consented to Muslim women entering a mosque to offer prayers, a caveat added was that such visits were not “obligatory”. Such a duty impliedly applies only to men. Further, freedom by women to enter a mosque and pray within its precincts was subject to the private decision of the “muttawali” of each mosque. Should such an individual decide that women should not be permitted to enter, they would be barred from doing so. And because such decisions formed part of the expansive “religious domain”, the AIMPLB was clear that even the Supreme Court of India had no jurisdiction over such a matter. This when in any civilised state, women should have freedoms similar to men, including in the matter of entry into religious places. Stoning to death an adulterer or chopping off the arm of a thief is also considered to form part of the same doctrine that the AIMPLB regards as immune from judicial review or executive action. The AIMPLB does not seem in much of hurry to demand the right of stoning presumed adulterers to death rather than—as is now the law in India—allow them to escape any taint of criminal conduct. Will all the good men (women being absent) of the AIMPLB at some future date demand that Muslims who have indulged in adultery should be stoned to death, or that Muslim thieves should have an arm of theirs sawed off rather than face prosecution? Although the Constitution of India seems to be silent on the matter of carving out an exception in the matter of court proceedings to matters that are defined as religious, in practice, governments beginning with that headed by Jawaharlal Nehru have implemented successive policies that have differentiated between Muslims and Hindus in numerous matters. In the 21st century, any policy based on religion is an anachronism, no matter the community favoured or discriminated against. A growing number of individuals within the modern, moderate majority of the Muslim community silently or otherwise cheered on moves by the Narendra Modi government in matters such as Triple Talaq or Article 370. An atmosphere was being created for the smooth adoption of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC), as the fundamentalist fringe was finally ceding leadership of the Muslim discourse to moderate elements for the first time since Mahatma Gandhi made the Congress Party back the Ali brothers in their obsession with reviving a doomed Caliphate in Turkey. Rather than the UCC, what was instead brought forward by the government was the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The messaging of this was so poorly done that the CAA has given a pathway to the Wahhabi fringe to seek to regain control over the Muslim discourse. Someday, the Supreme Court of India may need to decide whether the separation in law of “minority” from “majority” is or is not opposed to the basic structure of the Constitution, which is anchored on the equality of all citizens.
Laws and regulations based on a binary division of the population may have arguably been needed were Partition avoided and therefore policies were needed to ensure that the siren song of the Two Nation theory ceased to hold so many Muslims in thrall. Mahatma Gandhi was seen by Hindus as being the one leader who could defeat the Jinnah-Churchill conspiracy to divide India, but in the end, the Mahatma had to watch helplessly as the subcontinental unity for which he had pledged his very life was shattered. Again and again dividing the population of India into Hindu and Muslim (aka “majority” and “minority”) simply serves to perpetuate the embers of the Two Nation theory that are these days growing in intensity in a manner that is disturbing. Those fringe Hindus and Muslims who regard the two faiths as forming separate populations are once again walking in the path chalked out by M.A. Jinnah and Winston Churchill. Future historians need to analyse why the leaders of a country that witnessed the horrors created by Two Nation edicts (such as Morley-Minto in 1909) persisted even after 15 August 1947 in implementing policies that distinguished between Muslims and Hindus. The Supreme Court of India has taken up the matter of the entry of women into places of worship not just of Muslims but of other communities as well. Should any law—or governmental practice—reflect the toxic Two Nation binary that separates Hindu from Muslim, it would be doing severe damage to the future of a country where communal harmony is essential for future success. Rather than seek to place Muslim women on a different level regarding rights than Muslim men, the scholars of the AIMPLB need to celebrate the fact that tens of millions of Muslim women in India have freed themselves from colonial-era ghettoes of prejudice and live and work happily among those of other faiths. Muslim women in India have become leaders of their nearly 200 million strong community in spreading the benefits of modern education, whereas several men still remain fixated on the concept that the only suitable education for Muslims should be that imparted by religious schools. The Holy Quran enjoins each and every believer to discover and cogitate individually on its divine message, rather than outsource its interpretation to a group of men who regularly commit blasphemy by claiming that they alone know the path that will lead to Paradise in the afterlife. Such a promise is used by them to beguile the unwary into obedience to dictates that are often contrary to the gentle and merciful message of the Holy Quran, which is explicit that the Almighty is the creator of all humanity, and not just those belonging to a single faith. In other words, all human beings are children of the same Almighty and therefore need to be treated as sisters and brothers to each other. The hurt and anger caused within the Muslim community by the exclusionary clauses of the CAA should not be a pathway through which the fundamentalist fringe within the Muslim community retakes the leadership role in public discourse and thereafter in state policy. Both Muslims as well as Hindus should ensure that leadership be firmly in the hands of those who refuse to accept the toxic Morley-Minto-Linlithgow-Churchill-Jinnah edict that Hindus and Muslims form Two Nations. Since Independence, successive governments have allowed too many pre-1947 Two Nation separation walls to continue rather than tear them down, as they ought to have done. The Holy Quran enjoins constant awareness of changing conditions and adjustment to them. In the 21st century, in any religion, giving males the right to enter places of worship while denying the same to females is anachronistic. This is especially so in the Muslim community, where women are leading the way in education and reform.