Distracted by Distraction from Distraction

Nellie massacre

The really awful mistake is to treat the present as an oasis of peace and wish away all bad omens as temporary noise bound to get filtered out.Now in jitters thanks to stirring of conscience and resistance among broader sections of the people, the evil regime is desperate to encourage this illusion and gag any open sign of defiance.’I am all right Jack’ is the order of the day.

Some of the distractions are really absurd.A young researcher claims in the Wire of all places that the perpetrators of the Nellie massacre of 1983 should now tender an apology for the carnage.Pray why not call for detection of those guilty and bringing them to trial? Particularly why at this particular fateful moment for the Indian state are such issues to be raised at all.There is a proper season for all things.

Suppose the demand is to be met today.Obviously the demand should be on the government of Assam.For it is governments who customarily tender such apologies for wrongs committed in the past.But the researcher knows well enough that the present government headed by Himanta Biswa Sharma,bringing in his tow the AGP as well as the AASU leadership, has become infamous for his rant against ‘Moghuls'(shorthand for all Mulims today) and unending persecution of immigrant Muslims.He is most unlikely to tender such an apology.And in any case unless such a gesture is accompanied by real remorse and change of heart,it will amount to stinking hypocrisy.
On this wild goose chase he interviewed several leading Assamese scholars and opinion makers and reported their views.Everyone condemned the massacre.None minimized its brutal cruelty.But all said that an apology at this moment is an impracticable proposition.They had not actually evaded the issue.They just hinted it will not be proper time.And how right they are!

Unbeknown to the young researcher this is precisely what the evil regime prefers.That people remain immersed in petty exercises of virtue,and the opposition drunk on scoring small debating points while the most urgent tasks for the fateful 2024 election remain unaddressed.

One task is cobbling together an alliance of mutually distrustful and slippery regional parties with pan -Indian ambitions and keeping them together under ceaseless BJP attempts at coercion and temptation.This is a formidable task requiring something of Sharad Pawar’s wisdom and patience.Already many have been frightened by a taste of BJP’s guile and vindictive striking power.Courage and stamina are of the essence.The bugger,more or less opposition all-India parties must concentrate on this.Otherwise divided voices and votes and a spiritless campaign will result in defeat and disaster.The regional parties must be awoken to the reality that any hope that BJP will let them retain their separate existence if returned to power is the most dangerous illusion to cherish.

Next in order of importance is the renewal of reviving links with popular sentiments,hopes and fears,brought about by Bharat Jodo Yatra.This has been Rahul Gandhi’s solo achievement,innovative and painstaking.It has at one giant stride brightened and magnified Rahul Gandhi’s image never again to be dented by BJP’s pot-shots.

But it ends there.It has not at all restored Congress to the affection of the masses,nor has it brought Congress district-level workers closer to the masses.RSS and its affiliates are entrenched at grassroots and they jealously guard the gate with weapons like govt.beneficiary schemes and the local police at their beck and call.

Other daring,risky and effective steps at the local level must be conceived and executed by local level leaders.(There ARE such loopholes to be exploited,though I need not spell them out.)National level leaders must coax and cajole state unit leaders to motivate village level
leaders to undertake such risks and damage and weaken the BJP tower at the base.Rahul Gandhi may personally supervise that country wide endeavor with his refurbished image and renewed vigor.

Now we come to a point where usually all conversation stops.It is mentioned, if at all,”under the rose”,i.e.under the breath in the highest circles.Any comment of mine will of course be scornfully shrugged off as irresponsible chatter of an unauthorized intruder.

The truth is,since 1991,the year India submitted to the rigours of globalization, Indian Prime Ministers have held their office at the pleasure of Western capital.Though not exactly puppets on a string as the Ultraleft would like to describe it,their durability depends on how much or how far they can both keep the home crowd contented and how little they endanger the safety and strength of Western finances in overall control of world economy.

Globalization was the invention replacing old-style colonialism for safeguarding Western economic dominance devised by master strategist JM Keynes.With a nice democratic feel about it it is the most unequal international trade pact making for massive Western control over former colonies and allies.Of course the US was the Supreme super-power in the conclave.From time to time underdogs were allowed to grow a little fast,reap some high uplift,and start crowing.For their pains they are praised as ‘tiger economies’ or for their ‘bubbling animal spirits’. But as always the losses from setbacks for the West were routinely offloaded on them,crippling income of farmers,workers and small enterprolises,and permanently restricting entry to the job markets in former third world countries.When Japanese or South Koreans leapt a little ahead and out of line,there would be a continuous barrage of negative propaganda against them to the extent of calling them “civilisational threat”.In fact the academic publications calling the Japanese ‘the next big threat to Western civilization’ from 1970s to the 1980s would fill a small library.

The West( shorthand now for the US) obviously hoped this would keep them happy ever after.But things do not always work out according to plan.No linear plan succeeds over time.There are unintended consequences and accidents upsetting neat calculations. Russia was not crushed beyond recovery in the foreseeable future.In the disagreeable shape of Vladimir Putin it has bounced back as a reasonably strong economy( though no match for the US),but with most of Soviet-era arms and fighting capacities still intact.No drunk Yeltsin this,nor the giant balloon Solidarity of Poland.Most unpleasant.Then fawning fan and now an armed-to-the teeth rude rival China, poaching on their reserved territory and on the Latin American backyard is becoming a terrible nuisance.

All the earlier formulae have become obsolete.Nurturing Islam to fight Communism and win back Afghanistan has boomeranged and Afghanistan is now in the hands of the Taliban.The faithful lackey Pakistan has also leant that way by and large.The Ukraine war is yet another pitfall suddenly turning up thanks to the unmannerly ruffian Putin.

But every challenge can be turned into an opportunity according to canons of business ethics.Every conflict revealing a rusty link in the chain of globalization is allowed to slide into armed war,and kept fuelled by sale of latest deadly weapons to spin millions for mammoth armaments manufacturers.

The UPA government had been drawn into a nuclear power sharing pact,an extremely reasonable step.But alas! It proved incapable of persuading allies even if BJP from the opposition was vocal in support. Iraq and Lybia were reduced to ashes for daring to oppose ‘democracy’.Armaments industry gained from such creative destructions.The UPA seemed to fall out of line by not shouting loud enough for triumph of such democracy.

So the next candidate the BJP that was being groomed and vowing undying loyalty was chosen.It however turned out to have a strict agenda of its own,a most unlikely and cumbersome complement to democracy devised for client states.But no matter its time had come.

It heralded its entry into the ring by tearing down a five hundred year old mosque,a rather mysterious and grotesque gesture of democracy.But it won back favour with flaming success in the trademark campaign against corruption.Once in power it sealed its bond by signing joint defense pact and entering into a first-time contract for importing American armaments.

Unhappily it turned out to be a little too flighty and freakish as an ally for American tastes.It followed a logic in its behavior that could not be fathomed. However it did show strong animal spirits by accommodating investments,cutting free of much early socialist baggage, suppressing farmers and labour.So it was applauded for aiming at a five trillion dollar economy.Ambanis and a new guy called Adani turned out to be quite friendly.After a term the venerable Tatas fell into line.

So far so good.But Putin’s old Russia-style territorial aggression in Ukraine to counter the righteous NATO expansion upset the balance of power ensuring Western dominance.The peaceful,nonviolent West was keen to bring Russia to the book. Russia however remained proof against deadly but non-violent sanctions.Its steady market for oil and gas in Europe was choked off,the completed Nordstream undersea gas supply pipe-line was expertly and quite peacefully blown up with help from a neutral Norway.

At this point not only the rude Chinese,but incredibly the so far pliable India sprang a nasty surprise by leaning towards Russia for petty gains like cheap oil.It has since maintained an insufferable neutral stance between democratic West and despotic Russia.It also seems to be trying to make up with dastardly common enemy China. Its leader has suddenly morphed from an abject singer of hymns to an American president to a nose in the air would-be world leader.

In a complementary move a trusted business crony of the leader moved at a meteoric pace to the heights of the stock market wealth.That itself was correct behavior,but the fellow seemed not to know his place and apparently blindly jumping into investment areas exclusively reserved for the Western elite,like for example Australian coal fields.God knows if he could reach out for plums like American oil and high tech companies. Time to take a close look at both these strange customers.

So the highest policy-makers sat up and took counsel and decided to consider the claim to be or become ‘Viswa Guru'(world mentor) as more serious than a mere crowd-enthralling verbal potion.The fellows were badly in need of a reminder of who the real masters were.Hence the sudden bombshell of a research that punctured the Adani balloon and the jolting explosion of a documentary that at once blackened the face of the pretender to the throne.As usual the governments concerned could extend and show both hands and declare their complete uninvolvement.

So this is a moment of opportunity for a new musical chairs race.And aspirants could now join hoping for a win. Aspirants should also ponder how much these conditions for the race for primacy are desirable and profitable.


In my last article ‘EVADING THE NIGHTMARE’ I had made a factual error owing to age-related memory lapse. Hitler had met the top German monopolistic like leaders of Messrs Essen Krupp,IG Farbenindustrie shortly BEFORE coming to power,and not after.He had overcome their wariness and distaste for the upstart by declaring that his life-mission was destruction of the Communists.But he had built up his party independently of their backing.Later his lust for War raised demands for their products like steel,coal,chemicals phenomenally and kept them blissfully happy.So my argument itself had not been affected much by the factual error. Here on the contrary the chosen Leader was in the race jointly with the crony capitalist from the beginning.

Hiren Gohain is a political commentator


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