It speaks for the tremendous sense of guilt that upper caste Hindus have in the matter of casteism and untouchability that anything that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati says or does is met with discreet silence. Here is a woman who is totally corrupt, and it is not that this is a guesswork. In his book Behenji, Ajoy Bose has given full particulars of Mayawati’s acquisitions and no one, not even Mayawati herself, has challenged his findings. But no one says a word. The media is remarkably silent. So are religious leaders.
The Times of India has quoted Home Minister P Chidambaram as saying that the amount of some one thousand crore rupees Mayawati has spent on setting up her own and her ‘guru’ Kanshi Ram’s statues is “shameful”. Shameful? It is disgusting and is a criminal waste of public money. Who is Kanshi Ram? Nobody has heard of him beyond the boundaries of Uttar Pradesh. But Mayawati has spent on setting-up a Kanshi Ram Memorial on a 42-acre plot at a cost of Rs 370 crore. Nobody wants to downplay BR Ambedkar’s contribution to the setting-up of the Indian Constitution. But has anyone heard of Sir Benegal Narasimha Rao who did all the spadework? Ambedkar had little respect for Mahatma Gandhi and the latter’s assassination came to him as a relief but at least he did not publicly denigrate Gandhiji. But Mayawati has no hesitation in calling the Mahatma a naatakbaaz—a fake.
The India Abroad News Service (IANS) quotes BJP spokesman Hriday Narain Dikshit as saying that Mayawati’s rant against the Mahatma is “a shameful act”, which showed “disrespect to the Father of the Nation”. But why are Dr Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi silent? They should have condemned Mayawati in no uncertain terms. Or does Dr Singh think that his newly discovered ‘sister’ can do no wrong?
One presumes that Dr Manmohan Singh reads Economic & Political Weekly (June 20). The E&PW is not a BJP journal. That is why its damning indictment of the UPA government’s foreign policy needs to be read by him. It attacks the UPA’s foreign policy on every count. It is the sharpest indictment of the UPA one has come across for a long time. It states bluntly: “India courts numerous dangers by dancing to America’s foreign policy tune.” India, according to E&PW, has been a failure in structuring its relations with China, with Nepal, with Sri Lanka, with Myanmar and with Pakistan. The authors of the article that appeared in E&PW are both scholars: One is H Jacob, who is with the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and another, Kimberley Layton is a researcher at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi.
There are frequent charges against the Indian armed forces stationed in Jammu & Kashmir and one frequently hears of Kashmiri women being molested or ordinary civilians killed. How far are the allegations true? Few newspapers bother to make inquiries. The Nagpur-based Hitavada (June 20) carried a front-page lead story on the subject, which is very revealing. According to the report, between 1990 and 2008 as many as 1,508 allegations had been made against the armed forces, one suspects, with the sole intention of maligning the Indian Army. It now appears, according to a report on “The state of allegation on human rights violations in HQ Northern Command”, that out of 1,508 allegations received, as many as 1,498 were investigated and as many as 1,453 were found to be false or baseless. Only some 2.3 per cent of cases were found to be true. Isn’t that a story? As many as 100 Army personnel were reportedly punished by the Army, all on its own and without pressure from the National Human Rights Commission. That is to the credit of the Indian Army. But obviously there are anti-India forces operating from Jammu & Kashmir, which would like to give our armed forces a bad name. Again, hasn’t the Indian media a responsibility to expose those anti-Indian forces?
According to The Times of India (June 19), despite pressure, as many as 34, ‘active’ terror camps and eight ‘holding’ camps are operational across the Indo-Pak border. An assessment made by the Multi-Agency Centre reveals that around 2,200 terrorists are housed in these camps and of these 2,200, around 300 belong to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), 240 to Jaish-e-Mohammad and 130 to HuJI.
The Free Press Journal (June16) in a report has revealed that according to a former Director of the Bangladeshi Intelligence Agency, the ISI was involved in the smuggling of arms and equipment to the ULFA’s hideouts in the north-east India. Isn’t the Obama government aware of these facts? The Deccan Herald (June 7) carried a report that said that Pakistan has used a substantial amount of military aid from the US for a conventional war against India. The newspaper has made available a list of arms and weapons that Pakistan has bought out of US economic aid given to it. One presumes that Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, is aware of all these facts. But what is the Manmohan Singh government doing? To the best of one’s knowledge, hardly anything!
The UPA government wants to be friendly with the United States and won’t do anything to embarrass it. That is our foreign policy! How long are we going to let ourselves be taken for a ride? As the study of India’s foreign policy published by the E&PW noted: “Over-reliance on American goodwill may prove counter-productive. As a rising power, India should fiercely preserve the strategic autonomy to choose from a range of foreign policy options, rather than attempting to grow under the shadow of US benevolence”. The study said: “The Indo-US strategic partnership seemed premised more on tactics than strategy, hardly befitting of a country desiring major power status.”
Incidentally, it is not the E&PW alone that is critical of the UPA government. The Hindu (June 11) in an article from its own correspondent Siddharth Varadarajan said that the UPA government has to be more energetic in promoting Indian economic interests, “even if this means treading on the toes of ‘strategic partners’ like the United State.” As Varadarajan put it: “If it wants to be taken seriously as a ‘major power’, India needs to demonstrate an ability to defend its economic interests in a dynamic, competitive environment that presents risks as well as opportunities.” Are you listening, Dr Singh? The media in the past was reluctant to be very critical of Dr Singh. In his second term he is not likely to be spared any longer, as comments indicate.