A slightly edited version of the following was published on rediff.com on march 1st, 2012 at http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-social-contract-why-modi-scares-the-usual-suspects/20120301.htm
Social Contract: Why Narendra Modi scares the bejeezus out of the usual suspects
Rajeev Srinivasan on why Narendra Modi is a threat to the establishment because he overturns many of the convenient myths they propagate
It is a predictable a winter ritual: around this time every year it gets into high gear. A bit like Super Bowl season or duck-hunting season: the season to invent, regurgitate and shed crocodile tears over stories about how wicked Narendra Modi is.
There are quite possibly three reasons why there is such widespread and venomous criticism of Modi, apart from the obvious political fact that he has become a viable candidate for national office. Any one of these is good enough reason for Modi-bashing; but given all of them simultaneously, no wonder his detractors are practically apoplectic.
The three reasons, in my opinion, are:
- Modi has created a Social Contract with the people of Gujarat, which seems to work; it has broader national implications as well
- Modi has tamed the corruption monster, by not taking bribes himself, but more importantly, preventing others from doing so
- Modi has shown total contempt for political shysters and media hucksters: this hurts their amour-propre; not to mention their pocket-books
Modi’s greatest achievement has been the fact that he has created a clear social contract with the people of his state. (I am indebted to my friend B Rao of Los Angeles for this insight). Modi promised them development, and he delivered. In return, he asked for just one thing: discipline; and the people delivered. This has become a win-win situation for both parties, and for investors: there is a visible change in Gujarat’s fortunes, right on the ground.
The State GDP growth rate of Gujarat in the recent past has been at a scorching pace of 11.3% in 2005 (see http://www.rediff.com/business/slide-show/slide-show-1-glimpses-of-gujarats-high-growth-story/20120209.htm), considerably greater than that of India as a whole. This does not, alas, satisfy carping critics.
There was a long essay in Caravan magazine: I glanced through it, and one of the points made was that, even though $920 billion in investment had been promised for Gujarat during the last few ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ meets, only about 25% of these have materialized. That, however, is the norm in India: no more than about 25% of the promised investment actually materializes.
But look at the sheer numbers: almost a trillion dollars in investment proposals, and actual investment of, say, $230 billion! That is astonishing. This number can be directly contrasted with another large number: $462 billion. That is the amount estimated by Global Financial Integrity http://india.gfintegrity.org/ as the total amount siphoned out of India through illegal financial flows between 1948 and 2008.
In an intriguing irony, ‘Vibrant Gujarat 2011’ saw MoUs for $462 billion being signed – precisely the same as the amount estimated by Global Financial Integrity as having been spirited away in sixty years of allegedly socialist rule at the Center!
Modi has delivered on his implicit Social Contract: growth in return for order. When you think of social contracts, there are several models to consider, for instance those attributed to Europeans such as Locke, Rousseau and Hobbes, medieval imperialist models, Indian models, and the Confucian ‘Iron Rice Bowl’.
A common thread among all these models is that there is a tradeoff: there are rights, and there are responsibilities. It is necessary that you give away some of your rights in the interest of the greater good of society. The models differ in details, as well as in perspective – for instance is it teleological/utilitarian, preferring the greatest good for the greatest number, or is it deontological, preferring to protect the rights of the very weakest members? In some cases, it is neither, and is meant to be purely exploitative.
It could be argued that Modi has revived a traditional Hindu/Buddhist social contract, which, in return for discipline and hard work, provides the populace with security and righteous order. The population may pursue dharma, artha, kama, or moksha, without interference from the State; but they pay taxes and do their civic duty, and the State guarantees protection from predatory outsiders. This is roughly in line with the American idea of the rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
This general Indian principle also evolved into the idea of gentlemanly warfare, wherein non-combatants were spared, with only the kshatriya class involved in bloodshed, battles ended at nightfall, and winners were chivalrous to fallen foes.
This sort of contract is explicit in Emperor Ashoka’s reign, and most vividly in Chanakya’s Arthashastra. Chanakya laid out in detail the kinds of information-gathering and management control that a sovereign needs to institutionalize, and contrary to popular mythology, Ashoka employed thousands of spies to ensure that any unrest was nipped in the bud and malcontents isolated.
This model was what turned India into the most prosperous nation in the world, as detailed in Angus Maddison’s magisterial economic history of the world. It was in fact the world’s leading economic power till roughly 1700 CE.
This model worked for several thousand years, from the earliest known stages of the Indus-Sarasvati civilization roughly five thousand years, up until the arrival of Arab and Turkish hordes in the 1100 CE timeframe, and later, the European hordes circa 1700 CE. This dharma or ‘natural order’ in Locke’s terms has been forgotten by modern Indians, brought up on a steady diet of misinformation.
The models that today’s Indians are more familiar with are Hobbesian, leading to “nasty, brutish and short” lives – those of empire. We have endured three forms of this imperial model: Muslim, Christian, and Communist. And we have barely survived.
The Arab/Turkish Muslim social contract of dhimmitude imposes order by explicitly reducing the rights of certain groups (non-Muslims) while allowing them the minimum possible subsistence to exploit them as productive members of society. However, in India, this was an unstable equilibrium because the Hindus resisted, and resisted continuously, unlike non-Muslims in, say, Iraq, Egypt or Persia.
The European Christian social contract of colonialism imposes order by explicitly pursuing a policy of overseas theft and loot, based on the superiority of “guns, germs and steel”. Interestingly, this social contract is now unraveling, as there are no more subject peoples to loot and steal from: Europe is collapsing into oblivion.
An excellent interview in the Wall Street Journal on February 26th with historian Norman Davies http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203918304577240984211126416.html suggests that the end is nigh for Europe. Why? Its social contract with its citizens has been that they would get prosperity in return for providing the muscle for overseas expeditions. Bereft of empire and forced to fall back on their own (minimal) resources, countries like the UK are rapidly reverting to their natural, Hobbesian state: the riots in several cities last year are indicative of this.
The Communist social contract is a form of fascism and Stalinism. It demands absolute loyalty from the public in return for… well, promises, but not often the reality, of prosperity. There is the stinging criticism that Communism offers you a version of democracy: “one man, one vote, one time”. That’s it. One time.
The incarnations of this contract range from the brutal gulags of the Soviet Union, China and Cambodia to the more mellow socialism in India. But that last, even though less violent in visible ways, has been an economic crime against humanity: it prevented 400 million Indians from climbing out of poverty. After sixty years of it, Manmohan Singh called hunger in India a ‘national shame’. It is indeed a shame, and it indicates the utter failure of the Communist/socialist social contract.
This is why the powers-that-be fear Modi’s obviously successful social contract: much as they try to paint Modi as hell-bent on victimizing Muslims, the latter have voted with their feet. They are willing to stay in Gujarat, eschew violence, and prosper. The Hindus are doing exactly the same thing: they have stayed, eschewed violence, and prospered. Precisely: a real secular state, where you succeed not based on your religion, but on how hard you work.
So clearly there is an alternative to the orthodox Stalinism of the powers-that-be, one that works. How terrible it will be if the rest of the country took notice! Whatever will the purveyors of failed social contracts do? That is reason number one Modi is bad.
Reason number two is related. Endemic corruption, and lack of leadership, are the biggest problems India faces. There are many leaders who are supposedly personally honest, but who allow those around them to indulge in the mass loot of the public treasury. Is that any better than if they were themselves indulging in theft? Probably not: it just adds hypocrisy to their other crimes.
Modi has been able to fix corruption with a singular mantra: not only is he personally not on the take but he doesn’t have offspring on the take either (Bhishma-like, eh?). But what’s more, he doesn’t allow anybody else to be corrupt either. This is most distressing for the neta-babu crowd. The fishes and loaves of office are turning into ashes in their salivating mouths: so what is the point in spending big bucks to get a rentier job or an MLA seat unless your rent-seeking self can recoup the investment in a matter of months? None whatsoever, and that is precisely the point!
It is amusing to note that Narendra Modi is immensely popular everywhere in Gujarat, except in the capital Gandhinagar – his party gets defeated here routinely, while it gets two-thirds majorities elsewhere! The neta-babu log are, understandably, unhappy with him. But I suspect the legendary mango man (aam aadmi) is quite happy.
The third reason is that, just as Modi has tamed the politician-bureaucrat nexus, he has also figured out the way to deal with the loud and self-important media, soi-disant “intelligentsia” and the NGO crowd. He doesn’t pay any attention to their foaming at the mouth; in fact, if I remember right, there was some incident where he simply got up and walked off a live TV interview when the rabid host kept hyperventilating.
India’s media and “intellectuals” have fattened themselves by attaching themselves to the mammaries of the welfare state, and following a simple mantra: “All the news that will get us crumbs from the government or junkets from foreign donors”. In fact, India has some of the most astonishingly biased people in positions of power.
There is, for instance, a statement by an activist immediately after the Sabarmati Express was set on fire, and 59 Hindus, mostly women and children, were burnt alive. This person said: “while I condemn today’s gruesome attack, you cannot pick up an incident in isolation. Let us not forget the provocation. These people were not going for a benign assembly. They were indulging in blatant and unlawful mobilization to build a temple and deliberately provoke the Muslims in India.” (‘Mob attacks Indian train’, Washington Post, Feb 28th, 2002 http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A13791-2002Feb27?language=printer).
Now imagine that this person sits on the all-powerful National Advisory Council! Let us now further imagine that this person has relentlessly filed petition after petition against Modi; has been accused of serial perjury and witness tampering; and is yet considered a credible spokesperson.
This is just an example of a media/NGO nexus that believes strongly in “truth by repeated assertion”, a successful tactic by the Communists too. That the Indian media is prostituting itself to the highest bidder (when they are not being bigots) is no surprise; no wonder Modi doesn’t care two hoots what they think. But this, of course, annoys the hell out of said media who fancy themselves as judge, jury and executioner put together.
There is a minor cottage industry that is centered on explaining how Hinduism is at the root of all evils in India. The latest is a bunch of misinformed kids at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, who wrote an essay wherein they blamed everything that is wrong in India on the Mahabharata, Ramayana and Arthashastra. There is ample evidence that this sort of ritualized strawman-building-and-knocking-down is a successful imperial tactic.
For instance, the British claimed Ayurveda and kalari payat were evil, banned them, and burned the books. They claimed the ancient practice of smearing cowpox pus as a preventive against smallpox was ‘barbaric’, and banned it. They claimed devadasis were an abomination, but in fact they were, like geishas, cultured women of substance, who often endowed public works like dam-building. They claimed dowry and jati are evil; but dowry, according to Veena Talwar Oldenburg’s remarkable research, was the result of British practices. Jati is the very reason Indian civilization has survived, because its distributed nature makes it hard to eradicate.
Narendra Modi is one person who has figured out the antidote to the venom from the self-proclaimed “intellectuals” and their newspapers and TV. He goes over their heads to a higher-authority: the people. And the people respond, showing said “intellectuals” how superfluous they are. No wonder they are livid.
Thus, by re-creating a viable social contract, by being an ethical leader, and by ignoring the vicious, Modi has shown he has the one thing that India needs: leadership. Not at all good, if you are one of those currently pretending to be leaders.
2200 words, 26th Feb 2012
July 26, 2010
A version of this appeared in Daily News & Analysis on 27th July at http://www.dnaindia.com/opinion/main-article_hindu-terrorism-doesn-t-exist-but-do-we-want-one_1415107 and the pdf for the same is at http://epaper.dnaindia.com/epaperpdf%5C27072010%5C26main%20edition-pg14-0.pdf
Truth by repeated assertion
Rajeev Srinivasan on the motivated campaign about alleged ‘Hindu terrorism’
Joseph Goebbels pithily described propaganda thus:If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.
By this measure, there appears to be a conspiracy in India to propagate a certain set of views, and in Noam Chomsky’s words, to “manufacture consent”. Like the military-industrial complex in the US which allegedly controls what its citizens think, there is a media-State nexus in India, whereby the mass media unquestioningly regurgitates the State’s perspective.
A recent example is the fuss about a new Indian ‘laptop’ for $35. It is virtually impossible to get a large portable display for less than $50, and with the electronics and packaging, even if the software is free, there is no way the bill of materials can be less than $100. Yet the media swallows this story whole.
This is far from the most egregious example. Bafflingly, the media repeats the government’s anodyne, statements that inflation will subside “in the next six months”. This is ludicrous and has no rationale, yet mandarins mouth it regularly. But it is never challenged by the media; meanwhile, food inflation is galloping at over 20%.
But the cravenness of the media is most evident when it comes to that pet project of the State, known as ‘secularism’. The actual meaning of the term, which emerged in the context of the continuous interference of the Catholic Church in the affairs of the State in medieval Europe, is that the State is fully indifferent to religion.
However, in India, so-called ‘secularism’ means precisely the opposite – the State looks upon every individual primarily based on his religion. For instance, the Prime Minister made the statement in December 2006 that Muslims should have first rights to the resources of the country. This violates the Constitution, but it has become part of the accepted ethos through repeated assertion.
The most blatant example of this propaganda is the current feeding frenzy about ‘Hindu terror’. The fact is that there is practically no history of Hindu terror. Religious terrorism has traditionally been the monopoly of the Abrahamic traditions, including Communism. Monotheists by definition divide the world into ‘us’ and ‘them’, and demonize the Other, probably a necessary condition for terror.
Communist terrorists regularly massacre people in Central India, West Bengal and Kerala. There was Jewish terrorism – the Stern gang in Palestine, which had as a member Yitzhak Shamir, later Prime Minister of Israel, comes to mind. There are many historical examples of Christian religious terrorism, going back to the liquidation of the Albigensians and other heretics around 345 CE, the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition (and especially the version in Goa), all the way to assassinations by radical anti-abortionists in the US.
The National Liberation Movement of Tripura is an explicitly Christian terrorist group, forcibly converting people. The National Socialist Council of Nagaland has unleashed terrorism in its pursuit of “Nagalim for Christ”. The assassination of Swami Lakshmananda in Orissa, when his major ‘sin’ was that he was defending Hindu tribals against the depradations of Christian missionaries, is another example.
But clearly Islamic terrorism is the biggest example of religion-based terrorism today. Suicide bombings, the fatwas on Salman Rushdie and others, 9/11 and 26/11, the periodic bombings in many parts of India, college professor T J Joseph’s hand getting sliced off as retaliation for alleged blasphemy, all these are instances of Islamic religious terrorism. The terrorists themselves take pains to point out that their acts have religious sanction.
Compared to all this, there is no evidence whatsoever that there is Hindu terrorism. The so-called Malegaon blast case and other alleged instances of Hindu terrorism languish because of lack of evidence, although, those accused such as Sadhvi Prajna are also rotting away in jail. If there are incidents of Hindu violence, these are almost inevitably reactions to terrorism imposed on them.
The moral equivalence drawn between the Abrahmics’ inherent tendency to violent terrorism and the non-existent Hindu or Indic terrorism is abhorrent.
There is the Panchatantra story about the man with the goat and the three rogues. The rogues convince the gullible man, via the ruse of repeatedly telling him that he is carrying a dog, to abandon the goat, which of course was their original intent. The rogues in the media and the State are, through repeated assertion, convincing people of the ‘fact’ of Hindu terrorism. Do we want to make it a self-fulfilling prophesy?
820 words, 25th Jul 2010
A version of this appeared on rediff.com on 27th May at http://news.rediff.com/column/2010/may/27/lessons-for-india-from-thai-insurgency.htm
A Bangkok on the Yamuna? Lessons from the Thai insurgency
Rajeev Srinivasan on why the Thai troubles should be an eye-opener for India, which faces similar insurgents with covert agendas
Despite pious promises in the past about “looking East”, it is clear that the Indian establishment, including the media and the foreign ministry, remain obsessed with the West and Pakistan. Events unfolding in Thailand have remained under the radar in India, even though the parallels are ominous, both regarding India and regarding Nepal.
Consider: in Dantewada, Communist terrorists first massacred 76 policemen; they then proceeded to massacre 36 civilians riding in a bus. The first instincts of both the Congress and the media are to justify the terrorism based on the same tired clichés about poverty fomenting violence. Aren’t they embarrassed to trot out this hoary old chestnut?
Also consider Hyderabad in the wake of the Telengana agitation: I am sure investment decisions have been put on hold and real estate prices have dipped along with consumer and investor confidence. Similarly, Thailand’s economy will take a hit, as ASEAN neighbors Malaysia and Indonesia suddenly look more stable.
Finally, look at Nepal: a functioning monarchy has been replaced by an aggressive Communist regime, with the expected results – political turmoil, and anti-national forces including Chinese proxies, missionaries and jihadis having a field day.
The roots of the Thai problem are murky, but the event that triggered off today’s crisis was the coup in 2006 that overthrew the government of the billionaire industrialist Thaksin Shinawatra. I was in Thailand in 2006 during the revered King Bhumibol Adhulyadej’s 80th birthday celebration – and it was a grand gala affair. My previous visits had been over ten years prior, and I was impressed at how far Thailand had come in the interim: it had the makings of an intermediate economic power.
Thailand has left India in the dust in economic growth: an indicator is the exchange rate between the Thai Baht and the rupee. When I first went to Thailand, there was rough parity between the two; today the Baht is 40% higher. The ramshackle capital with run-down roads and unbelievable traffic jams (people used to carry portable urinals in their cars) was transformed by an elevated expressway. The skyline is impressive, and the city looks clean, orderly and prosperous, in a Singaporean kind of way.
This prosperity is based on small to medium industry, especially textiles, electronics and automobile components. Endemic political instability, including bloodless military coups, did not hurt because there was always a symbol of strength and continuity – the royalty. Thais revere their monarchy, and the King could always resolve any problems.
Until now, that is. The army and police seemed helpless against a few thousand insurgents who barricaded themselves inside the city, urban guerilla warfare, the King hospitalized and silent – this is a nation under siege, not the kind of place where locals or foreigners will risk their money. This will hurt the Thai economy.
Who gains from this? Malaysia and Indonesia, especially the former. There is a festering separatist movement in southern Thailand, which is ethnically Malay and Mohammedan. Given the Malaysians’ increasing religious fervor – they have been tyrannizing religious minorities recently – Malaysia may be offering moral and material support.
The apparent demand of the insurgents is justice for the poor who live far away from the glitzy capital, in the north and northeast. I suspect this is a slight exaggeration, along the lines of what Communists claim in India’s tribal belt. The Red Shirts in Thailand may be acting principally on behalf of Shinawatra, who wants to be prime-minister again, to ensure the survival of his business empire, not to mention avoid a $1.4 billion fine. The Communists in Jharkhand may be agents of China, intent on wrecking India from within. None of them is particularly interested in the poor, except for rhetorical purposes.
What alarms me about the Bangkok situation is that I can easily imagine a similar situation in New Delhi, with the capital held hostage by gangs of Communist insurgents, quite possibly barricaded inside the JNU campus, where they gain succor and support from armchair urban guerillas. Just as in Bangkok, we might watch on TV the hopes of a stable and progressing Indian economy going up in thick, black, acrid smoke – welcome back to the dark ages of ‘roti-kapda-makan’ and the rent-seeking neta-babu-journalist nexus, a preview of which we got with the 2G scam.
There are differences, of course. The Indian Army is not involved in business, whereas the Thai army is a smaller version of the Pakistani Army in that context – it runs many industries, and is not dependent on the national government for all of its budget.
But the eerie parallels to, say, Nepal, are many: the end result may well be a ‘secular’ movement to overthrow the Buddhist monarchy, which will then be portrayed as roundly corrupt, godless, feudal – whatever else the spin-meisters can think of.
The destruction of the Thai State would be a tragedy. It was just about the only Asian nation that, through some fancy footwork, avoided being colonized. This has given the average Thai a certain self-confidence. Secondly, turmoil is likely to be exploited by vulture-like missionaries descending on the country, much as they did in the aftermath of the tsunami elsewhere. In Nepal, it is reported that a million people were converted to Christian sects after the Communists took over. Similarly the number of mosques, and presumably adherents, has soared. We might find the same in Thailand.
Odd, isn’t it, that there are Communist revolutions in Hindu and Buddhist monarchies, but never in Christian or Mohammedan monarchies? Coincidence? Communists have been accused of being ‘useful idiots’ for others. Let us note that, according to reliable sources, the manifesto of the Communist terrorists in India speaks at length about extinguishing ‘imperialism’ and ‘liberalism’, but is silent about ‘poverty’ and ‘tribals’.
The extinction of the State, neo-colonization and neo-conversion – these are the downsides of globalization. India would be well-advised to watch the Thai example with great care.
An edited version of this appeared on rediff on May 6th at http://news.rediff.com/column/2010/may/06/rajeev-srinivasan-on-the-banality-of-evil.htm
Why good people do bad things: the ordinariness of evil
Rajeev Srinivasan on why normal people do appalling things in the wrong circumstances
In the aftermath of the Ajmal Kasab trial and the failed bomb attack in New York, the impartial observer would find it hard to conclude that Pakistanis were mild, inoffensive people. But in fact there are a number of people – apart from the professional Wagah candle-holders – who cannot believe that this kind of horror could come from the kind of Pakistanis they know – PLUs (people like us), urbane, sophisticated, great hosts and dinner companions.
There is, of course, the fallacy of rapid generalization: every Pakistani is not like the people you know, who are likely to be the world-traveling sort. There are many dirt-poor, uneducated people who have been brainwashed with strange notions of what Indians are like and what India is like. Given high population growth and a fairly stagnant economy, the number of these “Bottom-of-the-Pyramid” people is much larger than those at the top of the pyramid, the 22 ruling feudal families who own the place.
But apart from the logical fallacy, there is also a more subtle issue, that of how easily evil can take over even perfectly normal, well-adjusted people. It turns out you don’t have to be a sociopath to do the most horrifying things: your random neighbors, such as the kindly old man down the street, the kid who drops off the newspaper, the old lady who is full of religious zeal – any and all of them can turn into monsters under the appropriate circumstances.
This was demonstrated in Cambodia, when under the Khmer Rouge, perfectly ordinary people became mass killers. I have been to Tuol Sleng prison and interrogation center in the middle of Phnom Penh, where thousands of people were tortured, and confessions extracted from them. They were photographed and meticulous dossiers prepared about each of them. They were then taken to the Killing Fields on the outskirts of town and dispatched with a blow to the back of the head with a spade.
But what is most amazing about Tuol Sleng is that it was formerly a school in the middle of a residential neighborhood! It still looks like an inoffensive school from outside, although inside it is the Genocide Museum, with the interrogation cells left as they were, harrowing paintings of inhuman torture, and row after row of black and white photographs of those who were about to die, including some Indians and other foreigners. It is a metaphor for the banality and very ordinariness of evil. The Khmer Rouge were the greatest mass-murderers in the recent past, killing some 15% of their compatriots.
Ordinary Cambodians – farmers, artisans, bicycle-repairers, fishermen – were instruments of civilizational suicide. Similarly, perfectly normal Hutus went on the warpath in Rwanda against embattled Tutsis, attempting genocide. Ordinary Germans did the bidding of the Nazis; ordinary Europeans participated in an orgy of violence on innocent people during the horrifying Inquisition, dispatching thousands, especially women, in the most appalling ways.
And so with the Pakistanis. The young men of the Lashkar-e-Toiba and other terrorist outfits were not monsters to begin with: they were turned into what they are quite deliberately – they have been manufactured by a consciously-created system where they have no choice but to become monsters.
I was reminded of all this when I was listening to an archived podcast from 2007 of an interview with Philip Zimbardo, a retired professor from Stanford, whose celebrated “Stanford Prison Experiment” of 1971 was a startling practical demonstration of how evil is engendered. In 2006, Zimbardo wrote a new book, The Lucifer Effect, because he was struck by similarities between the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq and the Stanford experiment.
The experiment was simple: Zimbardo set up a simulated prison in the basement of one of Stanford’s buildings, and recruited 24 normal male college students for a two-week study of the behavior of prison guards and prisoners. The students were randomly assigned to either role and given uniforms or prison smocks to wear, but no specific instructions on behavior except that there must be no physical contact. Zimbardo himself acted as both ‘jail superindendent’ and research leader.
The results were startling: within 36 hours, the ‘guards’ started misbehaving, exerting their power over the ‘prisoners’. One of the prisoners had a nervous breakdown. Within three days, the guards were exhibiting brutal, sadistic behavior, and the prisoners were increasingly humiliated and oppressed. Several other prisoners also had nervous breakdowns. On the night of day five, sexual torture began: the prisoners were made to expose themselves, and to simulate sodomy with each other.
On the sixth day, a shaken Zimbardo abandoned the experiment, which had been slated to run for two weeks. He was shocked to realize that certain dangerous boundaries were being crossed, and that some of the participants might end up with permanent psychological damage.
The fact that perfectly normal, intelligent college students – they had been screened for any abnormality – could so easily be turned into sadistic monsters is astonishing. Apparently the situation had gotten the better of them:
Perhaps the normal human condition is indeed the Hobbesian “nasty, brutish and short”. Maybe “Lord of the Flies”, the book about a group of boys abandoned on an island evolving into a dictatorial society, is all too true. Perhaps the Law of the Jungle is indeed the right metaphor, much as we like to think of ourselves as civilized beyond fang and claw and might-is-right.
In a related study, the Milgram Experiment at Yale analyzed the willingness of volunteers to administer electric shocks to unseen victims based on orders from authority figures. It turned out that – with no gender differences – people were quite willing to torture people whom they had never met. (The shocks were simulated, and so were the recorded screams of the recipients, but the subjects didn’t know that.)
Zimbardo believes that it is not the individual’s own inherent tendencies, but the social situation around them that drives bad behavior. That can help us understand the pathology of the Pakistani situation. These young men have been told for such a long time that Indians and Hindus are evil and monstrous that they have internalized it. It is the environment that addles them. Therefore, expending a lot of effort on the arrest and prosecution of individual terrorists is not going to have a major impact, because they are expendable – there are many waiting in line, ready to step into their shoes. In that sense, it is immaterial what happens to Ajmal Kasab – he is simply cannon fodder, dispensable.
It is the system that is psychotic, and it is so by intent. That is why Pakistan refuses steadfastedly to move against those who have created the system: for instance, Hafiz Saeed of the Jamaat-ul Dawa (the current nom-de-guerre of the Lashkar-e-Toiba). The Pakistanis have refused again and again to prosecute Saeed, just as they refuse to extradite Dawood Ibrahim. These are strategic assets for the ISI. People like Hamil Gul, ex-ISI eminence-grise, have articulated the grim calculus of this perspective.
The system in Pakistan was put in place by General Zia-ul-Haq, who fundamentalized education, the Army, and the rest of society (it may be remembered that Zia in effect banned the use of the ‘Hindu’ sari, and encouraged the ‘Pakistani’ salwar-kameez). The textbooks were re-written to eulogize Central Asian invaders. History begins with the Arab invasion of Sind in 712 CE. The word ‘Hindu’ is always preceded by ‘cunning baniya’. The idea that a single Mohammedan soldier is worth ten Hindus in valor was put about, notwithstanding considerable evidence to the contrary.
American psychologist Sam Keen suggested in Faces of the Enemy that a major part of warfare lies in dehumanizing the enemy. Every nation has created extraordinary propaganda against its enemies: by internalizing this, young soldiers are able to kill other young men without compunction, because they believe the enemy are sub-human monsters intent on raping ‘our’ women, destroying ‘our’ nation, and so on. The book includes hundreds of posters, cartoons and other material from 20th century propaganda, which Keen calls the “archetype of the hostile imagination”.
Surely, there is Indian propaganda against Pakistan; however, it is on a secular plane, and does not target Pakistanis based on religion. In fact, average Mohammedans are better off in India as compared to anywhere else in the world, including, and especially Pakistan, where only the feudal upper classes (castes) live well. In North India (as seen in Vikram Seth’s “A Suitable Boy”, there is a certain admiration – justified or not – for some alleged nawabi high culture, possibly because using Farsi/Arabic is considered cultured by some.
And the leftists in the media are ever-ready to cry themselves hoarse in the service of poor Mohammedans. Not to mention a government with a Prime Minister who says without irony, “Muslims must have first claim on the nation’s resources”, which is, in passing, strange from someone sworn to uphold the religion-blind Constitution.
But that is not what Pakistanis believe. In encounters with middle-class Pakistanis in America and on the Internet, I have heard how glad they are that there is a homeland for subcontinental Mohammedans who would otherwise have been oppressed by Hindus. They are silent, however, when I point out that there are, in fact, two homelands, and how the one homeland couldn’t keep half of its inhabitants happy and started a genocidal war with them.
This incomprehension about India was seen in the transcripts of the conversations by the 11/26 terrorists with their handlers in Pakistan: the terrorists were obviously confused that India was not a whole lot like what they had been brainwashed into believing.
Thus, it is the environment, of radicalization and mind-games, that is creating a cadre of evil-doers. Any amount of ‘talks’ and ‘goodwill gestures’ and ‘walking the extra mile’ is unlikely to change the situation unless the hate-mongering institutions with a monomanical jihadi agenda are dismantled. So long as India cannot get Pakistan to do this, there will be an endless supply of cannon fodder.
There is another issue – terrorism has now become a job, and quite a lucrative one at that. Zimbardo is of the opinion that a lot of the brutality in the Stanford Experiment and at Abu Ghraib happened because of simple boredom, especially at night, when the guards had nothing better to do and wanted some entertainment – perhaps the ultimate in the banality of evil.
In the case of the Pakistanis, and, alas, in the case of a number of home-grown terrorists in India, terrorism has now become an easy and attractive job, with perks like foreign trips (eg. to Pakistan via Dubai to throw people off the scent), cash (including counterfeit Indian rupees shipped in container-loads), women (who will dare say “no” to an AK-47?) and so on. For an ill-educated youth with poor prospects, this must be like manna from heaven. This has been demonstrated in Kerala where a number of young men were trained and shipped off to J&K as mercenaries/jihadis to kill Indian soldiers.
Thus, the cognitive dissonance between the “they are just like us” ordinary citizens of Pakistan and the ruthless killers is a matter of their environment. Unless it is cleaned up, and the godfathers of the system such as Hamid Gul, Hafiz Saeed and Dawood Ibrahim forced to stand down, India – and (note to President Obama) the West — will continue to face evil and bleed. It is not the individuals, but the system of propaganda and inducement of hatred that is to blame. And that suits the Pakistani establishment just fine: it sustains their failing State.
November 27, 2008
rediff published this with some fairly significant edits at http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/dec/08mumterror-are-we-heading-to-being-a-failed-state.htm — to some extent the piece was rendered toothless — and so here is the original copy I sent them.
Towards a failed State – Ghori, Jaichand and friends redux
Rajeev Srinivasan on the attack on Mumbai
The invasion of Mumbai by Pakistani terrorists – and undoubtedly local collaborators – is but a replay of times past: the periodic and predictable arrival of barbarians over the Khyber Pass, laying waste to the countryside, and wreaking untold damage on a long-suffering populace. The only crime that the average Indian committed was to focus on the creation of wealth; of course, the barbarians came because of the wealth. Today, once again, India is generating capital, and the intention is to thwart its economic rise.
Then, as now, the rulers failed the populace. There is an implicit contract between the rulers and the ruled: you pay the taxes, obey the rules, and we ensure that your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness are unhindered. India’s ruling class failed signally to honor this contract – they never did figure out that the simple expedient of defending the Khyber and Bolan passes would be enough to save the plains, because Nature had been kind enough to build the impregnable Himalayas all around India.
I have never got a satisfactory answer to the question as to why we didn’t build the Great Wall of India. The Chinese built a 1,500-mile wall; Indians could surely have built a 15-mile wall and kept the marauders out. But there was clearly a failure in leadership and in strategic thinking. Time after time, the barbarians would pour in through the passes, march to Panipat or Tarain, and there, in a desperate last-ditch battle, the Indians would lose, again and again. The result: disaster.
Furthermore, there were traitors in-house, too. They would collude with the invaders to the detriment of their fellow-Indians. Jaichand, during the Second Battle of Tarain in 1192 CE, turned the tide of the battle by allying with Mahmud of Ghori against Prithviraj Chauhan, with the result that Northern India suffered 700 years of Mohammedan tyranny – it was a clear tipping point. Or take the battle of Talikota that ended the magnificient Vijayanagar empire: it was their own troops that betrayed them.
Fast forward to today. India is under withering attack on all fronts. To the east, there is the demographic invasion by Bangladeshis, including unhindered infiltration by terrorist elements. The entire Northeast is in danger of secession, given both the narrow and hard-to-defend Chicken’s Neck that connects the area to the Gangetic plain, as well as the Christian fundamentalism and terrorism that is on the verge of turning into a move to secede on religious and ethnic grounds, a la East Timor.
The northern frontier is restive, with Nepal, a former ally and buffer state transformed into hostile territory, with its porous borders turned into a way of infiltrating Mohammedan terrorists and Communist terrorists into India, with the declared intent of capturing the “Pasupati-to-Tirupati corridor”, in other words, most of the eastern half of the country.
China is making increasingly belligerent noises about Tawang and all of Arunachal Pradesh. They are gambling that, despite the summit that just took place in Dharmasala, the steam has gone out of the Tibetan resistance movement. They have been emboldened by the fact that Tibetans were not able to disrupt the Olympics, and the more immediate betrayal by the British (International Herald Tribune, “Did Britain Just Sell Tibet?” http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/11/25/opinion/edbarnet.php) , who declared, contrary to all the historical evidence, that Tibet was always a part of China. Besides, the Chinese fully intend to move forward with the diversion of the Brahmaputra, which is in effect a declaration of war against the lower riparian State, India.
It is likely that the Chinese will march into Tawang – there is a lot of chatter in Chinese circles (see, an analysis by D S Rajan at the Chennai Center for China Studies http://www.c3sindia.org/strategicissues/419) about a “limited India-China war”, a replay of 1962. The Chinese have, in addition to pure geopolitics, another reason to do this, as was pointed out by strategy expert Brahma Chellaney – as in the years preceding 1962, the world is now once again hyphenating India and China. By handing India a sharp conventional military defeat, China would like that hyphenation to be removed decisively, as it surely would be. India will once again be seen as the loser it has been during the entire 1947-2000 period.
In the Northwest, Kashmir burns. The population clearly views India as a colony – they want Indian money, but they are not willing to make the slightest concessions to Hindu sentiments. It is very convenient for them to have the cake and eat it too – there is the little-known fact that J&K has practically nobody under the poverty line (2% and falling), as compared to the average of some 20% in the country as a whole. Kashmiris have prospered mightily despite – or is it because of? – the brutal ethnic cleansing of 400,000 Pundits now languishing in refugee camps.
In the traditionally quiet Peninsula, there is evidence of tremendous terrorist activity. In Kerala, it has been reported widely in the Malayalam media that 300 youths have been hired, trained and dispatched to Kashmir with explicit instructions – kill Indian soldiers and support Pakistani intrusions. Terrorism is just another job. Sleeper cells exist in every town, sometimes in the guise of “Kashmiri emporia”. The Konkan and Malabar coasts are dotted with safe harbors, where weapons, counterfeit currency and contraband are cached. The preferred mechanism – bomb blasts to inflict maximum damage. Logistics, safe houses, surveillance, forged documents, etc. are provided by a wide network.
In the tribal lands of central India, the Northeast and in Orissa, Christian terrorists are joining hands with Communist terrorists. In fact they often are one and the same, as confessed by an alleged Communist leader on TV. Their preferred weapon – liquidation of inconvenient people, as they did in the case of Swami Lakshmananda, the 84-year-old monk that they attacked with AK-47s.
The fact is that all these threats are overwhelming the security apparatus in the country, such as it is. It is quite likely that the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing and the Anti-Terrorism Squad had some inkling of something big being planned, including the movement of small arms on the Ratnagiri coastline, and the logistics-related activities of known suspects. It is unclear why they didn’t take preventive action.
There is a terrifying possibility – that they in fact had no idea this was going on. There is an aphorism that you cannot stop all terrorist activity, but in India the situation is such that no terrorist activity is stopped – they strike at will, and the populace is left to pick up the pieces of broken lives. This is no way to run a country.
The frightening possibility is that the Jaichands have in fact taken over the State. In which case, we can anticipate the total dismemberment of India – possibly preceded by an interregnum where it is failed State – in the near future.
There is one other possibility – that the Army will have to take over. It is a remote possibility, for two reasons – the Indian Army has been determinedly apolitical; and the State has continually striven to weaken it. Someone once made the ridiculous statement that India really didn’t need an army, only a police force, and it appears the entire political class and bureaucracy have internalized this slogan.
From 1962 – as always, on November 18th I silently saluted the martyrs of the Battle of Rezang-La, where C Company, 13th Kumaon died heroically to the last man – when the ill-equipped troops froze to death on the Himalayan heights, to the refusal to increase military salaries when the bureaucrats awarded themselves 300% increases recently, the State has told the military that it doesn’t value them. All the Services are starved of funds. The recent open attack on Lt. Col. Purohit is another signal that the State despises the military . As Ashok Malik pointed out in the Pioneer (“A Hindu Dreyfus Affair?” http://www.dailypioneer.com/135567/A-Hindu-Dreyfus-Affair.html ), this is a near-repeat of the celebrated Dreyfus case in France, and alas, we have no Emile Zola to cry “J’accuse!” .
One possible outcome is that the Indian military forces will gradually wither away and die, thus making the statement about India not needing an army a self-fulfilling prophecy. There is another possibility – that of a military coup d’etat. Normally, the prospect of a military takeover – given that they all end up badly – from a democracy is not something one would welcome. But then India is not a democracy – it is a kakistocracy, rule by the very worst possible people – which has the trappings of a democracy but not the substance, so I wonder if military rule could possibly be any worse.
But the chances are getting increasingly good that the Indian State will collapse, just like Pakistan already has. A recent risk assessment by the World Economic Forum and CII (“India@Risk 2008”) considers the economic, energy, food/agriculture and national security that face India. The report is more concerned about the first three items, assuming that India is secure enough as a nation.
I hope they are right, but this invasion of Mumbai – so daring and audacious – makes me wonder. I have considered a nightmare scenario of Chinese battleships arriving in triumph at the Gateway of India, to be welcomed with marigold garlands by the Jaichands, but I have to admit I never thought a motley crew of Pakistani terrorists would invade. The very future of the Indian State, suddenly, is in question. And it is mostly from self-inflicted, avoidable wounds. The failure of leadership is causing India to cease to exist.
June 10, 2008
This was printed in the New Indian Express dated 10th Jun 08:
Here’s my original copy.
The fallout from the Olympic torch relay
By Rajeev Srinivasan
The Olympic torch relay was completed in China recently. and this was followed by the horrendous earthquake that leveled parts of Szechuan province. Apart from the human tragedies associated with both (including the protests that dogged the torch relay based on the genocide of Tibetans), the way the Chinese State has responded to both show some inklings of the way things work behind the Bamboo Curtain.
First, the Communists in charge of China pay enormous attention to symbols and pride, what East Asians call “face”. The Olympics are clearly their coming-out party, and they intend to impress the entire world with their new-found wealth and their march towards super-power-dom. Just as their neighbors in Japan and Korea announced their arrival on the world stage by staging the Olympics, China wants to host a perfect event, and they will stop at nothing to ensure this.
This is why the Chinese were so keen on ensuring that the torch relays went perfectly everywhere, and this explains their anger at disruptions in France and Britain. Interestingly, the only stop in the US, in San Francisco, was stage-managed through subterfuge: the torch took an unannounced path, so that protesters were fooled.
The Chinese State views the torch relay as the equivalent of an aswamedha yaga, wherein the emperor’s horse is free to wander as it pleases, and anyone who hinders it does so at the peril of facing his wrath. The vassal kings naturally pay obeisance. Thus, all the nations where the torch relay took place without incident are vassals of the Chinese King Emperor.
It is not surprising that the Indian government chose to bend over and kowtow to Chinese imperiousness. But the right thing for India to do once the violence in Tibet had commenced would have been to cancel the torch’s arrival in India altogether, citing security reasons. This would have been a painful snub to China, and quite appropriate to India’s role as the home of the Tibetan nation in exile. That would have got India respect.
Similarly, San Francisco was chosen – not New York, not Los Angeles – for the US appearance for good reason. It is because San Francisco was where the majority of Chinese coolies arrived. They built the railroads, and were discriminated against via the Asian Exclusion Act, which prevented them from owning property, marrying white women, or bringing Chinese brides. Thus the parading of China’s might where they were humiliated once upon a time.
Those who monitor the Chinese newsgroups on the net, or callers to talk shows, know how ultra-jingoistic Chinese people are. They are brought up on a steady diet of myths about great glory and great humiliation (by white imperialists) in the past. They cannot tolerate even the mildest criticism of their State or their country. The Communists are betting that by creating this new idol of nationalism they can stitch a large nation – well, actually an empire – together.
In this mythology, the Chinese State is remarkably similar to the German State between the two world wars. That too had memories of great Prussian glory, and the reality of great humiliation (by the victors in World War I). This led to a national psychosis, especially when mixed up with the idea of the Master Race. The same seems to be happening with China as well, with their vanity of being the Master Race (or Middle Kingdom) and their racist derision for all gwailo, foreign devils.
That brings up an interesting historical parallel: the Berlin Olympiad of 1936, which was intended to be the celebration of the ‘Aryan’ Master Race. Which it didn’t quite turn out to be, thanks to the black American runner Jesse Owens and others. Unless the Chinese win all the gold medals in Beijing, some ultra-nationalists will be upset.
But what is even more interesting is the parallels with both Berlin 1936 and Moscow 1980. Both were held when their respective empires were at their zenith. But by 1945, the Nazi empire was defeated; by 1990, the Russian empire had imploded. One possible future for China’s empire, then, may well be its collapse within the next ten years. After all, 60% of the land currently held in their iron grip by the Han Chinese belongs to Tibetans, Mongols, Uighurs, Manchus et al, who are not enamored of being second-class citizens in a Han-dominated land.
Of course, the other comparison is with Japan and Korea, both of which thrived. But there is a major difference: those other East Asian States had moved much further towards openness and democracy by the time they held their Olympics. China, as a one-party, totalitarian dictatorship is inherently unstable: they are playing a dangerous game encouraging ultra-jingoism, because that may well turn against the dictatorship itself.
But there are encouraging signs of realism on the part of the Chinese Communists. Although they have railed against His Holiness the Dalai Lama, using their customary unparliamentary language against him, nevertheless they are continuing a dialog with him. This is because they realize that there is considerable world opinion in support of the Tibetan cause. China’s modus operandi is to constantly test the limits; as soon as they get some push-back, they withdraw. China is not immune to world pressure.
Similarly, after the earthquake, China been remarkably open about the damage as well as the casualties. They have admitted that 10,000 have died. This is in marked contrast to their past behavior: in the 1970’s a dam burst and killed 100,000 people; the news was suppressed for thirty years. Similarly, they pretended that SARS and avian flu did not exist. There might be two reasons for this new-found candor: the demand for accountability from a more demanding population; and the darker possibility that this is an “Olympics Special”, and they intend to return to regularly scheduled opaqueness later.
If the Chinese State is on the way to becoming a more normal entity, and not a pathological misfit bent on imperialism, then that would be a good thing for all of Asia.
990 words, May 13, 2008
April 13, 2008
This was printed in the Pioneer, April 8th
Here’s my original, which has been slightly edited by the Pioneer. I made a factual error: Moscow was the 1980 Olympics, not 1984.
Are Tibet and Kashmir the same?
Rajeev Srinivasan on how China’s fifth-columnists are exculpating genocide
There has lately been a slew of articles and editorials in India’s English-language media about China’s inhuman genocide and reign of terror in Tibet. Some of these supported the state-perpetrated terrorism against oppressed Tibetans.
The media is merely reflecting the failings of the self-proclaimed “intelligentsia” in India. Their discourse is so distorted that what would be considered lunatic-fringe leftist in the real world is considered “centrist” in India. A true centrist would be, and is, deemed a lunatic-fringe right-winger, and is instantly demonized as a fascist and Nazi.
Therefore the usual perorations of the media can be taken with a large pinch of salt. A number of them support the Chinese, either out of an exaggerated sense of awe about China, or out of loyalty built up through boondoggle Potemkin trips or cold, hard cash.
But they attempt to intimidate people with a logical fallacy: they suggest that Indians have no right to comment on someone else violating human rights. Wrong. The fact that the Indian government may be violating human rights somewhere does not preclude any Indian individual from commenting on, or condemning, what the Chinese are doing. Evil has to be resisted.
Here are a couple of apt quotations: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”, attributed to Edmund Burke, a Briton.
“First they came for the Communists,
– but I was not a communist so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists,
– but I was neither, so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the Jews,
– but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out.
And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.,”
attributed to Martin Niemoller, a German, speaking about the Nazis.
Therefore, it is absolutely proper for anyone to speak out against gross human rights violations. Those who use rhetorical devices to try and shut people up are bullying and censoring others. They should be ignored and laughed at.
But I found something a little more outrageous in the perspectives of a few China hands, including the editor of a newspaper infamous for reprinting Xinhua propaganda verbatim, and a retired diplomat.
These worthies made the assertion that India must not say anything about Tibet because Tibet is just like Kashmir. This merits attention. In fact, they are right, amazingly enough, although for entirely the wrong reasons. Consider the analogies:
In Tibet, a bunch of outsiders, Han Chinese, invaded and are oppressing local Tibetans.
In Kashmir, a bunch of outsiders, Mohammedans, invaded and oppress local Hindus.
In Tibet, Han Chinese are murdering and ethnically cleansing Tibetans.
In Kashmir, Mohammedans have been murdering and ethnically cleansing Hindus.
In Tibet, Han Chinese are practicing civilizational genocide.
In Kashmir, Mohammedans are practicing civilizational genocide.
In Tibet, a Semitic belief (Communism) is wiping out an Indic faith (Tibetan Buddhism).
In Kashmir, a Semitic faith (Mohammedanism) is wiping out an Indic faith (Hinduism). Therefore, nobody is bothered, as it is the defined job of Indic faiths to be wiped out by Semitic faiths.
With these parallels, there is an exact match between Tibet and Kashmir. The media mavens are absolutely right. And just as the Congress government stood by and watched the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Hindus in Kashmir, the UPA government will stand by and watch the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Tibetans in Tibet. Therefore, on five points out of five, the match is perfect.
There is one difference. Tibetan Buddhism was created in the first place by the few monks who fled Nalanda with their lives when Mohammedan invader Bakhtiar Khilji burned the university to the ground circa 1192 CE (which in itself was a crime against humanity because of the knowledge lost), and beheaded every one of the Buddhist monks he found. Hinduism, specifically Kashmir Shaivism, on the other hand, was the faith of the region from times immemorial.
Ironically, the job was started by Bakhtiar Khilji is being completed by the Han Chinese. This is another example of the Communist/Han-Mohammedan axis, also seen in the A Q Khan Nuclear Wal-Mart. It appears Communists are irresistibly drawn to Mohammedans (although the reverse is not true: the latter liquidate the ‘godless’ Communists as soon as they cease to be ‘useful idiots’). There is an ‘understanding’ between China and Pakistan to keep the lid on Uighur nationalism and separatism.
It is amazing that when it comes to Chinese oppression of Mohammedan Uighurs, Pakistan somehow forgets that it is the owner of the “Mohammedan Bomb”. That, of course, may be because Pakistan’s Bomb is in fact a screwdriver job supplied by China.
Similarly, I look forward to my favorite media mavens’ dilemma when China starts to beat up on Uighurs, who, allegedly, are plotting terrorist attacks the Olympics. Who will said mavens support – Hans or Uighurs, Communists or Mohammedans? Surely they’ll support the hand that feeds them.
The proper solution to both the Kashmir and Tibet problems is the same: the perpetrators of oppression must be made to realize in no uncertain terms that you cannot get away with ethnic cleansing and genocide. Therefore, it must be made clear to the Mohammedans that India will never relinquish Kashmir. Similarly, it must be made clear to the Han Chinese that they will never be able to extinguish the spirit of the Tibetans.
Today, the Chinese look impregnable, and they are using the 2008 Olympics as a coming-out party, just as Japan and Korea did with theirs. But there is a difference: those nations were not oppressive empires at the time, just as India is not. Democracy has a way of dealing with conflict, which is not available to imperialists. It is quite possible that this is in fact the zenith of the Han empire, and that it is downhill from here on.
Let us remember that the historic independent nation of Tibet, which includes the Amdo and Kham regions, accounts for fully one-third of the land-mass controlled by the Han Chinese today. In fact, 60% of that entire land-mass is land that belongs to ethnic minorities. Han Chinese control could collapse, just as the Soviet Union’s Russian domination collapsed.
There are a couple of interesting historical parallels. In 1936, at the height of the self-glorification of the Nazi State, the Berlin Olympics were held. But in ten years, Nazism was dead and buried. In 1984, the Moscow Olympics were held when the Soviet Union looked like an invulnerable empire. In seven years, that empire imploded suddenly. In 2008, when the Han Chinese look, in turn, like masters of the universe, brutalizing others like Manchurians, Mongols, Uighurs and Tibetans. It will be interesting to see where they will be in ten years.
That is another way in which Tibet and Kashmir differ: Tibet may well lead to the unraveling of the Han Communist empire, while Kashmir is not going to affect the fabric of the Indian nation.
1170 words, April 3, 2008