Dimensions of Sexual Violence and Patriarchy in a Militarised State

Enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture, and sexual violence have characterised Indian military operations in Kashmir. Of these, sexual violence has been used widely to “break” individuals and communities, and as a tool for punishing resistance against violence by the Indian state. The discourse around sexual violence, however, has always revolved around women with very little focus on men and transgender persons, given the patriarchal understanding of sexual violence and power relations. A critical part of this discussion is also looking at how the patriarchal structure of the society acts as a facilitator for the effective use of sexual violence as a tool against the people. The sexual violence that is propagated and implemented by a masculine patriarchal state can be resisted well with a deeper understanding of gender dynamics.

Kashmir’s armed struggle has been a matter of serious concern for the Indian state that has been claiming Kashmir as its own “integral part” contrary to the political aspiration of many Kashmiris. The embarrassment caused to the world’s “largest democracy” by the movement for self-determination and the resistance to military occupation by the people of Kashmir has been retaliated with extreme violence and gross human rights violations. In different cycles of both armed and civilian resistance, hundreds have been injured, killed and maimed as a result of direct physical violence perpetrated by the Indian state and there has been absolute impunity for these crimes (Human Rights Watch Report 1993a). People across divides of age, religion and gender have protested against the away occupation in Kashmir. While researching and writing about the human rights violations in this region that are widely believed to be the result of military occupation and army operations against armed rebellion, the wide use of sexual violence by the armed forces—that remain protected by the guarantee of legal immunity under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958—cannot be overlooked.

Sexual violence has effectively been used as a weapon to crush resistance and break the morale of people across the world in conflict zones. In Kashmir also sexual violence has been used as an important part of strategy for crushing support to the popular armed rebellion in Kashmir. The families of militants, mostly women, have been attacked but the families of non-combatants and civilians have been victims and survivors of this violence too. It is usually incorrectly assumed that sexual violence is used against only women. Men have equally been victims of a sexualised form of violence. However, the motive behind perpetrating sexual violence against men is distinct from sexual violence against women (Kazi 2008).

Gendered Shades

Sexual violence against women by men is not about a male desire for sexual gratification, but is a proven assertion of sexual power to subjugate, given the unequal power dynamics between genders in the society. Many cases of sexual violence committed by civilian men against women end in the woman being killed or mutilated, proving that aggression and a display of masculinity forms the basis of motivation for such crimes. Coupled with the social structure where the blame and shame is directed towards the victim, sexual violence against women becomes an instant tool to break a woman’s sense of self, forcing her into victimisation (Bhugra and Kalra 2013: 244–49).

Sexual violence against women that manifests in the context of militarisation is immediately a fatal combination of unquestionable power and absolute impunity, as is the case in Kashmir. The institution of military has used sexual violence against women as a tool to punish them and the communities. It is an attack on “collective honour” and not just of individuals and their immediate families but on a collective identity (Human Rights Watch 1993b). In a state of militarisation, the idea of the “other” or the “enemy” is strongly, actively nurtured and thus sexual violence by this “other” is seen as an aggression against the entire community. Kashmir’s history is replete with examples of how the Indian state through its armed forces attacked the entire Kashmiri community. In 1991, a unit of the 4th Rajputana Rifles of the Indian armed forces raped women inside their homes in the twin villages of Kunan Poshpora, while the men were being tortured during a cordon and search operation. This was meant as an attack not just on the “honour” of the people of these villages, but on the entire Kashmiri community, that has been supporting the armed struggle against the Indian state, as a representative action that could break a whole community (Batool et al 2016).

There are other manifestations of this state-sponsored sexual violence too, ranging from everyday harassment on streetsto trying to embarrass women during search operations by displaying their undergarments to outright rapes of individual women and collective mass rape (Qadri and Haziq 2016). Merely limiting the violence to rapes or penetration would result in negating the everyday experiences of thousands of women by institutionalised violence that has the support of impunity. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines sexual violence as

any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work. (Krug et al 2002: 149)

Of Impunity and Denial

Sexual violence follows the impunity that the Indian armed forces have in Kashmir under the protection of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA). The AFSPA was passed in some states of India on 11 September 1958, but it was extended to Kashmir in July 1990. Under this act, army personnel can enter and search to make arrests without a warrant and fire to injure and even kill any individual “suspected” to be acting against law. Fake encounters, custodial killings, civilian killings, detentions and disappearances are a result of the impunity that this act provides to the Indian armed forces (Wani et al 2013: 62). In addition to the impunity that AFSPA grants, there is an extended cover of legal impunity as proven recently when the Supreme Court of India stayed investigations against Major Aditya Kumar, accused of firing on and killing three civilians in Shopian in January 2018 (Soni 2018).

There are only denials against accusations of rape and sexual violence. Till date no accused from the army has been tried in a civilian court, even when there are provisions for them to be tried in such courts for crimes such as rapes, murder and culpable homicide. Even in cases where there have been trials in military court, the accused has merely been suspended from service, as in the case of Major Rahman, who raped a mother and daughter in Bader Payeen in Handwara in 2004 (Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society report 2015). He was only suspended from service after a court martial and later reinstated (Jaleel 2018). It is abundantly clear that punishment for sexual violence is only an eyewash, intended to deceive people. The Indian armed forces have used sexual violence against women to create a sense of fear among the people, and to establish a norm of punishing people who might support resistance against the state. As in the case of the mass rape in Kunan Poshpora in 1991, the incident was a collective punishment against the villagers for “sheltering militants.” Through violating the bodies of women a message was sent, and not just once, that the community would be broken in any way possible for any act of defiance. These offences have not been limited to just the Indian armed forces, but were used as a tactic by the government-sponsored militia known as ikhwans to consolidate their power and instil fear within Kashmiris. Their crimes went unchallenged and unquestioned (Human Rights Watch 1996).

While sexual violence against women in Kashmir has received attention, countless men in Kashmir are also victims of sexual assaults perpetrated by the various apparatuses of the Indian state. Sexual violence works on similar lines of power and subjugation among both men and women, especially in conflict zones, where it is a more explicit weapon against a certain population. Within the patriarchal structure, however, sexual violence against men tends to break an individual, keeping in mind the expectations of hegemonic masculinity. Sexual violence against men, mostly boys, is also a reality in both conflict and non-conflict zones, but is mostly neglected as it is erroneously perceived to be a rarity (Kapur and Mudell 2016: 11–14). This fact further complicates the gender equations underlying the idea of why sexual violence is prevalent and perpetrated. Gender relations in sexual violence are seen mostly as men perpetrating violence against women, but the vulnerability of men to sexual assault in conflicts results in both men and women being victims. Sexual violence against men in conflict areas like Kashmir has been used mostly as a torture technique; being sexually violated has been reported as a routine by those who have been detained by the Indian armed forces. Common techniques include mutilation of genitals, forced sodomy or insertion of object into the anal canal (Qadri 2016). When used against men, sexual violence is a tool to break the man, to induce a sense of shame and to dent the “masculinity” of the man, so that he breaks into giving what is required of him, or as punishment for defying the state. The sexual abuse, torture, and mutilation of male detainees or prisoners are often carried out to attack and destroy their sense of masculinity or manhood (United Nations report 2002).

A step ahead in this discourse around sexual violence against men and women would be discussing the much ignored sexual violence faced by transgender persons in Kashmir, which is not considered even a remote possibility, given the focus on the gender binary. The transgender from Maisuma, Javed Ahmad, also called Jave Maam is famous for his style of protest. Jave Maam adopted the term ragda which became the hallmark of protest sloganeering in the 2008 protests. Jave, like other Kashmiris, faced sexual violence when he was stripped naked, as a punitive action for protesting(Rashid 2017).

Patriarchy as an Ally

An understanding and critical research of how sexual violence has been used by states against people in armed conflicts worldwide clearly reflects that sexual violence is an effective tool to break people. Militarisation in Kashmir has led to a climate of impunity and lack of accountability, where people are unable to report or engage with institutions that would otherwise provide respite to them. The low percentage of reporting of cases against the Indian state can be attributed to the fact that a fear of reprisal against the people is common, and there are no precedents of punitive action against the perpetrators. There is no denying the fact that militarisation provides a cover of impunity to its apparatuses, however, a critical ally to the effectiveness of a weapon like sexual violence is the patriarchal structure of the society. The state and the military in itself is a patriarchal institution that covers up morally for its crimes of war by citing patriarchal excuses, especially when it comes to sexual violence. Apologists for the Indian armed forces have used the notion of armed men being jawans, young men who are bound to commit sexual misdemeanour that has nothing to do with the state, but is a commonly accepted aberration of male behaviour. It is an exoneration of perpetrators using what is a universal system of oppression and justifying male dominance and excesses.

The deeper problem is that men seem to use sexual violence when deployed not only in times of war as the “enemy,” but also when their role is perceived to be that of protectors. An example of the widespread unchecked sexual abuse by UN peacekeeping forces in Haiti, Cambodia, Congo, etc, against women and minors, proves that combined with a military/armed forces background, sexual violence is bound to be used to terrorise and abuse those who are vulnerable (Anderlini 2017). The state understands the patriarchal nature of Kashmiri society which makes sexual violence effective. An example of this is considering the bodies of women as repositories of “honour,” “chastity” and “chivalry” of men, which, when violated by the enemy, psychologically breaks the men of the community in their failure to “protect their women,” a role that patriarchy assigns them (Coomaraswamy 2002).

Similarly, when sexual violence against men is used to break their “masculinity,” and to “feminise” them, it is in accordance with the patriarchal notion that a man will not be fit to be a protector and is now “feminised,” as in a helpless individual overpowered through infliction of sexual violence. The refusal of men to report or document cases of sexual violence against them for the fear of loss of reputation in the society and a stigma of being mocked as “effeminate” is strong evidence of patriarchy helping the larger occupation. “Men also may be loath to talk about being victimised, considering this incompatible with their masculinity, particularly in societies in which men are discouraged from talking about their emotions” (Sivakumaram 2007: 255). This is similar to the women who are victims of sexual violence, and who would rather not report sexual violence against them from fear of reprisal, given the social stigma attached to rapes and sexual violence. A glaring example of this has been the Kunan Poshpora mass rape in which a lot of unmarried survivors preferred not to be named in legal documents out of fear for their future. The whole scenario of the experiences of transgender persons missing from the broader narrative of occupation is also an example of how as a society we are yet to open up beyond patriarchal gender binary.

The idea is not to exonerate militarisation and occupation as a reason and as a system to perpetrate sexual violence against Kashmiris, but to understand that patriarchy has been effectively used against Kashmiris to break and silence them. Questioning the structures of patriarchy in Kashmiri resistance is important, especially as women and transgender persons have been together in this movement both as contributors to resistance and victims of violence. The recent image of young college girls on the streets, with stones in their hands, should lead the way; they did not merely scare the occupation but broke gender norms to foil a plot and narrative of the Indian state, that of portraying women as victims whose actions are directed and dictated by men.


How one man’s 34,000 km walk is inspiring budding journalists across the world

 Out of eden walk, Paul salopek, nat geo, national geographic, journalists, workshops, journalism workshop, journalism tips

wo-time Pulitzer winner and National Geographic explorer Paul Salopek is on a 10-year walk from Ethiopia in Africa to the tip of South America to gather the untold stories from refugees, farmers, and nomads that journalists tend to ignore.

His 33,780 km Out of Eden walk which began in 2013 is inspiring budding journalists all over the world to open their eyes to the stories unfolding all around them in their own neighbourhoods and become storytellers themselves.

The Pulitzer-winner tracing the path that ancient humans took while migrating out of Africa to the rest of the continents way back in the Stone Age.

The incredible stories he has collected read like a modern fairytale, each chapter connected to the next as he moves from village to village guided by the characters he meets on the way.

Salopek conducted a free workshop for young journalists in New Delhi earlier this year. Interested journalists needed to submit an application and a portfolio of work to an online registration form.

The 4-day Chennai workshop was held on September 4-7 while the 4-day Kolkata workshop is planned for November 13-16.

Journalism learning projects in partnership with Out of Eden

Salopek has been walking for five years now and since the time he started the project, he knew there would be a learning element in this. He figured that taking kids on a long walk was a great way to get children interested and aware of current events, and also become better global citizens.

“So you grab them by the hand and take them on a digital storytelling walk like their uncle would take them for a walk around the neighbourhood. But now, we can take them across the world,” says the explorer in a conversation with India Today Education.

“They write essays, they take walks around their neighbourhood, they often work on themes like immigration, migration of the environment, and they share them saying things like ‘Hi, I am from Delhi, from a secondary school. I am walking around my neighbourhood and this is what I saw’,” Salopek explains.

Paul Salopek spends time with a student during Photo Camp at the Good Shepherd Agricultural Mission in Banbasa, India. Join the journey at outofedenwalk.org.(Photograph by Clifton Shipway/National Geographic Photo Camp)

How young storytellers can do away with tainted, second-hand news

Paul Salopek’s project encourages young children and journalism students to walk around their neighbourhood and be storytellers themselves instead of just having conversations on various topics on the internet.

They can then share their story with someone doing something similar in Mexico or Australia, and the reverse happens as well.

This enables people to get unbiased news straight from the source and free from any news contamination that often happens when it is running through various red tapes and middlemen.

Moreover, it teaches children to record the environment and not just speak to people of their own age, but also younger and older generations — not just from their own community but around the world. The platform of Out of Eden Learn provides them with the tools to use Salopek’s work as a launching pad and become storytellers themselves.

“It is not the usual interface where the communication is binary — either yes or no, like or unlike, thumbs up or thumbs down — there is much more analysis which gets them to do critical thinking, gets them to develop narrative skills,” says Salopek.

Out of Eden stories are part of North American schools

Salopek’s project has yet another partner — the Pulitzer Centre on Crisis Reporting — which takes the work he is doing and shares it in a much more formal way through curriculums in North American schools.

“This is also an immense learning tool for children as they can tap into the source information I am collecting from Ethiopia or Rajasthan and add it to their global history, English, Geography or Sociology lessons. I am like their correspondent,” says the journalist.

How Salopek’s reporting is used in university-level journalism departments

Out of Eden has a fourth partner Don Belt who is doing University Outreach. He takes the work of Out Of Eden and plugs it into journalism departments at the university level, so that kids become interested in foreign corresponding, or community-based journalism.

“They use the Walk methodology to tell stories of their own communities using their own campuses, or the communities around the campuses as laboratories,” he says.

“I am tapping into an existing branch of journalism, using my own work to say that ‘here — this is a different channel, like a tributary of the giant media river – it’s global, integrated, cross-cultural, human-oriented, and literary,” Salopek adds.

How the Out of Eden walk is inspiring kindergartners

There are around 50,000 kids following the ‘Out of Eden Walk’ who are kindergarteners. And Salopek says they are “switched on” as they ask fantastic questions even at this young age.

“The younger we get to people with our stories, the more impact it creates. I think it is too late by high school, or secondary school. I say start at kindergarten,” says the explorer.

What does Salopek teach at the Out of Eden journalism workshops?

Pulitzer winner Paul Salopek notes that there is a vast and bottomless ocean of content on the internet and “most of it is pure junk”.

“So we’re encouraging journalists at our workshops to slow down — to spend days instead of minutes on a story — and craft something unique and of value to readers, something that their competitors who merely rewrite press releases cannot hope to match: stories with meaning as well as just information,” he says.

This is a tough thing to do in 24×7 news environments and most media houses complain they cannot afford such a luxury. However, Salopek’s co-teacher Prem Panicker states something very important — posting a million nano-headlines a day will make your news package exactly resemble everyone else’s.

Panicker also notes that robots are quickly replacing human reporters, and news stories which do not offer some value-added information — including thoughtful longer-form narrative reporting and photojournalism — are simply not going to work anymore in the recent future of journalism.

Thus, the long-form ‘luxury’ news articles may not be able to get a million views, but these kinds of details reporting makes the publication stand out and can even influence public discourse at a policy level.

“In my own career, I’ve written literally thousands of news stories. But it was the ‘slow journalism’ pieces that often had the most impact — whether by shining a light on arms trafficking in Africa to getting the official to install water-purifying technology on arsenic-laden wells in Bangladesh,” says Salopek.

At the Out of Eden workshops, journalists are trained on how to write in the narrative style — how to use all of our senses, how to listen, how to think before writing (not vice-versa) and most importantly, how to dig under the superficial surfaces of news stories.

“The workshop teaches them how to get at the deeper, often complex reasons and motivations driving current events, whether they are gender issues, economics, Bollywood, or mass migration,” says the Nat Geo explorer.

What happened at Salopek’s free journalism workshop in Delhi?

The Delhi-based workshop was open to only about 20 attendees, mostly young and mid-career journalists-both reporters and photographers-and were hosted at the offices of Caravan Magazine.

With one-on-one mentoring by veteran journalists Don Belt, Prem Panicker, Arati Kumar Rao and Paul Salopek, the attendees were assigned to find a nationally significant story within walking distance of a central geo-located coordinate in Old Delhi.


Female War Criminals: Untold Story of the Balkan Conflicts

Thousands of women participated in the wars in the former Yugoslavia, and a few have been convicted of brutal crimes, but female fighters’ role in the Balkan conflicts is often overlooked.

Jovana Prusina BIRN Belgrade

Belgrade Higher Court sentenced former Bosnian Serb soldier Ranka Tomic to five years in prison on Monday for participating in the torture and murder of an 18-year-old Bosnian Army nurse, Karmen Kamencic, in July 1992 during the Bosnian war.

The case was unusual because of the brutality of Tomic’s crimes and the fact that both victim and the perpetrator were women.

According to the indictment, members of Tomic’s unit captured Kamencic and took her to the town of Radic. Tomic then ordered Kamencic to take off all her clothes, crawl around and dig her own grave.

Tomic and other members of the unit also beat Kamencic with sticks, cut her hair off, used a knife to carve crosses into her head and lower back, then cut off the lower part of her ear.

She also pushed Kamencic’s head into cow dung while hitting her with a shovel and urging her to sing Serbian songs.

Finally, the teenage Kamencic was shot dead by another member of Tomic’s unit.

Most of the accounts of the 1990s wars in the Balkans only mention women as victims, mostly civilian ones. However, many women did join military units. The exact numbers are not known, but the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Bosniak-led wartime force, had 5,360 women in its ranks; some were engaged in logistics and some were fighters.

War crimes trials like the prosecution of Ranka Tomic have also shown that women can be the perpetrators of atrocities too.

First woman convicted by international tribunal

Former Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic at the Manjaca army training camp in October 1998. Photo: EPA/DRAGO VEJNOVIC.

Biljana Plavsic, the former president of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska, was the only woman to be indicted and convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

Plavsic was indicted for genocide, complicity to commit genocide, extermination, murders, intentional deprivation of life and other crimes committed during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

She is also remembered for admitting that she was guilty of persecuting non-Serbs on political, ethnic and religious grounds. She was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

But although Plavsic pleaded guilty, once she served her sentence and returned to Belgrade, she made a series of public statements saying she was innocent and that the purpose of her confession was to get a more lenient sentence.

Professor Jelena Subotic from Georgia State University in Atlanta said that academic research has shown that female war criminals are usually perceived and treated differently both during and after their trials.

“The case of Biljana Plavsic, however, is interesting because it is difficult to determine to what extent her warm welcome back in Serbia and Republika Srpska is a result of her being a woman versus her being a Serb,” said Subotic.

Plavsic was convicted by an international tribunal, which is a very rare phenomenon. For example, the International Criminal Court has never indicted nor convicted a women in its history. There is only one woman on its wanted list – Simone Gbagbo, the Ivory Coast’s former first lady.

Gbagbo is wanted for alleged crimes against humanity during a post-election period of violence in the West African country in 2011. Her alleged crimes include murders, sexual violence and persecution.

‘Azra Two Knives’ and other perpetrators


The untold story of how soccer cleats helped save an Iron Bowl

Alabama's Tim Davis kicks an extra point against Auburn in 1961. Alabama won 34-0 on a day it wore soccer shoes to combat bad field conditions.
Alabama’s Tim Davis kicks an extra point against Auburn in 1961. Alabama won 34-0 on a day it wore soccer shoes to combat bad field conditions. (Birmingham News File)

A lot was riding on the 1961 Iron Bowl when Alabama pulled up to Legion Field a day before kickoff.

Bear Bryant’s fourth Crimson Tide was undefeated, touting what many still consider the most dominant defense in program history. Since national titles were awarded at the end of the regular season back then, the finale with Auburn meant even more.

So, what Alabama found when it arrived in Birmingham on the eve of kickoff was troubling.

“It was like walking around on concrete,” said Bill Battle, an end on that 1961 team.

Months of high school and college games on the turf not designed to modern standards left Legion Field a disaster. That’s what made Bryant’s response to the conditions so clever.

It involved a network of state troopers, commitment to the cause and a last-minute secret weapon.

Stacks of shoe boxes greeted Alabama players at breakfast the next morning.

Only these weren’t football cleats.

And as far as Gary White knows, their story has never been fully told.


White was in his third season as head manager for Alabama’s football team in 1961. He had arrived in the Ears Whitworth era as an assistant manager and climbed the ranks under Bryant.

After seeing the field, White remembers the conversation behind the scenes.

The guys needed soccer shoes, Bryant determined.

They had soft spikes that could navigate that mess. Assistant coach Carney Laslie was in charge of equipment and the plan to bring a football roster worth of shoes from a fairly obscure sport to the west side of Birmingham in less than 24 hours.

“So, that night,” White recalled 57 years later, “from all over the state, state troopers brought them to the stadium.”

That’s where Chief Joe Smelley came into the equation. One of the state troopers who famously guarded Bryant on game days was in charge of the highway patrol statewide.

It’s safe to say he had some influence.

They were coming from all corners of the state because no one store had close to enough in stock to satisfy this sudden and large demand. There was no way that effort could have been mobilized without Smelley’s help, White said.

“We were getting them from Mobile, from Huntsville, Dothan,” White remembered. “I mean we had them coming from everywhere that night. They were waiting for us when we arrived at the stadium.”



Any soccer shoe a sporting goods store stocked in football-player sizes wound up in Birmingham.

Battle, who went on to become Alabama’s athletics director from 2013-17, remembers seeing the new kicks for the first time.

“We felt like kids at Christmas going to try on those shoes,” Battle said. “Some of them had lightning stripes going down the side. We thought that was the coolest thing.”

This wasn’t even the first time Alabama made footwear adjustments on the fly that fall. A torrential downpour before the Mississippi State game in Bryant-Denny Stadium required the managers to unscrew all the normal cleats and replace them with longer ones.

Alabama won that one, 24-0 on homecoming day.

Those spikes wouldn’t work at Legion Field in the Iron Bowl, however. So, it was up to White and the managers to make sense of this airlift and get the soccer shoes unboxed and ready for the biggest game of their lives.

“We got everybody outfitted,” White said, “went out and warmed up and the rest is history.”


Benny Nelson clearly remembers the sight of those soccer shoes in the Legion Field locker room. Nelson, who went on to be an All-American two seasons later, was then a third-string running back. He got a new pair of shoes that December day in Birmingham.

Unlike the old leather shoes, the new imports didn’t need as much work to break them in.

“Put these on, go out there and see how these work,” was Nelson’s memory of Bryant’s pregame instructions with the new gear. “And everybody loved them. They worked really well. It was pretty ingenious he found out a way to overcome that problem.”

As Nelson remembered it, the muddy field was rolled “like you would a highway” and painted it.

“And it looked great,” Nelson said. “It really did, until you walked out there on it. It was like playing on a parking lot.”

Apparently, the new shoes helped. They had grip where the old cleats did not.

“It made a hell of a difference,” Nelson said. “I mean, you could run in those shoes. They had a soft cleat on them and they were all the difference in the world in that game …”

Nelson paused.

“… Not that we weren’t going to beat them anyway,”

Alabama cruised to a 34-0 win with Pat Trammell at quarterback, Lee Roy Jordan at center and All-American Billy Neighbors at tackle. Nelson remembers Neighbors didn’t get the soccer shoes but wore “high top tennis shoes” for that Auburn game.

“We looked fast as the wind,” said White who went on to work 38 years with Alabama athletics before retiring in 1996 as an associate athletics director. “It was unbelievable how it all worked out.”

Auburn threw four interceptions navigating the beat up field in traditional footwear. It wasn’t Ralph Jordan’s best Tiger team entering with a 6-3 record, but they were on a two-game winning streak over Georgia and Florida.

The Iron Bowl, however, was never close. The Tide led 24-0 at halftime and a few days later, Bryant’s first national title at Alabama was official. A 10-3 win over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl completed the perfect 11-0 season.

The story of the soccer shoes, however, appeared to be lost to history. Newspaper stories from the time didn’t mention the move. Bryant never mentioned it on his statewide television show taped the day after the game.

Nelson recalled wearing them for a while longer in practices before Bryant snapped them up one day never to return.


Amo Houghton reflects on “The Women of Corning: The Untold Story”

Image result for Amo Houghton reflects on "The Women of Corning: The Untold Story"“They actually have been flying off the shelves,” Sarah Blagg, the manager and co-founder of Card Carrying Books and Gifts on Market Street, said.

“The Women of Corning: The Untold Story” sold out within the first two hours it became available for purchase.

Amo Houghton spearheaded the idea of the book after taking some time during retirement. Geoffrey Kabaservice authored it.

“I read a couple of his books, I was very impressed with him, I thought gosh this is the guy to write the book about the women!” Houghton said.

The book highlights the unsung stories of women who have pioneered through the suffrage movement, the flood of 1972 and those who continue to shape Corning today.

With strong influences from women in his family, Houghton said he believes the book can resonate with the development of the nation.

“The great thing about this town, is that it’s small, and yet at the same time, it represents almost everything in the United States,” Houghton said. “Agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, science, the whole thing, you get an opportunity to look at the country through the lens of Corning.”

Christine Sharkey was with Kabaservice and Houghton from before the first words of the book were even written. Kabaservice currently lives in Washington D.C.

“One thing Geoff has said is that this is not the definitive statement of the history of women in Corning, it is a start, it is a wonderful start,” Sharkey said.

Houghton said the purpose of the book is to recognize the critical importance of women in this city contrasted to those who have had the big titles.

“They were not head of the rotary, or chairman of this or ambassador of that, women underneath were keeping the whole machinery going, and I don’t think many people understand that,” Houghton said.

Card Carrying Books and Gifts is currently the exclusive retailer of the book.

“We don’t normally order too many copies of a new book when it comes out and so I did originally ask for eight copies,” Blagg said. “Saturday mid-day, I was frantic texting asking if we could get some more.”

The book sits at $14.95 each with proceeds donated to Fund for Women of the Southern Tier, Inc. to help girls and women in Steuben, Chemung, Schuyler and Yates Counties.

“As we help women in a four-county area, we’re hoping that those women then are able to write the next chapter of women in Corning,” Sharkey said.


My mother, my mirror: The untold story of Sheila Mwanyigha

To know who you are, you need to have some idea of where you have been. Even though times have changed for women – better opportunities, more pressure – some things, like the journey of self-discovery remain the same.

Caroline Nyanga speaks to two women from different generations; media personality and MD of Rembesha Kenya, Sheila Mwanyigha and her mother, retired Senior Superintendent of Police, Agnes Wanjiru Mwanyigha


Having taken a break from her radio and music career, Sheila started ‘SheilaLivesLoudOut’, a weekly chat show on YouTube on which guests share lessons from real life experiences

Early years:

“I was born and raised in Nairobi’s South C estate where my childhood was a happy one. My parents, Agnes Wanjiru and Gideon Mwanyigah (who were police officers and members of the Kenya Police Band) got along well.

It helped my younger brother Mark and I embrace good social skills, self-esteem and emotional security.

ALSO READ: Submission in marriage: What is the real deal on this controversial word?

My parents were strict and ensured that good behaviour was maintained. Their careers kept them quite busy but I appreciate that whenever they were off duty, they made up for lost time.

My mother, in particular, kept track of our academic performance and ensured we did our house chores. I also had a strict regime to follow that had specified time for homework, prayers and Bible study.

To show her gratitude, she would occasionally suggest that we take time out to bond.

Growing up, I was known to be a jolly but shy, responsible and reserved person. We didn’t have much in terms of luxuries – I remember mum warning us not to go to the neighboring houses to watch colour TV.

But being the children we were, we would occasionally find ourselves breaking the rules having been influenced by our friends, only to end up paying the price. Not a very pleasant experience. I picked up the art of discipline really quick!

Having two parents who were musicians was fun. There was always music in the house – from Beethoven to Osibisa. I recall sitting next to my dad as we sang along to the lyrics of Elvis Presley and Fela Kuti.

ALSO READ: Fame comes at a price: KTN’s Akisa Wandera shares her story to stardom

There were times when my father accompanied my brother and I to various recording studios where we worked on several radio jingles.

With the money from the adverts, he would buy us text books and chips. This aside, it was a big deal hearing ourselves on radio and this made my dad proud.

Teen years:

After attending Highridge Primary School, I joined Pangani Girls High School. Unlike fellow day scholars, I benefitted greatly from different areas, among them time-management, self-sufficiency and being able to adjust to people from diverse backgrounds which made me a better, independent person.


Pioneers in Open Source–Eren Niazi, Part II: the Untold Story

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It was 2014, and everything seemed fine with Eren Niazi and the company he founded, Open Source Storage or OSS, although at the time, both the industry and the market were changing. Not only were open-source technologies used in every form and fashion to enable what has become the cloud, its users also were connecting in droves to take advantages of the many services it offered. We matured into an always connected society.

As markets evolved and consumer needs evolved, OSS needed to do something to continue to be relevant. Eren and his team came up with a solution to enable more involvement within the Open Source community by building a never-done-before social platform that closed the gap between file sharing and social networking. It also added a gamification component to help encourage participation on top of quality.

Note: gamification is the process of taking something that already exists, be it a website, enterprise application or online community, and integrating it with game mechanics to motivate participation, engagement and loyalty.

A patent was filed to capture this unique new platform: US15073028. Its status is now considered Abandoned (you’ll learn why shortly). From the patent description:

Embodiments of the inventive concept provide a system and method for gamifying community driven open source software development projects, thereby spurring innovation and quality open source and freely available products. Embodiments of the inventive concept not only incentivizes the most desired tasks, such as coding, but also the less desirable actions like code review, documentation, quality assurance, testing, security analysis, and the like. In this manner, all steps along the software development path can be incentivized. Even scheduling and meeting deadlines for enhancements, bug fixes, and security auditing can benefit from an award system. Embodiments include a development gamification system including a user interface logic section to provide a development gamification interface to incentivize a community of users to develop open source software projects.


Figure 1. A General Illustrated Overview of US15073028

But in order to build this promising new platform, OSS needed outside investment to fund it. Eren approached numerous investors, all of which decided to participate. With this new funding, Open Source Storage decided to move its operations to a new location in Campbell, California.


Figure 2. Open Source Storage Headquarters (2014–2016)

It wasn’t easy, but after about two years of research and development, OSS started to sell the product (circa 2016)—at least the cloud component of it. Eren describes it as a stressful time for all those involved and that the stress hit him the hardest.

In such situations, two years of development likely will take its toll not only on the those directly involved with building a product, but it also will drive investors to start asking more questions and become restless. The nature of the game, while simple, is not a stress free-one. Investors put in money, hoping they’ll yield a much larger return once the given product is complete and the company starts selling it. Most investors expect to hear progress reports and will grill the company’s leaders to ensure that their investment was a good one. Realistically, two years to develop a product isn’t very long, especially considering the complexity of this solution. And, this one was extremely complex as it tied various moving components together. For investors who are new to the game of investment, this type of situation may lead to a bit of anxiety and, rarely, litigation.

In this case, a few investors did grow restless, which reportedly added to the already high level of stress for Eren and OSS. One particular episode led one investor eventually to pursue Eren with legal action in the hopes of reclaiming some of what he and a few others considered to be a lost investment.

At the end of September 2016, Eren claims he broke down mentally, due to the stress of work and now his personal life. He says he hadn’t slept for nearly a week, and that it was so severe, it warranted a 5150. Eren reports that he was admitted to the hospital to be tested for drugs and was immediately placed on a 72-hour involuntary hold to ensure that he wasn’t a danger to himself or the occupants of his home. He was released 24 hours later, on September 29, 2016. Although, during this brief period, his home was burglarized. Eren says that when he was released, one of his larger investors, Patrick Willis, picked him up and drove him back home (yes, the very same NFL San Francisco 49er, Patrick Willis).

Note: a 5150 refers to the California law code for the temporary, involuntary psychiatric commitment of individuals who present a danger to themselves or others due to signs of mental illness.

Eren told me that on the evening of September 29, 2016 (remember, Eren says that earlier in the day, the house was burglarized, and that he hadn’t slept for days), the folks that were living with him at the time believed they heard some noises (as if maybe someone was breaking in again). After the burglary from earlier in that day, everyone’s anxiety likely was heightened. In possession of a loaded firearm, Eren says he went to investigate the noises, and that he was attempting to protect the people in the house. After being startled, Eren says discharged the firearm on a football helmet that at one point was worn at the Super Bowl by Patrick Willis.



The Untold Story of India’s Partition

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It was by sheer chance that Narendra Singh Sarila came across certain documents which revealed that the partition of India was linked to the great game being played between Britain and the USSR at the time. Without this accidental discovery, the riveting story of India’s partition may have remained buried in the heap of archives somewhere in a London library.

Encouraged by this chance discovery, Sarila expanded his research into the archives of the British Library London, Hartley Library South Hampton, Broadland Archives, United States Foreign Relations documents and Nehru Memorial Museum. The result of this extensive research is a path breaking book- Shadow of The Great Game, The Untold Story of India’s Partition.  

Sarila has the right credentials to write this tale. Son of the Maharaja of Sarila, he was the Aide de Camp of Mountbatten in 1948 and served in the Indian Foreign Service from 1948-1985.

Here is the tragic story of India’s partition. It throws a completely new light on the established narrative of the partition and independence of India. The history we have been taught would have us believe that irreconcilable Hindu-Muslim differences forced the reluctant British rulers to partition India and Gandhi’s non-violent resistance got the British to pack their bags. Let us see what the truth really was.

The Great Game

After the Czars had expanded their empire to within 100 miles from Kashmir, the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) had become a very strategic region for the British Empire. Especially after the 1857 mutiny, the British feared that disgruntled Indian rulers would begin intriguing with the Russians. From a Russian perspective Asia was to them what undiscovered Americas was to Europe: savages needing to be civilized and controlled.

After the second World War the Russians became a formidable power in Eurasia. The British feared that if India fell under the Russian influence, it would mean the eclipse of the British Empire. Thus, started a clash between the British and Russians that Rudyard Kipling termed ‘the Great Game.’

In April 1946, the British Chiefs of Staff Field Marshal Viscount Allenbrooke, Air Marshal Arthur William Tedder and Admiral Rhoderick McGrigor reported to the British cabinet:

‘Recent developments made it appear that Russia is our most probable enemy and to meet its threat, areas on which our war effort will be based and without which it would not be possible for us to fight at all, would include India.’

The man who first grasped the strategic importance of India for the survival of the British empire, was Field Marshal Archibald Wavell, viceroy from 1943-46. He recognised that the British power was fading, and it was a matter of time before Britain would have to withdraw. In his estimate the Congress party which would rule India would not cooperate with British interests. This breach, he figured, would have to be plugged by making the Muslim League succeed in separating the Northwest from the rest of India.

Wavell noted in his diary that Churchill too had visualised the division of India. In fact, Churchill’s idea was a division into three parts, Pakistan, Hindustan and Princesstan. Wavell, however, had envisaged then a division of India as it actually happened later. This plan was known secretly within the British leadership as the Wavell plan of Pakistan.

By early 1947, the British military and leadership were in overwhelming agreement to retain strategic control over Northwest India. Thereafter they played an intricate game to finesse a blundering Congress Party, use Jinnah to achieve their strategic goal and to fool the Americans who had other ideas.

How the Congress was Finessed

 The British strategic objective was to retain control over the Northwest by partitioning India.

The Muslim objective was a little complex. In the provinces where Muslims were in majority (about 70-75% of Muslim population), there was no feeling that Islam was in danger. The Islam in danger narrative had appeal in Muslim minority provinces only. Majority of Muslims were confident of avoiding Hindu domination. They saw Hindus as both divided and passive, who could be easily bullied. Even fundamentalists like Abdul Al Mawdudi of Jammat-i-Islami did not want partition as they did not approve of Jinnah’s non-Islamic ways. However, there was a small elite led by the likes of Agha Khan, Liaqat Ali Khan and Syed Ahmad Khan who wanted a separate Islamic state. Jinnah himself, was initially against a break up, but scorned by Gandhi and Nehru he later wanted Pakistan in any shape or size.

The objective of the Congress Party, effectively the sole political force representing Hindu interest, should have been to defend the territorial integrity of India at any cost.

The Americans were of the view that an undivided independent India was crucial to gain their much needed cooperation in the war effort. Second an independent united India would give a positive signal to the rest of Asia. ‘Asia for Asiatics’ was a significant part of the American vision for a post war world order.

Jinnah Floats the Two Nation Theory

 Gandhi squandered a hard won election victory in 1937, by resigning from the provincial governments as part of his badly timed Quit India movement. This move had exactly the opposite effect than what was intended. The British were determined to not let anything come in the way of the war effort. Instead of feeling pressured they simply reduced their dependence on the Congress and thus its bargaining power. Further the vacuum created, gave a god sent opportunity to Jinnah. A delighted Jinnah termed the Congress move a ‘Himalayan blunder.’ The distinguished civil servant V P Menon noted that ‘by resigning the Congress Party showed a lamentable political wisdom.’

 On 24th March 1941 Jinnah proclaimed that Muslims were a separate nation. This suited the British plan. By strengthening Jinnah, the British were making Gandhi increasingly irrelevant. His loud proclamations of non-violence were not sitting well with the British in the midst of a tough war. In 1940 Gandhi told Viceroy Linlithgow:

‘Let them (the Germans) take possession of your beautiful island, if Hitler chooses to occupy your homes vacate them, if he does not give you free passage out, allow yourself, every man, woman and child to be slaughtered.’

Jinnah’s scheme for Pakistan included NWFP, Baluchistan, all of Punjab, Delhi, Sind, all of Bengal, Assam, Hyderabad and all other Muslim princely states and a corridor connecting East and West Pakistan

The Congress party, being neither farsighted nor adamant on a united India, did not counter Jinnah’s preposterous scheme. Nehru reasoned that taking the idea seriously would encourage separatist forces. It wasn’t until 1944 that Gandhi said that Hindus and Muslims were not separate. He argued that Muslims were descendants from converts and there was no precedence in history of a change of religion changing nationality. The result was that the two-nation idea was not nipped in the bud and Jinnah was politically strengthened.

The irony of Jinnah was that for the first sixty years of his life he fought for a united India. Jinnah’s difficulties began after Gandhi returned from South Africa in 1915. In the 1920 Nagpur Congress session Jinnah and Gandhi clashed. Jinnah was openly booed in the presence of his young wife Ruttie, with Gandhi refusing to intervene. In 1928 Jinnah persuaded the Muslim league to give up separate electorate in return for 33% Muslim seats in the central legislature, separation of Sind from Bombay Presidency and recognition of NWFP and Baluchistan as separate entities. This, he reasoned, would enable the Muslims to dominate five provinces and help reduce communal differences. The Congress rejected this proposal. Angling for his son Jawaharlal to be elected Congress President, Motilalal Nehru did not want to risk upsetting Congress leaders by supporting Jinnah. In the midst of this major crisis in his career, Ruttie decided to leave him. Badly scarred, Jinnah left for England in 1933 to concentrate on his legal practice.

It was Liaqat Ali Khan who persuaded Jinnah to return and contest the 1937 elections. Jinnah was unsure of countering Gandhi’s ability to mobilise the masses. Khan assured him that he will arrange the means to win them over. He did not, however, reveal that whipping up fanaticism was the weapon he had in mind. Jinnah returned and set upon the task of rebuilding the Muslim League. He was now consumed by a burning desire to vanquish the Congress and get even with the arrogant Nehru. For the first time he began to see Mohammad Iqbal’s idea of a separate Muslim state as a way to achieve personal glory.

In the end Jinnah emerged a tragic Shakespearian character. Exploited by hard liners like Liaqat Ali Khan, used by the British and consumed by his own ambition, he died a bitter man. Colonel Ilahi Bakhsh, his doctor heard Jinnah say, ‘I have made Pakistan, but I am convinced that I have committed the greatest blunder of my life.’ 

The Cripps Mission 

In 1941 the Allied forces were suffering reverses. The attack on Pearl Harbour had drawn America into the war. Roosevelt was putting pressure on Churchill to grant self-governance to an undivided India. He felt that this was best course to gain India’s cooperation in the war effort. Viceroy Linlithgow, however, was of the firm opinion that no concession should be granted to the Indians at this crucial juncture in the war. He was certain that any agitation caused by Gandhi could be brought down.

To deflect the American pressure, Churchill decided to send Sir Stafford Cripps to India. The mission was a smoke screen designed for deliberate failure. The covert plan was to placate Roosevelt and put the Congress in a dilemma. The Cripps Plan was:

  1. Immediately after the war India would be independent either within or outside the Commonwealth.
  2. In the interim a politically representative Executive Council would be formed under the Viceroy.
  3. The princely states would have the right to stay out of the proposed Indian Union if they so choose.
  4. The proposal had to be accepted or rejected as a whole.

For the first time the idea of princely states not being part of the union was mooted. The real motive behind the mission can be gauged from what Foreign Secretary Amery said to Linlithgow:

‘As for the Congress their adverse reaction may be all the greater when they discover that the nest contains Pakistan Cookoo’s egg.’

On 25 March 1942 Cripps noted:

‘I think Jinnah was rather surprised in the distance that it went to meet the Pakistan case.’

As expected the Congress Party rejected the proposal on 11 April 1942. But surprisingly the resolution rejecting the proposal had this sentence:

‘The Congress working committee cannot think in terms of compelling the people of any territorial unit to remain in the Indian Union against their declared and established will.’ 

This was inexplicable since the Congress had consistently considered India indivisible. It raised doubts about its commitment to India’s unity.

The British achieved their objectives of placating the Americans, giving Jinnah hope and putting the Congress into a dilemma. The Congress on its part, erred badly in diluting its position on the integrity of India and by not joining the Executive council. It is arguable that by joining they could have exerted power and signaled their cooperation in the war effort. This would have been useful to garner support of the British public and the Americans. The risk of the princely states seceding was low and the majority of Muslims did not want partition.

After the Cripps’s Mission

After the Cripps mission Gandhi became belligerent. This can be discerned by the draft of the Allahabad Congress resolution, leaked to British intelligence by the Communist party. The Communists had switched loyalty from the Nationalists to the British after Russia was attacked by the Germans. This is a sad commentary on the Communist Party too, but that is another story.

The draft asked for the British to clear out and to use force if necessary. Nehru opposed the draft saying that the British would not allow this and would render India into an active war zone. The draft was first accepted and then rejected the same day after Nehru’s threat. 

In the draft we have Nehru saying:

‘It is Gandhiji’s feeling that Japan and Germany will win. This feeling unconsciously governs his thinking.’

British intelligence quoted this statement to Roosevelt to denounce Gandhi as ‘a fifth columnist.’

In 1945 Wavell held another conference to discuss the formation of a politically representative Executive Council. Jinnah was tutored by a member of the Viceroy’s council to sabotage the meeting in return for the promise of Pakistan. Hence as early as June 1945 Jinnah was taken into confidence on the creation of Pakistan. This event made Jinnah into a strong leader of the Muslims.

Clement Atlee Becomes Prime Minister 

In 1945 Churchill lost the election and Clement Atlee took over as Prime Minister. Unlike Churchill, Atlee liked to operate from behind the scene. His objective was to partition India but make it appear that the Congress wanted it. His second objective was to persuade Jinnah to accept a truncated Pakistan. As we have seen there existed a Wavell plan of Pakistan which was pretty much how Pakistan was finally created.

He instructed Cripps to reach out to Nehru and ask for his suggestion. On 27 January 1946, Nehru wrote a 3500-word letter.

The gist of the letter was:

  1. The British should grant independence to India and allow it to frame its own constitution.
  2. The British should not divide India. Only after a plebiscite can territories that wished to secede could do so.
  3. Pakistan was a non-starter because the vote for Muslim League did not mean a vote for separation.
  4. Although there was a feeling that the British would not leave without force, he was in favour of a negotiated settlement.

Again, Nehru failed to stand firm on India’s territorial integrity be mentioning plebiscite. Not surprisingly, Atlee decoded this as the Congress being ‘flexible’ on separation. The assurance of eschewing force and negotiating a settlement was an added relief. Atlee now instructed Cripps to work towards Wavell’s Pakistan. The Cabinet Mission was the next major event.

The Cabinet Mission 1946 

In March 1946 the Cabinet Mission arrived in India to devise a mechanism for smooth transfer of power. It comprised Sir Pethick-Lawrence, Secretary of State for India, Sir Stafford Cripps, President, Board of Trade and A V Alexander, First Lord of the Admiralty.

The key features of the Cabinet Mission plan were:

  1. Acceptance of the Muslim fear of Hindu domination.
  2. Grouping of provinces into A, B, C. Sizable Muslim populated areas into B and C (North West & East of India), to be controlled by the Muslim League. However, a separate state of Pakistan was ruled out.
  3. After ten years Groups B & C could secede if they so wished.
  4. The Union of India will have three subjects under its control-Foreign Affairs, Defence and Communication. The provincial governments will control other subjects.
  5. No clause could be modified without majority of representatives of the two political formations and majority of representatives of the constituent assemblies agreeing.

Atlee’s plan was to somehow induct Nehru and Patel into the government to prevent the Congress from revolting. Second to browbeat Jinnah into accepting a truncated Pakistan.

Jinnah was suspicious about a plan that rejected the idea of an independent Pakistan straight away. The Labour politician and journalist Woodrow Wyatt was tasked with convincing Jinnah that this plan was the first step on the road to Pakistan. He writes:

‘When I finished his (Jinnah’s) face lit up. He hit the table with his hand. That’s it, I said, you’ve got it.’

Jinnah accepted the plan.

As had been the pattern, the Congress’s response was inconsistent and confused. Gandhi did realise that the proposal was a trap. No provision for an independent Pakistan was to bait the Congress, while the acceptance of a principle of Pakistan was to bait the Muslim League. So, while the Congress was willing to accept the idea of an Interim Government, the possibility of B and C breaking away was objectionable.

The Nationalists urged the Congress to renew the Quit India movement, this time violently. The 1946 INA revolt had unnerved the British. They came to believe that the loyalty of the Indian army could no longer be relied upon. Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck had noted ‘wholesale defection and disintegration of the Indian army was possible.’ A full-blown revolt would have perhaps stopped Jinnah’s belligerent Direct action as well.

The Congress leadership felt that a revolt was too risky. They figured that by accepting being in the Interim Government they might somehow be able to ward off partition. They banked on the NWFP, under Congress friendly rule, choosing to stay within India, thus making Pakistan non-contiguous enclaves within Indian borders and therefore temporary.

On 6 July 1946, Nehru announced that the Congress was committed to nothing more than simply entering the Interim government. This prompted Jinnah to reject the Cabinet Mission plan in toto. Jinnah announced Direct action which led to the horrific Calcutta killings. The Congress had failed to see that their restraint would embolden the Muslim League to adopt violent ways.

On 2 September 1946 Atlee succeeded in getting Nehru to join the Interim government. Jinnah saw this as an ominous move. But the British were pleased as the plan was moving in the right direction. N P A Smith, Director of Intelligence Bureau looked ahead:

‘As I have said for some months, Pakistan is likely to come from Congresstan.’ (the acceptance of office by the Congress)

Now Wavell began to work on Gandhi and Nehru to accept the Cabinet Mission’s grouping formula. He argued that without this acceptance the Muslim League would not join the government and more violence will result. Both Gandhi and Nehru rejected the proposal. The Nationalists felt that the only way to keep India united was to be in the government and exclude Jinnah from it. This would help to break away the Muslim leaders opposed to Jinnah.

Wavell however was relentless. He met Nehru on 11,16, 26 and 27 September 1946 to persuade him to take Jinnah on board but Nehru stood firm. Inexplicably on October 2, 1946, Nehru caved in. He told Sudhir Ghosh, a Gandhi confidant ‘Well this man (Wavell) had been pestering me to start talks with Jinnah. A few days ago, I told him in sheer exasperation that if he was so keen to talk to Jinnah he could do so.’

What transpired next was the biggest blow to the united India project. Wavell invited the Muslim League to join the Viceroy’s executive council without either insisting that they join the Constituent assembly or even call off direct action campaign. This was a great victory for Jinnah. He could now sabotage Nehru from within. The move did not stop violence either as the Noakhali riots followed soon after.

The last piece of the action required the secession of NWFP. 

How NWFP was Plucked Out 

The Congress figured that with NWFP in their hands, the division of Pakistan would at best be enclaves within the borders of India, which could not last for long. This could have worked if they were firm against any division. However, the Congress resolution to bifurcate Punjab and Bengal into Muslim and Hindu parts went against the united India principle. By accepting the division of Punjab and Bengal, the Congress was in principle accepting Jinnah’s two nation theory.

The extent of this blunder can be judged by what the US charge d’affairs in India George Merrell wrote to his government on 22 April 1947:

‘The Congress effort to make Pakistan unattractive by demanding the partition of Punjab and Bengal-Congress leaders have in effect abandoned the tenets which they supported for so many years in their campaign for united India. They have also agreed by implication to Jinnah’s allegation that Hindus and Muslims cannot live together.’

Very significantly this weakened the American position on an undivided India.

On taking over as viceroy in March 1947, Lord Mountbatten asked Nehru what he would do in his (Mountbatten’s) place. Nehru again weakened the position of a united India when he said, ‘it would not be right to impose any form of constitutional conditions on any community which was in a majority in a specific area.’ Mountbatten obviously took this to mean that Nehru was agreeable to the provinces, including NWFP, being given a free choice. He floated the idea of a referendum to which Nehru agreed, sure as he was of a Congress victory. He had erred again by failing to factor in the effect of Gandhian pacifism on the Frontier Gandhi, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan. Fearing bloodletting, Gaffar Khan decided that his party will not vote in the referendum. The referendum voted for Pakistan by 50.49%. If Gaffar Khan’s party had not boycotted the referendum, albeit with bloodletting, NWFP would have been with India.

The assessment of N P A Smith that Pakistan would come from Congresstan came true.

How the Americans Were Played 

The Americans were disposed towards a free undivided India for three reasons: 

  1. Roosevelt figured that fulfilling the Indian aspiration for freedom would encourage them to support the war effort wholeheartedly.
  2. The freedom and unity of India was required to send a positive signal to the rest of Asia on the post war American plan of ‘Asia for Asiatics.’
  3. Partition would give a fillip to the dreaded Communist forces.

Churchill played on the American’s lack of knowledge of the complexity of India. In fact, he willfully misled Roosevelt by saying that 75% of recruits were Muslim (only 33% were). He used this to justify acceding to the Muslim aspiration of a separate country.

The Americans were increasingly getting anxious of Gandhi’s belligerence and call for civil disobedience in 1942. Nehru who understood foreign relations better than anybody else at the time got Gandhi to write to Roosevelt appealing to his ideal of freedom and democracy. Nehru also got Gandhi to mention that a free India would be open to allied bases.

Roosevelt did write to Churchill, but the British response was on expected lines. Foreign Secretary Amery pointed out the irreconcilable religious differences in India. He emphatically reassured the Americans that any agitation will be quelled swiftly thus not impacting the war effort. Churchill chipped in with a scathing criticism of the Congress saying that their offer of supporting the war effort in lieu of the British quitting was an eyewash and that they would have no hesitation in joining hands with the Japanese. Realising that this would be a tightrope walk, Roosevelt stopped pushing the issue.

Whatever hope there was of an American intervention was dashed when Congress agreed to the Cabinet Mission plan and division of Punjab and Bengal.

Looking at the Events in Hindsight 

Britain’s Pakistan strategy was a spectacular success. Pakistan joined the Baghdad Pact and later the CENTO led by the USA. This formed a defence barrier against Soviet ambition in the Middle East. In 1958, Pakistan provided air bases to the CIA in Peshawar from where they flew U2 spy planes. In 1970 Pakistan helped the US establish a relationship with China to pressurise the Soviets from the East. In 1980 Pakistan played a major role in helping the USA defeat the Soviet Union to end the cold war.

Jinnah got his Pakistan but died a bitter man. The West used Pakistan and when no longer needed, fed it to the wolves. The question needs to be asked if its people benefited from the partition. In 1945 Field Marshal Alanbrooke was prescient when he told the British cabinet:

‘With no industrial development Pakistan would not be able to defend itself. Pakistan will end up identifying with Muslim lands and end up in wars not in its interest.’

The entire saga of colonial rule shows up the British empire as downright unconscionable. The damage they have inflicted on India is so mind boggling that even today we shy away from honestly analysing it. They wreaked cultural destruction, divided the people, impoverished a prosperous country to build their own wealth, inflicted famines that killed so many millions that history must judge Churchill a bigger villain than Hitler. They have their hands soaked in the blood of over half a million people by engineering an avoidable partition. The history of the British Raj from an Indian gaze needs to be written. Even a clinical assessment will be severely damning.

However, the saddest part of this story, is the sheer ineptitude of the Indian leadership. The narrative we have been fed about them is false. The Indian leaders were arrogant, inconsistent, disinterested in foreign affairs, did not understand defence and erred politically time and again. In a predatory world they were easily exploited. Gandhi and Nehru need to be judged unapologetically for what they achieved or did not achieve. They failed to maintain the integrity of the Indian land when partition was imminently avoidable since neither the Muslims nor the Hindus wanted it.

Here is a list of mistakes:

  1. Rejecting a capable and then secular Jinnah from the Congress party in 1920s made an enemy out of him. If he had been retained in the Congress fold, the story of India would have been quite different. Gandhi should have intervened between Nehru and Jinnah keeping long term national interest above personal likes and dislikes. Nehru should have negotiated harder with Jinnah to keep India united.
  2. Giving up the gains of a massive electoral victory in 1937 over an ill-timed Quit India movement, made the British distrustful and opened the door for Jinnah. The Quit India movement was timed in the midst of a tough war. The British were in no mood to give any concessions. As it happened the movement was quelled ruthlessly, thousands were killed and over sixty thousand imprisoned. Even aerial machine gun firing was resorted to. After Subhash Bose had dealt a big blow with the INA trials, the time was right for a second Quit India movement, but Gandhi demurred.
  3. Complete inconsistency in their resolve to keep India united. Not strongly opposing Jinnah’s preposterous two nation theory in 1941; indicating time and again that people could choose to stay in united India or not; agreeing to the trap of the Cabinet Mission plan; losing NWFP, not exploiting Roosevelt’s support for a united India; and not meeting fire with fire on Jinnah’s violent ways.
  4. Gandhi’s bigger goal appears to have been the ideal of non-violence and not the unity of India. He has to take the rap for this. Nobody can deny Gandhi the credit of galvanizing a broken people into a spiritually inspired force. He caught the imagination of the world and whipped up global sympathy for his cause, but his failure to use this mammoth advantage to achieve his goals has to be questioned. He failed to frame and pursue non-negotiable goals. Despite proclamations of the ideal like non-violence, the masses still ended up losing their lives for nothing.
  5. Finally, to Nehru, an intelligent man who too could not frame clear goals and work unwaveringly for them, like Jinnah did. If he was clear he would have cooperated with the British and Americans to contain the Soviets, in return for a united India. But his distrust for American capitalism came in the way. He was more interested in following a lofty foreign policy of fighting colonialism and apartheid, than dousing existential fires at home. This greatly embarrassed Britain. He was excited by the prospect of mediating peace between the East and the West. By appealing to the deep felt urges of mankind for freedom, equality and peace, he believed that he could leave his imprimatur on the world stage. He should have learnt that behind lofty declarations countries followed predatory self-interest. These ideas would not persuade the British to abandon the Pakistan scheme.

All in all, this is a tragic tale of a great civilisation squeezed out of its essence. It is not surprising that even the journey to reclaim what is its due, is so uphill. A tale of a people who have a fantastic blue print within their own culture but are unable to access it because of a million broken narratives.


No tourists, no guides: An untold story of Gagron fort

 Twelfth century Gagron fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Twelfth century Gagron fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Hiraman parrots of Gagron have long been extinct. With their human like voice, they could have told the story of the 800-year Gagran fort in the absence of guides. But then, there are no tourists at the UNESCO World Heritage Site. “What guides will do when there are no tourists,” retorts a guard manning the entry gate to the hill fort.

Before chief minister Vasundhara Raje made Jhalawar her political settlement in 2003, the historical gems of the region, some going back to 1000 years, remained in ruins and hidden. Centuries old temples and forts lacked connectivity, restoration and publicity. Tourism in the area was considered as an elite industry and optional, not an enabler of the local economy.

[“source=Times of India”]

Out of the Shadows: The untold story of people with learning disabilities in prison

Lindsey, from Out of the Shadows by Polly Braden and Sally Williams

It is estimated that 7% of the prison population in the UK has a learning disability, compared to 2.2% of the general population. Out of the Shadows by Polly Braden and Sally Williams, co-produced by Multistory, tells the story of ten individuals who got caught up in the criminal justice system

It is estimated that 7% of the prison population in the UK has a learning disability, compared to around 2.2% of the general population. A study by Prison Reform Trust in 2008 found that people with learning disabilities are seven times more likely to come into contact with the police, five times more likely to be subject to control and restraint, and three times more likely to suffer from anxiety or depression, and spend time in solitary confinement.

These numbers are estimates rather than straight statistics because there is often no system in place to screen, identify, and record whether a prisoner has a learning disability. In a research paper from 2005, psychologist John Rack estimated that around 20% of prisoners have some form of “hidden disability” which affects their performance in education and work settings. It’s worryingly disproportionate, and it begs the question – if prisons don’t have systems in place to even identify these people, how can they begin to give them the support they need to survive in a prison environment?

“It was really shocking. I had no idea that people with learning disabilities got sent to prison before I started this project,” says Polly Braden, who for the last two years has been investigating what happens to the people who “slip through the net”, whose disabilities aren’t “bad enough” to get help.

Four years ago, while working on Great Interactions, a book about people with learning disabilities, Braden met a man who was in danger of running into trouble with the police. People with learning disabilities can struggle to understand, and to be understood by others, so it’s all too easy for them to get into trouble, says Braden. “It made me wonder what happens to people who get lost in this system.”

Working with arts organisation Multistory and writer Sally Williams, Braden met with KeyRing, a charity that supports ex-offenders with learning disabilities. They ran workshops in several support groups, explaining the project and how people could be involved. “It took a long time to find the right people,” says Braden. “Consent was a major issue, because people are telling very sensitive stories.”