Books and Documents

Indian Press (01 Nov 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

A duty to be tolerant: New Age Islam's Selection, November 1, 2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau


November 1, 2017

Give the interlocutor a chance

By Abhijit Bhattacharyya

Why Talks Won’t Help

By Gurmeet Kanwal

Compiled by New Age Islam Edit Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/indian-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/a-duty-to-be-tolerant--new-age-islam-s-selection,-november-1,-2017/d/113094


A duty to be tolerant

B Soli J. Sorabjee

November 1, 2017

The rise of intolerance is alarming. Dissent is smothered and self-censorship takes its place, endangering democracy itself.

On 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 entails duties.

The 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 fulfil”.

The 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.

It was 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.

Are 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.

Tolerance 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 our democracy.

Intolerance 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.

In its 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.”

At 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.

The 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.



Give the interlocutor a chance

By Abhijit Bhattacharyya

Nov 1, 2017

Seventy 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).

Before 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.

Hence, 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.

Assuming 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.

Second, 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 him.

Therefore, 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.

Legal, 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.

One 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.

The 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 confrontation!

The 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.

Regrettably, 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.

However, 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.

It is 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.

Another 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.

Appointing 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.



Why Talks Won’t Help

By Gurmeet Kanwal

November 1, 2017

As long as the army calls the shots in Pakistan, it will continue the conflict with India

In 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?

The 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.”

The 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.

According 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 subcontinent.”

Tellis 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.”

Tellis 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 political power.”

Finally, 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”.

It 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 South Asia.

This 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.


URL: http://newageislam.com/indian-press/new-age-islam-edit-bureau/a-duty-to-be-tolerant--new-age-islam-s-selection,-november-1,-2017/d/113094


Compose Your Comments here:
Email (Not to be published)
Fill the text
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the articles and comments are the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect that of NewAgeIslam.com.