15th August marks the 67th anniversary of the Independence of India. 2014 is of utmost importance to the people of India, to overseas Indians, to people of Indian origin and to all people living in countries which have close ties with the Indian subcontinent. 2014 should be a crucial year in the history of India for its internal development and the relevance of India at an international level in the face of the ongoing turmoil which is threatening world peace.
The election of the BJP led by Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi at this stage of history is no coincidence at all. It was high time for India to be led by strong people, staunch patriots who stand up for the reinforcement of the unity of the people of India based on the inheritance of its millennia-old values, and not let this unique world example of mind-boggling diversity become a hindrance or a nuisance to the assertion of the identity and character of India, which is moulded by Hindu civilization.
We harbour high expectations on the part of the government to set up effective economic policies that would launch a long-term commitment in a ‘Garibi Hatao’ movement, to root out the abject poverty that plagues millions of people, erase the wretchedness that shows on the faces of the poorest among the poor – a unique, most inhuman and shameful Indian phenomenon – and empower the most downtrodden sections of society. Wise measures are being taken not to give in to the demands of WTO to the detriment of the people. The decision to protect the local food industry and prohibit foreign investment in the sector is one such restrictive measure to contain ultra-economic liberalism.
The policy of bringing the urban to the rural, first set up by former President Sri Abdul Kalam during the years Sri Atal Behari Vajpayee was PM, has been revived. The modernization of transport infrastructure is a major FDI sector as the government is set to introduce high-speed trains across the country. The PM laid the foundation stone for the Leh-Kargil- Srinagar Transmission system, which includes the building of a tunnel, hydropower projects, mega- solar projects and other measures to compensate locals for loss of lands. Sino-Indian trade is set to be boosted by development projects at the Sikkim border. PM Sri Modi is depicted as a workaholic, relentlessly supervising all his ministries and seeing to it that they deliver efficiently, showing his mettle as a statesman in his dedication to the country’s progress and welfare.
First and foremost, we congratulate the government for enabling displaced Kashmiris to return to their homeland of Kashmir, and for providing financial support to make it happen. This measure should have been taken years ago by the BJP-led government under Sri Vajpayee. The decision is being applauded as ‘a bold step’ if we go by broad comments. In fact, it has nothing to do with being courageous or bold. It is just natural and legal that people should not be refugees in their own country, and it is the government’s duty to protect the people from hostile and aggressive elements.
It is a shame that previous governments shied away from resolving the issue of Kashmiri Pandits, thousands of whom were driven away from their homes by terrorist acts. It is most shameful that Congress-led governments sacrificed the legitimate rights of people to live in their homelands on the altar of an appeasement policy, a disastrous one which has encouraged separatist movements and cross-border terrorism in the region. Nowhere else in the world people are refugees in their own country.
It is high time that displaced people of Kashmir returned by rights to their homeland, and a significant budget be allotted to the building of homes, schools and temples that have been destroyed by terrorists. The resettlement of Kashmiri Pandits should be carried out to the end without any hesitation and fear. It includes the identity of Kashmir valley which the Kashmiri Pandits should feel free to rebuild on the basis of their culture and history, which comprises the revival of the holy places such as Konsar Nag.
Yesterday, Sunday 11th, militants attacked a convoy of security personnel in South Kashmir ahead of PM Modi’s visit while the officers were returning to their camps after performing the 44-day Amarnath Yatra. Now is the time for all those who are deeply concerned with national cohesion and security issues to crack down on extremist elements which seek to expand geographically by propagating warmongering ideology. Aggressors have only contempt and no respect at all for pacifist people whom they consider as weak and cowardly. They are taught by their mentors to respect fighters like themselves and not people who bend down to their wishes. It is time for a change of attitude.
Leftist intellectuals on the international platform who support all sorts of separatist movements are currently losing prestige across the world. It is the right time now not to show any clemency to insurgents and propagandists who threaten peace and security. Intellectuals like Arundhati Roy and Noam Chomsky do discuss relevant issues by underlying the havoc caused by big corporations and the political nexus. But they are also biased and give a one-sided story which suits a distorted leftist stance and a so-called humanist view while they enjoy the comfort provided by the liberal system they rail against. There are times when leftist fanaticism embodied by the Roys and Chomskys of this world should be ignored.
In adopting a western brand of secularism, Congress-led governments hampered the process of patriotism and nation-building for decades. They shied away from asserting the cultural values that should instill and boost a sense of patriotism and nation-building. In the process, radical groups took advantage of India’s secular character to promote their own divisive agenda. Now is the time for Indian leadership to be assertive in defining the fundamentals of the basic civilizational values which should sustain the commitment of the people to the unity of the country, ensure stability for development to expand, and boost up confidence in its interaction with other countries.
A week ago the Chinese government in Beijing banned all subversive outfits for security reasons in the northern restive region of Xinjiang, following attacks launched by rioteers against policemen. The answer of the Chinese government was to alter the demographic ratio by sending ethnic Hans to massively inhabit the province. The government is just doing what it deems best to safeguard the country’s national interest. No one in the West raised their voice against Beijing to denounce violation of human rights. Neither does China care about what the world thinks of it. Conversely, ‘world opinion’ tends to bristle at every justified measure taken in democratic countries.
Sri Aurobindo’s words are still relevant today. The writings of an intellectual of his stature should have been studied in classrooms. Only in India, a deeply ‘wounded civilization’ by centuries of foreign rule which has engendered a slave mindset and a defeatist attitude, is there such ignorance of its own treasures and worth. Westerners are unscrupulously plundering ancient Ayurvedic medical science without paying royalties to India, and they are even selling their products back to Indians!
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose ranks among the most outspoken freedom fighters for Independence. We are not aware that there is any statue of his in India. His disappearance after escaping from prison during British rule is still a mystery. His descendants recently refused the Bharat Ratna award, and do not believe that he died in a plane crash in Taiwan. They demand that reports on his movements and fate in the 1940s be declassified and made public. It is high time to put an end to myth-making and hero worship of opportunist politicians, and give due respect and tribute to outstanding figures.
In his writings, c laid much emphasis on the Shakti of India which at different times in history was silenced and crushed down, but never totally disappeared. Its sons and daughters always rise up to rekindle the flame of its existence. If its civilization is to survive and preserve its unique character and not perish under the pressure of imported models, Sri Aurobindo warned, the commitment of its leaders to ensure its vitality is of utmost importance. We all hope that the bold policies of the current leadership in economic, political and educational reforms at state and national level will bear positive results in the near future.
* Published in print edition on 14 August 2014