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    Tuesday, June 27, 2006


    THREE Indian boys recently asked a 27-year-old archaeologist from New Zealand why the tourists in India are so rude to the Indians, and the Indian press seems puzzled by why the tourists aren't coming here. Some light on both matters. For a start, every foreign female here reports having had "hello hello" whispered in her ear, had some part of her body touched or had someone follow her and be obscene. In the daytime. No matter how she's dressed. In English.
    A 35-year-old post-graduate in education wanted to take a picture of the Prince of Wales Museum. He was stopped by the security guard, whose job it is. "But I was also subjected to a stream of abuse by some passing upper-crust Indian yelling 'bloody tourist, go home', and other offensive rubbish."
    Before we even get here we're supposed to have injections against typhoid, cholera, malaria, hepatitis, even Japanese encephalitis. The timing of the planes to and from India expose the exhausted to lying taxi-drivers with their extortion, their "breakdowns" and their "don't know the address" tours of strange cities at 3 am. Then there's road, train and plane accident statistics, possible natural disasters and the question of prompt and effective rescue. And on the well-worn tourist tracks you face non-stop clamours and lies of touts and would-be vendors.
    "Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur are crowded, but I don't think I've seen anywhere as filthy as India," says one 26-year-old teacher after 18 months travelling in the Far East, Australia and India. India in reality is a contrast for someone whose best friend 'at home' is Indian neighbours have shown her pictures of a beautiful country, or who was raised in a predominantly Asian district of an English city with Asian school-friends.
    We saved for years to come here. After being treated as walking cash dispenser, walking sex dispensers, and being ripped off at every step, what can we say to people who ask "Ah hi, how was India?"
    We would really appreciate some understanding of our position here. We are not all rich, and we do not all like shouting and swearing. But we are all being harassed and insulted, in the street and in the media, at just about every turn, and it is exhausting.

    OUTLOOK September 3, 2001
    ELIZABETH WILDE:(The author is a British academic based in Mumbai.)


    IRONICAL as it may sound, Osama bin Laden, the most wanted man in the world and the perceived symbol of evil, received his first lessons in the art of clandestine operations and subterfuge from the CIA.
    In the late '70's. It was at Jawora base near Host, Afganistan, that US intelligence set up a training ground to equip young men to fight a guerrilla battle against the erstwhile USSR.
    Belonging to the royal Saudi family, bin Laden was a VIP student of the CIA. Fired by a strong anti-Left stand, bin Laden lanuched his operations against the Soviet troops in Afganistan with religious fervour.
    The once-favoured pupil of the CIA is the one man the agency now badly wants. The motivation against the US is its alliance with Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War and its anti-palestine position; Israel is on his hit-list for Zionism and India, for Kashmir.
    **No one terrorist is known to have such a wide-ranging agenda.**

    OUTLOOK September 24, 2001

    Cutting a jewel from the crown

    FROM HIGH ATOP the Himalaya, snow-melt flows down the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Indus Rivers, nourishing a fertile plain that has sustained civilisations for more than 4,000 years. Harappans, Aryans, Greeks, Huns, Muslims, Portuguese, and French, among others, all settled and shaped the Indian subcontinent, perhaps none with greater impact than th British.
    By the mid-1800s Indians were chafing under Britain's imperial yoke, although their resistance lacked unity and direction. Not until Mohandas Gandhi assumed leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1920 did the drive for independence become a truly mass movement.
    What sort of nation should an independent India become? Some Muslims considered life amid the Hindus intolerable and demanded a separate Islamic state(the future Pakistan). The British agreed to partition, but Gandhi warned, "You will have to divide my body before you divide India."


    War in Kashmir*

    Kashmir, a princely state inhabited predominantly by Muslims, became the next major source of friction between India and Pakistan. Here, the situation was the exact opposite of that in Junagadh. On Oct. 24, 1947, Muslim insurgents, supported by invading coreligionists from the North-West Frontier Province, proclaimed establishment of a "Provisional Government of Kashmir." Three days later the Hindu leader Hari Singh, maharaja of Kashmir (1895-1961), announced the accession of Kashmir to the Union of India. Approving the maharaja’s decision and promising a plebiscite after the restoration of peace, the Indian government immediately dispatched troops to Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir and the major objective of the insurgents. Hostilities quickly attained serious proportions, and at New Year 1948 the Indian government filed a formal complaint with the UN Security Council, accusing Pakistan of giving help to the Muslim insurgents. Despite repeated attempts by the Security Council to obtain a truce in the troubled area, fighting continued throughout 1948. The peacemaking efforts of the Security Council finally met with success at New Year 1949, when both India and Pakistan accepted proposals for a plebiscite, under the auspices of the UN, on the political future of Kashmir. Cease-fire orders were issued by the two governments on the same day. Among other things, the UN plan provided for the withdrawal of combat troops from the state, for the return of refugees desirous of participating in the plebiscite, and for a free and impartial vote under the direction of a "personality of high international standing." In March UN Secretary-General Trygve Lie appointed U.S. Adm. Chester W. Nimitz administrator of the Kashmir plebiscite, scheduled for later in 1949. Meanwhile both the Union of India and Pakistan had suffered the loss of outstanding leaders and the Indian government had become embroiled in a dispute with the nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur (1886-1967). Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic on Jan. 30, 1948, and Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, died the following September. The tension between the Indian government and Hyderabad, inhabited preponderantly by Hindus, resulted from the reluctance of the nizam, a Muslim, to bring his state into the Union. Protracted negotiations for a peaceful solution of the dispute ended in failure and on September 17 Indian forces occupied Hyderabad, the capital city, ending the nizam’s resistance. The ruler subsequently signed instruments of accession making Hyderabad part of the Union of India. Although India and Pakistan agreed (July 1949) on a line demarcating their respective zones of occupation in Kashmir, the two nations were unable to reconcile basic differences on the terms of the proposed plebiscite. The deadlock was primarily due to Indian insistence that Pakistani troops be withdrawn from the disputed territory before the plebiscite and to Pakistan’s refusal to withdraw its troops unless the Indians also withdrew theirs.