Follow by Email

Sunday, September 21, 2014

place the region first

Sunburn warning for India’s day in the sun

Recent commentary on the succession of visitors to New Delhi and of New Delhi’s own foreign visits, both by the high profile prime minister and the minister of external affairs, makes this juncture the high noon for foreign policy analysts. The commentary mostly luxuriates at New Delhi’s recently found status as a capital worth courting.
Strident commentators such as Brahma Chellaney, taking cue from the prime minister’s visit to Japan and the impending one to the US, are pushing for strategic partnerships, more than just titular ones, with both. More sober analyses, such as that of Rajesh Rajagopalan, warn that being the cynosure is not easy. While India need not be a bashful bride, it would nevertheless need to watch the suitors carefully.
Commentators have rightly warned that treading between all those courting it will not be easy. However, they do so in the light of foreign policy. Finding a way between being non-aligned and being aligned to the democratic bloc is the challenge. However, the threats are not all necessarily in the strategic and external domain. These can also be from within.
Setting our house in order
Blindness to these is unremarkable in foreign policy analysis since it is mistakenly seen as distinct from the internal sphere. This is a fallout of the early split between international relations and political science scholarship in the west, one that India has imported into its universities. Consequently, the two look different ways, the former inside and the latter externally. This leads to foreign policy analyses overlooking otherwise consequential internal factors.
The first overlaps both internal and external domains: Muslims in India. While the prime minister has finally got around to complimenting Muslims for the first time publicly in his acknowledgment, saying they are ready to die for their country, it appears tactical coming as it does on the eve of his visit to the US. The wider political position of his party over the past three decades and its supporting formations over the past century suggests that India’s minority question is significant.
The ‘othering’ of the minority has two aims: one to consolidate the majority into a bloc, a strategy that has recently yielded political dividends at long last; and secondly, to retain upper caste dominance by enabling vertical integration within Hinduism. Dominance, to repay the minority for a millennium long humiliation, is a project underway, the most recent manifestation of which is the ‘love jihad’ insinuation. All this could have remained exclusively internal factors, but for Pakistan as neighbour.
Pakistan’s very presence and actions such as proxy war makes it more than merely an external factor. Just as the recent contretemps surrounding the cancellation of talks with Pakistan indicates that Kashmir is not quite an internal issue alone. Pakistan’s shadow also looms large over periodic allegations of penetration of Islamist forces into India. The prime minister’s belated dispelling of the notion is too little, too late inasmuch as the manufacturing of public perception by his party and its supporters goes. Pakistan is therefore the ‘other’ outside, one that needs domination.

This internal-external linkage, contrived by the ruling party for getting to power, sets the stage for the chickens coming home to roost. India is exerting itself to overawe Pakistan by its economy-backed military strides. This can form India’s Achilles heel in case it comes to blows, a not unlikely eventuality in the light of past precedence and the heating up of the regional strategic scene in the likely departure of the US from Afghanistan. In one fell swoop, India will cease to be a strategic player at the Asian level, falling back into its regional box as a regional power.

Even in the game on the Asian geopolitical chessboard, India can be tripped up easier. China will have a readily available lever if it finds India as a part of a ‘ring of democracies’ bent on containing it. India has sought to deter China on this front. While Xi Jinping was in India, President Mukherjee landed back from a visit to Vietnam, India’s forces were staring down the Chinese in Chumar, its military was set to exercise with US troops in the Kumaon Himalayas, and Mr. Modi was packing for his US trip.
While necessary, all this may not be enough. India has, therefore, to do something more if it is to perform at a higher strategic level, numbering with the US, China and Japan. It has to first set right its place in the region. One way is the manner it is currently set about: overawing Pakistan.
Cancellation of talks and the manner in which it was done are India’s suggestion to Pakistan to read the strategic tea leaves and drop its insistence on hyphenation with India. The impetus behind this policy, being a piece of the position of the Sangh Pariwar, owes much to internal politics.

The problem is that in India’s case this is not about to change. The strategy can only be upgraded, for instance with Mr. Modi decisively weaning the US away from Pakistan. Therefore, the thorn in India’s side can only remain, and so will the possibility of India’s tripping up even as it reaches for the stars.
The upshot is that navigating India’s path between China and Russia on one side and the US and Japan on the other is not going to be easy. India has in its regional security choice made this even more difficult for itself. With so many balls in the air all at once, time might just send this particular one crashing down.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014


My book Think South Asia has been self-published. It can be downloaded free from my blog links to the right in its epub, mobi and pdf formats. A print on demand can be ordered at cost price from Cinnamonteal from the link given to the right. The details of my book are below:
 First eBook edition published in India in 2014.
First print edition published in India in 2014 by CinnamonTeal Publishing.
ISBN: 978–93–84129–38–5
Copyright © 2014 Firdaus Ahmed
Firdaus Ahmed asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of the work.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this book are the author’s own and the
facts are as reported by the author, and the publisher is not in any way liable for the same.
Although the author and publisher have made every effort to ensure that the information
in this book was correct at the time of going to press, the author and publisher do not
assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption
caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence,
accident, or any other cause.
Ebook Development and Cover Design: CinnamonTeal Publishing
Cover art: Firdaus Ahmed
CinnamonTeal Publishing,
Plot No 16, Housing Board Colony
Gogol, Margao
Goa 403601 India

For my parents
Whose standing by me made everything possible
And without whom nothing would have been possible

Acknowledgements 13
Preface 15
A Second Modi-Sharif Meet Required to Kickstart
Bilateral Talks 19
Mr. Doval as NSA means for Indian National Security 23
Modi on the security front 27
What Did Manmohan Singh Mean by ‘Disastrous’? 31
Ideologues as ‘strategists’ 34
Implications of a NaMo foreign policy 38
Indo-AfPak: Chanakya to the Rescue? 41
Daulat Beg Oldi: More than a storm in a tea cup 44
India’s security under Modi 47
Rescuing Tribal India: The Nagaland Model 51
Compellence, Deterrence or Defence?: Saxena Task
Force and India’s Defence Reforms 54
After Osama: Should New Delhi Engage Pakistan
or ‘Wait And Watch’? 57
Getting a Peace Movement Going 60
Revisiting Intelligence Reform 63
What Holds India Up? 66
Pakistan: Divining a Way 69
The Coming Decade of Nuclear Risk 72
The Debate in Obama’s Wake 75
Book review - India Over the Years 78
India’s Grand Strategy: On Track 81
India’s Coin Policy: ‘Peace Preceding Talks’? 84
Countering the Naxal Threat-IV: Military as an Option? 87
Revisiting ‘1971’ 90
The Bright Side of ‘Asymmetric Escalation’ 93
Questioning India’s Military Trajectory 96
India at 60: Acquiring Escape Velocity? 100
Surgical Strikes: Missing the Mark 103
Making Obama’s War Also India’s 106
Pakistan Owes Much, But Not Suicide 109
On Disarmament Prospects in South Asia 112
War Clouds Gathering 115
Emulating the US 119
Yet Another Nuclear Controversy 122
Vignettes of India’s Security Culture 125
From ‘No First Use’ to ‘No Nuclear Use’ 129
Agenda for the Next Government 132
A Strategy for ‘Af-Pak’ ’ 135
Not Quite an Empty Threat 138
National Security Adviser: Reviewing the Institution 141
Afghanistan: Appraising the Future 144
The Myth of ‘Weapons of Peace’ 147
Getting it Right: Rereading India’s Nuclear Doctrine 150
Reconceptualizing Internal Security 153
Musharraf and the ‘TINA’ Factor 156
For a Return to Lahore 159
Tackling Intervention in South Asia 162
Querying India’s Grand Strategy 165
In the Line of Fire: Pakistan Army 168
Pakistan’s Possible Nuclear Game Plan 170
For a Paradigm Shift 172
The Price of Malgovernance 175
The Price of Malgovernance 177
The Police and the Example of the Armed Forces 180
Missiles and Crisis Stability 182
The Post-Parakram Peace Agenda 185
Indian Peacekeeping in Iraq? 188
The ‘Peace Initiative’: A Tactical Gambit 191
The Sole ‘Lesson’ of the Iraq War 193
For a Return to Clausewitz 196
The General Did Not Bite! 199
Moving Beyond Realism 202
Lessons from the Present Crisis 204
The ‘Vision Thing’ 206
Politicisation: In the Context of the Indian Military 211
The Coming Threat of Politicisation 214
India’s Brass: What the Controversy Misses 218
The Military at the High Table? 222
Modi and the Military: Not Quite an Innocent Beginning 225
The Loc Incident Calls for Self-Regulation by the Army 228
Countering Insurgency and Sexual Violence 232
Dear General, Please Stay Out of Politics 237
Interrogating Security Expansionism in India 239
The Indian Army: Organizational Changes in the Offing 242
An Issue in Civil-Military Relations 245
10 Years Later - Making Kargil Serve A Purpose 248
Kargil: Ten Years On 252
The Calculus of ‘Cold Start’ 255
Limited Nuclear War, Limitless Anxiety 259
Rethinking Civilian Control 264
The Lesson from Sam Bahadur’s Triumph 267
The Day After ‘Cold Start’ 270
Kargil: Back In The News 273
Menu For The New Chief 276
‘No’ To ‘Cold Start’ 279
The Logic of Nuclear Redlines 282
A Smoke Screen called Limited War 285
The Need to Revisit Conventional Doctrine 288
The Impetus Behind Limited War 290
Preparing for ‘Limited Nuclear War’ 292
Modi’s Kashmir 297
Pathribal: Back in the News 300
The Military in Kashmir 304
Opinion 307
Vanzara Gets it Right 311
Distancing from Cloak and Dagger 314
AFSPA in J&K: Why should it go? 318
Jammu and Kashmir: Need for a Political Solution 321
Kashmir: The Way Forward 327
A Roadmap for Kashmir 331
Addressing the ‘Central’ Issue 334
Lessons from India’s Kashmir Engagement 337
Kashmir: Revectoring Indian Strategy 340
Life Under Modi 345
Strategising for the Modi Era 348
The Next Polls and Beyond 352
Muslim Absence from the Strategic Space 355
Doing More with the Military 359
Elections 2014: The Worst Case Scenario 362
What if Modi Makes it to Race Course Road 366
Afzal Guru: The Man Who Knew Too Much 370
Taking on Mr. Modi’s Chief Cheerleader: Chetan Bhagat 373
The Unfolding Gameplan of Majoritarian Extremists 376
Minority Affairs - More than just a visit 379
Not So Easy, Mr. Modi 382
Chetan Bhagat: Caught at it Again 385
Catching up with the SIT Chief 388
Mr. Bhagat: Please Get Off Our Backs, Will You! 391
A Reply for Mr. Narendra Modi 394
An Open Reply to Modi’s Open Letter 396
Blasting the Terror Narrative 399
The Gujarat Revelations 401
Blast from the Past - The Varanasi Explosion 404
Muslim India: A Security Perspective 407
The Counter Narrative on Terror 410
Understanding Minority-Perpetrated Terrorism 413
Haldighati II: Implications for Internal Security 416
Widening the Discourse on Terror 419
Muslim India as ‘Threat’ 422
Terrorism’ and Intellectual Responsibility 425
The Fiction Of ‘Minority Terror’ 427


This book is a compilation of my writings available on the internet
between 2003 and 2014. Since I dealt with many issues in international
relations, military strategy, internal security, strategy, civil-military
relations, Kashmir and minority affairs, it is a peacenik’s record of the
times in the security field. The writings are India centric but also cover the
region, in particular India-Pakistan relations. I have used the liberal lens
to view security and on that account the articles provide a different view
point than the usual realist one in the national security discourse. I have
consistently tried to project peace initiatives and suggest ways to mitigate
risks in the strategies adopted. In that I have taken a stand for peace.
The pieces in this book are from my blog, Think South Asia, To make them available in
one go to readers I have compiled them into this e-book. I hope these
articles would be individually of interest. Collectively I believe they
would be useful to researchers and to students in peace studies, a field
that is lacking in literature covering the region. The book would also be
relevant for students of strategic studies and political science, and for
practitioners, the media and the attentive citizen. I hope that it proves a
‘blow’ for the sake of peace.
I have divided the book into four parts comprising articles dealing
with regional peace and national security that includes my writings on
India-Pakistan, internal security and nuclear issues. Subsequent parts
are on the Indian military, Kashmir and on security issues facing India’s
largest minority, Muslim Indians.
I must thank editors of the various websites and institutions who
have accepted these pieces for publication on their websites. Without
their support and patronage over the years this book would not have
been possible. Thanks also to Queenie Fernandes and her colleagues
at CinnamonTeal Publishing for putting these commentaries between
covers. Some have even improved the readability of the articles. In
particular, I thank the Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies for its
permission to use my articles on its website for this book and for allowing
me a platform for close to a decade.
The book is to repay in small measure my family for the time lost with
them while these articles were being written.


This book is my contribution to the peace movement in India and the
region, just a drop to add to the work of those more courageous than
me at the barricades. They have given their time and sweat so that we
can live in freedom and without fear. I hope that they will eventually
triumph. This book is a small gesture of support for them.
It advances a liberal perspective on security that is relatively
marginalised not only in India, but in wider security studies in general.
The book on this account makes for an alternative reading. Since I have
persevered through the better part of this century, the book can prove a
useful record of the times seen through the liberal lens. The book can
provide ballast to the values that are currently under assault from the
ascendance of extremist ideologies.
I have taken advantage of my academic readings to examine what is
happening in the region. With me being Indian, the book is necessarily
India-centric. Since India is central to South Asia, the book covers
security affairs in the region. The idea it advances is that India and the
regional nations cannot get to peace until they ‘Think South Asia’. The
region must be seen as a whole and its nations and peoples taken as ‘One’.
There can be no ‘Other’ or ‘Othering’.
Peace and prosperity go together and therefore peace is a valuable goal.
Achieving peace requires practicable ideas in terms of peace interventions
and initiatives. It also involves pointing out the fallacy of dominant ideas
and the manner these contribute to instability and insecurity. The book
has articles dealing with both, alternative ideas and critiques of current
practice. At places it takes a combative look at the manner security is
handled, participating in a debate with those defending the status quo,
and at others it suggests ways to advance peace, lending support to
articulators of and practitioners in myriad peace movements.
The articles have been grouped in four parts. The theme in the first part
is National Security. It comprises articles on India’s security predicament
including nuclear issues, India-Pakistan relations, regional crises, and
opinions on the controversies over the period. The second part is on
India’s military. It takes an informed look at the ‘holy cow’, especially
civil-military relations. The third part is on Kashmir. Even though the
situation there appears to have improved, the issue still stands between
neighbours. For the subcontinent to firstly think of itself as one and be
one eventually, such issues would require tackling. I try and engage with
how to do this in my articles on Kashmir. The last is on concerns of
security of India’s Muslims. Since Partition, it has become ‘illegitimate’
to think of security in terms of community. It is taken as ‘communal’.
However, that India’s largest minority has found itself imposed on lately,
I have tried to articulate that India’s security cannot be at the cost of its
minorities; indeed the security of its minorities, regional and societal, is
a must for India’s security.
I hope the book proves useful in projecting views that are no doubt
shared by the majority of the attentive public.

Monday, September 08, 2014

India's Kashmir Strategy

What is Mr. Modi's Kashmir strategy?
An easy answer to the question posed in the title is that Mr. Modi is out to win the J&K elections due soon. The proof is in his recent cancellation of talks with Pakistan after a promising start at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan. This, if Mani Shankar Aiyar is to be believed, is him playing to the gallery in Jammu. With the predictable response in the Valley being the opposite, perhaps leading to a wider boycott of polls than hitherto with even mainstream parties joining in, votes from south of Pir Panjal and Ladakh could enable the BJP to take the assembly in Srinagar.

In this narrative, the assembly, as successor to the constituent assembly that dissolved itself over sixty years ago, then goes on to recommend rescinding of Article 370. BJP's absolute majority in parliament can then enable it to pull off one of the Sangh Parivar's long standing demands, even if one that its political front, the BJP, has often fought shy of acknowledging in its manifesto.

This would amount to a coup that the BJP, even with Mr. Modi at the helm, may be unable
 to pull off. Therefore, it is unlikely that this is the trajectory that the BJP has outlined for
 itself, though it makes for a good stick to beat it with. Nevertheless, being wary of its intent
 and anticipation action is useful, in order to be forewarned if not forearmed. After all, Mr. Modi
 has proven adept at action; notice his invitation to Pakistan and its cancellation that has
left all bemused in its wake.

Nevertheless, a less ambitious agenda can be attributed to Mr. Modi. Since economic advance
is his advertised aim, it is unlikely he would like to jeopardise it with unnecessarily provocative
action that could derail the calm in Kashmir. While he may like to capture the assembly in
Srinagar, as is the wont of any politician, it may be for keeping a hand on the lid. And more
expansively, perhaps set the stage for trifurcation, so as to restrict the Kashmir problem to Kashmir.

Currently, the expectation is that the situation could worsen on the departure of the US from
Afghanistan. It has long been reckoned that this will enable the region to revert to its pre-US
presence days. The contest of the two states in proxy war in Afghanistan, possibly incipient
already, will likely see a spillover into Pakistan, perhaps already manifest. Pakistan, wishing to
pay-back, may stir things up in Kashmir. A new dimension has been added by Zawahiri pitching
in with his invite to the subcontinent's would-be jihadists.

Mr. Modi has chosen his NSA well for such an eventuality. Mr. Dowel may be already scheming
on how the rash of these multiple wars is restricted. It would be better to keep the contest by
proxy on the other side. Keeping Pakistan's ISI engaged in Afghanistan and at its own doorstep
in tackling the Pakistani Taliban and the Baluch insurgents, may keep it off India's back.

Alongside, the military is being prepared to posture a readiness to administer punishment.
So even if Pakistan ups-the-ante in Kashmir and elsewhere, it will limit it, as it has traditionally
 done, to keep below India's proverbial tolerance threshold.

A lower projection of this threshold has been sought in the cancellation of talks and the abruptness
in its manner of doing so. This was followed by escalation in trading of ordnance across the
Line of Control and border or 'working boundary', to the extent that in a de-escalatory flag meeting
the two sides agreed not to target civilians. (The subtext of such an agreement, that doing so is
against tenets of humanity and humanitarian law, escapes both sides.)

The message is that India will be less tolerant, particularly of attacks in the hinterland.
 At the LoC its army has the clearance to deliver a 'befitting reply'. Commentators such as the
reliable anti-Pakistani, Bruce Reidel, are warning of dire consequence for Pakistan in case of
any repeats of 26/11, and even another Herat-style attack. Mr. Modi will have to live up to
his 'tough' image in such a case: an additional deterrent for Pakistan's ISI.

In so far as these security measures contribute to deterrence, this military strategy is of a piece
with grand strategy of keeping Kashmir quiet. Whereas the Congress could not deliver with
incentives for 'good behaviour' for either Pakistan or Kashmiris, in part because the BJP was
ever ready to outflank it, the BJP has no such fears. Therefore, there is potential for forward
movement in these stage setting moves. On the surface, therefore, the strategy cannot be
dismissed out of hand.

However, this presupposes that Mr. Modi does not have outlandish aims such as regarding Article 370 in mind. The problem is that an ideological regime can prove irrational. Secondly, impressing Pakistan suitably with Indian power requires investing in Pakistan's strategic good sense. This has repeatedly been found wanting in the past. Pakistan cannot be expected not to test the deterrence strategy. So, it is not a prudent strategy in light of precedence. Third, the 'talks' India has in mind are just that: talks. In its mind's eye these are not about trade-offs over Kashmir. Consolidating its position within and militarily, it sees no reason to negotiate in good faith with a Pakistan going downhill. This can only make the test more likely. Lastly, while the peace lobby in Pakistan can do without the Kashmir baggage, this lobby has been undercut by talks cancellation. Mr. Sharif is in any case under siege. This makes the test ever more likely.

The implication for Kashmir and its people is that they can live with the strategy, till it comes to the test. They would do well to keep out of any arm wrestling between the two states. It can only expand the arc of instability from the shores of the Mediterranean to the Himalayas. They need bestir themselves only in case an ideological policy plays out in which constitutional distinction of their land is played around with. This is unlikely to be any time soon since in the grand strategic scheme Mr. Modi would like to first entrench himself and legitimize this in a growing economy. Distractions such as Kashmir can wait. Kashmiris cannot have a quarrel with this.

While admittedly their current position under the AFSPA jackboot is not the best place to be, it may be better than possible alternatives, particular when India's strategic chickens come home to roost. Setting themselves up as site for the fallout would be avoidable societal harakiri.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

messiah modi

Messiah Modi: What to make of him?
Milligazette, 1-15 September 2014

‘What is one to make of Pradhan Sevak Modi?’ is a question puzzling many. The RSS supremo has already gone public with his rejoinder to the BJP stalwart and former colleague, Mr. Modi’s characterisation of his electoral victory. Clearly, the RSS is also trying to cope with the Modi phenomenon. How the pariwar’s internal politics turn out will determine the immediate term in which Mr. Modi tries to extend his domination from the BJP to the wider Hindutva fraternity.
Central to this fight will be Mr. Modi’s attempt to dislodge the RSS’s claims on him by forging a direct link with his constituency, bypassing the RSS, his erstwhile support structure. The strategy he is using is to present himself as Messiah Modi, the Pradhan Sevak of India’s masses. The RSS for its part will try and keep its institutional control over him and his party. Bhagwat has already reminded Mr. Modi that the election victory was not about individuals. The contention can well end up over time as India’s own ‘night of long knives’, as Hitler’s purging of the Brown Shirts is known to history. In this case it would be Modi’s overthrowing ‘khaki chaddis’.
However, this article is more about the consternation within the Muslim community. What are we to make of Messiah Modi? We already have a view on this. Mr. Sirajuddin Qureishi, head of the India Islamic Cultural Center in Delhi, has opined that, ‘Muslims have started rethinking about their attitude towards the NDA government led by Prime Minister Modi.’ A press release from the IICC indicates that Mr. Qureishi was speaking at the independence day function of his institution, that is incidentally, so heavily subscribed that it has stopped taking applications for new members.
Clearly, Mr. Qureishi is a victim of the Modi puzzle. Mr. Modi in presenting himself as an individual, a messiah no less, without the ideological and institutional baggage of the parivar, has attempted to collapse the distinction between him and the government. This process has been on since the elections with the BJP campaign not talking of a BJP government, as much as a Modi one. Its president had to change his tweet within minutes of soliciting votes for the BJP substituting Modi for BJP. Therefore, if Mr. Qureishi confuses India’s government for Mr. Modi’s government, he can be forgiven.
However, the distinction is pertinent. Mr. Modi heads the government temporarily, as Bhagwat reminded him, till the next elections, when the people could also  show him the door in case they want change. The government of India however remains. Therefore, there is no call for Muslims to change their attitude to the government. It can only remain positive and mutually supportive. Since Mr. Modi has promised a developmentalist agenda, it is one that Muslims can partake of. Therefore, there is no call for a change in attitude. 
Now in so far as Mr. Modi is concerned, he has given no reason for Muslims to change their attitude. He has not expressed remorse for presiding over the carnage of fellow community members of his state. This attitude of his was exemplified by refusal to wear a muslim headgear despite his penchant lately for ethnic headgear, the latest being the red Jodhpuri safa sported by him at the ramparts of Red Fort. We know that this lack of remorse was to profit from a vote bank of the majority community, relying on the inroads the sangh parivar has made, with his active participation as a pracharak, over the past three decades. The election victory itself is outcome of polarisation attributed to his close aide, Mr. Shah, now elevated to head India’s ruling party.
Islam enjoins forgiveness, but in this case cannot be bestowed without evidence of any contriteness. In fact, the contrary is the case. The message from the election victory is that Mr. Modi does not need Muslim votes. He in fact can do without them, so as to keep his vote bank in the majority community intact. This is also evident from his independence day speech. Take for instance the call for a ten year moratorium (gives an indication of his intention to remain in power for at least a decade) on casteism and communalism. On the face of it this is unexceptional. However, it would be na├»ve to take a commensurate politician as Mr. Modi at face value. Since the BJP and its upper caste support base does not own up to casteism, this is more a reference to the parties and support base relying on backward castes. They are being exhorted to give up casteism so as to bring about the majority’s unity, and forge it into an unbreakable voter war chest for Mr. Modi.
By analogy, the communalism Mr. Modi is talking of is not that of the majority community. He has  been reticent on this for the past three months, despite calls for him to declare that he  has ended his association with his erstwhile communalist camp, the pariwar. Nothing of the sort has happened so far, implying that the communalism being referred to is that of the minority community. This yet again is part of the wider project of ‘peace, unity and harmony’ in which harmony is in acceptance of Muslims being Hindus, by Goa deputy chief minister’s definition of Indian. Even the President’s independence day reference to Shivaji’s letter to Aurangzeb asking for discarding jaziya suggests as much. The president in our system is mouthpiece of the government. Muslims now, as then, are being required to shed their intolerance. Then there will be ‘unity and harmony’. Clearly, the moratorium on communalism will be one sided.
Therefore, Muslims need to wait till Mr. Modi explicitly directs his message on communalism on his erstwhile camp followers, the RSS. This may well happen and will signify the culmination of palace politics of the pariwar. Even were Mr. Modi to take on the pariwar, there is the judicial accounting for a thousand lives. There is no question of changing attitude to Mr. Modi. Muslims need to wait out Mr. Modi’s innings at the helm, under which he would enjoy immunity from the legal pincers that were closing on him and his aide. Since he will head the government for the duration, till the RSS-Modi spat potentially upturns both, at the next elections, Muslims can only continue to engage the government, without mistaking it as Modi’s government.
It remains the government of India and shall continue to command Muslim respect and loyalty. Muslims will participate in its poverty elimination and development agenda. Of course, alongside we must eliminate intolerance that is within us as it is in all individuals and communities universally, if only to be true Muslims. Mr. Qureishi and his privileged compatriots at the elite institution on Lodi Road are at liberty to make of Mr. Modi as they please, including falling for his projection of himself as Messiah Modi.