Monday, May 26, 2008

BJP in Karnataka

For the first time in the history of Independent India, BJP is about to take power in a Southern State. It was always understood by all and sundry that BJP could never come to power in the South. Even BJP leaders of the South got themselves convinced over a period of time that they would never come to power on their own. In the past, BJP has dabbled with all kinds of alliances to make a footprint in the South – but was unsuccessful. It was given that BJP cannot win a majority in the South.

The myth is exploded now

In the recent elections held in Karnataka, BJP has won the majority and is about to form the government – completely on their own without any alliance. This is a historic event and would completely change the way BJP has looked at the South, the way political equations were formed at Center, and the way South has looked at BJP and other Hindu political outfits.

It has many implications.

BJP at Center

The BJP headquarters should celebrate this as a grand victory. Getting its footprint into South is one of BJP’s biggest achievements. It gives them a legitimacy that it suffered for a very long time. It was always regarded as unrepresentative of a great section of India – the South. Though it was targeting Hindu majority as its vote base, it had never received the mandate of the people in the South. That is all changed now.

BJP can once again anticipate coming to power at Center in the next elections. Not only that, they can now be aggressive on their Hindutva agenda- because it is clear that they don’t need to succumb to their allies in their NDA. They can be less dependent on their partners – unlike in the past during Vajpayee Government.

Congress at Center

Sonia Gandhi could not work any magic in Karnataka. Rahul Gandhi could not work magic either. Even in those places where they canvassed, Congress lost. All those ‘secular’ parties who saw the South to be impenetrable by BJP will now abandon their complacency.

Congress already lost few states in the recent past to BJP in the North. Now, they lost to BJP even in the South. Congress Party’s chances of winning at the Center in the next elections are becoming slim.

This also means much more idolization of Sonia Gandhi and her family. The more the Congress loses the more the loyalty towards the family increases – that’s how sycophancy works – because all the other independent minded leaders would then be reduced to a naught.


With the recent unfolding in the political scene in the country, Congress cannot hope to win in Andhra Pradesh. There is a great deal of negative sentiment against Congress party in Telangana because of the betrayal of Telangana cause. In the last elections, Congress formed an alliance with TRS promising people of Telangana their statehood if they come to power. And they came to power and formed the government in the state under Rajashekar Reddy, a strong opponent to creation of Telangana. Sonia Gandhi and her party went against their promise to create a new state upsetting people of Telangana. Unless Sonia grants statehood this time, Congress has no chances of winning in Telangana.

Meanwhile, in the Rest of Andhra Pradesh, there is a new threat. Chiranjeevi, the famous actor, is forming a new party and many existing political parties already know that he is going to make a big impact. Congress, unless it joins hands with Chiranjeevi, which seems to be quite a remote possibility, cannot win in Rest of Andhra.

Sonia Gandhi has to reevaluate her strategy vis-à-vis Andhra Pradesh. There is a good chance that Congress will announce creation of Telangana in a bid to win at least this region. And if so, that decision will come at a time close to the election to reap the maximum benefit out of that announcement.

Pan India Hindutva ideology

BJP and its Hindutva ideology is getting legitimacy in almost all regions of India, including the South. BJP and other Hindutva outfits can pat themselves on the back for creating the necessary atmosphere, and for benefiting from some of the recent events in the state and outside, in transforming themselves into a well-accepted political party in the South. Aiding them were other factors, such as extreme incompetence and petty politics of JDS and Congress in Karnataka, recent terrorist attacks in the state and outside, and the desperate need for development-focus.

In the recent past, Karnataka has seen a spurt in growth of regional chauvinism; and the fervor it has vitiated in the state is something which any fascist, nationalistic or communalistic party can ride on. There is a growing antipathy and animosity towards non-Kannadigas. Riots took place in different parts of Karnataka in which Hindus and Muslims were at loggerheads. This atmosphere is conducive for party like BJP to make its mark.

The prevailing mood has allowed these people of South to accept BJP as a legitimate party. The mood of Kannadigas is to have a change from the both JDS and Congress, and to have an increased sense of security of their regional and communal interests, which a party like BJP can easily promise to promote. Though Hindutva ideology is not really the critical factor for Kannadigas to vote BJP into power, that’s how BJP would like to position it in the Center – an approval of its Pan India Hindutva ideology.

Friday, May 23, 2008

On God-fearing people

I see two kinds of religious people, god-loving and god-fearing. I can understand the first kind but I fail to understand the second kind. Some of them proudly proclaim that they are god-fearing, and even write it in their matrimonial ads as if it is a positive attribute. According to these people, if someone is god-fearing then he is morally upright. ‘Since he fears god, he will not do wrong thing’, their reasoning goes. I find that reasoning quite amusing.

What about doing the right things? If God is solely interested in maintaining an account book on wrong things, what about the right things?

I think atheists are somewhat better ;-). As an atheist I like to do the right thing because I believe it is the right thing to do, not because I fear an invisible force called God who is out there to punish me whenever I do a wrong thing.

What would a god-fearing person do when God asks him to do the wrong thing?

[Such a thing is not far-fetched. Just read any of religious scriptures. You will see God asking humans all kinds of insane, cruel, and downright immoral things].

When God asks him to do a patently wrong thing, this god-fearing person will instantly obey. He will just do what he is told to do. The driving factor for action is the FEAR. He would not think for himself when he sets out to do the wrong thing. Such people make good robots, not original or creative thinkers.

So my question is simple- why proudly display in a matrimonial ad one’s lack of originality, lack of creativity and one’s ability to follow someone’s orders blindly without even thinking about it, as if it is a positive attribute?

Confounds me!

Atheists got this better. If God himself came around to tell me to do the wrong thing I wouldn’t do it. I would do the right thing in spite of his remonstrations. That’s because I do not fear him. And I think I would not even believe that he is the God in the first place. I would think that he is some godman dressed up as God trying to make a quick buck.

And if he tried to do some magic, I would show him a video clip of PC Sorcar ;-)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Einstein on God

For many years, many theists and religious people have used some of the statements from Albert Einstein to demonstrate that he was a religious man, or that he believed in a personal God, or that he was ambivalent about belief in God, and so on.

The religious people fought a long battle, citing many of his remarks, sometimes giving quite childish interpretations and conclusions to prove that Einstein believed in a religious God.

“God does not play dice with the universe”

For example, his famous quote, “God does not play dice with the universe” is wrongly interpreted as confession of his belief in God. One just cannot make such a direct conclusion. Many atheists refer to 'God' in their day-to-day speech. That does NOT necessarily mean they believe in a personal or religious God. The figure of speech using ‘God’ could mean differently in different contexts for different people, including atheists. But to conclude that Einstein was a believer from the above quotation is quite far fetched.

To understand why he said what he said, one has to know the context.

For eons, many cultures believed that God worked the laws of nature. (Biblical God has even created the nature with his hands, not necessarily abiding with laws of nature.) When Newton proposed Universal Theory of Gravitation thus setting the stage for Classical Physics, it was understood that the entire Universe was based on few well-understood laws of Physics making the universe and its workings deterministic. That means, if you knew the position of a planet at this moment, and know its interactions with the environment, we can predict its position at any time in future. If there is an error in calculation, it’s only because all the factors in the environment that influence its behavior are not clearly stated. So, the problem is with the guy calculating the position of this planet, not with the universal laws of nature.

So, if we are not able to predict future, it’s only because we don’t have the complete knowledge of all the factors affecting that future. But theoretically, if we knew all the factors, we can predict the future absolutely without any error. That was the understanding under Classical Physics.

Then came Quantum Physics!

It told us that nature was NOT deterministic. That it was not possible to predict the future. That unpredictability and probability are inherent part of this Universe. That even if you knew all the factors in the environment absolutely, you would still NOT be able to predict the future. That the outcome of events is probabilistic! That the God played dice with universe!

Even Einstein, the greatest thinker of our time, could not reconcile himself to this reality. When he got to know how Quantum Physics worked, he could not believe it and uttered the now famous quote – ‘God does not play dice with Universe’.

Later on, with more understanding of this new and revolutionary physics, he has accepted Quantum Physics, and became a champion of it. He went onto accept that God does indeed play dice with the universe.

For him and everyone who knows the context, using God was a figure of speech. It does not speak of religion or belief in supernatural being who watches over us.

Science without religion is lame

Another famous quote which is often cited to say that Einstein approved of religion is – “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

Many people used this quotation to say that religion was equally important to Einstein as much as Science. This philosophical and sociological statement only promotes harmony between the factions, but does not tell much about Einstein’s religious attitudes.

However, many religious people have used this quotation to prove that Einstein believed in God and that he approved of mainstream religion.

Then came the final quote to put an end to all this debate.

“God is nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness”

In a letter to philosopher Eric Gutkind, Einstein wrote: “The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses.”

And about Bible, he said: “[it is] a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.

About Judaism, he said: “For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions.

About Jews, he said: “I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them.”


Einstein grew up in an environment where religion was extremely important. Though Einstein confessed that he ‘lost his religion’ at the age of 12, calling religion ‘a lie’, he remained slightly ambivalent when it came to the role of religion in society. His ideas on his personal god were closer to atheists, though he maintained respect for the necessity of religion.

His religion, if one can use that terminology, is captured more by his awe of the universe than the anthropomorphic God of the West or the human interventionist God of the East. To this effect, he said, “The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is its comprehensibility.”

But in no way he was a religious man as people describe their religions, and no way he was a believer in personal god as people define their gods.

At the same time, Einstein did not think he was an atheist. Some people categorize him as a deist - someone who does not believe in a personal god, or a religious god, but who believes that there is something more to this universe which is beyond human comprehension - but there is no room for miracles, prophecies or 'chosen people'.

Monday, May 19, 2008

On Group Politics

Most Indians have grown to detest all kinds of group politics. Any group which gets formed representing people of certain identity is considered divisive and hence bad.

Is group politics bad or good?

Instead of answering that question directly, I shall ask few more questions. Since we have so much exaggeration and sensationalism on the TV these days, shall we go back to those days when there was only one channel and that too controlled by the state? Since we have so much excessive consumption and waste today, shall we go back to those days of poverty where there was little food to eat and little water to drink?

Just because we have excess of certain things (and deemed bad) does not mean we eliminate them completely. We have to agree that we all want free media; it’s just that we want it less sensational and less exaggerated. We all want easier access to food and water; it’s just that we want it less wasted. However, there are lots of people who think very differently, they go onto discredit the entire system itself as bad.

Before I dig deep, let me put some more examples on how we look at groups and lobbies.

When blacks of US come together to form a group to represent blacks, it’s not seen in the bad light. But when well-to-do whites of US come together to form a group to represent whites, it’s usually derided.

When dalits of India come together under a group to represent untouchables, it’s not seen in the bad light (by some of us, including mainstream media). But when well-to-do upper castes of India come together under a group to represent upper castes of India, it’s usually derided (by some of us, including mainstream media).

Is there hypocrisy involved?

I will get back to this question but before I do that, I urge you to read an article on this blog: Duties of the Majority and the Privileged.

Role of Group Politics

Group Politics when done well can create a healthy democratic environment to work towards betterment of minorities and underprivileged, to bring in sense of equality. But when done on an excess can result in divisive and destructive politics.

In many countries, civil wars, frictions, breakaways, etc, can all be avoided by allowing group politics to play a healthy role.

In India, for some reason, there has been a notion to decry every case of group politics without seeing the merit in it. For example, Congress of pre-Independent India always looked at group politics with contempt. When Muslims wanted to be seen as a different group, it failed to recognize it, and in the process allowed Muslim League to represent the Muslim groups which eventually led to the division of the sub-continent. By not allowing Muslims’ representation as a group, Congress has inadvertently led the country to the very same situation it feared the most- division of the country on the name of religion.

For many years, grouping under one's identity within Indian context was always considered bad - a force that would break up India. All discussion into legitimizing group politics was shunned.

Some of us understand now that the underprivileged and minorities need to have their groups represented in politics under their identities. It’s a necessity that a democracy has to bear the burden of.

However, the problem appears when the privileged and majorities also form their groups under their identities. That only causes the gaps to widen and further alienation of minorities and underprivileged.

It’s usually OK (for some of us, including mainstream media) to see a group of underprivileged or minority to form a party under the banner of its identity, but somehow NOT OK (for some of us, including mainstream media) to see a group of privileged or majority to come and form a party under the banner of its identity.

That's why some of us deride BJP which forms a party to represent the majority and (in many cases) the privileged. And that’s also why some media people criticize white people’s parties and lobbies in US.

Why is one grouping OK and the other NOT OK?

These are the common set of notions. It is believed that,

When underprivileged and minorities form their groups, they do so, to bargain for better rights, better privileges which are denied to them, better access to education and opportunity because they are underrepresented, and to secure better access to political power.

When privileged and majorities form their groups, they do so, to perpetuate their hegemony, to appropriate more resources for themselves in excess of their share, to continue their dominance and superiority over others, and ensure they get an excess and uneven share in education, opportunity and political power.

These are the general perceptions on why some group politics are considered OK and why others are NOT.

[However, reality is never so stark and contrasting, and hence we will see legitimacy for even the supposed privileged and majorities, and derision for supposed underprivileged and minorities.]

Related Posts: On Caste Politics in India, Duties of the Majority and the Privileged.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Lackluster Leaders II

On the same day, in THE HINDU, there’s another article. First, LK Advani asserted that he did not know that Jaswant Singh was going to Kandahar, accompanying three terrorists, to release the captives by acceding to the demands of the hijackers:

… Mr. Advani’s recent remarks that he was not aware about Mr. Singh going to Kandahar as the CCS had not taken any such decision…

In an interview, Mr. Advani had said: “I wouldn’t know that [Singh is going]. He [Singh] must have consulted [the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari] Vajpayeeji... I don’t think I am answerable for that. If the CCS had taken the decision, I would have been answerable but it did not.”

So, LK Advani is clear that CCS (Cabinet Committee on Security) has NOT TAKEN the decision. However, this is what Jaswant Singh has to say:

“It was a decision of the Cabinet Committee on Security,” Mr. Singh told reporters here when asked about the then External Affairs Minister accompanying three terrorists to Kandahar to seek release of 156 people held hostage on the hijacked plane.

It is clear to all of us, the readers with minimum commonsense, that Jaswant Singh and LK Advani do not have same story; that they are not on the same page regarding this issue; that they are in disagreement. However, this is what Jaswant Singh has to say:

“Do you expect me to refute what Advaniji has said? How can I say that my leader [Advani] is not correct? How can the leader be wrong? Whatever he is saying is correct,” Mr. Singh said.

“How can the leader be wrong?”

Can you believe that?

I don’t, but many Indians do believe that a leader can never be wrong. That’s also the reason why many people in India think that honesty is an integral attribute of a leader. Also, they think that a leader is infallible, the perfect one.

In reality, no leader is infallible. They have their idiosyncrasies, just like all other human beings. They are human and are fallible. But most Indians think otherwise. They think their leaders are gods. But they don’t know that even gods are not infallible. According to Indian mythology, most of our gods are conniving, deceitful, scheming, cheating, seducing, lying little rascals.

And when we see the inconsistency so glaringly, why don’t we admit there is inconsistency?

Many Indians also think: “How can my motherland be wrong?” and hence they support every ignominious act committed in the name of patriotism.

They also think: “How can my elders be wrong?” and endure all kinds of humiliation and subjugation, all their lives.

They also think: “How can my ancestors be wrong?” and thus promote sati, untouchability, caste system and ill-treatment of women in the name of upholding Bharat Sanskruti.

Related Links: Lackluster Leaders I, Qualities of a Leader

Lackluster Leaders I

India produces some of the most sycophantic leaders.

Here is one example from THE HINDU:

Senior Congress leader and Union Minister for Human Resource Development Arjun Singh on Sunday renewed his pledge of loyalty and commitment to the Nehru family.

In a statement issued here, Mr. Singh said that when he met Jawaharlal Nehru in March, 1960, he pledged his loyalty to him and his family.

“This was the commitment, which is an article of faith with me. For the past 48 years of my life, I have scrupulously adhered to it. I shall do everything to maintain the loyalty and commitment to the remaining members of the family till I live,” he said.

What kind of constitutional democracy is this? How different are we from the immature neighboring democracies where one leader bequeaths her party and position in a will to someone in her family?

Why is a pledge of loyalty to certain family so important in a constitutional democracy? Isn’t this what dictatorships practice? Isn’t this a pledge all Nazis took to show their commitment and loyalty to Adolf Hitler? Actually, we have gone one step beyond the dictators. Here, we are committing ourselves to the leader’s progeny and family as well.

That’s how Nehru Gandhi got founded – bringing all the sycophants under one roof. First, we had Mughal Empire, then the British Empire, followed by Nehru-Gandhi Empire, thanks to Indian sycophants.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Dethroning our Masters II

I see our Independence Movement as a culmination of many internal struggles, not just the struggle against British rule. I like to see it as a fight against our masters – and those masters are many, not just the British.

In this fight against our masters we started off with overthrowing absolute monarchy and came out as constitutional democracy. Usually that step cannot be achieved in a short period of time, and it cannot be achieved within a generation, and more so, it cannot be achieved peacefully. The process of overthrowing a monarchy and emerging one as constitutional democracy is a long process, and most often leads to unintended results (especially if it is a violent one).

Many such attempts that tried to dethrone an absolute monarchy to replace it with rule of people have turned out be major disasters. French Revolution and Soviet Revolution are examples. On the other hand, the English have had their pretty long struggle with monarchy, and each step towards democracy required time, energy and struggle, spanning many centuries. The eventual balance of monarchy and democracy that we got familiarized with came about after few hundred years of internal struggle.

That kind of transition to a constitutional democracy requires installing the right kind of institutions. One needs to have the freedom of press, the popular movements, the enlightening of the masses, the reason, the debate, upholding of citizen’s rights, toppling of the feudal masters, secularization of the state away from the priestly power, and so on. Usually the journeys towards such a path have been quite long for many western powers.

India stands out as a curious case. Constitutional democracy is an alien concept to this sub-continent. So, how did India overthrew its autocratic monarchy to come out as a constitutional democracy in a span of 90 years? How did we manage to take care of installing the right kind of institutions? How did we ensure we did not turn into another autocratic nation? And how did we transit so peacefully?

While the West went through its long internal struggles, most other nations in the world were given a shortcut because they were ruled by the West. Each of those colonies had a chance to take that shortcut. Some took those shortcuts and came out successfully; some took it and ran through pitfalls. And some others refused to take those shortcuts dismissing them as artificial constructs of the West.

India was fortunate enough to be one of those nations who took those shortcuts to come out successfully. And as icing on the cake, this transition was mostly peaceful.

Though I am about to describe our journey and the steps we took as if it was intentional, as if there was a design, I want to let my readers know that there was no such design. It was not God or Providence, or an intelligent design that led these movements one after the other.

At each stage, we had a set of leaders who pushed the movement from one stage to another, only because it made sense. Fortunately, we had the right kind of elements to make this work and right kind of people came onto stage to make it work. Some countries were not that fortunate because they had some of these pieces missing. They went onto become dictatorial, autocratic, communist and fascist countries.

In short, our Independence Movement is a combination of all the following struggles – toppling of our monarchies that ruled over us for centuries, making the feudal and landlords irrelevant, especially those who served these autocrats helping them in perpetuating monarchy, the rise of intelligentsia that eventually went onto author the Indian Constitutions and spawn the new set of leaders who not only governed India as elected leaders, but also overthrew superstitions, ignorance and irrationality from its sacred pedestal, overthrow of Muslim superiority and dominance reducing them to a common man almost equal to every other Hindu, rise of common man, inclusion of the common man in the struggle, the farmer, the cobbler, the Hindu, the Muslim, the Sikh, and every Indian to eventually make this a vibrant democracy, overthrow of caste dominance and along with it the Varna system and its practices of untouchability and caste-based-discrimination, rise of women as equal citizens and abolition of practices like sati while encouraging widow marriages, and finally, embracing constitutional democracy as our choice over other prevailing school of thoughts such as fascism, communism, dictatorships, etc.

[To be continued]

Related Posts: On our Independence Movement, Dethroning our Masters

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

On Caste Politics in India

Mayawati represents the exact anti-thesis of how I want a leader to be. Yet, she spearheads a political party that gives political power to the untouchables of India. Should I be sad or should I be happy that we have such a leader?

Indian lower caste groups act in two contradicting ways when it comes to dealing with their caste identity vis-à-vis India’s upper castes.

As groups, they continue to fight the upper caste and hence would like to identify themselves as different from the upper caste. In this respect, they would like to play the victim card to bargain for the maximum number of sops and benefits to uplift the lower caste. But as individuals, they like to move up the social and economic scale, and this apparently means emulating and behaving more like upper castes.

At an individual and family level, as Indian lower castes become prosperous, they would start becoming more like upper castes of India. Their rituals become similar to upper caste Hindus. Though the leader of untouchables, Ambedkar, urged them to renounce Hinduism to take up Buddhism, the present generation of Dalits would like to upgrade themselves to look and feel more like upper caste Hindus. The lower caste families that are well-off now start going to the Hindu temples, become extremely devout, invite the priest to conduct their rituals, and have deities at home the way an upper caste person would have. They would go through the same ceremonies that were denied to them for ages, with aplomb and satisfaction. At an individual level, a lower caste Hindu is trying to become upper caste though he denies that accusation at a group level.

India has a history of castes moving up and down the hierarchy. The founders of Maurya dynasty were lower caste, but once they became the rulers, they were given the status of upper caste. In the course of Indian history, many kings and noble families have moved up the hierarchy and thus elevated their own groups ranking.

The same trend continues, but now, there is a vested interest for lower caste to remain lower caste, at least in the legal system – because of sops like reservations, scholarships, etc. Therefore the lower castes will retain their lower caste labels, while the individuals and families will compete against each other to act and behave more and more like upper caste. Not all caste groups move up at the same time. Not all groups wield power and access to opportunity the same way. There is a race amongst these different lower castes on who is going to get to the upper caste status first. We will see different lower castes behaving differently during their upward mobility.

Caste-based Political Parties

When the lower caste parties, who woo their lower caste vote banks, come to power they start behaving exactly similar to other political leaders who preceded them. One cannot see the difference between the two. They start acting like the very masters they toppled.

Once the points on their victim card start running out, in an attempt to consolidate their position and to garner more votes, they affiliate with most unlikely caste groups. For example, in UP, we see lower caste groups in alliance with Brahmins and Rajputs, the very upper caste masters they came about to topple.

Emancipation of lower castes of India is a long journey. It may take few generations. It will involve many mechanisms and tools – it will involve reservations, sops, scholarships, free meals, and also the major social movements including formation of political parties dominated by caste affiliations. This is a journey for all of us, from an origin which is quite distasteful, surfeit with ill treatment of fellow human beings, discrimination, ostracism, persecution to a destination which promises utopia, where a man is judged not by his caste but by his character.

One of the sad aspects of such journeys is that it will throw up leaders who are not actually qualified by their character, but more by their affiliation.

One of the outcomes of these journeys is a future when each caste group would have almost similar access to political power (and hopefully opportunity). In theory, it is a time when every group is equally capable of coming to power.

I hope that such events and trends, not going the wrong way, would help Indians come to an understanding that we are all equal. Once we reach a stage where almost every group is represented adequately, our people may start looking for certain traits in a leader other than the mere affiliations to a certain group or identity. Hopefully, we may then learn to choose those leaders who are not just symbols of our identities but capable of delivering on basic expectations of equal citizens.

Indian middle class

Indian upper middle class and the elite news and media abhor and detest leaders like Lalu and Mayawati. When they do that, they are apparently scorning that lower caste Indian who these leaders represent. Such distancing and abhorring will in fact help these leaders in their cause. It’s exactly what these leaders want – a disapproval from the elite society of India. Their popularity soars because they will show to their vote banks once again that they are victimized by the elite and upper caste (not very different from how Narendra Modi plays his sympathy card that he is being targeted by the mainstream media and secular parties).

Lower caste will behave like upper caste

My observation is that with upward mobility, more and more of the lower caste would become equals to upper caste in terms of political and social power. While that is being achieved, the families and individuals of the lower caste will start behaving more and more like upper caste Hindus- even if that means going against the same tenets that actually spurred their revolution.

This also means they will identify more and more closely with upper caste Hindu behaviors and sentiments. They will detest and decry conversion of their fellow lower castes (who are poor) to other religions. They will identify themselves more with Vedas, the grand Indian history, and will try to seek their own place in that pantheon of ancient achievements. If needed, they will reinterpret the events of the pasts to condone the extremities meted out to them with some flawed and distorted logic.

They will make a U-turn to oppose and criticize the reservations-based-on-caste because it reminds them of their lowly origins. They would like to detach and disassociate with all the crutches and helping hands, special provisions and sops, the way a cripple who got a new leg would spurn his erstwhile crutch. They like to roll back those reservations which helped their fathers to get a jumpstart. They would like to deny these benefits to others who have not yet received them yet.

They will fight for preservation of Bharat Sanskruti more vehemently and vociferously – by joining the parades to denounce Miss Universe pageants and Valentine Day celebrations. In effect, they will become more ritualistic, superstitious and irrational just to prove to themselves (and others whom they are competing against) that they are equal to upper caste Hindus.

This would also mean a resurgence of Hindutva Movement on an unprecedented scale, where the middle class now comprises a huge lower caste community, where neoconverts are actually more fanatic. The enemies – Muslims, Christians, Communists, the intellectuals - would be hated with more fervor and passion.

These are some of the trends I disapprove of. Now, just because the upward mobility of lower castes of India would lead to resurgence of the movements I dislike, should I discourage that upward mobility?

Of course not!

That brings me back to Mayawati. Am I happy or sad? I am both happy and sad looking at leaders like that. But I would not stop her from taking up her cudgels against those who she thinks are her masters. If she wants to topple her masters, let her do it, in her own way. I may not subscribe to her methods, but as long as they are legal, and within the framework of Indian Constitution, I am not against her.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Telangana VI: Hyderabad State?

When some commenters asked me whether I would be opposed to a separate Hyderabad state, I said, ‘No! I wouldn’t be opposed’.

That doesn’t mean I would encourage it in the present crisis. What I meant by that is - if such a case arises in future, I wouldn’t be opposed to it just for the heck of opposing every separation.

In the current context, a demand for separate Hyderabad state away from Telangana is quite ridiculous and it only exacerbates the animosity that Telangana people are developing towards the rest of Andhra state. It is clear from this demand for a separate Hyderabad state that the people of Rest of Andhra state are just not willing to give up Hyderabad to Telangana. They are coming up with all kinds of excuses to thwart all attempts to grant Telangana a separate statehood because it involves letting go of Hyderabad. Let’s make this clear for all of us - they have no affinity or love for the people of Telangana or its fate. They are least bothered about it. These are the very same reasons why many people of Telangana want a separate state.

So, what’s so right about Telangana people asking for Hyderabad?

To begin with, you would think that such a ridiculous proposition - that Hyderabad is separated from Telangana - would never arise. But then, this is India. All kinds of idiots live here. And hence we are forced into entertaining such ludicrous propositions and give them merit, to such an extent that I have to devote some time writing about it on my blog.

Wasn’t the thought of creating a Pakistan in the middle of South India (converted from a Nizam State) a ridiculous proposition? Wouldn’t the demand by Pakistan that they get New Delhi since their ancestors and forefathers were the ones who invested in that city to make it a grand city have been a ridiculous proposition?

Telangana has its own culture and tradition and has its own history which is not necessarily linked to rest of Andhra. Yes, language is the binding factor. But just because the language is binding factor, do we ask for a single Hindi state in North India?

Hyderabad is heart and soul of Telangana. It is a city that is formed out of Telangana and has its richness and culture that have the same history and fate as Telangana. And most important of all, it lies inside Telangana and is built on the land of Telangana, and belongs to people of Telangana.

Can the immigrants of a land ask for a separate status by flooding a city or a piece of land? Isn’t the basic premise for plebiscite in Kashmir is based on restoring the original status by removing the migrants from the picture?

Look at Bangalore. It is a home to many people from different parts of India. Many people have immigrated to this place and made it their home. Imagine if in future, people of Bangalore demand for a separate state for themselves. How should the immigrants of a place play role in deciding the fate of this city? Just because Karnataka has been welcoming many immigrants to its capital city, should it now let go of this state just because the immigrants want to create a new state out of Bangalore.

Imagine the immigrants of Mumbai cutting the city away from Maharashtra or Bangladeshi immigrants cutting away Kolkata from West Bengal. Imagine if the immigrants were to separate every city from its state.

Just because your forefathers have invested in a city does not make it yours. If that is case, half of New Delhi should belong to England, and the other half to Pakistan.

Hyderabad has always been a part of Telangana, and it lies within the confines of Telangana sharing no border with Rayalaseema or Coastal Andhra. Hence there should be no debate on where it belongs.

As much as Warangal or Karimnagar belongs to Telangana, Hyderabad belongs to Telangana. Just because it welcomes many people from other region to settle down there should not be a reason for allowing it break away from its own region.

All this discussion about creating a separate Hyderabad reeks of the same selfishness, greed and avarice the people of Telangana attribute to the rest of Andhra. A demand for separate state for Hyderabad by its immigrants has its roots in the same reasons why Telangana is impoverished, underdeveloped and poor.

Legitimizing this new demand is tantamount to further exacerbating the plight of Telangana, depriving them of their access to opportunity and development, furthering their situation which has brought its fate to this threshold – where they demand a separate state.

The demand for a separate state for Hyderabad is seeped in the same hypocrisy, the same selfishness, the same unwillingness to give access to other peoples of other kinds, the same avarice to keep accumulating the access to wealth and opportunity for oneself, not ready to share it others.

I reject the demands for a separate state for Hyderabad completely. First, the state of Telangana has to be formed. Later, in a completely new discussion, at a later time, the fate of Hyderabad can be decided. If the immigrants are bent on carving the city out of this region, then it will be up to future Telangana to decide.

The way whether North-east becomes a new nation or not is not a topic of discussion with China, Pakistan or Bangladesh, this is not a topic of discussion that we like to hold with Rest of Andhra. They are no party to it.

Related Posts: Telangana - A New State, Telangana II, Telangana III, Telangana IV, Telangana V: Political angle.