INDIA'S RESPONSE TO GLOBALISATION
Lt Gen Eric A. Vas [Retd]
Globalisation implies industrialisation, the spread of knowledge, commerce, individual communications through electronic mail [e-mail], trade and an unprecedented exchange of cultural values [food, dress and language]. India was first introduced to the Industrial Revolution through Britain's East India Company. Initially, many therefore confused the process of modernisation and westernization , and thus rejected both as a form of colonial slavery. The East India Company's aim was to expand its commercial operations in India. When Moghul rule began to crumble, they attempted to safeguard their economic interests by raising mercenary forces and arranging alliances with cooperative Indian rulers. The Great Indian Mutiny of 1856 was a joint Hindu-Muslim attempt to revive Moghul rule and fight against creeping political rule by foreigners. The attempt failed. But Britain's parliament was forced to intervene, curb shameless commercial depredations, freeze the territorial boundaries between British India and the princely states, and establish formal governance over the Indian sub-continent under its jurisdiction.
The Raj replaced commercial greed by the rule of law, appointed enlightened civil servants, provided tolerant governance and projected the prospect of preparing India for eventual self-rule. Over the years, which followed, India began to respect British administration and laws, admire its new educational systems, and welcome its inspiring political doctrines of democracy and liberty, and learn the English language. Indian leaders faced the Industrial Revolution in realistic terms: as a scientific and technological change, rather than a colonial imposition
As a group, Hindus were quick to educate themselves, learn English and equip themselves to face the challenges of the industrial age. However there were many, including Mahatma Gandhi who welcomed scientific knowledge but opposed the evils of industrialization. Muslims, who made up over 30 percent of the population were reluctant to accept scientific knowledge and modernisation because they believed that this challenged the wisdom of the Quran. The majority rejected modern private and government schools and clung to their traditional maddrasas. Since the roots of their religion were outside India, many looked to West Asia and other foreign Muslim communities for cultural guidance.
Over the years, which followed the establishment of the British Raj, Indians also came to respect, admire and welcome Britain's inspiring political doctrines of democracy and liberty, which in many ways echoed India's traditional values of tolerance, and unity in diversity. The gradual formation of elected local civic bodies, municipal corporations and provincial assemblies gave credibility and stability to the Raj. This was a period of a bourgeois Indian Renaissance, which threw up a galaxy of outstanding Indian scientists, writers, politicians and leaders in every walk of life. Because of their early adoption of English and modern education, Hindus predominated in this outburst of talent. The Raj lost its reputation for impartial governance when it began encouraging religious differences in an attempt to divide and rule. It hoped that a British presence in India would be perpetuated as a neutral arbitrator between warring communal forces. Anglo-Indian relations, which had been based on democratic ideals, began to lose its credibility and deteriorated into an imperial master-slave relationship. Indians resented this Imperial policy and fought for freedom from repressive rule. There was never a religious quarrel between Hindu India and Christian Britain. It was, as always, a freedom struggle between arrogant autocratic rule and democracy.
The Congress Party, a secular political organisation, spearheaded India's freedom struggle. Mr. M.A. Jinnah was a shrewd barrister and a staunch member of the Congress Party. He enjoyed eating pork and drinking wine. He was a strict disciplinarian who believed in the rule of law. He resigned from the Congress because he disagreed with Gandhi's mass disobedience movement. He joined the Muslim League, and took advantage of Britain's "divide and rule" policy to side with the British and thereby gain a political edge over the Congress. He tactics were to keep branding the Congress as a Hindu organisation during the freedom struggle and thus win Muslim support by playing on their fears of Hindu hegemony. He appealed to the religious fervour of simple people in order to win his short term political objective.
Jinnah knew that religion was a poor foundation for statehood. He believed that once he came into power, he could control events to suit his larger purpose. . After partition, he tried to wipe the communal slate clean. In his inaugural speech to the Pakistan Constituent Assembly on 11 August 1947, he publicly launched a plea for secularism when he said, "In course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities will vanish.....We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State.....I think we should keep that in front of us as an ideal, and you will find that in due course of time Hindus and Muslims will cease to be Hindus and Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the state." But Pakistan's feudal elite lacked his perception and did not share his views on secularism. Jinnah soon came to realise that he had awakened communal forces, which were beyond his control. On his deathbed he confessed to his doctor that "the creation of Pakistan has been the greatest blunder of my life." Ironically after Partition more Muslims remained in India than the number in Pakistan.
In August 1947, the princely states were given the option to join India or Pakistan. The people of newly created Pakistan expected the Muslim-majority State of Jammu & Kashmir [J&K} to join Pakistan. The Maharaja could not make up his mind on whether to accede to Pakistan or India. He would have preferred to keep his state independent. Neither India nor Pakistan wanted this. The sparsely populated northern districts of J&K supported by local militia units, which were officered by the British, declared that they were a part of Pakistan. The Few State Force units, which were located in that area, withdrew into walled forts and later surrendered when they ran out of food. There was very little violence. Elsewhere in J&K, State Forces attempted to maintain law and order in a rapidly deteriorating environment.
Encouraged by the prompt secession of the northern districts, and the knowledge that India had no direct road communications with J&K, Pakistan felt that it could take over the whole state without much difficulty. It launched several militia columns along the main roads leading from Pakistan into J&K. These were commanded by army officers. State force units fought gallant rearguard action as they fell back towards Naoshera, Poonch and Srinagar. When the Maharaja finally made up his mind and opted for India, Pakistani sponsored guerrillas were already threatening Srinagar airfield. The Indian army was flown in using civilian Dakota aircraft. This operation would not have been possible without the whole-hearted support of Sheikh Abdullah and Muslim workers of the National Conference who rallied public support to provide the army with civil trucks and food..
J&K's accession to India was constitutionally legitimate. India took its complaint of Pakistani aggression to the UN Security Council. In a three-part resolution, the UN firstly asked both parties to accept a cease-fire. Secondly, Pakistan was ordered to pull out of J&K and hand over charge to a UN peacekeeping force. Lastly, both were to accept a UN supervised plebiscite to ascertain the will of the people of J&K. Both countries accepted the UN resolution and a cease fire came into force on 1 January 1949. Pakistan refused to carry out part two of the resolution. So implementation of part three of the plebiscite, was never possible Pakistan became America's anti-Communist ally in the Cold War. Because India adopted a non-aligned stand, and the Soviet Union supported India's case in J&K, a rational debate of the Kashmir issue could never take place in the UN.
Meanwhile, within India, Muslims now formed 20 percent of the population, a substantial minority group, spread all over the country. To begin with they were bewildered and felt that they had been abandoned by Muslims who had migrated to Pakistan. Extremist Hindu organisations accused them of being Pakistani fifth columnists and told them they were not welcome in India and they should also migrate to Pakistan. To some extent this distrust of Indian Muslims at that time was understandable as it was based on the painful reality of partition. Muslims had refused to join the freedom struggle, sided with the British and abandoned centuries of Muslim heritage which is interwoven into India's history. Unfortunately this distrust persists even till today in some minds due to a mixture of facts, myths and misconceptions, which prevail, not only in India, but also throughout the Western world. A brief discussion of this aspect in relation to globalisation would not be out of place.
Islam was a dynamic force for social change in the 6th, 7th and 8th Centuries. Thereafter, for various reasons, the Muslim wave lost its impetus. In 1899, Qasim Amin, an Egyptian writer, published a seminal treatise blaming his society's backwardness on its oppression of women. Hundred years later we find that in a majority of Muslim societies discriminatory personal laws continue to bolster patriarchal attitudes and hold women back from political, professional and personal advancement. In India, where no uniform personal law is enforced, individual religious groups are permitted to function in accordance with their respective laws. Educated Muslim leaders who preach social reforms are accused by fundamentalist members of the community of bowing to Western notions of femininity. However, female education has slowly improved throughout the Muslim communities of India, and changes are taking place.
Many cliches about Muslims and their political beliefs are repeated endlessly by critics, but virtually none, including the favourite one that Muslims refuse to accept any distinction between the realms of religion and the realm of politics, stands up to historical reflection. Nor is it true that Muslims blindly follow a religious line when social or political issues are under discussion, and can seldom take a rational approach to a problem. The world community of Muslims [the ummah] is an abstraction, not a cohesive political force. The overwhelming majority of Muslims do not support or join fundamentalist movements and do not favour any single interpretation of Islam and its dictates. Muslim states are often divided among themselves on many key social and political issues.
At the international level, an idea that once dominated the political consciousness of all the Arabs was the hope of pan-Arabism, which postulated the existence of a single Arab Nation behind the fašade of a multiplicity of sovereign states. At the height of its influence, under the charismatic leadership of President Nasser of Egypt, the rallying cry "one Arab Nation with an immortal mission." attracted wide support. Pan-Arabism made individual Arab regimes look like petty nations headed by selfish rulers who resisted the sweeping mission of Arabism because they were sustained by outside powers who feared the one idea that could resurrect the classical age of Arabs. But by the mid-60s pan-Arabism was on the defensive. By the end of the 70s it no longer attracted the support of the Arabs. Today, the concept of several independent Arab nations prevails.
A pan-Islamic movement has never prospered because relations between some of the key players are invariably strained. Former Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan's fantasy of a global Islamic alliance quickly became a target for derision in Turkey. Today, such forums as the Organisation of Islamic Conference [OIC] reveal the complexity of the Muslim world. When representatives of Muslim states meet periodically, diffused Islamic themes are proclaimed by Sunnis, Shias, reformers, moderates, revolutionaries and hard-line extremists. All however condemn any form of terrorism.
The revolution in Iran has captured the imagination of a large number of Muslims, and has revived the idea of Islam as a resurgent force. This has also become an idee fixe of some Western foreign policy establishments. However, Iran represents the Shiite faction of Islam, which historically has always opposed the Sunni orthodox followers of Islam. Anyway, we are too near events and should guard against exaggerating the significance of the Iranian revolution or predicting the emergence of another coherent Islamic political wave.
Like any other world state, Muslim majority countries are seeing a rising level of popular dissatisfaction. Domestic pressures result in political parties often exploiting Islam to maintain the consent of the governed. Political parties, which call themselves Islamists, adopt radical tactics with a greater emphasis on Islamic symbolism in the hope of winning popular support. They claim that "Islam is the only solution" to the ills plaguing their societies. Although this is a debatable proposition, many Muslims prefer the untested promises of the Islamists to the demonstrated failures of the ruling party.
Admittedly, few Muslim governments qualify as democracies or enjoy favourable assessments of their observance of human rights. Some critics say that this is because those states are poorly structured and do not encourage the evolution of basic democratic values of individualism, civility and willingness to compromise in the interest of harmony Indian pessimists declare that Pakistanis lack those basic essential prerequisite democratic qualifications. It is therefore not surprising that their elected governments are repeatedly overthrown by the military who seek to subvert democracy and impose authoritarian rule. Other critics claim that it is impossible to have democracy in Pakistan because their secular and religious rules are in constant friction. The people must choose between having one or the other. An analogy is made with communism and capitalism. Both these systems cannot exist together in one country, so whenever one is in control it tries to suppress the other. It is therefore understandable that in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia and Algeria, challenges from reform-minded Islamist opposition movements are treated with suspicion and in some cases repressed.
Optimists claim that an opportunity to share power will moderate the views of fundamentalists. [We had even seen this happening in erstwhile Soviet Union.] Democracy is a problem-solving system, and democrats evolve over time as people become habituated to the rules of the game. Historical evidence suggests that when Islamist movements have been permitted to function within the rules of the game, they adhere to them and are no less democratic than any other human society. In Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait and Yemen, Islamist parties are accepted as legitimate participants in the political system. Pakistanis are no different to any Indian citizen. They also want peace, freedom and prosperity. One can sense a change of mood in that country overf the past 50 years. In the last free general election held in Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif won a two-third majority on a pre-election manifesto which professed "friendship with India."
The wounds of Partition have taken some time to heal in India. To begin with, hot-headed Hindus and Muslims were quick to pick a quarrel. If the police were slow to react, this would flare up into a major communal riot. However, the dust of those dark days slowly settled down. India kept faith with its ancient philosophy that all religions lead to God, and with its tradition of tolerance. Over the years that followed, India was able to hold numerous fair and free elections to state and central assemblies, create an independent judiciary, uphold a free press, and effect a steady economic growth. The establishment of numerous independent democratic institutions strengthened Indian secularism and the concept of unity in diversity.
During this period, a strong industrial base was established. However, little political will was displayed to control population growth and to remove illiteracy. Regional cultures and languages were encouraged by state governments.. By this process, India's 200-year advantage in the use of the English language was dissipated. Thus, though many competent and opular regional leaders emerged, they were unable to project themselves at the all-India level because English continued to remain the only effective link language. Neglect of English also hampered Indian leaders from projecting their rightful stature through the international TV media where English has become the global language. Our politicians have come to realise that media charm and speaking skills are important communication tools which no aspiring leader can afford to neglect This is more so as satellite communications, personal computers and the internet have begun to create an international technological community . The spread of this net is being accelerated each month. The entire Industrial Revolution enhanced productivity by a factor of about a hundred, but the Microelectronic Revolution has already enhanced productivity in information-based technology by a factor of more than a million- and the end is not yet in sight.
Not everyone finds the prospect of globalisation appealing. Anti-technologists make a compelling case of the damage and dangers that have accompanied industralisation. Their arguments are subtle and carefully developed and they gather quite a following among anarchists, violent extremists, intellectuals, environmentalists and humanists. Their appeal somewhat resembles the Gandhian approach to industrialisation. Persuasive expositions are made of the psychological alienation, social dislocation and environmental injury done to a country by the spread of technology. They further argue that an industrial society undermines individualism, freedom and democracy because modern technology and globalisation results in a unified system in which all parts are dependent on one another. Unfortunately the solution proposed by anti-technologists to give up the pursuit of technology and revert to simple living can only be an individual's choice; it is just not feasible to impose this on society by law. Technological change, like any other evolutionary change, cannot be ignored or prevented
Some recommend that governments should get rid of the "bad" parts of technology and retain only the "good" parts. Little reflection will tell us that this is rarely possible. Take modern medicine for example. Progress in medical science depends on progress in chemistry, physics, biology, computer science and other fields. Advanced medical treatments require very expensive equipment that can be made available only by a technologically progressive, economically rich society. Clearly you cannot have much progress in medicine without the whole technological system.
The material gains of technology and globalisation are obvious: economic advantage, the shaping of material resources to meet many desired needs, the extension of our life spans, improvements in health and so on. It is these material gains that seduce societies down the path of globalisation. Wise people realise that apart from these visible material gains, the primary though less apparent gain is opportunity to expand human personalities, extend learning and advance the ability to create and understand knowledge as an essential spiritual quest - an essential step for the survival of the species. Perceptive anti-technologists recognise the dilemma that this advantage creates.
Pro-technologists accept that the advance of technology is not automatically beneficial and mankind may some day ultimately regret its technological path. But they argue that although the risks are quite real, since the accelerated growth of technology is unavoidable, one might as well make a virtue of necessity, face the risks and benefit from the potential gains. Political leaders must ensure that technology is adopted in a phased and controlled manner, so that psychological alienation, social dislocation and environmental damage are kept to a minimum. Hopefully, once the consumer needs of the masses has been satisfied, people may begin to look for attractive alternative life-styles. Then, mindless consumerism may be replaced by effective living, which will emphasise the creative and spiritual gains of globalisation.
The United States of America dominates the world's business, commerce and communications. Its economy is the world's most successful. Its military might is second to none. America's leading position as a global power makes it a key factor in the process of globalisation. This results in the spread of its economic and cultural values. Many non-government organisations from developed nations oppose globalisation. Most developing countries fear the process of globalisation and America's economic and cultural domination. This offers an irresistible temptation for some politicians to mobilise anti-Western [American] support whenever they face a crisis. Thus in 1998, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, when faced with the collapse of the Malaysian economy, assailed American influence in the International Monetary Fund [IMF]. He also blamed the greed of Western financiers and asserted that their manipulations of the currency market were the root cause of Malaysia's ills.
Hassan Hanafi, a distinguished Egyptian Islamic scholar, describes globalisation as the "new colonialism." He accepts that globalisation and modernisation have their benefits, but he is committed to sustaining the uniqueness of his society. Many political leaders, following Hanafi's example, aspire to surmount the economic and social difficulties that afflict their society by adopting a twin approach: firstly attempting to insulate themselves from economic globalisation and Western culture, and secondly searching for an "ethnic" solution. Thus in India we find some Hindu extremists seeking a swadeshi solution to India's economic problems.
This is in marked contrast to China's attitude of an overwhelming national desire to modernise, reform its economy and compete with the West. Thus, at the international level, friendship with the US has become a primary Chinese foreign policy goal in order to facilitate technological transfers. At the domestic level, there is an overwhelming passion by teenagers to learn the Roman script, English and become computer literate. The problem facing India [and any developing country] is how to reap the benefits of science, technology and globalisation without disrupting the social fabric or undermining the country's values on the altar of free market capitalism. There can be no single Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu or Christian solution to this dilemma. The process of evolution and change cannot be avoided. Good leadership can ensure that the process is not too painful by helping a society to modernise wisely.
The popular Turkish Islamist writer Mustapha Ozel is unabashed in his view of the US as an adversary of Islam. Harvard University professor Samuel P.Huntington in his book A Clash of Civilizations depicts the Muslim world as a growing behemoth, destined to clash with the West. This view is not supported by US foreign policy makers who take pains to emphasise that the US Government does not view Islam in adversarial terms, except when Muslims engage in terrorism or seek to undermine US peace objectives.
Having briefly discussed some of the myths and realities prevailing about the Muslim psyche, the dilemma leaders face in dealing with the pressures of modernization and globalisation, and the reason why some societies fear the rise of fundamentalist groups, it will be interesting to examine how all these factors influence events in South Asia in general and India in particular.
Twenty-three years after Partition, South Asia was to witness a political power struggle between Muslim West Pakistan and Muslim East Pakistan. India was not directly involved in that ethnic struggle. But because of West Pakistani repression, over six million Bengali Muslim refugees poured into India; which was forced to enter the fray as a concerned third party. There was nothing religious about the Indo-Pak War of 1971, which undermined the rationale of Pakistan as a separate religious state. No wonder a law has been enacted in Pakistan making it a criminal offence to discuss the desirability for the creation of Pakistan. The penalty for violating this law is imprisonment. In order to unify their country successive Pakistani government has perpetuated the myth of Islam under threat from Hindu infidels.
During the first 45 years of its existence Pakistan lived in the shadow of US power and the Cold War. This blinded it to the realities of history and geography. It built up an inflated image of its role in nation building and its military potential in South Asia. Pakistani leaders wasted those formative years warring with India and feeding their people with negative and intolerant ideas. Because it failed to build and consolidate democratic institutions the country's political system was never able to establish healthy roots. This lead to a succession of military regimes, which kept on using the J&K issue as an excuse for perpetual confrontation with India so as to remain in power. Many began to believe that this was the only way to keep their country unified. This further undermined the growth of democracy
During that time, Muslims in Indian learnt to exercise their electoral rights as free and equal citizens. They have broken out of their "minority" complex. Today, many have become Indian icons in the fields of art, the film world, literature, music, and sport. Many Indians of all denominations regret the partition of India, but few have any quarrel with Islam or the people of Pakistan. Nor do they question the existence of Pakistan. But all condemn those who sponsor senseless cross-border terrorism. Pakistanis who know this and understand the practical need for friendship with India dare not to speak the truth. Those that do speak out are beaten up and branded as traitors. Pakistani religious zealots, like their Hindu counterparts in India, fear literacy, democracy, modernity, diversity and tolerance, a free press and the liberation of women.
It would be wrong to look upon the past 52 years of tension on the border with Pakistan as a Hindu-Muslim quarrel. From that day in August 1947 when Jinnah delivered his inaugural speech to Pakistan's Constituent Assembly, till today, there is a power struggle taking place within Pakistan between the forces of intolerant oppressive religious bigotry and liberal Islam. (This is not unique. Ideological struggles take place continually within India, and within other societies all over the world because the struggle to uphold truth and freedom is never ending.)
India's stand in J&K rests on acceptance of four realities: firstly, both India and Pakistan have divergent interests in the state; secondly, these differences cannot be resolved by force; thirdly, ascertaining the wishes of the people is important, lastly, this dispute can only be resolved by bilateral talks as outlined in the Simla Accord. Nawaz Sharif won a two-third majority in Pakistan's parliamentary elections on a "friendship with India" pre-election manifesto. Serious Indo-Pak talks to resolve the Kashmir issue began in early 1998. The Indian Prime Minister traveled by bus to Lahore to meet his counter part and both reaffirmed their commitment to the Simla Accord. The talks were suspended in May 1999 when Pakistan launched an attack across the Line of Control [LOC] in the Kargil sector. The attack was repulsed. But the trust, which had been engendered by the Lahore Declaration, had been shattered.
On 11 October, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the premature retirement of General Musharraf, the COAS, whilst the latter was flying home from Sri Lanka in a commercial aircraft which was ordered to divert and not land at Karachi. The Army reacted swiftly. It placed the PM under house arrest and took over Karachi airport. After landing at Karachi, Musharraf resumed command of the army. He later announced the suspension of provincial and central assemblies. Nawaz Sharif faces serious charges of kid napping, hijacking and terrorism. He could face a death sentence if found guilty.
These tragic events are a symptom of the continuing internal power struggle in Pakistan. It is a combination of many factors, which came to a head with the sacking of the COAS. The military believes that it has a special place in Pakistan's ideology of nation building. Nawaz Sharif has been challenging this special position when he earlier got rid of two naval chiefs and one army chief. He felt that he was strong enough to do the same to Musharraf who was a mohajir [migrant refugee from India.]. He hoped to replace him with Lieutenant General Ziauddin, who was not in the established chain of command for the assignment of COAS. The army was not prepared to tolerate any further political interference in its accepted sphere of administration.
General Musharraf in his initial appearance on Pakistan Television spoke to the nation in English and projected an image of a modernist. He later said that he hoped to follow in the footsteps of his ideal, Kemal Attaturk. India would welcome any move by Pakistan to follow Turkey's path to secularism and modernization. But history tells us that it is easier to alter the political boundaries of a state than to change the mindset of its people. Secularism and modernisation would be drastic changes for a country which is perceived as a state that harbours extremist elements who are obsessed with Islamic fundamentalism and have a visceral hatred for India. Peace with India would radically alter the ethos of the Pakistan army, which has cultivated a schizophrenic mindset, detached from economic and social realities about its military capabilities. Peace would mean that many misguided Pakistanis would have to come down to earth and give up their romantic dreams of presiding over the break up of India. Can General Musharraf do all this and survive in power?
It is for the people of Pakistan to decide what type of governance they want. If liberal democratic forces prevail, there will be peace on India's western borders. If the religious bigots or irrational autocrats prevail then there will be tensions on the western border. The direction in which Pakistan is likely to move in the coming years is uncertain and unpredictable. Meanwhile, the Indian Prime Minister has said that he is willing to resume meaningful talks with Pakistan provided and atmosphere of trust is restored and the military rulers accept the Simla Accord and Lahore Declaration
The US is concerned about control of Pakistan's nuclear weapon programme and Pakistani-based terrorism. It is therefore likely to suppress its repugnance for the military coup d'etat in Pakistan in the interest of furthering its primary concerns. Its policy towards Pakistan will be "peace and stability". The omission of the words "democracy and human rights" in US goals for Pakistan [and West Asia] is in sharp contrast to other areas such as Africa and Southeast Asia where promotion of democracy is the central focus of US policy. It would be simplistic to characterise this as proof of American double standards.
However, it is difficult for any country to morally justify a two-track diplomacy when faced with blatant criminal acts of terrorism as displayed in the last week of 1999 when five Pakistani terrorists hi-jacked an Indian Airline plane whilst it was in flight from Kathmandu [Nepal] to Delhi. One passenger was killed and one wounded before the plane was eventually landed in Kandahar [Afghanistan]. After prolonged negotiations, all hostages were released in exchange for three Pakistani militants who were being held in Indian custody. India alleges that there is enough evidence to show Pakistan's complicity in this terrorist act. Pakistan denies any complicity in the hi-jack. It assures the international community that the hi-jackers will be apprehended and tried should they seek asylum in Pakistan.
It is imperative that India tackles terrorism methodically and professionally, rather than through knee-jerk reactions and panic measures when faced with a crisis. This creates an illusion of security and does more harm than good. What is required is well trained security forces, efficient crisis management, and good governance so that perpetrators who are apprehended are dealt with swiftly by our courts. [In J & K the courts have yet to punish and sentence a single act of terrorism.] The greatest violation of human rights is a lethargic administration and an ineffective judiciary that refuses or fails to punish perpetrators of even the most heinous crimes, and abandons the common man to the savagery of the forces of disorder.
Our projection of terrorism and the management of the media leave much to be desired. We must stop looking upon terrorism in communal terms. Terrorism is the employment of merciless violence against innocent civilians for a variety of ends. There is no Islamic, Hindu, Sikh or Christian terrorist. There are simply terrorists who should be dealt with as common criminals. Our diplomats should tone down their frenetic campaign to have Pakistan declared a terrorist state. Cold evidence of Pakistani complicity should certainly be presented, but without fanfare. This will have a greater impact on the international community. But we should be realistic and accept that even if we convince the world of Pakistan's perfidy, other countries will continue to be guided by pragmatic geopolitical considerations and national self-interest rather than moral principles whilst dealing with Pakistan. We have to protect our defenceless citizens against terrorism entirely by ourselves, and we have to set our house in order to do this competently.
The summit meet of the World Trade Organisation [WTO] held at Seattle in November 1999, represented a high point of globalisation in general and free trade in particular. At this meet, the US tried to gain support for a new global trade policy. It was evident that a number of non-government organisations from the developed world disagreed with the US viewpoint. There were militant demonstrations on the streets of Seattle by an unusual coalition of trade unions, greens anarchist, anti-technologists and even consumer groups with a single clear aim: to derail the talks and disrupt global governance. The protesters said that WTO's rules advance big companies' global ambitions at the expense of jobs and the environment. They also attacked the WTO for being secretive and unaccountable. The demonstrators sincerely believed that they were on the side of the poor, and against multi-nationals, international conglomerates, exploitation and pollution. Those in favour of globalisation reminded the delegates that the economic benefits of globalisation, which the world has enjoyed in recent years, cannot be taken for granted. Technology and globalisation cannot be avoided and must therefore be nurtured wisely, so that it leads to greater prosperity and becomes a means to improve working conditions and the environment
During formal talks at Seattle, India urged that the WTO confine its deliberations to trade issues and avoid linkage with human rights and labour laws which are better dealt with by specialised UN agencies that are structured to debate such matters. Though no consensus could be achieved, the summit has provoked a rational debate on globalisation. The airing of differences has bred a sense of international responsibility towards the lesser-developed nations. and has prepared the ground for the next WTO meet at Geneva.
All admitted that the gains, which globalisation brings of greater openness, faster growth, cheaper exports, new technologies, and the spur of foreign competition can create losers who naturally, dislike the change. Shutting off parts of the world from free trade is no answer to this problem. The concerns of the disadvantaged should not be dismissed but should be alleviated by compassionate planning. Delegates have come to realise that globalisation must embrace a vision of a world in which hunger, poverty and economic exploitation are eradicated.
India, which for four decades had pursued policies of anti-globalisation in order to protect its growing industrial base, has now begun embracing globalisation. Like many other nations, it is being subjected to the pressures of science, technology, global communications and a free-market economy. It is impossible to escape these influences. It is unreal to expect that things will somehow remain the same. Change and the process of evolution are inevitable. Many leaders fear that the life styles of their respective societies are under threat. Some Muslim states believe that the best counter for this is Islamisation. In fact there can be no Islamic, Hindu, Christian or Buddhist answer to the process of technological evolution. One has to rely on reason and search for truth with open eyes. Wise leadership can attempt to lessen the pain by preserving core values of a society.
The most wrenching by-product of the Scientific Revolution has been to render untenable many of out most cherished and most comforting beliefs. However, individuals do not have to abandon their religious faith, merely because the tidy anthropocentric certainties of the old religions have been replaced by a cold, immense, indifferent Universe in which humans are relegated to obscurity. On the contrary, as Carl Sagan so aptly put it, the Scientific Revolution fosters "the emergence in our consciousness of a Universe of magnificence, and an intricate, elegant order far beyond anything our ancestors imagined." The scientific certainties of the 19th Century have been equally disturbed by the ambiguous implications of quantum mechanics, which even the great Einstein found unacceptable when he famously protested, "God does not play dice." It would seem that the Universe is sufficiently sublime for the essentially Western objective view of consciousness arising from matter and the essentially Eastern subjective view of matter arising from consciousness to apparently coexist. Clearly, consciousness, matter and energy are inextricably linked. Not surprisingly, quite a few scientists have begun developing a sneaking fondness for simple mysticism.
Charles Darwin had explained that it is not intelligence and strength alone, but the ability to adapt that ensures the survival of a species. The most profound challenge facing all communities, irrespective of their religious or scientific beliefs, is to acquire the understanding and wisdom to come to grips with the revelations of the 20th Century and the exponential growth of knowledge and technology that is going to occur in the 21st Century. It is heartening that the Indian Prime Minister in December 1999 declared that his government plans for the emergence of India as a knowledge- based super-power. [It is even more heartening that some chief ministers have pre-empted the Prime Minister and already begun the process in their respective states.] This gives an opportunity to all Indian boys and girls, irrespective of their castes or creeds, to develop their personalities and become better Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Buddhists etc, so that they learn to share and care for one another, and prosper in diversity within a united India, and later through the internet with the rest of the world.