i'm not leftist, i'm not rightist, i'm a typist
in there like swimwear
Good one Dilip. Nice to note the parallels you draw between the WW-I and our LOC thing. Reminds me of some ad (the one which has "Nokia black-coffee" guy) exchanging some wine across the fence :) Ideally, I do feel it's possible. Just how many years it will take, we don't know.I also have a question here. You say the LOC is invisible line between the posts, and is maintained like a sort of gentleman's agreement between two posts. Then what is that barbed wire and the muddy track in the picture accompanying the article? Is it something like two fences with 50 metres apart and no-man's land in between. I had read/heard of such a thing, but never had this fact confirmed through any first-hand account. Pls clarify.Btw, your article is in Tehelka's free to read section. It won't need subscription, ever.
Nice article..Dilip, I like the part where you present the human side to the barbed wire between India and Pakistan.I can imagine soldiers on either side of the L.O.C getting deputed to the trenches in the front line fighting a person deemed an enemy. Who decides who is enemy, some official sitting in Delhi or Islamabad! The official who has neither seen who is fighting for him and nor has he seen who is getting killed as a direct consequence of his decisions. But this is how it is on the front line. You defend an inch, a foot of a land with your sweat and blood. No questions asked!It was very interesting to read about the incident during the world war, where the human spirit prevailed and people put down their weapons to celebrate life amidst death, insanity. I guess this is what keeps my faith alive that we as people will eventually make it.People on the Pakistan border are not that different from us; some of us even share ancestors. But…I wonder, what is making Indians and Pakistanis keep their weapons pointed at each other. Do they even understand why they need to man their posts all the time… I doubt it.I wonder, what the soldier is thinking before he pulls the trigger to kill. Does he think, I am killing a person who is a son, a husband, a father, a brother… I doubt it.I wonder, what the official is thinking before he gives the order to take a certain forward post. Does he think of the cost, does he even look at the names of the people killed in that mission… I doubt it.War is a SAD business and what’s even worse is people who decided about the war deal in human lives as collateral currency.BTW; Suhail the barbed wire you see is because of the ongoing effort to secure borders from the terrorists and the muddy track is way for vehicles to patrol the border.~Shamz~
I loved the last paragraph.Patriotism is a strange thing especially the way we link it to war.interesting.
This is surprisingly common, though to us civilians it is hard to wrap our heads around. In the American civil war, things were even murkier since both sides were pretty much the same people. Even relatives sometimes! There were times when both sides would take a break, get together, drink, play games etc. and then go back to the trenches the next day and start shooting each other!War is a very weird thing. For a long time, we have all been given sterilized versions of it by the official media. Nowadays, with more and cheaper modern communication equipment, we get to see and hear a lot more. Abu Ghraib was one such example. So are the hostage takings and the beheading videos.Hopefully, enough people will eventually see that wars are actually quite inglorious and absurd.
Let me play devil's advocate.Actually, some wars are necessary. I would deem Lincoln more courageous than Gandhi (and more true to the lessons of the Bhagavad Gita) for having had the will to fight the civil war for 4 long years at terrible cost. It ended up saving the country and actually helping the union survive. Not many confederates and unionists killed each other after 1865. Compare that to our pig headed insistence on a fake peace in 1947 - when we were winning the war in Kashmir. We not only lost more than a million lives due to partition, but have lost thousands more in the next five decades.Sometimes a quick full-scale war is preferable to prolonged agony/war of attrition. For the sake of the soldiers and the citizens! Wars are not absurd. Just ask the survivors of Auschwitz or Birkenau.
That is a stretch, quizman. The only wars that are ever justified are the ones fought in defense. The American civil war is a bad example.It was a totally unjustified act of Northern aggression. Why do you assume saving the union was such a good thing? The Southern states had a right to secede.Actually, if you compare and contrast the US civil war and the revolutionary war before it, you will find people taking very contradictory stands. Most people support the colonies right to secede, but deny that right to the Southern states. Why? If being forced to stay together at all costs is the right thing, then USA (and India) did the wrong thing by "seceding" from the British government.
Suhail, I'm not sure what that picture is or where it is from. But you raise an interesting point about the fence. When I went to the LoC on the trip that stimulated this article, we encountered our LoC fence. In fact, the road crosses and re-crosses it over and over again. No, we weren't crossing and re-crossing into the Pakistan part of Kashmir; this happened because the fence is actually built a few hundred metres on our side of the LoC. Thanks for the clarification about the free to read section. Would never have struck me. How's Austin?Quizman, some wars are certainly necessary. Nothing but a war would have stopped Hitler, for example. There is, however, a difference between the necessity of war and the absurdity of the actual fighting. Many soldiers' memoirs (notably the one I keep quoting, Eugene Sledge's "With The Old Breed") make this point.As for the courage of Lincoln vs Gandhi, that's a specious comparison if you ask me. For one thing, as Sriram points out, the worth of that civil war is determined by the people who won it. Till today there are bitter arguments about that war; people in the South who don't see it as such a great thing that the North won it. (I found one such argument in the message boards for the film "Cold Mountain" on imdb.com -- check it out).But apart from that, if a man decides that the most effective way he has to fight an oppressive regime is not to take up arms, but to use nonviolence as a political weapon, is his decision necessarily less courageous than the man who decides to go to war for his cause? I can't see how.
Sriram,Well, all we need to do is ask the slaves how they would have felt in a confederacy. It imperiled their freedom. It was downright immoral. Dilip,I'm for non-violence as a strategy as I had stated here. But there are clearly immoral acts - violently splitting a nation in half on the behest of a few is one such act - which unfortunately deserve a military response. [Don't you see that the making of Pakistan was a gross betrayal of the Muslim who preferred to remain Indian?] If you think the Pakistanis and the terrorists that they sponsor can be placated, I will disagree vehemently. This is a different sort of war. Even a very prominent leftist/activist has written so. It is not about a chunk of Indian territory alone. What sort of non-violent protests will Bin Laden, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, or the Hizbul Mujaheddin listen to?
Quizman, But there are clearly immoral acts - violently splitting a nation in half on the behest of a few is one such act - which unfortunately deserve a military response. [Don't you see that the making of Pakistan was a gross betrayal of the Muslim who preferred to remain Indian?]What is clearly immoral? You're telling me the creation of Pakistan was a “clearly immoral” act? You truly believe that only “a few” wanted it? OK, let me paraphrase your own question to Sriram: all we need to do is ask the people who agitated for Pakistan how they would have felt in an undivided India. They believed it would not have been safe for them. (While we’re about it, let’s also ask Indian Muslims if the making of Pakistan grossly betrayed them).Read HM Seervai’s “Partition of India: Legend and Reality” for a discussion of some of this. Seervai says that Jinnah and the ML’s original demand was for constitutional guarantees for Muslims in a future Hindu-dominated India. The Congress response was that a one-person one-vote democracy was all the guarantee they needed. This is why that original demand then became a demand for a separate country. You may not like it, but this is Seervai’s argument, backed up (as you’d expect Seervai to do) with rock-solid evidence. So what was “clearly immoral”, you tell me?If you think the Pakistanis and the terrorists that they sponsor can be placated, I will disagree vehemently. This is a different sort of war. Even a very prominent leftist/activist has written so. It is not about a chunk of Indian territory alone. What sort of non-violent protests will Bin Laden, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, or the Hizbul Mujaheddin listen to?Where did all this come from? All I wrote was in response to your claim that Lincoln was more courageous than Gandhi. Whether this is a different sort of war, or whether Osama will listen to nonviolence, or whether prominent leftists have said something (what’s that mention of “leftist” supposed to do, immediately persuade me of the merits of his arguments which aren’t even germane here?) – what does any of this have to do with your claim that Lincoln was more courageous than Gandhi?And finally, what’s this about Pakistanis being “placated”? Are you saying that all Pakistanis are out there in some enraged frame of mind and need to be “placated”? Really?
Quizman,A couple of things. The American civil war was not about slavery - it was but an excuse. Do you think the Northern whites at that time wanted to treat blacks as equals? You are dreaming.You say - violently splitting a nation in half on the behest of a few is an immoral act - but when America became independent from the British, wasn't that a violent split on the behest of a few against the existing government? That too, by slave owners (gasp)?I believe everyone has a right to be independent - the American south, India, Kashmir, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Whatever. However, within that, I also believe each individual has the right to be independent and uncontrolled by his government as well.A few people here would agree with me on the first point. Almost no one agrees with me on the second point :-(
I've been having problems while trying to enter comments here. I get a database (?) error.1. I used the word immoral, not only because it split the nation in half but also because it split the Muslim people in half. That is why I used the CW analogy. It is wrong to split brothers asunder on the basis of language/religion and a myriad of other politically expedient reasons. The examples Sriram has given relate to people of a single land-mass unlike Muslims, who were never a "nation within a nation" (e.g. Tamilnadu for Tamilians for example). Even so, Tamilians are no longer exclusively based in TN. Therefore, partition would be a gross injustice for the millions of Tamilans who have settled down (some for generations) in other parts of India. Ditto for other states. 2. Sriram - I don't buy the Southern spiel/revisionist history about the civil war being about taxation & federal power. 3. Dilip - I mentioned Dhondy etc as a response to your last para in the previous comment on the use of non-violence. I'm all for it, except in exceptional circumstances which I mentioned in my post. Anyway, since we're stuck in two polaities vis-a-vis this dialogue, let us just agree to disagree. :-)
Sriram, you lament: Almost no one agrees with me on the second point :-(Don't feel too forlorn. I agree with you.Quizman, you say: It is wrong to split brothers asunder on the basis of language/religion and a myriad of other politically expedient reasons.I think I have the other end of this particular stick: I believe that if people merely have a common language/religion/whatever else, they don't necessarily become brothers, and should not be assumed to be so.I have no problems with your views on nonviolence. I have problems with a statement like "Even this prominent leftist says so" -- because that by itself will hardly persuade me.
Dilip,I meant brothers in the most literal sense (as in blood relation)I apologize if the prominent leftist reference sounded like a barb. I guess the word "even" before it was misplaced. I didn't mean it.
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