A couple of nights ago, at a gathering of friends, I did what most tree-hugging hippies do: imagine. I said, wouldn't it have been nice, if after Afghanistan instead of invading Iraq, The Chosen One had made a grand gesture and said, "Here is 5 billion dollars on the table. I will fund a school and a library in all major cities of the Gulf where anyone can have a free English medium education. And here is 1 billion to aid translation of texts [literature, history, art etc.] from Arabic to English and back*" Wouldn't that have taken the wind out the sails of those insisting that America is the imperial Satan? Sure, the jihadis will be opposed but the middle classes and the intellengentsia would have jumped at such a gesture. Just to break the status quo, the endless blame game, to start a new discussion, I said.
The next day, I read that such a gesture has indeed been made. By Manmohan Singh in Kashmir. He announced that he is going to reduce troops in Kashmir. Then, he recognized that the J&K civilians have suffered in the 15 years of turmoil and asked the troops to maintain ideal conduct. Then, he announced that the ban on hiring from J&K will be lifted and jobs will be provided for the youths. And then, he offered a $5.3 billion economic revival plan for the people of Kashmir. He said, "The time has come to put forward a new blueprint, a fresh vision for Kashmir... free from the fear of war, want and exploitation".
Of course, the jihadis ain't buying it. Big surprise. Manmohan Singh just upped the ante for the hearts and minds of the people of Kashmir. A brilliant and timely move by someone I am really beginning to like. Who you gonna call, General Ji?
* Translation updated
That's a very very good idea. The pen is mightier than the sword.
The wonk's done something nice for sure, I'm surprised he managed to get away with it - he must have more control over his party than I'm led to believe. Interestingly, this gesture is going mostly unappreciated inside India. People seem to be more concerned with the excitement du jour - the murderous swami. Another equally remarkable development is a bold move by the Andhra government to resettle drought struck Telugu farmers in Kenya. On the flip side it's deeply ironical, there are millions in Kenya without access to arable land.
But you don't understand, while this "grand gesture" would put US$5bil towards goodwill, how would we be able to line Halliburton's, GE's, Boeing's, Lockheed Martin's, etc.'s pockets with fat stacks of cash? Won't anyone think of the corporations?
Thanks Claire. I know someone out there would like that idea. Books and Pens. How can u resist that? Cheeni: this swami guy is a super-freak. John: u real funny. no really, you are.
Sepoy: Hah, god men are supposed to be freaks - it's an entry criterion. Faith amazes me - there are at least 3 swamis in this one state I live in facing criminal charges this very moment from rape to murder. You would think the sheeple have had enough, but nope they are waiting for the next great unwashed phenomenon to save them. Bollywood and the swamis really get it - providing an escapist vision of reality is a cash cow.
Cheeni actually I heard that the bandh VHP/BJP/Shivsena/RSS called for in Mumbai to protest against the swamis arrest fizzled out. I dont think too many people really care about Mr swami...which is a welcome change from usual sheeple behavior. OTOH dude we run an amateur indian politics discussion club here. Admittedly its outside India but we are all fobs. And every single one of us loves Manmohan despite the fact that we practically embody the spectrum of political opinions. Thats the educated populace for you. And like the past elections showed, even the unwashed masses like Congress better. Whether they appreciate the Sardar as much as they appreciate the Italian...we'll know in the next elections!