October 11, 2009

Why W and I like India and Obama doesn't...

Far Eastern Economic Review | Why Islamic Extremists Hate India: (Thanks to O Judd)

...But more than anything else, India is a danger because by its pluralistic nature it is a real threat for Islamic extremists. Not only does India have the world's third-largest Muslim population (Pakistan finally overtook India recently), despite domestic differences with the majority Hindus, Indian Muslims have remained loyal to the Indian state, and have fully embraced democracy. While many Muslims live in poverty in India, so do other Indians, including Hindus. And Muslims alone are not victims of human rights abuses in India. What's more, talented Muslims have often reached the top of Indian corporations, judiciary, armed forces, bureaucracy, and other fields, entirely on merit. They are able to express their grievances through the democratic system. It is no surprise, then, that of all the recruits al Qaeda has been able to attract around the world, barely a handful of Indian Muslims have been swayed by al Qaeda's nihilist ideology.

This is not an accident; it is the result of India's democratic structure. Despite all its flaws, and despite the failure of the Indian system to bring to justice those who have been implicated in horrifying religious riots in the past, the Indian system works. And while its two large neighbors — Pakistan and Bangladesh — have elected governments at the moment, both have suffered long bouts of military dictatorships or other unrepresentative governments. Except for the brief period of 19 months under the Emergency in the mid-1970s, when Indira Gandhi suspended key provisions of the constitution, detained opposition leaders, and imposed press censorship, India has been democratic. (Indeed, voters threw out Gandhi's government in 1977, and like any other flawed democrat, Gandhi left office, returning to power only after she had regained electoral support in 1980).

Many in Pakistan — and Bangladesh — value democracy as much as do Indians. But in Pakistan's case, the troika of corrupt politicians, fundamentalist mullahs, and military commanders with a disproportionate sense of self-importance, have never allowed real democracy to take root. At the time of India's independence in 1947, the rationale of dividing India along religious lines was based on the assumption that Muslims in the Indian subcontinent would not be able to live peacefully under Hindu domination. Muslims wanted that homeland; the Congress in India did not want the country to be divided initially, but later agreed to the partition. But six decades after that, despite several bloody riots, Indian Muslims have thrived in secular, democratic India; Pakistan has veered towards being declared a failed state....

Democracy isn't "cool." In fact it is the very opposite. It's a club that admits ordinary people, so self-styled elites always hate it and sneer at it. It implicitly says that ordinary messy life is of great worth, so gnostics draw away from it with disgust. As do entertainment stars, "artists," journalists, trend-setters and academics.

Unfortunately we have reached the situation where a large part of the population has the leisure and affluence to hunger to think of themselves as being part of some small cutting-edge elite. Everybody wants to be chiefs, and nobody wants to be indians. Or Indians.

How crazy is it that kids at the mall patronize a nation-wide (maybe world-wide by now) chain of shops selling mass-produced rebellion-against-middle-class-conformity punk clothes? That advertises the "Fall Collection" complete with funky sneakers?

One laughs, but it's actually dangerous, because it's just this type of thinking that gave us Obama, and Suck-Up-To-Loudmouth-Dictators Week. Hugo Chavez is a pathetic creep, but you gotta take whatever Ché you can find...

Posted by John Weidner at October 11, 2009 7:23 AM
Weblog by John Weidner