Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What will the White House say?

....An online petition urging Obama administration to cancel White House invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for 2002 Massacre of Muslims has gathered over one lakh signatures, a minimum requirement for eliciting an official response.....
Most likely the official response would be that we (USA) respect the verdict of the (Indian) people, hundreds of millions of them, amongst which there are people from all faiths and communities. That an unprecedented 8% of muslims voted  for the BJP (true). That the BJP got more votes (25% for BJP, 33% for BJP led coalition) from scheduled castes (Dalits) than the Congress and the highest profile party (BSP) of the Dalits (true). That the BJP got more scheduled tribes (Adivasis) votes than anybody else (true).
The actual problem is deeper (and more sinister). Out of the 87 Lok Sabha seats (16% of total seats) where Muslims are over 20 per cent of the population, the BJP won 42 as opposed to just 15 seats in 2009. That the voice of 15 per cent of the country’s population could be rendered ineffective expresses a paradox present in our democracy. 

Even that is not quite the full picture. The BJP probably got a huge chunk of Shia votes (and Bohra, Ahmadi, Ismaili and other minority Islamic sects) based on the enemy of my enemy is my friend principle. In Lucknow and in Varanasi (the constituency of the Leader) the Shia vote may have played a significant role in boosting the vote margin (Rahul Gandhi was discredited in part because his winning margin went down).  

What we are really talking about is the disenfranchisement of the Sunnis of India. While Gujarat is important, Ashrafs and Brahmins (as cultural leaders) must find a formula for co-existence. We are not qualified to offer wisdom to the religious but here are a few suggestions for a Hindu-Muslim Co-existence Code.
A multi-faith leadership team to declare Ram as an Imam and Mohammad as an avatar of Vishnu. A truth and reconciliation commission which will (among other things) establish a common standard for commemorating historical events (our heroes are NOT their villains...etc.). A zero-tolerance policy against communal violence and a rapid rehabilitation program for past victims. A guest worker program so that South Asians can travel across borders without harassment. A time-limited embargo on conversion (and re-conversion), ban on pork and beef consumption in public places, honoring noise pollution standards when conducting religious ceremonies, reforming personal laws so as to meet the no discrimination against women standard.  

Since we are unable to enforce secularism in the public place (like France) we must have a big-tent religious movement...perhaps by co-opting the Hindutva movement. The easiest way is to infiltrate and create pressure groups within the BJP. The idea is not that far-fetched.  

The principal Sikh political-religious outfit (Akali Dal led by Parkash Singh Badal) has been a long term ally of the BJP. The present BJP president Amitbhai Anilchandra Shah is a Jain. The BJP has partnered with the Buddhists in Ladakh and neo-Buddhists in Maharashtra. The Parsi industrialists (Tata, Godrej,..) have strongly backed the BJP. Even the Christian denominations in Kerala and Goa have not been averse to bonding with the BJP.  

As always, it is the two nation theory that continues to divide the two main communities and it is past time that we do something about this. It is very important that we do so.
There are a few other problems that needs to be highlighted as well in the upcoming high stakes morality game. In the recent (not-concluded) Gaza war, the ammunition for the Israeli Defense Force was provided by the USA and the missile defense barrier - the Iron Dome - was paid for (in large part) by the Americans. America stands alone in its diplomatic defense of Israel's actions. The number of muslims killed in Gaza 2014 is about the same as that of Gujarat 2002 (the head-count does not include the drone led civilian deaths that expanded greatly under Obama). Will there now be a petition to ban Obama from meeting with himself?

Also this is assuming that muslims killed by non-muslims is a special case of grievance. Muslims have killed other muslims, the wrong type of muslims in the past, with American arms, ammunition and full-throated diplomatic support. Gary Bass has written about Archer Blood (American counsel general in Dhaka) and the Blood telegrams that provide direct evidence of America's collusion in the genocide in Bangladesh, in support of which Nixon had dispatched the USS Enterprise to the Bay of Bengal (see below). Why is this not considered as the "father" of Gaza? Where is the petition for war crimes trials against Kissinger and others? If there is a expiry date for victims then we should be told.

Polling by Pew shows the long-term impact of long-distance thuggery. Today it is America (not India) that is considered as the greatest threat/enemy by the Sunni world. This includes Pakistan which has promised to wage a thousand year war with India. Even moderate islamic countries like Indonesia claim that USA is the greatest threat (as well as the biggest ally). Only Bangladeshis "love" USA and "hate" India - driven by fear of the big brother next door.

We have no objections to petitions (they help in raising awareness) but what the Gujarati Muslims (and all other riot victims and displaced citizens of India) really need is justice in time. If the state is unable or unwilling to help the non-state actors must come forward. Some progress has been made but it is never enough, plus there are more and more new victims spread all around the country.

The long-term solution to improving community relations is less polarization based on a true secular agenda. That is usually the job of the left, but somehow the left has lost its ability to persuade the people. Unless the left is re-vitalized, the rightists forces on all sides of the fence will dominate. The divisions will grow and the killings will continue unabated. 

An online petition urging Obama administration to cancel White House invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for 2002 Massacre of Muslims has gathered over one lakh signatures, a minimum requirement for eliciting an official response.

The petition was launched on July 21 by US based rights group Sikh For Justice (SFJ) after US invited Indian PM for a Summit at White House effectively reversing the 2005 ban on Modi's entry and visa to United States imposed by Bush administration. Obama's invitation was followed by Secretary Kerry's visit to India who said US looked towards productive and fruitful summit.

SFJ used Facebook to garner gross root support from the Americans and 100,000 threshold was achieved a week before the White House deadline of August 20. "The overwhelming response to the petition indicates that strong anti-Modi sentiments exist among the American," said SFJ legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

Reasoning why Obama should cancel summit with Modi, the petition cites New York Times April 16, 2014 report stating "mobs of Hindus rampaged, raped, looted and killed in a spasm of violence that raged for more than two months. Mothers were skewered, children set afire and fathers hacked to pieces. About 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed. Some 20,000 Muslim homes and businesses and 360 places of worship are destroyed, and roughly 150,000 people were displaced".

Pannun said that now the petition had crossed the required threshold and now Obama administration would have to answer the Americans as to why a leader, who was earlier treated as human rights violator, was being hosted at White House. Obama's invitation to Indian PM is a deliberate violation of US laws which prohibit entry of officials like Modi who have committed gross human rights violations, added Pannun.


[ref. Wiki] The Task force was to be headed by USS Enterprise, at the time and still the largest aircraft carrier in the world. In addition, it consisted of amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli (LPH-10), carrying a 200 strong Marine battalion and twenty five assault helicopters; The three guided missile escorts USS King, USS Decatur, and USS Parsons; four gun destroyers USS Bausell (DD-845), USS Orleck (DD-886), USS McKean (DD-784) and USS Anderson; one ammo ship USS Haleakala (AE-25); and a nuclear attack submarine. 

The Enterprise was assigned by the Central authority, while the other ships were assigned by local commanders. Enterprise was at this time at the Tonkin Gulf area. Recovering her airborne aircraft and transferring personnel who were required to stay to the USS Constellation (CV-64), she prepared to head off. The task force was delayed while the support ships refueled, it held off East of Singapore, and was ordered into the Indian ocean on 14 December crossed Malacca straits on the nights of 13–14 December and entered the Bay of Bengal on the morning of 15 December The group was required to proceed slowly, averaging a speed of 15 knots, both to conserve fuel as well as to allow advance information on its heading.

Link: http://Online-petition-urging-US-to-cancel-invitation-to-Modi-crosses-one-lakh-signatures



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