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Re: Freedom and Welfare or Bharat Maata?

[Topics under debate]: GOOD GOVERNANCE
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Dear Ritu,

Let me first assure you that I have made no attempt to use rhetoric.
If there is some misunderstanding, then it is genuine confusion on my
part. Actually, most of the confusion seems to be of the semantic kind.

You say:

"1] If you are not talking about Kargil alone and are instead talking
about the overview of the whole Kashmir situation, about the ultimate
aim that might be achieved one day far in the future, then it is the
freedom and welfare of the Kashmiri people [all Kashmiri people inside
our borders]. How it is to be achieved, what THEY want, how may they be
able to express it openly and peacefully, these are the questions that
stump me. While you were talking about the question in its entirety, I
was talking about my opinion on what is happening now and what seems to
be the most probable scenario in the decade to come. I do not claim any
sort of expertise on the question. Whatever information I have, is
culled from different sources, some secondary and some primary. Believe
me, it is scant information indeed when one considers the enormity of
the question."

My comments:

a) You say that "in Kargil the soldiers 'are fighting for the safety and
security of other Indians and for the sake of the territorial integrity
of Bharat Maata'" but not for the 'freedom' of other Indians and the
Kashmiris. (I will come to what I see here as semantic confusion later.)
But you also say that ultimately, the 'war' is being fought for the
freedom and welfare of the people of Kashmiris.

Having re-read your original post, you seemed to be saying that if the
intruders were allowed to take Kargil it wouldn't threaten the Freedom
and Welfare (which, IMO, imply safety and security) of Indians partly
because the Kashmiris "anyway do not enjoy much freedom [it is hard to
do that with constant shelling, bombing and other such activities]"

No battle has aims that are separate from those the greater war. If you
do believe that the 'war', as it were, is being fought (or should be)
for the freedom and welfare of the people of Kashmir (and other Indian
citizens, as we both agree), then why would (or should) the current
battle have separate aims? What difference does the time in which the
goals are expected to be reached make to the aims themselves?

The government has to be clear about what it wants to ultimately achieve
in Kashmir and what it plans to do. It has to be made EXPLICIT how each
of its actions is just one more step towards what it ultimately wants to
achieve. Don't you agree?

A failure to this and to explain each military offensive as the
protection of the 'integrity of Bharat Maata', it seems to me, gives the
Pakistani position a false sheen of morality. If we, instead, make it
clear what our ultimate aims are and how our attacks in Kargil are just
another attempt to make conditions conducive to positive measures for
the securing of the F&W of the Kashmiri people, I think there will be
more pressure on Pakistan to stop supporting the "freedom fighters" who
are disrupting the whole situation.

What the soldiers believe they are fighting for may have something to do
with the failure of the politicians to articulate publicly a long term
plan for the betterment of the Kashmiri people.

b) As for the means to be used for securing our goals, since we know so
little about it, we are bound to be stumped. But it is our duty to press
the authorities who have the knowledge (or can acquire it) to pursue our
goals and if they cannot, then to present us with the reasons why not.

As I have said already, if we believe that our ultimate goal in Kashmir
is the securing of freedom and welfare for the Kashmiris, whether or not
they remain in our country, then we have to make that explicit at each

As I have said, I think it is our failure to clearly say that our
ultimate aim is the F&W of the Kashmiri people at every step, and our
constant repetition of "Kashmir is an integral part of India", that has
worsened the situation for us.

You also say:

"2] Self - Determination? Yes, the idea needs to be considered. It is
neither right nor practical to force anybody to become a part of one's
country and polity. It is not the idea of self-determination that is the
problem, Chirag, it is the logistics of applying this idea to practical
realities. How does one ensure that each individual has her/his say?
That the opinion expressed is a considered and rational one, not one
formed as a result of propaganda by either side? That the expression of
the same opinion is not influenced by strong arm tactics and threats?
>From where I stand, it seems that just providing the environment where a
free expression of intent is possible is going to be tough enough. Those
who have migrated from Kashmir need to feel safe enough to return; those
who have spent the formative years of their lives hearing about the
atrocities of GoI need an incentive to look beyond the barrel of their
guns; those who have slipped across the border need to be pushed out
along with their assortment of weapons; those who are still in Kashmir
need a sense of normalcy that only the absence of daily, frequent
violence and resumption of economic activities brings. The list is close
to endless and like I said before, it is these questions that stump me.
If you have any ideas or suggestions, do share them."

My comments:

a) I am certainly not demanding a plebiscite now. It is clear that
conditions are not conducive for such measures. For example, the
Kashmiri Pandits are being discriminated against in the struggle of
those who want (or might want) to separate against those who don't (or
might not).

But once we are clear that we would want one in a normal state, then we
have to explain our every action as moving towards it, whether it is in
sight or not. As I have said twice already, I do think the GoI will
benefit greatly from the international support it will get if it would
give what I perceive (with my limited knowledge) to be the correct
explanation for every action in Kashmir. I think normalcy will be
reached much sooner if the Pakistani government (or army) and militants
lose their moral sheen and are correctly perceived to be the subversive
entities they are.

b) An analogy (perhaps it isn't apt): The transition to a market economy
(esp. in a place like Russia) can also be described as tough and a whole
list of problems can be drawn up to describe the process, the
culmination of which may not be in sight. But that doesn't mean the
government can ascribe separate aims to each step taken towards the
goal. That doesn't mean that the government should give up.

Why don't you call the attempts to reach normalcy (e.g. Kargil) attempts
to eventually secure the F&W of the Kashmiri people?


RE: my response to your letter:

You say:

"1] You wrote:
'You had said that the end we are fighting for can only be Bharat Maata
-- neither the freedom nor welfare of Kashmiris, nor those of the rest
of the Indians.'

Chirag, please reread my words. I have NEVER said that the end can only
be Bharat Maata. My exact words were that in Kargil the soldiers 'are
fighting for the safety and security of other Indians and for the sake
of the territorial integrity of Bharat Maata'. Then I went on to say
that they are 'not fighting for the freedoms of other Indians.' I still
say that Chirag. The army does not fight for the civic freedoms of the
citizens, it is not its job."

My reply:

Here's the semantic confusion that I was talking about something that
led me to ignore the first part of your first statement. I unconsciously
cancelled out: " are fighting for the safety and security of other
Indians" because in your second statement you said something that I now
recognise as a contradiction: "they are 'not fighting for the freedoms
of other Indians.'"

Isn't the safety and security of the people merely the safety and
security of the freedom and welfare of the people? Aren't the soldiers
merely securing the F&W of the people?

Then you say:

"2] You wrote:
'I don't find a place for blind patriotism'
Let me quote your words in the letter before this one:
"Yes, blind patriotism may have its place in a military environment -
-." This statement was the only reason I included the words 'a point
with which you concur'. Incidentally, out of sheer curiosity, how is
'blind patriotism' defined? I picked up this phrase from Vamsi's letter
[that too in an attempt to be sarcastic] and have found myself talking
about it since then. So, albeit a little late in the day, what is 'blind
patriotism'? If, as your letter seems to suggest, it is the same thing
as nationalism, just say so. If it is anything else, do let me know."

My reply:

a) I guess I should have made it more clear. Actually, I don't think I
was really being inconsistent there. Let me restate my position:

I concede that the soldiers in the Indian army are probably, in the
current situation, inspired by 'blind patriotism'. But I don't see this
to be a necessary situation at all. Even in the current situation, the
inspiration can be Freedom (of anybody who will otherwise be the victim
of aggression)or the protection of fellow human lives. I will prefer the
deification of the Human Being to that of 'Nation'.

In the second post I was talking about what should be (and can) and in
the first, what is. There is no need for blind patriotism and therefore
it shouldn't exist, but, on other hand, it does exist and does lead to
desirable consequences in the military.

b) Well I did say this in that last post to you: "But that love [for a
particular country or culture] can be achieved without blind patriotism
which, to me, means nationalism." Yes, my definition was nationalism,
which, to me, means deference to a deified nation (Bharat Maata)-- the
nation as something more than the sum of its people.

You say:

"3] You wrote:

'Frankly, I am a little confused. I am a little unsure of how this
position fits with the position you have taken on Kashmir. There you
seemed to be saying that it's okay if the fighting isn't being done in
the people's interests but for the glory of Bharat Maata, the deified

Chirag, the confusion stems from the assumptions you seem to have made
about what I said. Again, read my words once more. I do not know what I
seemed to be saying, but what I definitely DID NOT say is the idea you
have attributed to me. Could you explain how you reached the conclusion
that you obviously did? Then, maybe I could help."

My reply:

I admit to some confusion on my part. But I believe it does stem in some
measure from some confusion on your part. As far as I was concerned, you
said some contradictory things in that first post, and I responded to
some of those statements and ignored what I considered to be
contradictions. If your real positions are those I ignored, then perhaps
you should reconsider the ones I did respond to.

As I have already said, to me 'security and safety' implies safety and
security of the people's F&W, their lives. When you said the Kargil
fighting was being undertaken not for the freedom of the people, but
"the safety and security of other Indians and for the sake of the
territorial integrity of Bharat Maata", and then you said the freedom of
the Kashmiris wasn't relevant here, I assumed you meant the same for the
whole of the Kashmir problem. Because to me every battle against the
subversive militants is one step in the war against them. And the aims
of the battle cannot differ from those of the war.

Since the above seemed to be your position on the whole Kashmir problem,
it also seemed that the 'territorial integrity of Bharat Maata' was more
important to you for reasons other than the interests of the Kashmiris.

Since you had also said: "No, the reason (the soldiers are fighting in
Kargil) has more to do with what you call blind patriotism and national
pride", and I believe blind patriotism to mean nationalism, it seemed to
me that you were "saying that it's okay if the fighting isn't being done
in the people's interests but for the glory of Bharat Maata, the deified

I do hope that sounds somewhat logical.

You say:

"4] You wrote:
'Well, here again, I don't think this quite fits with your position on
Kashmir. And war is very different from normal civil life.'

Chirag, what position according to you do I have on Kashmir? Here, I am
confused. Frankly, Chirag, what seems [just an assumption] to be the
problem here is that because I wrote that I do not consider that we are
fighting for the freedoms of Kashmiris in Kargil, you made a couple of
assumptions regarding my views on the whole issue. These assumptions,
though never clearly stated and only implied, seem to cover a vast gamut
of subjects.

Unless I know what thoughts and positions have been arbitrarily
Attributed to me, I fear we will keep on wandering around confused. Like
this comment about war being different from civil life, or the one about
such situations not arising daily. Well, either you are indulging in a
bit of rhetoric or I seem to have missed the letter where I apparently
wrote things to the contrary. Kindly help me out here, Chirag. I feel
like I am shadow boxing.

My reply:

Well, let me reassure you that I am not interested in rhetoric. I did
make some assumptions, but I don't think they were totally out of sync
with what you actually said. I hope my explanation above has helped.

Perhaps you can clarify or even prove me false.

You say:

"If it would help any, let me state a few things. At the point at which
you joined this debate, Vamsi and I were talking about the soldiers in
Kargil. So, the comments made were focussed on that particular issue and

My comment:

Well, I personally don't think that changes things too much.

You say:

"Secondly, do try to distinguish between words actually written and
words that 'seem' to be the logical corollary to them. Maybe then we can
sort this whole thing out."

My comment:

Well I actually don't know what you mean here, but I do think there
should be a certain level of logical consistency.

Chirag Kasbekar
TYBA (Econ, Socio)
St. Xavier's College,
Mumbai (Bombay), India.

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