New Age Islam Edit Bureau
Give the interlocutor a chance
Why Talks Won’t Help
Compiled by New Age Islam Edit
A duty to be tolerant
B Soli J. Sorabjee
rise of intolerance is alarming. Dissent is smothered and self-censorship takes
its place, endangering democracy itself.
January 26, 1950, India became a sovereign democratic republic. Its
Constitution guaranteed a wide array of fundamental rights which were also made
justiceable. The Constitution originally did not make any specific provision
for duties of citizens. However, on analysis, duties are implicit because the
Constitution permits reasonable restrictions on exercise of fundamental rights
in public interest, which is on the premise that exercise of fundamental rights
co-relation between rights and duties has been recognised by our ancient rishis
and in our sacred texts. The Bhagavad Gita teaches us that “Your duty is your
right”. Gandhiji summed up the matter admirably: “I learned from my illiterate
but wise mother that all rights to be deserved and preserved come from duty
well done”. According to Walter Lippman, the renowned American political
commentator, “For every right that you cherish you have a duty which you must
Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (UDHR) recognises the vital link
between human rights and duties in Article 29 of the Declaration which states,
“Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full
development of his personality is possible”. The American Declaration of the
Rights and Duties of Man of May 2, 1948 prescribes in Chapter 1 Rights and in
Chapter 2 prescribes Duties. It is interesting that one of the duties
prescribed is “the duty to pay taxes”. The African Charter on Human and Peoples
Rights of June 26, 1981 prescribes along with guaranteed rights some duties,
one of which is “every individual shall have duties towards his family and
society, the State and other legally recognised communities and the
international community”. Again it is curious that Article 29(6) prescribes the
duty “to pay taxes imposed by law in the interest of the society”. This duty
regrettably is not generally performed in our country.
in 1976 during the June 1975 Emergency that a specific Chapter IV-A was
incorporated in the Constitution and Article 51-A was enacted which lists
certain duties to be performed by a citizen. Unfortunately, because of its
timing, this was initially viewed with the suspicion that it was an attempt to
curtail fundamental rights by way of enactment of the fundamental duties listed
in Article 51-A. These misgivings were misplaced. A dispassionate reading of
Article 51-A reveals that the basic premise underlying Article 51-A is that
freedom without acceptance of responsibility can destroy the freedom itself,
whereas when rights and responsibilities are balanced, freedom is enhanced and
a better world order can be created.
fundamental duties enforceable? The Supreme Court in its decision in AIIMS
Students’ Union v. AIIMS ruled that though “Article 51-A does not expressly cast
any fundamental duty on the State, the fact remains that the duty of every
citizen of India is the collective duty of the State”. Let us face the painful
reality that one cannot effectively exercise fundamental rights nor perform
fundamental duties unless tolerance is prevalent in society. Tolerance is not
merely a goody goody virtue. It enjoins a positive attitude which permits and
protects not only expression of thoughts and ideas which are accepted and are
acceptable but which also accords freedom to the thought we hate.
is desirable, nay essential, because it recognises that there can be more than
one path for the attainment of truth and salvation. A tolerant society protects
the right to dissent. If there is pervasive intolerance the inevitable
consequence will be violence and that would ultimately pose a serious threat to
has a chilling, inhibiting effect on freedom of thought and expression.
Development and progress in any field of human endeavour are not possible if
tolerance is lacking. We know how Galileo suffered for his theory that the sun
was the centre of our solar system and not the earth. Darwin was also a victim
of intolerance and was lampooned and considered as an enemy of religion for his
seminal work, The Origin of Species. Nearer home we have the example of Raja
Ram Mohan Roy whose efforts for reform in the Hindu religion, especially for
the abolition of Sati, evoked virulent opposition because of menacing
intolerance. We must ensure that we do not revert to those dark days.
celebrated judgment in S. Rangarajan vs P. Jagjivan Ram, the Supreme Court
emphasised that “we must practice tolerance to the views of others. Intolerance
is as much dangerous to democracy as to the person himself.”
present the rise of intolerance is alarming. Even a moderate expression of a
different point of view is viewed with resentment and hostility and there are
vociferous demands for bans. The consequence is that dissent is smothered and
self-censorship inevitably takes place. Healthy and vigorous debate is no
longer possible. And when that happens democracy is under siege. Therefore it
is of the utmost importance to include the practice of tolerance as a
fundamental duty in Article 51-A. The problem is that tolerance cannot be
legislated. Hence, we must develop the capacity for tolerance by fostering an
environment of tolerance, a culture of tolerance.
Press and news channels have an important role to play in this. They should
incessantly preach the message that no group or body has the monopoly of truth
and wisdom and we must respect the point of view of the “other minded”. The
Press must unequivocally condemn instances of intolerance without fear of
adverse consequences. There should be no dereliction of this duty or practice
of tolerance. If this duty is conscientiously performed it would result in a
salutary change in our society and also bring about understanding and harmony
in relations between the peoples of our vast country. Is this utopian? Maybe.
But remember that progress is the realisation of utopias.
By Abhijit Bhattacharyya
years ago on Sunday, October 26, 1947, the ruling Maharaja of sovereign “Jammu
& Kashmir… tatha Tibbet”, Hari Singh, declared that: “I accede to the
Dominion of India,” legally, vide Instrument of Accession Act 1947 and also
vide the Constitution of the State of J&K 1939 (being empowered to do so).
proceeding on the issue, which though well-documented, a few points need
recapitulation. First, “J&K… tatha Tibbet” accession is linked to/with all
the 565 princely states which acceded to India or Pakistan, having left with no
option to remain independent after the departure of the British and the
consequential birth of two politically independent geographical areas
headquartered in New Delhi and Karachi. It was mandatory. There was no option
for any of these states of South Asia to do anything otherwise.
any movement for independence or autonomy, or the likes of a rebellion, revolt,
violence or challenge pertaining to the accession of any of the 565 princely
states at this point in time is fraught with grave consequences for all the 565
that acceded to India and Pakistan after the British departure from South Asia.
Today, these two states and Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) constitute the
successor states of South Asia.
without conceding, Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of “J&K… tatha Tibbet”,
what could or would be the overall legal position, vis-à-vis international as
well as municipal law, thereof today? They should learn lessons from law books.
Their actions are simply void ab initio. For them, the Jhelum Valley is the
core and not anything beyond it.
it must be noted that as were the norms then, all the decisions of the princely
states inevitably and invariably were those of the princes/rulers. To top it
all, the Maharaja of “J&K… tatha Tibbet” had a legal document,
Constitution, duly promulgated and effective Thursday, September 7, 1939, which
empowered him vide Section 5 thus: “All powers, legislative, executive and
judicial, in relation to the state and its government, are hereby declared to
be and to have always been inherent in and possessed and retained by His
Highness”. In simple words, the Constitution empowered the Maharaja as an
“absolute monarch” and thus, all the powers related to the state were vested in
for all those agitationists, separatists, pro-Pakistanis and heavyweight
political leaders and players of all hues, even if one assumes that there were
no Instrument of Accession to be signed (or which is unsigned) between the
princely states and the independent/sovereign states of India and Pakistan
post-August 15, 1947, as far as “J&K… tatha Tibbet” is concerned, the
Maharaja’s decision to accede to India was correct, legal, bona fide, faultless
and final, being a constitutionally empowered act made on October 26, 1947,
when he acceded to India, like more than 540 other princely states.
bona fide and constitutional accession notwithstanding, the congenital
defective psyche of West Pakistan understandably began life with confrontation
which stands pivot even today. Though J&K is an internal matter owing to it
being an integral part of India, faulty polity of the past per force made West
Pakistan the legacy de facto participant therein.
would, nevertheless, have condoned or ignored Pakistani malevolence had the
violence ceased today. That regrettably never happened. Bloodshed became the
norm owing to the “two-nation” philosophy and the reality of Pakistan
outflanking 1947-India in the west and east. There is, therefore, no doubt that
what the present Delhi establishment is facing and dealing with, is not its
creation. It is the baggage of history, which Delhi is carrying, and which is
becoming heavier by the day, owing to the quantum jump of actors and factors;
external, internal and extraneous.
bottomline is simple. The Central government has to put a stop to the organised
violence and try to bring people of all shades on one table. The question
arises: How does one do it? Or redo and recalibrate? Conventional wisdom
suggests that as it is a political issue, political actor(s) should address it.
It is understandable but after having followed the long, familiar political
path, should the government not try the unconventional non-political route now?
A polity and policy that was high on cacophony and low on symphony has already
complicated the cauldron resulting in confusion, contradiction and
word “K” has always flummoxed the Indian polity, thanks to the diverse and
varied interest groups operating in multidimensional directions. Hence, the
rank outsider (West Pakistan) wants the pot to boil at a temperature, which
will keep burning and bruising India.
terror groups are constantly being fed and financed to ignite fire. Add to
this, the “powerless” political actors, smarting to recover their lost chair,
the non-political (yet “interested”) support groups of different political
parties, the group, which wants “azaadi” (freedom from India) and the property
developers who flourish around conflict zones.
there also are people who are losing their business and property, life,
liberty, land, lad and lass. It is the non-political crowd comprising students,
broken/bereaved families and genuine peace-seekers that constitute the bulk.
here that the interlocutor’s challenge begins. It does not matter whether the
interlocutor is a seasoned politician or not. It is not axiomatic or necessary
that only a politician could/would be the repository of all worldly wisdom.
criticism has cropped up: “Why now?” What is the efficacy or wisdom? As a
non-partisan observer, I find this question harsh and hostile. Is it fair to
cast doubt without seeing his actions and movement? Interlocutors were
appointed for J&K in the past too. These include K.C. Pant (2001), N.N.
Vohra (2003) and M.M. Ansari (2010). The present initiative is not the first;
nor will it be the last.
an interlocutor for J&K is an extension and continuation of the carrot and
stick policy — the carrot to take on board the interest of/for every Indian in
J&K and the stick for every anti-Indian activity that disrupts life. One
thing is for sure; J&K is a perennial test-case for/of Indian state
survival — the very idea of India as a “union of states”. Hence, no government
in Delhi, irrespective of its political or ideological colour, can afford to be
seen either lenient or uncompromising. It has to be a judicious mix of the two.
Seen in this light, the just-appointed interlocutor does deserve a chance to
start the assigned task. Political play and counterplay could be given some
respite as of/for now.
By Gurmeet Kanwal
long as the army calls the shots in Pakistan, it will continue the conflict
December 2016, Ashley J. Tellis, a renowned South Asia scholar, delivered a
frank and incisive talk with a stark title — “Are India-Pakistan Peace Talks
Worth a Damn?” — at an event organised by Carnegie India. Those who missed the
talk can now read his monograph: Are India-Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn?
author’s major conclusions reflect a deep understanding of the state of play in
South Asia and are unexceptionable: “The international community’s routine call
for continuous India-Pakistan dialogue is not only misguided but also
counterproductive. This entreaty… fails to recognise that the security
competition between the two nations is not actually driven by discrete,
negotiable differences. Pakistan’s revisionist behaviour is… intensified by its
army’s ambition to preserve its dominance in domestic politics.”
asymmetries between the strategies of India and Pakistan have been highlighted
by Tellis. India is a status quo power that perceives China to be its foremost
strategic challenge, while Pakistan is a revisionist state that seeks to make
territorial gains through the use of military force. Tellis writes, “…the path
to peace depends largely on Pakistan’s willingness to accept its current
strategic circumstances,” and goes on to say that the army calls the shots and
is not inclined to change course.
to Tellis, mediation by the international community will not help to usher in
peace, “…since the United States lacks the means to alter Pakistan’s strategic
calculus and China lacks the desire. China would likely utilise Pakistan to
slow down the rise of its emerging Asian competitor, India.” Tellis recommends
that the US and the international community should prevail on the Pakistan army
to stop sponsoring jihadi terrorism in India and persuade it to, “…end its
relentless revisionism — which threatens to destabilise the Indian
dwells on Pakistan’s nuclear coercion that “serves to shackle India and prevent
it from fully focussing on consolidating its economic achievements and
enlarging its geopolitical reach beyond South Asia.” He deduces, “nuclear
weapons… provided Rawalpindi with a license to support insurgencies within, or
terrorism against, India. Pakistan’s ever-expanding nuclear arsenal…. serves to
prevent any significant Indian retaliation against Pakistan’s persistent
low-intensity war for fear of sparking a nuclear holocaust.”
analyses the prospects of transition to genuine civilian rule in Pakistan and
concludes that there is a greater probability of Pakistan remaining a
“Praetorian Democracy” committed to “jihad as a grand strategy”. He writes,
“The more precarious Pakistan’s security situation has become as a result of
the army’s successive strategic failures, the tighter the military’s lock on
Tellis recommends that the US should stop calling for a sustained
“India-Pakistan dialogue on the full range of economic and political issues;”
it should, instead, make “a determined effort to compel the ‘deep state’ in
Rawalpindi to sunder its links with jihadi terrorism”.
emerges clearly that peace between India and Pakistan is unlikely until
Pakistan’s deep state — the army and the ISI — gives up what it perceives to be
a low-cost, high payoff quest to continue to bleed India through a thousand
cuts. Till the Pakistan army realises the amount of harm it has caused to its
own country and changes course, “ugly stability” will continue to prevail in
monograph is a profoundly analytical account of the history, the present state
and the future prospects of the India-Pakistan relationship, especially the
role played by Pakistan’s deep state in perpetuating conflict. It must be read
by policymakers, armed forces leaders and the members of the strategic
community in India and Pakistan.