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Why is India so angry

How India views Pakistan, and how it views its own Muslim population have always been two sides of the same coin; in BJP-ruled India, this has become all too apparent

Why is India so angry

A strange thing has happened in recent years: the word peace, “shanthi/shantha” in Sanskrit and all Sanskritic Indian languages, a common Indian name for women and men, and a word that is part of everyday prayers in Hindu households — “Om Shanthi, Shanthi, Shanthi-hi” — has become a pejorative. It is used as a word of abuse, or accusation.

An Indian who wants her country to seek peace with itself, and with neighbours, particularly with Pakistan, is someone who is backward, a moron, an offspring of an illegitimate relationship, betrayer of India, and Indianness. At the very least, any talk of peace with Pakistan is likely to be met with a raised eyebrow and a “You’re one of those, are you?”

In truth, we did not get here yesterday, or even in 2014. What we see today is the product of over 70 years of bad history that began over partition, and got handed down from generation to generation. The hope that memories would fade, that a new generation of Indians and Pakistanis, would step up to normalise relations, was misplaced. Instead, each generation has experienced war or terrorism or failed talks.

Still, the present public animosity in India towards Pakistan is at a scale that has never been so evident earlier, at least not in recent memory. One reason, of course, is that social media has enabled the easy public expression of views in a way that was not possible before.

As well, Indians who have come of age in the last 10 years have no significant memory markers of India-Pakistan ties aside from the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai that can offer a counterpoint to the narrative of terrorism from Pakistan. Instead, since Modi’s ascent to power, there has been a Pathankot, most certainly in response to Narendra Modi’s Lahore visit, an Uri, surgical strikes and the rest.

26/11 put all that in a box and shelved it. Pathankot has become the untearable duct tape on that box. Even the formidably popular Fawad Khan did not survive the anti-Pakistan sentiment that has held sway since then.

Rewind to 2001-02. After the big chill following the attack on the Indian Parliament and eyeballing at the border gave way to a thaw, it seemed as if a repressed bonhomie between the citizens of the two countries had erupted. Cricket, music, food, culture, visits, shopping, Bollywood — they all brought India and Pakistan together in one big cathartic outpouring.

26/11 put all that in a box and shelved it. Pathankot has become the untearable duct tape on that box. Even the formidably popular Fawad Khan did not survive the anti-Pakistan sentiment that has held sway since then.

There was a BJP government at the time of the parliament attack and the Kargil war. They were both seen as a betrayal of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s outreach to Pakistan, to the same Sharif, at the same Lahore. But what is different now is triumphal Hindutva, riding high on all the BJP’s electoral victories, which has fused religion, militarism, and patriotism to create an aggressive nationalism.

The nostalgia-driven people-to-people push that gave popular legitimacy to the 2003 ceasefire and the dialogue that began in 2004 is no longer possible. In the new mood, citizen and civil society appetite for contact with Pakistan has all but vanished, except in the few determined quarters that are not cowed down by the vitriol spewed on them.

Read also: A post-truth age

It is this same mood that determines there will be no more accommodation in Kashmir and valorises a soldier who uses a Kashmiri as a human shield, that changes military terminology of a secular army from ‘killed in action’ to the religious ‘martyred’.

The sarkari refrain is, “There is nothing to talk to Kashmiris about,” along with, “There is nothing to discuss with Pakistan on Kashmir except terrorism and the return of PoK.” Most of the media parrots this faithfully, and the message hits the target.

The jury is still out on the military outcomes of the “surgical strikes” after the Uri attack, but they were a political signal reiterating to a new and demanding Indian public that Modi had not turned into a “libtard”. They also set a new bar for government responses to Pakistan — the government can lower this only at great political risk.

There is no logic to the argument that “they are killing our jawans in Kashmir, therefore the government must give a befitting response,” because what that means is that more soldiers should die. Modi, with all his popularity, should be able to expose the senselessness of this. In fact, if there is one leader in the country today who could come up with the most imaginative solutions to Kashmir and ties with Pakistan, and sell it to the Indian public, it is Modi. After all, he convinced India to live without money for three or four months.

But BJP needs more Hindutva to win more elections. As the lynchings of Mohammed Akhlaq, Pehlu Khan, and Junaid and others show, Hindutva is fast redefining the Hindu-Muslim dynamic in India. In the electoral calculus, the BJP knows it does not need Muslims to win elections. How India views Pakistan, and how it views its own Muslim population have always been two sides of the same coin; in BJP-ruled India, this has become all too apparent.

But what about Pakistan? I was one of those who cheered Modi’s 2015 Lahore touchdown as a “breakthrough moment” in India-Pakistan relations. Pathankot was an immense let down. Why do even liberal Pakistani political elites, including its powerful media, justify terrorism in India? Why have they not pushed for the punishment of the Mumbai perpetrators?

In this dark cloud, an Amarnath yatri last week told me there could be a silver lining somewhere, still hidden. He was in a convoy of yatris travelling under heavy security escort from Jammu to Kashmir for the pilgrimage: “War is not an option,” said the man from Madhya Pradesh. “If we have 110 nuclear bombs, they have 130. “Aamney saamney baith key hal karo, larai sey kya hoga?” There must be more people like him in India, and in Pakistan, but at the moment, they are not loud, and we are not hearing their voices enough.

Nirupama Subramanian

15 comments

  • ” What we see today is the product of over 70 years of bad history that began over partition, ”
    Wrong! It is a product of nearly 800 years when barbarian Islamic invaders set foot in India. Even the chance to come together and fight the common tormentor – the British – was lost by Muslims acting in bad faith. They said they were fighting British alongside Hindus when actually they were fighting the hated Mughal back to Delhi throne. That is where we began to peel off and germ of Pakistan was born.
    “…the formidably popular Fawad Khan…”
    Boy, you should have used the word “fatally popular” instead. Bollywood never had seen such lack of talent.

    • YOu just proved the above article of how much hate Indians hold inside. Thanks for making the point for the write.

      • Yes bro we hate Pakistanis, but not all people, we know that there are same people like us there, but as India or Indian we have to deal with the Pakistani army / ISI etc. Common people still have very little to play in that. Due to terrorist attack on our military and supporting anti India activities by Pakistani institution, now we dont want to care for good Pakistani people. We want one comprehensive war and solve all the issue once. I understand the consequences of War, but I know that it has to happen one day so better at earliest. Since Pakistani dont accept that our forefathers were same, why we should be careful about them. Also we are already prepare to fight, bu since last 5 years India is preparing for China and I think that it may take another 5 years more. But is unavoidable so I want to fight it now before getting old. You also prepare for that. Well wishesh to you

  • Trying to convince people that Pakistan is not popular in India need not involve making a caricature out of India. India is more than Modi and BJP and incorporates 1.2B people. Trying to make it sound like they are all baying for pakistani blood might win you some brownie points with pakistanis, but will not help them understand India or Indians.

    A total lack of perspective and a clear attempt to suck up to pakistanis. Job well done.

    • Anglos and their proxies in India promote only views which helps Two Nation Theory. Rootless parasites with good English vocabulary people are used to promote divisive ideas. Have you ever seen any Lame Stream Media writing and putting pressure on Modi to bring back $1.7Trillion looted by Sonia dispensation?

  • India is in competition with China. Pakistan is mere nuisance of a hyena. India needs to be hard state like China. It needs to remove separate identity of Muslims and Christianity, if necessary by force. I would take native Indian name myself in a zippy, and so also many of my Muslim friends and family. Bedouinized Semitic/Jewish names & identity made us rootless parasites who hate everything native and in the process are destroying future of progeny.

    Next logical step to information revolution is making democracy direct one, where bills are passed to make laws by referandum using secure SMS. These days only monied person especially with illgotten wealth only can fight elections. British enslaved Indians using 550 Raja & Nawabs.

    • There is no way India is getting china-like status. It will never get s seat in UNSC. China will stand in the way. The ONLY way for India to mvoe foreward is to make peace with Pakistan. Else it will go no where.

      • UN itself will disappear. What a joke that piddly UK & France have veto power and not India.

        In next decade or so Asia will come togther. Because of one child policy of cultural revolution of China, it will not have young people to take care of elderly and maintain vast infrastructure rapidly built to keep populace employed in China. China will outsource engineering services, health care and Education to Indians, many of whom have to live in China permanently. China cant afford to import Pakistanis, especially Muslims. They are wiping out Islam from their occupied territories. So there will be economic security union of India & China.

    • 1.We are angry with Muslim only, 2. with Christian if they will promote conversion, otherwise not. Parasi, Jain, Sikh, Buddhist all are happy in India. But you can see with Muslim people, Hindu, Christian, now even Bushhist, Jews no one comfortable just because they never respect others view. Any pressure on them , they divert it to their religion. All poor people in the society will be ill treated. But muslim divert it to their religion. We want to develop a strong nation, But msulim people deny good education, control on their birth, even polio doze. As Indian we dont want their backward thinking burden anymore. We want to lead the world in next 50 years but this people are being burden on it. If I ask them that if you dont want to change they why you dont fight with Sword, why are you having AK47 in your hand to pretoect islam. Now we have too much hate agaisnt them and waiting for the opportunity to rectify the old mistakes.

  • India was too soft on Pakistan and its wrongdoing in the India. Everyone want peace but not backstabbing by Pakistan. Pakistan is destroying its own peace and compromising with its sovereignty by helping and growing terrorists. Pakistan is too busy in Kashmir issue rather than focusing for their citizens.

  • Waste of effort by author (request moderator to publish my comment at least this time)

  • A history of 1200 years is what we hindus are waking up to. So long we (upper and lower castes) have been robbed and humiliated and lied to. And this woman with a hindu name is still thinking somehow hindus are to be blamed more. The hindus are now reacting to this alien totalitarian and imperialist ideology from 7th century Arabia. They want to live in 7th century Arabia then why in India?

    • 100 % agree with you, you have written what I wanted to

  • “26/11 put all that in a box and shelved it.”

    Notice the tone here and in other sentences throughout this article. The author wants us to believe that dastardly events such as 26/11 happened of their own accord. During the Congress years, it is liberals like this author who sang “Aman ki Asha” songs while Kashmiri pundits were driven out of the valley, bombs maimed hundreds in India’s cities and the Indian Parliament; the repository of trust of India’s 1.2 billion people was denigrated by Pakistan-based terrorists. How did that work for you? Former liberals like me have finally reached the end of our patience and Modi is our battering ram to teach the perpetrators of terror that India retains an iron fist behind the velvet glove. Just today, the US state department came down hard on Pakistan for continuing to shelter extremists. Yes, there have been some horrible cow vigilante incidents. But the author should also explain why Muslims voted for the BJP in strongholds like Deoband.

  • The modern region of India/Pak/BD/Nepal throughout history has never been under one empire. So the notion that there was a partition is flawed. With that said, people have to let bygones be bygones and move on.
    Pakistan has a very strong army and can never be strong armed by India, the way it does to its other weak neighbors. It needs to understand this fact too. Modi’s approach of strong arming has failed miserably and they had to resort to lies of “surgical strikes”, of which there is no proof whatsoever.
    The fact of the matter is that geography is not going to change. There is a lot more to gain from trade and people coming together instead of letting hate prosper. BJP and some Pk parties use this hate to their advantage and take the easy blame road. We should open roads, open doors, there is a lot of good that can come from people interacting with people…

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