Abhinav Pandya is a graduate in Public Policy from Cornell University. He has worked in political affairs, refugee rehabilitation, social capital and sustainable development in India and USA. He is interested in political affairs, counter-terrorism, religious extremism, international security, spirituality and comparative religions.
Contrary to what many Indian geo-strategic brains argue, Balochistan is not a way for India to settle scores over Kashmir. In fact, I find the said line of argument highly immature. However, in addition to taking a stand on the moral dimension of human rights abuses and killings, India has other strategic reasons to support the Baloch national movement.
In the two years of BJP government, Modi's strongest footprint can be seen in the domain of foreign policy. However, his high-octane diplomacy has not always been a resounding success. There have been flip-flops and strategic miscalculations emanating from a dearth of clarity and professionalism, an absence of policy-based strategic planning and, of course, the systemic malaise of bureaucratic inefficiency. For all this, the scorecard still goes in his favour.
Trump is not just another new kid on the block. His rise has much deeper meanings. It signifies a big question mark by the US populace on the neo-liberal regime characterized by free-trade, large aid programs and military interventions to foster democracy and "American values". It implies a challenge to America's self-imposed role since WW II of world policeman...
Home to the world's second largest Muslim population and flourishing fundamentalist Islamic schools such as the Deobandi movement, it is somewhat surprising that India so far has seen less than 25 of its citizens becoming ISIS fighters. I have elaborated upon the reasons that make it tough for ISIS to plant roots in Indian soil in another post, but here I want to focus on factors that could facilitate the terror organization's reach.
ISIS represents the third phase in terrorism stemming from religious extremism. Unlike its predecessors and contemporaries, it functions like a state, exerting control over vast swathes of the two former sovereign states of Iraq and Syria. In terms of its objectives, it envisions bringing back the Islamic caliphate not just in the Middle East but throughout the world. It believes in the idea that no religion other than Islam should survive. For these reasons, it must be regarded as a truly global project and a transnational threat.
The Delhi Chief Minister recently said that the BJP is an anti-national party because it is not arresting the 'outsiders'--by implication Kashmiri youth--who chanted anti-India slogans in JNU. The reason, it was implied, is that the BJP does not want to displease its coalition partner PDP in J&K. At the India Today Conclave, Rahul Kanwal also tried to grill BJP president Amit Shah along similar lines. These two political expressions speak volumes about the downward spiral of Indian politics.
I read your opinion piece on the JNU issue in the NDTV site and found it somewhat misleading and a little short of rational arguments. Although you are a great fiction writer and years of UN experience have trained you in the art of taking politically correct positions, some issues demand venturing beyond superficialities to take a responsible stand. Still, I am writing to you because I feel that you are the only sensible voice left in the opposition.
Today, when India is being portrayed without any good reason as suffocating under some kind of Hindu dictatorship, I want to dust off something extraordinarily chivalrous, something pristine and something untouched by the political mud-slinging that is going on in the great Indian political theatre. I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to those brave soldiers of the Afghan National Army, who have fought bravely and time and again laid down their lives defending Indian consulates.
In taste, manners, beliefs and lifestyle, I am everything that a religious Hindu will scoff at. Most of the women I am friends with are cosmopolitan socialists and feminists who dabble in intellectual gymnastics with Davidoff, cannabis, sex and Merlot. With this picture in front, most people expect me to be a left-liberal who fumes at Modi, BJP, RSS. Before I explain further, I am sure some people by now have already branded me as a typical right-winger. But, still I would like put across a new mode of being...
I have studied at institutions like St Stephen's and Cornell University and I am a strong votary of free speech and voices of dissent. But in the case of the JNU students glorifying terrorists like Afzal Guru, Maqbool Butt and Yakub Memon, I think that the State action has been just, proportionate and balanced. Here's why.
While it's true that a bunch of terrorists and extremists pose a grave threat to world peace and human civilisation, I think it is misguided to malign and vilify all those who publicly profess their religious identity and display its symbols. Therefore, it becomes crucial to explore the journey of religiosity to find out the nuances of the phenomenon in which a person travels from atheism or most basic theism to religious extremism.
Amidst the allegations of Hindu intolerance under the Modi government, one event in Mamata's Bengal went quite unnoticed by the left-liberal media stalwarts. No writers came out to return their awards and the journalists had other things to rant about. Had it not been for social media, we would not have known much about it. The event in question was the carnage and arson that followed an aggressive demonstration by thousands of Muslims in Malda demanding death for Kamlesh Tiwari, a small-time Hindu Mahasabha leader.
There are some warm feelings for Pakistan in India, following our neighbour's arrest of Maulana Masood Azhar and 12 other suspects in the Pathankot terror attack. However, I would like to argue that it's too premature to be so jubilant. There's a very high possibility of this action turning into a routine formality or political eyewash. Further, I argue that this must be the last chance for Pakistan to prove its credibility.
Today when one witnesses Muslim youths raised in liberal, democratic and multicultural Europe falling prey to Jihadi ideology, it arouses fears that the same or worse may happen in India - after all, we have a huge Muslim population and they also on average are less educated and more religious than their brethren in Europe. Yet, accounts of Indians joining ISIS are few and far between.
Is "rising intolerance" indeed a reality? Or is it just the perception of a few that was deliberately used to create an environment of intolerance to serve narrow political ends? At this stage, when the high-voltage political drama of Bihar elections is over as is the "award wapsi", there is a need for a rational investigation of this phenomenon because it has some very serious implications for India.
Mr Modi is at his best a crusader, and Atalji a philosopher, a Zen monk. As a crusader, Mr Modi has single-handedly fought against a nation-wide ostracisation campaign led by the media, intellectuals and politicians for almost a decade, for still-debatable, uncomfortable and hard-to-gloss-over reasons. But finally he rose like a phoenix, riding on the wave of development/Hindutva and made his way to 7 Race Course Road. But, the problem is that he is still in the crusader mode.
In some intellectual circles, the Bihar verdict of 8 November 2015 marks the victory of the forces of secularism over communalism. In the annals of documented history, it will go down as the day in which the juggernaut of the mythical and invincible Modi was arrested. Half a century down the lane, these documented histories will be nothing more than mythological tales shamelessly hiding the biases and intellectual dishonesty of the intelligentsia/media/liberals. The truth is something else.