By the time you see this, Egypt, along with several other so-called Islamic countries will have a new President, or maybe a new dictator. This is the usual way these countries shift their governments. All the three recent presidents of Egypt have been military men, and this is true also of most other so-called Islamic countries. And they have been brought down by people, who either do not care for military men, or military men do not care for the people. Either way, the disconnect between the rulers and the ruled ultimately leads to revolt-the only way people can assert themselves.
Take the case of Tunisia, which was the first to dethrone its President, a man called Zine EI Abidine Ben Ali, quite a mouthful of a name for a minor dictator. He fled to Saudi Arabia, along with his so-called wife, who decamped with two tonnes of gold and a pocketful of diamonds. Tunisia is not a poor country-its GDP per head is five to six times ours. Egypt is poorer, the same level as India, and for the same reason: useless leaders. Egypt, under the likes of Hosni Mubarak, and India under the likes of Nehru-Gandhis. But India has had only one revolt since Independence-the quiet revolution following the Emergency that overthrew a dictator in the making-Indira Gandhi, which was a kind of warning for would-be dictators.
There are lots of dictators waiting to be booted out, including, of course, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Bashar Assad of Syria, Muammar Gadaffi of Libya, Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen and Abdelaziz Boateflika of Algeria. There are many others, including, nearer home, Asaf Ali Zardari, a mouse of a man who is not quite a dictator, but would be one if he could. All the others are ready for the guillotine, if not for the presidential suites of luxury hotels in London, Paris and Washington, where their bankers are waiting for them. This is how dictators in so-called Islamic countries go, not with a bang but a whimper.
There are actually 22 countries in the Arab world, and all of them, with the exception perhaps of one or two nations like Lebanon, are dictatorships. All of them are also Islamic countries, whatever that means. Islam and dictators apparently go hand in hand, as if they were two sides of the same coin. What is it about Islam that makes it unworthy as a guide to running a modern government, the stress being on modern rather than government.
One explanation is that while the world is going ahead with modernisation-and, of course, globalisation-whether you like it or not, Islam rejects it and is going backwards. The Arab nations, which means essentially Muslim nations, are endowed with natural resources beyond compare. Between them, they account for maybe 90 per cent of oil reserves. They do posses other resources, including intelligent and hard-working people. But, for reasons of their own, they have rejected all this and are harking back to a world that does not exist any more, and, which in any case, is not of much help in dealing with modernity.
It is said that the Muslims are going through a crisis of identity. But surely you don’t need centuries to decide who or what you are. Take the case of Hindus. We decided long ago who and what we are. Had we not, we could not have created the new India you seen around you. India will soon be the second largest economy in the world, a modern economy, built with the help of modern scientists and modern management. This has not come in the way of our Hindu-ness, a Hindu way of life, whichever way you describe it. The Hindus are still Hindus, but we are also engineers, scientists, managers and financial experts, first rate doctors and top-class military men (and women). We are also a pious lot, putting up new temples and ashrams, not only in India, but wherever we happen to live.
The Muslims can be all this but they are not. Just compare India with Pakistan. India has been flooded recently by Pakistani actors and actresses, dancers and writers, not to speak of politicians. They come here, address a few people here and there, are interviewed on TV, and return to Pakistan with pockets filled with Indian rupees. I have never understood why they come here in the first place. We have nothing to learn from them. Their country is ruled from Washington and their military works for the Pentagon. For all purposes, Pakistan has become an American colony run by Americans-and, of course, by the Taliban. I have nothing but pity for our Indian friends who day in and day out, speak of Pakistan as if it was still the country it used to be at the time of partition, until the Jinnahs and the bearded Maulanas destroyed it.
In ten or twenty years time, Pakistan, and Islamic country, will be 107th in the world, begging for alms in London and Washington, while India will be No. 1 or No. 2, a proud Hindu nation, built by Hindus for all those who reside in India, not just the Hindus. We talk incessantly about secularism as if it was something that was discovered only recently, but Hindus have been secular all along, and, in fact, India is secular because it is Hindu. Take away the Hindus and India will crumble as the so-called Islamic countries are crumbling around the world. Hindus do not have any qualms about modernisation, because their minds, always, looking for and absorbing new ideas, have always been modern. India is an ancient civilization as well as a modern nation, and we don’t see any contradiction between the two. The Islamic countries do, and they have tried to get round it by resisting modernisation, with the result the modern world has by passed them. Hence, the long line of dictators and total absence of democracy. You sow as you reap, and this is what the Islamic countries are doing-reaping what they have sown-all these years!