Monthly Archives: March 2012

How Pakistan is good for India

When a limb is infected beyond hope, you have two choices: Persist with it and hope against hope that it will heal and risk death, or you cut it off to save the body.

This is the story of India’s partition into the soul- India- and the gangrenous limb-Pakistan, or what I would like to call- the result of an idea, The Two Nation Theory.

I’ve heard from various intensely,bordering on the jingoistic, patriotic Indians, (privately, of course) how India was broken into two by the ‘M’. Little do they realize that creation of Pakistan ended up saving India.

1. Two Nation Theory

As with any political–slash-religious theory the Two Nation Theory (TNT) has different versions and interpretations based on the guy’s political leanings.

Essentially it comes down to two points:

a) There are two Nations withing India (In spite of the fact that both of them have been living side by side for centuries).

b) The point of divide being Religion (This point is important). The divide is so great that these nations cannot co-exist at any cost.

A secular, liberal, progressive mind will probably disagree, including me, but not completely. What I am going to say next might sound contradictory in nature(and, controversial even), but is really not.

I do agree that dividing Humans into two sets based on some lofty man-made idea called Religion is idiotic, but we have to also agree that division exists and have to factor that in our calculations.

Hindus and Muslims were at each others throats. Muslims formed around 25% of the population of British India, making them a powerful bloc. Owing to their size and strength in numbers in certain parts of India, they had terrible nuisance potential.

But, one will argue that this is also true of the Hindus. Yes, but Hindus never wished for a separate state from Muslims. This is important. In the Hindu Religion(If you can call it that), there is no political side, as in Islam. Its priestly class has never been all-powerful.

But, its not the case with Islam. Its scriptures do interfere in the matter of the state. For instance, there are more than 50 Muslim Majority Countries in the World and only few of them are Democracies. Most of them call themselves Islamic.

One can easily see how this is dangerous. As it went, Muslims began to see themselves as a separate entity from majority Hindus and began to see themselves as victims and more crucially, Hindus being their tormentors, despite the fact that it was the British who had complete control of India and before the British arrived there was Mughal rule in most parts of India.

What guarantee was there that these separatist emotions would have been locked away had India stayed together?

The thing is: Once a case is made for a separate state, rightly or wrongly, and if the people who make that demand are present in very large numbers, have financial and political capital (Like Jinnah had British patronage), its very difficult to impress them not to make their demands. They would not settle with anything less than complete political power, either in the present state or the new state.

A few enlightened Muslims did recognize this cancerous theory for what it is. Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan (also known as Frontier Gandhi or Sarhadi Gandhi, for his love of non-violence, a trait he shared with the greatest proponent of the art- Gandhi), for instance said, “You have thrown us to the wolves”, when he learned that Congress had accepted the plan for partition. Maulana Azad too recognized that this was a flawed theory.

TNT was the disease, India the patient. The diseased part had to be cut off; A sacrifice to please the Gods had to be made.

If these separatist tendencies were ignored or somehow placated with concessions, what is the guarantee that they would not have raised their ugly head again when time seemed right? Riots went on even after Partition, with both sides attacking each other. Had Pakistan not been born, they would have occurred at a much grander scale, thereby destabilizing India, robbing it of the opportunity to build itself a solid foundation, which it got. Which brings me to my next point.

2. India needed solid foundations, not uncertainty

“We shall have India divided or we shall have India destroyed.”

– Mohammad Ali Jinnah

India got a solid foundation, thanks to Nehru. But, this would not have been possible if Pakistan had not been created. Riots would have caused havoc in all of India. India could have easily been plunged into Civil war (Note: Jinnah did in fact threaten Civil war if his demands were not met. In a show of strength he called for ‘Direct Action Day’ on the 18th day of Ramzan [Note the Religious overtone of the call]. Suhrawardy, a Muslim Leaguer and a close associate of Jinnah; who was the Chief Minister of a Muslim-Majority united Bengal and in charge of the Home Ministry, did nothing when Muslim mobs went on a rampage against their fellow neighboring Hindus). That day shook India. About 5,000 people died and 15,000 injured.

What if someone in a united free India and invoked similar emotions and demands among Muslims? The Nation would have been hostage to the blackmail of thugs like Suhrawardy, who went on to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

There was a very real chance that India could have been divided into two or more states had the Cabinet Mission Plan been accepted. The Cabinet Mission Plan, which Nehru put a brake to, would have left India a “moth-eaten” state, in which the 3 wings of India possessing the power to declare independence after 10 short years.

The proverbial steam was let off.

3. Pakistan – The buffer state

Be it Alexander or the Mughals or the Afghans, who used to raid India to loot and plunder, they all came from the same direction.

Himalayas to the North and North-East, the Indian Ocean to the South acted as natural barriers for ancient India. Not surprisingly, India was invaded and looted only from one direction (Only the British came via the sea). Pakistan, today, graciously, plugs that hole.

Pakistan and Afghanistan(Af-Pak) today are some of the most dangerous, volatile and violent regions on Earth. If Pakistan hadn’t been born, that region would have been part of India! If Pakistan didn’t exist, the porous, long borders with Afghanistan would have made sure India was sucked into the instability.

4. The Demographic Challenge

Today Pakistan and Bangladesh have a combined population of 316 Million, out of which only a fraction are non-Muslim. The total Muslim population of South Asia is around 450 Million.

If Pakistan had not been born, the Muslims would have formed about half the population of India.  India would have been sitting on a time bomb today. That bomb would have torn the fabric of India into shreds. Riots would have engulfed India and would have torn it apart not too long after Independence.

Pakistan was always inevitable. If it was not Jinnah in the 1940s, it could or would have been someone else in the 1950s or the 1960s. Religion is a handy tool to gain popularity and hold the nation hostage (Just look at the History of Pakistan where many despots and politicians alike have used it to their advantage). Jinnah did that beautifully. Nehru recognized that.

A Nation should be born on the ideas of unity, brotherhood and love of the Motherland. Sometime the ideas of division creep in and in rare cases it is best to give respect to such ideas and let them take their own course.

Today India is a Secular, Democratic, Pluralistic society, and is at peace with itself; Everything Pakistan is not. Sacrifice the limb to save a life, the saying goes.

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Mrs.Rahul Dravid

There is a certain aura and mystique that surrounds people who are introvert by nature. That is especially so if that happens to be one of your icons.

Mrs. Dravid has penned an article about her husband and it gives quite an insight into the man who I and so many around the World admire so much.

Some excerpts:

“Now I know that with Rahul’s cricket, nothing is casual, unconscious or accidental. Before he went on tour, I would pack all his other bags, but his cricket kit was sacred – I did not touch it; only he handled it. I know if I packed only two sets of informal clothes, he would rotate them through an entire tour if he had to and not think about it. He has used one type of moisturising cream for 20 years because his skin gets dry. Nothing else. He doesn’t care for gadgets, and barely registers brands – of watches, cologne or cars. But if the weight of his bat was off by a gram, he would notice it in an instant and get the problem fixed.

This statement just floors me, makes me look into myself. I gather that this is not about dedication but about caring about something you love. Dravid not being superficial is not such a surprise, is it!

There are some other rare insights into the man of the hour.

“Once the game is on, at the end of every day he has this fantastic ability to switch off. He may be thinking about it, his batting may bother him, he will be itching to go back and try again, but he can compartmentalise his life very well. He won’t order room service or brood indoors, he would rather go out, find something to do – go to a movie or watch a musical, which he loves. He will walk out to the sea to wind down or go to bookstores, or find something else to do.

He has dealt with all that goes on in cricket because he can separate the game and the rest of his life and put things in perspective. No matter what was happening in his cricket, at home he is husband, father, family man. He has never said, “Oh I’ve had a bad day.” He wouldn’t speak about his work unless asked. Other than dropped catches.”

The reminder of him being such a simple guy, a family guy brings one down from the lofty imaginary heights one propels themselves onto everyday of their lives.

I am glad that Dravid and I have one thing in common – Love of Literary Arts and Music.

Do read the whole article. A must for every fan.

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Book Review – Part 1

Been super busy. But, the consolation is that I get time to read during the commute from home to office and vice versa. So, have finished quite a few books in the past few months. So, thought of reviewing some of them.

1. Nehru – The Making Of India, by M.J.Akbar

Very few book do you come around to read will change your whole perception of a grossly misunderstood historical figure. It is even more significant if that individual was the first Prime Minster of your Country.

In one go Jawarharlal Nehru went from being the first PM of independent India to one of the greatest freedom fighters, who gave everything he had to his Country, that he loved dearly and followed values acquired though reason and the basic understanding of the human psyche.

My father never talked of such topics but others around me did and I was thoroughly influenced by part-Right-Wing, part-Ignorant view of Nehru by my peers and elders. After reading this book all that changed, I became more aware of my own History. I became aware of the part of History of my Country that is really relevant to the Country that I call my own and the values it is based on.

The writing of M.J.Akbar is sublime and a joy to read. His anecdotes, irony-filled remarks enrich your understanding of some of the greatest and not-so-great-but-appear-to-be-great beings of that era, but also enriches your language and writing skills.

If you read M.J.Akbar articles and like them, you will love this. If you like to know more about modern India and think your knowledge is insufficient, this is the book for you.

To sum up, you will realize how India’s Constitution is moulded on Nehru’s philosophy and vision, which in turn is partly, but substantially, responsible for everything good that India is today.

4.5/5

Chanakya’s Chant, by Ashwin Sanghi

Well, it was a fun read. But, honestly, I really don’t know or could not make out with certainty how much of the background and circumstances in the story about Chanakya is true.

The book is about two stories, intermittently told, very pacy and intelligently written. One about Chanakya’s path to glory and anothe of a Gangasagar Mishra, from UP, who goes on to become a King Maker in India, much like what Chanakya accomplishes when he installs Chandragupta Maurya to the throne of the Emperor of all of India in some 340 BC, defeating all odds and with some massive brain power. The line between good and evil is very blurry in the story, which is, in a way, nice.

3/5.

Immortals of Meluha, Amish Tripathi

This is one such book which will take you into another World. To be more precise, to ancient India. Well, with some changes, of course.

The book is about Shiva, a tribal-warrior-Chief. Sick of violence among the tribal clans of the area he moves to a Ram Rajya of a city, literally, called Meluha. But, he is drawn upon to fight evil there too in the form of the supposedly notorious Suryavanshis but, in quite a surprise, realizes that the only fault of the Suryavanshis is that they are different, which is symbolic of the divide among Human Beings in the real world; the hate of ‘the other’.

The concept is great. But, the writing is not. I don’t know if it is just me because I found the word ‘Flank’ repeated too many times in the book. Apparently, the word is a hot favourite for the author who uses it in every other chapter.

And, guess what! Karan Johar, the simple-minded fellow, is making a movie out of it with Hrithik Roshan in the lead. I can’t tell you how much perfectly Hrithik Roshan fits into the character of Shiva. While the story is too slow, the fictional characters Tripathi builds up are very powerful and potent; and they stay with you long after you have finished reading the book.

While it was a decent read, the movie based on it has the potential to be really good, that is of course Karan Johar has nothing to with the Direction aspect of the movie, and also the scripting part. Karan, dude, it’s not supposed to be a chick-flick, so better you stay out of it. I hope a good director is roped in.

I almost forgot to mention, this is part of a trilogy. Anxiously waiting to read the second book of the trilogy.

I would give 3/5, purely for the brilliant concept.

Okay, that’s it from me for this post. There a lot of books I’ve read but not reviewed for a variety of reasons. Next time, maybe.

Happy reading.

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My Dravid, My Icon

Growing up on the by-lanes of Basavangudi there are a few things that dominate your life- Watching Cricket, Studies(occasionally), watching Cartoons, playing Cricket, ogling at girls, being too shy to talk to them; discussing Cricket, playing Cricket and watching some more Cricket. Frankly, we didn’t follow any other international sport other than Cricket.

In view of all this here comes a guy, from the same by-lanes of Bangalore and scores a gritty 95 in his debut test in England, followed by an 84 in the second. He follows it up by going to South Africa and standing up to the likes of Donald and Pollock in the Tests. In the ODIs, when people say he is unsuitable for that particular version he becomes the highest scorer in the 1999 World Cup, with the highest number of Centuries by any batsman in the tournament. His name: Rahul Sharad Dravid.

I don’t want to get into how many runs he has piled on or how many very many great innings he has played. I don’t want to talk too much about how many times he has saved India’s ass and win matches when most players would be thinking about how to come back in the next match.

Dravid represented much more to me and my friends of my generation than a mere statistic. He represented us, each and everyone of us who grew up watching him play. Sachin failed at times, went through bad patches. That was unthinkable with Dravid. It was as if Dravid piling on runs and not getting out, with the help of his magnificent technique, was a given, taken for granted, no need to give a second thought to.

No where in India would you find kids from my generation arguing ‘Who is better Sachin or ?’, but in Bangalore. Dravid provided us the luxury of comparing him with the blue-eyed boy of Indian Cricket, another great- Sachin Tendulkar, whom the rest of India knows as batsman par excellence. Saying player A is better than Tendulkar was considered blasphemy, but in Bangalore.

It was not just the love for the people from Bangalore I admire Dravid, although I would have to agree that it is a contributing factor for my admiration for him, but the sheer number of successes at the top level.

Add to his Cricketing achievements, his humbleness, Gentleman-like behavior, his habit of putting the team first, propels him to the level of an Icon; someone whom you can look up to, who will never fail, who will never give up, one who will act with grace in the time of hardship, who will push the limits if it means donning roles that ill-suit you(He kept wickets in the absence of a good Wicket-Keeper-Batsman), who will never yearn for power but only success in the trade that the one is involved; someone who can talk like this:

Rahul Dravid, the quintessential family man, was never one to hog the limelight. Heck, people talked of him only when he scored all those runs to save all those matches India would never have won without him. He was never the one to talk back to his opponent even when they heckled him, abused him and tried to unnerve him. He would show his poker face and answer with his broad bat, by piling on misery by batting for hours on end, with shots that can easily be used for a Tutorial on Cricket. Getting out Dravid early was a rarity for the opponents.

Today, March 9th 2012, I get up, turn on the TV and hear the dreaded news- Rahul Dravid is retiring from all forms of Cricket. My Icon is not going to bat for India no more. My dream of watching him score a century in Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore from the stands will remain a dream.

He retires the way he played his Cricket – with dignity, grace and with a smile.

Good bye, Rahul, thanks for all the memories.

One last thing. Look at his stats. Cricketers would kill for such stuff. 10,000 runs at an average of 52 and 39 in Tests and ODIs, respectively, is what makes Cricketing greats.

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