Tamils and Kannadigas are not enemies

A well-wisher came to me with the request to support the apparently barbarous murder of the son of the former LTTE chief by the Sri Lankan army, the news of which has been in circulation these days. His logic is that Sri Lanka and Karnataka must be united in their opposition to Tamil Nadu because Tamil Nadu has been troubling both. I had to politely decline to support this viewpoint.

Tamils and Kannadigas are not enemies; in fact, we are one people in more than one sense of the term, and there is much that we need to achieve together. It is just that the politicians of Tamil Nadu would like to paint the Kannadiga like a demon to the Tamil so that they can then claim to have the ability to slay the demon.

Even the inability of Karnataka's politicians to secure the Cauvery for us is not their incapacity to slay the Tamil demon, for there isn't one. It is their lack of political acumen, their blind acceptance of enslavement by so-called national parties, and, in the ultimate analysis, the Kannadiga's complete subservience to the flawed idea of India that informs the present Constitution. The hatred of Tamils does not substitute for changing this status quo.

Now, don't mistake me. I don't mean to be a patron of the LTTE. That's the other extreme viewpoint that my critics will be waiting to jump to. Violence begets violence, and this is likely why the young boy was apparently killed so brutally. Also, I am not against violence either, because of the same reason: violence begets violence; if there has been violence in the past, the victims will tend to use violence in the present and future. Who am I to be for or against that which is inevitable according to the law of Karma?

Why we needed the Hyderabad blasts

Pic: India Today.

The terror attack on Hyderabad is not a failure of the Govt. of India. It is the very thing on which the need for a Govt. of India was originally postulated by the British: the so-called inability of the states to defend themselves from external aggression. I say 'so-called' because this inability was and is only an illusion; we find states smaller than the smallest in India defending themselves in the world. But the Govt. of India would like to maintain this illusion intact, because if it weren't for it, it would cease to exist.

The Idea of India that is enshrined in the Constitution of India requires these bomb blasts to happen, because it is an opportunity to illustrate the need for a Govt. of India in the absence of any other obvious reason such as a people speaking one language or belonging to one race. The Constitution also requires the states to be incapable of preventing these bomb blasts. Everyone points a finger at the Govt. of India and claims that it must pull its act together and prevent these incidents. But the fact is, such acts can never be prevented except by the State Governments. And now, because of the way in which the nation is structured, the State Governments may not prevent them. The result: these bomb blasts can never be prevented at all.

The people of India pay for this nonsensical and undemocratic political structure by dying in these blasts which keep happening without end. Yet, we don't learn from our mistakes, and the Govt. of India would rather not have us learn. Because, if we do learn, it would present an existential threat to it. But really, it would only create an existential threat to the current Constitution of India - not the very idea of a single Indian nation. There is a way of writing this crucial document which ensures peace and prosperity for all Indians, and without endangering the idea of a single nation. That way is to take federalism seriously.

Hyderabad blasts: the language angle

Hindu-Muslim hatred is essentially a North Indian phenomenon. It is transported into South India by the so-called national parties. In fact, Hinduism and Islam were themselves transported into South India from North India. The Telugus, who are a nation by themselves according to the universal definition of the term, had nothing to do with Afzal Guru whose execution, by the actual nation that they are part of, seems to have triggered the Hyderabad bomb blasts.

If the Indian Mujahideen, or any other terrorist group, is indeed behind the blasts, then one of two things must be true. The terrorists who committed the crime must either have been brought in from outside Andhra Pradesh, or they must have been born and brought up within the state.

If the terrorists were brought in from outside the state, the Government of India is party to the crime because it does not let states enforce their own border security. What is more, it encourages the belief, complete with what is advertised as a concern for universal brotherhood but what is in reality a justification for extreme centralization of economic and political power, that inter-state borders are unholy even if they are only on paper.

The trains, airplanes and highways between states, which run under the control of the Government of India, carry these terrorists to their destinations sans any controls or checks. Remember that, when the British pioneered these transport and communications links, they loved the havoc they would create. The more the havoc, the more the yellow metal in the Queen's kitty. It's not very different today. Now there ain't no Queen, but there are a few Kings and Moguls in New Delhi, all working very closely.

If the terrorists were born and brought up in Andhra Pradesh, there are two further cases: they either spoke Telugu or didn't. If they didn't speak Telugu, the Government of India is again to blame, because it discourages all Indian languages other than Hindi - not just in name, but economically and politically. It does not let state governments enforce the language of the land and thereby create a feeling of brotherhood between Hindus and Muslims.

Islam is a religion, not a language, and hundreds of millions of Muslims do not speak Arabic or Persian or Urdu, which many consider to be three names of one language, but which are similar only to outsiders; the similar scripts add to the confusion. The entire nation of Bangladesh, full of Muslims, speaks Bengali, and in fact separated from Pakistan on linguistic grounds. It also makes sense for Muslims to speak the language of the people around them, because it then makes conversion, which they like, easier.

All said and done, it is extremely unlikely that the terrorists spoke Telugu, or had any intention to speak it. One doesn't create havoc in the lives of people whose tongue one shares or wishes to share, even if one is a Muslim, unless, in that case, one is opposing Hindu fanatics. If one is opposing Hindu fanatics, the BJP, the RSS, and the rest of the Hindutva brigade, who like to think of themselves as the better alternative to the Congress at the centre, are all to blame for the Hyderabad blasts.

Next, it is important to note that the Telugu people, i.e., the people of Andhra Pradesh, hold a miniscule fraction of the power in the Parliament of India that was attacked by Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri hero according to the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, in the first place. I don't mean just the trivial number of Andhra MPs, but also the fact that they are inferior because they don't speak the preferred language - Hindi. If the Telugus even whisper in Telugu in the Parliament, they're immediately and automatically regarded as traitors, parochials and un-Indian.

Most of the power in the Parliament of India is held by North Indians speaking Hindi. The attack on the Parliament, therefore, is not so much an attack on the Telugus as it is on the North Indians speaking Hindi. The most important source of Hindu-Muslim tension is essentially a conflict in the Punjab, a state in North India that was divided during the partition. The Telugus have only been told that all this is their problem, and the Punjabis have been told that it is not only their problem. Having bought that argument, the Telugus have got these bomb blasts as gifts from the Queen's alter-egos in New Delhi. What is more, the Telugus are constitutionally prevented from protecting themselves with any seriousness, and are told the recurrent constitutional lie that the Government of India is there to help the people of India.

Hero for the state, villain for the centre

Afzal Guru was executed on 9-2-2013. Image courtesy: India Today
If you watched Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's interview to CNN-IBN, you got ample proof that the States of India are namesake entities created to cushion the Central Government from the backlashes of the people it oppresses.

In the interview, Abdullah was unequivocal in his protest against the Central Government’s decision to hang Afzal Guru, although it was mixed with a lot of verbiage about technicalities and logistics, and although he was visibly under the severe compulsion of sounding politically correct to New Delhi. In India, chief ministers are not allowed to be more than this.

Abdullah’s protest or not, the hanging happened and his State Government is now expected to do all the cleanup and ‘keep the situation under control’. If the ‘situation goes out of control’, it is construed to be Abdullah’s ‘incapability to sustain law and order in the State of Jammu and Kashmir’, and out he goes according to The Book.

And then, in comes the puppet from Rashtrapati Bhavan to rule Jammu and Kashmir in proxy for the Prime Minister of India. In the case of the Congress, the latter can only rule in proxy for the President of the Congress Party; in the case of the BJP, in proxy for the sarsangchalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Since these people have exclusive control over The Gun in India, they have exclusive control over what it takes to ‘keep the situation under control’. Reminiscent of Lord Dalhousie’s Doctrine of Lapse which gave the British Raj the power to take control of States whose rulers were perceived to be ‘manifestly incompetent’ in their rule? Where their ‘manifest imcompetence’ was created by the Raj itself?

‘Generations of Kashmiris will identify with Afzal Guru,’ cautioned Omar Abdullah in the interview. ‘You will have to prove to the world that the death penalty is not used selectively. The onus rests on the judiciary and the political leadership to show that this wasn't a selective execution.’

Abdullah has stated unequivocally that the executed Afzal Guru, whatever the seriousness of his crime from the point of view of the Central Government or the Opposition or chest-thumping nationalists of all hues, is a sort of icon in Jammu and Kashmir, a hero. Now, this is already a problem with the Idea of India that calls for his execution. How can someone be a hero for a State and a villain for the Centre?

If the Idea of India is postulated on awarding the death penalty to the heroes of its States, what kind of a nation are we living in? If a man who, according to the Central Government, is involved in an attack on the so-called temple of Indian democracy (and that's already a problem; some will want the word mosque inserted here!), is a hero in one of its States, what kind of a democracy is it in the first place?

If the chief minister of a democratically elected State Government feels that the judiciary and the political leadership at the Centre are selectively using capital punishment to target the heroes of his State while leaving the heroes of other States roam scot-free, is there equality in India?

How will the Central Government ‘prove to the world that the death penalty is not used selectively’? By executing the heroes of the other States? Indeed, how does Omar Abdullah want this proof to be given to the world? And finally, will the ‘generations of Kashmiris’, who identify with Afzal Guru according to Abdullah, be satisfied if that proof is provided? Will that be equivalent to the rebirth of their hero?

These are tough questions, and the future of morality in India depends on the Central Government not shying away from them or answering them with The Gun. To even begin to answer them without putting the unity and integrity of India at risk from the very outset, not only the Central Government but every Indian will have to realize that Afzal Guru and others who attacked the Parliament House are extreme personifications of the undercurrent of widespread protest against an Idea of India that is fundamentally flawed: one postulated on taking all the power, including the power to decide who is a hero and who is a villain, away from the people and depositing it in the Parliament House in the first place.