Back in the early 1990s, when I was a student in Lucknow, I had a friend from Kenya called Thomas Nicholas Otieno Ogutu.
There was nothing very special about Tom Ogutu except for his height; he was about two metres tall. But, of course, he was black – and that was the problem.
Lucknow is in North India, and if there’s one place I’ve ever seen that’s crawling with racism, North India is it. At that time, twenty-odd years ago, there were a lot of African students in Lucknow: mostly Kenyans and Nigerians, but with a smattering of Malawians, Sudanese, and the odd Somali and Ghanaian. But whatever they were, they faced the same brutal racism from the Lucknowites.
I’ve seen black people called “monkeys” to their faces. I’ve seen them terrified even to be seen in the company of Indian women (my cousins, who visited me in Lucknow in 1992) because, as one said, they “would be skinned alive”. My roommate and his best friend, who were both ethnic East Asians from the state of Arunachal Pradesh and hence was considered to be “Chinese” or “Nepali” by the Lucknowites and subject to racial discrimination as well, thought it hilarious to call Tom Ogutu “Homogutu” and asked me to “autoclave myself” after visiting him because, being an African, he was naturally crawling with germs, specifically HIV. (The sister of the best friend is now married to a Tanzanian; wonder if he remembers the “Homogutu” slur and what he thinks about it now.) I’ve myself had to explain to many Africans that not all Indians are alike and that I had no racial animosity towards them, and I don’t know how many of them believed me.
That was in North India and back in the pre-internet, pre-cable TV age, and since then India’s gone through a cultural convulsion; we’ve even had a sexual revolution which the Hindunazis have tried, and failed, to contain. One would have thought that with increasing interaction with the world, the tide of racism would’ve ebbed.
One would’ve thought wrong.
A few days ago, in Bangalore – a cosmopolitan, modern city in South India, which has many foreigners from all over the world living and working there – a car driven by a Sudanese man knocked down and killed a woman. The Sudanese was duly arrested, and that should’ve been the end of the story. However, this is India. Intent on revenge, a mob gathered, and, half an hour after the incident, stopped a car in which a young Tanzanian woman was travelling, along with a couple of other men. They beat the men, burned the car, stripped the Tanzanian woman naked and “paraded” her as punishment. The police who were at the scene watched, making no attempt to interfere. When a decent, honest bystander tried to protect her, he was thrashed by the crowd as well.
It was only several days later that the incident made the news, and then the police and the state government tried their best to pretend it was a “case of road rage,” not racism, and that the woman was not stripped. In fact it was the government at the Centre which was more proactive in the matter, and the Tanzanian diplomatic authorities also stepped in. Black African students in India were quoted in the media as saying that this was something they knew perfectly well could happen to any of them, any day, and for a brief instant of time the spotlight was on Indian racism. But of course that won’t change a thing, just as the “new tough” anti-rape laws didn’t decrease rapes in the slightest.
That was the first of three little vignettes on Hindunazistan I’m going to bring you today, as a window on what’s been happening here during the last few weeks I’ve not been writing. I’m still not fully recovered and there’s a way to go before I can write like I used to, but I need to start because each day I stay away makes it harder to get the mental discipline back which is necessary to write.
Siachen is a glacier in the mountains of northern Kashmir, sandwiched between China in the north, Indian Kashmir to the south, and Pakistani Kashmir to the west. When India and Pakistan fought their first “war” over Kashmir back in 1948, which left Pakistan occupying about a third of Kashmiri territory (hilariously, India still pretends it “won” the war), the status of Siachen was left undetermined in the UN-mediated ceasefire that ended the conflict. Since the early 1980s, though, India and Pakistan have faced off over the glacier, in a slow-motion high-altitude conflict which has seen small scale attacks, counterattacks, and some bloodshed. Mostly, though, the casualties have come from the brutal climate, where both sides maintain posts on mountain ridges throughout the year, because to withdraw in winter would mean the other side might be in possession of those heights when one’s own troops are sent back as summer comes round again.
On 3rd February, an avalanche in Siachen struck an Indian Army outpost, burying ten soldiers. A rescue party attempting to dig out the corpses found one of them, Lance Corporal (Lance Naik in the Indian Army rank nomenclature) Hanumanthappa Koppad, alive six days afterwards. Despite being immediately airlifted to hospital, he died on the 11th February of massive organ failure.
Grateful to have a distraction from the racism issue, the media went wild over Hanumanthappa, declaring him to be the “Siachen braveheart”, and celebrating his life and death. While I have no problem over the overfed, overentertained, overpaid Great Indian Muddle Class deigning to take a sympathetic look for once at one of the working class people who fill the ranks of the armed forces, I noticed one signal omission; the media seemed incapable of asking a simple question – what the hell are we doing in Siachen, anyway? What’s so damned important that we have to hold on to it at colossal expenditure of lives as well as money and equipment?
If you ask the Indian Army top brass this, the boilerplate answer is always that it’s a “strategic” location which can’t be given up under any circumstances. To which my answer is: horse dung.
In the interval between 1948 and 1984, India and Pakistan fought three full scale wars. Two of them were fought over Kashmir, in 1947-48 and 1965, while the one in 1971 did involve combat operations in the state as well. During these decades, India had not occupied Siachen and as far as is known Pakistan hadn’t done so either. Did it affect the strategic position adversely in any way?
In 1999, India and Pakistan fought another “war” over Kargil, to the south of Siachen – a conflict which included Indian airstrikes, artillery duels across the frontier, and mass WWI-style frontal assaults up mountain slopes. At that same time, India and Pakistan were faced off over Siachen. Did India’s occupation of Siachen stop Pakistan’s alleged “aggression” in Kargil? Of course not.
According to the Hindunazis who now rule India, the nuclear “deterrent” India possesses makes any aggression by Pakistan suicidal, because India can wipe them out. In that case, what’s the point of hanging on to Siachen? Or are the Hindunazis admitting that their cherished nuclear deterrent isn’t really a deterrent at all? It certainly didn’t deter Kargil!
Then there’s the question of how long this Siachen thing is going to be maintained. Obviously, Pakistan isn’t going to just evaporate like the morning dew. It’s not going anywhere. Nor is India ever going to reoccupy the third of Kashmir it lost in the 1948 war, whatever the rhetoric. So how long does India hold on to Siachen, and condemn its soldiers to death and incapacitation from the weather? Ten more years? Forty? Till the end of time? Is it just the prestige issue of “fighting on the highest battlefield in the world” which is keeping this ridiculous warlet going?
Someone should demand the answers.
The “sacrifice” made by Hanumanthappa hadn’t yet died away in the media before being revived as a cause celebre and a weapon against students in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi. JNU has historically been a bastion of left liberal thought in the desert of brain-dead Hindunazism that covers North India in a blanket. JNU’s current student union president, Kanhaiya Kumar, is from a student’s association affiliated with the Communist Party of India.
Before I go on further, I must say something: I’m less than enthusiastic about student’s unions and student’s politics, though I recognise (from personal experience) that there have to be safeguards to protect students from official high-handedness. Back in Lucknow I watched faculty members browbeat and hound students they didn’t like literally to suicide; I was myself warned not to contradict teachers in class (when they said things not to be found in any textbook) or else I’d never be permitted to pass the examinations. So, yes, students do need some kind of union to look out for their interests. But that union should be kept totally away from party politics; and in India, party politics is next door to criminal gangdom. JNU’s union is a bone of contention between parties, and the Hindunazis’ constant failure to co-opt the union has merely made them desperate to bring it down in any way they can.
I have written elsewhere about Afzal Guru, hanged as a “terrorist” by the Indian state though even the Supreme Court of India admitted the evidence against him was unclear and lacking. Clearly, Guru was hanged because he was a convenient scapegoat, someone who was being thrown before the public as a way to vent their anger. Though it was the last Congress government which hanged him, not coincidentally shortly before the elections, it was the Hindunazis who had been raving, ranting and rabidly salivating in their demands to have him executed. Recently, the JNU students union held a commemorative function for Guru in which, it is alleged, some slogans were raised saying the Indian state would pay for the crime of hanging him, or words to that effect.
What happened? The police entered the campus, arrested Kanhaiya Kumar on the charge of sedition, and dragged him off to prison. The Hindunazi troll brigade, and Modi’s slaves in the Great Indian Muddle Class media, attacked the JNU, calling the students “traitors”. The Hindunazi BJP Home Minister, one Rajnath Singh, claimed that the Pakistani jihadi outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba’s chief Hafiz Saeed was “behind” the event. Called out on it by all the non-Hindunazi parties – including the Congress, which had committed the crime of hanging Guru – and asked to prove his claim, Rajnath Singh, last I heard, hasn’t attempted to do so.
As of this writing, the faculty of the JNU, as well as other universities across India, and all non-Hindunazi major political parties, are united in supporting Kanhaiya Kumar and the JNU student’s union. The students themselves have gone on strike. Modi’s troll brigade, and his acolytes in the media, have been reduced to dragging up Hanumanthappa as some kind of weapon against the students, as though there was any relation between the two. But then Hindunazis are Nazis, and there’s no expecting sense from them anyway.
I’ll just say this to the Modi brigade: If you have to impose “patriotism” by diktat, it’s likely that your country doesn’t have one hell of a lot to be “patriotic” about anyway.
|Indian troops at Siachen. Note the obsolete INSAS rifle, rejected even by the Nepali army, which the Indian army still uses. [Source]|
Update: While the anti-Hindunazi protests are continuing and spreading, it turns out that the tweet Rajnath Singh cited as "proof" that Hafiz Saeed was behind the original protest was fake.