On Sat, Apr 11, 2009 at 11:33 PM, CK Sharma
We have been worried about the Air Force Association having been cold to IESM and trying to disassociate itself from us all this while.
Just like the constant trickle from IESL to IESM, here is some EXCELLENT news for all of you!
That should call for a quiet, but definite celebration: we have breached another till-now un-negotiable dam!
(Wg Cdr CK Sharma, Member IESM Steering Committee)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: rajan mechery
Subject: Re: orop
To: CK Sharma
sir (Wg Cdr CK Sharma) thanks for ack.
Our executive meeting held on 5 th april passed a resolution that all ex mem will join iesm AND EVERY MEMBER WILL ENROL MINIMUM OF TEN MEMBERS AND THE MAXIMUM MEMBERS WHO HAS TAKEN THE CREDIT WILL BE AWARDED A TOKEN OF TROPHY BY AFA PALAKKAD WE ARE WITH YOU AND WILL BE
SQN LDR M RAJAN (RETD)
CHAPTER PRESIDENT AFA PALAKKAD
[I AM ALREADY A MEMMBER OF IESM KINDLY CFM]
GOD BLESS FOR THIS KURUSHETHRA WAR THE FLAG OF IESM WILL FLY HIGH AS MENTIONED IN GEETHA JUSTICE FOR JUSTICE WE DONT HAVE TO DECLARE OUR ASSET LIKE POLTICIANS OURS IS TRANPARENCY LALU AND HIS POLITICANS CAN EN MASS MILLIONS OF RUPEE AND THE GOVT HAS NO GUTS TO TAKE ACTION A HUMBLE REQ EVERY MEMBER OF ARMED FORCE AND THEIR FAMILIES MUST UTILIES THE VOTING RIGHT INCLUDING EX WE HAVE GOT A TNT WITH US ISRO WILLBE SHOCKED
From: Rakesh Prasad Chaturvedi
Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 6:36 PM
Subject: [CoreG15] Fwd: SOLDIERS MUST VOTE FOR RIGHTS" - PIONEER
An interesting article by Gen Mehta
With Warm Regards,
Col RP Chaturvedi,
A-35, Sector 36, Noida 201303.
EDITS | Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Soldiers must vote for rights
Ashok K Mehta
National security, which is rarely discussed in Parliament, has been trivialised at the hustings too — “You sent a Minister with terrorists to Kandahar while we sent commandos to Mumbai.” The debate is in the past tense and in negative.
Traditionally defence issues have arisen following military and operational mishaps and not as part of any institutionalised defence and security strategy formulation. Barring the 1971 military success over Pakistan which eventually became a case of battlefield victory turning into political defeat, the record is one of self-inflicted lapses. The premature acceptance in 1948 of a ceasefire in Jammu & Kashmir, the Himalayan blunder of 1962 exacerbated by the no-use of IAF, the strategic folly of returning Haji Pir Pass and Point 13620 in Kargil to Pakistan in 1965, the mindless storming of the Golden Temple in 1984 and even the ill-managed expeditionary force to Sri Lanka in 1987 will all figure in the hall of foul-ups.
Nineteen eighty-eight served as a turning point for externally-sponsored low intensity conflict becoming a proxy war. Nuclear tests on the sub-continent a decade later virtually sanitised the proxy war, encouraging Kandahar, Kargil and culminating in Parakram and Mumbai. No war has been fought since 1971 though border skirmishes and terror-related crises have become routine since the late-1980s. India, which has a high grade world’s fourth largest military, is unable to stop cross-border terrorism.
The British left us with sound political institutions and systems of governance. But strategic culture and military thought were not among them. For 50 of the 60 years after independence it was during Congress rule, unencumbered by coalition imperatives, that strategic mistakes were made. Ingrained in its leadership and psyche is a strong defensive and passive mentality that infected the military and locked it in an intellectual straitjacket. The economic reforms of the 1990s brought down the defence budget to below two per cent of GDP, emaciating defence preparedness. By the time of Kargil, Army Chief Gen VP Malik had to say: “We will fight with what we have.”
The BJP’s performance was a shade better given it arrived with the nuclear bang. Fortunately the after-Kargil report led to a hundred recommendations on defence reform though regrettably, few could be implemented — especially the appointment of Chief of Defence Staff. Although the BJP had a robust defence programme, ‘India Shining’ robbed it of another term to institutionalise them.
The worst hit is internal security. Maoists struck thrice in the last week killing 30 security personnel. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh periodically describes Maoists as the single biggest internal threat facing the country. The insurgency in Assam should have been quelled a decade ago once Operation Rhino and Operation Bajrang were launched in the early-1990s, but recent political meddling has undone the gains from Operation All Clear in Bhutan in 2003 that had rooting out ULFA as its objective. Widespread infiltration from Bangladesh, the Congress’s historical vote-bank, has created a grave security threat. This month’s bombing campaign in Assam is ULFA’s signal that it is fit, alive and kicking.
The unabated and unresponded spell of terrorist attacks mapping the country and culminating in Mumbai in the last four years has amazed security experts. The Government’s usual reaction has been: “Sorry. But we’re not soft on terror and will give a fitting reply.” The oldest victim of terror has had no counter-terrorism strategy to protect the people of this country. Mumbai and elections have finally forced the Congress to produce its counter-terror document which is Mission Number One and Pledge to Zero Tolerance to Terror. The accent is defensive and reactive, not punitive or preemptive. The BJP is saying it will send troops to Pakistan to stop terrorism. Only a comprehensive Homeland Security model can remove the deficiencies of internal insecurity.
National security strategy and defence and perspective plans gather dust since 2007. For the third time, the defence budget has dipped below two per cent of the GDP and Rs 17,000 crore on modernisation has returned to the Treasury over five years which has affected defence preparedness. The IAF has slumped from 39 to 32 squadrons, naval ship strength has declined by a third and the Army is deficient in aviation, artillery and counter-terrorism equipment. The military has lost its conventional edge over Pakistan, worst of all, in Jammu & Kashmir, the theatre of decision.
The Sixth Pay Commission was a good opportunity to raise the morale and image of the services, given the shortages in the officer corps. Civilian-bureaucratic stranglehold over adjudicating the status and salary of the fighting forces has led to massive resentment in the ranks. By the Service Chiefs blinking first after a maze of duplicitous committees to redress the anomalies, soldiers have lost to civilian and para-military counterparts — Lt Generals in higher administrative grade, Lt Colonels in pay and grade bands and sepoys in enhanced service weightage for pension. The Government has reasserted civilian bureaucratic control over the armed forces.
The one rank one pension issue has demonstrated through the ex-servicemen’s movement that the most obedient and disciplined force can also lose its cool. The Sixth Pay Commission has created four classes within a class: Pre-1966, post-1966 to December 2005, post-January 2006 to September 2008, and post- October 2008. Further, Major Generals are in court as their pension is less than Brigadiers, altogether leading to confusion worst confounded.
The ex-servicemen are likely to vote BJP, which has promised not only one rank, one pay but also income tax exempt pay for servicemen. Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, who gave India under a Congress Government its first military victory in 1,000 years, was not conferred a Bharat Ratna. A country that does not care for the izzat and iqbal (respect and welfare) of the armed forces is harming their apolitical, secular and disciplined disposition.
In the military mind and public perception the BJP stands for making India militarily strong though the bigger challenge for a future Government is political will to employ usable military forces to deter and punish cross-border terrorism. National security, especially internal security must be depoliticised and governed by a national political consensus. Defence planning and strategic security culture must be taught to those who represent the people in Parliament. As the political class of India and the people remember its soldiers only during Kargil, Mumbai and tsunami, soldiers and ex-servicemen must vote for their rights.
From: Navdeep Singh
Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2009 7:55 AM
Subject: Useful info
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Useful and must-have information for all defence personnel : Comparative tables of military and civil service appointments in States and the Centre
The status, appointment and pay comparison between various services such as the IAS, IPS, IRS, IDAS etc against the backdrop of the military is pretty confusing to most.
I have prepared a table / chart / ready-reckoner for the same which each and every officer of the defence services should have access to. This table has taken into account the scales laid down after the 6th Central Pay Commission. A separate table of status comparison in accordance with the Warrant of Precedence is also reproduced under the tabulation. Anyone who is unable to download the same may email me.
Please fee free to distribute amongst the military community.
Click here to view and download the comparative status, appointment and pay table between various civil services and the military
A print-out of the above document (with footnotes) on legal size paper is highly recommended for all.
Posted by Navdeep / Maj Navdeep Singh at 5:19 AM 0 comments
Labels: Grade Pay, Pay Commission, Policy and Benefits, Status, Warrant of Precedence
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Something which we should definitely debate : Disarming Charm by Karan Thapar
The following appears in the Hindustan Times, an advisory note by Karan Thapar. Before moving to Mr Thapar's write-up, I would like to say something. While I do not want to be judgemental or take sides, I think he is right to an extent, but we need to debate this. I sincerely believe that rather than seeking ‘special’ indulgence, we should on the contrary seek ‘equal treatment’. We should instead ask the political executive to be treated equally with All India Services as far as status, pay and career progression is concerned. Time is witness to this reality that rather than respect for an institution, too many concessions without a proper logical reasoning breed scorn and jealousy. Already, to deny the services their well deserved dues, nitpickers have been harping on the free rations and subsidised liquor without fully realising the concept behind these, and if we go ahead for full Income Tax exemption too, the effect on the public psyche, in my humble opinion, could in fact be counter-productive. IT exemption while posted in a properly defined criterion such as CI / CT Ops, wars and war like operations would be a much better idea than across the board exemption. But this is my personal opinion of course and readers may have a different take on this.
... edited ...
Saturday, April 11, 2009
'Our' blog completes one year today
It’s been a year since this blog came into existence. I’m sure readers would have enriched their knowledge by interacting with each other.
A friend who is a regular visitor wanted to know which posts have had the maximum hits, which generated the most comments and so on. I found the data interesting and do not mind sharing it with you. So here are some vital statistics :
Total Blog Posts
Maximum number of hits in one single day
6th CPC further cements the legacy of degradation of military ranks
Posts with the maximum comments
The make believe world of inferiority : Courtesy the 6th CPC
More on the "SAG is equivalent to Maj Gen" misnomer
Rejoinders and discussion thereon
Oh What have you done Mr Dutta ! (Saikat Dutta of the Outlook)
Abhinav replies and amplifies (Abhinav Kumar, IPS)
Most viewed ‘guest post’
God Save us from ourselves (BeeCee)
Most circulated blog post
Let’s stop cribbing and concentrate on ‘homework’ : A wake up call
Thanks for all the support.
Posted by Navdeep / Maj Navdeep Singh at 8:54 AM 19 comments
From: S Prakash firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: FW: VEDAS-SAY WAKE UP
If not now..... When?
Subject: When and How WE shall Wake up in the Heaven of Freedom
Vedic Prayer to the formless and ineffable Universal God “Give us power not to become insensitive and silent spectators to social, moral and political evils and bestow us necessary wrath to fight these evils” (Rig Veda 1-97-8)
Dear vigilant sovereign citizens of India,
Subject: Six decades of Independence and “We” the sovereign people of India are yet to wake up in the Heaven of Freedom envisaged by R.N. Tagore and self rule (swaraj- our birth right) of B.G. Tilak.
The evil effects of six decades of Indian brand of Socialism, pseudo Secularism, ever developing pockets of feudal petty empires and purchased/fixed/caste vote bank policy are largely as below.
1. India is now perceived as a highly corrupt state and a country of contrasts in various Human Development Indices. All its cities are becoming urban nightmare.
2. It has become a soft state leading to ISI’s continuous effort to destabilize India. Even our own central government security has warned about this and against the huge influx of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, Naxal, ULFA and many other kind of threats.(TOI 9-06-08). “To be or not to be” is now the main question before political parties and their confused leaders. The welfare of the country is not on their agenda.
3. The terms like accountability, transparency and welfare have lost any significance in our democracy, political and bureaucratic culture and systems. The guiding principle is to make hay while the Sun shines.
4. It has led to over centralization and has ruined our local governments. All the urban Municipal Committees/Corporation/Councils have become weak and ineffective. The “dog in manger” policy is clearly visible amongst political leaders and self serving I.A.S bureaucrats. They neither do any thing nor allow the sovereign People of India to do any thing in their civic, social and community welfare activities. The sovereign citizens are fed on false promises to gain time.
5. Instead of destroying old feudal culture, the government has further encouraged mai baap culture and made people insensitive and silent spectators to social, moral and political evils.
6. The strong steel frame of administration of early 1950’s is now fragile, highly rusted, outdated, non functional, insensitive and non transparent. It has encouraged our Armed Forces retired Jawana/Officers to go on relay hunger strike and return their most preccious war medals to the President of India. The serving officers are feeling down graded by IAS bureaucracy.
7. Our systems have have encouraged pedigree rule which is fast spreading in the centre and states of India.
8. Politics the noblest Endeavour has now become dirty and mafia politics. The industry and spiritual leaders have totally forgotten their social and national duties and are making no effort to make politics as a noble Endeavour.
9. It has killed healthy community life in India and has become cause of rise of fanaticism and fundamentalism in religions/sects/cults.
Many other social, moral and physical environmental ills are also attributed to India brand of socialism, pseudo secularism like political bribe from the public funds, anti national minority appeasement policy etc.
Time has come to bury this kind of socialism before Indian states break into independent states like erstwhile USSR whose model we adopted as Nehruvian Socialism. By burying this all other evils will start disappearing or at least start getting diluted.
A large number of vigilant groups in India have become aware to bring social, political and social and administrative reforms in India at the earliest. They are providing common platform on Freedom, swaraj and world best available policies. Their Freedom Teams are having members who respect views of others. They know diversity of ‘thought is a reality’ and respect this natural diversity. However, this natural right of Free Will needs to be balanced for the prosperity and strength of the country.
Many of these groups are requesting the determined millions of soldiers to join this war of liberating India and even become Leaders in this sacred peaceful democratic war of liberation. They are all aiming at politics for secure, prosperous and fully democratic India.
One such group is Freedom Team of India. Please study carefully their objectives, strategies and dedicated activities on the following website and IF fully convinced join as Leaders and even take the commands. Kindly feel free to supplement their aims, objectives and strategies through open discussion/suggestions etc. http://www.freedom.sabhlokcity.com/
Kindly forward this e-mail to millions of others who are convinced for early attainment of swaraj and Freedom in India. The existing six decades of Independence is only a prelude to self governance and freedom. Unfortunately we are just struck with Independence i.e. change of white rulers to self serving brown rulers who have found certain loopholes in our feudal culture, traditions and insensitivity and are keen to become hereditary monarchs of India/some states/zones by freely encouraging undemocratic pedigree rule in India through their purchase/fixed vote banks finding about 40 crores of rich/middle/intellectual class as not taking interest in the political activities of the country. There is an urgent need to wake up before it is too late. These 40 crores can make politics once again as the noblest Endeavour.
With kind regards,
With Warm Regards,
Col RP Chaturvedi,
A-35, Sector 36,
From: Maj Gen Pushpendra Singh email@example.com
Subject: Fwd a write up
To: "Brig CS Kamboj" firstname.lastname@example.org , ; TRUNCATED
Date: Monday, 13 April, 2009, 6:59 PM
am forwarding a write up which had been submitted to a Hindi daily for translation and publication. they have failed to respond and probably have decided not to publish it. i shall be deeply grateful if you could kindly upload onto your email nets/blogs and give it some AIR.
with warm regards
veteran Pushpendra Singh
Maj Gen Pushpendra Singh
596 Sector 6, Panchkula HYA; India - 134109
FAUJIYON KE SAATH KISI KA BHI NAHIN HAATH
- Pushpendra Singh
A very different kind of protest is underway at Delhi’s Jantar Manatr. It is dignified and disciplined, like the faujis sitting in protest. But, accustomed to violent, disruptive protests, this has got hardly any mention in the media. In fact Babustan has made it a point to smother all coverage of the protest. About 15,000 medals of ex-servicemen of all three services – Generals to Jawans – have been collected and returned to Supreme Commander, Pratibha Patil.
What do medals signify? To civilians these are trinkets which make ‘stupid’ faujis happy. But to a fauji, each medal is a reminder of courage, comradeship and sacrifice: the first time under fire - fear overcome and manhood gained; friends attaining veergati; some wounded or disabled. Hardship and separation from loved ones – perhaps, serving in Himalayas, protecting the very people who now deny him his dues, he became a father and yearned for the day he could proceed on leave to cuddle his newborn.
When Mrs Shikha Bhardwaj, mother of Shaheed Capt Umang Bhardwaj, packed his Shaurya Chakra, she renounced the most precious nishani of her ‘jigrey ka tukra’. Even the shaheed hero’s father, Col Bhardwaj returned his own Sena Medal to Pratibha Patil. Every ‘ma and mai-ka-lal’ will feel Shikha’s heart- wrench over her tyaag. Only, Pratibha Patil, was made to miss the occasion – even her Military Advisor was absent. Such is the power and heartlessness of Babustan! After imposition of the election model code, when she met IESM delegation, she told them she had not been informed!
What do faujis want; are they not paid enough? They seek justice and equity. Their demand is for one defined pension for every rank from Rifleman to General applicable to all retirees, irrespective of retirement dates (OROP). Due to steep promotion pyramid faujis face extreme supercession, based mainly on performance. Hence, denial of OROP affects them acutely. Consider some Army examples: there is only one Subedar-Major for 60,000 sepoys. Of 1100 officers commissioned every year, just three reach HAG-equivalent grade. In IAS/IPS there are more HAG posts than the intake level! Performance-based promotions are as foreign to these services as Burkina-Faso. Out of 11 lac armymen, only eight are eligible for OROP. But, over 99% of IAS/IPS officers, 100% judges and MPs have entitled themselves to it.
Before Defence Forces were brought under ambit of the Central Pay Commissions (CPC), every rank had a specified pension. Thereafter, while subjected to the CPCs’ ‘awards’, they were denied representation in all of them - despite constituting 40% of all Central Employees. This is the key to Babustan’s steady erosion of Defence Forces’ emoluments and status. 6CPC took the cake. Not only were they denied representation, but were not even allowed to make even a presentation to the Commission! What is the result? ‘Anomalies’ from as far back as the 4CPC are still pending for 23 years! Atleast three are in Supreme Court .No wonder faujis term them ‘peeth mein chhura’! As cases drag on most faujis would never see benefits in their lifetimes; when these back-stabs are settled. That’s how Babustan denies justice to those who safeguard their air-conditioned lifestyles.
Babustan’s MoD has consistently played a pernicious role in heaping injustice on the faujis. 4PC (1986), for the first time unshackled the Forces from the steep hierarchical pyramid by adopting a running pay band and superimposing rank pay. However, sly manipulation by Defence Finance ensured that the basic pay was depressed by the amount of rank pay! What the CPC gave, diabolic accounting denied. Major Dhanapalan’s contention was upheld by Supreme Court. Quarter century later, far from conceding their mistake, MoD is still fighting other veterans in the Supreme Court.
5PC (1996) included Non Practicing Allowance (NPA) of Government doctors in their pensions. Subsequently, GOI reversed this for earlier retirees, forcing them to court. Having lost in High Courts, GOI appealed to Supreme Court. Later, better sense dawned on all other Departments, who withdrew their cases. But MoD still persists in singling out military doctors - the only group being discriminated against.
The 6PC fiasco revealed the purposeful machinations of MoD-bureaucrats to depress defence forces’ status, yet again. When the Chiefs protested, newspapers, once renowned for fearlessly frank journalism, carried explicit threats. Thankfully, many TV channels and intrepid journals defied MoD and exposed Babustan’s degradation of two crucial ranks. This had immediate ramifications in security-sensitive Kashmir at police-chiefs’/ Corps Commanders’ levels. Clearly, defence of the Republic is inconsequential; only ‘putting-the-Army-down’ counts.
More than 80% faujis retire before they turn 40 and nearly all before 60! However, while previous CPCs removed pension weightages which had partially compensated for early retirements, 6CPC further aggravated the disparities between pensioners. Today, a sepoy who retired in Dec 2005 gets 82% less pension than one who retired in Jan 2006! Even a pre-2006 Havildar gets 37% less pension than a sepoy - two ranks his junior. Surely, Parliament is there to safeguard fauji interests, as it is reflects the citizens’ solid support of their fauji bhaiyyas. Yes, the KP Singh-Deo Committee appointed back in 1980s first enunciated the term OROP and recommended it. But Babustan has been able to consistently ensure that it is not implemented.
DS Nakra, a retired FADS, approached the Courts when he in turn faced pension inequity. Supreme Court in its landmark judgment of 17-12-1982 upheld the principle of OROP. Revealing extracts from the judgment are quoted below:
"Pension is ….. but a payment for past services rendered”. The hon’ble court further stated, “Payment of Pension is a statutory liability incurred and must be provided in the Budget. The argument (regarding limitations of resources) is an argument of desperation ...without merit and must be rejected as untenable (Para 45)…”
On 9-9-08, delivering judgment in a 5CPC-related case, whereby veteran Maj-Gens’ pensions were equalled to that of Brigs (junior rank) retiring prospectively, the Supreme Court quoted extensively from the Nakra case and ruled that different dates of retirement cannot be a basis for denial of equity in pensions - a senior rank-holder must get higher pension than his junior. At first 6CPC denied this to Brigs, Maj-Gens and Lt-Gens, all of whose pensions were made equal to Cols (junior to all) retiring prospectively. Only when faced with contempt notice, Babustan gave a nominal increase to these ranks. But still denies them OROP!
In a TV debate anchored by Karan Thapar in Feb ‘09, it was brought out that OROP was part of the Congress 2004 election manifesto. In light of the above judgements, Manoj Tewari had to defend the indefensible: INC’s denial of OROP during 41/2 years in office. He mouthed the party line, ‘I empathise with these people (sic), but due to legal, financial and administrative reasons, OROP cannot be given.’ One month later, now seeking election from Punjab, he issued a statement that, should he return as MP, he would ensure that OROP is granted to Defence Personnel!
If the citizens, Parliament and Supreme Court all favour granting OROP, what stops the Govt from acceding to this demand? Obviously, it is the Haath of Babustan. At a time when perilous security storms are gathering around us, the Defence Forces are forced to fight the might of Babustan for justice and honour. All patriotic citizens, who value the nation’s integrity, must vote for those who will support its fauji saviours and ensure that ‘farebi jhhootas’ are given the ‘joota’ in the polls.
From: Charan Singh email@example.com
Subject: Article in DAWN of 13/04/09
To: "REPORT MY SIGNAL(CS Kamboj)" firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Monday, 13 April, 2009, 6:45 PM
There is an interesting article in DAWN OF 13/03/09 ' CONGRESS CREATED PAKISTAN & PAKISTAN CREATED BJP'
(Brig Charan Singh, Una, Himachal)
Congress created Pakistan, Pakistan created the BJP?
By Jawed Naqvi
Monday, 13 Apr, 2009 | 01:58 PM PST
A potentially sinister event has prompted this column. It is my sense from a few visits to Pakistan beginning with 1997 that a large number of Pakistanis prefer the rightwing religious revivalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to rule India. On the other hand, they are wary of the Congress. This tendency, I gather, is more pronounced within the Pakistani bureaucracy and the military. I know of Pakistani diplomats and officials who would be privately praying for the BJP to win the April-May elections in India.
To some extent this is true also of some of the journalists I have interacted with from different parts of Pakistan. They include those that claim to work for peace and dialogue between the two countries. The BJP has sold them the myth that it can alone solve the Kashmir dispute, not the Congress or anyone else.
There is a counter grouse among Pakistanis. Many of them feel, and they are probably spot on, that the bulk of the Indian establishment, including that media which works with the establishment, has a subcutaneous liking for the military in preference to civilian governments in Islamabad, and, in recent days, for General Pervez Musharraf in particular. This was reflected in some ways in the standing ovation the former army chief received recently at the end of a televised interaction he had with the movers and shakers of Delhi. And who was the one person Musharraf wanted to meet in Delhi but couldn’t? It was none other than his favourite BJP leader Atal Behari Vajpayee.
By a similar logic, the rule governing the more perverse cross-border affinities should apply to the Taliban and others sharing its mindset. All their acts of terrorism and zealotry within Pakistan, Afghanistan and beyond serve to consolidate rightwing religious politics in India with a more hardened hard-line state to boot. Erosion of democracy and liberal ideals inherited from Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru is a major consequence. The irony is that nothing suits the BJP more than the Taliban-type religious bigotry. It works brilliantly as a counterpoint for its communal mobilisation.
It is ironical too that the most liberal and secular leaders that India ever produced – Messrs Gandhi and Nehru – were responsible in their on ways for eventually edging out an equally secular and liberal Mohammed Ali Jinnah from the Congress. (He is the only of the three who had a love marriage, with a woman not of his religion!) For better or worse, a piqued Jinnah helped create a separate state for a large number of India’s Muslims.
In this sense a mathematical equation has been doing the rounds in my head for some time now: The Congress created Pakistan, and Pakistan, by doing everything to undermine secularism in India, created the BJP.
Let me flesh this out in broad strokes. Firstly, the affinity between the Pakistani establishment and the BJP is not recent. It is grounded in a common ideological corner they shared during the Cold War. Before the advent of Manmohan Singh as a Congress factotum 1991, the BJP was seen as India’s main pro-America party. So were the military establishment and its religious accoutrements in Pakistan. Moreover, having never got to govern India until 1996, when it formed a 13-day government under Atal Behari Vajpayee, the BJP was not directly involved in the bruising wars with Pakistan. The 1971 encounter, which won for Indira Gandhi the sobriquet of Goddess Durga from Vajpayee, left a deep wound in the Pakistani psyche, more so the military and its religious companions.
When Mrs Gandhi was assassinated in 1984, Indian supporters of Pakistan’s Jamaat-i-Islami exulted how all three leaders they held responsible for the dismemberment of the Islamic state of Pakistan – Mujibur Rehman, Zulfikar
Ali Bhutto and Indira Gandhi – had died violent deaths. There was silence from the group though when the Jamaat’s main benefactor Gen Zia ul Haq too perished in similar circumstances. The Cold War had ensured that Indira Gandhi, the closest ally Moscow ever had in India, never visited Pakistan.
Her son was the first prime minister since Nehru to go across the border.
In this vein an ideological tit for tat occurred when Mrs Gandhi decorated Pakhtoon leader Abdul Ghaffar Khan –intensely disliked by the Pakistani military– with the highest civilian award of Bharat Ratna. Zia got his chance for a comeuppance when India briefly had a pro-American government, in which the BJP was a key partner. He decorated then prime minister Morarji Desai with Nishan-i-Pakistan although another reason cited for this was Desai’s steadfast refusal to be involved, as opposed to Mrs Gandhi’s petitioning of Zia, to save Bhutto.
At least two factors could be cited to explain the apparent soft corner the Pakistani establishment – initially the rightwing, now the centre-right as well – harbours for the BJP. One is rooted in a myth the other in religion.
The myth is that only the BJP and none else can solve the intractable issues with Pakistan, including the Kashmir dispute. To keep the story warm the BJP continues to issue periodic warnings to Congress governments and others against a ‘sell-out’ on Kashmir. It did so just before the Mumbai attacks. The reality is different. The toughest resolution to date on Kashmir was passed by parliament during Congress stewardship under the late Narasimha Rao.
Religion is a different kettle of fish. For a long time the BJP had peddled its idea of Hindutva as an aspect of cultural nationalism, distinct from religion. But in practice the idea and its party both worked precisely for religious consolidation, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, all. It is commonplace that the BJP’s idea of India gives heart to the religious caboodle in Pakistan, and in turn fortifies what they would like their idea of Pakistan to be.
Columnist A.G. Noorani last week quoted an encounter Nehru had in 1963 with young and senior foreign ministry officers. His foreign secretary Y.D. Gundevia reminded Nehru that the communists had won power in Kerala in 1957 and asked: ‘But what happens to the services if the communists are elected to power, tomorrow, at the Centre, here in New Delhi?’
Gundevia records: ‘He pondered over my long drawn out question and then said, looking across the room, ‘Communists, communists, communists, why are all of you so obsessed with communists and communism? What is it that communists can do that we cannot do and have not done for the country? Why do you imagine the communists will ever be voted into power at the Centre?’ There was a long pause after this and then he said, spelling it out slowly and very deliberately, ‘The danger to India, mark you, is not communism, it is Hindu right-wing communalism.’
If the Pakistani establishment disliked Nehru, the BJP and its Hindutva partners hate him. Chances are that Nehru’s warning will not go unheeded in the coming elections. But the BJP, meanwhile, has been surreptitiously working at another attempt to convert the secular state into an obscurantist possibly also a theocratic one. A little known letter written by the BJP’s prime ministerial hopeful Lal Kishan Advani to the clergy of different religions was published in The Telegraph of Calcutta on Sunday.
The letter says: ‘It will be my endeavour to seek on a regular basis the guidance of spiritual leaders of all denominations on major challenges and issues facing the nation. For this, we shall evolve a suitable consultative mechanism.’ Iran’s higher interior ministry is known as the Ministry of Islamic Guidance.
Advani’s letter, according to The Telegraph, follows a charter of demands from the Dharma Raksha Manch, a body supported by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad that claims India’s identity cannot be religion-neutral and has demanded the country be declared a ‘spiritual nation.’
‘The Manch has representatives from all major religions but draws its sustenance from the larger RSS fold. Many of its demands –on conversions and the protection of the cow, the Ganga and the Ram Setu– find mention in Advani’s letter,’ according to the report. If he succeeds, neither the Taliban nor the Pakistan military has to try to unravel Nehru’s India. They have the BJP to do the job even better.