Posts Tagged ‘American imperialism’

Nasir Khan: Will Obama help Kashmiri struggle against Indian rule?

October 30, 2010

Response to Shahid Siddiqi’s analysis of India’s occupation of Kashmir

By Nasir Khan,  Axis of Logic, Oct 30, 2010

Response by Axis of Logic reader, Nasir Khan on Obama’s November Vist to India: Help Kashmiris gain their right to self-determination.

Mr Siddiqi, I am sure you know what Obama stands for. Please let me add a bit on this score. The whole world knows him as a staunch defender of the policies of Israel who is flanked by and pushed around by Zionists. He has also earned himself the distinction of being a true successor to George W. Bush since stepping in the White House because he has not only followed the war policies of Bush but also extended the war of aggression in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is responsible for the almost daily killings of the Pakistanis by drone missile attacks. Let us keep in view the fact that his hands are sullied with the blood of hundreds of innocent Pakistanis and there is no end in sight to such savagery. Obama does not stand for: kill first and explain later. He has a freehand in killing by his advanced technological devices and as far as he is concerned that is the end of the matter. Why? Because he represents the power of American imperialism, military-industrial complex and the corporate interests. That also means there is no inhibition or restraint on what he does. The determining factor in all this is the global military power and influence of the United States.

Will Obama do anything to stop India from its inhuman atrocities and oppression in Kashmir and seek a solution to the Kashmir Issue? I think, we should come out of such make-believe world of illusions. He wouldn’t do anything of the sort. There are many reasons for that. At present American imperialism, India’s Hindutva leadership and the Zionist rulers of Israel are close strategic and military partners. The last thing on their agenda can be solving the Kashmir Issue. They have other considerations for the region and the Middle East!

As far as the present Pakistani rulers are concerned, they are pawns in the hands of the Washington rulers. They dance to the tunes of or the crack of the whip of the Pentagon and the State Department obediently. They have allowed the United States military to use Pakistani airport Shamsi and other military facilities to launch drone attacks on Pakistanis. In return for American money and to appease the Washington rulers, Pakistani army in Waziristan has been acting  as a mercenary force killing and destroying its own people. So American drones and Pakistan army supplement each other. They are making the world safe for democracy and advancing ‘American’ values!

Source: Axis of Logic

The Following  photos are reproduced from Shahid R. Siddiqi’s article ‘Obama’s November Vist to India: Help Kashmiris gain their right to self-determination.

INDIAN BRUTALITY IN KASHMIR

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With Iraq plan, Obama embraces US militarism

March 2, 2009
Patrick Martin |  WSWS, 2 March 2009

In extending the full-scale US occupation of Iraq for another 18 months, and acceding to the timetable already adopted by the Bush administration for a tentative pullout by the end of 2011, President Barack Obama has done more than betray the hopes of the millions of antiwar voters who supported his candidacy in 2008.

He has fully identified the incoming Democratic Party administration with the fraudulent arguments employed by the Bush White House to justify the ongoing war in Iraq, after its initial claims about “weapons of mass destruction” and ties between Iraq and the 9/11 terrorist attacks had been proven to be lies.

Obama’s speech to thousands of Marines at Camp Lejeune was an effort to legitimize the US conquest and occupation of Iraq and present the American military as an instrument of liberation rather than imperialist war and oppression.

While candidate Obama described the Iraq war as one that “should never have been authorized and never been waged,” President Obama gave a much different reading. “You have fought against tyranny and disorder,” he told the assembled troops. “You have bled for your best friends and for unknown Iraqis. And you have borne an enormous burden for your fellow citizens, while extending a precious opportunity to the people of Iraq.”

No one would know from this effusive description that the US intervention’s main effect upon “unknown Iraqis” was to kill, maim and displace them. Some 1 million people have died since the US invasion in March 2003, including hundreds of thousands killed by US bombs, missiles and shells fired at civilian neighborhoods. Countless Iraqi civilians have been murdered at US checkpoints for the crime of not slowing down quickly enough.

As for the “precious opportunity” allegedly extended to the people of Iraq, it is the right to vote for parties and politicians sponsored by the US occupation regime to preside over a society that has been virtually destroyed.

Nearly six years after the US conquest, Iraq still does not have running water, electricity, adequate sewage and other necessities of modern life; unemployment is estimated at 50 percent of the adult population; there are some 4 million refugees in internal or external exile; and most Iraqi cities are divided into ethnic and religion-based neighborhoods separated by blast walls and checkpoints.

Obama did not acknowledge, let alone disavow, the real motive for the US military onslaught—Iraq’s vast oil wealth and strategic position at the center of the Middle East. That silence only demonstrates that the new president shares the fundamental goal of his predecessor, to strengthen the grip of American imperialism over the Middle East and Central Asia, source of the bulk of the world’s oil and gas supplies.

This fact was immediately recognized by the most fervent defenders of the Bush administration’s aggression, including Senator John McCain, Obama’s Republican opponent in the presidential election, other congressional Republicans, and the right-wing press. The Wall Street Journal, for instance editorialized in praise of Obama’s Camp Lejeune speech, calling it “Obama’s Bush Vindication.”

The Journal gushed: “Mr. Obama delivered a sober speech, offering a policy worthy of the Commander in Chief he now is.” It singled out “Mr. Obama’s implicit repudiation of his own positions as a candidate” by agreeing to keep a large US military presence in Iraq, as many as 50,000 troops, after the nominal August 2010 withdrawal date, an action that seeks to maintain “the strategic advantage” of a US puppet regime in the Persian Gulf.

As Obama explained in his speech, a major reason for the redeployment of some US forces out of Iraq is to have sufficient military power available to confront both “the challenge of refocusing on Afghanistan and Pakistan,” and “comprehensive American engagement across the region.”

Millions of Americans voted for Obama, not because they believed that the war in Iraq was a distraction from the pursuit of broader imperialist goals, but because they regarded the unprovoked invasion and conquest of a sovereign nation as a crime, and opposed the predatory character of American foreign policy as a whole.

Their voices have not the slightest impact on the formulation of policy in the Obama White House. As the events of last week demonstrate, it is the military-intelligence apparatus that calls the shots here. Obama did not make an independent decision as commander-in-chief, but rubber-stamped the course backed by one faction of the military establishment against the other.

According to press accounts that followed Obama’s speech at Camp Lejeune, the 19-month “withdrawal” plan selected by Obama was the preferred option of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gates confirmed, in an interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press”, that the Iraq field commanders, headed by Gen. Raymond Odierno, preferred a 23-month schedule for withdrawal, while the Pentagon brass, concerned about the need for troops in Afghanistan and being stretched too thin to engage in other potential conflicts, opted for the shorter timeframe.

Obama did not replace any of the Bush administration’s principal military decision makers when he took office. Instead, he retained Gates, Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Odierno and General David Petraeus, head of the US Central Command and architect of the “surge” in Iraq.

His embrace of militarism was demonstrated in the very fact that Obama chose to give the speech at a Marine base to an audience of uniformed troops, not in a civilian setting or through a televised White House address. The effect was to suggest that in the America of 2009, decisions on war and peace are of concern primarily to the military, with the American people relegated to the role of bystanders.

The whole process demonstrates the erosion of American democracy. The American people cannot, through voting in election after election, effect any change in the foreign and military policy of the government. The war in Iraq goes on, and the war in Afghanistan is being escalated, regardless of popular sentiments.

Empire and White Supremacy

October 22, 2008

The End of American Exceptionalism?

By COREY D.B. WALKER| Counterpunch, October 21, 2008

Now, when I say question the whole society, it means ultimately coming to see that the problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

So tell me why, can’t you understand
That there ain’t no such thing as a superman

Gil Scott-Heron

What happens to a nation once its most privileged symbols have been thoroughly discredited?  Where does a country turn to begin again?

After eight years of the Bush-Cheney regime, the United States confronts these questions in light of a deep and profound crisis of legitimacy. The current crisis is intimately shaped by the demands of 21st century American imperialism and is reflected in the (un)spoken language of white supremacy.

The financial crisis engulfing the global capitalist system has exposed the hollow core of the American Dream.  As thousands of individuals and families have their homes go into foreclosure, the symbolic center of the American Dream – the home – has turned into an economic nightmare from which no one can awaken.

The reckless financialization of global capitalism which accelerated over the course of the last decade has not only discredited free market fundamentalism, but has also severely compromised the economic and political standing of America’s unique brand of consumer capitalism.  The ideology of an infinite American prosperity is no longer tenable as capitalism unravels and more and more Americans face desperate economic times with equally desperate choices.

The trends that progressives have for years been highlighting – the consolidation of wealth among a coterie of the elite, the record gap between rich and poor, the downward decline of wages, and the ever increasing level of poverty – are now coming to the forefront of public conversation.

And in so doing, calling into question the foundational assumptions of American superiority.

While the veiled and coded language of American foreign policy has been deciphered and well understood by those on the receiving end of America’s imperial promises, the rogue and cynical exploits by the recent administration has taken the mask off of the imperialistic machinations of American power.  Average citizens have been forced to face the wide gulf between the rhetoric of politicians and the military actions pursued in the name of the American people.

As if the crisis of capitalism and the overreach of imperial America were not enough, Americans are now in the midst of a hotly contested presidential election dominated by the age old American pastime of the politics of race.  While racial politics have always been a prized weapon in the arsenal of both political parties, what makes the 2008 incarnation of this political ritual unique is that the appeals to white supremacy – not the amorphous language of “race” to which mainstream media commentators refer – while recognized and justly denounced in its most extreme expression, still resonates within the political landscape precisely because of the crisis of capitalism and the military exploits of the American Empire.

In times of economic crisis and national malaise, the old political standby of subtle and not so subtle appeals to white supremacy becomes logical.  Why?  Because so much of what constitutes the American nationalist imaginary joins all that is felt to be familiar, normal, secure, and safe with the attributes, disposition, and outlook of the quintessential white person.  And in moments of national anxiety and economic insecurity politicians must reassure the American people that all is right (and white) with America.

Thus, it should not come as a surprise that there has been a lack of critical commentary on the white supremacist dimensions lurking just beneath the surface of what is taken to be a legitimate political appeal to the middle class as represented in the language and image of “Joe Six-Pack” and “Joe the Plumber.”  So as the story goes, the dreaded “outsiders” of the White Republic are produced and reproduced – immigrants, terrorists, socialists, muslims, black nationalists, and the list goes on – in an effort to make sure that all that is solid for the United States of America does not melt into air.

On November 5, 2008, Americans will wake up to a new day.  And as with all new days there will be work left over from the previous day to do.  But for the United States of America, the work that is left over is from the beginning and has steadily increased over the course of centuries.

And, once again, we will begin the long arduous process of making a nation.  Perhaps, just perhaps, we will eschew the short sighted vision of power and might and just try to do what is just and right, both in America and throughout the world.

Corey D. B. Walker is an assistant professor of Africana studies at Brown University and the author of A Noble Fight:  African American Freemasons and the Struggle for Democracy in America.

Financial Meltdown: The Financial Edifice of U.S. Imperialism is

September 26, 2008

Raymond Lotta, Global Research, September 24, 2008

The events of the last ten days on Wall Street represent a new and more destabilizing phase of the turmoil gripping financial institutions and markets in the U.S. A financial crisis has been unfolding for more than a year. It is now the most serious financial crisis of U.S. capitalism since the Great Depression of the 1930s. And it is by no means contained or under control.

The financial edifice of U.S. imperialism is in danger of crumbling. And the U.S. ruling class is cobbling together desperate measures to prevent wholesale collapse.

This analysis examines the recent eruptions on Wall Street of mid- and late September and the deeper structural causes of the crisis.

I. Wall Street Panics, the Guardians of U.S. Capitalism Scramble

A). A Week of Deepening Financial Crisis

Two of the last two independent investment banks on Wall Street ceased to exist in mid-September. In a matter of hours, Lehman Brothers went bankrupt on September 15, while Merrill Lynch was forced into liquidation and then absorbed by Bank of America. This follows the government-promoted buyout in April of Bear Stearns, another giant investment banking firm that was on the ropes, by JPMorgan Chase.

It was only several weeks earlier that the U.S. government had taken over the two major and failing mortgage-finance giants–Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. At the time, this takeover was presented as providing an effective firewall against future financial eruptions. But it proved to be no more than the patching up of a pothole during an earthquake. This past week the government had to take over the American International Group (AIG), the giant insurance-financial firm.

AIG had over a trillion dollars in assets. It had earned enormous profits from insuring mortgage-backed investments circulating in the financial system that were held by other banks. But this has turned into a disaster. Here is some of what happened:

Through deceit and aggressive marketing, banks pushed mortgages on people. The Federal Reserve Bank had pumped low-cost funds into the banking system to prop up mortgage loans. These loans were then combined into larger groups of loans by investment banks (like Lehman Brothers) and turned into financial products that were sold on financial markets. All kinds of lending took place with these original loans as collateral. But when housing prices fell, and mortgages could not be paid, much of this collateral became worthless.

AIG was insuring much of this lending against the risk of loss. But as the losses mounted astronomically, AIG could neither cover the costs of backing this debt nor borrow funds on the financial markets to keep itself afloat.

The financial markets had basically lost confidence, and AIG’s assets tumbled in value. AIG was in danger of collapse. But if AIG went under, the probability was great that it would have taken down other financial institutions with it. This forced the government’s hand.

Normally, so-called bad debt is marketed at distress prices. During the financial storm of mid-September, not only were there no takers for debt but it also proved impossible for the financial markets to establish any kind of value on this debt.

As the pace of the financial crisis grew more frenetic during the week of September 15, the U.S. ruling class was faced with a two-fold danger: additional and cascading losses and bankruptcies in the financial sector; and the possible choking up of lending channels, which could send the economy as a whole into a rapid downward spiral.

On September 19th, the U.S. government announced what will likely turn out to be the largest bail-out operation in U.S. history. Its initial cost is $700 billion, and this is on top of the $200 billion earmarked to shore up Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and the $85 billion to bail out AIG.

B). International Dimensions

This is a rolling financial and credit crisis. It is amplifying internationally with bursts of instability. In the midst of last week’s U.S. market gyrations, the Russian stock market sank and shut down for two days. In other parts of the world, concern spread about whether dollar-based loans in global markets would continue on the scale necessary to sustain daily business operations. In response, the central banks of Germany, Japan, England, Canada, and Switzerland pumped some $185 billion into the financial markets.

And investor worry is mounting in East Asia. China, Japan, and South Korea, for instance, count on the U.S. as a major export market.

One of the most significant features of world growth and expansion over the past decade has been the deepening integration of the world capitalist economy. This is happening both on the level of production and trade—like the parts that go into an automobile being manufacturing in different factories around the world. And it is happening at the level of finance—where banks are more globally and tightly interlinked with one another through chains of borrowing and lending and even, as in the case of AIG, insuring the risks of borrowing and lending.

The rescue operation announced by the U.S. government was motivated, on the one hand, by the need to stanch the bleeding of the U.S. financial system; and, on the other, by the need to restore international confidence in the U.S. economy.


Raymond Lotta is a frequent contributor to Global Research.
Global Research Articles by Raymond Lotta

Indian Muslims

May 2, 2007

Professor Badri Raina contributes articles to ZNet. In the following article, published last August, he analyses Indian Muslims’ situation and suggests ways to improve their political status and their socio-economic conditions within the Indian State.

Net | Activism
Indian Muslims
Prospects and Ways Forward
by Badri Raina; August 16, 2006

My chief concern here is to understand the situation of Muslim’s in India. But, to the extent that the issue is inevitably affected by the condition of Muslims world-wide, it is relevant to take note of factors that impinge upon that condition even at the risk of enumerating a critique that is by now often made and well-recognized. The truth needs as much repeating as the lie, especially when the lie has the backing of imperialist money and muscle.

First a word about the villainous propagation that a “clash of civilizations” is now underway, globally.

Nobody but the indubitably partisan is any more taken in by the reification-in-reverse, as it were, whereby American imperialism, unimpeded by any concerted, state-level opposition, seeks to fetishize its untrammelled material ambitions in the resource-rich middle and west Asian regions principally as a purely ideological crusade on behalf of “freedom.”

This despicable subterfuge requires that Islam be recast as a theoretical breeding ground of “jehadis”; this for the simple enough reason that the preponderant population in these oil-rich regions is Muslim. Thus, nationalists throughout this region engaged in a life-and-death struggle to secure the rights of sovereignty need to be christened “terrorists.” Never mind that both Hamas and Hizbollah owe their political legitimacy to massive electoral victories, duly “certified” by reputed international agencies. Never mind also that American imperialism is hard put to find any “terrorist” Islamism in a Wahabi Saudi Arabia, even though all of the protagonists who brought the twin towers down were of Saudi extraction. Nor, for that matter, are the neocons able to see Pakistan as a centrepiece in the “Islamic” terrorist business. Or Musharraf as a military dictator who seems determined to hijack the promise of Pakistani democracy for ever and ever.

Clearly, for an American President who is widely suspected by his own countrymen of having stolen both his electoral victories, the “democracy” slogan is just one instrument of imperialist designs.

It needs to be recalled that the pioneers in the “terrorist” way of doing things were the Israelis. Scholarship, including the Wikipedia, has given us an elaborate record of the modus operandi of the Zionist Irgun and Stern terrorist groups—spearheaded by such respectable worthies as Menachem Begin, Yatzak Shamir, and Ariel Sharon—in their fight to dislodge the British from their mandate in Palestine. Those modus operandi included the cold-blooded murders of diplomats and United Nations’ officials, not to speak of the bombing of the King David Hotel in which more than ninety innocent people were blown to smithereens and many more maimed for life. Scholarship also records that these terrorists took their stand as much on religion as the jehadis of our day.

Is it also not rather cute that while a prospective Iranian nuclear capability is sought to be sold to the “international community” as the central source of menace for the world community, the well-known Israeli arsenal is never mentioned. Remember that Osama bin Laden and the Taliban were not viewed as “terrorist” material while the principal contradiction of American imperialism was with the Soviets in Afghanistan. Once, however, that contradiction shifted course, yesterday’s “freedom fighters” became today’s’ “terrorists.” Or that the “war on terror” should have been launched in Iraq which was notably the one truly secular state in the whole region. That the invasion of Iraq has now successfully converted that country into a jehadi hub goes of course to speak to the criminal accountability of the Americans in the matter, and to an imperialist folly that bids fair to destroy civilized governance throughout the world. There must some reason after all why already some 85% Lebanese today call themselves Hizbollah as opposed to some 50% before the current Israeli invasion. And that includes the Lebanese Christians as well. Or why Maliki, the puppet prime minister of a “free” Iraq has felt humiliated enough now to take issue with the continuing brutalities of the Bush regime in complete disregard of the so-called Iraqi government.

Having said that, if there is a clash now underway it is between those who advocate adherence to the principles of the Westphalian Treaty (1645) that guarantees the sovereignty of nation-states and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, and to the United Nations Charter which was drawn up by the world community to establish peaceful co-existence among nations and a non-recourse to violence and war as instruments of the redressal of disputes, on the one hand, and those others whose desire for global domination seeks to make mince-meat of both the Westphalian Treaty and the U.N.Charter.

And this clash today is nowhere more in evidence than within America itself. Never have Americans been as vertically divided—between the reds and the blues—since the Civil War as they are today. By the latest reckoning, some 60% Americans would be considered “anti-national” by the Bush administration! Having now christened the term “Islamic fascism” Bush has had to be at the receiving end of important articles in the American media that have asked whether this may not be a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Same is true of people who inhabit the “Muslim” world. Despite the heinous depredations wrought everyday by the neocon “vision” of a new world order– whereby American Imperialism arrogates to itself the right to preemptive war, to regime changes in other countries, and to full-scale global dominance—in the middle and west Asian region, and wherever else people seek to resist that evil “vision,” Muslims are everywhere divided between those who think such resistance can succeed only through an asymmetrical guerilla war, and those who still wish to adhere to democratic, institutional mechanisms to force reason and sanity upon an imperialism gone berserk, or who desire to see a consolidation of state-level resistance to American imperialism.

On each side, of course, it suits the war-mongers to homogenize disparate, dissident, contentious identities and positions and complex political and intellectual considerations into crusading binaries—the regime, as it were, of a born-again Christianity against the injunctions of Allah. That the vast majority of the world’s population knows this to be, nonetheless, a war, on one hand, for the control of the world’s material resources and, on the other, for resisting that imperial agenda is by now obvious enough.

Indeed, this contention between the homogenizing political project and the concrete pluralities on the ground that demand democratic cognition lies at the root of much that has gone on in India during the last two decades.

Since the implementation of the recommendations of the Mandal Commissiion by the V.P.Singh government (1989)—recommendations that, deriving from the Constitution, recognized caste affiliation rather than an undifferentiated religious one as the basic social unit of identity among Hindus—a crusade on behalf of Brahminical Hinduism ensued.

Clearly, the object of that crusade has been to reconstitute Hindus across social contradictions as the dominant “majority” that then seeks to supplant the notion that a majority in a republican democracy can only comprise franchised “citizens,” a circumstance that then feeds directly into minority-bashing. Thus the Brahminical upper-caste crusade against affirmative action on behalf of deprived castes curiously yields the politics of communalism. This despite the fact that the BJP has never yet polled more than 26% of the national vote at any general election. Considering that not more than 5% Muslims have ever voted for the party, the BJP thus fails to draw the allegiance of some 70% or more of voting Hindus. As in America now, the chief political divide in India has thus been between high-caste Hindus who seek to force their vision of the nation on the Republic and the great majority of Hindus who refuse that fascist imposition. Thus the “cultural nationalism” of the Brahminical minority remains in clash with Hindus whose allegiance to the Constitutional scheme remains in place.

Likewise, despite the beleaguered attempts of religious Muslim leaderships to cast India’s Muslims into a monolithic block, the often peddled notion of a “minority vote bank” remains an interested myth. At no point during India’s political history of the last three decades have Indian Muslims voted en masse for any one single political party. Muslims have tended to vote only for such candidates who they have thought equipped to defeat the BJP. Such a voting pattern has inevitably meant that Muslims have often voted against many Muslim candidates along a diverse spectrum of parties in diverse electoral constituencies.

Post the recent train blasts in Mumbai, majoritarian fascism seeks once again to replicate the imperialist myth that “terrorism” is an exclusively Muslim phenomenon. Note that one has never heard the RSS, which is itself listed as a “terrorist” organization in an important American website, speak of LTTE terrorism as Hindus terrorism. Nor does one ever hear Christian or Jewish terrorism mentioned, although Wikipedia conscientiously records elaborate instances of both. Consider also the deep irony that Independent India’s most memorably high-placed losses to terrorism have all been perpetrated by non-Muslim agents: Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by a Brahmin, Indira Gandhi by a Sikh, and Rajiv Gandhi again by a Hindu LTTE assassin. It should also be noted that the many instances of espionage against the nation-state that have come to light in recent years have all involved non-Muslims; surely, treason can hardly be argued to constitute an offence less heinous than a “terrorist” act. Currently, as we know, a nationalist scion of the BJP—an ex-minister several times over—continues his refusal to share his self-confessed knowledge of espionage activity on behalf of the Americans. Yet, nobody seems particularly bothered.

Understandably, Indian muslims once again find themselves under siege, as day in and day out they are hauled up at any odd hour of day or night to answer to the most far-fetched suspicions. Muslim intellectuals, therefore, once again debate among themselves what new political expression the thwarted history of the community should now draw on, given that successive governments, including secular ones, have tended to leave their genuine material aspirations in limbo. Be it education, employment (especially in the army, police and higher bureaucracy) or traditional livelihoods in skills and crafts, or their share in property ownership, Indian muslims find themselves at the bottom of the social rung, just as Gujarat-like episodes that repeatedly bring to light the complicity of official mechanisms, including state-aparatus, with “majoritarian” rioters, city after city, with the honourable exception of India’s southern states, leave them fearing for their life and limb. Consequent ghettoisation of the community, both in terms of living conditions and an ideological inwardness that willy nilly collapses into religious identity causes a paralysis of initiative that is often easy to deride but difficult to redress.

Younger Muslims, not burdened by any direct memories of India’s partition, who aspire to seek for a future as authentic Indian citizens beyond mere physical security chaff at the failure of political choices the community elders have thus far tended to exercise. Even as episodes like the demolition of the Babri masjid and the Gujarat genocide fan the impulse to violent reassertion. That such an impulse has not come to any significant expression is of course a defining tribute to the specific formation of Islam in India, but a circumstance that ought not, however, to lull us into complacence.

What, then, is to be done? Easier asked than answered. The first important thing to recognize here is that whatever it is that ought to be done does not have to be done by India’s Muslims alone. The temptation, therefore, to be holier-than-thou must be resisted because such a frame of reference in itself bespeaks a flawed grasp of what is wrong in the first place.

The doing necessarily must involve the following agencies, at the least:

–various organs of the State;
–English and Hindi media agencies (both print and visual);
–secular Indians across the board (which is to say some three fourths of citizens);
–Indian Muslims, who like Indian Hindus or Sikhs are not a homogeneous monolith.

Briefly, ritual protestations notwithstanding, it remains an ugly fact that the police apparatus in the northern states of India seems invariably to reserve its sub-liminal brutal antipathy for India’s Muslims, a reality that has been repeatedly recorded whenever communal clashes take place. Just to cite one episode, at Hashimpora the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) a decade or so ago shot in the head some forty five Muslims in cold blood and dumped the corpses, one by one, in a canal nearby. It still remains to be seen what punishment the judicial system metes out to these murderers. Even as it is true that working class, factory protesters are also routinely caned and bashed by the PAC, the emotion that informs official violence against Muslim Indians in these states flows out of a mind-set that holds Muslims responsible for the partition of India, and thus regards them as guilty and inauthentic members of the republic, however just their cause.

The larger failure of the State clearly involves the complicity of governments in their disinterest in delivering, and seen to be delivering, the same kind of justice to rioters and killers that are drawn from the majority community as is promptly handed out to Muslims on the instant. There is perhaps no more blatant instance of this from recent history than the contrast in the way the findings of the Srikrishna Commission that enquired into the communal carnage in Mumbai prior to the 1993 bomb blasts, and the subsequent bomb blast accused case have been treated. The Srikrishna report which forthrightly held many senior officers and top-level political leaders guilty has remained rather unheard and shelved, while the State and the media that is equally complicit await with glee the judgement in the bomb blast cases.

Nor should it be overlooked that the massacre that took place in Gujarat in 2002 was followed by the refusal to file FIRs or file them in distorted ways, leading to the closure of thousands of cases even where eye-witnesses were willing to make disclosures. That some of the most gruesome ones were reopened and sent off for trial in other states, unprecedented in itself, testifies of course to the odyssey undertaken on behalf of the victims by civil society organizations like the Citizens for Peace and Justice, led by the outstanding Teesta Setalvad.

This predilection undermines in the gravest extent the faith that Muslims seek to repose in the secular democratic State. Such a collapse of credibility, needless to say, can in time become the prime factor for persuading Indian Muslims that they must seek justice by other means.

Wide interaction with Muslims reinforces the truth that this treatment is not the least of reasons why, unlike other sections of society, Muslim Indians have grave forebodings about mounting any organized public protests on issues of concern. Clearly, given this reality, it is grossly hypocritical and disingenuous to accuse Muslims of shying away from asserting their democratic rights through mass mobilization. Those elements within the State who still refuse equal “citizenship” rights to Muslims are much happier if Muslim demands of the republic turn into a seething cauldron of resentment. Once thus isolated, they can then the more easily be labelled as a potential danger to the nation. It is a remarkable statistic that under the draconian anti-terrorist legislation (TADA, repealed by the UPA government), more than 90% detenues were Muslims; when it is recalled that the total conviction rate under this act was all of 1%, it can be understood what political uses the act was put to.

As to the media, it is a grave indictment that the only time they seem to notice Muslim life in India is when “terrorism” is under discussion. It is an agonized Muslim complaint that even as ignorant anchors and suchlike cavalierly berate Muslims for not standing firmly against “terrorism” they almost never deign to report any one of umpteen instances of common and organized Muslim condemnations of the phenomenon, barring the exception of the Urdu media. Any one who watches ETV Urdu, a profoundly thought-provoking channel that analyses and debates issues that concern the community and the nation in such programmes as Hamare Masail, will know the depths of prejudice and ignorance that vitiate the mainline English and Hindi channels about the lives of some 130 million Indians! Indeed, this writer would make it mandatory for these channels to watch ETV Urdu, and to order back numbers of Hamare Masail for an educative introduction to Muslim life in India.

Thirdly, the most momentous onus of transforming the Muslim and national situation simultaneously falls jointly on the vast and preponderant majority of secular Indians– Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and all others. Indeed, given the failure of both the State and the mainline media to come up-to the stipulations of the Constitution, this onus may be understood to be decisive.

It is not as though some dramatic sleight-of-hand is here either proposed or expected. Indeed, this joint project is a long-term and difficult one, but such as is alone guaranteed to deliver a durable and long-lasting result. Secular Indians across communities must assume as a life-and-death enterprise the battle that the State has largely failed to win even some six decades after Constitutional republicanism. I refer to the battle to deliver an uncontestable Indian “citizenship.”

As a praxis, this project involves nothing less than a people’s democratic revolution that takes in the best lessons of Gandhian tolerance and of Marxian humanism. A revolution that breathes unquestionable life to those articles of the Constitution that guarantee fundamental rights to all Indian citizens regardless of caste, creed, gender, ethnicity, or linguistic practice. And, among those fundamental rights, the rights of minority populations enshrined in Articles 25-30 of the Constitution.

For Indian Muslims this involves the recognition that their well-being is inextricably intertwined with the well-being of the oppressed and dispossessed among all Indian communities. Put more radically, this involves redefining the concept of Ummah to include not just members of the Muslim community but the community of the labouring and suffering among all communities. Were this leftward reorientation to be undertaken, there can be little doubt that, leading such an initiative in close alliance with all struggling Indians, Indian Muslims would be inaugurating a second movement for independence rather than merely be pursuing, or seen to be pursuing, community concerns alone.

Having said that, it is equally incumbent on Left political forces in India—the only ones perhaps whose allegiance to the notion of a non-discriminatory “citizenship” is provenly credible—to provide the sort of leadership that expands the notion of class to include social groups and minorities who have a common stake in resisting class rule, since class rule in India often finds its easiest methodologies in fanning isolated social concerns. Any one would immediately recognize that in West Bengal, Kerala, Tripura these deeply transformative practices have been underway over a long time. The point is for Indian Muslims in the northern states to indicate to the Left that they are prepared to undertake those transformative struggles in the Hindi heartland states to the exclusion of the political options that they have thus far exercised with frustrating consequences.

Finally, and following from the argument thus far, the attempts now underway to forge exclusively muslim fora, it must be said, is an attempt entirely in the wrong direction. Such an attempt, born no doubt of extreme anguish and disenchantment with political options exercised thus far, can have all of the following consequences:

1. further ruinously ghettoize Muslim aspirations and politics;

2. face crushing setback to morale through crushing electoral defeats;

3. help reinvigorate forces that are constantly at work to supplant the very
notion of secular democratic citizenship by a culturally homogenized one.

One look back at the experience of the Majlis-e-Mushawaraat experiment of the 1960s (the Faridi movement) should be enough to bring home the truth that these consequences are inseparable from the very notion of political mobilization along sectarian lines.

Embedded in the very dilemma of Indian Muslims, therefore, there is a call—a call to forge a new consciousness that amalgamates a new future for India with a new effort on their own behalf.


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