Some days back I had read a small news item in The Times of India that read: Lok Janshakti Party headed by Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan staged a demonstration against Israel’s attacks in Gaza and submitted a memorandum to the President demanding that India sever relationships with the country.
The reason for this suggestion is that the meticulously planned attacks on Gaza are nothing short of terror unleashed on the vast humanity of Gaza where hundreds of innocent, including children have been killed and thousands maimed.
The party said that India as a responsible democracy should not only condemn this act of aggression by Israel, but immediately sever all diplomatic ties with it.
The news item made me pause and ask a few questions to myself (since Mr. Paswan himself was not available to answer them).
Did anyone demand that India snap ties with other countries when:
- India was attacked by 10 heavily armed terrorists on 26.11.2008 and it has been proven to everyone that they were Pakistani nationals. It is also being said that they received training from the Pak army and the ISI. It is a well established fact that Pakistan has been fomenting terrorist strikes against India. In this attack more than 200 innocent people died which included children. Why have the politicians not asked the Indian government to sever ties with Pakistan, when it is also clear to all that the government in Pakistan is not even giving lip service to our anguish leave alone act on it.
- Attacks on India by Pakistan and the terrorist outfits sponsored by it have been far too many in the past – attack on the Indian Parliament, hijack of IC 814 to Kandhar, aggression in Kargil and the more recent blast in Indian Embassy in Kabul are a few examples that come immediately to mind. However, no suggestion has been made by anyone that India should sever its ties with Pakistan.
- Russia attacked Georgia last year. I would think that was also a meticulously planned attack and it should also qualify as nothing short of terror unleashed on the vast humanity of Georgia where hundreds of innocent, including children were killed and thousands maimed. Why there was no suggestion that India as a responsible democracy should not only condemn this act of aggression by Russia, but immediately sever all diplomatic ties with it.
- When Iraq invaded Kuwait, that time also no such suggestion was made that we should sever our ties with Iraq. After all Iraq was an aggressor who attacked and killed many in Kuwait.
The list of such instances is large and how many can one count? So why does one suggest now that India should sever its diplomatic ties with Israel, when for similar acts of others, on India and other countries, no such suggestion has ever been made.
Meaning of secularism in India
The answer in my opinion lies in the convoluted manner in which we define secularism in India. Here the politicians have segmented the country on many parameters, one of them being religion. On the religious criteria of “market” segmentation of vote banks, one of the larger ones (after Hindus) is that of Muslims. All politicians vie for it. A suggestion that India sever its ties with Israel will give the party lot of Muslim votes because by doing that you are taking a stand against someone who is currently attacking a Muslim population. A suggestion that you sever all ties with Pakistan will on the other hand not go down well with the Indian Muslims because they have emotional and filial ties with the people in Pakistan. The perception among people is that the importance of secularism in India is only to appease religious minorities and that perception is only enhanced when such incidents occur.
The word “politician” is a dirty word in India (in fact it is used as a derogatory term) only because of such double standards. In the race to win elections at any cost, we seem to have forgotten why was secularism important.
1. Do you agree with the demand that India should snap its ties with Israel? Why?
2. Why do politicians have different yardsticks for different circumstances? Or is this a human tendency to