In Which Amit Varma Joins the Hall of Shame

Chop Kashmir off India so that I can party in Bombay seems to be Amit Varma’s mantra. Varma’s hypothetical equation of India=British Empire or whatever is a mere diversionary couch to rest his laziness to learn, if not in depth, at least the outlines of the Kashmir problem. That in itself is not a huge issue except when he starts making presumptuous statements based on the above equation.

I suspect that your sentiments will then appear rather similar to those expressed by Winston Churchill when he opposed India’s independence. The principle that our freedom fighters fought for then was that Indians alone should be in charge of India’s fate, and not the British; it could similarly be argued today that Kashmiris alone should be in charge of Kashmir’s fate, and not other Indians.

Don’t you just love Varma? There are a few layers here.

In a stroke, he speaks for all of us–Kashmiris and non-Kashmiris alike. Hell, I thought Varma was one “liberal” who staunchly fights for this cherished principle: don’t let me what’s good for me, don’t impose your opinion on me, and variations thereof? I don’t need a Churchill to validate what I feel about the history and/or the geography of, or my experience of my nation and everything associated with it. I may or not share Churchill’s sentiment. To me, Churchill, for all his merits, was an imperialist, racist extraordinaire. Whatever your suspicions, Amit, please state unambiguously that they are your own.

Second, and more importantly, Amit Varma implicitly, and already assumes that Kashmir is not part of India. In Varma’s book, the one thing remaining is the formal, geographical, and political slicing away of Kashmir. By asserting that Kashmiris alone should be in charge of Kashmir’s fate, and not other Indians, Varma victoriously stands forefront in the ranks of the separatists (a euphemism for Pakistan-supporters if not ISI agents). On my part, Kashmiris are Indians.

Either Varma is utterly ignorant of history or he gets a kick out of throwing this kind of stupidity out in the open, only he knows. For one, I don’t buy the bogus Kashmiriyat identity/experience. Kashmiriyat is again, another euphemism for an Islam-centric cultural experience that cropped up after the systematic ethnic cleansing that occurred in the valley. A few tidbits about the said cleansing as late as 1998.

In addition to the account of the gathering at Muridke, the January 1998 issue of Pakistan’s carries a detailed interview with the Amir of the Lashkar Taiba, Mohammed Khan. “There are Muslim organizations which preach and work on the missionary level inside and outside Pakistan,” the Amir tells the correspondent, “but they usually steer clear of jehad. However, not only has the need for jehad always existed, the present conditions demand it more than ever.”

Nor is the Amir at all reticent in naming the targets of the organization’s jehad. He tells the publication,

“Our jehad is confined strictly to non-Muslims, and particularly Hindus and Jews, the two main enemies of the Muslims. The Quran too has declared these two groups to be enemies (of Islam). These two powers are creating problems for Muslims and for Pakistan. “To my mind the Hindus are what the Quran calls ‘mushriks’ (polutheists). This (Hinduism) is the worst form of shirk (polytheism) in which 30 million gods are worshipped. And from here shirk has been smuggled to other nations of the world. Hindus are creating problems for us directly. If God gives us the power we will enlarge the scope of jehad to include the Jews, who are the worst danger for the Muslims.”

After the mass murder, we now have a group of people who are variously called separatists, Kashmiris, or whatever catches your fancy. According to this logic, they have the last word on their intent to “stay” with India or otherwise. Hence Amit Varma to whom shared historical and cultural experiences don’t matter, national consciousness doesn’t make sense because he goes duh when you ask him what it is, and what differentiates him from me is the kinship I feel with “Kashmiris” as Indians. But what matters to him is the expediency of the moment: just give ‘em the damn Kashmir and let’s move on. When he bolsters this assertion with second-rate columnists who say

“As a liberal, i dislike ruling people against their will,” writes Aiyar, and suggests a plebiscite in which “Kashmiris decide the outcome, not the politicians and armies of India and Pakistan.”

According to this, only the words of liberals matter to him, and correspondingly, it should be what policymakers should abide by. I won’t elaborate on Rohit’s superb dissection except to say I agree with him. If we let “Kashmiris” decide the outcome, tomorrow, we’ll have to let Assamese, Bengalis, Oriyas, and Marathis decide on similar such outcomes. It’s also pretty hilarious when Varma compares Kashmir with the North East, which is basically a criminal canard spread by the Missionary movement. Does Varma know that the saree for the Goddess in the Kamakhya temple in Assam (yeah, North-East) is sent from Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu? What does that tell about India? If that’s the kind of cultural unity that extends to that remote part of India, you cannot even begin to outline the same about Kashmir, the birthplace of an entire spiritual branch. The accurate term to describe the Indian government’s treatment of the North East is neglect. Which is a few thousand miles removed from imperialism.

I might be talking to a wall. Since when has Amit Varma cared about such nonsense as culture? He has a nice word to dismiss it: nationalism (and its variants). It would be interesting to watch if he bothers to respond to this post, with the same fervour that he exhibited earlier, on the Baroda episode.

22 comments for “In Which Amit Varma Joins the Hall of Shame

  1. larissa
    October 5, 2008 at 8:19 PM

    Mr. Jajgeet Sinha,
    I am surprised at your inclusion of ARabs as an ancient civilization. Talk to any educated Iranian and they will tell you that the so-called Arab culture is largely derived from civilized people who had to forcibly convert by the sword to Isalm. The Arabs were just bedouins and these people converted by the sword gave Isalm a culture. Many persians had to write in Arabic because Persian had not been revived as a language. The man who wrote the first aljebra book inspired from the Greek Diophantus and Hindu Brahmagupta was Al-Khorizimi–a first generation Zoorastrian convert to Isla. He still was not muslim enough so that he appreciated other people’s contribution. Also the translators of Greek texts into Arabic were also done by first generation converts–they had not been sufficiently Islamized enough not to be able to appreciate other people’s culture, in this case Greco-Roman culture. Rumi was from Balkh, a former Zoorastrian and Buddhist enclave–and hence the mysticism in a matter of fact religion like Islam. What is really Arabic is just the KOran. After forcing civilized countries to submit to them under the sword, the obtained some culture. Iranians are fond of saying that although Islam conquered Iran, Iran gave Islam a culture. Greece and Hindu India was also taxed materially and intellectually to give Isalm a culture. You see why those Arab countries with so much oil and money do not produce anything–money and conquests never buy a culture.
    So before making some absurd comments, I suggest you read real history and not some PC distortions of it. The Great civilizations were Egypt (when it was non-Arab), Greece, Rome, India, Persia and China which was also a great civilization. In modern times, the Germanic cultures in Europe also have produced great civilization.

  2. Krishna
    August 29, 2008 at 6:04 AM

    If we secularists really want to absorb something from Muslims, they should absorb the Islamic stress on *Will*

    Of course, Hindus have their Shakti which is the same concept in essence (since Islam prays for the Divine Will to be used for Asuric purposes, unlike our Shakti yoga), but the secularists are always looking to others for guidance.

    Regardless, when we return to the idea of Will or Shakti, we apply it to Kashmir by never bending from our stance that Kashmir will always, eternally, belong to Bharat. 100% of the Muslims in Kashmir can whine, it doesnt matter, they can move to Pakistan.

  3. kaangeya
    August 27, 2008 at 6:06 PM

    Amit Varma can be called out for his mendacity, and all right thinking people should. He can run but he can’t hide.

  4. Kumar
    August 26, 2008 at 11:52 PM

    Hey if Kashmir is cut away from India will Amit rename his blog to India-cut.

    The principle that our freedom fighters fought for then was that Indians alone should be in charge of India’s fate, and not the British; it could similarly be argued today that Kashmiris alone should be in charge of Kashmir’s fate, and not other Indians.

    See it’s the age old adage: One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. And if Amit believes those who are blowing up innocents in market place and slitting throats of babies while spraying acid on women are ‘freedom fighters’ – what can one say but pity his line of thinking.

    Pay no attention to the nitwit. He’ll fade into sewers of blogsphere like that Dcubed D’Souza and his other idiots.

  5. kaangeya
    August 26, 2008 at 7:00 AM

    Amit Varma is a farting clown. He is the third person to receive the “Bastiat Prize” after Jonah Goldberg – a barely literate sub-80 IQ slob who writes for the National Review – and John Stossel – who looks like a stag-movie actor – and believes in just about every loony theory except that the earth is flat – but then I am not really sure. The fact and intellect free ramblings of Amit Varma is a warning to all Indians who turn to the “right” out of disgust with the “left”. Both the groups are stupid and play out a western conflict, that has no place in India’s intellectual tradition. Amit Varma you can be sure will not make his appearance on this blog, he is a coward.

  6. kaafir
    August 22, 2008 at 11:54 PM

    “only bollywood and cricket unites india type”

    Cricket, because Mr. Varma was associated with cricinfo. Bollywood because that’s the only cultural reference easily accessible to ABCDs, oops, “South Asians.” ;)

  7. Hiker
    August 22, 2008 at 10:58 PM

    @murali

    “Indian nationalism means very little to kashmiri muslims.They neither have the need nor the ability to understand it”

    Then let them get the f*** out of our country.

  8. sandeep
    August 22, 2008 at 10:54 PM

    i think we need to put this amit verma in his place i remember he had said IPL the mickey mouse tourney is greater bigger than olympics … then his intellect had gone for a toss …!!BTW why do all these secular liberal types like cricket and trust it down our throats .. like guha and amit verma to name few “only bollywood and cricket unites india type”

  9. murali
    August 22, 2008 at 8:26 AM

    kashmiris hate india,but we will not let them go.There are so many things people do not like but they endure it.Indian nationalism has many aspects,but right now we cannot accept division.There is a section of kashmiris who would be butchered in pakistan(Abdullah etc).They have no love for pakistan.

    The redrawing of national boundaries is not a joke.These clowns cannot understand.There is no simple alternative in kashmir.The present impasse will continue.The status quo suits india.As a great power,it will defend the status quo.Iswara was kind in delivering 9/11,otherwise the situation could have become intolerable.

    A great saint talked of the influence of adhrista(lit.unseen,also could mean unknown factors,even karmic effects) in life.

    Sandeep,Indian nationalism means very little to kashmiri muslims.They neither have the need nor the ability to understand it.They do not have any natural affinity for it.The natural entry points to the valley are from muzzaffarabad.Even the muslims who support the status quo do so because they would be butchered otherwise.This is the best we can hope for.

    The french scholar sylvain levi taliking about india that ‘the idea was based on profound conceptions,ties of kinship between extremely different people reared on the same foundation(i might add ,not so different people on the same land) and exigencies of situation.

    While it is nice to have ideals and ties of kinship,a dose of realism is never bad.If we enter into a relationship based on good faith and mutual need,it is not bad at all.Leaders from DMK/PMK look at india this way.They make a cost benefit analysis and take decisions.There is nothing wrong with it,if they keep their part of the bargain. But then karnataka has to be smart enough to see that it is not sacrificed.It is upto the centre to manage differences like Hogenakal.Something similar can be said about Punjab/Haryana water disputes,though the Akali stand is inexcusable.

    I

  10. JK
    August 22, 2008 at 4:34 AM

    …and then there are the Kashmiris muslims whose voices aren’t loud enough to be heard amidst the secessionist banter. Some of them really prefer staying with India.

  11. kaafir
    August 22, 2008 at 3:17 AM

    I didn’t read Varma’s piece de resistance, but curious as to what does he propose that we do with the exiled Pandits?

    Ot, the Pandits can bend over backwards and adjust to the situation – according to the liberal, p-sec handbook, the religion of peace needs to be accommodated at all costs, and one cannot ever criticize it.
    Or, it can be considered just deserts, or chicken-coming-home-to-roost for the brahmins and their perpetuation of caste system.
    Or, since Pandits are Hindus and there are so many of them, what does it matter to Amit Varma that some of them have to bear hardship and live like refugees in their own country. Chalta hai.
    Take your pick – in the name of equality and justice, it’s all good.
    /end-sarcasm

  12. Nishka
    August 22, 2008 at 12:32 AM
  13. anonymous coward
    August 21, 2008 at 11:16 PM

    http://www.makemytrip.co.in/makemytrip/imint/earn.jsp

    Makemytrip has already given away kashmir!

  14. Ot
    August 21, 2008 at 10:28 PM

    I didn’t read Varma’s piece de resistance, but curious as to what does he propose that we do with the exiled Pandits? I hope he’s not claiming that Kashmir doesn’t belong to them and they could go to hell if they wished to.

  15. Ritchie
    August 21, 2008 at 8:03 PM

    Like you said, Varma has assumed that Kashmir is independent already. He says “it could similarly be argued today that Kashmiris alone should be in charge of Kashmir’s fate, and not other Indians.”

    Well, then, why shouldn’t Tamil Nadu, Assam or any other Indian state for that matter seek independence from India?

  16. Anwar Shaikh
    August 21, 2008 at 6:08 PM

    Thanks to this article, I had the pleasure to read the idiotic article by one Swaminathan Aiyar in TOI . It is sad to observe how confused our so called “liberals” could be.
    Now since these “liberals” are applying their “liberal principles” to make a plea for Kashmir’s independence, I was just wondering if the same liberal principles could be applied to defend Kashmir’s integration with India. I think this should be possible.
    Aiyar dons his “liberal hat when he “writes – “As a liberal, i dislike ruling people against their will. “. This statement is a nonsense. Classical liberal position is that people are always ruled against their will. This is why liberalism supports minimum government and in extreme position no government at all. Another way to prove that this is nonsense is to observe that even in a democratic setup, where the principle of “self-rule” is applicable, I may still be ruled against my will, since the candidate I vote for may not come to power. Thus so called “self-rule” is also nothing but majority imposing its choice on minority. Thus “people being ruled against their will” can not be a valid argument for secession.

    This statement is not only nonsense, it is also mischievous. It implies that rest of the India is imposing its rule on Kashmir. This is far from true. Under Indian constitution, Kashmir, like any other province in India, is free to choose its own leaders and be governed by them. I have so far failed to understand that what is being imposed on Kashmir by rest of the India from which they want freedom. No “liberal” like Aiyar or Kashmiri separatist leaders are precise about this.

    Aiyar further equates “Indian” rule in Kashmir with British rule in India. He puts up lot of statistics, but is utterly confused about the difference between a colony and a province. In my view a region and its people can be called colonized when there exists a superior-inferior kind of arrangement between those who colonize and those who are colonized. More precisely
    1. A colonizer always considers that those colonized are in some way “inferior” and the colonizer has a mission to civilize them.
    2. Politically, a colonizer and colonized do not share same status and equal rights. Explicit and implicit discrimination against colonized is hallmark of a colony. (Under British Empire, all the subjects of the empire were not held equal. For example all positions of the empire were not open to all the subjects. No Indian could ever dream of becoming prime minister of England in British Empire. The same is not true with Kashmir.)
    3. A colony almost always sees economic exploitation of the colonized by the hand of colonizers.
    Many other characteristics of a colony as opposed to a province can be listed, but the above would be suffice for our purpose. Going by the above characteristics, Kashmir can not be said to be “colonized” by India, as Aiyar claims…
    1. There is no superior-inferior relationship between a Kashmiri and rest of the Indians. India has no “civilizing” mission in Kashmir.
    2. A Kashmiri is an equal citizen of India. He can not be discriminated because of this ethnicity or religion to hold any position (including that of the head of the state).
    3. Regarding economic exploitation, perhaps rest of the India is being economically exploited to keep Kashmir withing Indian fold.

    Thus Aiyar’s article is nothing but a confused misapplication of liberal principles.

    Had India been an authoritarian or a fundamentalist regime and had Kashmiri separatists fought such a regime to secure a liberal, democratic and secular Kashmir for themselves, a liberal’s sympathies with such separatists could be understood. But India is neither authoritarian nor Kashmiri separatists fighting for some liberal values. Given a choice Kashmiri separatists will take no time in making Kashmir another hell on the earth in the name of Islam. In the battle between Kashmiri separatists and rest of the India, it is India that epitomizes liberal values of equality, liberty, democracy and secularism. As a liberal, my sympathies are and will be with India.

    - Anwar Shaikh.

  17. August 21, 2008 at 4:23 PM

    Kya Kashmir ki Zameen Arundhati Roy, Amit Verma ya inke jaise logon ke khandan ki hai? Kya inke baap ne inko di hai ? Inki khandani zaageer hai? Baap dadaon se mili hai inko? Jo ye decide karenge ki Kashmir kahan jaye? Why don’t they give up their own properties to the people of Kashmir? Sorry I am too angry to think rationally.

  18. Sri
    August 21, 2008 at 3:15 PM

    Er, why so much bhav for Amit Wheres-ma-blog-in-the-rankings varma?
    And why do liberals liberally dispose the comments section away!

    Actually, i am disappointed by the types of Varmas. No article by them on-

    “Why opposing Jammuites is a test of Indian secularism” :(

  19. Sathya
    August 21, 2008 at 3:13 PM

    People asking for plebicite should think about the demographic change Kashmir has gone through since 80′s. The fact the Hindu families were systematically killed and chased away to other states has to be considered. Would they restore the demography of 50′s and then conduct a plebicite.

    If just wishes of people living in a region is enough, India will be split into 30 different countries in 3 months time. And what about the people that do not want to be part of the seperated state? What crime did he do that he has to bear the anguish of being seperated from a country that he called his motherland?

    Just majority intent is not enough. If Majority was just enough to decide on issues, infidelity would be made legal. 9 out of 10 men would like to have something on the side. But, the pioneers knew infidelity is not good for society. Therefore, it is discouraged.

    Life is not arithmetic, Mr. Varma.

  20. Sharad
    August 21, 2008 at 2:39 PM

    Good reply Sandeep. I knew you or Desh is going to reply.

  21. jagjeet sinha
    August 21, 2008 at 2:15 PM

    India along with China, Europe, and the Arabs are the four classical Great Civilizations. Europe after loosing millions in wars, is trying to unify its geography to contain all that represents the European Civilization – and when Russia gets added, Europe will join India and China as the third Union to have One billion people. All these three Unions contain all the World Religions – that is one of the features of Great Civilizations. Goa may be christian, sikkim may be buddhist, punjab may be sikh – but they are all members of the Civilization & Union of India. Pakistan has chosen to join the Arab Civilization and we respect that. Great Religions contribute to uplifting the recipient geographies into a higher orbit – they do not tear them apart.
    Where Civilizations meet, the territories can become positive zones for trade and engagement. Singapore is where India & China meet. Dubai is where India & Arabs meet. Kashmir can be a meeting point for three Great Civilizations – India, China, and Arab.
    We should be learning from Europe, and make the Civilization & Union of India into the Greatest Civilization mankind created.

  22. August 21, 2008 at 2:00 PM

    Desi blogosphere is giving too much attention to this Verma clown… he doesnt matter much these days.

    It goes like this. Verma wakes up. Switches on the PC to view the stats for his stupid blog. Hits have reduced.. aarrghh. He thinks – Ok, let me post something that is bound to stir up a storm. More hits. More impressive resume when I go to some secular yellow rag for a job.

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