India Breakup; Pakistan NGO Expulsions; Alabama Democrat Jones' Upset Win

Does Lord Meghnad Desai's question "A country of many nations, will India break up" raised in his latest book "The Raisina Model" make any sense? Why would India break up? What are the challenges to India's unity? Is there an identity crisis in India? Is it the power imbalance among Indian states? Is it growing income disparity among peoples and states? Is it religious, ethnic, caste and/or regional fault lines running through the length and breadth of India? Is it beef ban?

Growing Income Gap of Indian States. Source: Bloomberg

Why is Pakistan expelling dozens of foreign-funded NGOs? Is it the fall-out from Save The Children NGO's alleged collusion with the CIA in fake polio vaccination scheme to find Osama Bin Laden? Is it a general concern about the NGOs role in subverting and corrupting society as explained by Stephen Kinzer's book "The Brothers" about John Foster and Alan Dulles? Is it the State Department documents describing US-funded international NGOs as "force multipliers", "partners", "agents of change" and "an efficient path to advance our foreign policy goals"?

How did Democrat Doug Jones' pull off a win in the US Senate race in deep red Alabama? Did the allegations of sexual harassment against Republican Roy Moore play a big role? Or was it the heavy turn out of black voters that overwhelmed the vast majority of white voters (65% of white women, 74% of white men) who voted for Roy Moore? Would the result have been different if more women voted for Moore? Does it save considerable embarrassment for the Senate Republicans to see an openly racist, Islamophobic, homophobic, pedophile Judge Rpy Moore lose in a state in the Deep South?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (

Related Links:

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Comment by Riaz Haq on December 17, 2017 at 4:37pm

Demand For #Meat, including #Beef, Is Growing Rapidly in #India. This Could Impact All Of Us. #Modi #Beefban #Hindutva #Islamophobia via @forbes

India is projected to be one of the largest growth areas for consumption in chicken, beef, and mutton. And while vegetarianism is often believed to be widespread in India, influenced by religion and other factors, the data seems to suggest otherwise.

According to the sample registration system (SRS) baseline survey 2014 released by the registrar general of India, 71 percent of Indians over the age of 15 are non-vegetarian. While that means 330 million of India’s 1.2 billion people are vegetarian, it obscures the fact that many are rapidly abandoning their vegetarian diet due to an increased desire for meat.

Higher meat consumption in India is not entirely surprising, as meat-heavy diets are often correlated with an increase in wealth. As the emerging market countries like India gain a larger share of the economic pie, the trend is likely to continue.

This is important for many reasons, as the world is already grappling with climate change and water scarcity. It takes over 8,000 liters of water to produce 1 kg of mutton and 4000 liters for 1 kg of chicken, which is significantly larger than that of plant-based protein. Chicken production also releases 25 times more CO2 than grain production per calorie.

Market Opportunity

While this all sounds quite sobering, it does afford opportunity for companies that provide the experience of eating meat, without the sustainability challenges.

Surprisingly, there's very little competition in the meat-alternative space in India, given the apparent market opportunity. Up until now, most of the product innovation has been occuring in the US and Europe. The food system is also quite fragmented in India. Unlike America, where it seems like Walmarts are everywhere, India is comprised of a vast network of small stores, making distribution more of a challenge.

One company does seem to be on the right track, and that is Good Dot. Based in India, Good Dot was founded by Abhishek Sinha (CEO of India), Stephanie Downs (CEO), and Deepak Parihar (CFO). They are leveraging their understanding of India’s complex distribution network to get their alt-meat products to consumers. Currently, their distribution includes 12 million members, 1.2 million distributors, and 7500 pick-up centers.

They’ve secured funding from the likes of New Crop Capital to roll out production of plant-based meats at a price below conventional meat ($1.75 per 250/g versus $2.00). In just three months, they sold half a million units, suggesting the kind of demand they'll need in order to scale throughout the country.

‘The meat industry is our biggest competitor. There are a few other options in the market (such as Ahimsa or Sunshine), but they don't look or taste like real meat and have very small distribution, even they have been around for awhile. We are the first to be focused on converting non-veg to veg, while the others cater to the veg market.’ - Co-founder Stephanie Downs

The sustainability challenges linked to the world's current eating habits are well documented. To make matters worse, the planet is expected to see it’s population grow to 9 billion people by 2050, largely because of India and other emerging market countries. If companies like Good Dot don’t succeed in helping consumers eat more sustainably in India and beyond, our ability to feed the planet is going to get a lot harder.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 30, 2017 at 4:16pm


An Unfinished Revolution: A Hostage Crisis, Adivasi Resistance and the Naxal Movement review: From ground zero

A journalist’s troubled stories from the heartland
On March 14, 2012, two Italian tourists, Paolo Bosusco and Claudio Colangelo, were taken hostages by Naxalites in Kandhamal district of Odisha. During the month-long crisis, Kishalay Bhattacharjee was part of a team of journalists that engaged with Sabyasachi Panda, leader of the Maoist group, and facilitated the release of Colangelo.

This is the typical boots-on-the-ground reportage that takes a reader deep into the jungles of eastern India, where Maoists and mosquitoes swamp the anonymous lives of Adivasis. Bhattacharjee and a host of other TV reporters landed up in a small township, Daringbari, on the fringe of that forest in Kandhamal in 2012, in search of news on the two Italians who had been kidnapped.

And thus began an unusual saga that is one of the key highlights of this narrative. A small township bathed in harsh summer sun and poor mobile connectivity was now a key dateline. TV journalists were competing to do live telecasts, and one of those days Bhattacharjee and team slipped out into the forest.

Bhattacharjee places his entire experience against his growing up years of the 1970s and 1980s, when a wave of armed left-wing movements struck at the zamindars and police in various parts of India. What started in the Naxalbari village of West Bengal later became a fad among the restless youth of many campuses, and urban youth descended in dozens into the forests of central India. They were there to fight for the rights of the Adivasis, against the oppressive state.

The romance has all but disappeared. The movement of urban youth is now mostly populated by Adivasis, who are now its foot-soldiers.

This book is a sobering read about the reality of modern India. Across the wildly beating heart of this country, where tribals live in harmony with thick forests and wild animals, under which great mineral wealth is deposited, the nation is at war. The Adivasi is caught in the middle. Every actor in the theatre — extraction industry promoters and police, the Maoist fighters and the NGO activists, missionaries and religious leaders — is claiming that his actions will improve the lot of Adivasis. For now, however, there is only blood on their broken streets and sleepless nights. Unless peace returns to the heartland, India will never find its place among liberal democracies

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 10, 2018 at 8:20pm

What the Kulbhushan Jadhav Saga Reveals About India and Pakistan’s Balochistan Problems
India’s Quint published and deleted a story alleging that Jadhav was indeed spying for India. What does that tell us?

This weekend, a report in India surfaced that confirmed Kulbhushan Jadhav was an asset of Indian intelligence. Jadhav, a former Indian naval officer, is currently on death row in Pakistan for spying, having been captured in Balochistan in early 2016. Until now, New Delhi has publicly denied that Jadhav had any relationship with the Indian state since his retirement from the navy. To the contrary, New Delhi alleged that Jadhav was a legitimate businessman kidnapped from Iran by Pakistan’s intelligence services.

The “legitimate businessman” façade has slowly been chipped away over 18 months. Leaving aside major complications in India’s story, such as Iran’s silence in the face of this ostensibly daring violation of its sovereignty, even reporters closely tied to India’s security establishment revealed that Jadhav offered to spy for Indian intelligence “several times” between 2010 and 2012, only to be rebuffed. What was new about this weekend’s report, however, was that for the first time, an Indian outlet essentially confirmed Pakistan’s version of events. In the report, both serving and retired Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) officers claimed that Jadhav was indeed spying for India in Balochistan.

The reaction was swift. Minutes after being published, the article was vociferously denounced by Indian journalists and analysts on social media, and in the comments section by readers, as being irresponsible and treacherous. Hours later, the article was taken down entirely. Though an archived version of the article still exists, there is otherwise no trace of it ever being written. The author and editor in question have not publicly explained why or how the article was published or taken down. There has been no follow up to the article’s startling admission by major newspapers or television channels.

South Asia is no stranger to the phenomenon of external actors intervening in their neighbors’ domestic conflicts. Most famously in 1971, during Pakistan’s civil war, India corralled, trained, and supplied the Mukti Bahini, which became strong enough to be one of the very few rebel groups to win a secessionist war and change an international border. Pakistan, for its part, has repeatedly sought to spark or fuel rebellion in Kashmir, most prominently in the early 1990s, as well as other secessionist hotspots, such as Punjab in the 1980s or the Indian northeast in the 1960s. Bangladesh and Myanmar have hosted militants targeting India’s northeast. India has returned the favor with each, and supported Tamil militants taking on the Sri Lankan state in the 1980s too.

Unlike India, the country most beset by secessionism, Pakistan does not have manifold separatist movements threatening its territorial integrity today. With the loss of East Pakistan in 1971, and the dampening of Sindhi and Pashtun nationalism in the last four decades, Pakistan finds itself much closer to Sri Lanka than its eastern neighbor: facing one, and only one, major separatist movement. 

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 11, 2018 at 10:25pm

#Indian officials banned from #Sikh #Gurdwaras in #US, #UK and #Canada. #India News | Al Jazeera

Sikh religious organisations in Canada, the US, and the UK have banned Indian officials from making formal visits to temples in response to the arrest of a Sikh activist in India and what they call interference in their affairs.

Campaigners accuse India of torturing British Sikh
The ban started in Canada and spread to temples in the US and the UK, with more than 100 places of worship now involved.

Davinder Singh of the Sikh Federation UK, one of the organisations supporting the campaign, said that the ban would apply to official visits but not personal trips to temples.

The November arrest of British Sikh activist Jagtar Singh Johal by Indian authorities and "interference in Sikh affairs" by Indian officials had led to the move, he told Al Jazeera.

Johal was detained in the northern state of Punjab and accused of involvement in the killings of prominent Hindu figures.

His family has rejected the allegations against him, explaining that he was in India to get married.

Sikh activists say his arrest was politically motivated.

"People are really upset," said Davinder Singh. "If someone goes to India to get married, the last thing they expect is to be picked up and abducted, not to be charged, to be subject to third-degree torture.

"I think it's cases like this that got a reaction from the Sikh community."

1984 massacre
While Johal's arrest triggered the latest dispute between the Indian government and some members of the Sikh diaspora, tensions between the two sides date back decades.

In the summer of 1984, Indian troops battling Sikh fighters stormed Sikhism's holiest Gurdwara, the Golden Temple, leaving hundreds dead.

Later that year, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was shot dead by her Sikh bodyguards, who held her responsible for the bloodshed.

In the aftermath of Gandhi's death, thousands of Sikhs were killed as sectarian mobs targeted Sikhs in Punjab, and the Indian capital New Delhi.

Sikhs have described the killings as a genocide. 

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 11, 2018 at 10:26pm

Celebrating Bhima Koregaon is unpatriotic? So why not other British victories in India too?
The Battle of Saragarhi is commemorated with a holiday in Punjab and the British Indian Army’s role in World War I is widely celebrated.

Is celebrating a British victory over an Indian kingdom unpatriotic?

It is, or so appears to have been the motivation, partly at least, behind the attack on Dalits by saffron flag-waving mobs in Bhima Koregaon village of Pune on New Year’s Day. The Dalits were commemorating a battle fought in 1818 as part of the Anglo-Maratha Wars. A small British force had engaged a much larger army commanded by the Peshwa, the head of the Maratha confederacy. The battle ended in a stalemate but given how outnumbered they were, the British took it as a sign of their army’s bravery.

A victory obelisk erected at the site later listed the names of the soldiers who had died fighting against the Peshwa, a substantial number of whom were Mahars, Maharashtra’s largest Dalit caste. In 1927, Dalit leader BR Ambedkar visited the obelisk, starting a tradition of commemorating the battle as a Mahar victory over the upper-caste Maratha confederacy.

Ambedkar’s reason for celebrating a British victory was simple: he characterised the Maratha confederacy as a socio-political system that brutally oppressed Dalits. Ambedkar recounted that any non-Brahmin reciting the Vedas would have his tongue cut out in the Peshwa kingdom. In the 1850s, a young Dalit girl in Jyotiba Phule’s school wrote that being buried alive was a common punishment for Dalits. For even as minor a caste transgression as passing by a talimkhana, or school, a Dalit’s “head was cut off playfully”.

The fall of the Peshwai was, therefore, a boon for Maharashtra’s Dalits. Ambedkar himself was a beneficiary of this. His parents came from army families and he grew up in a cantonment town, which allowed him access to education that would otherwise have been denied to him as a Dalit. In fact, a sixth of the East India Company’s armies in the Bombay Presidency until 1857 comprised of Mahars – a circumstance that was unthinkable in the strict caste system of the Maratha confedaracy.

Placed in this context, the Dalit celebration of the Bhima Koregaon battle seems rather logicial.

Different standards
In fact, Bhima Koregaon is not the only British victory celebrated in India. Sikhs, for example, celebrate the 1897 Battle of Saragarhi, when the British Indian army took on a large number of Pashtuns in what is now the Khyber Pakhtunwa province of Pakistan.

But, unlike Bhima Koregaon, celebrating Saragarhi has not been controversial. In fact, far from considered anti-national, celebrating the battle is seen as being in consonance with Indian nationalism. Its anniversary is marked as the Regimental Battle Honour Day for all battalions of the Indian Army’s Sikh regiment. The Punjab government has declared the anniversary a state-wide holiday. Bollywood is, at this moment, making as many as three films celebrating the battle.

What differentiates Bhima Koregaon and Saragarhi? Why is one battle commemorated by just a few thousand Dalits while the other is a state celebration? Why is celebrating only one of them anti-national?

All nationalisms strategically mine history in order to prop themselves up. Indian nationalism is no different. In Saragarhi, the villains were the tribal Pasthuns, a people who have little stake in the modern Indian Union. Moreover, in cases such as the 1576 Battle of Haldighati – where both sides were Indian – modern majoritarian narratives quite easily paint the Muslim side as the antagonist. Pratap, the ruler of a small principality, has got himself a statue in Parliament while his opponent in Haldighati, Akbar, probably the most powerful, and enlightened, ruler of his time, struggles to receive even a fraction of the attention. 

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 12, 2018 at 10:39am

India May Be The World's Fastest Growing Economy, But Regional Disparity Is A Serious Challenge

All of India is poor. The GDP per capita of Delhi, the National Capital Territory with a population of 20-25 million, is roughly equal to that of Indonesia at around $4,000. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, India's poorest states, are on a par with sub-Saharan Africa (less than $1,000). And geographical disparities matter much more in India than in other large countries. In the United States, the richest state (Massachusetts) has roughly twice the GDP of the poorest (Mississippi). In China the ratio is 4-1 between Beijing and Gansu. In India, Delhi's GDP per capita is eight times that of Bihar.

In southern India, Bangalore is famous as India's technology capital, home to companies like Flipkart, Infosys and Wipro, as well as the Indian Institute of Science, India's top-ranked university. Yet the state of which Bangalore is the capital, Karnataka, has a GDP per capita of around $2,400, roughly the same as Papua New Guinea. Tech entrepreneurs drive to work past open sewers and shantytowns. The real Silicon Valley in California has similar problems with inequality, but the scale of inequality in Bangalore is something completely different.

If India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi is serious about his election slogan Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas (Together with All, Progress for All), then reducing India's regional disparities should be high on his agenda. Modi's GST reform was an indispensable measure to reduce internal trade barriers, and his highway construction program is a good start toward knitting the country together. But India will need a lot more regional growth and much more generous fiscal transfers to its poorer states to overcome its extreme regional disparities.

India as a whole won't reach middle-income status until it unites its poorer states into the same Incredible India economy as the rest of the country. That's a challenge beyond the remit of any one government. But Modi and his BJP government swept to power in 2014 on the votes of India's poorest states, of the people most excluded from India's economic growth. If Modi wants to retain his majority in the next parliamentary elections, he would do well to focus on reducing the regional disparities that played such a key role in bringing him to office in the first place.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 15, 2018 at 6:48pm

Have #Hindutva forces in #India reignited the #Sikh #Khalistan movement overseas? #Modi #BJP … via @dailyo_

Indian embassy officials in North America and Europe have been banned by Sikh religious organisations from visiting gurdwaras of late. The move, aimed at "resisting Indian officials' interference in Sikh affairs" first started on the east coast of Canada and has now spread to the US and the UK. Not only Indian government officials, even RSS members have been asked not to enter gurdwaras. This development is an ominous sign for Delhi as it clearly indicates that the Sikh diaspora is coming together on an anti-India platform and is preparing to go back to its open support for an independent state for Sikhs.

Though Sikh militancy, demanding Khalistan, has somewhat disappeared from India in the mid-1990s, it still continues to exist and simmer among the Sikh diaspora. After Hindutva forces came to power in India, militancy got a fertile ground to re-emerge. More than eight million Sikhs, out of a total population of 30 million, live outside India. As the Sikh diaspora constitutes about 25 per cent of the total Sikh population, it has significant influence over the community's politics back home.

Punjab came to be seen as the Sikh homeland in the early 1900s with the rise of Sikh nationalism in British India as a reaction to the Muslim demand for a separate state. However, political mobilisation for this objective started only in the 1960s with the rise of a small group of Sikh separatists in the UK, US and Canada. The demand transformed into a full-scale violent secessionist movement for Khalistan in 1978 and continued until 1993. The Sikh diaspora played an active and crucial role in fomenting this insurgency, providing critical financial and political support, making public speeches and campaigning for the cause.

NRI Sikhs facilitated militants to travel to Pakistan to receive military training as well. After the Indian Army's attack on the Golden Temple in 1984, several groups came together to form the Khalistan government in exile. During that period, many separatist militant outfits such as Babbar Khalsa, the Khalistan Commando Force, the Khalistan Liberation Force, Bhindranwale Tiger Force of Khalistan, the Khalistan Liberation Organisation, and the International Sikh Youth Federation also mushroomed.

While events such as Operation Blue Star to flush out militants from the Sikh holy shrine in Amritsar and the anti-Sikh riots following the assassination of Indira Gandhi drew support for independence from both those in India and those living abroad, the ability to campaign abroad and harness international media resources enabled the diaspora to greatly influence the discourse on the movement.

While India used strong-arm tactics to muzzle the separatist movement in Punjab, it simultaneously pursued electoral politics to bring back dissenting Sikhs to the mainstream. Incidents of separatist violence started decreasing from 1994 onwards and that made Sikh militant groups largely defunct in India. However, these groups still have a political presence among the Sikh diaspora. Over the last two decades this group has been fighting in the name of justice and human rights.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 15, 2018 at 8:30pm

Have #Hindutva forces in #India reignited the #Sikh #Khalistan movement overseas? #Modi #BJP … via @dailyo_

There are a number of gurdwaras in Europe and North America which continue to support and propagate separatist ideology by highlighting the issues of injustice and human rights abuse by India in 1980s and 1990s at various public and private forums and collect funds and funnel them into a variety of sympathetic organisations in Punjab. Besides fund raising, many of these gurdwaras display photos of militants killed in Punjab conflict and observe remembrance days such as Operation Blue Star and the post-Indira Gandhi assassination Sikh massacres to keep the memory of the struggle alive.


With Narendra Modi becoming Prime Minister, the diaspora comprising Hindus has become more vocal about its backing for a Hindutva ideology. In the West, Hindu revivalism among the diaspora has been gathering strength since the Ayodhya movement, but has now assumed a powerful political shape. This has made Indian from other communities living abroad insecure. By backing Hindu revivalism among those living abroad, Modi seems to have instigated the Sikh diaspora to mobilise again to promote a separate Sikh identity and demand a separate homeland.

In the 2017 election in Punjab, a large number of Sikhs settled abroad came back to India to campaign for their favourite candidates, particularly of parties opposing BJP and its coalition partner Akali Dal. Diaspora usually enjoys a superior social status in Punjab.

Due to its access to wealth and information, NRI Sikhs started hoping to influence not only the voting behaviour of members from their community in Punjab, but also to recreate the support for secessionist movement. Through personal connections, travel and the use of information technology, the Sikh diaspora hope to reshape the political identity of Sikhs and mobilise them again to support their struggle for a separate statehood.

The Sikh diaspora has not only become a major actor in its homeland politics, it is also playing an active role in the politics of many host countries. Growing numbers and economic success has helped hardliner Sikhs to join active politics in many Western countries. In the UK election in June 2017, Sikh diaspora worked overtime to get a turban wearing MP elected to the British Parliament for the first time. Four Sikhs are now in Canada's cabinet and according to the chief minister of Punjab, Amrinder Singh, they are all Khalistan sympathisers. A Sikh legislator in the Ontario has successfully managed to get the support of the House to recognise 1984 anti-Sikh riots following the assassination of Indira Gandhi as genocide. A turban wearing Sikh, Jagmit Singh, is now the leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada and a potential prime ministerial candidate in his country. Sikhs in Canada accuse RSS of doing all it can to sabotage Jagmit Singh's election as party leader.

There has been an increased lobbying by the Sikh diaspora in the US Congress to declare the 1984 anti-Sikh riot as "genocide". There is a growing campaign by Sikh organisations existing abroad to amend Article 25(2) (b) of the Indian Constitution, which declares Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists as part of Hinduism. There are reports that Sikh and Kashmiri militants living in Europe have revived their ties.

The idea for an independent Sikh state is being reignited not from the people or political parties of Punjab, but by Sikh expatriates. The politics of "one nation, one religion, and one leader" by Hindutva nationalistic forces have provided the Sikh diaspora an opportunity to once again mobilise support at home for the cause of Khalistan. India needs to do something before it gets too late.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 19, 2018 at 8:42am

Have the #Chinese wound up the #CIA network in #China by discovering and killing all CIA assets? Who outed the #US #intelligence agents? Is #Washington now completely blind in #China? Ex-CIA officer arrested after US spy network is exposed in China.

Ex-CIA officer arrested after US spy network is exposed in China
It was one of the worst intelligence failures for years

Andrew Buncombe New York @AndrewBuncombe a day ago


Last spring, The New York Times reported that as many as 20 US intelligence assets had been killed by China since 2010, destroying years worth of intelligence efforts in the country. One operative was allegedly shot and killed in front of his colleagues and his body left in the car park of a government building as a warning to others.

US officials described the losses as “one of the worst” intelligence breaches in decades, comparing it to the number of assets lost in the Soviet Union in the 1980s and 1990s, when two prominent US assets worked as double agents for the Soviets. Officials said the breach has destroyed years of network-building within the country.

The arrest of Mr Lee come as China is looking to increasingly spread its international influence – economically, diplomatically and militarily. At the same time, the US, under the America First strategy adopted by Donald Trump, appears to be retreating from many areas, such as the environment and international security, it once led.


A former CIA officer has been arrested and charged as part of an alleged espionage scandal investigators claim resulted in the collapse of the US spying network in China and the deaths or imprisonment of up to 20 agency informants.

Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, a naturalised US citizen, was arrested earlier this week after arriving at JFK International Airport in New York. Mr Lee, who currently lives in Hong Kong, appeared in court and was charged with illegally retaining classified records, including names and phone numbers of covert CIA assets.

Mr Lee, who served in the US Army from 1982-86, joined the CIA in 1994 and worked as a case officer trained in covert communications, surveillance detection, and the recruitment and the handling of assets.

“[Mr] Lee began working for the CIA as a case officer in 1994, maintained a Top Secret clearance and signed numerous non-disclosure agreements during his tenure at CIA,” according to a statement released by the US Department of Justice.

The arrest of Mr Lee, who has not offered a plea, is said to have marked the culmination for more than five years of intense counter-espionage operation launched by the FBI. That investigation was established in 2012, two years after the CIA started losing assets in China.

Reports in the US media said investigators were initially unsure whether the agency had been hacked by the Chinese authorities or whether the losses were the result of a mole.

According to an eight-page affidavit, Mr Lee, who left the CIA in 2007 and has been working for a well-known auction house, travelled from Hong Kong to northern Virginia, where he lived from 2012 to 2013 – apparently having been lured there with a fake job offer.

When he flew to Virginia, the FBI obtained a warrant to search Mr Lee’s luggage and hotel room. The court documents say agents found two small books with handwritten notes containing names and numbers of covert CIA employees and locations of covert facilities.

Mr Lee left the US in 2013 after being questioned on five different occasions by FBI agents. He never mentioned his possession of the books containing classified information, say the court documents.

The FBI affidavit makes no allegations of espionage against Mr Lee, only alleging illegal retention of documents. Any conviction on that offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 20, 2018 at 9:54am

‘#Hindi imposition isn’t nationalism, #India isn’t #China’: India’s #Language Divide

How can we make politicians and people from the Hindi-belt understand that many states in India are subjected to Hindi imposition, and that it is wrong?

At the ongoing India Today Conclave South 2018 in Hyderabad, former Human Resource Development Minister MM Pallam Raju, Congress Spokesperson Brijesh Kalappa, actor Prakash Belawadi and Kerala-based writer NS Madhavan, tried their hand at explaining why the south is peeved with the Centre’s push for Hindi.

Titled 'The Language Divide: Whose Hindi is it?’, the panel discussion was moderated by senior India Today journalist Rahul Kanwal.

Why must promoting Hindi be equated with nationalism?

Promoting Hindi as ‘rashtra bhasha’ or as the main Indian language is often justified in the garb of nationalism. But Prakash Belawadi called that out and said that those two did not necessarily go hand in hand.

“The idea of Hindi imposition and to conflate it with nationalism is entirely bogus. It’s not correct,” he said.

NS Madhavan also pointed out how attempts to impose Hindi were being made subtly. "After demonetisation, when the new currencies were printed, Hindi numerals were used. This is against the official language policy of Government of India. A person from Tamil Nadu went to the High Court on this issue. We can understand speaking Hindi or even the letters but placing Hindi numerals on national currency is imposition," said the writer. 

Prakash also questioned why a country should have just one dominant language. "The idea is an archaic one,” he said, “It is not about being anti-Hindi, it is about equity. It is about common sense. In Karnataka, if bank forms don’t have Kannada, and people who have studied till class 10 go to a bank, they feel illiterate. Their primary education has been in Kannada medium. Why do you impose a situation, where you make people feel inadequate in their own place?”

Critiquing justifications to promote Hindi

Moderator Rahul brought up the example of China, and how it is used by people to further justify the promotion of Hindi. “Even though many dialects are spoken in China, they push for one language, and that becomes a global showcase. People in the world then learn Mandarin in hopes that they can do better business with China,” he said.

MM Pallam Raju replied that it is not a fair comparison as "China works in an autocratic manner". "I think India’s greatest strength has been its soft power – it has arisen from its heritage, culture. Those are the strengths we should encourage. Every language has its subtle nuances which relate to its unique identity and I think that’s what makes India great,” he said.

Raju however refused to draw a political correlation to the imposition of Hindi and said that any attempts to thrust Hindi upon Indians will be met by resistance. 

Why Hindi, why not another language?

Rahul asked Madhavan why there wasn’t a strong anti-Hindi sentiment in Kerala as there had been witnessed in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Madhavan explained that people in Kerala had had to learn Hindi in the past decade or so because there were over 30 lakh Hindi-speakers in the state, who were mostly employed in manual labour. “So to communicate with them, we need to learn Hindi. But this doesn’t mean that the feeling of Hindi being imposed on other parts of the country is not there,” he said.


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