Monday, November 03, 2008

Obama and Kashmir.

Why should Kashmir figure in Obama's election speech? Don't know how Am-Indians feel about it but we out here are getting a little jittery. The Government at the Centre, still in the grip of India - America bhai bhai euphoria, is playing it down as the the product of the high excitement on the eve of the elections. But why drag Kashmir in? and speak of it in the same breath as Afghanistan? Is his understanding of the issue flawed? The BJP has started going hammer and tongs after Obama. The Kashmiri separatist groups are ecstatic.

Many who ( like me ) put this nation above evrything else are confused, and a wee bit anxious. Why Kashmir as the last stroke before the people go to the polling booths? It is our internal matter. And wherever the US has stepped in, they've left behind a mess.

For the first time since Obama entered the election fray, I began to wonder at the significance of his middle name.


  1. I have always been conscious about Barack Hussein Obama's his middle name. I can only smile wryly here!

  2. I am surprised and shocked at the last sentence in your post.May be you are also falling in to the 'saffron trap'.
    There is a close relationship between Kashmir and Afghanistan. The Taliban trained and funded by US against Russia, turned to Kashmir after Russians were ousted.Some or major section of Pak army was also behind that.If the war in Afghanistan to oust Taliaban succeeds there, more and more of them will take refuge
    in Kashmir.So democratisation of Kashmir on both sides is also very important.
    Obama thesis may not be sensible or practical but we should not forget the connection under the mist of narrow minded nationalism.

  3. @ siverine
    to tell you the truth, it never mattered to me or to a lot of people i know
    @ chakaran
    it was a very politically incorrect statement, considering india's firm policy not to internationalise kashmir. one would expect a presidential candidate to know and respect the country's policy.
    we can be dismissive about obama's statement only on the grounds that he didnt mean anything by it. but then, the presidential candidate of a country which has its finger in every pie in the international scene cannot trivialise india and her problems, or make irresponsible statements that'll be music to the ears of a few voters. anyway, whom is he trying to please by such remarks?
    the statement leaves a dirty taste in the's like the feeling you have when you realise that your goddess has feet of clay.

  4. Lets leave political correctness out of blogs for the sake of open discussions!

    Lets wait and watch! Obama may give a few pleasant or unpleasant surprises!


    Indianexpress article is rightly said - that Obama tends to carry the stick along with Carrot - that he would try to resolve Kashmir issue.

    Only solution - India should continue to go high on her growth path - so that we become like China - not to worry about who becomes US President -and whatever their policies - we should be large enough and strong enough to be able to tackle it.

  6. Thought provoking post, but the last sentence is a bit (not a bit, but very) disturbing.
    Please do not fall for the games of popular media which portrays that all bad people are from a particular section of the society or religion and things like that. It hurts if we just try to imagine in their shoes for a while.

  7. Reason :
    Kashmir - heaven on earth

  8. Here through Blog Bharti.
    This troubled me too. I haven't seen the news yet ... was chatting with an American Indian friend she said "Obama will never talk about breaking a nation." She has already voted for him. (Early voting)
    But Obama's middle name doesn't bother me anymore than President Kalam's full name bothered me.

  9. The relavant portions of Obama interview is this.
    "The most important thing we’re going to have to do with respect to Afghanistan, is actually deal with Pakistan,” Obama said in an interview last week with MSNBC. “And we’ve got work with the newly elected government there in a coherent way that says, terrorism is now a threat to you. Extremism is a threat to you. We should probably try to facilitate a better understanding between Pakistan and India and try to resolve the Kashmir crisis so that they can stay focused not on India, but on the situation with those militants.”
    As far I can see there is nothing wrong in that statement.Democratisation of Kashmir is necessary to prevent its Talibanisation.Any help to democratise Kashmir should be welcomed.

    Now if you do not mind can you explain what you meant by the wondering at the significance of Obama's middle name?
    I was reminded of the incident in which a middle aged church going lady in one of the McCain rally announced loudly about Obama, 'I cant trust Obama,He is an Arab'. to which McCain's reply was , 'No he is not an Arab but a decent family man'.

  10. last comment uncalled what if he is muslim? what happened to our sense of secularism..and the fact of the matter is that he is not!
    ``We should probably try to facilitate a better understanding between Pakistan and India and try to resolve the Kashmir crisis so that they can stay focused not on India, but on the situation with those militants,” said Mr Obama in an interview to MSNBC.

    ``The most important thing we’re going to have to do with respect to Afghanistan is actually deal with Pakistan.”
    i dont see the problem..
    yes,we need to resolve Kashmir
    yes,Pak is the problem not India.
    YES,this is election time! rhetoric is as cheap as a box of candy!
    lets all not get riled up about nothing!

  11. India's firm policy not to internationalize Kashmir notwithstanding, I suspect Obama's answer comes from his tendency to take a broad view of the region. He was discussing the Taliban-Al Qaeda nexus in Afghanistan and how Pakistan supports it. This seemed to have led to consideration of how that spills over into the India Pakistan border and the Kashmir issue.
    Can you pretend that terrorism in India,with all those bomb blasts in Mumbai, B'lore,Hyderabad etc. have nothing to do with the poisonous leftovers fermenting in the Kashmir region? Is the Indian government doing a good job of preventing such things from happening all by itself, even despite bilateral talks with Pakistan?
    While they may have their reservations with Obama weighing in on this issue, they will have to deal with his thinking should he win the election. It's better that they know and prepare to deal with this, rather than issue kneejerk 'If you're not with us, you're against us' style responses.

  12. @ all
    if my anxiety( and that of half a dozen people who called me up after the flash news about obama's position on kashmir appeared on tv) is misplaced, i am the happiest person on earth. india can do without external interference to complicate matters; and complicate matters it will. has US interference ever resolved matters anywhere?
    @ Chakaran. democratisation of kashmir-you mentioned that in both your comments.are you talking of the once promised plebiscite? what sort of democratisation is possible in kashmir at this point of time with the demographic imbalance caused by militancy? or are you thinking of a kashmir minus the pundits who were driven away? the issue is too complex. no simplistic solutions are possible. i think we citizens should not be making such statements.
    @ all who asked about middle name. when you get a shocker like that you begin to wonder about motives. and perhaps you put two and two together and , quite possibly, arrive at five instead of four. a kneejerk reaction to a statement that should never have been made by a man to be at the helm of world affairs soon. one should not bandy so sensitive and complex an issue like kashmir in the election interview.and the people who welcomed obama's statement were the separatists.i still dont understand to which gallery he was playing when dropped the kashmir issue so casually.i have no idea about the vote bank in the US.
    @ ammu. sorry if i sounded as stereotyping people.i know it hurts. like i said, it was a kneejerk reaction.
    by the way(totally unconnected with my post), i have heard many many hard core obama fans saying that his middle name will have a palliative effect on th wounds inflicted on the world by the US.

  13. A couple of reading suggestions: "Dreams from my Father" and "The Audacity of Hope" (in that order), by Barack Obama. It might set some of your worries to rest.
    He may not always get it right, but he is more than capable of learning and changing if needed, vastly better than the blind certitude of the Bush years.

  14. I can understand why you might be concerned about Obama's statements, but the broader point he was trying to make was that the Kashmir issue needs to be resolved, which I think everyone agrees with. It's draining the resources of both countries and is not helping anybody -- except the terrorists trying to recruit more people to their cause.

    And was quite surprised to read the last line since I can remember a lively debate we had not too long ago about unfair perceptions many people have about Muslims.

  15. @ sujatha
    thanks. am planning to borrow that book from ann who admonished me(see comment after yours):-)
    @ ann
    read my last line once again. i nnever ever cared for such things-was one to condemn ethnocentrism in all its aspects-but that unwarranted, inexplicable statement shook me up ( read my response to the comments - i have explained myself).
    kashmir has to be resolved. yes. but the implication of a third nation getting involved in it is scary.
    i still dont understand why so touchy an issue as kashmir was dragged into the Am elections 48 hours before the voting. what upset a lot of us is the glee with which the separatist welcomed obama's statement - and new delhi grinning and bearing it.
    the shape of things to come? i certainly hope not.

  16. Why Obama should mention it?It is the most natural thing for him to do.He wants to try to solve the problems of this region and how ever you try to push US out of it you cant as US is the major player in both Afghanisthan and Pakistan.
    You still did not explain what u meant by that last sentence of yours.Did you mean because Obama has a Muslim middle name he will[even though he is a practising and devout Christian]help Muslims more than Hindus?If he is going to help Muslims will he help the Muslims who want Kashmir to merge with Pakistan or the Muslims who want an Independent Kashmir or the Muslims who want Kashmir to be inside India? Kindly explain

  17. @ chakara
    i am not sure what exactly i meant by the last sentence. his suggestion that US will see to it that kashmir problem is out of the way so that pak can concentrate on terrorism from aghanistan, was startling - to think that any country can casually sweep aside the clearly stated position of another country regarding a territory was totally totally unacceptable to me.and i reacted the way i did. i didnt mean any of the things you have put forward - i didnt think that specifically. but i did feel that he will, perhaps, have greater empathy with the separatists than perhaps a bush or i confessed, it was a kneejerk reaction.
    i could be wrong. at least, i surely hope i am.

    the trouble with me is i am a hardcore incurable patriot-i cannot stand anyone talking in a dismissive way about my country.

    by the way, the 'saffron trap' is too small to contain me:-)

  18. Hope u dont mind me continuing this discussion.Otherwise I may have to start a new blog abt politics.
    Abt democratisation in Kashmir.I am not an expert on Kashmir.Still these are the principles i will suggest for reducing the tension there.
    The Central Govt should try to win the hearts and minds of Kashmiris by addressing their genuine grievances.Not by using the heavy hand of army and police.The separatists and fundamentalists should be isolated.Democracy should be promoted from grass roots.Pakistan should stop the support to militants and US role will be important there.These are not easy but should be tried with utmost sincerity.
    Nationalism is good.But take care it do not become an extreme form of 'hate every one else Nazism'

  19. @ charakan
    patriotism and nationalism are not the same. there is more than a fine line separating them.

    your solutions - ideally, that's what has to be done. but the matter is too complex to lend itself to such solutions. India has her own reasons for resisting foreign intervention in kashmir.

    by the way, i'm not an expert on kashmir either-have only a layman's understanding of the issue.

  20. Hey, I was absolutely shocked to read your last sentence. Do you still stand by it?

  21. @ anita
    did u read my reponse to the comments in which I got lambasted for my last sentence?
    listen, i'm not a racist. period. but this i can tell you. everyone Obama supporter who spoke to me from the US, and his supportes here in India felt that his origins will will improve US relations with the Middle east, it'll soften the attitude of the terrorists. i also rejoiced with the rest of the world. And then came that bobmshell about kashmir. the media played it up. the kashmir spearatists group were jumping with joy. and i and many others like me were shocked, anxious.
    ok. do i still stand bt it? by what? by my sipposedly racist judgement? well. i answered that already. but when i made that statement, believed that because of his cross national origins, he is capable of empathising with the seapratists - much more than a Bush or clinton would do.
    today, i feel the anxiety was misplaced.
    tell me, if all of u believe that his background will break the ice in US relations with Islamic world, why am i being battered for saying that the same thing might make him interfere in kashmir?

  22. The last sentence in your post was not a racist remark. But it can be called a communal one.The type we are used to see from the Saffron brigade [or the Christian Right in U.S].Only the Right wing media of both communal poles,Hindu and Islam latched on to that sentence from the Obama interview.
    What you mean by his background? He was brought up as a devout Christian.So should we believe that if there was Christian separatist demand from the North East of India he will support it whole heartily because of his background?
    All this come from a false belief that USA is against Muslims.US foreign policy broadly supports all Governments that supports US business interests.That is why it supports all the Islamic Kingdoms in Persian Gulf, but is afraid of post 'revolution' Iran and was afraid of Saddam Hussein.Will it change with Obama?Let us wait and see.

  23. @ charakan
    guess communal is the right word - just that i hate it-i consider myself a a hard core secularist.
    looks like all my explanations haven't vindicated my statement.guess i am not articulate enough to put across the isdea that i am talking of political positions, positions in international relations and policies.
    'Let us wait and see'
    yes.that's it.

  24. Hey are you really planning to withdraw that statement and apologise to your readers? -:

  25. @ charakan
    come on. after all the explanation I gave, you still think i must withdraw that statement? mebbe i didnt do a good job explaining, or you are not convinced.
    ok. i shall withdraw that ststement. but give me time. four years.

  26. I want to stop this discussion but I am not able too. Still you are not getting my point.Point of discussion now is not what Obama may do in regard to Kashmir,but your perception of Muslims.You have already implicated guilt on Obama towards India because of his Muslim middle name,[even though he is a devout Christian].Now you say you will change that bad perception of those with Muslim names only if they are found not doing what you fear they will do to India after a period of 4 years.
    It is like a Judge saying to an accused whose name happened to be 'Terrorist' 'I consider you guilty because your name is Terrorist unless you prove your innocence'.
    He may have been actually a Terrorist but a Judge should not say that. How can anyone especially a Muslim consider you secularist after such a statement

  27. Sorry for being harsh on you and hurting you.As I said in my first post I was surprised at that statement.I carried this so far because I want YOU and your blog to remain true secular, because yours is a very important and well respected blog.

  28. @ charakan
    no probs.
    To be honest, i was surprised at the reactions -not just from u. despite all my explannations, my statement was not understood in the way it was continued to be interpreted as communal/racist or the bargain---oh. here i go again.let's leave it:-)

  29. It would have been nice if you withdraw that statement,but I realise you are not convinced.I have few more things to say,but will say it not hear but in a coming post in my blog named 'Middle name of Obama'


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