India’s continuing existential challenge

Wednesday 20th February 2019 06:24 EST

The attack by a suicide bomber, Adil Ahmed Dar of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group is yet another reminder of the undeclared war launched by the Pakistani state against India. Covert operations funded and organized by Islamabad’s Inter Services directorate have a sectarian dimension also. As a Shia nation, Iran is a target for Sunni Islamists of varying stripes. For political India with its myriad muddles and confusions, past and present, the chickens are coming home to roost.

 Multi-faith, multi-ethnic India, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain and others with no religious faith, is the primary obstacle to the creation of a new Caliphate in the South Asian subcontinent.

Placed on a broader canvas, the number of jihadi attacks in India exceed those of other countries combined: Mumbai in March 1993, Mumbai in November 2008, on a Mumbai suburban train in mid-2003: Parliament in New Delhi in December 2001 plus an attack on the Pathankot air base, attacks on Bangaluru tech centres. Mumbai is India’s financial capital, Bangaluru its space centre.

Venkat Dhulipala’s magisterial tome Creating A New Medina: State Power, Islam, and the Quest for Pakistan in Late Colonial North India [Cambridge University Press, 2015]. Its acute insights have demolished standard myths of the Partition saga.

 The foremost boon, thus far, from the massacre of the jawans in Kashmir is of a united country. Congress President Rahul Candhi rose to the occasion pledging full support to the government in this nation’s darkest hour. His words were noble and passionate. ‘I( want to make it very clear that the aim of terrorism is to divide the country. And we are not going to be for one second...We are going to stand with our jawans and we are going to stand with the government’, he sad.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi convened the Cabinet Security Committee to take stock of the situation. He empowered the military to take whatever action they thought fit. On the diplomatic front, India has issued an appeal to the international community to pressure and isolate Pakistan. The Trump administration has condemned the terror attack and held Pakistan responsible, but it still gives Islamabad a reduced aid package. Why not impose a sanctions regime on Islamabad and cut off World Bank and IMF loans to the country? Democrats and Republicans under the Terry-Luar legislation piloted a $20 billion financial and military aid package through Congress to Pakistan governments, one of which military under General Musharraf, over 20 years. US declarations of intent make front-page copy of the Times of India [February 17] reflects a pathetic faith in US action. Their words aplenty after the November 24, 2008 Pakistan-sponsored jihadi attack on Mumbai but no effective action on the ground.

The double standards in US foreign policy are wilfully ignored by the mainstream Indian media. Democracy and human rights violations in Venezuela contrast with shameful silence on their violations in neighbouring Haiti, where the hungry populace riot daily for food. Also, the announcement of the notorious Elliot Abrams as Washington’s envoy to Venezuela despite his proven criminal record in Central America and his recent grilling by Congress have received no exposure in the Indian press and TV.

Russia’s denunciation of the jihadi suicide attack was unequivocal. Nearer home, Sri Lanka and Maldives expressed in solidarity with India, as did Afghanistan and Iran. The former petitioned the UN on Pakistan-Taliban talks, the latter summoned the Pakistan Ambassador in Tehran to account for the killing of 27 Iranian border guards on the Iran-Pakistan frontier. India’s External Affairs Minister and Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Araqchi exchanged condolences. As India’s grasp of the stakes ripen, cloying political correctness will be consigned to the bin.

Head in the clouds

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, appears to have his head in the clouds as he announced his country’s post-Brexit defence policy. Hailing the freedom of action that awaited the UK, he charted a course of action for Britain without a reality check. Prime Minister Teresa May struggles desperately with the EU over a Brexit deal; she is hobbled by a divided Conservative party and a divided House of Commons, where her government has lost every resolution put to the vote by telling margins. The sole exception was her government’s narrow victory in the vote of confidence tabled by the Opposition Labour party led by Jeremy Corbyn, which, if successful would have led to the dissolution of Parliament and a fresh general election.

Meanwhile the Brexit talkathon in Brussels with a seemingly recalcitrant European Union shows little sign of ending before the stipulated March 29 deadline. A no Brexit deal will have catastrophic consequences for British industry and the country’s economy as a whole, plummeting living standards and swelling social discontent.

Against this depressing canvas came Mr Williamson’s soaring optimism. In a speech at the Royal United Services Institution in London, Mr Williamson spoke in ringing tones of plans for a ‘Global Britain’ using its capabilities in defence of a rule-based international system. He orated: ‘Brexit has brought us to a moment. A great moment in our history. A moment when we must strengthen our global presence, enhance our lethality and increase our mass. So as well as our relationships with Europe, we need to build on our relationship with the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Canada as part of the Five Eyes, with ASEAN nations, with Japan, the Republic of Korea and India.’ A tall order indeed

Looking at the envisaged structure, one detects two tables, one high for the ‘Five Eyes’ elect, the other lower to accommodate the lesser beings. The verbiage illustrates the discredited White Man’s burden – an utter fantasy in this day and age, with no chance of takeoff. We saw, and still see, the brutal, unproductive war in Afghanistan, witness the hideous aftermath of the misconstrued invasion and occupation of Iraq, complete with CIA torture chambers for the lesser breeds without the law, where the search of Saddam Husain’s elusive weapons of mass destruction, yielded only the march of folly including the catastrophic intrusion into Libya ignited by the infamous Obama administration. Millions were killed across the Greater Middle East and North Africa, once prosperous lands were laid waste and huge waves of dispossessed humanity, braved the deep across the Mediterranean in the false expectation of a better life.

Winston Churchill’s great wartime deeds were the swansong of a fading British empire. Treading in the footsteps of the American Empire promises no trails of glory. The lunatic obsessions of the American mainstream, of gun toting lobbies, machinations of the military industrial complex, a toxic mainstream media and the endless search for enemies bodes ill for the cacophonic trans-Atlantic alliance. A world order with a strapped on Bantustan has had its day. Russophobia simply compounds the Western dilemma.

A telling feature of Russia’s resurgence is the good humoured indulgence with which Russians dismiss the racial slights and taunts hurled at their country and people by the US mainstream and its likeminded European toadies: no burning of American flags, no anti-American demonstrations in Moscow.

According to Lord Palmerstone, the nineteenth century English statesman, ‘Britain has no eternal enemies, only eternal interests.’ For the present Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, Britain has one eternal enemy, Russia, and one eternal interest, its banishment beyond the pale into eventual oblivion. He was no passing mention of the Commonwealth. Perhaps it had expired without the solemnity of the last rites.

 Rare honour for Ankiti Bose

Who is Ankita Bose you may well ask of this 27 year-old Mumbai-based woman CEO with what sounds suspiciously like a Bengali name. A name alone guarantees anonymity in a madding crowd. However, a CEO against a name is likely to turn heads. Ankiti Bose has reached new unicorn status with Zillingo, an e-commerce fashion platform co-founded by her. This four year-old start-up is valued at around $970 million in the latest round, according to market sources. Graduating from St Xaavier’s College, Mumbai with a degree in economics and mathematics in 2012, Ankiti Bose worked at McKinsey Mumbai for a time, then became the first Indian woman co-founder and CEO of a high-valued start-up.

The Singapore headquartered company’s technology is powered from Bangaluru, its other co-founder and IIT Guhawati alumnus, Dhruv Kapoor leads a dynamic team. Zillingo has become the most successful new company of Indian entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia, mopping up $226 million in the latest round from venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, announced Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek and Germany’s Burd Principal Investments. The start-up has notched up a total $306 million in funding.

Bose was scouting for investments for Southeast Asian markets in Indonesia and the Philippines for Sequois Capital in India in late 2014, when she met software engineer Kapoor in Bangaluru. A gateway to new world opened up and other worlds to conquer in the fullness of time.

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