Sunday, August 30, 2015



While reading Gopal Krishna Gandhi's argument against Aurangzeb  being brought to life by this act of renaming Aurangzeb Road after APJ Abdul Kalam (you may read the article at this link:, he has fallen into the familiar bogey of the Indian brand of secularism. What he is saying in effect is that while he completely agrees that Aurangzeb was evil, it is not advisable to discuss him in the open, as the debate would polarise the discourse. Besides, he contends that Aurangzeb's actions or Aurangzebiyat should be disconnected from him. This is rather disingenuous.
So the murderer of his father, brothers, nephew, and sister; the oppressor of the Hindus for their faith, the man who would not honour his words upon Qur'an (Reference: Zaffarnama of Guru Gobind Singh), and who would apply Sharia law in a Hindu majority country, the man who ordered the Sufi saint Sarmad and Guru Tegh Bahdur beheaded, who destroyed the temples of Kashi, Mathura and Somnath to build mosques on the sites; should not be discussed as it brings his ghost alive much to the discomfiture of many who either want to avoid Aurangzeb's Talibani narrative or secretly wish it to take root again. People need to know that Guru Tegh Bahadur was executed after being found guilty of blasphemy under Islamic Law. How was he different from the Taliban or Al Qaeda, if not ISIS?
Much though I admire the erudition of Gopal Krishna Gandhi (He was in the Mussoorie Academy last year to deliver a lecture to the common group of Phase V and Foundation Course IAS and Civil Services officers), I find this timidity to tackle an extremist narrative head-on a typical weakness of liberal democratic countries. It can be seen in Obama's assertion when he says that what ISIS is doing is not Islam, whereas every follower of ISIS believes that they are doing exactly what is contained in the Islamic scriptures. Even Europe was living in this world of make-believe till Charlie Hebdo happened and they woke up with a rude shock. India too has to counter the hate narrative contained within post-Quranic Islam with a counter narrative - not only of the syncretic values epitomised by APJ Abdul Kalam and Sarmad but also to emphasize the Indian spiritual thought which considers unquestioning belief the lowest form of spiritual calling, and even that Bhakti Yoga process or path is a completely non-violent one. This blending of Bhakti Marg and Sufism is what Dara Shikoh (some Persian lovers would prefer it as Dara Shukoh but Dara Shikoh is what India at large knows him as) was attempting when Aurangzeb's extremist Islam won - not in the heart of Indians or the battlefield of ideas but on the battlefield of war of succession.
For the first time, I am making public a letter written by Muhammad Akbar, the second son of Aurangzeb to Sawai Ram Singh of Jaipur. This is part of the documents and firmans kept preserved in the State Archives of Bikaner and form part of the extraordinary research of Dr. Mahendra Khadgawat, Director of that Institute. The original letter written in the style of a firman is followed by its Hindi translation. Even his own son avers in this letter that Aurangzeb is biased against Hindus and his father's actions portray his prejudice.

It is clear as crystal to any impartial observer that the only thing common between APJ Abdul Kalam and Aurangzeb was their love for playing Veena. Even these cultural activities were banned by Aurangzeb as he became more and more radicalised and gave up the more tolerant style of his predecessors. He decided to bring in the extreme Arabic version of Islam into a country in which Muslims were in a considerable minority. Forced conversions, imposition of a religious tax on kaafirs (infidels or non-believers), destruction of holy sites, extreme forms of torture of adversaries all led to a collapse of authority and rebellions broke out everywhere. He first tried to annex Rajput kingdoms, but that resulted in loss of authority in North India. Then Marathas and his own son, Akbar rose up in revolt and he had to spend last 26 years of his 49 year rule in the Deccan playing a game of roulette with the Marathas and Bahmani sultans. His foolhardy ventures ultimately paved the way for the end of Muslim rule and Sharia Law in India forever. Even Pakistan hasn't been able to bring full fledged Sharia Law of the Aurangzeb era.
So both the apologists for Aurangzeb, and those unwilling to confront his ghost have to just take a gulp and adjust to the new realities. The Aurangzeb narrative must be discussed, confronted and defeated. No use evading it on the grounds of a hollow secular argument. There was  nothing secular in what Aurangzeb did nor is there anything secular in the ideology that he sought to impose on India. Kalam, on the other hand, is the very embodiment of India's secular ethos in the Dara Shikoh mould.
Aurangzeb, therefore, is a ghost which India has to openly exorcise.  As the progenitor of Aurangzebiyat, he cannot escape scrutiny on the basis of some phoney differentiation. Aurangzeb and Aurangzebiyat are one. Three fourths has been done by renaming Aurangzeb Road as APJ Abdul Kalam Road, let the remaining one fourth be done by renaming Aurangzeb Lane as Dara Shikoh lane.

Saturday, August 22, 2015



The charade of Indian MSM discussing the India-Pakistan engagement in a typically shrill and surcharged manner is nothing new, but the discourse plummeted to such abysmal depths of naïvétè and stupidity that one really wondered whether whether IQ of our premier journalists has just evaporated or is driven so much by personal agendas that all sense of perspective has been lost.
Contrast this with reporting in the Pakistan media. They seem to have got a far better measure of Indian diplomacy than the Indians. All their major newspapers highlighted the success of India's diplomacy after the PM Modi visited UAE and brought off a diplomatic coup with remarkable dexterity. A Pakistani news service carried the headline "Modi steps into the wedge between Pakistan and UAE". All the Pak newspapers carried balanced account of PM Modi's new diplomacy of connecting India from Far East to UAE and even Iran and Israel. They highlighted his statement made with steely flourish that India would move on with, without or despite those who don't care to join in. Nobody could miss the reference. Pakistan media got that and so did Pakistan establishment.
Given this background, I find it extremely naïve on part of our big names of journalism to entirely miss the point that talks between India and Pakistan would actually have been a big reward to Pakistan and India loses nothing if the talks are called off. US, Afghanistan, Iran, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Central Asia are all tilting against Pakistan and therefore, India has no reason to reward Pakistan with talks at this point. Ufa was a brilliant gambit by the PM. It could be turned into a success only by someone who had an accurate understanding of how things would pan out after the Ufa declaration. It happened exactly as scripted. Credit for this would go to Jaishankar, not Doval. It's a brilliant and emphatic diplomatic victory. Jaishankar understood exactly what the reaction would be from the Pak Army. He understood that Pak Army has all the levers but their understanding of diplomacy is of the sledgehammer variety, not the silken variety. So what would the Pak Army do - exactly what it did. It was such a no-brainer that when we see our experts and journalists shouting themselves hoarse and lamenting the collapse of talks, they fail to realise that India has pushed Pakistan into exactly the place it wanted to. Ask Christine Fair who has been saying right since the day Ufa declaration was made that talks reward Pakistan and enable them to perpetuate the cycle of terror-talk-terror. No clearer articulation of India's position has been made in decades the way it was done by the EAM Swaraj today, who brought home the distinction between talks and dialogue. 
So to summarise. India's push with UAE, USA's refusal to certify Pakistan's sincerity in disrupting terror networks in Afghanistan, Afghanistan Vice President's threat to attack militant shelters across the Durand Line are all part of a pattern. Expect Pakistan to come unstuck very soon. Of course, there will be the usual Pakistan response on the LOC and through activation of their good terrorist networks. Nothing new there.

Get a life, Indian MSM. Rejoice at a great victory of Indian diplomacy