Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Well-said, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh!

Commentators may interpret Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 29 June 2011 comment on Bangladeshi people as incautious and politically incorrect. However, my comprehension of Mr Singh forbids me to draw such a conclusion. Firstly, Mr Singh is a highly competent statesman with track record of careful statements and subtle gestures; secondly, this was an important interview of the Prime Minister with senior editors of Indian media outlets and after his meeting with them he made its transcript public through the Internet.

A clever man like Mr Singh with an Oxford PhD in economics under his name, after making an inadvertent mistake, would immediately realize the slip-up and would not imagine posting the text of the interview on his website. The fact that Prime Minister Singh later took away few words from the transcript does suggest that he was hasty and impetuous in making the statement and then in publishing it.

What did he say there? I can deduce two important things from Prime Minister Singh's 29 June 2011 interview with senior Indian journalists: 1. 25% of Bangladeshi population who are affiliated with or support Jamaat-e-Islami are anti-Indian, and the rest are presumably India-lovers. 2. Despite being a poor™ country, India offered Bangladesh Rs. 1 billion debt. Like anyone familiar with South Asian politics, Mr. Singh knows very well that both these two claims are false and fraudulent. For very good reasons, the percentage of anti-Indian people in Bangladesh is much higher than what Mr. Singh was ready to admit. With Indian intelligence agency, RAW, crisscrossing the country, he is fully aware that Jamaat-e-Islami does not have 25% popular support and for Mr, Singh's kind information they are not 75% of Bangladeshi population.

Since the birth of Bangladesh in 1971, India has been hostile to the Bangladesh and Bangladeshis. In the wake of the 1971 war in Bangladesh in which India took part to defeat Pakistan for its own political interests, Indian soldiers plundered many of Bangladesh's cantonments and siphoned many arms and ammunitions to their country. In 1975, India completed the Farakka Barrage across the Ganges River near Chapai Nawabganj District of Bangladesh, which has significantly cut off Bangladesh's legitimate water supply and rendered many areas in the country artificially dry. Now, having a puppet regime in Bangladesh, India is in the process of building a dam (Tipaimukh Dam) unilaterally near the other end of Bangladesh. This proposed dam will affect two major rivers of Bangladesh, Surma and Kushiara, and the life of a great number of people who depend on these for livelihood.

Thanks to the leverage of Indian government and media, much of the international community is in the dark about India's atrocities on the Bangladeshis in the border region. Indian border security personnel have been killing poor Bangladeshis for a very long time, and the number of casualties crossed one thousand some time ago. After Gaza, Bangladeshi border with India is the second such scene of carnage where killings have gone unabated. The difference is that, massacres in Gaza are highlighted in the media, whereas the sufferings of Bangladeshis in the border region are not covered adequately even by a section of Bangladeshi media allegedly funded by the Indian intelligence agency.

Under the auspices of Mr Singh's government, India has built innumerable phensidyl factories around the border, as a result of which the entire Bangladesh is now flooded with this illegal product. Needless to say, since 2009, the puppet government in Dhaka has been lenient in preventing its import in Bangladesh̢۪s black markets. And Bangladesh's border force has been ominously weakened through the Pilkhana carnage of 25-26 February 2009. Some commentators believe that there is a link between the illegal importation of the contraband phensidyl products in Bangladesh and the weakening of Bangladesh's border forces.

A dominant section of Indian media and its intelligentsia have been portraying Bangladesh as a country full of terrorists and
militants. This negative portrayal has terribly hampered the country's economy. Even many Muslim countries now show reluctance to recruit Bangladeshi workers in their country, and thus Indian workers and economy become the beneficiaries. For these and dozens of other genuine reasons, most of the Bangladeshis hate India. Jamaat-e-Islami does not have any monopoly on hatred to India in Bangladesh, as it goes across political parties.

Now, how generous is India that it has promised Rs. 1 billion debt to Bangladesh! Mr. Singh's assertion of generosity is not only false but also hypocritical. He knows very well that the patriots in Bangladesh fiercely opposed the Bangladeshi puppet government's move to take this loan which they feared would make their beloved country hostage to India;s economic power. Many Bangladeshis believe that this loan is a kind of bribe to the puppet regime in Dhaka. Mr. Singh did not mention another mode of his country's ˜generosity to Bangladesh. Its intelligence wing RAW spends huge amount of money in Bangladesh to buy local agents to serve India's interests. The beneficiaries of this generosity are some political leaders, university professors, journalists, and other power wielders who always try to look after India's advantages at the expense of Bangladesh's future. It is mainly this section of Bangladeshis who love India, and for Mr, Singh's kind information they are 75% of Bangladeshi population.

Why did Mr Singh make such a statement? He knows better. But I have my humble interpretation. By this time, it has been crystal clear to him that popular support to his puppet government in Bangladesh is rapidly decreasing. So he may have been advised by his intelligence moguls to intervene in Bangladesh politics more directly if circumstances demand it for the sake of Indian interests. Once his government has to take such a move, he will have to tell the international world that he has done so to rescue Bangladesh from the 25% Islamic fundamentalists of Jamaat-e-Islam. As western powers used the ploy of Taliban in Afghanistan, India may dream to use the slogan of Islamic fundamentalism to interfere more directly in Bangladesh's internal matters. Perhaps, for this to be done, Mr. Singh has to exaggerate Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islam's popular support and to imaginatively reduce Bangladesh's dislike of India to only 25%. What we see in Afghanistan and Iraq makes us dread to think of such a disaster in Bangladesh; but this may be the message India has been trying to convey to us by frequently sending high political and military officials to our country over and over again. May God help Bangladesh!

I have one request to Mr. Singh. Please make no mistake of being overly ambitious with regard to suppressing Bangladeshi people. It is not long ago when they fought against Pakistan to achieve independence which was by no means to be subjugated by your country. You please stop oppressing Bangladeshis and harming our national interests. If you can do that, you do not have to spend money through your intelligence agency on earning our love for your counry. We have a good reason to be grateful to India: you people rescued us in 1971. What discourages us to love India is the ill treatment we have been receiving from the country,

Shock & Awe Talk: Of Turbans and legitimacy of pro-Indian Bangladeshis

"Stupidity is an elemental force for which no earthquake is a match" Karl Kraus
  • No one could quite give me a sure fix on timing of the recent take by Indian Premier Mahmohan Singh and his remarkable xenophobia that at least 25 per cent of the population of Bangladesh swears by the [Jamaat-e-Islami] and they are very anti-Indian, and they are in the clutches, many times, of the ISI. When I say 'timing' what I really want to know is precisely when during the 24 hours cycle we call a day, were the above words uttered? 
  • My intention here is to give Mr.Singh a benefit of the doubt. Was it just past 12 in the afternoon? A time of the day that some very distasteful puns from the past infer, is really not the best for any Sardarji worth his turban? Apparently the heat that builds up inside the Sikh headgear of faith is so intense at mid-day that it makes them err on side of caution. Their sight, hearing and overall mental bearing become a trifle traumatized!
  • The let down felt by Bangladesh is understandable. The Awami League, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Ministry will have to burn a lot of midnight oil to enforce damage control, especially when the Opposition will chuckle…..ahaa isn't it what we have always said about India, the behemoth, the hegemony?  For now it seems all good work done by the pro-India Awami League at appeasing India after it was installed in power by a brute majority - is just not working or just not good enough. 
  • The real fear and fault line is exposed in the second part of Singh's statement. [The] political landscape in Bangladesh can change at any time. We do not know what these terrorist elements, who have a hold on the [Jamaat-e-Islami] elements in Bangladesh, can be up to'. No one from India could placate us as of now, whether the personal fear psychosis of the Indian Premier is likely to turn infectious and cascade down to common Indians in pandemic proportions……..
  • More salt to wound, the words terrorist elements and in this particular case Islamic, is exactly the sort of thing that the terrorist leaders of the US-led War on Terror would like to hear! One may easily conclude that it is India in its own overheated imagination that is hell bent upon pursuing an enemy with ISI links in Bangladesh territory, when the reality is, they do not exist. Brings us to the question: is Delhi looking at doing a Baghdad on Dhaka? 
  • The Awami League meanwhile has opened up one too many fronts in the domestic political scenario and doing a fantastically bad job of it! To imagine that it will also embrace India's narco-fantasia and take on imagined Hezbollah like armed Islamic elements embedded within 25 percent of our population is a mirage that will lead to collective political hara-kiri. For Jamaat e Islami  this must be the glorious moment they were waiting for. Finally no less than the Indian Premier thinks we are a worthy enemy – Subhanallah! 
  • These are ominous signals, because unknown to Mr.Singh the Jamaat e Islami  has been successfully defanged not by the Government or any political party worth its name, but by the people of Bangladesh. His statement is therefore seen as an insult to the very same people, who in recent years have withstood religious extremism, confronted and marginalized the bigots.  
  • True the Awami League check list of goodies delivered to India is impressive! It has arrested and handed over North Eastern insurgent leaders, but they were never terrorists as no weapons were ever recovered. Quite simply these were anti-India elements who with their families had sought shelter in Bangladesh territory for fears that they may be killed back home.   
  • Also, not even one of the hundreds of terrorist camps pin-pointed hysterically by Indian Intelligence RAW and bad mouthed by its media were ever discovered! On the flip side many Bangladeshi nationals with criminal records (and they include real terrorist, Mafia dons and murderers) are being harbored across the border as I write. We haven't seen India do us the great honor of a good neighbor by arresting and deporting them back to Bangladesh. Why? 
  • While everything is up for conjecture, as things stand, the clarification on 2nd July, 2011, that the remarks made by Mr.Singh were off the record and not meant to be judgmental, may appear on surface to be one of those things that happens occasionally between neighbors. However on deeper introspection one cannot help overlook the atypical mentality of the Indian ruling class that views Bangladesh with contempt, hostility and unwanted suspicion. These seemingly koochie-koo innocent non-judgmental aspersions are barbs and ones that India will have to pay heavily in the days to come.
  • The 25 percent population equation is only a continuation of the old run-of-the- mill Indian RAW propaganda, and it is not as if Bangladesh doesn't know why it is happening. Disturbing is the fact that all of the above occurred in a meeting between Mr.Singh and supremos of India's fourth estate which for long has been a centripetal receptor for all open source intelligence, intrusive espionage and propaganda that guides and drives the Republics foreign/defense policy.
  • Add to that the common knowledge that India's fourth estate is communal, rabidly anti-Bangladesh and that too because of a situational imbalance. The majority of Bangladeshi's are unfortunately  Muslims and it matters little whether it is a pro or anti-India Government in power. Therefore it is not at all surprising that Mr.Singh could specifically identify 25 percent of our anti-India population who swear by the Jamaat e Islami, making it legit perhaps in a round about way that they also swear by the Quran? The equations go awry in these changed times.
  • Calling apples apples and oranges oranges, it is insinuation such as the above that has done the greatest damage to Bangladesh-India relation in the past 40 years. All Mr.Singh has done is to pour fresh combustibles thereby giving communal elements across the border a head-start to trigger a new round of demonization of Bangladesh. This isn't about any miscalculation or a faux pas. This is willful and deliberate.
  • Drumming up support for its proxy war with Pakistan and imaginary ISI cohorts in Bangladesh territory is in essence India, opening up a new and a most undesirable front.  But is it equipped or even capable of handling the onslaught that will surely follow?  Press report quoting an aide to the Bangladesh Prime Minister on 4th July 2011 that the Indian premier would communicate with Sheikh Hasina to explain his remarks on Bangladesh, doesn't quite sound like sweet music to anybody's ear either. Bangladesh – not India stands to be the loser and we haven't heard the last word yet.
  • If we are not to lump in too many issues and look for a common one glove fits all solution, the question of enormous significance: assuming that Mr.Singh's contention that 25 percent of the population is anti-Indian is true, does it imply that the rest 75 percent of the population of Bangladesh are PRO-INDIAN ? Let's take a digressive break.
  • What is the real percentage of the population of India who are patently pro-Indian?  Seventy percent of the country's geographical territory has low to medium intensity guerrilla warfare, insurgencies and national liberation/self determination movements at any given time. From the vast swath of North East India, despite Bangladesh's initiatives in handing over rebel leaders, anti-India elements still rule the roost and the problems are enormous.
  • Peace remains elusive and there is no end to systematic oppression and genocide in Kashmir. The (Naxalite) Maoist guerrilla movement covering territories from Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal is considered India's largest internal security threat. The participants are up in arms against India – and they also happen to be non-Islamic terrorist movements. Clearly religion is just NOT the sole issue that makes more Indian's than Bangladeshi - ANTI-Indian.
  • India despite its facade of a regional superpower has more poor per capita living within its territory than any other country in the world. Add to that the misery of the have not's and the unending resistance to Delhi that continue to dog its existence and is a grave drain on its resources and military? With almost 70 percent of his own population, his own people up in armed resistance, Mr.Singh should best concentrate on how to deal with the rats in his own kitchen. There is no reason for him to kill a few chickens just to scare off the monkeys!
  • And that brings in the concluding take. Do we Bangladeshis per force or through compulsion have to be pro-Indian to survive? I mean isn't it a travesty that as an independent nation state we have to sit back and take such predetermined nonsense from no less than the Prime Minister of India?
  • Why then did this nation go to war in 1971? Why is it that 40 years later we either have to be pro-Indian, pro-Pakistani, pro-US, pro-this and pro-that and NOT pro-Bangladesh? Something is tragically amiss about our identity.
  • Was our birth in 1971 a forced abortion or a premeditated and perfected case of illegitimacy?