December 20, 2008


By Dr. Subhash Kapila

Introductory Observations

Mumbai 9/11 may never have taken place at all or could have been foreseen and anticipated by India’s policy establishment and the National Security Advisor, had both of them not grievously failed in their threat perceptions and threat assessments on Pakistan arising from the emergence of General Ashfaq Kiyani as Pakistan Army Chief and Asif Ali Zardari as President of Pakistan.

India’s Prime Minister, the policy establishment and the National Security Adviser continued to be weighed down till Mumbai 9/11 i.e. November 20, 2008 that with a civilian government in Pakistan since early 2008, Pakistan Government’s strategic formulations and policy inclinations towards India stood changed.

India’s policy establishment’s most grievious failure was not making a correct reading on the personalities of General Kiyani and President Zardari and what did their emergence at the helm of affairs in Pakistan portend for India.

Additionally, the Indian policy establishment and the National Security Adviser failed to read the contextual shady political dynamics in Pakistan under which General Kiyani and President Zardari were propelled into power in Pakistan.

Democracy was ushered in Pakistan under United States pressure, but the Pakistan Army while giving in to such pressures ensured that the Pakistan Army and its infamous ISI would continue to call the shots in Pakistan and especially on Pakistani strategies and policy formulations on India and Afghanistan.

Mumbai 9/11 was not an intelligence failure. Mumbai 9/11 was a failure of India’s policy establishment and its national security establishment at the apex level. It is the Prime Minister and the policy establishment under his control which has to provide the political component of the threat assessment on Pakistan based on which intelligence agencies need to be tasked and the Armed Forces make their operational plans.

India’s Prime Minister, the National Security Adviser, the Foreign Secretary, in fact the entire policy establishment, had they analytically viewed contemporary political developments in Pakistan, the civil-military dynamics in Pakistan and the utterances of Pak Army Chief, General Kiyani from May-June 2008 onwards and the strategies that unfolded since then in terms of anti-Indian activities, would have come to the conclusion that the façade of a civil government in Pakistan was no insurance against the continuance of the proxy war against India by the Pakistan Army.

Instead of adopting hard-line stances on Pakistan’s unleashing a continuous wave of terrorism attacks against India, especially in 2007-2008 the Indian Prime Minister and the policy establishment kept “smoking the peace pipe” on Pakistan. The National Security Adviser in a TV interview indicated that General Kiyani was a professional soldier who was unlikely to indulge in military adventurism against India. In fact the converse was true in terms of what followed.

Injecting a note of caution against such trends, this Author in one of this Papers quoted below (Paper 2828) had highlighted that:

"India’s security establishment at the apex level has been indulging in an unwarranted proliferation of statements extolling the Pakistan Army Chief, General Kayani and Zardari and that the PPP is India-friendly. Nothing can be further from the truth. Indian political leaders and its establishment must learn to be reticent when making observations on Pakistan. For in such summations there are dangers of Indian policy formulations being divorced from ground realities operating in Pakistan"

India’s policy establishment and the National Security Adviser went grievously wrong in its readings of Pakistan’s deliberate, well-planned, calculated and calibrated strategies which unfolded in 2008 with General Kiyani and later President Zardari in the driving seat in Pakistan. Pakistan’s proxy war in India in 2008 unfolded as under in a three prong strategy as follows:

Asymmetric Warfare against India intensified with an all India spread of terrorist strikes and suicide bombings.
Military Escalation by breaching the four year old ceasefire along the line of control in Jammu and Kashmir and resurgence of protracted border clashes on General Kiyani’s recasting military strategies.
Kashmir Secession activities hysterically fanned and violent turbulence in Kashmir Valley generated through Pakistan’s front line secession organizations on non-issues.
Totally oblivious to this three-pronged Pakistan campaign against India, the Indian Prime Minister his Cabinet colleagues and the policy establishment kept viewing the Pak-sponsored disruptive activities against India as a single-perspective incident rather than discerning and assessing that it was a calibrated three-prong strategy. More sadly all these dignitaries of India’s apex policy making level kept harping all along that such incidents were the handiwork of “those elements in Pakistan which wanted to disrupt/derail the Indo-Pak Peace Process”. It was forgotten that “these elements in Pakistan” were under the full control of the ISI and Pakistan Army headed by General Kiyani.

India’s electronic and print media also signally failed in highlighting the above mentioned three-pronged strategy masterminded by the Pakistan Army and its Chief. Post-Mumbai 9/11 some media periodicals have now come out with cover stories that General Kiyani and the Pakistan Army continue to call the shots in Pakistan and by inference should be held responsible for Mumbai 9/11. Why could this not have been foreseen earlier? Or were they waiting to compile inputs from other sources?

India consequently stood lulled that live dangers existed from the Pakistan Army and its intelligence establishment and that the proxy war was no longer confined to Kashmir but had spread its tentacles all over India.

Devoid of any governmental inputs or information but by a simple analysis of Pakistan’s contemporary developments and placing them in the contextual mould of Pakistan’s civil-military dynamics, this Author’s South Asia Analysis Group Papers on Pakistan for the last two years were constantly analyzing the implications for India’s national security. More particularly were analysed the developments specific to General Kiyani and President Zardari and the unfolding of strategically destabilising events targeted against India from Pakistan.

Of the innumerable Papers written by this Author on the strategic implications for India of Pakistani developments three deserve special mention and selected excerpts stand quoted from them below:

“Pakistan Army Fires Strategic Broadsides at United States and India” dated 10 June 2008 (
“Pakistan Army Resumes Border Clashes: Political and Military Implications” dated 05 August 2008 (
“Pakistan: The Pakistan Army Still Controls Governance” dated 02 September 2008 (
With the excerpts quoted below highlighting the main theme of this Paper, the following aspects would then be examined:

India’s Policy Establishment’s Flawed Assessments on Pakistan: The Contributory Causes
India’s National Security Advisory Board Needs a Fresh Look
Pakistan Army Fires Strategic Broadsides at United States and India (10 June 2008)

The main thrust in this Paper was to analyse the strategic implications arising for USA and India from the assertions made by Pak Army Chief General Kiyani and Chairman, Joint Chief of Staff Committee, General Tariq Majeed.

General Kiyani had made two assertions that (1) Pak Army would neither “retrain nor regroup” its troops for the US war on terrorism (2) Pakistan will deploy the bulk of its troops on Pakistan’s borders with India and prepare for possible conflicts with traditional enemy India.

Analysing the “Strategic Implications of Pak COAS Assertions” for India it was highlighted that “Implicit in General Kiyani latest assertions are (1) Pakistan Army does not view or expect or would work for any normalization of relations with India (2) Pakistan Army would continue to impede any normalization process (3) Pakistan Army is still engaged in arms race with India with 80% of the US $ 10 billion aid diverted to purchase of advanced weapon systems to be used on the Indian front”.

Highlighted here were also the changed manifestations that occurred against India under General Kiyani namely “(1) Kashmir resurrected as a confrontational issue by Kiyani (2) Four years old ceasefire in Kashmir breached by Pakistan Army in Kashmir (3) Increased Jehadi infiltration in Kashmir (4) Major terrorism incidents in rest of India with traditional frequency (5) Targeted killings of Indians by Taliban in Afghanistan”.

With such a pattern, should it not have been clear to the Indian policy establishment what the Pakistan Army and the ISI under General Kiyani’s control were upto and moreso when General Kiyani had been the Director General of ISI till recently?

Clearly incorporated in this Paper was cautionary advice for this Government and its policy establishment more in terms of a wake-up call, as the following excerpts would indicate:

“The above trend can be expected to intensify. Pakistan Army was so far quiet on the frontiers with India because of Pak Army deployments on the Afghan frontier. With redeployments back to concentrations on the Indian frontiers, the Pakistan Army can be expected to intensify its proxy war against India.”
“The present Indian Government has to revise its strategic formulations and also revise its mythical over-investment and trust in Pakistan Army’s commitment to peace with India”.
More significantly in the concluding paragraph of the Paper, this Author stressed:

“India with no coercive capabilities against Pakistan because of lack of the will to use power in the past, has to be vigilant and pro-active in dealing with Pakistan Army transgressions. Any Pakistan Army military adventurism on the LOC in Kashmir or terrorism against India needs to be met with sharp ripostes.”
Pakistan Army Resumes Border Clashes: Political and Military Implications (05 August 2008)

The main theme projected in the Paper was that the “vested interests intent on derailing the Indo-Pak Peace Process” so nauseatingly parroted by Indian political leaders and the policy establishment was the Pakistan Army itself,. Further, that the resumption of serious border clashes “generate serious political and military implications for India and the policy establishment needs to study them in depth and fashion appropriate responses.”

This Paper by this Author and its contents seems retrospectively to have been most significant in relation to Mumbai 9/11 in terms of political implications for India. The rest of the contents including military implications can be assessed on this think tanks web site.

The “Political Implications for India” of resumption of border clashes need to be reproduced in full so as to provide a sense of their import and how true they have turned out to be in the wake of 9/11.

Five paragraphs under this head read as under:

“The border clashes by Pakistan created political implications for India at two levels, namely (1) Impact on Indian public opinion and (2) Indian Government's foreign policy responses to Pakistan”.
“Needless to say that Indian public opinion already reflects the following (1) Pakistan Army and the ISI under its control is responsible for the wave of terrorist incidents and suicide bombings all over India (2) Indo-Pak Peace Process ardently desired by the peoples of both countries would always be thwarted by the Pakistan Army and ISI (3) Peace with Pakistan is not possible until the United States puts Pakistan Army in its rightful place strategically and politically under firm civilian control (5) Indian Governments need to adopt harder policies to deal with Pakistan Army military adventurism.”
“To this when are added the resumption of widespread border clashes, increase in turbulence by separatists in Kashmir Valley and unrestrained suicide bombings any Indian Government would be placed in a piquant situation where it cannot ignore vehement public opinion for strong actions against Pakistan and the Pakistan Army in particular.”
“In terms of foreign policy implications, India’s policy establishment cannot divorce itself from prevailing public opinion. India’s policy establishment would have no political excuses to continue with the Indo-Pak Peace Process, however laudable the objectives may be.”
“India’s foreign policy in relation to Pakistan may be forced to revert back to the old position of “no dialogue unless border clashes, terrorism and suicide bombings cease.”
Post-Mumbai 9/11 events have placed the Government in a piquant situation and the wheel has turned a full circle, where the Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh has now been forced to assert and repeat that there will be no dialogue with Pakistan until terrorism against India ceases.

Once again this Author is tempted to reproduce the concluding paragraph of his Papers. In this paper it read:

“India’s political leadership should not be taken in by rhetoric of Pakistan’s political leaders. In formulating India’s policy towards Pakistan the determining factor should be Pakistan Army’s attitudes and demonstrated actions”.
Pakistan: The Pakistan Army Still Controls Governance (02 September 2008)

This Paper was written about a week prior to election of Zardari as President. The aim of this Paper was to dispel the misperceptions that had abounded in India’s policy establishment and as if on cue by the Indian media that Zardari was ‘India friendly’ and things would change for the better.

It was conveniently forgotten that Zardari did not emerge as President of Pakistan on his personal strengths or political convictions or an electoral platform of better Indo-Pak relations as former PM Nawaz Sharif had achieved a landslide victory.

Zardari had emerged as President of Pakistan as an instrument of the Pakistan Army to continue Pak Army control of Pakistan’s governance.

One would like to reproduce only three excerpts from this detailed Paper to support how underserved high expectations were raised in India on Zardari.

“The certain election of Asif Ali Zardari, of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) widower of Benazir Bhutto as President of Pakistan next week is a strong pointer to the fact that the Pakistan Army while formally divested of direct control of Pakistan’s governance will however now rule by proxy through Zardari. He is their preferred choice. Through him the Pakistan Army will control Pakistan's governance.”
“Pakistan’s return to democracy after a torturous gap of nine years seems to be destined once again to be short-lived. Zardari in his eagerness to be elected as President of Pakistan to secure his personal future and fortunes has walked into a trap set by the Pakistan Army. By jettisoning his political coalition with former PM Nawaz Sharif he has emerged as a willing tool of Pakistan Army’s divisive politics to ensure their hold on Pakistan’s governance.”
“In the current end-game in Pakistan, does one see on the horizon, the emergence of General Kiyani as the next ruler of Pakistan after giving Zardari his moment of glory?”
The relationship between General Kiyani and President Zardai is a “politically collusive” relationship and the Indian policy establishment should not have expected any independent stances from President Zardari, to India’s advantage.

India’s Policy Establishment’s Flawed Assessments on Pakistan: The Contributory Causes

One incorporated lengthy excerpts from the Author's earlier Papers, only to highlight that if any ordinary Indian citizen without access to any official inputs could arrive at logical assessments on Pakistan, there is no earthly reason why India’s policy establishment with all the wide network of institutional support at their command come to similar conclusions on the Pakistani threat and the analysis of their unfolding disruptive strategies in 2008.

If India’s policy establishment had come to similar conclusions, then what actions were taken to pre-empt the series of terrorist bombings and attack at important places in India?

The claim that intelligence agencies did not provide inputs stands contested earlier in the Paper. Political component of the Pakistan threat assessment has to be provided by the Prime Minister, the National Security Advisor and the Foreign Secretary.

In the absence of any credible evidence of their having provided the necessary directives for tasking of intelligence agencies, one needs to examine the contributory causes for the flawed assessments of the Pakistan threat by India’s policy establishment.

These contributory causes can be summed up as arising from:

Indian policy establishment’s mistaken perception that a civilian government in Pakistan would usher in peace. Also an over-investment in Pakistani Army Chief’s peaceful credentials. Peace at any cost had become an over-riding fixation of the Indian establishment for reasons more political than strategic.
India’s policy establishment and the National Security Advisor were overwhelmingly committed from July 2005 to somehow get the Indo-US Nuclear Deal through This obsession left the vital issues of the emerging Pakistan threats virtually unattended.
More significantly, the Indian policy establishment and the National Security Advisor tended to view Pakistan’s ruling combine through the United States prism of American security interests rather than through the prism of cold, hard-headed Indian national security interests. Hence the landatory statements welcoming General Kiyani elevation as Chief and Zardari on President.
India’s policy establishment seemed to have blindly followed United States projected assessments on General Kiyani and President Zardari. It was over looked that they were placed at the helm in Pakistan to serve US strategic requirements in Afghanistan. On the contrary, India should have expected otherwise as with their strategic indispensability to USA, they stood released from any constraints to behave responsibly towards India.
Even if some in the policy establishment tended to advocate hard line policies towards Pakistan, they stood discouraged by the views of their political masters in terms of captive vote-bank politics, irrespective of the havoc being inflicted by the Pakistan Army/ISI sponsored terrorism on India.
The end results of such a gross misreading of the Pakistan’s Kiyani-Zardari combine were the horrific events of Mumbai 9/11.

India’s National Security Advisory Board Needs a Fresh Look

India’s National Security Advisory Board which ordinarily should provide the National Security Advisor with both institutional and non-institutional assessments on Pakistani emerging disruptive strategies against India, seems to have signally failed in its task.

The present structuring, composition and functioning of the National Security Advisory Board inspires no confidences in India’s strategic community. This body seems to have degenerated into a repository of the Governments favored former diplomats, military officers and now an over heavy representation of non-security experts on the plea that today it is comprehensive national security that matters.

This body’s constitution and composition needs a fresh look in the context of the fact that such a body today should single- mindedly focus on the external and internal threats to India generated by Pakistan and China.

Other organs can look after energy security and environmental security and other exotic national security applications.

Contextually speaking in relation to the 'war of terror' underway on India and a likely worsening of relations with China, it would be more advisable to have a National Security Advisor with an Army background.

The 'war of terror' against India is no longer a law and order challenge as pointed in my writings earlier but an externally sponsored war-like situation where an armed conflict could develop overnight. The National Security Advisor post is not an appointment requiring political- perspectives/ law and order capability but an appointment calling for national security-strategic vision capability which only an Army background can provide.

Concluding Observations

Mumbai 7/11 in a short span of 72 hours, when a handful of Pakistani terrorists held the mighty Indian Republic to ransom, brought to the fore, all that was wrong in India’s political governance and India’s national security management.

In its wake while the intelligence agencies and the police were heavily criticized, no one cared to ponder as to where the original sin lay.

In terms of national security management, like India’s political mis-governance, the onus of the original sin lay with India’s political leadership and India’s policy establishment. Both combined failed in their readings of the emerging political landscape in Pakistan which heavily suggested that the new civilian government was only a façade and that it would continue to take orders from the Pakistan Army. The Pakistan Army and the ISI continued to be in charge and this time more dangerously in the person of Pakistan Army Chief General Kiyani who combined in his person the obsessive mindset of Pakistani Army Chiefs to destabilize India combined with all the ‘dirty tricks’ trade of having been Director General of ISI, till recently.

General Kiyani may be Washington’s man, but it was wrong for India’s policy establishment to construe him by extension as New Delhi’s man too.

(The author is an International Relations and Strategic Affairs analyst. He is the Consultant, Strategic Affairs with South Asia Analysis Group.

Russia courts the Muslim world

Islam preceded christianity on our territory, says Putin

Le Monde diplomatique.

By Jacques Lévesque

Vladimir Putin was the first head of a non-Muslim majority state to speak at the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, a gathering of 57 Muslim states, in October 2003. That was a political and diplomatic feat, especially since Russia was waging a long-running war in Chechnya at the time. Putin stressed that 15% of the total population of the Russian Federation are Muslim (1), and that all the inhabitants of eight of its 21 autonomous republics are Muslim (2), and he won observer member status with the organisation, thanks to support from Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Since then, Putin and other Russian leaders, including the foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, claim that Russia “is, to some extent, a part of the Muslim world”. In an interview with Al Jazeera on 16 October 2003, Putin stressed that, unlike Muslims living in western Europe, those in Russia were indigenous and that Islam had been present on Russian territory long before Christianity (3). So Russia now claims to have a privileged political relationship with the Arab and Muslim world and believes that, as a mostly European state, it has a historic vocation as a mediator between the western and Muslim worlds.

There are reasons for these claims. The first is to counter the pernicious effect of the Chechnyan war, in Russia as much as in the rest of the world. The aim is to avoid, or at least limit, polarisation between Russia’s ethnic majority and its Muslims by reinforcing Muslims’ feeling of belonging to the state. “We must prevent Islamophobia,” said Putin in the Al Jazeera interview. That will be difficult given the way anyone suspected of being a Muslim fundamentalist is pursued, and not just in Chechnya. “Terrorism should not be identified with any one religion, culture or tradition,” Putin insisted. Before 9/11 he called Chechen rebels “Muslim fundamentalist terrorists”; now he speaks of “terrorists connected to international criminal networks and drug and arms traffickers”, avoiding any reference to Islam.

The other purpose in seeking special ties with the Arab and Muslim world is related to Russia’s foreign policy aim to “reinforce multipolarity in the world” – to sustain and develop poles of resistance to US hegemony and unilateralism. This means taking advantage of the hostility to US foreign policy in the Arab and Muslim world. The Soviet Union used to present itself as the natural ally of anti-imperialist Arab states “with a socialist orientation”. Now Russia is seeking strong political relations not only with Iran and Syria, but also with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey, which have long been close allies of the United States.

Economic considerations are important, especially in the energy sector, the power behind Russia’s return to the international stage. The Kremlin believes there is a major future in nuclear energy and the export of nuclear power stations, which may give Russia a competitive edge in technology and make it more than just an exporter of raw energy. The same is true of high-tech weapons, which were the most successful economic sector of the former Soviet Union before serious difficulties in the 1990s.

The Kremlin is no longer seeking formal alliances. It wants strong but non-restrictive political ties in frameworks such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), which do not put it in direct opposition to the US. Significantly, Iran only has observer status in this organisation, although it would like to be a full member.

One more explanation for this new policy towards the Muslim world is the quest for a post-Soviet Russian identity at home and abroad. This is not just political opportunism. In 2005, the academic Sergei Rogov wrote in the official foreign ministry review: “The Islamic factor in Russian policy is first and foremost a question of identity. . . That is one of the reasons why Russia cannot yet be a nation state in the European sense of the term. . . Our relations with the Islamic world directly affect our security” (4).

It is important to grasp what that means. In September 2003, Igor Ivanov, then foreign minister, said the war in Iraq had increased the number of terrorist attacks on Russian territory as elsewhere in the world. That was before Beslan (5), but Russia was already fearful of terrorism as a consequence of the Iraq war. Russia had hoped that a new multipolar configuration would emerge from the concerted opposition at the UN Security Council by France, Germany and Russia, which had deprived the US of international legitimacy for the war.

A complex relationship
Russian leaders, with Putin and Medvedev at the head, were seriously concerned that a “clash of civilisations” would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Given the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and unconditional US support for Israel’s most intransigent policies, Russian leaders thought potential US attacks on Iran would be a catastrophe, with destabilising consequences in Iran, so close to Russia, as well as in several former Soviet republics and in Russia.

This is a key to understanding the complex and difficult relationship that Moscow has with Tehran. Iran is an important geopolitical partner, as well as being the third-biggest buyer of Russian arms after China and India, and a showcase for the controlled export of nuclear power plants. Iran’s leaders have refrained from expressing support for Chechen rebels. Iran and Russia cooperated in supporting armed opposition to the Taliban in Afghanistan, long before the US. (Afghanistan under the Taliban was the only state in the world to recognise the independence of Chechnya and offer assistance to Chechen fighters.) But Moscow did denounce President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s remarks about Israel as “shameful” and put pressure on Tehran by voting with the US for economic sanctions at the UN Security Council, although it excluded military action.

By risking a deterioration of its relations with Iran, Russia wants to show the US and other western powers that it is responsible when it comes to non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. It also wants to persuade Iran to find a modus vivendi with the International Atomic Energy Agency. By agreeing to limited and gradual sanctions, Russia hopes to reduce the threat of an armed attack against Iran for as long as possible. Russia does not want an Iran equipped with nuclear weapons on its frontiers, but it would prefer to live with a nuclear Iran than face the consequences of a US attack on Iran.

The ambivalence of these positions has contributed to a rapprochement with traditional US allies such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia, both concerned that Iran may have access to nuclear weapons. However, like Russia and for the same reasons, they are opposed to US military action. They fear the consequences at home as well as among their immediate neighbours.

As a result of the war in Iraq, Turkey has a de facto independent Kurdistan on its borders, a problem that would be seriously aggravated by a destabilised Iran. Russia intends to take advantage of this at a time when its economic exchanges with Turkey – and political convergence – are at their best for two centuries.

Russia also intends to keep improving its relations with Saudi Arabia, which opposed the war in Iraq despite its hostility to Saddam Hussein. (It did, however, make its bases available to the US.) In February 2007 Putin made a first visit by a Russian or Soviet head of state to Saudi Arabia and offered contracts for the construction of nuclear power plants and arms. He also pleaded for an increase in the number of Russian Muslims authorised to make the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Saudi support for the Chechen rebels, openly expressed until 2002 (without recognition of the independence they claimed), suddenly stopped.

Translated by Krystina Horko

Jacques Lévesque teaches at the faculty of political science and law at the University of Quebec, Montreal, and is author of 1989, la fin d’un empire: L’URSS et la libération de l’Europe de l’Est, Presses de Sciences Po, Paris, 1995

(1) This figure does not provide a clear picture of the situation. According to both Russian and western analysts, the high birth rate in the Muslim communities, together with immigration from the independent Central Asian republics, should lead to a sharp increase in the Muslim population by 2010. See Dmitri Shlapentokh, “Islam and Orthodox Russia: From Eurasianism to Islamism”, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, London, n° 41, 2008. Some experts, including Murray Feshback, a specialist in Russian demography, claim that these estimates are exaggerated and are unlikely to be realised soon.

(2) Apart from Chechnya, these include North Ossetia, Dagestan, Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, Bashkortostan and Tatarstan. The largest and most densely populated are Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, which also have the most Muslims. More than half the Tatars live outside of Tatarstan. The Moscow region alone has a larger Muslim population than Bashkortostan.

(3) Islam began to spread over present-day Russian territory from the end of the 7th century, whereas the first Russian state only adopted Christianity as its official religion at the end of the 10th century.

(4) Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn, vol 51, n° 4, Moscow, 2005.

(5) More than 1,300 children and adults were taken hostage in a school in Beslan, North Ossetia, on 1 September 2004. Two days later, following an assault by Russian security forces, 344 civilians died (according to official figures), mostly children

December 19, 2008

Don’t smash the piggybank, we need Jersey

Source: Le Monde diplomatique
Where the rich pay less tax than the poor, or maybe none at all

President Sarkozy has threatened to do away with tax havens like Jersey. But the island’s local government isn’t worried. Market crashes may have changed their rates of return, but hedge funds and trust funds still seem happy enough with Jersey.
By Olivier Cyran

“Abolish tax havens? Oh yes, I heard something about that on the BBC. Seems like Sarkozy is getting very heated on the subject. Well, if you find a single soul here who takes him seriously, be a good chap and introduce me, won’t you?”

The finance worker stubbed out his cigarette with a laugh and dived back into an office warren whose marbled foyer has 50 or so sparkling brass plates advertising accountancy firms, currency exchange specialists, business lawyers, shell company operators. The superstructure of tax avoidance has taken over the seafront of St Helier, Jersey’s capital, a swathe of concrete flanked by cliffs slipping into the mist. Of the 90,000 inhabitants of this small Channel Island, more than 12,000 – a quarter of the workforce – have jobs in the financial services sector.

Those who believe that the French government’s diatribe against tax havens strikes fear into the hearts of interested parties are in for a surprise. On 15 October President Sarkozy launched an “uncompromising shock debate” from Brussels, according to Le Monde (1), calling for international finance to “end twilight zones”. But the local media ignored the pronouncement. The following day the Jersey Evening Post, the island’s only daily, led on the poor form of Jersey athletes in the Commonwealth Youth Games in India. Not a word about Sarkozy’s thunderous threats, taken as a cosmic event by the French press.

Were they turning their backs on danger or coolly assessing where real power lies? Perched just 20km off the Normandy coast, the States of Jersey – to give this confetti territory, officially independent although under the protection of the British Crown, its full title – enjoys a gross domestic product which, head-for-head, makes it the third richest country in the world after Luxembourg and the Bahamas. According to the American analyst Martin Sullivan, funds placed in Jersey amounted in 2006 to £500bn (2). Small potatoes compared with the $11,500bn (£7,700bn) stashed away in offshore havens by the world’s richest people (3). But Jersey’s share is expected to grow.

Local speciality
In the context of savage competition between 
the 70 or so registered tax havens around the world, Jersey fully intends to consolidate its position. 
Until last year it levied a 10% tax on foreign companies. Then the Isle of Man, one of its fiercest rivals, trumped it by abolishing all investment 
tax. Stung to the quick, Jersey did the same: not a penny is now taken from multinational investors.Only local financial services providers still have to pay 10%.

To distinguish itself from the crowd and to lure in hedge funds, Jersey has created new financial mechanisms. Since 1 January anyone with at least $1m to spare can play the markets via a made-to-measure shell company not subject to any authorisation or control. This innovation “comes in response to a demand from speculative funds and other alternative sources looking for an unregulated product,” explained a spokesman for Jersey Finance Ltd, the semi-public body charged with promoting the island’s attractions to investors. The “millionaires’ tourism office”, as it’s called locally, claims to have registered 80 new shell companies between February and October. Market crashes may have tarnished their reputation and changed their rates of return, but hedge funds seem happy with Jersey.

However, the local speciality remains the trust fund industry. The “trust” is a legal curiosity with infinite flexibility which allows you to shelter your personal fortune from the tax authorities – or from your partner or your beneficiaries – by registering it under a false name. Officially the money no longer belongs to you; in fact it is all yours, offering the advantages of wealth without the inconveniences. You have to be very unlucky to get the law on your heels. That was the case in July 2004 when the contested divorce of an Arsenal footballer led British justice to track suspect payments into a Jersey trust, which appeared to stash away sums of money paid to the club’s trainer and his players, including the French star Thierry Henry, outside the normal tax brackets.

“It’s rare for the client to get fingered,” explains a local dealer under promise of anonymity. “The island authorities love this sort of business. The advantage of trusts is that they are protected not just from almost all control but also from market uncertainties: crisis or not there are always plenty of rich people who need a haven to cosset their cash.”

All the same, is this system robust enough to survive capitalism on the rocks? Isn’t it worried about being battered by the likes of the French prime minister François Fillon who, on 14 October in the Assemblée Nationale, thundered: “Black holes like these offshore centres should be filled in”? Jersey’s chief minister, Frank Walker, did not wish to reply to this question. A former board director of Barclays and one-time owner of the Jersey Evening Post, sold on in 2005 to a British associate, Walker leads a government six of whose ten members are multimillionaires. For an answer, we must rely on Walker’s higher-profile colleague, Philip Ozouf, senator, minister of economic development, businessman and graduate of the European Business School in London.

Ozouf’s main claim to fame is as the inventor of the Goods and Sales Tax (GST) a 3% tithe deployed since the start of 2008 on all goods and services outside the financial sector. This tax is intended to compensate for the loss of revenue from foreign companies, filling a $147m hole in the annual state budget. Notoriously, GST applies to necessities of life like medicines and school furniture but not to yacht fuel. This makes sense when one realises that the extremely rich are sticklers for their buying power.

All the same, you’re unlikely to find a single Jersey islander not part of the offshore industry or the political machine who keeps his cool at the mention of the cursed acronym. “GST? A dirty business, typical of this island where the man in the street pays for the richest,” comments a shopkeeper in King Street, the principal hub in the historic centre of St Helier; then quickly adds “but don’t quote my name, I’m not looking for trouble.”

Fear of going public with protest paralyses most of Jersey’s malcontents. Jersey has no organised opposition party and no independent media. There is no trade union movement outside hospital and transport workers, where the body protecting salaries – affiliated to the British trades union Unite – operates under threat of reprisals from this banana republic. There’s no official cap on the working week, no protection against getting fired, no unemployment benefit, and draconian limits on the right to strike.

“We don’t live in a democracy,” said Nick Le Cornu, founder of Time4Change, one of the island’s rare opposition groups. Himself a lawyer in a financial services company, he continued: “The absence of social guarantees and of a political context benefits a financial system which has taken the country hostage and diminishes the rule of law. People are afraid. Here, even if you’re not well off you are never far away from one member or another of the ruling clan. There’s also a cultural factor: Jersey islanders are rural people; they don’t have the working class attitudes or the trades union know-how found in Britain.”

Population is unconvinced
In spite of the paradise tag given to the island, the government has failed to convince the general population of the case for tax reform. Many shops carry angry signs on their windows declaring “No GST”, meaning that the shopkeeper prefers to pay the 3% from his own margins. A petition launched against Ozouf’s tax gathered 19,000 signatures, a historic event in this socially repressed part of the world. Yet the island media – limited to the Jersey Evening Post, the local BBC station and a private television company – has shown no interest in such protest. “In the current financial turmoil the most valuable services Jersey can offer are security, solidarity and stability,” wrote the Jersey Evening Post’s political correspondent, Christine Hebert, at the start of an article on 21 October headlined “Strong values in a changing world”. The government has not seen fit to go back on GST.

You’ll always find a few madcaps to challenge the law. Neil McMurray is a former fisherman who lost a hand working. When not looking after his children he produces lively video reportage which he blogs online; recently he pursued Ozouf camera-in-hand in an attempt to obtain a statement about the tax. An irresistibly comic sequence catches the senator fleeing through crowded rooms following a meeting, pretending not to notice his pursuer who calls after him, again and again: “Mr Ozouf, a word about GST please, Mr Ozouf, please…” (4).

“When I was a fisherman” explained this do-it-yourself journalist, “I went to sea nine months each year and couldn’t care less what happened on dry land. My eyes were opened only when I stopped. Our rulers are accountable to nobody. The poor are too demoralised to vote. Only the rich go to the polls, to keep their own in power. Here, everything is about the lure of money. Young people leave the island because there’s nothing for them beyond working in a bank. The financial sector has seen off agriculture, fishing and even tourism. People are angry but they are also scared to death, which poses a real problem. The cameraman who used to help me felt himself under threat and decided to withdraw his services.”

Did he know that France’s top brass have sworn to do away with tax havens? “My own hope is that this crisis brings the whole financial structure down, even if that means making a large part of the population jobless, including my wife.”

I tried to make contact with Ozouf. He declined, but offered instead his spokesman Geoff Cook, a former financial director at HSBC. As McMurray says, “in Jersey finance and politics go hand in hand”. Cook saw me in a fourth-floor office of Jersey Finance Ltd, where he is chief executive. Though almost alarmingly bland, the man is well-known for speaking his mind. In the Jersey Evening Post of 16 October, when stock markets round the world were reacting in horror to the event, 
he welcomed the failure of the US bank Lehman Brothers. “In many ways it is a good thing”, he 
was quoted as saying. “This will take the weaker players out, which is what is needed to free up the system.”

Free up the financial system? That’s not what the French president recommends, is it? “There’s a misunderstanding,” replied the super-sales rep. “First, Jersey is no tax haven but a fiscally neutral territory, a very different matter. We have signed information-exchange agreements with the US, Germany and Holland, and are in the process of doing the same with the Nordic countries and France. If one of our partner-countries suspects a citizen of putting his money in Jersey to avoid paying tax he can ask for information on a case-by-case basis. Of course, the request must be justified. Everyone has a right to privacy, our clients like any other. But if they believe it’s a serious problem we cooperate willingly.”

The international community is not wrong. In 2002 the OECD deleted Jersey, along with some 26 other virtuous regimes like the Bahamas, the Cook Islands, Gibraltar and Panama, from its list of tax havens – which is now only three countries strong (5). The same year the International Monetary Fund published a report congratulating Jersey on its all-but-irreproachable respect for “international norms in matters of financial regulation and the fight against money laundering and financing terrorism”.

Independent regulation board
“Despite that,” Cook complained, “certain people persist in stating that our financial system is not regulated. Nothing could be more untrue. We have our own regulation board, the Jersey Financial Services Commission, which is completely independent of government.” That’s a fact. The commission’s boss, Colin Powell, has made money out of offshore finance over three decades. He’s also one of chief minister Frank Walker’s closest collaborators: Walker has made him his special counsellor on international affairs.

But Cook raised a good point: why would France seek to fill a “black hole” with which it is preparing to conclude a very friendly cooperation accord? The agreement looks like being signed in the coming months but impatience grows. On 5 November a Jersey delegation led by Walker was in Paris hoping to speed up the preparatory stages. The get-together was brokered by a faithful advocate of Jersey’s interests, Jean-François Le Grand, the UMP (French ruling party) senator and president of the Conseil général de la Manche (an umbrella body representing the west coast of Normandy). The visit concluded with an invitation to the Luxembourg Palace and a discreet meeting with Gérard Larcher, president of the French Senate. Larcher “agreed to send out a briefing note from his office to all French senators and deputies that will explain that ‘Jersey is a well-regulated finance centre that conforms to international standards’” (6).

“Let me be absolutely clear: Jersey does not and never has condoned or encouraged the illegal activities of tax evasion and money laundering,” stated chief minister Walker in the Jersey government’s online record of the visit. Versed in the best sales techniques, Jersey’s strong man couldn’t resist taunting France’s elected representatives by dangling the island’s pot of gold in front of them.

“Jersey’s banks… benefit from some of the highest capital ratios anywhere in the world and are in the strong position of acting as a source of liquidity in the form of deposits that are passed upstream to the parent banks which need them,” stressed Walker. “Jersey is complementary to leading banks throughout Europe through the contribution they make to the liquidity of the parent banks when such liquidity is desperately needed.” With the finesse of a pastry cook unwrapping cream puffs in front of a starving customer, he concluded that one fine day countries like France would thank Jersey for its “valuable contribution to overall European economic wealth”.

The piggybank argument is of particular relevance because France has several top-flight operators on the island, where Société Générale is better known as SG Private Banking. BNP-Paribas, Cook observed, “carries out perfectly honest” transactions from its office in Rue Lamotte, right in the heart of St Helier. True, the bank isn’t there to offer loans for new kitchens. If you believe one staff member speaking quietly in a chic bar nearby, BNP Jersey concentrates on financing oil projects in Southeast Asia – a fact not confirmed by the bank’s PR machine.

Even when the service providers aren’t French they often enjoy fruitful relations with Paris. For instance, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte, two audit and accountancy multinationals, are omnipresent on the island thanks to their tax avoidance skills. One or the other also counts the French state as a client. They have been commissioned to start the audit process for the General Revision of Public Policies (GRPP) whose mission is to evaluate the nature and number of posts which can be lost in each French ministry (7).

A picturesque fiscal system
One shouldn’t be too hasty to judge a fiscal system which, even if picturesque, encourages voluntary contributions. Cook concedes that “the rich pay less tax than the poor. But it’s a cultural difference. You French believe that the rich are only useful for the taxes they contribute. Here there are other ways of helping the community, for example by donating to charitable work.” The boss of Jersey marketing proudly recited the simple mantra of native taxation practices: 20% for everyone except for the richest who benefit from a proportionate reduction. “The big earners pay 20% on their first half million then less and less by progressive steps,” Cook explained. They might pay nothing at all.

To attract even more billionaires to its overpopulated shores the Jersey government has effectively created a fiscal category all on its own, the “1(k)1”, which allows each favoured resident to negotiate his individual tax rate. The deal usually ends up at exactly 0%, in exchange for an annual fixed tax of £100,000 ($149,000) which, according to Nick le Cornu “hardly matches the fees they pay each of their lawyers”. Apart from the tax, the other stipulation, to the evident delight of Cook, is that they “undertake to serve their adopted country by offering donations to associations”.

Given this, it’s not surprising that the word “regulation” makes insiders snigger. “It doesn’t matter what the legislation is, accountants and lawyers will always circumvent it,” a tax specialist with Moore Stephens, a major firm of accountants, let slip in 2004. “Rules are rules, but rules are meant to be broken” (8).

Or again: “Anyone who has ever worked in the tax avoidance industry knows how teams of lawyers and accountants are employed to instantly scrutinise new government measures to identify tax loopholes to exploit,” says John Christensen, a former Jersey trust and company administrator who currently heads the International Secretariat of the Tax Justice Network. “To further guarantee client security most of the trust deeds include ‘flee clauses’ that trigger an instruction to their trustees at the first sign of investigation. Needless to say, these services do not come cheap. But the client’s potential earnings and tax savings are far, far larger” (9).

Is there really a desire to “eliminate” Jersey? Terry Le Main, Jersey’s housing minister, doesn’t think so. His own fortune is not huge but he 
owes it to a real-world business – dealing in used cars. Even if its scope is tiny compared with 
the offshore monster, he doesn’t do all that badly on an island measuring 14km by 7km stuffed full of garish sports cars. A man in his seventies who 
has seen a lot, he has confidence in the future 
of Franco-Jersey relations: “What worries the French is not tax havens, it’s their own inability 
to start a business without being wiped out by taxes. French enterprise is suppressed by the unions. Sarkozy wants to change all that which is why, as a government, we fully support his reforms.”

Translated by Robert Waterhouse

Olivier Cyran is a journalist

(1) 17 October 2008.

(2) “Steer clear of those Channel Island ‘havens’”, 
The Guardian, 11 October 2008.

(3) An estimate from the ONG Tax Justice Network in its report “The price of offshore”, London, March 2005. The authors calculated that a 30% tax on the interest alone would provide $225bn annually, or three times the amount the rich world gives to developing countries in aid.

(4) "Camera shy?, Voice for children blogspot, 8 October.

(5) In 2008 this list shrunk to just Andorra, Liechtenstein and Monaco.

(6) “French friendship ‘led to Paris’”, Jersey Evening Post, 
6 November 2008.

(7) See “Au congrès des coupeurs de tête”, Le Plan B, no 15, October-November 2008.

(8) Quoted by John Christensen, A game as old as empire, ed Stephen Hiatt, Bertt-Koehler, San Francisco, 2007.

(9) Op cit.



( An article written for “Mail Today”, a daily published from New Delhi, by the “India Today” group)

1991: Seven terrorists of the LTTE landed by boat clandestinely on the southern coast and proceeded to Chennai. They studied the gaps in the security arrangements made by the Tamil Nadu police at a public meeting addressed by the late V.P.Singh, former Prime Minister. They used their knowledge to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi. The Navy had no inkling of the clandestine landing. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) failed to detect their presence. The Tamil Nadu Police failed to provide even the basic security to Rajiv Gandhi. The Jain Commission, which enquired into the conspiracy, found that the IB had intercepted a coded message of the LTTE, which gave some inkling of the conspiracy, but was able to break the code only after the assassination. The R&AW, which had the code-breaking capability, had not intercepted the message. Lack of integration of available intelligence and capabilities by the two agencies made the assassination possible.

1993: Dawood Ibrahim, the mafia leader, recruited some Muslims of Mumbai, had them trained by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and sent them back by air. He sent the arms and ammunition and explosives given by the ISI by boat. They were clandestinely landed on the Maharashtra coast and used in the March,1993, explosions, which killed 257 civilians. The IB and the R&AW were caught napping. The Narasimha Rao Government wanted to order an enquiry into their failure. The IB argued that it was a case of failure of integrity and not intelligence since some Customs officers, who were aware of the landing, failed to alert the IB and the Police after allegedly accepting a bribe. The proposal was dropped.

1995: An unidentified organization tried to recruit an ex-pilot of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) for a clandestine air drop of arms and ammunition in Purulia. He immediately alerted the British intelligence, which advised him to accept the assignment and keep it informed. He gave them the route of the flight and the co-ordinates of the place where the consignment was to be air-dropped and the date of the air-dropping. These details were passed on by the British Intelligence to the R&AW, which in turn passed them on to the IB, which alerted the West Bengal Police. Neither the IB nor the Police could trap the persons for whom the airdrop was made. They bungled the follow-up action. After air-dropping, the pilot took the plane to Pattaya in Thailand. The plane then flew to Chennai for refueling. Neither the airport security nor the IB could detect that this was the same plane, which had done the air-drop. They realised it only after the plane had taken off. The Indian Air Force (IAF) was alerted. It forced the plane to land in Mumbai. The crew was arrested. The man, who had hired the plane for the airdrop, was also on board. He gave a slip to the airport security and managed to flee the country.

2008: In February, the Madhya Pradesh Police arrested some leaders of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in Indore. Their interrogation revealed that the SIMI had been holding secret camps for training selected cadres in the use of weapons and explosives. Some of those, who had attended these camps, were found to have been involved in the Ahmedabad explosions of July 26. The Ahmedabad Police was not aware of what they had stated during the interrogation. Their interrogation reports had not been widely shared by the security agencies.

Again in February, the UP Police arrested some Muslims during an investigation. Their interrogation revealed that one of them, with links to the Lashkar-e-Toiba, had visited Mumbai to collect topographical information for a possible terrorist strike. He was not thoroughly interrogated by the Mumbai Police.

In September, the US intelligence alerted the R&AW twice that the LET was planning a sea-borne terrorist attack on some sea-front hotels in Mumbai, including the Taj Mahal hotel. The R&AW disseminated the alerts. Security was tightened. The LET, which was planning to strike on September 26, postponed its operation. There was no fresh information in October. The high alert was reduced. On November 19, the Indian intelligence intercepted a message that an LET vessel had left Karachi. They alerted the Navy and the Coast Guard. They did not act on it on the ground that the co-ordinates of the ship’s position placed it in Pakistani territorial waters. The coastal security in the Indian territorial waters adjoining the Mumbai sea-front was not put back to the high alert mode. Twenty terrorists of the LET clandestinely landed and struck Mumbai on the night of November 26.

Seven acts of mass casualty terrorism since November,2007. One every month since July except in August.

What do they indicate? A shocking state of affairs in our counter-terrorism community.

What we need:

An integrated counter-terrorism staff similar to the Integrated Defence Staff to integrate available intelligence and technical capabilities and follow up. A culture of joint action to ensure that everybody in the community will be individually and jointly responsible for prevention.

Upgrade the priority for terrorism-related intelligence in the charters of the agencies.

An acknowledged expert in counter-terrorism should either head the IB & the R&AW or at least be the No.2.

Induct acknowledged counter-terrorism experts into the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS)


(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi. He headed the Counter-Terrorism Division of the R&AW for six years )


if India has to decide to have or not have good relations with Israel, Pakistan, Iran or US, it cannot be on the basis how it will impact on India’s Muslims and Christians, but on what India’s national interests require. If India has to dispatch troops to Afghanistan, Iraq, Sri Lanka or Nepal to combat terrorism, that policy too has to be decided on what is good for India, and not what any religious or linguistic group identifies as it’s interest.

Out of the box - By Subramanian Swamy

Organiser Weekly, Dec. 21

The India of today would not have been in existence had the attempts to divide Hindus succeeded.

In the 20th century, a sinister attempt to divide the Hindu community on caste basis was made in 1932 when the British imperialists offered the scheduled castes a separate electorate.

What does the despicable terror and mayhem in Mumbai on November 26 signify for India? Shorn of the human tragedy, wanton destruction, and obnoxious audacity of the terrorists, it signifies a challenge to the identity of India from radical Islam.

Cinema actor Shahrukh Khan may wax eloquent about the “true Islam” on TV, but it is clear that he and other such Muslims have not read any authoritative translations of the Koran, Sira and Hadith which three together constitute Islam as a theology, and which is a complete menu of intolerance of peoples of other faiths derisively labeled as kafirs. Hence, instead of talking about the “correct interpretation” of Islam they ought instead be urging for a new Islamic theology consistent with democratic principles.

In 2003, two years after the 9/11 murderous and perfidious Islamic assault on USA, resulting in killing of more than 3000 persons within two hours, and which was perpetrated by leveraging the democratic freedoms in USA, the Saudi Arabian Embassy in the website of its Islamic Affairs Department [] laid down what a “good” Muslim is expected to do.

Dr. Steven Stalinsky of the Middle East Media Research Institute[MEMRI] based in Washington DC accessed it and published it in issue No.23, of the Institute newsletter, dated November 26[what irony!] 2003. I have to thank a NRI in US, Dr. Muthuswamy for this reference. In that site it is stated:

“The Muslims are required to raise the banner of Jihad in order to make the Word of Allah supreme in this world, to remove all forms of injustice and oppression, and to defend the Muslims. If Muslims do not take up the sword, the evil tyrants of this earth will be able to continue oppressing the weak and helpless”

Now who is more authoritative—Sharukh Khan or Saudi Arabia ? Obviously the latter. The above quote is what in substance is being taught in every madrassa in India, and can be traced back to the sayings of Prophet Mohammed.

I can quote a plethora of verses from a Saudi Arabian translated Koran [e.g., verses 8:12, 8:60, and 33:26] which verses justify brutal violence against non-believers. If I delved into Sira and Hadith for more quotes, then I could risk generating much hatred, so it will suffice to say that Islam is not only a theology, but it spans a brutal political ideology which we have to combat sooner or later in realm of ideas.

Some may quote back at me verses from Manusmriti about brutality to women and scheduled castes. But as a Hindu I have the liberty to disown these verses [since it is a Smriti] and even to seek to re-write a new Smriti as many, for example, Yajnavalkya have done to date. Reform and renaissance is thus inbuilt into Hinduism.

But in Islam, the word of the Prophet is final. Sharukh Khan and other gloss artists cannot disown these verses, or say that they would re-write the offensive verses of the Koran. If they do, then they would have to run for their lives as Rushdie and Taslima have had to do.

Leave alone re-writing, if anyone draws a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed, there will follow world-wide violent rioting. But if Hussein draws Durga in the most pornographic posture, the Hindus will only groan but not violently rampage.

We Hindus have a long recognised tradition of being religious liberals by nature. We have already proved it enough by welcoming to our country and nurturing Parsis, Jews, Syrian Christians, and Moplah Muslim Arabs who were persecuted elsewhere, when we were 100 per cent Hindu country.

Moreover, despite a 1000 years of most savage brutalisation of Hindus by Islamic invaders and self-demeaning brain washing by the Christians, even then, Hindus as a majority have adopted secularism as a creed. We have not asked for an apology and compensation for these atrocities.

But the position of Hindus in this land of Bharatmata, where Muslims and Christians locally are in majority, in pockets—such as in Kashmir and Nagaland, or in small enclaves such as town panchayats of Tamil Nadu, is terrible and despicable. Even in Kerala where Hindus are 52 per cent of the population, they have only 25 per cent of all the prime jobs in the state, and are silently suffering their plight at the hands of 48 per cent who vote as a vote bank.

The 26/11 Mumbai slaughter therefore should teach us Hindus that the time has come to wake up and stand up—it is now or never. If we do not stand up now to Islamic terrorism, then India will end up like Beirut, a permanent battlefield of international terrorists, buccaneers, pirates and missionaries.

What does it mean in the 21st century for Hindus to stand up ? I mean by that a mental clarity of the Hindus to defend themselves by effective deterrent retaliation, and also an intelligent co-option of other religious groups into the Hindu cultural continuum.

Mental clarity can only come if we are clear about the identity of the nation. What is India? An ancient but continuing civilisation or is it a geographical entity incorporated in 1947 by the Indian Independence Act of the British Parliament ?

What then does it mean to say “I am an Indian”? A mere passport holder of the Republic of India or a descendent of the great seers and visionaries of more than 10,000 years ? Obviously our identity should be of a nation of an ancient and continuing Hindu civilisation, legatees of great rishis and munis, and a highly sophisticated sanatana philosophy.

If Hindu culture is our defining identity then how can we co-opt non-Hindus, especially Muslims and Christians ? By persuading them by saam, dhaam, bheda and dand that they acknowledge with pride the truth that their ancestors are Hindus. If they do, it means that they accept Hindu culture and enlightened mores. That is, change of religion does not mean change of culture. Then we should treat such Muslims and Christians as part of our Brihad Hindu family.

Noted author and editor M.J. Akbar calls this identity as of “Blood Brothers”. It is an undeniable fact that Muslims and Christians in India are descendents of Hindus. In a recent article in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, an analysis of genetic samples [DNA] show that Muslims in north India are overwhelmingly of the same DNA as Hindus proving that Muslims here are descendents of Hindus who had been converted to Islam, rather repositories of foreign DNA deposited by waves of invaders.

Akbar thus asks rhetorically: “When have the Muslims of India gone wrong?” and answers: “When they have forgotten their Indian roots”. How apt !

Enlightened Muslims like Akbar therefore must rise to the occasion and challenge the reactionary religious fundamentalists. That is India is not Darul Harab to be trifled with.

In a conciliatory atmosphere the minorities would willingly accept this. It is also in their interest to accept this reality. Hindus must persuade by the time honoured methods Muslims and Christians to accept this and its logical consequences.

This identity was not understood by us earlier because of the distorted outlook of Jawaharlal Nehru who occupied the Prime Minister’s chair for seventeen formative years after 1947 and for narrow political ends, had fanned a separatist outlook in Muslims and Christians.

The failure to date, to resolve this Nehru created crisis, has not only confused the majority but confounded the minorities as well in India. This confusion has deepened with winter migratory birds such as Amartya Sen descending on the campus of the India International Centre to preach inane taxonomies such as “multiple identities”.

There has to be an over-riding identity called national identity, and hence we should not be derailed by pedestrian concepts of multiple or sub-identities.

“Without a resolution of the identity crisis today, which requires an explicit clear answer to this question of who we are, the majority will never understand how to relate to the legacy of the nation and in turn to the minorities.

Minorities would not understand how to adjust with the majority if this identity crisis is not resolved.

In other words, the present dysfunctional perceptional mismatch in understanding who we are as a people, is behind most of the communal tension and inter-community distrust in the country.

“In India, the majority is the conglomerate or Brihad Hindu community which represents about 81 per cent of the total Indian population, while minorities are constituted by Muslims [13 per cent] and Christians [3 per cent]. Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, and some other microscopic religious groups, represent the remaining three per cent.

Though also considered minorities, but really are so close to the majority community in culture that they are considered as a part of Hindu society. Unlike Islam and Christianity, these minority religions were founded as dissenting theologies of Hinduism. Even Zoroaster can be traced to leader of Vahikas in Mahabharata who migrated to Persia. Kaikeyi in Ramayana was from Persia when that country was hundred per cent Hindu. Thus these religions share the core concepts with Hindus such as re-incarnation, equality of all religions, and ability to meet God in this life.

That they feel increasingly alienated from Hindu society nowadays is also the consequence of India’s identity crisis caused by British historians and their Indian tutees in JNU.

The India of today would not have been in existence had the attempts to divide Hindus succeeded.

In the 20th century, a sinister attempt to divide the Hindu community on caste basis was made in 1932 when the British imperialists offered the scheduled castes a separate electorate. But shrewdly understanding the conspiracy to divide India, Mahatma Gandhi by his fast unto death and Dr. Ambedkar by his visionary rejection of separate electorate, foiled the attempt by signing the Poona Pact.

But the possibility that such attempts at dividing India socially may be made again in the future, a possibility that cannot be ruled out. Indian patriots will have to watch such attempts very carefully.

Segmentation, fragmentation, and finally balkanisation have been part of the historical process in many countries to destroy national identity and thereby cause the political division of the nation itself. Yugoslavia is a recent example of this, which has now been divided into four countries, largely due to Islamic separatism and Serbian over-reaction.

Virat Hindutva can be achieved in the first stage by Hindu consolidation, that is achieved by Hindus holding that they are Hindus first and last, by disowning primacy to their caste and regional loyalties.

This would require a renaissance in thinking and outlook, that can be fostered only by patient advocacy and intellectual ferment.

For this we need a new History text, and a proper understanding of the distinction between the four varnas [not birth based but by codes of behavior for devolution of power in society] and jati [which is birth based and mostly for marriages].

Just as Valmiki and Vyasa are regarded as Maharshis despite being of different jati from Parasuram, hence Dr. Ambedkar should be called a Maharishi for his sheer depth of knowledge of Indian history.

That he had become bitter because of Nehru systematically sidelining him is no reason not to do so.

India thus needs a Hindu renaissance today that incorporates modern principles, e.g., of the irrelevance of birth antecedents, fostering gender equality, ensuring equality before law, and accountability for all. It is also essential to integrate the entire Indian society on those principles, irrespective of religion.

Uniform Civil Code for example, is something that the vast majority of Muslim women want, but because this demand has been usurped by those who deny the equality of nationality to the Muslims, hence comes the resistance to a eminently reasonable value.

The Muslims think that this is the first step in several to subjugate them or wipe out their identity. But Muslims have quietly accepted Uniform Criminal Code [the IPC] despite that it contradicts the Sharia.

In other words, Hindutva has two components—one that Hindus can accept [such as caste abolition, eradication of dowry etc.] without any other religion’s interests to consider. The other is the embracing by minorities of the core secular Indian values which have Hindu roots.

This would require, particularly Muslims and Christians, to acknowledge that their ancestry is Hindu, and thus own the entire Hindu past as their own legacy, and to thus tailor their outlook on that basis. This would integrate Indian society and make the concept of an inclusive[Brihad] Hindutva and rooted in India’s continuing civilisation.

Thus, if India has to decide to have or not have good relations with Israel, Pakistan, Iran or US, it cannot be on the basis how it will impact on India’s Muslims and Christians, but on what India’s national interests require. If India has to dispatch troops to Afghanistan, Iraq, Sri Lanka or Nepal to combat terrorism, that policy too has to be decided on what is good for India, and not what any religious or linguistic group identifies as it’s interest.

Thus such an Hindutva is positive in outlook, while raw Hindu xenophobia is negative and based on Hindu hegemony which will frighten all. Such a Hindutva will resolve our current energy-sapping identity crisis, which otherwise will completely emasculate India in the long run.
The choice for the patriotic Indian is thus clear: We need a clear and positive view of our national identity based on our Hindu past and a Hindu renaissance to unite the Hindus with constructive mind-set as well as persuade the minorities to be co-opted culturally with Hindu society.

Once being Indian means Virat Brihad Hindutva, we can tackle terrorism by an effective strategy of defence. What are the components of that strategy is the subject matter of my next column here. (To be concluded)

December 18, 2008

Ideology of a state: Governance and Non-State actors

Guest Column-By Ravi Sundaralingam

(The views expressed are author's own)

Abstract: As India gears up one more level on security, we detect Statism seeping into many arguments. We ask, (1) can India as a country compatible with such notions, (2) whether such position can lead to the security of the state and safety of its people? We also have questions about (3) India’s decisions that may have serious repercussions for the regions and (4) such decisions in connection to its historical past. We are convinced (5) Project-India can’t be confined to its borders, and (6) of its responsibilities beyond the colonial boundaries. We also suggest that (7) some of these duties and responsibilities can be delegated trough its regional institutions, depending on the nature and sensitive of the tasks.

As Pakistan’s civilian government took a dangerous step forward to reign in the militants its state helped to create, US continued its bombardment inside its territory, and India announced a complete overhaul of its system, ‘terrorists watch’ and warned its citizens that they may have to give up some of their 'freedom' if they want the terrorists defeated. The UN Ambassador for Pakistan explained it would have been declared a ‘terrorist state’ and the sanctions would have crippled its economy, if Pakistan didn’t agree to ban the organisations accused of the recent ‘barbaric attack’, as Dr. Manmohan Singh put it, on India. Unfortunately, Pakistan has been a cripple inside long before the Islamists started to vie for power than being just partners to military dictatorships or the occasional civilian governments, and the butchering started in earnest in Afghanistan. India’s Foreign Minister pledged for a resolute campaign for an international agreement on ‘terrorism’ and the Prime Minister gave it credence by promising, "India would not show double standard on the issue". These are of course serious statements of intent on top of the policy shift India has made in recent times about its region.

After the LeT lead raid on Mumbai, “the rape of India” described with his paintings MF.Husain one of India's greatest painters, who lives in exile for ‘artistic-transgression’, Indians unlike any other times have been discussing about Project-India with an earnest and critical eye. Questions hitherto too sensitive are asked openly, and people of all walks of life give their uncompromising responses without fear. In some cases they wore ugly masks; when equating the Muslims with Pakistan, and the Pakistanis with terrorism, whipped up by some sections of the media and political parties. Indians in general remained restrained and composed, and discussed about India, not Pakistan, analytical in their assessment of their long march, and their responsibilities as one of the leading Global players; “hatred and anger into productiveness” as Ho Chi Minh had suggested.

Their questions fall into two categories. One, immediate in nature and about the systematic approach to protect India and those who serve it, and the consequences of the steps they could take. Two, how India can avoid such events, organised within or externally, and are really about “how inclusive India is” not 'just for itself' but for the entire region. Inevitably they lead to the questions about the 'Nehru-Ambedker' political and 'Gandhi-Tagore' spiritual visions as reference axes, mapping the recent historical events as correlation points. One can understand the range of emotions and anxieties, and their extremities: they are angry at the lack of spontaneous outpouring of emotions when outrages are committed in less fashionable poorer neighbourhoods or Imphal or Guhawati compared to the noise made after Mumbai; they are confused and suspicious about their media, quick to extol the virtues of their braves, the soldiers, but only a few months ago cast them in less appealing light when they demanded some financial recompense in exchange; they were full of praise of the bravery of their guardians yet, were enraged to see them walking into the terrorist dens with five-inch pistols where well-kitted out 'modern-terrorist' waited; etc.

Indians seem are sincerely beginning to think about the Other-India, and seek a relationship with it. If this is true, then as outsiders with many expectations, and were to answer the questions India is asking itself, how would we fair? Where would our answers lead us?

Q: Does India have the right to defend itself?

A: Yes it does, without any preconditions.

Q: Does it have to worry about taking action because both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers?

A: This is a specious question.

The knowledge that India is a Nuclear power doesn’t deter Pakistan from taking actions like in Mumbai, Bangalore, etc. Why should it bother India?

The rules of engagements are different here; both don't want to use nuclear weapons even as a threat, but want to probe each other without any other conditions, or with conditions the other doesn't accept.

The whole point of Pakistan’s outward exercises are not about India, but about Pakistan itself. Just as it implodes, it explodes outwardly as a means of rightful expression of anger and injustice, but in reality searching for its own self, a sense of purpose.

It is about its survival as a state, its territorial integrity, its status as an aspiring middle ranking power with Iran challenging, and immediately, prevention of an economic meltdown.

As for India, it is about its position in the region as the superpower, not as a regional power in the region, and about its unity.

Q: Doesn’t India ripping itself apart in some of its regions?

A: Yes, true. However, the questions within India are towards unity, about inclusiveness, and empowerment.

But, the questions over its Western-border are about the nature of the state and the meaning of Pakistan itself.

We may add, it is also a process in Afghanistan, and on India's Southern flank, Sri Lanka; India is surrounded by failing or failed states. But, India cannot allow them to be completely unaccountable.

Q: Can India make much of the non-state actors, while it has swathe of territories conceded to non-state actors?

A: Yes it can. Firstly, it means many things, different type of actors. Secondly, some of the non-state actors in Pakistan and Afghanistan are involved in cross-border terrorism, and India cannot be accused of the same, the easy answer. Complicating any process towards a solution is the involvement of some elements of the Pakistani state apparatuses that either encouraged or lost control over these groups; no one is in a position to accept responsibility for such actions. In this respect, accountability may also mean several things.

Q: Aren't these superfluous arguments? Justifying India’s present positions and to mask its past involvement in the region? For example, didn’t Tamil militant groups receive India's help a while ago?

A: Yes, they did.

No, masking or justifying India’s present or past policies or involvements is not our job.

Our objective is to see whether there are any real shifts in the Indian foreign policy, particularly after the demise of the bi-polar world? And to search these changes are real and tangible or temporary and dishonest?

India has sharply changed its policy towards all its neighbours. Security and development seem to be the main planks of this drive. Which comes first depends on the quality of involvement and, more importantly, all these policies are implemented through the existing and recognised institutions. In this context, it is aggressively pursuing a friendly Statist policy towards every country in the region.

As for practical evidences of these changes, one can see that in the recent history of the civil war in Sri Lanka and the tilting of the military balance in favour of the state away from the LTTE. Indian policy changes are so fundamental and drastic the Sri Lankan military chief could not resist making derogative comments about Tamil politicians in India and taunt them to change the course directed by Delhi. Even after facing serious protests from Tamil Nadu at the provocations, and ignoring the ploy to test the unity of India, the Indian state's unflinching support for the Sri Lankan state clearly illustrates our point. Its refusal to get involved in the events to dislodge the military dictatorship in Myanmar, despite push from the West and pressure from inside shows consistency of its application. Even the Maoist takeover in Nepal didn't make its knees tremble and act as though was, "here, we may need to think differently".

Q: What has been achieved by these policy changes?

A: Evidently, nothing.

Pakistan continues its attack on India though non-state actors or directly, whenever it feels the need to. To deflect the tension it has on its Pashtuns borders, with tribal loyalties to its majority in Afghanistan, which has claim on the territory, and the pressure from the US and the West on terrorism, it would want to open its Eastern frontier time to time, a well documented ploy.

In Sri Lanka, the state now assured of itself, go on in its way to disregard what are decent and principled for India in exchange for what is needed by India; and Tamils and other minorities are at its mercy. Though much was expected from India’s Foreign Minister expected visit, now we learn that is also being cancelled, to the disappointment of Tamils.

Hardly anything worth mentioning has happened on India’s Eastern or North-eastern borders, except for the maintenance of status quo.

However, beneath this docile looking expression, India is stirring and marking a few reference points, which cannot be easily itemised, only in time will of their benefits of them. For example, what has been a thorny issue of ownership about its North Western territories has now reduced to an issue of security and terrorism.

Q: Can India be secure by investing the entire sovereignty of the people in a state?

A: No. India's sovereignty comes from its people and instituted in a very complex way. Firstly, as a country it derives its sovereignty through its regional 'nation' states, and directly though elected representatives to the centre. Secondly, at the centre these arrangements are reorganised according to the coalition put together as the government of the day. In theory and practice, whatever people think or however much it is corrupt, the present system is a guarantee that at least the nominal sovereignty of the individuals remains with the people locally.

It may be a case in point if India were going through a civil war such as that US endured, or an invasion such as Nippon devastation China encountered. However, the greatest trauma, the vast majority of the great Indian people experience, is the condition they are living in and watching their pain and sacrifice exchanged for the benefits of those already in power and economic control of their lives, other than the colonised era and the partition that followed in the North and East sixty years ago.

Policy makers, distracted by the turmoil on its western borders are increasingly becoming Statists in their arguments. Strangely, they have assigned the job of preserving the state, which they never invented or made into being, and turned their duty of 'maintaining' a state functions into an ownership and therefore, making the whole project into a state orientated regressive task. They have stopped realising their own private experiences that tells them, "when we loose sight of the pleasures the simple natures greatest assets freely give, we become attached to tasks and stop living, and everything thereafter become work".

India's assets are its multitude of people, their imagination and their perceptions of the world in all its aspects, their ability to absorb anything thrown at them and make something of it, crudely speaking in modern palaver, the human-resources. If Statism is to be the mere response to their real anxieties, and it is to be superimposed on all discussions to satisfy the urgency of today, then the danger is the true India sliding into an argument of a state rather than of its peoples.

Q: Isn't the state responsible for peoples' safety and security?

A: Yes, but it can't be everywhere.

Furthermore, it is the peoples' safety and security and not that of the state. This is semantics for the stakeholders, who have a sense of ownership and control over the state, and their lives. But, for those alienated from power, not really reaping the development dividends, those feel that they can have no effect in the society, it makes full sense.

No one is suggesting that the people themselves can run their affairs without a centrally organised regulatory body, except 'free marketers' and anarchists. Every country profess to have a democratic system are beginning to ask these same set of questions at some point; "How do we defeat the terrorists?"

What is never seems to be a question is, "What does winning or defeating means?"

When the poor, semi-illiterate and highly indoctrinated jihadi young men left Pakistan, they knew they would not return, as there is nothing worth returning to. Their lives meant nothing more than their handlers would have told them and that is in their deaths those values are found: a place in paradise, and financial compensation for their relatives. Their mission was to reduce their 'enemies' to the value of their lives, not by killing every person, which is impossible, but by making the rest broken inside and lose confidence in themselves, and perhaps making them as violent Nihilists as they were.

When a community feels it cannot function without protection, it is not a community at all. If a community feels it can trade its freedom for security or it cannot fully exercise its freedom collectively or as individuals then it has already begun to lose the sight of freedom. We are not talking about abstract or absolute freedom here, but those values any given community feel it has.

If terrorism by any means worth its salt, it would be to achieve precisely these objectives to make us loose what we hold valuable as principles and beliefs about humanity and ourselves as a first step. Perhaps if they had a second step, they may want to negotiate a political settlement, whatever that is.

Pakistan's rulers have been true Statists, and have been telling their 'citizens' why the repressive political and military conditions and why they have to sacrifice their freedom: for the safety and security it wanted for them from its enemies, especially India.

Have the Pakistanis got any form of security and safety promised for so long? How long before they are likely to enjoy the freedom Indian take for granted? Is Pakistan in a position to stop US bombing its ‘people’?

Many think India is a weak state, but how many would be prepared to live in China, which undoubtedly exhibits overt strength and resolve in order to have safety and security for its state, and very little of people or freedom?

The questions and arguments may be the same in the West, but the conditions are drastically different. Most in Europe are nation-states with homogenised population, except for 3-6% immigrants. They are economically advanced, and have some form of welfare system, that ensures dispossessed young don't end up in Madarassa equivalents. Their concepts of freedom evolved as small nation-states and are constructed through institutions during the last three centuries, largely influenced by the interactions between neighbours and therefore, administrated by the states. For the majority obedience to the centralised authority is as normal as speaking about freedom.

The people in US however, are vastly different. In their own convoluted way they are looking to be free as the Indians. Unfortunately, largely due to being European descendants they have no other knowledge, but to construct their way towards it.

Q: Then, where does India fit in, when it has so expansive an understanding on the subject of freedom?

A: India’s suffering from foreign orchestrated terror and destruction, which are fronted by non-state actors, naturally leads to the Statist logic. Its demand for institutional accountability of the non-state actors through states or other recognised forums, UN, regional bodies is reasonable and emotionally sound.

Yet there is no denying, that this all encompassing new terminologies and arguments give the state wider powers. It can now deal with any in the same manner, if they were terrorist fronts or liberation groups or other NGOs, or provide assistance to other states, which has civil conflicts. However, even this Statist perspective can offer some hope for ordinary people if as Dr. Manmohan Singh suggested, we can underpin real and practical values of human-rights, as a program of empowerment along with the issues of security. This thought, not a promises, alone give us confidence that India wouldn’t conclude that state alone can be the way with it all. We are sure India would insists human-rights as one of its basic principles to define the terminologies ‘security’ and ‘non-state actors’, as any state's dealings with its 'citizens', including its own.

Q: If the political classes in all the leading countries become Statists, what happen to the basic rights of people?

A: Disaster.

Everyone agrees, in the failing states the governments at the centre cannot and don't represent all the communities, and in fact, would be in conflict with many of them. Therefore, the non-state actors by choice or force become part of peoples’ daily live. While we accept all non-state actors must be accountable, our question is about how it should be done? How is it possible for a state to account for something, which it disregarded, campaigned against the people and causes it represented be the only institution to account for it without destroying?

What about the ‘Fund Mangers’ of the ‘money market’, who have brought the world economic system to a stand still? The world has suffered greater disaster from the terrorists than these grey, invisible men? These wo/men who manage other people’s money are more powerful non-state actors as any, but can they ever be accounted through a single state?

Q: What happens to the agreements the non-state actors may have had or precedents established with existing institutions?

A: In Sri Lanka, the Tamils are in conflict with the island’s Sinhala state for a long time, long before the rise and fall of many terminologies that describe them. Though, the present phase is presented, as a conflict between a group, the LTTE, and the state, one cannot undo all the history just by evoking a terminology. It is not just a history written in blood, sweat, and sacrifice, but murder mayhem and genocide.

Ignoring all this, for the purpose of argument, we recall it is also a history of peace talks and agreements, whether implemented or not, between a people and various groups and parties represented them over the past sixty years, thereby making the entire people as non-state actors during this period of time. Can this fact, the history, be also wiped out by this terminology and the people forced to return to the fold of the very state, which says, they do not have any demand as it belonged to the majority people, the Sinhalese?

Q: Do the non-state actors have a role to play in the future?

A: The role of the non-state actors is as vital as the centralised power India, for the people of India as much as for all other in the developing world. It is this element, as enterprisers, social-consciousness raisers, developers and empowering merchants who have brought the development India has witnessed. And it is these elements with the support of the centralised authority, which can take the development and empowerment deep inside the hinterlands, guaranteeing peace and security everyone wants.

In this sense, it is not the total loyalty what is required by any centralised authority from these non-state actors, but agreements towards peaceful co-existence and development and accountability to those effects.

The development India sees is largely induced by private enterprise and private capitalism, in which the state has a vested interest, and acts mainly as a regulator. It social policies fail to fully materialise as the politicians and the establishment ensure the allocations and provisions trickled nowhere below. The disparity and polarity in development is vast, and the predictions between the North and Southern parts of India are not promising. Even within the states, between the urban and rural developments, the disparity is growing wider in the North than in the South, where the politicians for all their corruptions and villainous behaviour seem socially more aware and accountable.

Yet, development has brought greater stability within India and considerable political unity, and has raised the quest for psychological unity, thereby more security. It can therefore argue and assert from its own experience, "What is true and worked for many of its people can also be true for others who haven't been touch by development whether they are in or outside its borders".

Q: Does it mean India helping Pakistan to become economically viable?

A: Yes, a healthy and developed Pakistan and Afghanistan is the best guarantee to prevent cross-border jihadi terrorism, not just in India, even in Europe. And a healthy caring India is absolutely vital as an immune system to prevent any infections from such interactions.

He same attitude and actions are also needed on its Southern region, where the long suffering masses in the island of Sri Lanka are waiting for their turn to develop and prosper. Having lost two or more generations to state-terrorism and counter-terrorism, and civil war, the communities are at a loss with third grade politicians and fifth grade bureaucrats managing the affairs, where the military leaders on both sides determines the real say. This is a matter that can be easily taken care of by India's Southern states, if so delegated, for the benefit of all the communities big or small, Sinhala or Tamil speaking.


Project -India isn't limited within its colonial borders, and terrorism for one cannot be allowed to set the framework for Indian policies for itself or for its region.

India has seen off many devastative phases throughout is mythical existence, but this is the generation that feels it has "more to loose" than others in the past, which faced much harsher conditions than a failing state can throw at them. With this new mood, will India be prepared to be in connection with its past, and suffer more for the sake of humanity? Or could this be one of many foolish notions of India, from those looking in but not experiencing it? These questions may seem philosophical or idealistic, but we believe the answers India will arrive have serious implications for those sincerely concerned about the human-condition.

India's complexity and diversity as a people are gigantic compared to Africa, which has almost the same population. Africa has only two major religions, Christianity and Islam, and three main languages, English, Arabic and French, except for a few who spoke Spanish on its west coast. Because of these two-pronged successful cultural subversions, the African social-transformation has staggered, and is very much tribalistic than nationalistic. Imagine Africa as whole trying or forced or feel the need to live as 'one country'? It isn't strange that JBS Haldane described India “as the closest approximation to the Free world” and verified the meaning of his citizenship, “proud of being a citizen of India, which is a lot more diverse than Europe, let alone the USA, USSR, or China, and thus a better model for a possible world organization. It may of course break up, but it is a wonderful experiment. So I want to be labelled as a citizen of India (not as citizen of the world as suggested).” In these moments of fury, the tendency would be to dismiss a scientist or historian like Haldane and EP Thompson, as eccentrics incredulous to the rigours of the real world, mere idealists living in their own imagined space.

The grey clouds during Mrs. Gandhi’s emergency time, and India’s darkest hour in its modern history, the military assault on one its spiritual home, and the continuing endemic corruption in the socio-political system are all too much to account for all of us, and some started to have doubts about the ideals of the Indian-project altogether. Are we then reappraising something that is already dead? Are we simple peddlers of yesterday’s ideals when, death to all ideologies is the prediction? We wonder, can the past be so clinically cut off; to trace them and to make any deductions from them can be accused of being unscientific, unrealistic, bordering naivety?

Many historians and pundits have done India’s burial many times over. Only a few years ago we watched a documentary in which a well-spoken West Bengali Marxist expert welcomed its disintegration within a decade or two, with his own merry way to analysis. We now watch their followers violently fight their own peasants to bring in the ultimate Indian institution, the Tatas, to make economic progress to the state. Beyond all the venom of these contemporary punditry, India has survived the most turbulent of its period, the cataclysmic colonial era, and absorbed all its worth to reassess and, today reassert itself as a world economic power, a position it held prior to that time. Yet it was they, the colonialists, who had brought in the political union it never had, but its unity still to be achieved. Those of us who feel raped, helpless, and angry, can we imagine how our forefathers felt when they watched their resources being plundered, some times for no use than pure fun, animals the generations of Indian civilisation helped to preserve wiped in the name of 'sport', and beyond all these injuries, the men and women of one of the oldest civilisation treated like children, not citizens or slaves.

Today as One India demanded respect and dignity for its people from outsiders, without flexing the extra muzzles the modern India has acquired, while many in the Other-India and around its borders are left wanting, expecting India will also address them with the same favour.

Not single Indian or a government can claim to have created the Indian state. What the Northern or Southern-Tamil Emperors could not do, British achieved it; what was always there, the basic universality of an Indian, Gandhi among many others rekindled it, and the economy, the new sense of purpose for the middle India, happened not because of the state, but of globalisation. Any evolutionary process has its own course; one cannot make too much work out it. India that is imagined was there before the Brits arrived, it survived and continued its journey after they had left, and it will still be there on its way when we are also dead and gone. Even the Intelligence Report 2025 says so; they should know a thing or two better than some of us, the US for while was hell-bent on testing the Indian concept of unity and its peoples' resolve with a few test of its own.

We are convinced the ultimate destination of project-India, therefore, we don't worry about its survival or India’s unity as the self-doubts of some of those who have taken charge of its state. India is not an accident, but an evolution of a continent of people, far ahead in many aspects in perception of human condition, and their social relationships than economically advanced nations and continents. It is a people who know their beginning and end, but continually suffer as impediments are placed on their way to confuse and complicate their journey. If invasions and raids and barbaric attacks on its people are the impediments, some form of tests, then the reactions in the same vein would be an attack on India's universal-self, its soul; no outsider, but themselves can undermine that fundamental notion of Indianess.

It is logical and practical to propose its systemised security can only be implemented through regional hubs. It is a fact and an evolving historical perspective that Indian concept of democracy, freedom and empowerment are all intertwined are developed and instituted through its local and regional socio-economic structures. The so called external events that affect the Indians as a whole originate, felt more seriously and suffer the consequences more within its regions than those living on the other end. Isn’t it therefore, logical and practical that the so called external policies are done through its regional institutions under the centralised bodies?

It is with this confidence we ask India, what are its future decisions going to be? Not the immediate policy directives on cross-border terrorism, TADA, its proposals to ‘deter’ terrorism and the like, but about itself in connection to the region around it? Can modern India build high iron-fences around its shiny new citadels to keep its own 'unwanted' and the poor away? In the manner, can it build a security-wall around its seas and land borders to keep the people out, who are in every sense connected to it, in the name of terrorism?

We wait with confidence than mere hope.

(Ravi Sundaralingam can be reached by E-mail: academic.