Saturday, May 11, 2002
Sumer Kaul's rant on Samachar seems to have got one thing right at least - focussing on the present (something other writers like Kamath and Lavakare seem to have forgotten):
Never mind the extermination of the Red Indians, never mind the two hundred years of black slavery, never mind the Ku Klux clan and others of the same ilk - never mind history; look at the scene today: Not only do ordinary white Americans suspect every Sikh to be an Osama, even shooting dead one of them, official America has no qualms in stopping, interrogating and humiliating Indians with Muslim or Muslim-sounding names, including Aamir Khan and Kamal Hassan; why, the police even prevented an American Sikh magistrate from boarding a plane because he wouldn't unwrap his turban!
Of course, the ordinary Indian has the ability to distinguish between Americans, Canadians & Russians, right?
Nevertheless, Kaul's writing is otherwise quite precise. For example:
Other commentators are deeply worried about the frowns of western governments - so much so that when, in a rare exhibition of a bit of spine, the Indian government asked the Nosy Parkers not to interfere in our domestic affairs and save us their sermons on secularism, one editor went hammer and tong against the MEA, calling our stand "dumb and dangerous". So steeped is this worthy in his subaltern mindset that he wondered what Jaswant Singh would answer if Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell (the two `coloureds' in the Bush cabinet) ask him if the Indian cabinet has similarly "empowered" the minorities and dalits. One can't imagine a more ignorant and more stupid rhetoric!
Even the part about the West's reporting of Kashmir being one-sided is quite well founded. Only recently I read the following letter from one of Andrew Sullivan's readers:
One comparison I sometimes suggest to Europeans is this. The situation in Kashmir has some parallels to the Middle East. A minority is having its hopes for self-determination postponed. In fact, India goes even further than Israel, by ruling out Kashmiri statehood a priori. India claims to be under periodic terrorist attack, and responds with massive force. Lightly armed men from Kashmir and beyond go up against heavily armed and highly trained Indian troops, not to mention Indian tanks, artillery and aircraft.
It's certainly a mess, and far too many civilians have been killed, either accidentally or through criminal negligence. But where are the protests against India in Europe? Where are the daily editorials? Where are the organized letter-writing campaigns by European liberals? Where are the demonstrations against Indian representative offices? Where are the calls by the EU to boycott Indian trade?
Even-handed criticism is fine, but when Europeans and their media reserve their ire for one country and one race - perhaps especially given their own history - then they run the risk of the accusations of anti-semitism that they are earning.
Never mind that the "minority" with its hopes postponed is actually a majority in the state of Kashmir? Never mind that the "lightly armed men" are armed with rocket launchers, flamethrowers and AK-47s? Never mind that these men have for years conducted a systematic and brutal ethnic cleansing programme that has all but wiped out and created refugees of the 400 000 Hindu Pandits of the Valley?
posted by Kensy |