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October - November 2005


Europe, India and Britain

by Krishan Ralleigh

At last, Europe and Britain have started taking cognizance of India’s growing economic power. Last month’s summit at Udaivilas Palace Hotel in Udaipur (Rajasthan) attended by Tony Blair as the President of European Union, Jose Manual Barroso, President of the European Commission and the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India concluded far-reaching agreements on various economic, military and diplomatic issues. At the top of the agenda was the issue of Islamic terrorism being faced by India for more than a decade; but to Europe and Britain a recent phenomenon, nonetheless a deadly one, as witnessed on July7th this year.

Tony Blair at a press conference said that they talked about “energy supplies, strategic stability and peace in the region”. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was interested in attracting more foreign investment, especially from Europe and Britain. He announced the two countries’ agreements “on co-operation in hydrocarbons which is important for our overall energy policy; a new air services agreement; an agreement on co-production of films; and an agreement on intellectual property rights.” The Prime Minister was well satisfied with the contents and the quality of the talks.

To fight terrorism, both Europe and India seem to have joined hands. Manmohan Singh asserted, “Terrorism has no religion, terrorists have no religion and they are friends of no religion. Tony Blair was more specific. He described terrorists as “a minority who seek to destroy civilised values. It arises out of the evil ideology. It comes from perversion of the true faith of Islam. Whether terrorism is in India or Britain, it is always utterly destructive.” He particularly emphasised that the rise of terrorism in the west was not because of their ‘failure’ to understand Islam but it arose from an evil theology. Security measures, however stringent would not tackle the ‘roots of terror’. “The roots”, said Tony Blair, “are the fanatical teachings which perverted Islam.” India has promised support to British draft resolution in the United Nation Security Council that would commit the member states to ‘fighting incitement to terrorism as well as terrorism itself.’

As a first step towards joint efforts to fight terrorism, the European Union and Britain have decided to work towards blocking access to terrorist financing and cooperate in the fight against money laundering. This decision, if strictly applied, will go a long way in reducing terrorist activities in Jammu & Kashmir. Unfortunately, Europe and Britain have been, till now, ambiguous regarding terrorism in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir.

India has the largest Muslim minority in the world. This, despite the break-up of India on the basis of religion by the British government under a Labour Prime Minister Mr Clement Attlee. Again, it was Britain, which was mainly responsible for the establishment of Israel as a state in 1948. Jews could trace their history with the present land of Israel. Anti-Semitism in Europe, especially in Germany under Hitler, brought Jewish exiles together and strengthened their resolve to have a State of their own.

Islamic terrorism grew out of the misconceived notion or ‘perverted theology’ that Muslims can not have allegiance to the State where they live as a minority. Hence, they should have a separate state of their own. The tragedy is that in almost all countries where Islam is the dominant religion, there is little democracy or freedom for minorities of whatever religion. Perversion of Islamic theology has been responsible for underachievement of Muslim women and for conflicts within Islam among different sects. The British are partly to blame for giving encouragement to such perverted theology. In India, Muslim rulers, prior to the British, had been ruling the country for centuries. There were Muslim as well as Hindu scholars, soldiers and commanders in the service of mighty Mughals. How come that the Muslims of India felt so insecure at the momentous hour of freedom that they resolved to break with their fellow Indians (of different religion) and began to call themselves ‘Pakistani’? . When any people on the basis of religion, acquire political power or privilege, it, inevitably, leads to fanaticism. Terrorism is the weapon of fanatics.

In Britain and Europe, the evolution of a democratic system has diminished the possibility of fanatics taking power. Although these elements are still around but kept under control by strong democratic practices. If democratic system is unable to provide, security, order and prosperity, the fanatics will rule the roost; and civil society as we know it will cease to exist. This happened, not so long ago, in Germany. Tomorrow, it may happen in Europe, USA or India. It is in the interest of all civilised societies that they come together to eradicate the world from religious fanaticism whether they are in our midst in Leeds or London or in India, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia. We hope that this strategic partnership between Europe and India will grow into a strong bond of friendship and enrich and strengthen their democratic way of life!

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