December 8, 2000


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Rajeev Srinivasan

Brutes only understand brute force

Part I: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Bad

The bad part is the unilateral ceasefire declared by Prime Minister Vajpayee in Jammu and Kashmir, in view of the Muslim holy month of Ramzan. A fine gesture, that will surely earn Vajpayee lots of brownie points with the Human Rights mafia and the 'secular progressives' who want to give J&K to Pakistan. But of course none of these worthies are worried about the rights of non-Muslims in J&K. That is entirely India's problem.

I mourn the murders of several Sikh and Hindu bus drivers, of several Hindus who were beheaded by terrorists, the many soldiers killed in explosions, and the small Hindu children blown up in a grenade attack. I think Vajpayee makes a major miscalculation when he imagines the terrorists to be good Muslims. They are not. They are bloodthirsty barbarians who couldn't care less about religion. For instance, it is the same medieval thugs who have killed 100,000 Algerians -- nominal Muslims massacring other Muslims -- in the last few years. Their very way of murdering people -- how can you stand to cut off another human being's head, that too that of a non-combatant civilian? -- speaks volumes about their mental makeup.

We are not dealing with normal human beings who harbour sentiments such as compassion and love. Many of them, I suspect, are criminals. I recently read somewhere a story about how Pakistan is rounding up the toughest murderers and lifers from its jails and offering them (a la the old film, Dirty Dozen, if memory serves me right) a pardon and plenty of money for becoming terrorists in J&K. What is the point in appealing to these people's religious sentiments?

Similarly, I understand there are a lot of Afghan teenagers among these terrorists, and they have known nothing but war. If they are literate at all, they have learned nothing about the world other than the doctrine of 'holy warfare' and the notion that all 'infidels' are to be killed. Many of them have never known a mother's affection (or even known any women), being war orphans brought up in Islamic seminaries in Pakistan. They are coarse, cruel children with AK-47s who believe they are invincible Islamic warriors. There has been a series of alarming reports about the products of these 'universities of terrorism' in the US media.

Then there are the truly doctrinaire ones, those for whom the capture of land is paramount: the mullahs of the Wah'abi-Deobandi school of Sunni extremists and their Saudi paymasters. I am pretty certain that these hard-core ideologues couldn't care two hoots about the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir over whom they weep copious crocodile tears. After all, they don't care one bit about the Muslims of neighboring Xinjiang being brutalised by the Chinese.

Just as the Pope and his minions and other fundamentalist Christians wish to convert the world to Christianity, these Muslim fundamentalists -- the villains of the piece -- wish to capture all the land in the world. Land-grab is their motivation. The residents, they believe, can be 'persuaded' to become Muslims once they control the territory. They have trusted ways of 'persuasion': these usually involve fire and sword.

It is this motley crew that Vajpayee is hoping to bring to the negotiating table. Truly noble and all that, and of course, there might be wheels within wheels, with the Americans applying pressure and the Indians caving in as usual. But I personally think this is a ridiculous tactic. Let us understand the enemy -- he is a barbarian. Let us not judge him by our civilised standards of fair play. He considers this show of the other cheek a weakness, and he despises you even more than he did before, if that were indeed possible. Peace is not his goal.

I laughed when Prime Minister Vajpayee spoke a while ago about insaniyat, an Urdu word apparently meaning humanity, as the cornerstone of his approach to Jammu and Kashmir. I found the close relationship between insaniyat and 'insanity' interestingly Freudian. It is true insanity to offer peace to someone with the instincts of a raging bull. I read somewhere that one of the earliest icons of the subcontinent is the Indus-Saravati image of the Goddess Slaying the Buffalo Demon, mahishasura-mardini. These terrorists are today's implacable buffalo-demons; let us not do the Chamberlain thing of trying to appease them. It won't work, as it didn't work with the Nazis and the Chinese. Brutes only understand brute force.

{Author's note: Again, things have moved on since I wrote the above paragraphs. The alacrity with which Pakistan has jumped on this initiative strengthens my conviction that it is a bad deal for India. China, too, has made positive noises about it. Therefore, I believe the intent is merely for the terrorists to take a breather, regroup, build up their strength in the winter months, and attack even more ferociously in the spring. It stands to reason: whatever the Indian peaceniks say, 'holy war' in J&K is critical to the Pakistani army: how else are they going to justify their perks and privileges? They can never give up on J&K.}

The Ugly

The ugly part was the recent 'election' (coronation?) of Sonia Gandhi as Congress president. This was even more farcical than the US presidential election, if that were possible. (I am reminded of the Iranian hostage crisis that brought Jimmy Carter down -- I was waiting for the news headlines saying, "244th day of stalemate; counting of dimpled votes and chad continues in all counties of Florida". It looks this the drama is coming to an end, sigh! I am disappointed.)

That poor sacrificial lamb Jitendra Prasada lost to Sonia Gandhi by a margin of 7,448 to 94. That's approximately 98.7 per cent of the vote for Madame Gandhi. But what was most amusing was the way in which:

  • Sonia's acolytes 'proved' they were more loyal than the queen herself by showing their allegedly secret ballots to attendant television cameras; others resigned their day jobs to 'campaign' for Sonia!
  • Others in the cabal demonstrated to the world that they would not brook any dissent, even one as feeble as Jitendra Prasada's. They went out of their way to intimidate and harass the hapless Jitendra Prasada, clearly signalling that there was no room for democracy in the Congress' Byzantine internal workings
  • Sonia's court jesters justified the taunt of 'Nehruvian Stalinists' by doing a. what Nehru used to do: cutting the legs off from underneath any potential competitor, b. what Stalin's henchmen used to do: manufacturing votes for the big boss. Kim Il Sung would be proud of Sonia. So would Benito Mussolini, once so admired by Sonia's father.

It is by now obvious that Madame Gandhi the Younger does not have -- how can this be put kindly -- the intellectual horsepower to be prime minister or party leader. This may well be in keeping with the traditions of the Nehru dynasty. I read somewhere that after Jawaharlal himself, the first person in the dynasty in 70 years to actually graduate from college (any college, with any degree) was Varun Gandhi, son of Sanjay. No intellectual heavyweight, our Citizen Sonia. Nor her offspring, apparently.

The exercise that the Nehru dynasty faithful have been indulging in reminds me of what my old colleague Mike G, known for picturesque speech, called "perfuming the pig", no offense meant to pig or human. Mike was referring to the normal computer industry practice of packaging something mediocre as something wonderful. The Nehru dynasty retainers have been attempting to package Madame Gandhi and failing miserably.

You only have to look around for about five minutes to realise what an insult to India's women this Madame Gandhi's elevation to the Congress presidency is. Here, right off the top of my head, is a list of Indian-born women of substance who could be Congress president and do a far better job than Madame Gandhi could, in my humble opinion:

  • Bengali writer Mahasweta Devi
  • Feminist journalist Madhu Kishwar
  • Jurist and Tamil Nadu Governor Justice Fathima Beevi
  • Former CTBT negotiator and diplomat Arundhati Ghose
  • Social worker and Infosys millionaire Sudha Narayana Murthy
  • Spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi
  • Dancer and teacher Mrinalini Sarabhai
  • Police officer and administrator Kiran Bedi
  • Leftist Kerala politician K R Gowri
  • Narmada activist Medha Patkar
  • Leftist actress Shabana Azmi (this one sticks in my throat, but I must admit she's a smart woman and a superb actress even if she's a hypocrite)
  • And if you must have the fabled Nehru dynasty connection, Maneka Gandhi, who, even if she has her idiosyncrasies, actually stands for something and can articulate what that is.
If Sonia Gandhi (or her stormtroopers) could stoop to these levels -- intimidation, harassment, outright thuggishness -- for a mere Congress presidency, can you imagine her vengeful term as prime minister, if, heaven forbid, that comes to pass? A word to the wise: a lot of people had better pack their bags for safe havens abroad, for Madame Gandhi's version of the Emergency is likely to be no picnic. We know what the Fascists did in Italy. (If you don't, try to find the overpowering film Salo: 120 Days of Sodom by Pier Paolo Pasolini: I assure you you will be enlightened if you manage to sit through it. It is a truly disturbing film.) Just as Pakistanis are fleeing their country in droves, a Sonia Gandhi stint in power is likely to swell the coffers of the visa departments at US consulates in India. Those who cannot flee better hunker down for a long summer of discontent.


Reader Kannikeswaran invited me to visit his website, which is apparently a labour of love for him. I did so, and was extremely impressed. This is an exceptional site with an enormous amount of information painstakingly put together on the vast wealth of temple architecture, art and traditions in India. I would urge anybody with an interest in this area to take a look at the site.

I also got mail from the good folks at Hinduism Today, which I append herewith without comment:

Hinduism Today launches Hindu Press International news service

Hinduism Today magazine is pleased to announce the launching of the first all-Hindu news service: Hindu Press International.

HPI is a summary of Hindu news and events drawn from Internet and print sources around the world. It appears about 20 times each month. HPI covers all types of news which impacts or involves Hindus, but is non-political and non-sectarian. When appropriate, summaries will include editorial commentary and/or background information to put the item in perspective for Hindus and non-Hindus alike. Each one-paragraph summary includes a link to the original source when available on the net. You may view the homepage and archives at

To subscribe, send any message to:

Please send this invitation on to interested friends.

Individuals and organizations are welcome to submit news and announcements for distribution by HPI. For news items, please provide the source and text of the original item, either by email to or by fax to 808 822 4351. For announcements, please prepare a short summary of the subject and provide a url to a Web page with details. For example, "Mata Amritanandamayi will be visiting San Francisco, November 14 to 19 and Ann Arbor, Michigan, November 21-23, 2000. For further information visit" Alternatively, one could provide an email address.


Several readers including Anil told me I was wrong in the sequence of steps in selecting the US president. Apparently I was talking about the rules of succession, not the rules of tie-breaking. I stand corrected.

Rajeev Srinivasan

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