Skip to main content

Indo-Pak relations: Modi’s problems may be "solved" if he slaps silencer on motor-mouths of his larger party

By RK Misra*
A new year is a harbinger of hope. The first step from the old into the new, one would like to walk with a mind freed of the bitter and full of bonhomie. And so even if it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flair for the dramatic, that saw him walk into his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif’s home, both of them deserve fulsome praise for it.
If I could walk into my journalist neighbour Bashir Pathan’s house in Gandhinagar and he into mine without any fanfare, why can’t they. That’s the way it has been in our part of the world. We call across each other’s home so do our womenfolk and children to exchange gossip or plain play.
Why should we depart from the customs and camaraderie of our forefathers just because a fence divides us? Brothers do part, sometimes bitterly too when divisions take place but the angst should be a flowing stream not a stinking, stagnant pool.
The fact that Modi and Sharif did not discuss Kashmir, reviving cricket ties or the Hurriyat was big news. Why should they always, and incessantly? Why can’t they, for once, talk like good acquaintances if not friends?
Of lots that’s common, of friends and family, or just what helps getting to know each other better. Or as the Indian prime minister told his counterpart, “Why can’t we be like leaders in Europe who meet each other for casual get-togethers and chats?” He knows why. What you sow so shall you reap.
When in the opposition, he was the answer; now in the chair, his is the question. But more about it some other time.
There is lot in common and many benefits for both families (countries) in shared togetherness. So the heart had cause to be happy when Modi ambled across into a house in the throes of mirthful celebrations. As he bowed to touch the feet of Sharif’s elderly mother, I am sure he rose in the esteem of many of the average citizenry in the neighbouring homes as much as he did amongst us likes back home who do so in reverence to our own all the time, very naturally.
There is much that is not right with us, our system, our politics and our politicians but when one shows the courage to think out of the box and rise above the mundane, I for one, would like to put all my reservations aside to express my appreciation of my prime minister.
Sharif had shown striking spontaneity as he responded to be present for the Indian prime minister’s swearing-in. Modi has added to it with grace, dignity and the customs of his country.
One swallow does not a summer make, nor does one gesture wash away the mutual suspicion solidified over decades. An easy amiability between elderly heads of nations, however, does make a difference. The subordinates who bring up the rear become less of stiff-necks and things generally begin to move.
It is not that earlier prime ministers have not taken the initiative. The present government would have you believe that nothing happened in the last six decades and that they are the first ones in the history of independent India to pick up a shovel. This is delusional and far from true. All of them did to the best of their respective abilities.
Sometimes the situation was not conducive in our own country, other times not so in theirs. It was Atal Bihari Vajpayee who last tried to break ground with his bus-yatra, but alas the effort did not bear the desired fruit for reasons now best known to all.
Things happen the way they happen for a variety of reasons. No harm in trying again. The process of peace may be tougher but it is any day cheaper than the cost of war. Death comes only once but the fear of death haunts a lifetime and extracts hundred times the price.
Scarce, precious resources are being frittered away in a deadly arms race on both sides, money that could otherwise best serve the people.
Additionally, an entire global commerce thrives based purely on the confrontation between the two. Whether it is contraband, clandestine arms and narcotics or plain export-import of terror. Land or sea trade that could ensure cheap and easy movement of commodities find circuitous ways of travel causing time and cost overruns. Or again, the plain business of opposing each other is painfully costly. Neither country gains, others do.
Sharif hit the nail on the head when he said that there were constituencies opposed to the peace process, and this process needed to be insulated from such forces. While he has his hands full dealing with loads of them on his own terrain, Modi’s problems are more intricate.
Sample the headlines in and around the same time. In Delhi BJP general secretary Ram Madhav is quoted in an interview to Al Jazeera TV reiterating the traditional RSS line that India, Pakistan and Bangladesh could re-unite through popular goodwill to form ‘Akhand Bharat’, adding “as an RSS member I also hold on to this view”.
Same day in Mumbai, Modi’s minister Giriraj Singh is quoted saying “that the time has come to redefine minority and called for curbing uncontrolled growth of population through a uniform policy for Indians”. Why does a minister of state for micro, small and medium enterprises out to review the progress of projects undertaken by his ministry need to stray into alien territory? Babies and population is not his mandated responsibility.
Knowing Modi as this reporter does, having spent a fair share of his journalistic career covering him, one would deign to say that the worthies in question would not be able to open their mouth – out of turn – in his presence.
The capacity of the likes of such people to do good may be limited but their ability to throw a spanner in the works of their leader is immense. One is inclined to believe that at least a fair share of Modi’s problems would stand solved if he slaps a silencer on the motor-mouths within his own larger party.
By the way, many of their ilk wanted Amir Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan or many other ‘khans’ and ‘pathans’ to go to Pakistan. See who actually went? And how? Silence is sagacious. The past is already a blur. A new dawn beckons.
With hope. Amen, Ameen, Tatasthu!
---
*Senior Gandhinagar-based journalist. Blog: http://wordsmithsandnewsplumbers.blogspot.in/

Comments

TRENDING

Green revolution "not sustainable", Bt cotton a failure in India: MS Swaminathan

Counterview Desk
In a recent paper in the journal “Current Science”, distinguished scientist PC Kesaven and his colleague MS Swaminathan, widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution, have argued that Bt insecticidal cotton, widely regarded as the continuation of the Green Revolution, has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.
Sharply taking on Green Revolution, the authors say, it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts, insisting on the need to move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking. Seeking to address the concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution, they argue in favour of what they call sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’, based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’.
Pointing out that Evergreen Revol…

Rejoinder: Inescapable to have Central Water Commission as strong technical body in India

By BN Navalawala*
This is with reference to Counterview Blog (December 5, 2018), "Modi govt 'shelves' water reforms report, shows 'no interest' in its recommendations", below mentioned are my comments/observations thereon:
A committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mihir Shah, Former Member, Planning Commission, for restructuring of Central Water Commission (CWC) and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) for optimal development of water resources in the country in the backdrop of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Rejoinder: Worldwide anxiety post-Fukishima is fading, slowly and steadily

By Dr KS Parthasarathy* 
EAS Sarma, former Secretary, Government of India (GoI) in a letter addressed to the Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), GoI, stated that, there has been "worldwide anxiety about the consequences of catastrophic nuclear accidents, either due to manual lapses or natural calamities" (Counterview, December 2, 2018). "In the recent years, globally, the pace of growth of nuclear power has escalated in leaps and bounds, causing a great deal of public concern and apprehension."

Karnataka: NGO Akshay Patra "not sensitive" to nutrition demands of school children

Counterview Desk
Well-known civil rights organizations, Right to Food Campaign and Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, have sent a letter to the Union minister of human resource development, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, other concerned ministers and officials of the state expressing concerns regarding the mid-day meal (MDM) to school children, insisting, all contracts to the Akshay Patra for supply of MDM should be immediately terminated.

India's rewritten textbooks talk of demerits of democracy, praise Hitler, underrate Mughals

Counterview Desk
A detailed, 3,800-word review of the books rewritten under directions of the BJP rulers across India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 has suggested that one of aims of the books is to instill a sense of doubt about India’s democratic polity among the country’s young minds. Reviewed in the prestigious US journal, “The New York Review of Books”, in its latest issue (December 6, 2018) by Alex Traub, the scrutiny insists, the effort has also been to paint Indian history from the angle of “Hindu triumphalism”, even as creating “Islamophobia”.

Modi's PRO, who served previous Congress, BJP CMs in Gujarat with "equal" competence

By Rajiv Shah
A public relations officer (PRO), even as maintaining anonymity, is supposed to “manage” reputation of his or her client, reflecting the client’s views in order to influence opinion and behaviour. A PRO is also known to use, the world over, media and communication to build, maintain, manage and plan publicity strategies and campaigns, even as dealing with enquiries from the public, particularly media, organising promotional events such as press conferences, open days, exhibitions, tours and visits. A PRO is also supposed to final touches to press statements for his or client.

Proposed expansion of Karnataka N-plant "ignores" worldwide anxiety post-Fukishima

Counterview Desk
EAS Sarma, former secretary, Government of India (GoI), in a letter addressed to secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), GoI, with copies to chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and chairman Karnataka Pollution Control Board, has said that radiation and environmental risks have been ignored in DAE’s proposal to set up Units 5 & 6 (2X700MWe) at Kaiga Nuclear Power Station in Karnataka.

80% school children are beaten up, 91% parents "approve" of it: Report

By Rajiv Shah
A recent report, prepared by researchers with the civil rights group, Agrasar, has revealed that of the 521 children from marginalized groups surveyed in Gurugram, Haryana, 80% said they are punished at school. Based on data collected from semi-urban communities in Gurugram, the report’s conclusions also take into account survey 100 parents, personal interviews with 26 children, three focus group discussions and one seasonal calendar exercise with 29 parents.

Forced child labour rampant in Uttar Pradesh sugarcane fields: Oxfam study

By Rajiv Shah
A 14-year-old boy and his older brother were hired by an agent from Bihar under the pretext of getting them a job in a shoe factory in Uttar Pradesh. The agent brought with him a dozen-odd to Uttar Pradesh under the pretext of offering work to them in a factory. Only upon arrival in Muzaffarnagar, the boys were told that they would be working in a sugarcane field.