Path to Purgatory — Hasan Ghias

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Massive protest against CAA,NRC in Bengaluru on December 23.

HASAN GHIAS | Caravan Daily

THE road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but it is lies that pave the short cut to damnation. And when lies masquerade as good intentions, then we are surely on the fast track to purgatory. That is where we seem to be, thanks to five and a half years of a dispensation that promised ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’, delivering neither.

What was delivered instead was the greatest act of public betrayal since independence, deceitfully packaged as a panacea for the afflictions of corruption, counterfeit currency and black money. In reality, demonetization was a demon that eviscerated the entrails of the economy sending it into a tailspin.

While the rich found back-door ways of turning their old currency notes into new, the poor waited endlessly in queues to exchange their meager savings, some even dying in the ordeal. It was a cruel act portrayed as a miracle cure for the nation’s economic ills. What was presented as a healing potion turned out to be poison. Just as the much touted black money stashed abroad did not show up as a fifteen lakh credit in each Indian’s bank account, so also the advertised benefits of demonetization proved illusory. That demonetization was a disaster is not in doubt; the extent of the damage is still unfolding.

Deflection of public attention needs decoys, and there has been no dearth of them. Raising red herrings will distract public consciousness away from the real and substantive bread and butter issues, so priorities must be redefined and rearranged. Even as the economy was suffering from the double whammy of demonetization and a clumsily enforced GST, topping the legislative agenda was triple talaq. Never mind that the Supreme Court had already declared the practice invalid; it was still very important to punish with imprisonment a crime that never happened.
That done, what next? Kashmir of course. How handy the old chestnut of Article 370! Substantially hollowed out anyway, why not deliver it the death blow, particularly when approbation is assured. Along with Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, out goes Article 35A that restricts the right to own real estate in Kashmir to residents of the State.
Several other states of the Indian Union have similar protections, but a Muslim-majority state would be an unacceptable anachronism in the Hindu Rashtra. So its demographics must be changed. There is no need to reinvent the wheel – Israel is already doing it through settler colonies in the West Bank. We just have to emulate. But Israel is an occupation force; we profess not to be. Well, these are mere details that need not confuse us.
The Vale of Kashmir is not a land without people, as the Zionists pretended Palestine to be. An inconvenient fact is the presence of eight million Kashmiri Muslims. To wish away the people, we have to take away their voice. Hence the communications black out and the wholesale imprisonment of not just the political leadership but a very large number of Kashmiri Muslims who could speak up.
But locking up people is not a permanent solution. Sure, but degrading the status of Jammu & Kashmir from a full fledged State to a mere Union Territory need not be temporary. In an Orwellian twist, the voice of the people can then be vested in a State-appointed Governor, whose assistance proved so valuable when the status of Jammu & Kashmir was changed through a sleight of hand, the legality of which has yet to be determined by the Supreme Court.
But what about the Kashmiri Pandits who were forced to flee their homes more than three decades ago during a violent insurgency in which many lost their lives? Circumstances must be created for them to securely return to their homes in the Kashmir Valley and resume a life of honor and dignity. But they must not be used as Trojan horses to further the sinister objective of changing the demographics of the Kashmir Valley via a settlers policy in the Israeli mold. That would be nothing short of treachery against the people of Kashmir, Muslims and Pandits alike.
Snatching away the rights of eight million Kashmiri Muslims is a walk in the park when compared with the gigantic task of disenfranchising two hundred million Muslims in the rest of India. This appears to be the real purpose behind the combination of the the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). When you take away their citizenship, you also rob them of their respectability, their property, their livelihood and, of course, their vote. This will be the realisation of the dream of BJP’s ideological inspiration, Golwalkar, who wrote :
“From the standpoint sanctioned by the experience of shrewd nations, the non-Hindu people in Hindustan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and revere Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but the glorification of Hindu nation i.e. they must not only give up their attitude of intolerance and ingratitude towards this land and its age long traditions, but must also cultivate the positive attitude of love and devotion instead; in one word, they must cease to be foreigners or may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment, not even the citizen’s rights.”
Not even citizen’s rights! And the edict applies to all non-Hindu people in Hindustan. This, then, seems to be the end objective in the service of which so many lies are being dressed up in the garb of good intentions.
Ideologically blinded, the BJP government seems to have learnt nothing from the NRC experience in Assam. Almost two million people, mostly the poorest of the poor, more than half of whom are Hindus, have been declared illegal at enormous cost. How many tens of millions will meet the same fate in a nationwide exercise? How many detention centers will be needed to house them, how will they be fed, what will the total cost to the exchequer be of this monumental folly? What will be the administrative complexity of this mammoth exercise and its accompanying risks, including bias, bribery, mischief and misclassification? Yet the Government seems to be stubbornly pushing ahead with its recipe for ruin, clueless, eyeless, and mindless.
“Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shine;
Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine!
Lo! thy dread empire, Chaos! is restored;
Light dies before thy uncreating word:
Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall;

And universal darkness buries all.” ( Alexander Pope)

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Hasan Ghias comes from India and has had a long and successful career as a senior business executive in the Gulf. He is a Sloan Fellow of the London Business School and an Advanced Leadership Fellow of Harvard University

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