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August - September 2005


Rich Club, Poor Guests & Terrorists

by Krishan Ralleigh

When India's Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh set foot on the soil of Scotland on 6th July, he little imagined that the ghost of terrorism would be haunting him even in Gleneagles. Being invited to the G-8 annual conference, a club of rich nations, is not a small feat for the head of a country which has the largest number of people living below poverty line (325 million) within its borders. As the agenda for the G-8 this year was the removal of poverty in Africa and the ‘challenge of environment change due to global warming', Dr Manmohan Singh’s contribution to the debate would have been crucial. Moreover, the great doctor’s economic prescription to African countries would please the Madame back home and blunt the attack of ‘lefties’ who have been continuously targeting at his own initiatives aimed at reducing poverty in India.

Unfortunately for him, a great opportunity was marred by the terrorists who struck in London on the very day of the opening of the G-8 conference. The president of the conference, Tony Blair, back from his Olympic triumph at Singa pore, was briefly in shock. However he recovered soon and addressed the nation with a defiant note and reiterated his determination to uphold the values of freedom and democracy in Britain and other parts of the world where the dark forces of terrorism, in the name of Islam, are endeavouring to bring chaos and calamities to innocent civilians.

The G-8 - USA, UK, France, Germany, Japan, Canada, Russia and Italy - had invited emerging economies from Asia, South America and Africa, to participate in a new partnership to help remove poverty in Africa and to face the challenge of global warming, a direct consequence of technological development. A handout to Africa of $50billion by 2010, would definitely give a big push to economic reforms in poor countries of Africa. But will it be able to bring stability and democracy to these countries? India has a well-established democratic system. The economy is vibrant, but corruption and slow growth in infra-structure is causing a major obstruction to economic development. Moreover, political instability always seems to be round the corner with the UPA government’s dependence on the mercurial left parties who are a threat to Dr. Manmohan Singh’s economic policies.

Above all, India has been under the grip of Islamic terrorism for almost two decades. The people and the government of India are well aware of the fact that the perpetrator of terrorism in India is no other than their neighbouring country. There is no illusion about the ultimate aims of Islamic terrorists in India. But fortunately for India, a large number of Indian Muslims are happy with their country, their democratic system and their economic prosperity.

In Britain also, most British Muslims are content with the opportunities for prosperity presented to them by Britain. They have also started taking active part in the political system of the country.
What is it that attracts some British Muslims towards Al Qaeda and its reactionary philosophy?
It is neither Israel nor Iraq, nor chechnya, nor Kashmir. it is the shallow and dangerous interpretation of islam that Muslims cannot live alongside with people of other religions - the kaffirs, the non-believers. The non-believers have to be converted or killed. It may be monetary or forced persuasion. The end-result is ‘jinnat’ paradise. Fundamentalists in any religion do not think rationally. Blind faith, even if it is true, is still blind. True faith needs no other crutches but the crutches of reason and devotion.

Dr Manmohan Singh’s futile journey to Britain has not endeared him to a section of his own party in India. Undoubtedly, he could have contributed much more to the debate if the circumstances were right. Nevertheless, on the positive side, he might have taken home the right attitude which Tony Blair showed when faced with the atrocities of the terrorists in London. There was no mincing of words. No signs of apologia which could encourage AlQaeda and its bedfellows in various Muslim organisations in the U.K.

Dr. Manmohan Singh is endowed with honesty, integrity and a sharp mind. He has yet to show his determination in the face of opposition from his own party members. Political opportunism is not the way for the statesmen and great leaders. His understanding of India’s history, and awareness of economic stagnation in the first fifty years of India’s independence, have enabled him to formulate policies that are right for the country in these critical years. Only an enlightened Sikh knows the atrocities committed by Islamic fundamentalism in India. Only the follower of Guru Nanak can bring harmony among various religions, sects and castes of India. And it is the economist of Dr. Manmohan Singh’s calibre who can truly take India to the Club of Rich Nations, not as a guest, but as a full-fledged member. That day is not very far. We hope and pray.

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