Monday, 26 March 2012

A Rebuttal to Bharat Verma of the Indian Defence Review

The newspaper I take these days, the Seven Sisters Post, has seen fit to republish this article by Bharat Verma, editor of the Indian Defence Review, titled Why India Needs A Survival Strategy. It's an article that could not be allowed to go unchallenged.

Here's the rebuttal I wrote and sent to the paper:

I find it surprising and disappointing that a new, upcoming and forward-looking newspaper like the Seven Sisters Post saw fit to publish a misleading, militarist and mendacious article like Bharat Verma’s Why India Needs A Survival Strategy (26th March edition). The writer may be the editor of the Indian Defence Review, but surely that does not give him the licence to make statements that not only have no basis in fact but are actually highly dangerous.

The author starts off with exposing his Islamophobia in no uncertain terms, condemning the struggle of the Afghan and Pakistani people against the murderous American-led occupation as a step in the formation of an Islamic Emirate. Does the author have even a basic understanding of the dynamics of the Afghan insurgency, the Pashtun-centric nature of the Taliban, and the fact that the Pakistani people have been simultaneously opposing Islamic fundamentalism and Western imperialism? He condemns the Arab Spring, but does not offer any kind of solution for the Arab people struggling under Western-backed venal emirs and dictators. He says “delinking religion from the state is an essential prerequisite for democracy to succeed”; yet, his own prescriptions are completely in tune with a Hindu-revanchist worldview, and his claims coincide with right-wing Hindu myth-making about modern history.

The author further exposes his true colours when he calls America “a nation that embodies hope, freedom and liberty to all segments of society”. I do not know in which parallel universe Mr Bharat Verma resides, but to people across the globe, including the huge numbers of Americans who have come out into the streets to participate in the Occupy Wall Street movement, the US embodies no such thing, and has not at least from the moment the first shot was fired in the invasion of Iraq. However, the author makes this claim as a quite deliberate part of his argument, which is, as he goes on to demand, that India shifts to “imperial conduct”. He takes great care not to explain what he means by this “imperial conduct”, but throws in some provable lies about how the “despotic” Maoists took power in Kathmandu with China’s help. Any Nepali who reads this will have a right to justifiable anger, because it completely and deliberately fails to mention that the King of Nepal was overthrown in a completely peaceful peoples’ revolution, and that the Maoists subsequently took power in a democratic election.

The author’s aim, in any case, is to distort history, so he continues with his mendacious claims about how China had no borders with India until it “occupied” Tibet. One would think that even a minimally historically literate person who chooses to comment on this matter will know all about the complex history of Sino-Tibetan relations, and the fact that the 1914 Simla Accord (which set British India’s Imperial borders with Tibet) had three signatories – one of whom was Chinese, because Tibet acknowledged Chinese suzerainty (that this signature was further repudiated by China’s Nationalist government of the time is another matter entirely; no Chinese government of recent times has ever considered Tibet anything but a part of China). He also repeats the hoary old myth that “forty per cent of Indian territory” is under Maoist control – a figure presumably arrived at by peering at a map and deciding that any part of the nation where a Maoist guerrilla has trod immediately falls under their control.

Ultimately, then, the author arrives at his primary purpose – that India shifts its resources to massive militarisation. He derides as “pacifists” those who point to the fact that India has one of the poorest Human Development Indices in the world, and those of us who think it a disgrace that the majority of Indian children in the 21st Century are underfed and illiterate, and that some seventy percent of the population still live in conditions of poverty. He would rather invest in a military-industrial complex, which – according to him – will “create millions of new jobs”. I don’t know if Mr Verma’s Alternate Universe is a place where a military-industrial complex can exist without conditions of perpetual war to consume its products, but in the universe the rest of us inhabit, it does not, and the condition of the United States at the moment shows clearly the pitfalls that await any nation that gives itself over to war as policy.

Quite apart from other things, Mr Verma seems to have forgotten the simple fact that the two nations he repeatedly excoriates in the course of his article, China and Pakistan, are nuclear powers, and that their possession of a nuclear deterrence makes it de facto impossible to conduct any major war against them in the foreseeable future. Is Mr Verma willing to take responsibility for the conversion of Delhi or Mumbai into radioactive slag if the nation acts on his prescriptions? I don’t think so!

All in all, I believe that the Seven Sisters Post needs to publish a rebuttal to this misleading and highly dangerous article. Militarism has never solved any problems, and still less than ever can it do so now.

Update (28th March): Today's issue carried my rebuttal in full along with a personal response from the editor, in which he makes some not very flattering remarks about Mr Bharat Verma. Click here and zoom on the bottom of Page Eight for the rebuttal and response.

1 comment:

  1. Ignorant chutiyas like Mr. Bharat Verma never have any idea about the subject matter that they spew bullshit about.
    And doesn't 'Bharat Verma' sound like fake name?


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