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Re: Freedom and Welfare or Bharat Maata?

[Topics under debate]: GOOD GOVERNANCE
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Dear Ritu,

Sorry for the late response.

I'm happy you realise the futility of rhetoric or emotion in such
discussions. But please don't call me Sir! I am but a humble student.

Forgive me if I sound a little confused, but I really amn't sure what
your consistent position is.

You say:

"1. Kashmir - You are right when you say that I do not even consider
that we are fighting for the freedom of the Kashmiri people. There are
two reasons for this: firstly, even with the Kargil conflict sorted out,
I can still see bombs exploding in Kashmir, curfews imposed - basically
the same thing that has been happening there since the 1980s. So, even
with the intruders driven out, they would still not be enjoying too many
individual freedoms. The second reason has to do with much the same
point that you have made - whether or not the indigenous population
wants to remain in India. Not having had talked to a Kashmiri for more
than a decade, I would not presume to speak for them. But from what my
friends in the army and the BSF tell me of their experiences, I have
stopped holding my breath waiting for a happy conclusion to the whole
mess. And, that sir, is the reason I do not say that the army is
fighting for the freedom of the Kashmiri people. Frankly, sir, even the
army doesn't quite believe that."

My comments:

But I amn't talking only about Kargil. Kargil may be thought of as a
single battle in a long war. For what is the war being fought? If we
don't believe we can, through our present course of action, allow the
Kashmiris their freedom, we have to find other means of working to
ensure that.

RE: the Kashmiris wanting to remain in India or not, if serious demands
are being made, it is our duty to listen. As I have asked Mr.
Kulshreshta, if we believe in national sovereignty, why not


You also say:

"The point you make about welfare of the same people is indeed a very
positive thought, though one that I find hard to hold on to. If we could
not win the confidence of the Kashmiri people in the decades before
Terrorism became such a big problem, I wonder how we will manage that
now. Still, I hope that you are right in this instance and that I am

My comments:

If the Indian nation-state isn't confident of facilitating any useful
activity by its citizens in Kashmir, I think it only humane to ask the
Kashmiris whether they want to stay with it or not. Of course,
self-determination is complex and has complications e.g. the tyranny of
the majority, the question whether a free and fair referendum, or
whatever other means is used, can be conducted in a given situation or
not, etc. But we have to decide whether or not to accept the principle
in the first place. I'm talking of principle, not reality, nor of having
a referendum now. I think self-determination has to be considered. Maybe
it has been (and rejected). Perhaps someone with more knowledge can let
us know.


You say:

"Nowhere have I claimed that one ought to have a blind allegiance to
Bhaarat maata, nor that the end is [or should be] Bhaarat maata. I have
merely attempted to point out that blind patriotism has its place and
ought not to be dismissed in haste - a point with which you concur."

My comments:

Well, in the context of Kashmir, 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. I assumed you
carried this perspective to other spheres.

I don't find a place for blind patriotism. I do find a place for an
undying love for a (one's own too) country and its culture. But that
love can be achieved without blind patriotism which, to me, means
nationalism. In fact that love can exist in a person irrespective of
nationality. As I have said in my reply to Mr. Kulshreshta, I greatly
admire and am inspired by the zeal that people show in risking their
lives for the security of their fellow citizens. But we can see that in
people other than soldiers, people who may not be doing it for the
'nation' or Bharat Maata.


You then say:

"The second point had to do with the argument of national interest vs.
individual freedoms. The example of FDR was not given to confound the
economists [they may go on debating to their heart's content if it was
FDR or the war or the economic cycle or whatever that ended the
depression]. It was just used to make the point that even in a country
like the US, where individual liberties are sacrosanct, individual
rights have been curtailed if the administration thinks that national
interest requires it."

My comments:

I dont think national interest is synonymous with nationalism.
Nationalism or blind patriotism may come in the way of national
interest, which can be defined as the freedom and welfare of the people
of the nation. Once this end has been identified, a reasoned debate can
ensue whether a particular policy is in the interest of the citizens or
not. There is no room for irrationalism. I just wished to establish

The question of whether "the administration" has the ability or
willingness to, on the whole, gauge correctly the "national interest"
can be debated no end and yet not settled here. But, of course, we
aren't arguing about that here. IMO we should consider the argument of
people like Ohmae who claim that "national interest" can no longer
automatically be considered the people's interest. Because nations are
coming in the way of a more useful flow of all kinds of resources, even


You say:

" Having said this, let me also state that I am not advocating a blind
surrender to 'national interests' [Good heavens, NO!]. All I am doing is
pointing out that such situations may arise [and have arisen]. Any
abrogation of individual rights is potentially dangerous, and the
decision to do so cannot be taken lightly. I thank you for your word of
caution, but believe me, it was really not necessary."

My comments:

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

Just because the situations you talk of may arise, doesnt mean that
they are likely to occur with frequency. That is important to
understand. It affects the way we see things. If the situation does come
up, we will we see. But the burden of proof, IMO, has to be on the
"administration" to, as conclusively as is possible, prove that their
intervention in my activity is likely to lead to a better situation for
everybody or "most people" than if it had been naturally sorted out. In
the past, such claims on the part of the government have turned out to
be wrong horribly wrong. Though I guess you agree with this.


Your comment:
"This brings me to the next sub-topic , what are the interests of the
nation other than the freedom and welfare of its citizens? None, really.
The point is that there have been situations where individual liberties
have been suspended to ensure the long term freedom and welfare of the
citizens - the emergencies imposed on the nation during the wars of '62
and '71 come to mind."


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

Your comments:

"You said, "Loving your country is very different from worshipping it
and being uncritical of what is being done in its name." I know, I
agree. I do love my country but I am anything but uncritical of all that
is done in its name.  You also wanted to know if I would despise those
who migrate for personal interest. It is their decision, based on their
situations - it is not for me to approve or disapprove. I do wonder,
though, what made you ask this."

My reply:

'Despise' wasn't really the word I meant. I'm sorry if I sounded a
little presumptuous.


I think you will agree this discussion is more than a little confused.
For my part in this, I apologise.

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

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