April 13, 2010

Conversations, #7

Seventh installment of Beena Sarwar's ongoing conversation with me, here: Frankly, my dear, let's give a damn.

Please ply me, or this page, with comments.

Previous installments are: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6.

52 comments:

Jai_C said...

Who comes up with the titles for these exchanges? :-)

rgds,
Jai

MastQalandar said...

"Why don’t they see that these policies were made by military regimes that the people of Pakistan had no influence or control over?"

Fine. Agreed and endorsed.

"Why can’t they see the fight the current government is engaged in, having turned away from previous policies at great cost?"

Because the current Pakistani government seems to be attending to only those after effects of the past "misdeeds" of the Pakistani security apparatus which affect Pakistan and Pakistanis. India's concerns are not being addressed.

"Shouldn’t it have a larger heart and take the lead in supporting Pakistanis in what I believe is our joint struggle against terrorism?"

If it is really a "joint struggle" against terrorism shouldn't there be some movement on addressing India's valid concerns? Hafeez Sayeed? Dawood? Anyone, anything, to show that you seriously see it as a "joint struggle"? How does it help to say that there is insufficient proof or evidence against a Hafeez Sayeed, when government prosecutors do not even present whatever evidence has been provided by India (and also what has been uncovered by Pakistan agencies) to Pakistan courts, and so Sayeed is not even facing a trial? If these people are what Beena calls "strategic assets" for the security apparatus of Pakistan, and the civilian government is incapable of doing anything about them, what good will it do for India to talk to this civilian government who can deliver statements and platitudes but nothing more?

Dilip D'Souza said...

MQ, while I understand your sentiments, they do raise an old question in my mind.

You ask:
How does it help to say that there is insufficient proof or evidence against a Hafeez Sayeed, when government prosecutors do not even present whatever evidence has been provided by India (and also what has been uncovered by Pakistan agencies) to Pakistan courts, and so Sayeed is not even facing a trial?

Fair enough. No complaints. But when will we in India apply this very same reasoning to people within India accused of horrendous crimes?

We have had innumerable commissions (official and otherwise) that have collected evidence and testimonies against such names as Thackeray, Bhagat, Sarpotdar, Sajjan Kumar, Kamal Nath, Babu Bajrangi, on and on, for crimes going back as far as 25+ years now. Can you tell me when government prosecutors have presented any of this evidence to Indian courts? Can you tell me which of these people is "even facing trial"? (Yes, Sajjan Kumar is finally facing some kind of trial, after 25 years. Two others among those names are dead).

Sometimes I wonder if we in India should put ourselves in the shoes of folks outside India and listen to our demands that Pakistan try such people as Hafeez Sayeed. When we show little inclination and less urgency to punish guys within India, why would anyone outside take our demands seriously?

Why would anyone outside believe that we are interested in justice for terror inflicted on Indians?

MastQalandar said...

Dilip

I absolutely agree with you that all of those who you have mentioned should have faced criminal proceedings and their cases should have been judged by now. The state of affairs regarding them is a travesty of justice, and an insult to the victims of the incidents in which these people are said to have been involved. I also agree that our failure in doing this dilutes our own efforts to get others outside India to hear our calls for actions.

That said, my comment was in response to what Beena Sarwar has said in her last message to you in your ongoing exchange.

I think her points reveal a basic facet about her thinking, and probably that of the educated, balanced, civilian Pakistani - an almost overwhelming sense of victimisation. I can understand this feeling in the context of their successive disillusionment and betrayals by various civilian and military governments. But, at the end of the day, Pakistani civil society has to sort out the situation for itself. Only an internal churning can bring Pakistani civil society answers to their vexing questions and doubts regarding India.

I think dialogue, like the one between you and Beena, is useful in our understanding each others thinking. It allows both parties to hear the others' points of view in a relatively unsurcharged atmosphere, and, hopefully to factor it into one's thinking.

Similarly, I think we in India also need dialogue about issues such as the pending resolution of these "horrendous crimes", if there is to be a chance of seeing justice done. I consider your reminder here as part of that dialogue, and welcome it. And keep up your dialogue with Beena.

Dialogue is any day better than brainwashed silence and fossilized thoughts.

Chandru K said...

Very succinct description of the Pakistani mentality/ideology in another forum by one "Dharma":

Pakistan has stronger animal instinct, they first think in terms of strong-weak and victory-defeat.
India is too civilized, they first think in terms of right-wrong and justice.

This is a problem since Pakistan and such countries are spreading jungle rule while India and others do not realize the realities of this jungle rule.

Chandru K said...

"When we show little inclination and less urgency to punish guys within India, why would anyone outside take our demands seriously?"

There is no doubt, none whatsoever, that if India brings justice to the victims of its own domestic violence, that Pakistan, and most importantly the Pakistani military and associated Islamic terrorists, will see the light of day and say "Wonderful, India is now being very balanced and honourable , so we will punish Islamic terrorists operating from Pakistani soil"

Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

"When we show little inclination and less urgency to punish guys within India, why would anyone outside take our demands seriously?"

There is no doubt, none whatsoever, that if India brings justice to the victims of its own domestic violence, that Pakistan, and most importantly the Pakistani military and associated Islamic terrorists, will see the light of day and say "Wonderful, India is now being very balanced and honourable , so we will punish Islamic terrorists operating from Pakistani soil"

Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

Chandru and an anonymous giving identical comments?? who is plaigirizing who's comment??

Chandru K said...

Both are my messages; it looked like my first posting didn't go through, so I wrote again. Nothing mysterious here.

Anonymous said...

Both are my messages; it looked like my first posting didn't go through, so I wrote again. Nothing mysterious here.

Dilip D'Souza said...

MQ: an almost overwhelming sense of victimisation [among Pakistanis].

Funny, I could say the same about plenty of Indians -- no need to look further than the comments on this blog to find instances.

But thank you for your thoughts, really. My feeling is that both countries need to ignore and make irrelevant the people who are focused solely on feeling victimised. That will allow us to move on in more constructive directions.

Ketan said...

Dilip,

Unfortunately, I'm having to repeat this. The nature of evidence against all the Indians you have mentioned is very weak than that available against Hafeez Sayed. None of the people you mentioned have been caught on camera cheering a battalion of men wielding (illegal) sophisticated weapons. I wonder how many people in India disapprove of doing justice or taking preventative steps because of precedents set (by some other people/in some other time/at some other place).

If another terrorist attack in India occurs, will you say we have no moral right to ask for investigation or punishment for the guilty till all the previous accused are punished? Or that, because attacks had occurred in the past, and they could not be/were not prevented, we must not ask for prevention of future attacks? Your logic is not very far from saying, since people are dying because of hunger in Somalia, Indians do not find it justified to prevent those deaths in India. Worse would be, the US people applying this line of logic and thinking: since no one has been punished for Bhopal gas tragedy in India and they anyway don't care for their citizens, it's alright for us to nuke them.

Dilip D'Souza said...

The nature of evidence against all the Indians you have mentioned is very weak than that available against Hafeez Sayed.

Sounds to me not much different from the Pak authorities/citizens who say there's not enough evidence in the Indian dossiers against HS to proceed against him.

Thousands of Indians were slaughtered in the events that threw up the Indian names I mentioned. Somebody carried out that slaughter. We have instituted commissions after commissions that have carried out exhaustive investigations into those slaughters, lasting years. These remain the only investigations into those massacres that we've undertaken; the closest we have come to having actual trials. The commissions have given us their reports in which they name, based on the evidence placed before them, the people they found responsible for these various crimes.

Yet after all that, you (and plenty of others) refuse to entertain the possibility that there are people here we should be bringing before our justice process; you actually use the phrase "very weak" to describe the case against them.

How is this any different from the Pakistani refusal to take action against HS?

And if you deny the grounds for action against people named for crimes against Indians, why are you so outraged when Pakistanis do precisely the same thing?

I have nothing to say about the rest of your comment, because I see no logic there.

We have every right to demand, and must demand, action against people who commit crimes against us. Yet for some particular crimes, that demand gets all wishy-washy and all kinds of excuses are offered for such wishy-washiness. Like in your comment.

Like I said, it makes me wonder: When we show little inclination and less urgency to punish guys within India, why would anyone outside take our demands seriously? Why would anyone outside believe that we are really interested in justice for terror inflicted on Indians?

blueshift said...

"India is now being very balanced and honourable , so we will punish Islamic terrorists operating from Pakistani soil"


so you conclude that any way Pakis will not improve so we will keep killing Indians and trample justice in India....nice logic.

blueshift said...

Ketan

"Unfortunately, I'm having to repeat this. The nature of evidence against all the Indians you have mentioned is very weak than that available against Hafeez Sayed."

good logic ketan awesome.

Ketan said...

Dilip,

If it ("Pak authorities/citizens who say there's not enough evidence in the Indian dossiers against HS to proceed against him") sounds the same, then show me an instance where an Indian person who is seen in a video cheering a group of men wielding (illegal) sophisticated weapons is left untouched by Indian law system. If that's your argument , then I do judge the degree of unwillingness of state to prevent crime by the nature of evidence it refuses to act upon. Of course, any unwillingness to act is bad, but well, its degree to me matters.

Very recently, a Kashmiri man had been freed after 14 years in Tihar jail after having been found innocent by a court. This could have been prevented with some wishy washiness.

I'm also surprised you said you found no logic in my analogy.

Let me explain the analogy in steps:

1. US: "India did not act upon perpetrators of Bhopal gas tragedy" = Pakistan: "India did not act upon rioteers in which thousands of people were killed".

2. US: "Indians don't care for their own citizens" = Pakistan: "Indians don't care for their own citizens"

3. US: "Why should we care for Indian citizens?" = Pakistan: "Why should we care for Indian citizens?"

4. US: "So, it is alright if thousands of Indians die by some of our citizens deciding to nuke them". = "It is alright if thousands of Indians die by our letting HS do what he wants to".

And, you might have yet not noticed, but through my comments on your blog I have neither demanded nor opposed taking judicial steps involving those perceived to be guilty, either in Pakistan or India. It is only you who has been equating compilation of witness accounts with a video clip.

I am only showing you the fallacy I see in the logic you apply which entails punishing one set of crimes to be a made a prerequisite to prevention of other set of crimes. If I see a video of an Indian person cheering men armed with (illegal) sophisticated guns to kill people, I would be surprised if Indians would cite inaction against suspects of past crimes as "reason" to not act against the person shown in the video.

Ketan said...

And Dilip, let me clarify one more thing, lest you misunderstand me. I am not significantly outraged by anything Pakistanis/Indians do/not do. Because expression of my outrage or lack of it, is not going to change anything.

I find fallacy in your arguments, which I try to point out. Where have I used words that indicate outrage? If I am annoyed by anything, it is the fallacy I see in your argument, which incidentally you have repeated, & so have I, refutation of the same. After your next reply, I will not respond to, if you make the same argument.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Before I try answering (again?) your points, Ketan, let me quote some lines from a book I am reading (Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R Miller).

Miller is addressing those who "reject the very idea that any theory about the past can be scientific". About the natural history of the earth, such people would say, "since there were no human witnesses to the earth's past ... all arguments about that past, including evolution, are pure speculation".

Miller tackles this argument by making an analogy with a burglary that can be investigated and solved because even with the burglar's best efforts, he will inevitably leave signs behind at the scene. Then Miller says:

"A police detective would scoff at the notion that crimes can be solved only when they are witnessed directly. Not a single person witnessed Timothy McVeigh park a rental truck in front of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. Nonetheless, when McVeigh was apprehended on an unrelated charge, investigators quickly assembled a web of evidence that left little doubt that he had been deeply involved in the planning and execution of the bombing. The simple fact is that we can learn about the past by applying good, old-fashioned detective work to the clues that have been left behind."

Dilip D'Souza said...

The point, Ketan, is that if we wait for suspects to produce "a video cheering a group of men wielding (illegal) sophisticated weapons" before we bring them to justice, we will never punish anyone.

The Nanda kid (BMW hit-and-run case) was convicted and punished based on "compilation of witness accounts". So were Billa and Ranga (Sanjay and Geeta Chopra murders). So was Nanavati. So were the 180 or so who were tried for the 1993 Bombay bomb blasts. Etc.

None of these suspects produced a "video clip" announcing their guilt. They were punished anyway, based on witnesses and evidence.

I have never said "punishing one set of crimes is a prerequisite to prevention of other set of crimes". I'm saying (again): When we show little inclination and less urgency to punish guys within India, why would anyone outside take our demands seriously? Why would anyone outside believe that we are really interested in justice for terror inflicted on Indians?

As for outrage, I am outraged that Pak continues to dismiss Indian evidence against HS. (I cannot understand why you deny such outrage now). But I am just as outraged that there are people in India who dismiss Indian evidence against Indian suspects -- like those names I mentioned, named in any number of inquiries that examined witnesses and gathered evidence. It baffles me that there are people -- like you -- who would say such evidence is "very weak".

Finally, I still have nothing to say about the rest of your comment, now explained in numbered stpes, because I still see no logic there. Whether you choose to respond or not is your call, really.

Ketan said...

Thanks Dilip for the quote & other info you gave!

I hope you did not miss my following point which addresses the point you have raised.

"I judge the degree of unwillingness of state to prevent crime by the nature of evidence it refuses to act upon. Of course, any unwillingness to act is bad, but well, its degree to me matters."

There's a distinction between feeling outrage, & its expression.

Moreover, I do not feel great outrage in either cases (failure of Pakistan's system or India's), because in my opinion, problems are rooted in human psychology, narcissism, opportunism, and inordinate servility before money & perceived power and status. Directly or indirectly, it is these problems that have led to the failure of societies like India's (& Pakistan and many others), including failure of the justice system. It could be my lack of myopia, but without correcting the above, there's little chance justice-dispensing system could improve considering at how many stages subjective 'discretion' is involved. And no, I do not have the means to try to improve the more fundamental problems I mentioned.

You may see my comment as a digression or deflection, but well, after more than a few cycles of arguments, I thought it pertinent to tell you of my most basic doubts & conjectures. If you feel that there is some way to circumvent problems I mentioned, & make judiciary truly just and fair without tackling them, I wish you the best (no sarcasm, here).

Yes, someday if someone close to me or myself would be harmed by the current society & law, I would not be intellectalising to this degree and would be much greatly outraged, but I would still remain aware of the deeper problems plaguing the society.

Jai_C said...

1. Thank you MastQ.

Please read acorn.nationalinterest.in to get a better idea of the selectivity of Pakistan's anti-terrorist operations.

Even some of the feted captures of Pakistani militants like Baradar have a hidden motive - reportedly Baradar was engaging Karzai in negotiations and there was imminent danger of some form of *peace* breaking out between the Baradar faction and the Afghan govt.

2. Pakistani civil society is, per that space, more radicalized than ours.

For one example, its said that many Lal Masjid defenders were students of Beaconhouse. I dont know the place, but from the portentous tone employed, that maybe like Stephenians fighting and dying for Kalkaji?

I know INI space tilts to the right. The counter-view from the other side is unfortunately not available, since the idea appears to be to "ignore and make irrelevant" such PoVs.


3. Ketan,

In addition to Dilip's excellent points: if its only video evidence that will satisfy you, what do you have to say about the "Ekta Kapoor soap" creator Babu Bajrangi.

Is it a precondition that the speaker should know and enjoy the fact that he is on camera?

Should he have also waved a gun around?

thanks,
Jai

Dilip D'Souza said...

The counter-view from the other side is unfortunately not available, since the idea appears to be to "ignore and make irrelevant" such PoVs.

I will ignore people whose only argument is that they are victims, whose only effort is to persuade everyone else that they are victims. I will do so because it is futile trying to argue with such people. They are welcome to keep making their efforts, as some do on this blog. I will ignore them, that's all.

It's a shame that you appear to think that included you.

That's all I'll say on this.

Ketan said...

Jai,

You also missed my point on degree of unwillingness based on what kind of evidence is being ignored.

I have clarified in my prior comment itself why I personally do not demand justice the way Dilip does.

I had read your comment regarding your friend's property dispute, & possibility to influence judgements by having the sitting judges changed. Sorry for not having replied there. If I assume having the judge changed would have definitely changed the court verdict in your friend's favor, in case of Bajrangi, have you considered the media glare, the fact that it was a criminal case, and the relative strength of opposition (of Modi) that would monitor & try to influence such cases? Was your friend's case comparable to Bajrangi's in all these aspects? Also, what do you think is the probability a judge would say, "you should be hanged, not once, but 4-5 times", or throw the court papers in his face? Of course, in light of these to put them mildly, implausibilities, if you still conclude, his account pins guilt against Modi exactly the way HS' video does, then you are at liberty to consider me biased (for?) & blinded (by?).

If tomorrow there's a video with Muslims of Gujarat stating they were rescued by police, otherwise they would've been killed by mobs, & that thus they were saved by the state administration (which incidentally happens to be an aspect of truth that's not come out in open), would you conclude with equal ease Modi was not responsible for what he's charged with?

I have never stated that video evidence of crime must be the only accepted basis to initiate legal action, just that ignoring a video clip (in which crime is being actively committed) of men illegally possessing guns & their being cheered on is a greater subversion of justice than of ignoring the kind of evidences cited by Dilip & you. I would maintain my assessment of respective strengths of evidence irrespective of which country the evidence is collected in, or who it is against.

As an interesting digression, there's a write up with the Lal Masjid-incident & the 'defendents' as a case in point. ;)

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/columnists/19-nadeem-f-paracha-smug-thugs-830-hh-05

Also, did you see logic in US-people hypothetically finding it alright to nuke India on basis of little justice done in case of Bhopal gas tragedy?

Ketan said...

And one more thing, I was myself not much convinced of the obligation on Pakistan to take action against HS only on the basis of dossiers submitted by India. I had assumed that Indian agencies must have done shoddy investigation as usual, and it was overambitious to expect action against him on that basis. My opinion on the whole issue changed only after seeing the video on TV I have talked about, which had originated in Pakistan, and supposedly terrorist groups themselves release.

Jai_C said...

1. Ketan,

Inspite of my deep disagreements with you, thanks for continuing to engage with this blogspace. For very long we only had a Chandru, sometimes with a Nikhil add-on. I hope you will continue.

My immediate question was about Bajrangi, not Modi (though I certainly want him prosecuted as well).

Q. Do you think there is any process currently being applied to Bajrangi? If so are you happy with it? Does he or does he not satisfy your video criteria?

2. Dilip, (hoop alert and sorry)

I did misspeak about the ignore as you spelt it out. But its a larger point I was trying to make, and a wish.

I realize it will be many moons and Sahir's baby will bounce on your lap :-) before you ask Beena (or her descendants) directly to go after the Saeeds (or his descendants) in their society.

This saddens me because I think such a demand coming from a non-right space of the spectrum would have carried considerably more weight and there would not have been an easy :common enemy: identification you have going.

I am uncomfortable with telling you what to do; thats *exactly* what this is. Sorry for knowing this is a hoop and still tossing it up.

As punishment, I will go sit in my corner of blogspace for the remainder of this conversation series. Fair enough?

Bye all and thanks for reading,
Jai

Chandru K said...

I am still here. I don't agree that there should be action against Bajrangi. When India is under ideological and bloody warfare from Naxals and Islamic jihadists, why should we go after minor alleged criminals like Bajrangi, for their alleged role in the *reactive* (and minor) violence of Gujarat?

Give me a break.

Chandru K said...

The last posting under "Chandru K" is not mine, for the record. I would agree that relentless ideological terror against India on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis, needs the attention of Indians more than reactive, localised violence, committed under the most extreme provocation.

Anonymous said...

I am still here. I don't agree that there should be action against Bajrangi. When India is under ideological and bloody warfare from Naxals and Islamic jihadists, why should we go after minor alleged criminals like Bajrangi, for their alleged role in the *reactive* (and minor) violence of Gujarat?

Give me a break.

Chandru K said...

Sorry last comment was mine, it looked again like my first time posting it didn't go through, so I wrote again.

Chandru K said...

I agree and repeat: the Gujarat violence was very minor, almost negligible, in comparison to the terror like 26/11.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Let me try and introduce some sanity here in between the best efforts of Chandru K and his admirers ...

I realize it will be many moons and Sahir's baby will bounce on your lap :-) before you ask Beena (or her descendants) directly to go after the Saeeds (or his descendants) in their society.

Why? If I ask for justice against criminals in India, why would I be uninterested in justice against criminals in Pakistan?

The rest, about the "non-right space" and "considerably more weight", doesn't interest me much.

Dilip D'Souza said...

ignoring a video clip (in which crime is being actively committed) of men illegally possessing guns & their being cheered on is a greater subversion of justice than of ignoring the kind of evidences cited by Dilip & you.

I'm not interested in what's "greater". I am interested in justice.

The "evidences cited by Dilip" were collected by:

* in the case of the 1992-93 Bombay massacre, an official inquiry commission that heard witnesses for 5+ years before writing a report (and more than one unofficial inquiry).

* in the case of the 2002 Gujarat massacre, at least two official inquiries that heard witnesses for 5-6 years too before writing a report (and more than one unofficial inquiry).

* in the case of the 1984 Delhi massacre, I think 9 (or is it 10?) official inquiries that heard witnesses over 20+ years before writing a report (and again, more than one unofficial inquiry).

After all this effort, someone like you suggests that the evidence is "very weak" and ignoring it is a lesser subversion of justice than something that happened in Pakistan.

May I submit that this kind of attitude towards crimes against Indians is precisely why we are unable to punish anyone for those acts of terrorism, precisely why even you refer to the "failure of societies like India's".

Chandru K said...

Again for the record, the last posting under "Chandru K" is not by me. Though I agree with him (her?) that the Gujarat violence was negligible and can be safely ignored.

By any measure (except people killed), the ideological-based terror of 26/11 was infinitely worse for India.

Ketan said...

Jai,

Evidence against Babu Bajrangi is primarily auditory. Remove the sound from the video clip, & you know what remains of the clip. I have not watched the video clip myself. But from reading the transcript & its criticism, there were at least 2 major flaws:

1. The point of transition between Bajrangi's recounting what he was accused of in the FIR & his boasting of crimes is not clear.

2. The above points I pointed out (manner of changing of judges & their behavior) for me at least make it doubtful if the person was speaking the truth.

Both these points raise two possibilities - either some portions of the voice were edited or the voice is not his.

I do not know what Bajrangi is doing currently. He was in jail for 6 months, then had got a bail. This had come under heavy criticism in India, and after that I tried to find out on Google & Wikipedia, but couldn't get more info.

Babu Bajrangi is very very likely guilty. But that guilt is not established by the video clip (because of problems I pointed out). He must be punished. If he is currently roaming free, it is a failure of our justice system.

Now coming to the important part. Applying Dilip's logic, we do not need to take preventative or corrective actions as long as old cases are not done justice to. In some cases suspects/proven criminals have even died, without enjoying full share of punishment due to them.

If people in other parts of the country, in some other time had not cared about the safety & welfare of people living amidst them, why must we start caring now? I have problem with this attitude. As I have clarified earlier, I have not expressed my outrage or interest (irrepective of whether they exist or not) through my comments on this blog. I'm only pointing out what I consider flawed in above argument.

Now if you want to find flaw in HS' video clip, I will myself point it out. The terrorists were just holding toy guns! See, how equally silly the problems with Bajrangi's & HS' video clips are, right?

Yes Modi must be investigated based on evidence available, but that evidence is not Tehelka clip for reasons I pointed out.

I'm only pointing out why Dilip's line of logic legitimatizes the hypothetical situation I've put before you of India getting nuked.

You would be wrong to assume I consider evidence against HS stronger than Bajrangi only because it originated outside of India.

Ketan said...

Dilip,

You are interested in justice and that is a good thing, no doubt. But your basis for asking or denying justice is what I am against. Yes, for me degree of subversion of justice matters when considering severity of two different problems. If judicial enquiries are foolproof why have different committees concluded different reasons for Godhra train burning? I understand, there being margin for error is not the reason for not taking legal action, but I consider conclusions of such committees less unequivocal than the kind of video clip that showed HS - something which you seem to disagree with. And my conclusion is irrespective of whether the clip & committed reports would originate in India or Pakistan.

Lastly, "very weak" was in comparison with evidence against HS.

Yes Dilip, you may reason out that my kind of attitude has led to failure of societies like India's if it, but as far as I know I have never blocked any legal action myself, and I do not consider one mistake as a justification to make another.

Ketan said...

Chandru,

While, I would agree that individuals behind attacks like 26/11 & Naxal violence are unrelenting, and mounting attacks again and again, the fundamental cause for events like Gujarat riots & all religion-based attacks is the same - substituting individual identity with religious identity. The ideas that: "I am as worthy as the perceived worth of religion I was born into" or "attack against someone of my religion is attack against me" or "by attacking an individual belonging to a religion, I am attacking his/her religion" - all are the causes of such violence. If people would stop borrowing their identities from larger groups like religion, region, country, caste, etc., such organized violence would stop. Then, whatever violence would persist would be professional crime largely directed at making easy money or settling personal (and not group-based) scores. Not that this kind of crime is good, but overall world would be lot more peaceful. How to make people less attached to group identities is a difficult question to answer, but unless & untill we start thinking in that direction these things are not going to stop, in my opinion.

MastQalandar said...

Coming back to the dialog between Dilip and Beena, to me as an individual the point of such a dialog is to:

- directly hear each others concerns in an unsurcharged atmosphere
- see if these concerns appear valid to oneself, or give one's own arguments pointing out any apparent fallacies
- arrive at a set of agreed points

For instance I feel the fears regarding water issues with India, which Beena mentions at the end of her reply to Dilip, while understandable, are misplaced. The 50 year old Indus Waters treaty framework seems to be working and has not been breached by India (as far as I am aware). Even if it were to be breached by India, the treaty itself specifies dispute resolution mechanisms which have worked in the past. Several writers in Pakistani media, and even the foreign minister, have pointed out that India is not behind Pakistan's present water problems (see http://www.thehindu.com/2010/04/06/stories/2010040656321300.htm). Yet, if these rumours are still being fanned, one must ask the old detective question "who benefits from the crime"? Well the Pakistani security apparatus does appear to be one major beneficiary.

If we consider Beena Sarwar an opinion maker in Pakistan, it may be to the benefit of a lot of the visitors and commenters here to avoid being cynical and give their considered opinions on the points raised in the dialog so far?

Sorry, Dilip, to presume to guide the discourse on what is actually your blog :).

Ketan said...

MastQalandar,

Everyone is an opinion maker in their own right, but some peoples' opinions reach far larger audience than average persons (like me). Beena Sarwar is certainly one of them, and so is Dilip.

But I had asked a question previously, is there an existing mechanism through which opinions would translate into policies? This is particularly difficult in representative democracy, i.e., in India as well as Pakistan. Because in both countries people do not vote directly for policies, but people who promise to implement certain policies in their five year tenure. Unfortunately, there is no method to ensure that the policies would be implemented as promised. The fear of losing elections has stopped being a major factor, as very few legislatives actually want to get elected for the next term by implementing policies that would benefit the people. So though discussions on policy matters, whether they be through blogs, twitter, newspaper columns, etc. are laudable and more important, interesting, as they amount to participating in democracy as dutiful citizens, they stand little chance of being heard by those who matter. Those who matter are not stupid people; they have reasons to be what they are & for making the decisions they make. And I am afraid, they have very little incentive to make decisions in larger good of the people.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Applying Dilip's logic, we do not need to take preventative or corrective actions as long as old cases are not done justice to.

This is my logic? Please do me the favour of explaining exactly where/how I have made such an argument.

Here are the basic questions I asked in my first comment here: When we show little inclination and less urgency to punish guys within India, why would anyone outside take our demands seriously? Why would anyone outside believe that we are really interested in justice for terror inflicted on Indians?

Can you explain to me the logic whereby this gets translated into "we do not need to take preventative or corrective actions as long as old cases are not done justice to"?

Thanks very much.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Ketan, didn't mean to cut short previous comment, happened inadvertently.

"very weak" was in comparison with evidence against HS.

Even so, it is just this kind of comparatively "very weak" evidence that was enough to convict and punish, as I pointed out, Billa/Ranga, Nanda, Nanavati and plenty of others. Why is it not enough to bring to justice the people named as suspects in these other cases? (1992-93, 1984, 2002).

they have very little incentive to make decisions in larger good of the people.

Which then is exactly the role of ordinary citizens in a representative democracy: to give them such incentives. This is what is meant by such terms as an "active citizenry" and the "responsibilities" that come along with the rights in a democracy.

Such a tool as RTI will help in giving "those who matter" such incentives.

Dilip D'Souza said...

MQ, the whole idea of posting these exchanges here is to look for thoughts from people like you and Ketan and others here that will inform the exchange with Beena S. So please don't apologize.

I think you're right: the idea must be to hear each others' concerns (like the water issue) and address them. In the next instalment, we try to do that with this water issue, so please watch for it. I'd like to see where it goes.

I also think you're right in urging a decrease in cynicism. It's a big challenge for me.

MastQalandar said...

Ketan,

There is no mechanism which guarantees that opinions will translate into policies.

There are however existing mechanisms which can make opinions available to others, including those making and running policies.

A thought experiment: If a group of concerned people arrive at a list of (what they consider) worthwhile action points regarding a particular matter of public interest, they could forward the list to the central or state minister or deputy minister concerned, their MP or MLA, the media, and make them aware.

This could be done as an individual also (and not as a group), but may carry more weight if a group is involved.

Tools such as RTI, as Dilip suggests, are also available.

One may chuckle at the naivete of the suggestion, but the process of an idea gaining critical mass has to necessarily start with individual "drop-by-drop" efforts.

May be wishful thinking or day dreaming.
Or may be not?

Hence the thought again - are there points in the ongoing Dilip-Beena dialog so far that can be constructively developed further.

Ketan said...

"Why would anyone outside believe that we are really interested in justice for terror inflicted on Indians?"

Why do Pakistani authorities need to estimate whether Indians are truly interested in preventing terror or not, when evidence is presented? Amount of interest does not alter the merit of evidence, I suppose.

Are you trying to say Pakistan's authorities must show concern for Indian citizens only if Indian government shows concern for Indian citizens? What if a tyrannical dictator starts ruling India, & forget punishing old criminals, he indiscrimanately starts killing Indian citizens, then what should be Pakistani authorities' attitude? It is the same idea that would give legitimacy to the US nuking India in the hypothetical situation I had presented, though you've still refused to see the validity of that analogy. The basic issue is: does Pakistan find evidence against HS sufficient or not? If they are finding it insufficient (independent of what evidences were found insufficient in India) citing rational reasons, then their not taking action is alright. But if they are indeed finding evidence insufficient against HS only because Indian authorities had found some other evidence for some other crime insufficient, then I'm afrain they are following a (possibly) bad example & on a flawed premise. They have the option of not doing that, and can try acting independent of how law operates in India.

I hope you are not suggesting that police should first estimate the sincerity of concern of a complainant, rather than guage the merit of account before registering an FIR. Or likewise, judges before passing judgments should first try to guage the humanitarian concern of those presenting & validating evidence?

What is more important to decide to take legal action - strength of evidence presented or perceived concern behind presenting it?

You have implied, establishing one's sincerity for justice is desirable/imperative/essential, which (according to you) can only be done by punishing all those implicated by investigating committees before preventing new crimes. By this I hope I have answered your question ("This is my logic? Please do me the favour of explaining exactly where/ how I have made such an argument.")...

Ketan said...

...And there's one more thing that you have been denying, i.e., different kinds of evidences could have different strengths. If I can see HS cheering on a battalion of men holding illegal guns, I can draw only one conclusion, that he is a criminal. But reading a report that implicates certain people, which in turn is prepared on the basis of witness accounts (and maybe even hard forensic & circumstantial evidence) is not as convincing as first case, because as I pointed out even from identical data, two committees can come up with drastically different conclusions (e.g., cause of Godhra train fire in which at least over 200 witnesses were available). If former evidence is deliberately ignored it is a greater failure of the state (including the citizens), if latter is deliberately ignored, it is still a failure of the state (and citizens), but a lesser one. Whether it is India that is failing to greater degree or Pakistan is immaterial, but why should other instances of state failure be cited as justifications to deliberately fail to a greater degree by a state?

If I am upfront calling all this as state (& to slight extent citizens') failure I hope you will not feel I am against Indian agencies initiating legal action against those charged.

Having interacted with a few Pakistani people, they have fortunately not told me they would like to prevent terrorists from operating on their soil only if those implicated by committees you have named would be punished.

Because they are aware the same men that are in employment of HS, are likely to kill Pakistani citizens also.

Also, why do you or Pakistani authorities not conclude from judgments like against Khap panchayat members or national immunization programs, that Indians are serious about justice & care for fellow citizens respectively?

RTI helps citizens know what government & their officials are doing, it does not serve as incentive for them to make policies that would do good to the citizens. A bad policy implemented with great transparency, will not be good for citizens.

Active citizenry can give rise to good policy ideas, but how do we make it incumbent upon those in power to implement those policies? The only way is by threatening to vote them out if they do not heed our voice. But what if they are no longer afraid of not getting voted after 5 years in power (which I suspect is the case)?

Ketan said...

Dilip, and MastQalandar again,

I've inadvertently answered your query in my previous comment, that even by whatever mechanism we make legislatives hear our voice, they will not act upon it unless they are afraid of not acting upon it. What would be they afraid of? I fear, nothing.

Yes, mine is a very cynical view based on people I have seen all around me. I consider department heads, hospital superintendent, college trustees, etc., as small scale models of more powerful politicians. And from what I've gathered, till achieving of specific targets or completing certain tasks becomes the basis for their earning, there is no incentive for professionals to do good work.

Why are private enterprises successful? Because, what employees earn is directly proportional to profits they make. Why government organizations fail (especially in India)? Because, irrespective of (quality of) work done, pay remains fixed.

Also there is small problem with Indians. We choose our vocations not on based our passion & aptitude, but rather largely on what would bring us money. Till the culture of pursuing one's true passion through vocation becomes prevalent in the society, we cannot see the bad performance & corruption of politicians, bureaucrats, police & judiciary in isolation. Almost all Indians do not love their vocation. They are interested in money through whatever means possible.

There certainly are a few intelligent, farsighted people in society who are possibly also sincere about welfare of citizens, but they cannot invest Rs. 2 crore - the average amount to fight an election.

These are few of the practical problems I could guage, which are responsible for problems we face. These are in turn because India has been a society cursed with deprivation. And so our survival instincts are much more acute. This makes the end (getting things done to survive) justify the means (uninteresting careers, bribing, accepting bribes, lying, sycophancy, nepotism, etc). We do not state this openly, but these means have gained sufficient social legitimacy. We do not shun our relatives or friends who indulge in above things. These unethical means get reinforced as part of growing up. They persist even if our goal changes from survival to wanton display of wealth or showing others down.

Our politicians & bureaucrats come from same pool of people, & with similar, but more acute (lack of) values. Pakistan also faces similar problems.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Ketan, I can't keep up with you!

Why do Pakistani authorities need to estimate whether Indians are truly interested in preventing terror or not, when evidence is presented?

My mistake, I can see, to use that word "outside", and imply therefore that us taking an action is a prerequisite for Pakistan to take action.

Remove any reference to "outside". When we show little inclination and less urgency to punish guys within India, why would anyone take our demands seriously? Why would anyone believe that we are really interested in justice for terror inflicted on Indians?

Here's the point: I myself have a hard time believing we truly want to punish terrorism -- because we show no inclination to proceed against guys within India. Therefore why should I be surprised (or outraged) when Pakistan shows exactly the same lack of inclination (i.e. with HS)?

If I truly believed that "we do not need to take preventative or corrective actions as long as old cases are not done justice to", why am I mentioning 2002, 1992-93 and 1984 in the same breath? After all, I believe there's been no justice for 1984. Why don't I just shut up about 2002 then?

Yet even if I cannot believe we are truly interested in punishing terrorism, that doesn't mean I won't continue to ask for justice for the terrorism of 1984, 1992-93 and 2002.

As for evidence of varying strength, the real problem I have is what's the relevance there.

To repeat, we have collected witnesses and evidence for the massacres of 1984 etc, by exactly the same process that we collected witnesses and evidence for the crime Billa and Ranga committed. We tried and punished B&R based on that evidence. (Nobody said the evidence was "very weak" compared to something else).

Why won't we try the guilty for 1984 etc, then?

Dilip D'Souza said...

Ketan, I would like to stop terrorists operating from and on Indian soil too. Because I am aware the same men that are in employment of these terrorists are likely to kill Indian citizens again, just as they did in 1984, 1992-93, 2002, and I can name several other dates too.

How are we going to do this if we keep saying the evidence against these guys is comparatively "very weak", and such like? Why can't we simply bring them to trial and let courts decide about the weakness or otherwise of the evidence?

As for your last comment, about the lack of values and being a "society cursed with deprivation" and so forth, I agree almost entirely. Thank you for saying it (and, believe thank you for referring earlier to the "failure of societies like India's").

A country without justice is a failed country, and that's what I worry India is (or is becoming).

And yet, what's my choice? I live here (I made a choice to live here), my kids are growing up here. Should I just shut up because nothing can or will be done? The only way to turn that failure around is to keep raising my voice. As MQ says, "drop by drop".

Chandru K said...

"If people would stop borrowing their identities from larger groups like religion, region, country, caste, etc., such organized violence would stop."

Ketan, excellent. The worst offenders are far and away Moslems, Sikhs, Catholics and Chinese. These are the most fanatic and narrow minded people, largely incapable of seeing things in a humanistic, individualistic, or value based way. Islam, Sikhism and Catholicism have to go into the dustbin of history, for the world to progress. Hinduism, Buddhism, some forms of Christianity( like the United Church of Canada) Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, agnosticism and atheism all are progressive, and deserve to thrive.

Chandru K said...

I did not post the above comment under the name "Chandru K".

But I am glad for the mention of Chinese as worst offenders. Also I would like to add in all seriousness, Brazilians.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Would you play-actors, all of you, please go play with yourselves somewhere else? Thank you.

MastQalandar said...

Ketan

There are attempts by some to break the traditional mould in which politics usually plays out.

One example I can think of is the Lok Satta party in Andhra Pradesh (http://www.loksatta.org). Its constitution, (available at http://www.loksatta.org/cms/documents/constitution.pdf), in its preamble, talks about a lot of the same issues which bother most of us armchair types about the current political system. Its goal of citizen-centric governance rings true. I also find its recent recommendations to the Srikrishna committee on the Telangana issue sensible, and free of vote bank politics (the recommendations are available on the home page of their website).

One may or may not agree with Lok Satta's goals and methods. One may have doubts about whether such parties are just spoilers for individual gain, or even proxies for the established parties. One obviously will doubt what such parties would really be able to accomplish, and whether they will ever get a chance in the first-past-the post system which we have. On the face of it however, Lok Satta's approach seems to bring a fresh approach to politics. The party has found some resonance with AP's urban voters, though it would be a long haul before (if?) it makes its mark on the electoral front -its president, Dr Jaiprakash Narayan, an ex-IAS officer - is its only elected member in the AP assembly as of now.

There may be similar initiatives in other states too.

May be such formations would be more receptive to ideas from active citizen groups and do what they can to influence policies?

Us armchair types, I guess, can at least admire those who get off their armchairs and act..

Ketan said...

Real Chandru K,

I'm an atheist, materialist, naturalist, so obviously biased towards atheism. Thanks for mentioning it, though! ;)

I do not think any philosophy in which label is more important than its basic tenets & bases for it is likely to improve our society.

I agree, some ideas have to go into the dust bin of history for world to improve, but the challenge lies in doing that without throwing the people who harbor those ideas into the same dust bin. Moreover, such destructive ideas are spread across all religions, some have more of them, some less.

You can try getting yourself a dummy blog, & link it to your profile, so that your online identity does not get hijacked like this.

Fake Chandru K,

Please do not implement my suggestion before real Chandru K does! :) Even if you do, over some time it will become possible to make out fake from the real one.

Dilip,

I had started writing a comment, which turned out to be extremely long & quite irrevetant to this post. There would not be much for you to comment on it, nor new to understand, but only for the sheer amount of effort I had taken in writing it, I would be glad if you read it. Just keep on scrolling down as each part ends (it is in 7 parts). Here (click).

Thanks!

MastQalandar,

Thanks for the info! I hope Lok Satta Party is able to make dent.

Despite my cynicism, I believe we have to be well-informed, & understand the challenges of our country at various levels, to be at least able to select the least of the evil - a luxury our current representative form of democracy affords. :)

My problem with being optimistic about people & organizations has been the fear of being proved wrong. Because every instance of deception drastically reduces confidence in the system & my ability to judge. It also disengages me further from current problems.

If my tone would've sounded sanctimonious, it was not meant to be. If someone is truly trying to change things for better, I respect their courage. I also do not forget that by not jumping into the filth to try to clean it, I am myself being a coward. :)

I had thought of a mechanism by which a form of direct democracy in India could be made possible. Here (click). I would like your ideas if you find time.

Lastly, you should blog!