Watching the wheels go round and round
It’s not uncommon to hear Indian right-wing extremist political leaders talking about “Akhand Bharat,” or United India. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), now in its second term in office, has been pursuing a Hindutva agenda that has become more aggressive with the passage of time.
This despite the fact that at that time, BJP didn’t exist but its more militant wing the Rashtriya Sevak Sangha (RSS) did. The agenda is strongly based on the Hindu religion and goes essentially against the secular country promoted by India’s founding fathers. The Citizen’s Act that has been enacted allows for “persecuted” Hindus from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and elsewhere to be granted citizenship.
The same does not apply for those of other faiths, especially Muslims. And yet, BJP won the last elections by a landslide, totally decimating the Congress Party and whatever coalitions were cobbled together.
The flagging economy didn’t influence voters, the failure of the “make in India” policy had no impact, and now, the successes in Bihar and other states have emboldened the theory. The secular forces are being cornered, though history suggests that secularism never really existed there. The natural conclusion therefore is that the vast majority of the populace supports the Hindutva concept.
In a way of speaking, it resonates with the record number of voters that supported Donald Trump in the US elections no matter what the world thought of it. They were accepting of his radicalism, lies, and the tweet culture.
The views of a United India have been directly stated or insinuated by some in Bangladesh. Such insinuations by and large question the basic partitioning in 1947, terming it as a big mistake and impractical. If ever there was an assertion on our War of Independence, this is it. There are also similar suggestions emerging from Pakistan.
The latest such opinion has been voiced by Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Nawab Malik of the Nationalist Congress Party. BJP’s Home Minister Amit Shah doesn’t mince words when he says such things, including terming Bangladeshis as termites. Narendra Modi hasn’t. What he also hasn’t is disciplined Shah or others making such statements.
Religious radicalism is also on the rise in Bangladesh, and of concern to secularism, one of the potent four pillars on which the state was born. There are incidents of minority, especially Hindu, persecution. Side by side the pomp with which pujas are celebrated and the increasing number of the community holding high positions in government also have to be taken into consideration.
Fundamentalism is obnoxious. So is the concept that secularism means irreligiousness. In a changing world where geo attains importance over the political, definitions will change further. Trump delivered a coup de grace by leaning on the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan to essentially acknowledge Israel.
Saudi Arabia may deny that its Crown Prince Salman met with Benjamin Netanyahu, but everything points to the Saudis following suit, albeit under US pressure. Nor is it surprising that the top Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, official was on the first flight from Tel Aviv to the UAE, a flight that crossed Saudi airspace.
Reports suggest a Mossad official was present in the supposed US-Saudi meeting recently. Trump’s physical rather than virtual presence at the G-20 meeting in Saudi Arabia was transparent as being more of brokering a deal than to address the issues to have been discussed.
That he should go and play golf when the Saudi king was making his speech was a slap in the face of all G-20 leaders, more so Saudi Arabia.
Just as apparent was that he had little interest in topics other than to justify his decision to pull out of the climate change agreement and the Iran nuclear deal.
The justification is well known if not agreed on by any. He has already delivered a plan by which the annexation of the West Bank was sealed.
Apparently, this has been set in motion. The UAE’s opening diplomatic ties were conditional on suspension of Israel’s expansion of its settlement plan. That too would seem to be in doubt now. The target is obviously Iran, considered a threat in spite of the crippling sanctions on the country. The world is up in arms about the country and its developing nuclear potential.
Everyone knows, but turns a blind eye to Israel’s secret nuclear capabilities -- never bothered by any inspectors. To quote John Lennon, everyone’s “just sittin’ here watching the wheels go round and round.”
Mahmudur Rahman is a writer, columnist, broadcaster, and communications specialist.