You have read about this “hit-man” in NewsBred this week itself. Mr Harsh Mander is forcing upon a discussion on himself again with his column in Hindustan Times (March 16, 2016).
The thrust of Mander’s argument is that terrorists and those who cause communal riots must be treated as guilty of similar crime. Both spread panic, if not divisions in the society.
The second point he makes at the fag end of his piece is that most communal riots in independent India have been caused by Hindus—by inference they must thus also be treated as terrorists.
It’s a long and rather boring piece but you kept up with his terrorists vs communal rioters theme for hundreds of words, knowing that the thrust of his “bite” would make an appearance at some stage. Presto, lo and behold, right at the end of his piece he did drop his guard: “A majority of those charged with terror crimes are religious minorities. While a majority of those charged with communal crimes are from the majority Hindu community, its victims are mostly religious minorities…”
Mander’s entire premise is wrong. Terrorists and communal rioters aren’t the same thing he believes them to be. Terrorists take innocent lives without any provocation. Communal rioters take innocent lives at a perceived provocation. A community has hurt your religious feelings and say raped your women—it thus must be avenged with. A terrorist who drops a bomb in a mall or blows up a train has no such specific provocation.
There is another distinction: communal riots are largely local in character. Terrorism is a global phenomenon. If men from Algeria cause killings in Paris, it isn’t because they don’t like the lovers at the bridge on river Seine which they cross everyday on way to work.
Terrorism is also often cold-blooded—and planned months in advance. Communal riots are usually a burst of emotional upheavals which mostly finish in a week or two.
Communal riots are also done in open daylights. There is no effort to hide their identity. Terrorists, on the other hand, have a very different persona. Try to provoke the image of a terrorist and a communal rioter in your mind and you would immediately spot the difference.
Besides, you won’t find a terrorist using lathis, knives or swords in trying to strike down their target. They, at the minimum, use a sophisticated guns and bombs, if not surface-to-air missiles to go after their objects.
Terrorists are also massively funded and have training camps to be readied for their mission. Communal riots could also be engineered—but to say that it’s a cold-blooded and carefully planned is stretching the comparison too far.
This brings us to Mander’s second assertion: that Hindus largely cause communal riots on religious minorities.
Before we go into the “Hindu bit,” Mander must be told that communal riots have drastically declined under the Modi government in the last two years.
Mander’s claim that Hindu cause majority of communal riots on religious minority is also stupid. Hindus are not in majority in all the areas of this country. In Hyderabad for instance we learnt of an incident when ringing of bell in Sri Bhagyalakshmi Temple in Char Minar area was banned a few years ago.
There are many areas in India where muslims are in a majority. When communal riots happen, it’s not Hindu “majority” who are behind communal riots on “religious minorities.” It’s rather the other way around.
That is not to say that Hindus are not guilty of communal excesses. There are always fringe elements who go over the boil and cause havoc. But to say that Hindus, by and large, are reason for communal riots in this country is mischievous. If anything, it’s part of “Anti-Hindu Agenda” presently sweeping the country.
Does Europe have a future?
The very question signifies a collective entity and in that sense, the answer is an emphatic NO.
The presumption that it also includes Russia and its borderlands—strictly Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan—was already a NO before the question was asked.
Physically, Russia and its borderlands are part of Europe but never considered such by Western Europe or for that matter United States. The subservient mass media ensured it remained the “other” Europe.
Know your Europe, folks.
But this official Europe—defined as a unit by European Union (EU) and Euro—is finished. You could have a chance to offer a formal digital condolence in years to come though within your heart you know its dead.
This seed of destruction was sown in the hubris following the demise of Soviet Union in the 1990s. Both US and Europe wanted to run the world. Their democracy, institutions, trade rules, all stood vindicated. This model needed replicating. They thus sowed the wind and are now reaping the whirlwind.
This urge for prototypes led to the creation of European Union. Originally six countries had come together to produce and market steel and coal. But the Maastricht Treaty (1992) led to an overreach which now has 28 members in its fold. The creation of a single currency Euro followed before the 90s were out. The idea was to create a supranational entity with the vision of a political union somewhere in future.
This was the original mistake. European Union had been formed to ride over nationalism. But its new Eastern members had just been out of the Soviet Union umbrella. They wanted more of nationalism. Any decision could become victim of a single veto. Any progress was thus stalled from its very inception.
The EU bosses also hadn’t factored in the mood of citizens who could hold their governments in a bind. More than two-thirds of EU citizens were found by PEW Research Centre to distrust EU. Nearly 70 percent Europeans believed their voices didn’t count in EU.
Tigers and sheeps have an existential issue inside a wall. They never live in harmony, but for in Disney. Germany’s GDP is hundreds of times bigger than that of a Malta. Sweden and Latvia are no match. The hierarchy—and thus the distrust—became obvious. The notion of equality was shown the first door.
The creation of Euro was an original sin. It’s basis was the vision of a future political union–It wasn’t an economic decision by far. All the bosses wanted was a solid integration of history’s “bad boy” Germany into the fold. They also wanted to match dollar. But without political cohesion, it was a no-go from the start.
Ironically, the clever-by-half bosses felt a crisis could actually help forge the political union. They actually welcomed such a situation. Common banking and fiscal policies were thought to usher in a supra-central bank. They just believed a crisis would throw up a solution but had no idea what it could be.
Then came the 2008 financial meltdown. It’s been over seven years now. The deck is still on fire and attempt to douse it by papering over the Euro hasn’t worked. While they worked on saving the boat, a storm raged in not too far-away horizon of Middle East by way of wars and terrorism. Arab Springs, China, Russia, Syria all chipped away at the base. European capitals became unsafe, refugees came flooding in, paranoid and xenophobia bared its fangs.
The paralysis further eroded the confidence in Europe’s future. Germany first welcomed and then withdrew from the refugee problem. Hungary only wanted Christians. Fellow EU members (Croatia vs Hungary for instance) chirped away at each other.
This official Europe had further shot itself in foot on Ukraine. They offered moon to Ukraine but didn’t want to make allowance for Russia’s insecurity at its border. Ukraine almost has now turned into a failed state. As Henry Kissinger famously said: “both(East and West) want to make it an outpost for themselves—whereas it should’ve been a bridge”—or words similar to that effect.
Citizens again were in a disconnect on Ukraine. While Russia was drummed up as a threat, the polls showed that only 4 out of 10 Germans conformed to the viewpoint. And here’s the interesting bit: More than half in Germany, France and Italy believe NATO shouldn’t use weapons against Russia to defend other nations. As Stephen P Malt famously said: “It’s not a message you want to hear if you are an Estonian.”
Simply put, EU wants a European first and a French later. The public view is diametrically opposite. Schengen Visa, an admirable move, is in tatters. The demographic implosion is at hand. Europe’s population is declining at an alarming rate. So is the staggering 25 percent unemployment on average in Eastern and Southern Europe.
If another round of Greek crisis erupts in future—which it would given the austerity regime imposed on it—then all hell would break loose. If Greece quits, EU and Euro could unravel rather quickly. Europe, as it is, is rather uneasy at United States’ “Pivot to Asia.” Not to forget their preoccupation with Syria and Middle East. Their big daddy United State is unhappy on its own part given how eager France and Germany are to sell military hardware to Beijing. The track record of NATO—with its debris in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya—hasn’t boosted the morale either.
The biggest challenge above all is Europeans’ complete distrust of their current rulers. There are no bright leaders like Europe had in Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle when Europe was trying to stand on its feet after World War II. The rise of far right parties like National Front of Marine le Pen in France could reach a critical mass.
Yes, Europe has an outstanding ability to reconstruct itself. But to do so, it self-destructs itself regularly.