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An Alternative India
Neo-Gandhian Resistance To Hindutva, Jihad,
and the Politics of Indo-Globalization
by William H. Thornton
December 11, 2004

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Nehru’s Geopolitical Legacy

On August 15, 1947 India gained its political independence but lost its cultural unity.  Curiously the Western press focused most of its attention on the less newsworthy of the two events.  Independence had been in the works for years, while partition was almost breaking news.  No political party had advocated it until 1940, and as late as 1946 the proposal was still much in doubt.  It took on certainty only ten weeks before independence, too late for proper planning.  The idea had mainly been advanced for bargaining purposes, [1] but Hindu leaders of the Congress had not been inclined to bargain.  Their concern was to preserve the undiminished central authority of the colonial state, even if it meant wielding that power over a smaller India. [2]

These dismal circumstances cast a long shadow across the political prospects of Asia and the germinal Third World. Writing for The Nation in August 1947, Shiva Rao underscored what was at stake as Mountbatten (the last viceroy of India) accelerated the British withdrawal so as to dump an impending famine in the lap of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.  With strike fever spreading, and peasants clamoring for immediate land reform, much depended on Nehru.  It was imperative that his government deal successfully with this spreading crisis.  For all its glaring defects, that government was still the closest thing Asia would have to non-dependent democracy (Japan being the very model of dependency) for decades to come.  As Rao put it, the flip side of the subcontinent’s political wager was Pakistan, “a dictatorship without concealment or apology.  If Pakistan under Jinnah can solve its problems more effectively than India under Nehru’s leadership, dictatorship will have established a strong claim to the allegiance of India’s millions.” [3]

The world’s leading democracies were content to sit this one out, acting much as they had during the Spanish Civil War, and for much the same reason.  The real issue in both cases was not democracy as such, but democracy without world capitalist dependency.  A successful and truly independent India would set a bad precedent.  Such an outcome, however, was highly unlikely.  There was reason to expect the coming food shortage to dwarf the two or three million death toll of the 1943 Bengal famine.  That would be the end of any substantive Indian independence. 

One notable witness to the Bengal tragedy, future Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, explains where skeptics such as Rao went wrong: After “independence and the installation of a multiparty democratic system, there has been no substantial famine, even though severe crop failures . . . have occurred often enough. . .” [4] Sen's seminal insight is that democracy, however flawed, generates the necessary political incentives and information flows to preclude famine. [5] It follows that basic political rights such as a free press are the prerequisite rather than product of sound and sustainable development. [6]

Sen finds the perfect foil for his “development as freedom” thesis in China.  Duped by its own production propaganda, the Chinese government virtually manufactured the famines of 1958-61.  We now know, thanks to the relative opening of the Deng era, [7] that those unprecedented disasters killed at least 30 million people, or ten times that of India's 1943 famine. [8] For one brief moment in 1962 even Chairman Mao admitted the advantage of democracy when it comes to knowing “what is happening down below. . . .” [9]  If further proof of Sen’s thesis is needed, China’s recent handling of its AIDS and SARS crises should suffice.  But the best contemporary case in point, in a class by itself, is North Korea’s handling of its chronic food shortages.  Two or three million North Koreans have starved to death over the past decade, [10] not so much as a result of the regime’s not knowing as its not caring.  The patent fact is that democratic processes compel politicians to care as well as to know.

This instrumental value of democracy—its ability to serve the underprivileged sectors of society by exposing “what is happening down below”—has its obverse in democracy’s dependence on those same social currents for its lifeblood.  That Gandhian insight—matched on the Muslim side by the teaching of the great “Frontier Gandhi,” Abdul Ghaffar Khan—was suppressed by Nehru and his Congress Party forebears.  In Nehru’s case this de-Gandhification was a product of misjudgment rather than corruption, but it nonetheless meant that the South Asian choice would henceforth be between degrees of authoritarianism.

In foreign policy, too, Nehru’s judgment was accident prone—his misplaced faith in China’s good will toward India being an accident of Wilsonian proportions.  There was one thing he got right, however: the need to keep Indian politics Indian.  This was not an easy call, for the Cold War afforded Third World governments a lucrative non-democratic option: geopolitical prostitution in the service of one of the two superpowers.  This was the direction Nehru was determined not to take, but which Pakistan took in stride, prompting the title of Tariq Ali’s classic study, Can Pakistan Survive: The Death of a State (1983).  Despite their very different political gravitations, Ali’s working assumptions regarding civil society and the state (the weakness of the former all but requiring the absolutism of the latter) [11] anticipated those of communitarians such as Robert Putnam, who posit the centrality of “social capital” and “civil society” for genuine political development.  Even aid agencies such as USAID now operate within this paradigm. [12]

Especially after Russia’s post-Soviet trauma, it is widely recognized that social and cultural capital are as crucial for democratic solvency as are laws and formal institutions.  Thus the rootless constitutionalism of Pakistan’s founding father, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, was a blueprint for political maldevelopment.  Pakistan had even greater need of social cohesion than India did, for British policy had left the region so logged out that soil erosion and flooding were bound to follow.  The social stress this caused would be further aggravated by two other British legacies: corruption and programmatic inequality. [13] Having been bled dry for the benefit of the Raj, the region was now cut off from any hope of a reverse resource flow.

Given this insolvent start, Pakistan had little choice but to seek the external support that only a superpower could provide.  So it was that Jinnah’s non-aligned aspirations would be buried with him in 1948.  American aid was pouring in by 1951.  Two years later John Foster Dulles would declare Pakistan “a bulwark of freedom in Asia.” [14]  The freedom he had in mind, clearly, was that of U.S. military and capitalist interests to operate unimpeded wherever they chose.  Deepa Ollapally argues that it was India’s nationalist protectionism rather than her pro-Soviet proclivity that initially soured Indo-U.S. relations.  When the U.S. sought to discipline India by withholding World Bank funding, Soviet assistance filled the void and opened the gate for expanding Indo-Soviet relations. [15]

By pointing out that this outcome was a result of America’s own astringent policies, Ollapally offers a corrective for the standard realist reading of U.S. discord.  This counter-reading fails to explain, however, America’s close relations with a number of equally nationalist and economically illiberal states.  South Korea, for example, enjoyed massive U.S. aid and military assistance despite the fact that the Korean economy was as far from market liberalism as India’s was. [16]  But realists were at least half right: geopolitics is still very much in the game.  Though the U.S. was certainly inclined to look with disfavor on statist economic systems, that inclination was overruled when the country in question happened to lie directly on a geopolitical fault line, or when a forward base was needed for containment purposes, as was the case with Turkey, Pakistan, and South Korea. 

This qualified geopolitical priority was nothing new.  The Roosevelt administration had nominally supported Indian independence, but refrained from pressing the issue due to its natural alliance with Britain in the face of German and Japanese expansionism. [17]  Nor did it help, in the early independence period, that India viewed the Communist victory in China with undisguised sympathy.  Geopolitics again took center stage in 1954 when the U.S. officially entered a military alliance with Pakistan. 

India fired back in the 1960s with scathing criticism of America’s Vietnam policies, and in 1971, under the sway of Nixon-Kissinger realism, Washington returned fire by backing Pakistan on the Bangladesh issue.  Thus it was hardly surprising that the Carter administration, in the face of the Iranian Revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, would again confound India by extending military assistance to Pakistan as part of an incipient U.S.-Pakistan-China axis. [18]

With the end of the Cold War, however, the geopolitical premises of that axis would start to unravel.  At that point only India’s recalcitrance kept Pakistan in Washington’s good graces, and that incentive came unhinged when Indian Prime Minister Narasimha Rao (1991-96) began promoting economic liberalization in the early 1990s. [19] The situation was looking bleak for Pakistan until Islamic terrorism began to take on global significance as a Cold War surrogate.  Quick to capitalize (literally speaking) on this New World Disorder, Pakistan adopted an ingenious dual policy toward terrorism, making a show of combating it while nurturing its fundamentalist roots.         

By no means was this new terrorist wave an inevitable product of Islamic theology or even political Islamism.  The school of Islam that gave vent to the Taliban originated in Deoband, a northern Indian town in the state of Uttar Pradesh, where even today Muslims and Hindus manage to peacefully coexist.  The 135-year-old Darul Uloom seminary, home of Deobandism, has always embraced India’s secular constitution and the principle of religious diversity it embodies.  India’s Deobandis, accordingly, stood by Gandhi in opposing the foundation of a separate Pakistan. [20]

By contrast, the Deobandis of Pakistan and Afghanistan have sought to extend their brand of fundamentalism by way of jihadic holy war.  Pakistan’s Deobandi madrassas became training grounds for Taliban leaders and terrorists such as Masood Azhar, leader of the Army of Muhammed, while later Deobandis would give sanctuary to Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.  Pakistan’s military has funded thousands of these madrassas since the 1980s, funneling assistance from Saudis who wished to encircle Shiite Iran in a Sunni ring of fire.  The U.S. joined the party by backing Islamic militants in the 1980s so as to bedevil the Soviets in Afghanistan.      

As Deobandism’s dual personality attests, culture can be the deciding factor in religious practice.  And behind this cultural conditioning there is often the heavy hand of political machination.  Religious strife in India, for example, was in large part a British implant.  The final blow, Ali contends, was Britain’s refusal to grant India the timely “dominion status” it accorded Canada and Australia.  This inspired the rise of Indian nationalism, which in turn prompted the Raj to work even harder at its game of religious divide and control. [21]           

If culture could be reduced to religious heritage, pure and simple, then the secessionism of Jinnah and the Moslem League would be vindicated.  Religion, however, was not an unbridgeable cultural barrier at the time of partition.  It need not have been more divisive than race has been in America.  Who would seriously propose that the U.S. race problem should have been solved by partition along racial lines?  Over centuries India had forged a workable interfaith accord between Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs.  Much of the religious hatred that raged prior to the British withdrawal was seeded by the Congress and the Muslim League.  By no means did Muslims uniformly support Jinnah’s “two nations” theory.  As of 1947 most either opposed the Pakistan concept or failed to grasp its meaning. [22]             

Shortly before the split, the British civil servant Malcolm Darling commented on the striking cultural similarity of Moslems and Hindus in the soon-to-be divided regions.  Nor were these groups very unified in themselves. [23] The sad fact, as Mushirul Hasan notes, is that the “vivisection of India severed cultural ties, undermined a vibrant, composite intellectual tradition and introduced a discordant note in the civilizational rhythm of Indian society.” [24] This weakened the structure of civil society at a time when India could ill afford any more problems.  The 1950s and 1960s would witness continuous riots, especially in the south.  Some states had to be placed under “President’s Rule,” but the predicted choice between total authoritarianism and utter breakdown never had to be made. 

The key word here is total; for, as Narasimha Rao divulges in his tendentious but illuminating book, The Insider, the long rule of the Congress Party simply replaced imperial authority with central authority: “Democracy . . . at best consisted of the question: Who should reign?” [25]  As Rao sees it, Nehru’s paternalistic role set the stage for less benign authoritarianisms to come, including that of his daughter Indira Gandhi, whose appeal to the masses was effectively turned against the party bosses.  The centrality that Rao complains of had reached a point of critical mass.  Indian democracy had begun to implode.

Thus empowered, Mrs. Gandhi reacted to a court conviction against election violations by arresting opposition cadres, suspending civil rights, and all but deifying herself under the slogan “Indira is India.” [26]  Her 15 months of so-called “emergency” rule were independent India‘s most authoritarian moment. [27]  This was the unwitting domestic side of Nehru’s legacy, which put the Congress Party in a camp with Japan’s LDP and Mexico’s PRI.  All that can be said on Nehru’s behalf is that the non-aligned strategy he drafted, along with Tito and Nasser, spared the country an even more authoritarian fate.  Just as the secularist Nehru saw past India’s religious chasm, [28] he bridged the Cold War’s ideological rift.  Non-alignment was tantamount to ideological secularism, which saved India from Pakistan’s camp follower foreign policy but outraged the high priests of the capitalist world system.  

This in effect was a second declaration of independence: freedom from the dictates of superpowers.  Had India traded its geopolitical independence for massive American assistance, it almost surely would have gone the route of Korea under Park, Taiwan under Chiang, the Philippines under Marcos, Vietnam under Diem, or Indonesia under Suharto.  When Indira Gandhi intervened on behalf of the Bangladesh movement against reactionary West Pakistan, the geopolitical cast of South Asia was fixed for another generation.  In the name of “realism” the U.S. joined China in backing the side of unabashed oppression. [29]  

India’s Global Nationalism

With the end of the Cold War the rationale for such realism was lost.  It should have been possible for U.S. policy at long last to favor democracy and human rights.  Instead, favor was bestowed on countries that were well disposed toward neoliberal globalism.  India under Rao was more than ready to join this club, but not every Indian state was prepared to tag along.  Kerala, India’s least capitalistic state, was committed to human development as much as to raw economic growth, and to sustainability as opposed to raw extraction.  Under different political circumstances this might have provided an alternative model of development.  For that very reason Kerala was vilified and systematically undermined.  The myth must be kept alive that there is no alternative to extant globalization.  Likewise it would not do for the Indian public to get wind of alternatives to the corrupt and divisive government that holds the nation in thrall.

On both levels, Kerala carries a message that must be snuffed out.  Though it is poor even by Indian standards, its inhabitants have an average life expectancy almost as high as Americans, and one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the developing world—half that of China.  The key point, Akash Kapur argues, is that the standard modernist and now globalist measure of progress—per capita income—often does not reflect the real quality of life.  This recognition, too, is part of Sen’s paradigm shift, which lays stress on such indicators of wellbeing as general health, literacy, and freedom from discrimination.  Untouchability has been expunged in Kerala more than anywhere else in India, while women are more politically engaged, and Brahmanist respect for education has been extended to all classes. [30]

All this is now under threat from globalization and its geopolitical twin, global anti-terrorism, which easily devolves into anti-Islamism.  Writing in 1992, soon after Rao’s fateful turn toward a neoliberal model of development, Arun Ghosh warned that globalization would lead to neocolonialism unless it is coupled with a drive for universal education, full employment, and a minimum income.  In a country where villagers commonly subsist on a dollar a day, [31] these elemental reforms would ensure that growth in exports and international services are matched by a broadly expansive domestic market.  The idea is to use foreign capital to prime the pump of indigenous capabilities, [32] not to cater to an affluent minority.

A very different kind of internationalism took shape after Atal Bihari Vajpayee came to power in 1998 at the helm of the new ruling party, the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party, or Indian Peoples’ Party).  Even as BJP politicians preached the cultural closure of Hindutva (Hinduness, or  “Hindian” cultural nationalism), [33] they threw the nation to the winds of international dependency.  With many of its financial backers living abroad, the BJP domestic program was largely set by upper caste needs. 

This elitist agenda blocked the prior drift of party politics toward a pluralism that includes agrarian interests; [34] but in itself it was nothing new.  Smithu Kothari traces it back to the early days of independence, when colonial administrative structures were adroitly kept in place.  This unfortunate continuity guaranteed that the growth politics of the 1950s and 1960s would produce grossly inequitable development.  In the 1970s Indira Gandhi launched an anti-poverty campaign, but its top-down structure again served patronage networks that by the early 1980s had begun to surrender the economic side of non-alignment.  The full surrender of 1991 led to a tripling of external debt by 1997. [35]

Kothari points out that while globalization was making some Indians fabulously rich, a million people a year were being uprooted from their homes and their only decent means of living.  Coupled with the ongoing loss of commons, a shift to cash crops and economic giganticism was especially injurious to those engaged in traditional livelihoods.  Again, as under colonialism, India was becoming indentured to external economic forces, while the domestic spoils were divided by the usual triumvirate of business, politics and bureaucracy.   

It is telling that underworld commerce has boomed even as general employment has flagged.  Only child labor has shown growth commensurate with GDP gains, such that India now employs half the world’s child labor.  Growth in elitist consumption rides on the back of Dickensian poverty and malnutrition.  Suffice it to say that entrepreneurial and professional classes are reaping the gains of globalization while Dalits (untouchables), tribals, and women workers suffer the consequences. [36]  Kothari finds room for optimism in a formative alliance of workers, peasants, and engaged intellectuals, but the bigger story—until the shocking election upset of May 2004 restored the Congress Party to power—was the BJP’s success at diverting reform energies into Hindu militancy. 

The Far Right factions that spearhead this hate campaign are collectively known as the Sangh Parivar.  Their political wing is the BJP—the successor of the old Jana Sangh [37]—while their popular base is galvanized by the National Volunteer Force, or RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), which departs from Hindian purism in its admiring embrace of the principles and methods of Adolf Hitler. [38]  Its core doctrine, as defined by the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Council), likewise advocates an Indian Final Solution.

 After 9/11 the Sangh Parivar found global respectability as an “anti-terrorist” association.  In return for India’s strong support of the Afghan War, and its reticence concerning Iraq, [39] the Bush administration looked the other way as up to 300,000 anti-Muslim and anti-Christian shakhas were established under RSS auspices to “educate” the public in the virtues of Hindutva.  These training camps mirror the militant function of Islamic madrassas in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and increasingly in Bangladish, [40] with the two movements fueling each other’s xenophobic violence. [41]  Ironically, Hindutva spells the death of Hinduism’s core principles of tolerance and nonviolence, [42] as personified in Gandhi.   

The fuse was lit for the latest religious war when Hindu nationalists decided to build a temple to Lord Ram, a Hindu deity, at the site of the Ayodhya mosque they had destroyed in 1992.  On February 27, 2002, a train carrying Hindu activists was torched, killing 58 people.  Angry Hindus retaliated by slaughtering hundreds of Muslims between February 28 and March 2, with the police not only failing to protect the victims, but even joining in the attacks. [43]  Countless female victims were gang raped, many being mutilated and burned to death. 

While close to 100,000 Muslims were driven from their homes and shops, Prime Minister Vajpayee went about business as usual.  It was more than a month before he condescended to visit the scene of these horrors, [44] as if they had issued from some sad but unremarkable natural event, rather than the designs of his own party.  He more than hinted in a subsequent speech that the Muslims were themselves to blame, yet he expressed sincere lament that the whole affair would make him lose face in his upcoming trip to Singapore. [45]   

Gujarat was distinguished in that here, in what is frequently called India’s “laboratory” of Hindu nationalism, the BJP ruled in its own right, without the constraints imposed by coalition politics at the national level.  In 1998 Pankaj Mishra could still write (before the lab results were back) that “in states ruled by the BJP there are fewer violent incidents against the Muslims.” [46]  Many later considered the Gujarat tragedy indicative of what would become of India as a whole if the BJP had had its way. [47] It is debatable how much of the violence was deliberately instigated by Vajpayee’s administration, but there is no question that the BJP did little to check the cycle of violence.  This did not seem to concern the U.S., which kept its silence, while to its credit the European Union compared Gujarat to apartheid and even to Nazi Germany before the war. [48]

It came as no great surprise, after two Bombay car bombings killed 52 and injured another 150 in August 2003, that one of the bombers was a survivor of the Gujarat atrocities.  This cycle of violence is now familiar.  But behind it all, as an editor of The Hindu contends, was the breakdown of the Nehruvian consensus that saw India as a pluralist nation. [49]  The prime victims of the Sangh Parivar’s war on diversity were civil Hinduism, in the tradition of Gandhi, and the moderate mainstream of Indian Islam which could have provided a prototype for religious accord throughout the Muslim world.

The BJP came to power on the promise to fight corruption while promoting a true secularism that respects the equality of all races and religions. [50]  Such rhetoric won over a credulous Western audience, much as Hitler was believed at Munich.  But if there was ever any doubt as to the vile intentions of the BJP and its affiliates, the prime minister removed it on September 9, 2000 in a speech he gave to Hindu supremacists in the U.S.  Though he has often been described as a moderate in the Sangh Parivar context, he affirmed his unqualified loyalty to the cause of the BJP’s “mother” organization, the RSS, which was implicated in Gandhi’s assassination and later devoted itself to eradicating all vestiges of Gandhian influence.  This purgation would spell the end, likewise, of the developmental goals set forth by Sen. Mishra sees this forfeiture of humanistic development as a key to the BJP’s rise to power, [51] for Senian goals are anathema to the kind of globalism that the BJP wedded to Hindu nationalism.

Washington’s complacence in the face of mounting paramilitary brutality—including the lynchings of hundreds of Christians after January 1998—was not the fault of Republican policy alone.  The Clinton administration led the way with a global “vision statement” jointly issued by Clinton and Vajpayee at the time of Clinton’s visit to India in March 2000.  Vajpayee put India on the globalist map by promoting market liberalism.  But the nation’s 40 million beneficiaries must be weighed against more than 500 million who remained locked in dire poverty, [52] and all the more so because of globalization.  Opening India to international markets stoked middle class consumerism while exposing the nation’s indigents (40% of India’s population and a third of the world’s poor) to rising food prices. [53]

The frustrations that brought had to be contained or diverted if a stable investment environment was to be secured.  Mishra is probably right that India, in its hunger for globalist inclusion, took a lesson from China.  The commercial world made it clear after Tiananmen that it did not care about human rights or substantive democracy so long as the profits flowed.  Had it been otherwise—if, that is, global commerce had packed its bags and left—the Gujarat horrors might never have transpired, and certainly they would not have been allowed to continue for days, often with police complicity.  Globalism is obviously no innocent bystander in these events.  The salient fact is that global capitalism supports whatever power structure is in place, so long as it is pro-market.

India is nonetheless a democracy, and that puts a political brake on the BJP’s Hindutva aspirations.  Consideration must be given to coalition partners that can ill afford to alienate the 12 percent of the population which is Muslim, and which wields a powerful swing vote in Indian elections.  The real aim of BJP anti-Islamism, therefore, has not been a Total Solution but a total diversion.  By channeling discontent away from pressing issues, religious strife reduces the resistance energy that might otherwise flow into a resurgent, anti-globalist Left. 

In the mid-1940s, when villagers formed resistance groups to contest the tyranny of landlords, [54] they lacked the kind of organization and communications that would sustain resistance at a national level.  Today’s power elite knows that the local can easily become translocal in this global age.  The Congress Party and the BJP are committed to the same class privileges, but the latter has a signal advantage in its ability to deflect attention from vital reform issues by inflaming the Hindu masses against Muslims and other minorities; whereas the latter has an advantage in its ability to appear moderate and even progressive while indenturing itself to the same globalist interests that used the BJP as its Pinkerton police.

Non-elite India has long suffered from the development model bequeathed by Nehru.  Though he can be credited with keeping India out of the early Cold War, the paradox is that the centrist economism and giganticism he launched has paved the way for the very dependency he dreaded.  The Indian ruling class so well learned its lessons from its British counterpart that for all practical purposes there was no postcolonial period, but simply a domestic colonialism under Congress Party auspices.  Even that was preferable, however, to the globalist neocolonialism that was brokered by the BJP and bequeathed to the new “reform” government.  Pranab Bardhan points out that India’s pre-globalist proprietary classes—industrialists, professionals, wealthy farmers and white-collar bureaucrats—were sufficiently at odds (thanks to weak capitalist development) to allow a muted democratic voice to less privileged segments of society such as unionized workers. [55]  But the flood tide of 1990s globalization drowned out much of the heterogeneity that kept democracy afloat under the most adverse Nehruvian circumstances.

Pockets of Gandhian resistance still survive, however, lending hope for an alternative development model, and perhaps even an alternative India.  This ‘other India’ can be glimpsed in the resistance that has been mounted in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Gujarat to the eco-atrocity of two mega-dams on the Narmada River.  The main organ of resistance has been the NBA (Narmada Bachao Andolan, or the Save Narmada Movement), which arose in the 1980s as part of a “small is beautiful” alternative. [56]  Drawing heavily on local initiative, the NBA represented a serious challenge to the extractive unsustainability of economic centrism. [57]  Its radical democratism, with implications reaching far beyond South Asia, is part of what Kothari calls “the reversal of the conquest of society by the economy. . .” [58]

If the Gandhian element in this reversal is its moral strength, many would say it is also a political weakness.  Barrington Moore spoke for a whole generation of critics with his contention that Gandhi fostered a feckless return to the “idealized” past of the Indian village community, albeit “purged of some of its more obviously degrading and repressive features, such as untouchability.” [59] Today’s civil resistance can rise above this criticism because it is focused as much on the global village as on the Indian village.  It does not betray the latter in the name of some higher good, as did Nehruvian centrism.  Rather it links the two villages in a global/local dynamic that I have elsewhere termed global anti-globalism. [60] So too it gets us past the apotheosis of violent resistance that dominated protest studies of the Cold War era.  By that yardstick most Indian resistance, being relatively non-confrontational, hardly registered in the West. [61] Only now, in the full glare of Jihad and Hindutva, can we fully appreciate what Gandhi was trying to avoid.  Some of the qualities that once made Indian civil protest invisible, and seeming irrelevant, now make it the crucial prerequisite for alternative development.

This alternative traces to the new social movements of the late 1980s, where the focus was on the truly oppressed: peasants, tribals, women, and victims of caste discrimination. [62]  If Nehruvian modernization marginalized these sections of the population, current globalization consigns them to social and economic oblivion.  The potential for class friction is made greater by the fact that a small but highly celebrated segment of the public is thriving on the same globalization that is choking the silent majority.  The RSS and BJP made it their business to fan the flames of religious strife so as to smokescreen this class polarization. 

Conversely, it should be the business of the Left to keep the real source of repression in full view.  Gail Omvelt sees that task as requiring nothing less than a reinvention of revolution. [63] She finds her prototype for grassroots resistance in the Chipko movement, which arose in the Himalayan foothills of Uttar Pradesh and united three causes in one: that of peasants, women, and the environment. [64]  This new civil resistance would do well to heed, also, Gandhi’s legacy of civil religious inclusivity and Kerala’s long experiment with sustainable development. 

While grassroots mobilization is a crucial element of that resistance, this double-edge sword rarely gets its due.  Sonia Gandhi’s Congress Party appropriated this egalitarian power base in its surprise victory of May 2004.  Then came the second shock: even as it tossed out the BJP, Congress implanted Manmohan Singh, the “father of Indian globalization,” as the new prime minister.  Once again popular resistance was being usurped by power elites. Whereas the BJP drew upon the dark, Hindutva side of populism in its de facto war on minorities, the Congress Party co-opted grassroots progressivism for equally fraudulent purposes. The common voter had challenged both Hindutva and globalization, but the Congress Party ignored the latter half of the message. This subterfuge got hardly a comment from Western media, which almost unanimously sang the praises of India’s democratic example for the developing world.      

Pakistan’s Balancing Act

At first the BJP seemed better equipped than the Congress Party to have it both ways: to unite the grassroots voter appeal of Hindutva with the financial engine of gobalization.  Outside Gujarat, however, this rearguard amalgam soon collided with India’s democratic mechanics.  Constrained by its coalition partners, the BJP had to modify its larger ambition of de-secularization and de-pluralization.  Just as Indira Gandhi could not reduce India to herself, the BJP could not reshape the nation the way it did Gujarat, and finally it was thrown out entirely.

Such democratic obstacles are lacking in Pakistan.  General Pervez Musharraf—who by self-proclamation became President Musharraf in June 2001—is the fourth military dictator in a country where the army and the omnipresent ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence, i.e., secret police) have not allowed a single elected government to finish its term in office.  Salman Rushdie reminds us that Musharraf was the general responsible for training Islamic terrorists for operations in Kashmir.  No doubt many of his students were sent by the ISI to al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.  When the previous president, Nawaz Sharif, yielded to American pressure and reined in Musharraf’s terrorists, the general was incensed.  He overthrew Sharif a few months later. [65] Ahmed Rashid observes that what distinguishes Musharraf from his predecessors is his boldness in not even trying to court civilian allies.  Hence he is at odds with every sector of civil society. [66] Even radical fundamentalists, for whom he has done so much, begrudge his deals with the U.S. 

This unpopularity explains both his dependence on the U.S. and his resort to dictatorial rule, as seen in his constitutional “reform” of August 2002.  By personal fiat he promulgated 29 “amendments” that gave the army, which is to say himself, [67] formal authority over every aspect of the elected government.  This was the context in which he allowed a general election in October 2002, so as to give his junta a civilian varnish. [68] Unfortunately his domestic failure has been matched by inordinate diplomatic success.  Rashid reminds us that when Musharraf overthrew a democratically elected government to seize power in 1999, Pakistan was widely viewed as a pariah nation.  Even its relationship with the U.S., its consistent Cold War patron, was fast deteriorating as commercial globalization stole the show from power politics.   

9/11 changed all that.  Geopolitics was suddenly back in vogue, while the war in Afghanistan dealt Pakistan another winning geopolitical hand.  Musharraf’s assistance was desperately needed to contain the jihadic monster it had done so much to create.  For its promise to wage war on terrorism, and to permit U.S. military operations from its soil, Islamabad got rescheduled foreign debts, an end to nuclear sanctions, a huge aid package, and, last but not least, an invaluable lobbyist in the person of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.  Soon it also gained the approbation of a formerly aloof Washington Consensus, whose neoliberal stripes were starting to look hawkishly neoconservative.  Musharraf went through the motions of upholding his end of the bargain.  He even fired his ISI chief for disloyalty to Pakistan’s renewed pro-U.S. policy.  Nevertheless it was impossible to be sure which side of the fence Musharraf was on.  The army itself and especially the ISI continued to supply Taliban forces before their fall, [69] and indeed after their fall.

That did not prevent Bush, in June 2003, from pledging $3 billion to this dubious ally over a three year period. [70] There was more than a trace of déjà vu here: “In a throwback to the 1950s and the cold war, Washington’s policy makers appear to prefer working with one-man dictatorships . . . to facing the prospect of divided authority, multiple leaders, and parliaments.” [71]  Pakistan, in short, has pulled off an unparalleled diplomatic coup, managing to hold its place as both the archetypal terrorist state and the undisputed financial winner of the war on terrorism. [72]

Needless to say, these developments have complicated India’s bid for close relations with the U.S.  At first this post-Cold War hope was raised still higher by 9/11, since India stood ready to support U.S. anti-terrorist strategies.  Such expectations were dashed, however, when Pakistan was welcomed back into Washington’s fold.  Pakistan took quick advantage of this upgrade by striking at India with renewed vigor.  On December 13, 2001, the Indian Parliament building was attacked by gunmen with almost certain Pakistani connections.  To the Indians this was the emotional equivalent of 9/11.  They saw no reason why America’s stance on Afghanistan—viz., that a nation harboring terrorists was a legitimate target—did not apply in the case of Pakistan. [73]  Indeed, Indian leaders hold that their case for war against Pakistan is better than Washington’s case against Afghanistan and especially Iraq. [74]

With U.S. troops staging Afghan operations from four bases in Pakistan, such logic was lost on Washington.  True to form, Musharraf grabbed the chance to play the peacemaker, promising a “crackdown” on the militant groups that he and his army had fostered.  His personal intercession would not have been necessary in a democratic Pakistan.  Opinion polls suggest that only a small percentage of the population considers Kashmir worth so much effort, cost, and risk. [75] But in today’s Pakistan public opinion hardly matters unless it is backed by jihadic force.  Voices of civil Islamic moderation will remain tangential so long as democracy is thwarted by military or theocratic rule.  Without a daily newspaper blitz on the subject, the Kashmir issue would have faded away long ago.

To be sure, India’s duplicitous practices have compounded the problem, as rigged elections and festering poverty have stripped Kashmir’s Muslims of any stake they might feel in the political status quo.  Election fraud and general repression sparked violent resistance in the late 1980s, and by 1992 full rebellion was fomented by the influx of large numbers of Afghan War veterans.  This transformed the conflict from one of secular rights into a volatile mix of Pakistani nationalism and international jihad.  Today nearly half the militants in the region are thought to be non-indigenous, [76] with most of their funding bearing the stamp of Pakistan.  The silver lining is that Pakistan in turn depends on the U.S. for its solvency.  Thus the U.S. holds cards that could be played on behalf of peace in Kashmir, if only it cared to do so—a big if.

Two commonly cited motives for Pakistani terrorist intrusions are the political destabilization of India and revenge for 1971. [77] But its main goal is to evoke hostile reactions on India’s part.  The army’s grip on the nation requires a highly visible enemy, much as Sharonism in Israel needs the visible threat of Hamas.  A democratic Pakistan would be less bellicose, and that would do much to defuse Gujarat’s Hindutva extremism. [78]  The key to pacification on both sides is held by Washington, which by funding Pakistan puts itself at the top of the terroristic food chain. 

The U.S. has also played a big part, however unwittingly, in the region’s nuclear proliferation.  Charlie Wilson’s War, [79] by “60 Minutes” producer George Crile, offers a shocking glimpse into America’s South Asian machinations during the Reagan era.  The point man in this sordid enterprise was former congressman Charlie Wilson, while his nemesis was Stephen Solarz, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Asia and the Pacific.  Wilson was as determined to boost aid to Pakistan as Solarz was to cut it.  Many anti-Soviet realists, such as Zbigniew Brezinski, sided with Wilson in their effort to look past Pakistan’s domestic ravages.  What they wanted was a solid (utterly dependent) ally against the Soviets in Afghanistan.  Toward that end the U.S. found it expedient not to notice Pakistan’s budding nuclear program. 

It was very hard not to notice the clumsily camouflaged cordiality between Pakistan and North Korea.  Abdul Qadeer Khan—the former head of Pakistan’s nuclear program at the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), has taken at least thirteen “vacations” in North Korea.  He was convicted in absentia by the Netherlands for stealing nuclear secrets before absconding to Pakistan. [80]  As a Muslim extremist with close ties to both the ISI and the al Qaeda affiliate Jamaat-ud Dawa (“Society of the Call,” once known as Lashkar-i-Taiba, or “Army of the Pure”), [81] Khan and his KRL colleagues constitute a natural bridgehead for nuclear terrorism—the very threat the Bush administration posited as its reason for attacking Iraq.

The American media have failed to ask how that danger could be a legitimate ground for war in one case but not the other.  The U.S. embraces the only Muslim state which unquestionably possesses effective weapons of mass destruction (WMD).  It is known that Pakistan continued to acquire missiles from North Korea at least until fall 2002, and there can be little doubt that part of the cost of those transactions was met by transfers of nuclear technology from Pakistan.  For this the Bush administration tried to punish the KRL lab, not Pakistan. [82] Recently Musharraf gave disturbing assurance that Pakistan was not, to his knowledge, passing nuclear technology to North Korea at this time. [83] His not very subtle point was that the best protection against nuclear proliferation would be to buttress his dictatorial powers.

This is a country that throughout the 1990s trained and advised the Taliban and other jihadic groups such as Harakat al-Mujahedin, and which has been under military rule for over half of its history.  Already the military controlled its banking, transportation and communications industries, [84] and after Musharraf’s constitutional alterations it gained legal authority over nearly all civilian governmental functions.  This did not deter the U.S. from pumping billions of dollars in military and economic aid into Pakistan after 9/11, simply on Musharraf’s word that he would assist in the war on terrorism.  It can hardly come as a surprise that neither the military nor the ISI has made more than token efforts to apprehend Osama bin Laden, who is thought to be hiding in Pakistan’s tribal lands. [85] There are even credible sources which contend bin Laden is getting ISI protection. [86

This fits a pattern.  It is common knowledge in Washington that a group of Pakistani officers sent to Afghanistan prior to the U.S. invasion did not pursue their official mission of encouraging the Taliban to step down.  Rather they instructed them on how to survive and protect their weapons in the forthcoming blitz. [87]  It is also no great secret that the military and ISI, partly in response to India’s close relations to the Karzai government in Afghanistan, are presently supporting Taliban fighters in border areas, [88] even as Islamic militants are once more operating openly in Pakistan. [89] Musharraf’s promise to close them down is in league with General Zia’s promise not to develop nuclear weaponry in the 1980s.  Musharraf’s uncanny diplomatic success rests on the widely held belief that his secular dictatorship is preferable to theocratic dictatorship.  Better the Shah than Khomeini.  Thus we have Tony Blair saluting Musharraf for his “courage and leadership” [90]—this for a leader who pours vast sums into nuclear weaponry while leaving the majority of his people ill-fed and illiterate. [91]

The Pakistan that Western media have managed to ignore is explored in Bernard-Henri Lévy’s Who Killed Daniel Perle?  Perle was The Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and savagely murdered by Islamic militants following his investigation of extremist organizations in Pakistan. [92

Lévy removes all doubt that Perle’s kidnapper, Omar Sheikh, was connected with the ISI as well as the jihadic organizations Perle was trailing.  It is Lévy’s contention that Perle had his throat cut (the video being available for sale outside many Pakistani mosques) not so much because he was American or Jewish, but because he had discovered too much about al Qaeda’s developing access to nuclear vendors such as Pakistan and North Korea.  The implications this holds for the next 9/11 go without saying.

Whether or not Lévy is right about the murder motive, [93] he is frightfully convincing as to the threat of WMD terrorism, and the very real possibility that a nuclear version of 9/11 could at this moment be gestating in Pakistan.  The question is how to avert this nightmare. Washington is betting on Musharraf, but as we have seen, he is an accomplished trapeze artist, balancing radical extremism against his much advertised secularism.  He needs radical Islamists to cement his regime domestically, just as they need him as a conduit for favorable foreign relations. This symbiosis all but guarantees that a large proportion of any aid given to Musharraf will end up in extremist hands.  Ironically, Musharraf’s dependence on radical Islam serves him well diplomatically.  The weaker he seems to be, and the less effective he is in fulfilling his promises, the more saleable he is in Washington. [94]  The tragedy of it is that every dollar he gets is an investment in the militarist establishment that stunts political development in Pakistan and, by way of reaction, hampers Indian democracy as well.


Nonetheless there is no doubt as to which of the two putative democracies holds the most promise.  The question posed by Shiva Rao in 1947 as to the contest of two developmental systems in South Asia has long since been decided in India’s favor. [95]  Pakistan lost the contest when it savaged the principle of Koranic tolerance that was adumbrated by Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Gandhi’s Islamic counterpart.  Khan spent three decades in prison, and is hardly remembered even in Pakistan except as a troublesome Pashtun nationalist. [96] By forgetting him and all he stood for, Pakistan missed its best civil Islamic opportunity.  Today its international standing rests on two mixed blessings: the country’s possession of nuclear arms and its strategic place in the war on terrorism. 

No doubt the specter of radical Islamism worries Musharraf, because it defies state control.  Yet he knows his regime owes everything to jihad.  Likewise any intelligent Islamist knows that the president must project a “moderate” image for international relations purposes.  A reversion to theocracy would invite the pariah status that Iran has suffered since its revolution of 1979.  Unlike Pakistan, however, Iran possesses a vibrant civil society that awaits its political unfolding.

Accordingly, India’s current developmental contest is no longer with Pakistan, but with China.  Under Deng, China’s growth strategy hinged almost entirely on foreign direct investment (FDI).  The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has proved more adept at promoting global capitalism than any democracy could have been.  Rao’s global opening of 1991 lacked that dictatorial advantage.  Nor could the Congress Party match the BJP’s ability to divert popular resistance into the emotive politics of Hindutva.  India is doing remarkably well considering that it has half the national savings rate of China and 90% less FDI.  These weaknesses could be more than compensated in the long run by the democratic advantages that Sen adduces. [97

Unfortunately those advantages are being compromised by the politics of Indo-globalization.  The BJP’s resort to state terrorism produced a Muslim time bomb across India that could have made the Kashmir crisis look tame.  Although Indian Muslims were not inclined toward anti-India insurgency, the polarization of Indian society under the BJP pushed the nation to the brink of civil war. [98]  If the BJP had not been ousted, groups such as the Gujarat Muslim Revenge Force—which was implicated in the August 2003 explosions in Bombay [99] —would have had no trouble with recruitment in the future. 

This disturbing trend had the effect of repelling the FDI that India badly needed to compete globally.  BJP apologists argued that the Sangh Parivar offered the best hope for political stability and economic development. [100]  In fact, the BJP’s short-term victories were tearing India in half. [101]  In addition to the clash of Hindus and Muslims there was the perilous dichotomy of haves and have-nots.  This is part of the global schism that Raff Carmen sees as creating “two of every society—the two Indias, the two Chiles, the two USAs, the two worlds. . . .” [102]  This fault line was clearly drawn by the epoch battle between the World Bank-funded Narmada Valley Development Project (NVDP) and the NBA resistance movement.  The NBA won battles at the tactical level, and even forced the World Bank to withdraw.  Yet it lost the whole Narmada war in 2000 due to the BJP’s Indo-globalist subversion of the Supreme Court.

That defeat, in Chittaroopa Palit’s opinion, is a chapter in the strategic failure of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM).  What the NAPM could not supply was the kind of holistic solidarity that could counter the Sangh Parivar’s fascist communalism. [103]  Two decades of grassroots Hindutva have done more to corrode Indian democracy than all the terrorist insurgency of Pakistan combined, though of course the two barbarisms are highly complementary.   

The kind of civil holism that Palit prescribes will require the recovery of pluralist integrity in India and Pakistan alike.  It is time to salvage the legacies of Gandhi and Khan, respectively.  This will be a tall order in an age that marries tribal animosities with commercially mediated narcissism, or what Benjamin Barber terms Jihad and McWorld: “a bloody politics of identity” and a “bloodless economics of profit” [104] (for Barber “Jihad” denotes any anti-globalist militancy, not just the Islamic variety).  What is sorely needed is a moral equivalent to Jihad.  Accordingly, the world needs more from India than cheaper goods and services.  It needs the global equivalent of Gandhi.

Neo-Gandhianism, like Sen’s dictum of “freedom as development,” hinges on the instrumental as well as intrinsic value of social justice and pluralist tolerance.  Pakistan offers a negative case in point.  Imran Khan notes how its power elite appropriated the British colonial system, never even trying to evolve a homegrown substitute. [105] The good news is that such maldevelopment is unsustainable without massive foreign assistance.  The bad news is that the U.S. has been and remains munificent in supplying that assistance.  After the Cold War, however, Pakistan was left in the lurch.  Only the threat of terrorism puts it back on the geopolitical map.  Islamabad is compelled to stoke radical Islamism with one hand while fighting it with the other.  It has brilliantly accomplished this, but the resulting chaos keeps FDI at bay and makes Pakistan all the more dependent on its geopolitical patron.

India could evade this cycle of dependency so long as its ruling classes felt secure in their neocolonial authority.  By the 1990s, however, democracy had begun to take on dangerous substance.  Meanwhile India’s elites began to find their niche in a formative transnational capitalist class.  Clearly their allegiance was less to India the nation than India the investment opportunity.  Ironically India held its own throughout the Cold War, when the geopolitical going was so much tougher.  Why raise the white flag now?  The answer, quite simply, is that the nonaligned movement had never been about democratic India so much as about ruling class interests.  The long Nehruvian war against external colonialism ended when India’s elites saw more profit in globalist alignment.  Even before the BJP got into the act, the Congress Party inaugurated this globalist revolution from above.  The BJP then got the upper hand by rooting globalization in the social bedrock of Hindutva.

The only hope for democratic India is a counter-revolution from below.  This could have sweeping repercussions, for Indo-globalization will not be a simple clone of Washington-based neoliberalism.  India will put its own stamp on the globalization process.  The question is which India will do so.  Under Manmohan Singh the Congress coalition is likely to be an even more potent instrument of globalization, for its nominal social reformism—like Western Third-Wayism—serves to defuse left resistance.  It must not be forgotten that the Congress Party has long been the darling of World Bank projects and the nemesis of the NVDP.  Far from an egalitarian upset, the election of May 2004 augurs a return to elitist business as usual.

William H. Thornton is Professor of Literary and Cultural Theory at National Cheng Kung University in Tainan, Taiwan. He is the author of Cultural Prosaics: The Second Postmodern Turn (1998); Fire on the Rim: The Cultural Dynamics of East/West Power Politics (2002); and  New World Empire: Islamism, Terrorism and the Making of Neoglobalism (forthcoming from Rowman and Littlefield in early 2005), from which this article is drawn.  He can be reached at:  songokt.hornton@msa. Copyright (C) 2004 William H. Thornton.

Other Articles by William H. Thornton

* The Making of an Anti-American Century
* The Democratic Art of Listening
* Apartheid Without Borders: The New Globalism and Its Enemies


[1] See W. Norman Brown, The United States and India and Pakistan (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1955), 112.

[2] Pankaj Mishra, “Murder in India,” The New York Review of Books (August 15, 2002),

[3] Shiva Rao, “India Grapples with Freedom,” (written in Madras, August 14, 1947), from the archives of The Nation (2001),  It is only fair to note that Jinnah did not live long enough to prove that judgment wrong.  It is arguable that, despite his icy temperament, he was not the “evil genius” that Mountbatten described, or that the movie Gandhi so memorably depicted.  The movie Jinnah tried to set the record straight, but ended up outraging Pakistan by casting Christopher Lee (famous for his Count Dracula roles) as the “Great Leader.”  The real Jinnah, as the film attests, supported women and religious minorities and looked with horror on the genocidal fanaticism of Hindus and Moslems alike.  In retrospect it is clear that Jinnah's secular tolerance was cut from much the same mold as Nehru’s.  He was no Lincoln, but neither was he Count Dracula.

[4] Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999), 180.

[5] Sen, Development as Freedom, 180.

[6] Emphatically this is not to say that these rights guarantee fast-track development or preclude depressions.  With the post-Cold War experience of China and Ukraine in mind, Nicholas Kristof concludes that authoritarian orderliness is something more conducive to economic growth than to democratic chaos.  But there is no reason to doubt, from the perspective of China’s 100 million migrant laborers, just how sound and sustainable China’s development is, even in purely economic terms.  Kristof must know that there are certainly factors other than Ukraine’s relative freedom which explain its economic lethargy, and factors other than China’s repression which explain its dynamism.  See Nicholas D. Kristof, “Can freedom come second?,” International Herald Tribune [from the New York Times] (August 30, 2003),

[7] Bryan Caplan, “Autocratic Ghosts and Chinese Hunger,” Independent Review (winter 2000) in,

[8] Sen, Development as Freedom, 181.

[9] Qtd. Sen, Development as Freedom, 182.  Mao’s remarkable candor had deep roots, reaching back to his democratic promises of 1945, and indeed to the political philosophy of one of the Communist Party’s founding fathers, Chen Duxiu, twenty years earlier.  See Arthur Waldron, “What Should the President Say at Tsinghua University?,” China Brief (February 14, 2002),      

[10] Philip Gourevitch [interview with Amy Davidson], The New Yorker Online Only (September 1, 2003),

[11] Tariq Ali, Can Pakistan Survive? The Death of a State (New York: Verso, 1983), 44.

[12] Rob Jenkins, Democratic Politics and Economic Reform in India (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 212.

[13] Richard A. Matthew, “Environment, Population and Conflict: New Modalities of Threat and Vulnerability in South Asia,” Journal of International Affairs 56, no. 1 (fall 2002): 245 (235-54).

[14] Ali, Can Pakistan Survive?, 50-51.

[15] Deepa Ollapally, “Third World Nationalism and the United States After the Cold War,” Political Science Quarterly 110, no. 3 (autumn 1995): 425 (417-34).

[16] Pranab Bardhan, The Political Economy of Development in India (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1984), 71.

[17] Satu P. Limaye, U.S.-Indian Relations: The Pursuit of Accommodation (Boulder: Westview, 1993), 5.

[18] Limaye, U.S.-Indian Relations, 6-8.  The isolation that India would feel, especially after the fall of its de facto ally, the Soviet Union, would push it toward an active nuclear defense policy.  See Steven P. Cohen, “India Rising,” Wilson Quarterly (summer 2000).

[19] A measure of economic liberalization had been ventured even by Indira Gandhi, Nehru’s daughter, and more was promised by her son Rajiv, but these early traces of globalization fell prey to insurmountable political obstacles, as both the Indian Left and Right balked at Gandhi’s attempt to weaken the state in favor of the private sector.  Rao, likewise, got cold feet after the Congress Party lost several key elections late in 1994.  See Ollapally, 429; and on Rajiv Gandhi’s failed liberalization efforts see Myron Weiner, The Indian Paradox: Essays in Indian Politics (New Delhi: Sage, 1989), 299.  

[20] Celia W. Dugger, “Indian Town’s Seed Grew Into the Taliban’s Code,” New York Times (February 23, 2002),

[21] Ali, Can Pakistan Survive?, 15-16.

[22] Mushirul Hasan, “Partition: The Human Cost,” History Today (September 1997), in,

[23] Hasan, “Partition: The Human Cost.”

[24] Hasan, “Partition: The Human Cost.”

[25] Qtd. in Pankaj Mishra, “A New, Nuclear India?,” The New York Review of Books 45, no. 11 (June n25, 1998): 58 (55-64).

[26] Mishra, “A New, Nuclear India?.”

[27] Stephen P. Cohen,  "India Rising,"  The Wilson Quarterly (summer 2000),

[28] “Deconsecrating Gandhi,” The Economist (August 29-September 4, 1998): 79 (79-80).

[29] Sachar, Abram L.  The Course of Our Times: the Men and Events that Shaped the Twentieth Century (New York: Dell, 1972), 429.

[30] Akash Kapur, “Poor but Prosperous,” The Atlantic Monthly (September 1998),

[31] Somina Sengupta, “With Wrath and Wire, India Builds a Great Wall,” New York Times (January 2, 2002),

[32] Aron Ghosh, Planning in India: The Challenge for the Nineties (New Delhi: Sage, 1992), 14-15.

[33] The “Hindian” doctorine holds that all Indians, regardless of their religious affiliation, must subscribe to a Hindu ethos.  See Neil DeVotta, “Deomography and Communalism in India,” Journal of International Affairs 56, no. 1 (fall 2002): 61 (53-70).

[34] Christopher Candland, “Congress Decline and Party Pluralism in India,” Journal of International Affairs 51, no. 1 (summer 1997): 31 and 33 (19-35).

[35] Smithu Kothari, “Whose Independence?  The Social Impact of Economic Reform in India,” Journal of International Affairs 51, no. 1 (summer 1997): 92 (85-116).  

[36] Rajeev Bhargava, “India in the face of globalization,” openDemocracy (February 26, 2003),

[37] Kulip Nayar, “Abhor Singularity,” Outlook (May 31, 2004),

[38] Arundhati Roy, “Fascism’s Footprint in India,” The Nation (September 30, 2002),  

[39] See Amitash Pal, “Bush Ignores India’s Pogram,” The Progressive (July 2003),

[40] Smita Narula, “Overlooked Danger: The Security and Rights Implications of Hindu Nationalism in India,” Harvard Human Rights Journal 16 (spring 2003): 41-42, and 54 (41-68).

[41] Hindus were attacked in Bangladesh, for example, after the destruction of the Babri Mosque in India in December 1992.  See Narula, “Overlooked Danger,” 61.

[42] Narula, “Overlooked Danger,” 43.

[43] Roy, “Fascism’s Footprint in India.”

[44] Narula, “Overlooked Danger,” 48.

[45] Mishra, “Murder.”

[46] Mishra, “New,” 62.

[47] Globalists and other BJP affiliates counter that Gujarat has long been a hub of religious violence, and that large scale rioting prior to 2002 actually declined after the BJP came to power.  See “How Hindu and India?,” The Economist (August 16, 2001),  

[48] Pal, “Bush Ignores India’s Pogram.”

[49] Malini Parthasarathy, “Bombay attacks show up India’s growing divide,” International Herald Tribune (September 3, 2003),

[50] Mishra, “New,” 60.

[51] See Mishra, “Murder.”

[52] “Through Hindu Eyes,” The Nation (October 2, 2000),

[53] Mishra, “New,” 64.

[54] Ghanshyam Shah, “Grassroots Mobilization in Indian Politics,” in Atul Kohl, ed., India’s Democracy: An Analysis of Changing State-Society Relations (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1988), 288-90 (262-304).  

[55] Pranab Bardhan, “Dominant Proprietary Classes and India’s Democracy,” in Atul Kohl, ed., India’s Democracy: An Analysis of Changing State-Society Relations (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1988), 215 (214-24).

[56] Chittaroopa Palit, “Monsoon Risings: Mega-Dam Resistance in the Narmada Valley,” New Left Review (May/June 2003): 84 (81-100).

[57] Smithu Kothari, “Damming the Narmada and the Politics of Development,” in William F. Fisher, ed., Toward Sustainable Development (Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe, 1995), 422 (420-44).

[58] Kothari, “Damming the Narmada and the Politics of Development,” 444.

[59] Barrington Moore, Jr., Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World (Boston: Beacon Press, 1966), 374.

[60] William H. Thornton, Fire on the Rim: The Cultural Dynamics of East/West Power Politics (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2002), 196-97.

[61] Thornton, Fire, 296.  Most Western attention has gone, therefore, to exceptional cases such as the Telengana rebellions of the late 1940s.  See Michael Adas, “South Asian Resistance in Comparative Perspective,” in Douglas Haynes and Gyan Prakash, eds., Contesting Power: Resistance and Everyday Social Relations in South Asia (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), 292 (290-305).  

[62] Gail Omvelt, Reinventing Revolution: New Social Movements and the Socialist Tradition in India (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1993), xii.

[63] Omvelt, Reinventing Revolution, xvi.

[64] Omvelt, Reinventing Revolution, 131.

[65] Salman Rushdie, “The Most Dangerous Place in the World,” New York Times (May 30, 2002),…

[66] Ahmed Rashid, “Pakistan on the Edge,” The New York Review of Books (October 10, 2002),

[67] This is especially the case after Musharraf’s reshuffling of the army’s leadership early in 2003.  See Syed Saleem Shahzad, “Musharraf tightens his grip,” Asia Times (March 13, 2003), online at; but the scope of the Army shake-up has been greatly exaggerated.  There was much talk of “purges,” yet only three or four officers had actually been charged with Taliban or al Qaeda involvement as of Septem- ber 2003.  See Owais Tohid, “Pakistan gradually purges Army extremists,” The Christian Science Monitor (September 11, 2003),      

[68] “The Wild Frontier,” The Economist (April 10, 2003), Friendly.cfm?Story_ID=1699357

[69] Bill Gertz, “Pakistan sends supplies to Taliban,” The Washington Times (Nov. 1, 2001).

[70] Despite these stunning gains, Musharraf is frustrated from not having gained even more from his cooperation with the U.S.  He thinks the U.S. favors India, and in one area his complaints ring true: despite its constant talk of free trade, the U.S. has resisted reform of its protectionist import quotas on textile and apparel industries, Pakistan’s main sphere of comparative advantage.  On U.S. trade hypocrisy see Ilene R. Prusher, “A Turkish path for Pakistan?”  The Christian Science Monitor (January 24, 2002),; and on the textile issue see “Pakistan, a Troubled Ally,” New York Times editorial (Sept. 21, 2003),

[71] “Pakistan, a Troubled Ally,”

[72] In spring 2000 the U.S. State Department concluded that South Asia had surpassed even the Middle East as the hub of world terrorism, but declined to mention that Pakistan was the epicenter of it all.  See Jessica Stern, “Pakistan’s Jihad Culture,” Foreign Affairs 79, no. 6 (November/December 2000): 115 (115-26).  

[73] Robert Marquand, “West turns up heat on India,” The Christian Science Monitor (January 15, 2002),

[74] Kanti Bajpai, “An Indian ‘War on Terrorism’ Against Pakistan?,” Dissent (summer 2003),

[75] K. Shankar Bajpai, “Untangling India and Pakistan,” Foreign Affairs 82, no. 3 (May/June 2003): 117 (112-26).  The Kashmir crisis has deep roots, reaching back to the 1947 partition, when the region was given the choice of joining India or Pakistan.  Unfortunately the actual choice was made by a Hindu monarch, not by the Muslim majority.  Pakistan responded by sending irregular “volunteers” to stir insurrection.  Despite a ceasefire in 1948, this insurgency has continued, with Islamabad always claiming that militants operating out of Pakistan were outside its orbit of control.  

[76] Stern, “Pakistan’s Jihad Culture,” 117-18.

[77] Pakistan’s militarists still blame India for its support of East Pakistan’s separatism, which lead to the establishment of Bangladesh in 1971.

[78] Stern, “Pakistan’s Jihad Culture,”  121.

[79] George Crile, Charlie Wilson’s War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History (New York: Grove Atlantic, 2003).

[80] “Pakistan-North Korea Weapons Trade Continued Through 2002,” Jinsa Online (September 9, 2003),

[81] Jamaat, which provides the ideological hub for all the jihadic groups fighting in Kashmir, is listed as a terrorist group by both India and the U.S.  See Elizabeth Rubin, “Pakistan: militants undaunted,” Christian Science Monitor (January 9, 2002),; and Scott Baldauf, “Pakistan groups still rally for jihad,” Christian Science Monitor (August 18, 2003),;  and Bernard-Henry Lévy, “Doubts About an Ally,” Washington Post (September 12, 2003): A31.

[82] See “Pakistan-North,”

[83] Felicity Barringer, “Musharraf calls for more U.S. aid,” International Herald Tribune, (from the New York Times, Sept. 22, 2003), 110780. 

[84] “A Pakistani Thorn in the American Side,” The Daily Star (September 9, 2003),    

[85] John Lancaster, “Pakistan Touts Control of Border,” Washington Post (September 2, 2003): A10.  

[86] Arnaud de Borchgrave, “New terror nexus,” The Washington Times (August 29, 2003),       

[87] Syed Saleem Shahzad, “Musharraf’s army breaking ranks,” Asia Times (August 30, 2003),  

[88] Liz Sly, “Pakistan lets Taliban operate unimpeded, critics say,” Chicago Tribune (August 11, 2003),,1,3552627.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

[89] David Rohde, “Questions Grow on Pakistan’s Commitment to Fight Taliban,” New York Times (September 10, 2003),

[90] Christopher de Bellaigue, “The Perils of Pakistan,” The New York Review of Books 48, no. 18 (November 15, 2001): 44 (44-47).

[91] William Easterly, “Clueless in Pakistan,” The Globalist (November 29, 2001),

[92] The timing of Perle’s abduction, a few weeks before Musharraf’s visit to Washington, suggested to many that it was designed to embarrass the president, thereby punishing him for his recent “crackdown” on extremist groups.  But in fact it served Musharraf’s interest by reinforcing his image as a courageous moderate, holding the line against terrorist barbarism.  On this standard interpretation see Husain Haqqan, “Trying to Create a New Pakistan,” New York Times (Feb. 13, 2002),

[93] There are several problems with this argument.  First, the Wall Street Journal denies that Perle was pursuing that angle.  Second, as Ron Rosenbaum points out, Lévy tends to credit his “posthumous friend” Perle with the fruits of his own investigation.  See Ron Rosenbaum, “In Danny Perle Book, Lévy Says Next 9/11 Brewing in Pakistan,” New York Observer (September 13, 2003),  

[94] Jim Hoagland, “Fool’s Gold in Pakistan,” Washington Post (June 29, 2003): B07.

[95] Concerning India’s model of civilian control, see Stephen P. Cohen, “The Military and Indian Democracy,” in Atul Kohli, ed., India’s Democracy: An Analysis of Changing State-Society Relations (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1988), 121 (99-143).

[96] See Amitabh Pal, “A Pacifist Uncovered,” The Progressive (February 2002), < 0901/pal0202.html>.

[97] Yasheng Huang and Tarun Khanna, “Can India Overcome China?” Foreign Policy (September/October 2003),

[98] Malini Parthasarathy, “Bombay attacks show up India’s growing divide,” International Herald Tribune (September 3, 2003),

[99] Pankaj Mishra, “India’s Time Bomb,” New York Times (September 15, 2003), 2003/09/15/opinion/15MISH.html

[100] Amrita Basu, “The dialectics of Hindu nationalism,” in Atul Kohli, ed., The Success of India’s Democracy (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 163 (163-189).

[101] Arvind Rajagopal, “Gujarat’s ‘successful experiment,” openDemocracy (April 20, 2003), www.  

[102] Raff Carmen, Autonomous Development—Humanizing the Landscape: An Excursion into Radical Thinking and Practice (London: Zed Books, 1996), 33.

[103] Palit, “Monsoon Risings,” 99.

[104] Benjamin Barber, Jihad vs. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism are Reshaping the World (New York, Ballantine Books, 1995), 8. 

[105] Imran Khan, “Politics in Pakistan,” Resurgence (downloaded September 19, 2002),