Kashmir’s Freedom is India’s Freedom: Hum Kya Chahte? Azadi

I do not think ordinary Indians support the brutality of army occupation in Kashmir. Despite what the Indian state says, and despite what the Indian army and CRPF are doing, I honestly do not believe that any ordinary Indian supports the torture of young men, the blinding of people attending a funeral, the rape of women, the killings and maiming and abuse and humiliation that are now a routinized fact of daily life in the Kashmir valley. To believe that ordinary Indians enjoy watching this spectacle of violence, that ordinary Indians take pleasure in the torture of children, would be to think India is now a country comprised of sadistic psychopaths. I honestly do not think ordinary Indians are psychopaths. I do think, however, that ordinary Indians, and I count myself amongst them, have somehow managed, till now, to keep some distance between what is happening in Kashmir and the idea of India as a whole. After all, India is a large and complex country, a huge and diverse society. Everything that happens in Kashmir, the brutality of the army and the security forces, cannot signify the whole truth of India we tell ourselves. It seems somehow unfair to us ordinary Indians that what happens in Kashmir reflects on us all.

But the time has come now to squarely face some hard truths about ourselves, and the dissimulations, psychological and social, by which we continue to live in this country and call ourselves ‘Indians’. Continue reading “Kashmir’s Freedom is India’s Freedom: Hum Kya Chahte? Azadi”

No Country for Cricket: Umang Kumar

Guest post by UMANG KUMAR
I have to confess that there are many times that I too have wanted to stop supporting the Indian cricket team and root for some other team. And this is not just with the current lineup and their losses in South Africa and New Zealand. Why, even when Gundappa Viswanath failed in inning after inning, when, in the pre-Kapil days, Indian pacers (“fast medium”) like Karsan Ghavri and Mohinder Amarnath huffed and puffed, there were times I just wanted to say good riddance. Thank you India, I think I’ll switch allegiance – I’ll go support Clive Lloyds’ West Indies or Asif Iqbal’s Pakistan. Much better teams, so much more exciting to watch!

The Indian cricketers could neither bowl well nor defend modest totals with the bat. And they were lackluster on the field save that one saving grace, Eknath Solkar.
Continue reading “No Country for Cricket: Umang Kumar”

A tale of two passports, the year 1979, and walking to India: Fawzia Naqvi

Guest Post by Fawzia Naqvi

For the first time Pakistan’s elected President has completed his full five-year term and has willingly stepped down to transfer power to another elected President, a herculean achievement for a country with chronic dictatoritus.  The people of Pakistan must be congratulated for ensuring that democracy becomes an enduring grace and not just a good idea in some unforeseeable future.  So while there is earsplitting cacophony of debate and disagreement on virtually all issues, there is near unanimous political consensus that the army should remain in the barracks and that there should be peace with India. The time is now. And Pakistanis have accomplished this in an era when Pakistan is suffering its worst hellish nightmare of daily bombings and killings by terrorists, and a loss of over 40,000 of its own citizens in the last decade or so.  Pakistan teeters on the precipice of a very dark abyss, and has been inching ever closer to this dangerous edge for the last 34 years if not more. The first disturbing sign which I can remember was when the state institutionalized bigotry by officially declaring the Ahmadi community non-Muslim in 1974, opening up a hornets nest of discrimination, violence and unequal citizenship.  A tragic disaster, and fatal capitulation to right wing elements, by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. No one is really safe in today’s Pakistan but clearly those less safe, those hunted and killed are the Shias, the Christians, the Ahmadis and the Hindus. Those doing the killings have given insidiousness to the meaning of “the land of the pure.”

Continue reading “A tale of two passports, the year 1979, and walking to India: Fawzia Naqvi”

Why is Sachin Pilot in My Dreams? Or, Three Visas, and No More, to India: Fawzia Naqvi

Guest Post by Fawzia Naqvi

Sachin Pilot was in my dreams last night, with all due apologies to his wife, because I swear, I am not secretly fantasizing at all about India’s youngest cabinet minister. He just showed up. I think it was in Srinagar, though I’ve never been there, I swear. And why Srinagar? Well that’s another matter, requiring numerous sessions of therapy. But the good Minister made a cameo appearance and told me quite categorically that I had already been granted three visas to India and should expect no more. Don’t get me wrong. I like Minister Pilot. I admired the way he handled corporate America when he visited New York to deal with all the whining and complaining about Indian reforms and that pesky CSR Bill. But why is he in my dreams? An Indian friend tells me it’s because I’m constantly nervous about going to India. And herein lies the truth. I observe, analyze, obsess about, pontificate upon, call, email and travel to India more than most Pakistanis, without actually being a spy. Yes. Really. And I resent how easy the spooks have it. I’m guessing they aren’t dreaming about a finger wagging minister, ok Sachin Pilot, telling them they can’t get a visa! But such are the incessant covert and overt anxieties of Pakistanis like me who have careers involving India. And if Sachin Pilot, he of the new generation of Indian leaders is also telling me (in my dreams of course) that I can’t get a visa, then surely the news for Indo-Pak and hence my career, is not good. The twain of course is twinned.
Continue reading “Why is Sachin Pilot in My Dreams? Or, Three Visas, and No More, to India: Fawzia Naqvi”

The Curious Case of Hamid Ansari

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You may think he is a spy or a saboteur. If he is one, would he have spent months trying to reach Kohat from Mumbai and then get caught in just two days?

Sitting in Mumbai, Hamid Ansari fell in love with a Pakistani Pashtun girl over Facebook. He was a 26 year old management teacher, she was a B.Ed. student. After over a year of obsessing about each other over the internet, phone and phone messengers, she called him one day, crying. She had confided in her sister about this online affair, but the sister told the parents, who decided it was time to find her a husband. It was the last phone call. She soon disappeared from Facebook too. Continue reading “The Curious Case of Hamid Ansari”

Manmohan Singh must visit Pakistan

Dr Manmohan Singh with wife Gursharan Kaur at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on 1 January 2012
Dr Manmohan Singh with wife Gursharan Kaur at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on 1 January 2012

By SHIVAM VIJ: Which Indian or Pakistani premier has not desperately wanted to be the one to clinch peace between the two countries? Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has reportedly been keen, for years now, to go on a state visit to Pakistan.

Before the political climate could be conducive to Manmohan’s visit to Islamabad, 26/11 took place. Pakistan’s refusal to give Dr Singh even breathing space on the 26/11 investigations, followed by the LoC tensions in January and August this year, means that in his 10 years of prime ministership, Manmohan Singh will never have visited the country of his birth. Continue reading “Manmohan Singh must visit Pakistan”

What Indian school children learn about the Partition

I wrote recently about the surprising political maturity with which NCERT textbooks teach Indian students about the Partition. These textbooks were prepared under the National Curriculum Framework of 2005. This is of course not limited to the Partition chapter or indeed just the history textbooks. But I was particularly moved to see the Partition chapter. As you read it you realise what school textbooks can do in shaping how future generations see themselves, their own history and identity. I think a lot of people in both India and Pakistan would like to read it. Here it is: