Caeca, I think was the first conspirator to stab Caesar. Others in quick succession plunged their daggers in his frame. Caesar reeling under the shock tried to stabilise himself against Brutus. He too stabbed him and the three words uttered by Caesar were immortalised-Et tu, Brute (You too Brutus)!
At the time of his burial Mark Antony avenged himself by delivering the cutting, double edged sword made of pun and pain thus: Friends, Romans, Countrymen lend me your ears. I have come to bury Caesar and not to praise him……..
On 30th January ’17, Prominent citizens of India released an appeal, to no body and everybody living in this country. The appeal was made in the English language. Recently, demonetised big notes as well as those which replaced them assure the bearer in 15 languages that the notes are worth their printed values. Empathy, I am taught can be understood only in English language! That is the one addition to the frugal kitty of my knowledge/information!
Why 30th January? Was it a an appropriate day to pillory a state defending itself, while extending sympathy with those who have been waging war and killing our security forces with least sympathy and maximum hatred. Kashmir problem was not created by the security forces. That is the irony!
Why has 30th Jan become an appropriate day for those who wait in the wings, to embark upon missions which are less than honest? The day naturally provides armour of honesty to people whose cases carry no conviction with the masses. After all Gandhi is not the only person who died in harness. Christ died in much worse conditions. And then we have Che Guerra or Trotsky or Carlo Tresca. Mao didn’t spare, apart from humans even sparrows. Sparrows eat grains! Loss!
There is a strange shade of sadism in the Hindu mind. How can we forgive Nathu Ram Godse if we are yet to forgive Ravana? What constitutes the Freudian side of our Hindu Psyche? Does it exhibit the helplessness of a gambler who loses every game but one, to continue living in the ecstasy of one victory? On the other hand we have nothing but praise and sympathy and respect for say Aurangzeb or Akbar or Khilji. There is no question of forgiving them. The complaint in the first place is missing. There is no grievance only gratitude. The burden of gratitude is so heavy that we converted Qutub Minar into the backbone, leaning against which we built every institution of higher learning. A slave who graduated to become a king and occupied the throne in Delhi constructed the Minar which is the part of a bigger construction. Being a Kashmiri I instinctively knew that the Minar is but part of a mosque! I enquired from many but none could tell me the name of the mosque adjacent to Qutub Minar. And then I found out! It is called Quat-ul-Islam; the strength of Islam! Self-criticism should precede criticism-Karl Marx!
An appeal is an appeal. An appeal is not a statement. There is nothing newsy about it. An appeal is not addressed to the people. It is addressed to the hearts and minds of the people. If the appeal which I have placed on my chopping board is the measure of the collective wisdom of judges and generals, academicians and politicians, journalists and ex-bureaucrats then I am not very hopeful about the future wellbeing of India.
Could there have been a better way for the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation to address the people of India a la Roman style:
Friends, Indians, Countrymen lend us your ears! We have to submit that we are indebted to you in ways more than one. You being tied to land, grow food for us and all the farm produce which keeps our souls and bodies tied to one another. We understand that each cup of tea we consume to tide over our boredom cannot be served without a pint of milk your cows and buffaloes produce. Harvesting milk, we know is more taxing a job than sowing seeds, irrigating the land and waiting for the rains. Your womenfolk have not only to run kitchens, raise children but look after the farm animals, cleaning the stables and storing the dung for future use.
We are highly indebted to you that you send your sons and daughters to defend our mother land who in the face of acute dangers never flinch to offer great sacrifices. We too have done our bit for the country which we need not mention for we are already humbled by your magnanimous service. Having said that, we have to inform you that we have been ceased with the Kashmir problem actively for the last 30 years yet the problem gets complicated every passing day.
It is a fact that this problem was created by politicians but aggravated by pen pushers in the government and outside in the press. The vocal variety amongst us has lifted it to the level of entertainment besides creating bad blood amongst the many sections of the society. In case you feel our words lack the appeal we have no hesitation to lay at your feet our worst fears. Abraham Lincoln, the first President of America has advised us: when you reach the end of a rope, tie a knot and hang on! We are trying to tie a knot but in our hey days we missed to learn how the knots are tied. Hence the appeal!
Kashmir, we must confide to you is not a piece of land but the king pin of that which has kept India away from wars. When the last big war-Mahabharata was fought all the kings of the North India took part in this war which fine-tuned the moral compass for future generations of our country. The only king who didn’t participate in this war was the king of Kashmir. It so happened that he was a minor and as such was not morally competent to decide the sides. Today war has reached this land of great learning. The outcome of this war will decide the future of India. Hence the appeal!
War has remained the last option for our ancestors to settle issues. Making wars is the one profession our ancestors never picked up. War was a profession for Europe. It still is! But farming, producing food for the hungry and giving shelter to oppressed people and feeding them has contributed to what fostered the Indian Civilisation.
Ever since India was partitioned we have been fighting armed challenges from Pakistan. This war of attrition created an atmosphere of insecurity which ultimately resulted in the migration of the Pandits out of their homes and hearths. Now our enemy, Pakistan is pitching civilian population against our security forces. This tactics, which has somehow been picked up by those who want Kashmir to cede from India, has become an involuntary nature of the civilians. When they pelt stones our forces fire pellet guns. Both sides receive injuries. But the propaganda machine in our country and that include the 5th column portray the defence forces as the inhuman villains who show no mercy even to children.
We must assure you and the world that India is the only country which has contained the epidemic of terrorism especially in Kashmir, which is plaguing the world at present. In order to overcome the danger from armed civilians, Pakistan is using high calibre artillery against civilians. From 15th June 2014 onwards gunships are regularly used against militants. The operation Zarb Azab is still going on. In Afghanistan the parallel militarisation has caused 30,000 civilian deaths in 2016 alone. Various degrees of injuries and infirmities have been suffered by many more civilians. The conflict also killed 6,000 soldiers in 2016. There is no end to the migration of non-combatants running away from areas of conflict. Refugees are finding it difficult to find refuge in their own country!
We are as much under threat from Pakistan as we are from enemies who enjoy hospitalities of enemies to the detriment of our interests. The situation has to improve. We have to solve the problem. Therefore we place before you the basic demand of the separatists which can break the deadlock.
The separatists demand that the talks with the Government of India can be held outside the domain of the Indian Constitution. We have given a thought to their demand and we have come to this conclusion that we should take the first step with such measures so that an atmosphere of confidence can be fostered. We feel that talks with the separatists can be held only when a sanguine atmosphere can prevail.
We may also inform you that every border produces border problems which lead to wars every now and then. The Iran-Iraq war over Khuzestan was fought for 8 years which killed one million people. Even after such a brutal war Khuzestan is still with Iran. Nothing has changed. But we feel that talks can achieve more than what wars achieve. We therefore seek your advice and approval for meeting the demand of holding parleys outside the domain of the Constitution with the people of Kashmir so that forces return to their barracks and an atmosphere for talks created.
We have great faith in your wisdom and perseverance. Please guide us in this hour of grave consequences!
Released under the imprimaturs’ of ……………………
An appeal is the song of empathy. It is the idiom which conveys the cocktail of fear, love, concern- a bowlful of tears in human hands bent like a cup, the drops dripping and mixing with dust below. The song leaves the mouth bypasses the brain and gets attached to the hearts. Direct from mouth to mind! A kind word creates a listening ear. An honest expression of grief can wash the ill will between sworn enemies.
If fifty odd people can’t draft an appeal how can they sit across tables and match wits with those who mean business? Some deaths and many injuries are not the reasons for heavy weights to move out of their comfort zones to ensure that the news readers do get excited the next morning.
Paying tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, Joan v Bondurant, (Political scientist) paid tribute thus:…….. It is as inaccurate as it is insufficient to infer that he wished only the idealisation of a system. He had no time and but little patience with theoretical formations. That he had scant interest in academic analyses was borne home to me in 1946 at the outset of my exploration-and academic analysis- of Satyagraha. For when I explained my purpose, during a brief talk with Gandhi at Sodepur ashram, he directly responded,” but Satyagraha is not a subject for research-you must experience it, use it, live by it.” Paying homage, Dwight Macdonald writes: Gandhi, like Trotsky, was killed after his most profound ideas and his lifelong political activity had been rebuffed by history. But also, like Trotsky, he was still alive and kicking, still throwing out imaginative concepts. The ideologue was baffled, but the human being-and by this sentimental phrase I mean the acute intelligence as much as the moralist- was not through: he had plenty of inspirations and surprises in store for us. Both men were still giving, by their example and still more by their unwearied experimentation with general principals, some kind of meaning, of consciousness to modern political life. Their assassins killed not two men but two cultures, which make it all the more painful.
Crawling before a people up in arms is no way of invoking blessings of Gandhi to heal the wounds they inflicted upon others as also on themselves!
The Persian king Xerxes had an ambition to conquer Greece. And this was recorded by Herodotus. Artabanus was the uncle of Xerxes. He thought there was danger to the Persian army in going to Greece, and he tried to induce his nephew Xerxes not to war against Greece. Herodotus tells us that Xerxes answered him as follows:
There is reason in what you say, but you ought not to see danger everywhere or to reckon every risk. If whatever comes up you are going to weigh everything alike, you will never do anything. It is better to be always an optimist and to suffer half the amount of evil, than always to be full of gloomy anticipations and never suffer anything at all. If you attack every proposal made without showing us the right course to follow, you will come to grief as much as those whom you oppose. The scales are evenly balanced. How can human being know certainly which way they will incline? He cannot. But success generally attends those who wish to act; and it doesn’t attend those who are timid and balance everything. You see the great power which Persia has attained. If my predecessors on the throne had held your views, or without holding them had had councillors like you, you would never have seen our kingdom become so great. It is by taking risks that they made us what we are. Great things are achieved through great dangers.
“And,” Herodotus tells us,” seeing all the Hellespont covered with the ships and all the shores and the plains of Abydos full of men, then Xerxes pronounced himself a happy man, and then he fell to weeping. Artabanus, his uncle, therefore perceiving him- the same who first boldly declared his opinion advising Xerxes not to march against Hellas-this man, I say having observed that Xerxes wept, asked as follows. O king, how far different from one another are the things which has thou done now and a short while before now! For having pronounced thyself a happy man, thou art now shedding tears. He said: yea, for after I had reckoned up, it came to my mind to feel pity at the thought how brief was the whole life of a man, seeing that of these multitudes not one will be alive when a hundred years have gone by.”
!400 years after the death of Xerxes, Mohd Gaznavi attacked the North India and did what all raiders do; shame the conquered people. A scholarly contemporary, Alberuni of Khiva describes these raids: The Hindus became like the atoms of dust scattered in all directions and like a tale of old in the mouths of people. Their scattered remains cherish of course the most inveterate aversion towards all Moslems.
And when Babar eased himself on the Delhi throne he records his impressions as follows:
“The Empire of Hindustan,” Babar tells us,” is extensive, populous and rich……The capital of all Hindustan is Delhi.” It is interesting to note writes Nehru, that the whole of India was looked upon as a unit by Babar. Babar goes on with his description of India:
It is a remarkably fine country. It is quite different world compared with our countries. Its hills and rivers, its forests and planes, its animals and plants, its inhabitants and their language, its wind and rains are all of a different nature…..You have no sooner passed Sindh that the country, the trees, the stones, the wandering tribes, the manners and customs of the people are entirely those of Hindustan. Even the reptiles are different.
He then gives lists of the animals, flowers, trees and fruits of Hindustan. And then we come to the people.
The country of Hindustan has few pleasures to recommend it. The people are not handsome. They have no idea of the charms of friendly society, or of frankly mixing together or of familiar intercourse. They have no genius, no comprehension of mind, no politeness of manner, no kindness or fellow feeling, no ingenuity or mechanical invention in planning or executing their handicraft works, no skill or knowledge or architecture; they have no good horses, no good flesh, no grapes or muskmelons, no good fruits, no ice or cold water, no good food, or bread in their bazars, no baths or colleges, no candles, no torches nor a candlestick.
What they have got? One is tempted to ask! Babar must have been quite fed up, writes Nehru, when he recorded this:
The chief excellence of Hindustan is that it is a large country and has abundance of gold and silver……Another convenience of Hindustan is that the workmen of every profession and trade are innumerable and without end. For any work and any employment, there is always a set ready, to whom the same employment and trade have descended from father to son from ages.
I have reproduced these anecdotes to prove that truthful rendition of historical facts is the rare prerogative of the brave people. They deserve to rule and dictate!
I will not reproduce here the incident, recorded by lappier/Dominique in the ‘Freedom at Midnight’ when Nehru and Patel were so much overwhelmed by the turn of events that they begged Lord MountBaton to take over the controls. Official History of India will omit this episode because eclipsing bitter political episodes is the better part of wisdom.
Today when we observe how the locals are thinking, acting and behaving one is tempted to confirm at least some of the observations made by Babar about 500 years before. Can we muster courage and catholicity to direct our gazes inwards and ask ourselves the one question: Can we reverse the course of History?
Can we record a victory in Kashmir and restore the control over the levers of statesmanship we have lost in 70 odd years!
End of Chapter 9