Reverse Swing: India vs India
Why were the Kashmiris systematically betrayed and alienated since 1947 through consistent lies, deception and skulduggery by a country whose national motto is ‘Satyameva Jayate’?
At last, the IPL season is on fire. I mean the thrilling spectacle on offer in the Indian Political League.
For ‘the connoisseur of Indian political theatre’ (as the Economic Times once named its ‘politics’ page), seldom before has such drama unfolded. The competition is heating up. New India Inc has just scorched the record books by smashing 370. It has left the Rest of India reeling, demoting Kashmir Valley to something like a municipality’s B-Team. Objections have been raised against default umpiring which seemed to disregard ball tampering, underarm bowling and a flurry of no-balls. But the BCCI (Board of Control of the Constitution of India) is looking the other way. And, of course, the delirious crowds are cheering and entertaining themselves to death.
Could there have been a more entertaining week? None will disagree that this is a masterstroke. An entirely innovative way to play a game. What’s the point of playing opponents like England or New Zealand and losing to them. We are left hanging our heads in shame. It demoralises everyone and triggers depression of epidemic proportions. It deals irreparable wounds to the psyche and ushers in a tsunami of inadequacy. An India vs Pakistan match generates more feelings of performance anxiety than the average Indian male already suffers from. So it is best to keep it simple and just make it ‘India vs India’. That way, India can never lose. (‘Kramer vs Kramer’ is a classic example).
The ‘million mutinies’ in India that V.S. Naipaul once wrote about, is no longer possible because, now, India loves India. The love is so intense that India at the Centre has benignly decided to allow India at the peripheries to reimagine themselves as vassal regions whose sole interest should be to be subservient to the sovereign at the Centre. Once, this attitude was called ‘colonialism’. But isn’t that what we are supposed to have fought and defeated not so long ago? So, now we’ll give it the more acceptable nomenclature of ‘neo-federalism’. In all future friendly contests, Rest of India will always concede defeat to New India in the fraternal spirit of accommodation, adjustment, and cooperation.
The game began earlier with simply disqualifying populations under the National Register of Citizens (NRC). In double-quick time, 4.4 million citizens in Assam are now destined to be stateless people. The annexation of Kashmir earlier this week by the reading down of Art.370 and the bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories – in the glorious tradition set by Lord Dalhousie in 1856 while annexing Oudh and deposing a singing, dancing, chess-playing Wajid Ali Shah under the Doctrine of Lapse – is the corn on the cob. Over 7 million people who were seeking ‘aazadi’ are now reduced to clamour for at least a statehood. And, as the hysterical storm-troopers in the stands might scream, Yeh toh bas ek jhanki hai; ab poora Bharat baaki hai.
PM Modi was at his inspiring best in his televised address to the nation, Thursday, when he said, “Now the whole world will come [to Kashmir] and shoot their films there. This will lead to a surge in employment and prosperity for the state”. So, now we know.
All these years one had been scratching one’s head trying to unravel the mystery of why the Indian state was doing what it was doing in Kashmir. Why could not the originally agreed upon plebiscite have been swiftly conducted and the matter solved? Why were the Kashmiris systematically betrayed and alienated since 1947 through consistent lies, deception, and skulduggery by a country whose national motto is ‘Satyameva Jayate’?
Why had we amassed some 700,000 troops there – the largest mobilisation of armed forces anywhere on this planet? Why had schools, heritage buildings, sports facilities and other public spaces across the Valley been taken over as camps by our security forces? Why were regular flag-marches undertaken across all the main roads and in rural hamlets? Why were Army Intelligence, RAW and IB playing their dirty wars in Kashmir? Why was Sec144 promulgated, almost year-long, in many places? Why was the Pathankot-Srinagar highway blocked and cordoned for civilian traffic through most days of the week? Why were internet, Facebook and telephone lines regularly jammed for days on end? Why was the state’s 2 million metric tonnes of apple trade – a robust economy worth $2 billion – being systematically destroyed? Why were some 35,000 troops rushed in last week, over and above the 35,000 sent last month to patrol the route of the Amarnath yatris? Why has there been an unprecedented lockdown of the Valley for the past week?
Then, there are other minor, not-to-be-taken-seriously details – like close to 100,000 people killed (since the insurgency in 1989), over 10,000 disappeared, thousands rendered psychological invalids in the flourishing psychiatric clinics in the state, thousands tortured, wounded and maimed, several hundred youngsters permanently blinded by pellet guns, scores of mass graves and ghost towns, the Jagmohan-engineered mass exodus of lakhs of Pandits from the Valley – all these are merely inconvenient knots in the fabric.
We now know that all this was a master plan towards the larger humanitarian cause of enabling filmmakers from around the world to come and shoot films in the state. None can dispute that shooting films would be a darn sight better than shooting Kashmiris, as has been the practice till now. But should, perchance, some Kashmiri forget that all this has been meticulously planned over the years for her own good and exhibit unhealthy scepticism by throwing a stone at a film set, our friendly, persuasive armed forces will always be around to convince her that it is better to throw stones ‘in’ a film set rather than ‘at’ a film set. When they threw stones ‘at’, they got only a measly Rs.500 by direct transfer (under the ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’) from across the border. But now the prospects are enhanced and they stand to earn double by ‘acting’ as stone-throwers.
In the same vein, the Kashmiris should now unrestrainedly love the real estate, plantation, hospitality and industrial development players of New India who will be regulars in their midst. The Ambanis, Adanis, Ansals, Oberois, DLF, Unitech, Purvanakar, ITC, Tatas, Lodhas and a host of such pinch-hitters will rush up in their hordes to score their centuries, besides laying stakes to pieces of property there, to develop film cities, film studios, hotels for film crews, golf courses for film stars and swiftly manufacture, what P. Chidambaram referred to in Parliament, as ‘a cartographic and demographic shift’. It makes one go green with envy.
So, the million-dollar question now is, why such discrimination against the Rest of India? Why is the Modi-Shah jodi so hell-bent upon showering benevolence upon those ungrateful, ungracious Kashmiris by bringing them under the Centre’s administrative genius? What wrong has the Rest of India done? The ‘India vs India’ tournament too needs a level playing field. Other parts of the country must also benefit from foreign filmmakers coming and shooting their films and contributing to a surge in their respective economies. Why can’t an ordinance be passed tomorrow that makes Tamil Nadu a UT and designates Kiran Bedi as its Lt. Governor? (Currently, only tiny Puducherry enjoys the privilege of her punitive energies). The international film production houses can then even take advantage of this former supercop's not inconsiderable histrionic skills. Imagine Quentin Tarantino filming his next blood-and-gore in TN, with the lady in an avenging role; or Steven Spielberg camping here for five months to make a soaring block-buster on Rajaraja Cholan. It is bound to make TN more prosperous than under those song and dance-loving Cholas and rid the state of three families ruling it.
Bengal, Kerala, Telengana, Odisha, UP too have a brand new future ahead as UTs with productive exchanges with other UTs, under the wise direction of the Centre. One senior BJP worthy in UP has already worked out a dream plan by which he would lead a delegation of unmarried party men from there to go select ‘fair brides’ from Kashmir. That lends an entirely new twist to what New India was aspiring for all these years. Why not? After all, an occupation force thinks through its loins.
The most enlightening comment came in an interview that Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik gave ‘Outlook’ magazine, last week. It condenses the entire raison d’etre of the putsch unleashed against Kashmir, through a mischievous interpretation of Constitutional provisions – amounting to a fraud on the Constitution. Malik claimed, with great democratic zeal, “People are very happy with our work. If you ask about polls, they’ll say they don’t need it, as development is happening”. It is hardly surprising that no one has asked for accountability by this figurehead, who took his oath on the Constitution, for this cavalier dismissal of the idea of democracy and the Constitution. Because, this must be the Hindutva heaven of freedom, where no elections happen and there is only one permanent post of authority. And where the bully is free to jackboot everyone around – while continuing to claim he is playing cricket.
New India might gain from listening to Nobel winning author, Toni Morrison, who coincidentally, passed away Monday: “If you can only be tall because someone else is on their knees, then you have a serious problem”.