[The Times of India] needs a [NEW Columnist]

saiyar.jpgI have blogged about this issue before and since I find it so irritating, expect me to highlight them over and over. The most recent re-incarnation of the abuse of the Punjab Lesson comes from the always problematic Times of India. Swaminathan Aiyar, a libertarian columnist, in his Swaminomics has just written Pakistan needs a Beant Singh.

Decrying the truce reached by the Pakistani government and tribal forces in the Swat Valley, Aiyar sees parallels with India in the 1980s and specifically Punjab:

The Taliban’s rise in Pakistan has something in common with Bhindranwale’s rise in Punjab. A religious preacher, he sought to purge Sikhism of modern evils and return to pristine Sikhism. He was outraged by reformist Sikhs like the Nirankaris, and his followers killed many Nirankaris including the Nirankari Baba. [Emphasis added][link]

Nirkankaris were reformists? Claiming a living Guru that was greater than the Guru Granth Sahib and opening fire on protesting Sikhs in 1978 is reform? But I digress.

After repeated army rule and the abrogation of basic rights, Aiyar believes he has hit upon the solution:

In sum, all compromises with religious terror failed. So did Army rule. What finally succeeded was democracy with an iron fist. Fresh state elections in 1992 were boycotted by the Akalis, in line with terrorist warnings. Beant Singh, the new Congress chief minister, gave his police chief KPS Gill a free hand to crush terrorism. Gill unleashed state terror to counter Sikh terror, replicating tactics that the militants themselves used. In barely one year, he crushed a decade-old problem. [Emphasis added][link]

Leaving out the complexities of the insurgency in Punjab, for some reason this untruth the role of Gill – is always repeated in order to play down the role of the army and play down the role of the Indian State. Political scientist, Gurharpal Singh, has stated that it was ultimately the army, through flooding the Punjab with troops, that ultimately broke the back of the militancy and not Gill and the Punjab Police.

On one level here you have an open admission by a member of the Indian elite that the state conducted state terrorism in Punjab. Still it should be slightly disconcerting to all Indians that their newspapers always call for the abrogation of human rights and OPENLY justify and call for state terror as a tactic. It is repulsive and the claim of democracy with an iron fist that is willing to repeal the rights of its citizenry, in whose name it claims to serve, is not a true democracy a government where the people are sovereign. While this argument is hardly novel, still I do believe it is incumbent for Sikhs, Indians, and those concerned with human rights to call out idiots such as Aiyar that are willing to suggest the state terror as a tactic.


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32 Responses to “[The Times of India] needs a [NEW Columnist]”

  1. Harpreet Singh says:

    TOI sucks…a biased and one track minded newspaper.

  2. Harpreet Singh says:

    TOI sucks…a biased and one track minded newspaper.

  3. Akash Sachdev says:

    Let me start my long comment by stating that TOI might very well be aware that what is being printed and read may have just have some remote connection with the truth. They are very well comfortable with the fact that its readers are happy reading what is gratifying and what probably should be convenient to accept.

    I stay at Mumbai, and can safely say after a few observations that no one is too confident in calling Sant Bhindranwale a terrorist or a freedom fighter ..It could be because of lack of courage or awareness . More because of the second reason . it is specifically to such unaware readers that MR Swaminathan Aiyar does maximum damage by giving his one sided and out of context truth snippets. gthe article influnce the intellectual masses and gives something to satiate middle classe's anxiety pangs.

    It is in todays culture that what grabs the eyeball must be the truth….so what id it is twisted and twirled to get the eye balls.

    I can go on with the inaccuracies with the article and how the 2 political situation are intersecting rather than drawing parallels but what difference will it make here….the damage (in a small or big way )is already done.

  4. Akash Sachdev says:

    Let me start my long comment by stating that TOI might very well be aware that what is being printed and read may have just have some remote connection with the truth. They are very well comfortable with the fact that its readers are happy reading what is gratifying and what probably should be convenient to accept.

    I stay at Mumbai, and can safely say after a few observations that no one is too confident in calling Sant Bhindranwale a terrorist or a freedom fighter ..It could be because of lack of courage or awareness . More because of the second reason . it is specifically to such unaware readers that MR Swaminathan Aiyar does maximum damage by giving his one sided and out of context truth snippets. gthe article influnce the intellectual masses and gives something to satiate middle classe’s anxiety pangs.

    It is in todays culture that what grabs the eyeball must be the truth….so what id it is twisted and twirled to get the eye balls.

    I can go on with the inaccuracies with the article and how the 2 political situation are intersecting rather than drawing parallels but what difference will it make here….the damage (in a small or big way )is already done.

  5. Parminder Singh says:

    This article is an insult to all Sikhs, moderates and the other term Indians use for people who actually follow the tenets of Sikhi.

    having a living guru is like a group of Muslims having another prophet. The sikhs were ordered by Guru Gobind Singh "sabh Sikhan ko hukam hai,guru maniyo granth…" Anyone with a TV can hear this everyday recited in all Sikh gurdwaras, watch it on Ztv if you want.

    So saying "Nirankaris" were "reformist Sikhs" is a great insult to the Sikh faith. I honestly believe Hindus, in particular, overstep their ability to analyze the sikh faith at its basic level. This is a whole other topic.

    Promoting state terror as a model for other nations to follow is India's way of rubbing salt on the wounds of the people of Punjab. It is basically saying that we know we did inhumane things, but we don't care. This attitude will not make India stringer but will only enrage an already enraged community which was not defeated, but merely silenced.

    This man should take atrip not to America, but to the Golden temple in Punjab, where baba Bhindrawala's picture hanngs. Yes, in the Golden Temple museum.

    IT's not that sikhs and hindus can't get along. I think the problem is the arrogance of the majority community. They think they know the sikh faith inside out, they know what's best for the religion better than practicing sikhs.

    maybe if the majority community actually took the time to use some common sense, Punjab would never had been an issue.

    Finally, Indian propaganda is strong but very stupid. Most Indians say Bhindrawaala incited Hindu Sikh violence. Well someone needs to ask these geniuses that if the problem was between Sikhs and "reformist Sikhs", where did teh Hindus come into all of this? Is is that "reformist Sikhs" are actually Hindus? what's the deal?

    At least get your propaganda in order.

    Gurfateh!

  6. Parminder Singh says:

    This article is an insult to all Sikhs, moderates and the other term Indians use for people who actually follow the tenets of Sikhi.

    having a living guru is like a group of Muslims having another prophet. The sikhs were ordered by Guru Gobind Singh “sabh Sikhan ko hukam hai,guru maniyo granth…” Anyone with a TV can hear this everyday recited in all Sikh gurdwaras, watch it on Ztv if you want.

    So saying “Nirankaris” were “reformist Sikhs” is a great insult to the Sikh faith. I honestly believe Hindus, in particular, overstep their ability to analyze the sikh faith at its basic level. This is a whole other topic.

    Promoting state terror as a model for other nations to follow is India’s way of rubbing salt on the wounds of the people of Punjab. It is basically saying that we know we did inhumane things, but we don’t care. This attitude will not make India stringer but will only enrage an already enraged community which was not defeated, but merely silenced.

    This man should take atrip not to America, but to the Golden temple in Punjab, where baba Bhindrawala’s picture hanngs. Yes, in the Golden Temple museum.

    IT’s not that sikhs and hindus can’t get along. I think the problem is the arrogance of the majority community. They think they know the sikh faith inside out, they know what’s best for the religion better than practicing sikhs.

    maybe if the majority community actually took the time to use some common sense, Punjab would never had been an issue.

    Finally, Indian propaganda is strong but very stupid. Most Indians say Bhindrawaala incited Hindu Sikh violence. Well someone needs to ask these geniuses that if the problem was between Sikhs and “reformist Sikhs”, where did teh Hindus come into all of this? Is is that “reformist Sikhs” are actually Hindus? what’s the deal?

    At least get your propaganda in order.

    Gurfateh!

  7. L Singh says:

    The reason why the Pakistanis have not carried out a Punjab solution in their country is that they care about their citizens. Beant was a failed politician who acted on Delhi's orders as a mercenary. The Indian forces treat minorities as enemies and act accordingly with the 1984 attack on Gurdwaras and Nov 84 massacres a case in point. Indian forces carried out large scale killings of Sikhs after 1984 as documented by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. No Pakistan does not need a Beant if they want to live in the civilised modern world.

  8. L Singh says:

    The reason why the Pakistanis have not carried out a Punjab solution in their country is that they care about their citizens. Beant was a failed politician who acted on Delhi’s orders as a mercenary. The Indian forces treat minorities as enemies and act accordingly with the 1984 attack on Gurdwaras and Nov 84 massacres a case in point. Indian forces carried out large scale killings of Sikhs after 1984 as documented by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. No Pakistan does not need a Beant if they want to live in the civilised modern world.

  9. rocco says:

    There is a huge double standard in India. Noone points their fingers at Bal Thackeray or Modi who have perfected the art of "ethnic cleansing." Jodha great job again on bringing these issues to the forefront. I am very glad he clarified that it was the Indian Army that supressing the Punjab struggle not the Punjab Police. It is only to convenient not to talk about them and forget them.

  10. rocco says:

    There is a huge double standard in India. Noone points their fingers at Bal Thackeray or Modi who have perfected the art of “ethnic cleansing.” Jodha great job again on bringing these issues to the forefront. I am very glad he clarified that it was the Indian Army that supressing the Punjab struggle not the Punjab Police. It is only to convenient not to talk about them and forget them.

  11. prabhjot singh says:

    After all its the killing of innocient people, rapping of womans, destruction. Recently a group of people in Mumbai stromed a jewwlery shop in mumbai whose name resembled with the name of terrorist caught live in mumbai. they forced him to shell out a huge some of money or they will burn his shop because of its name. These people didn't helped any of the victim with that money, rather it was used for drinking liquor, and in red areas on womans, and yesterday i some people were call them heroes and comparing them with ramji (Hindu God), So fools r these people.

  12. prabhjot singh says:

    After all its the killing of innocient people, rapping of womans, destruction. Recently a group of people in Mumbai stromed a jewwlery shop in mumbai whose name resembled with the name of terrorist caught live in mumbai. they forced him to shell out a huge some of money or they will burn his shop because of its name. These people didn’t helped any of the victim with that money, rather it was used for drinking liquor, and in red areas on womans, and yesterday i some people were call them heroes and comparing them with ramji (Hindu God), So fools r these people.

  13. Reply by a reader on TOI website:
    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/opinions/41670
    ———————————————————

    Readers Opinions

    Write to Editor

    Pakistan needs a Beant Singh

    charanjit singh,mumbai,says:Mr. Aiyar, This has reference to your article- Pakistan needs Beant Singh, The Times of India- dated 22/02/2009. I picked up the Sunday times specifically expecting a great piece of work on the current political or economic scenario, from you. I have always been a fan of your analysis of any given situation, be it social, political or economic. Your examination and inquiry of any given event has always been simple, lucid and indeed insightful. The referred article has been quite a simplification of current events in swat valley in Pakistan but your suggestions and insights, surprisingly, were too majority appeasing. Your critique starts with a mention of two mistakes-Read monsters Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and Prabhakaran. While you have presented an intricate analysis of the Sikh problem, your article doesn't give a passing reference to Prabhakaran in the later part. I fail to understand whether it is ignorance or an act of deliberate omission. Further, you have remarkably referred to the pseudo Nirankaris as reformist Sikhs while you have taken great personal liberty of branding Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale as a fundamentalist, outraged by these reformists. Just to bring to your knowledge, the reformist so-called liberal Nirankaris, so-referred by you, have long back been ostracized by the Sikh community from the Sikh Diaspora at large, according to a Hukumnama issued, from the seat of highest temporal authority of the Sikhs- the Akal Takht. It was these reformist Sikhs who had attacked innocent Sikhs in 1978, killing 12 Sikhs including Bhai Fauja Singh, not to mention the sacrilege of Siri Guru Granth Sahib- the center of Sikh faith, with sheer audacity by the then Nirankari leader Gurbachan Singh; even the media of that day had made Sikhs the villains. Jarnail Singh bhindranwale, as you have observed, was never trying to pull Sikhism to its orthodox most, rather he was just reminding the Sikhs and others around, the spiritual and political aspects of Sikh thought, which envisage, political sovereignty as a must for any spiritual development. It was his earnest desire to remind Sikhs how they had been duped and cheated by the majority community right from the time of partition. Alas a spiritual Sikh preacher that he basically was, he become an easy prey to selfish congressmen on one side and the intransigent and politically immature Akalis on the other. While you agree that the attack on Golden Temple had sprung extremist groups far large in numbers than ever before, whereby even drastic measures including army rule had also failed. This goes to show that the preachings of Bhindranwale had not emerged from a mere vacuum of shallow political ambition, but were populist measures; these measures had found their connections amongst average Sikhs of Punjab and around the world, who before this had been too pre-occupied with making two ends meet and had forgotten how blatantly they had been deceived. Finally you have mentioned that what succeeded in Punjab was democracy with an iron fist. While you have cited some time before in your review of Fareed Zakaria's book that democracy doesn't necessarily ensure liberty. This maxim according to me can't find a more befitting place than the Punjab. I hope your articles in future would attempt to heal wounds created in the past rather than create fresh ones. With Regards Charanjit Singh Mumbai P.S. I sincerely wish Pakistan adheres to your suggestion of having a Beant Singh along with a maverick like KPS Gill, but I also hope that the mavericks so planted don't meet an end as that of Beant Singh. I also fail to understand the obsession of Indian media with people like KPS Gill, branding them heroes, while they may be having their hands full of innocent blood and lakhs of human rights cases against them.

    [24 Feb, 2009 1404hrs IST]

  14. Reply by a reader on TOI website:
    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/opinions/4167078.cms
    ———————————————————
    Readers Opinions
    Write to Editor
    Pakistan needs a Beant Singh
    charanjit singh,mumbai,says:Mr. Aiyar, This has reference to your article- Pakistan needs Beant Singh, The Times of India- dated 22/02/2009. I picked up the Sunday times specifically expecting a great piece of work on the current political or economic scenario, from you. I have always been a fan of your analysis of any given situation, be it social, political or economic. Your examination and inquiry of any given event has always been simple, lucid and indeed insightful. The referred article has been quite a simplification of current events in swat valley in Pakistan but your suggestions and insights, surprisingly, were too majority appeasing. Your critique starts with a mention of two mistakes-Read monsters Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and Prabhakaran. While you have presented an intricate analysis of the Sikh problem, your article doesn’t give a passing reference to Prabhakaran in the later part. I fail to understand whether it is ignorance or an act of deliberate omission. Further, you have remarkably referred to the pseudo Nirankaris as reformist Sikhs while you have taken great personal liberty of branding Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale as a fundamentalist, outraged by these reformists. Just to bring to your knowledge, the reformist so-called liberal Nirankaris, so-referred by you, have long back been ostracized by the Sikh community from the Sikh Diaspora at large, according to a Hukumnama issued, from the seat of highest temporal authority of the Sikhs- the Akal Takht. It was these reformist Sikhs who had attacked innocent Sikhs in 1978, killing 12 Sikhs including Bhai Fauja Singh, not to mention the sacrilege of Siri Guru Granth Sahib- the center of Sikh faith, with sheer audacity by the then Nirankari leader Gurbachan Singh; even the media of that day had made Sikhs the villains. Jarnail Singh bhindranwale, as you have observed, was never trying to pull Sikhism to its orthodox most, rather he was just reminding the Sikhs and others around, the spiritual and political aspects of Sikh thought, which envisage, political sovereignty as a must for any spiritual development. It was his earnest desire to remind Sikhs how they had been duped and cheated by the majority community right from the time of partition. Alas a spiritual Sikh preacher that he basically was, he become an easy prey to selfish congressmen on one side and the intransigent and politically immature Akalis on the other. While you agree that the attack on Golden Temple had sprung extremist groups far large in numbers than ever before, whereby even drastic measures including army rule had also failed. This goes to show that the preachings of Bhindranwale had not emerged from a mere vacuum of shallow political ambition, but were populist measures; these measures had found their connections amongst average Sikhs of Punjab and around the world, who before this had been too pre-occupied with making two ends meet and had forgotten how blatantly they had been deceived. Finally you have mentioned that what succeeded in Punjab was democracy with an iron fist. While you have cited some time before in your review of Fareed Zakaria’s book that democracy doesn’t necessarily ensure liberty. This maxim according to me can’t find a more befitting place than the Punjab. I hope your articles in future would attempt to heal wounds created in the past rather than create fresh ones. With Regards Charanjit Singh Mumbai P.S. I sincerely wish Pakistan adheres to your suggestion of having a Beant Singh along with a maverick like KPS Gill, but I also hope that the mavericks so planted don’t meet an end as that of Beant Singh. I also fail to understand the obsession of Indian media with people like KPS Gill, branding them heroes, while they may be having their hands full of innocent blood and lakhs of human rights cases against them.
    [24 Feb, 2009 1404hrs IST]

  15. Harinder says:

    His knowledge of SIKHS is poor and he should read more about SIKHS .

  16. Harinder says:

    His knowledge of SIKHS is poor and he should read more about SIKHS .

  17. Trident says:

    Parminder Singh,

    That post was bang on.

  18. Trident says:

    Parminder Singh,

    That post was bang on.

  19. charanjit says:

    I suggest the responses should be sent to the TOI website so that apart from every one else even the writer gets to know these responses.Below is the link to post your comments.

    Guru Fateh

    Charanjit Singh

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Opinion/Column

  20. charanjit says:

    I suggest the responses should be sent to the TOI website so that apart from every one else even the writer gets to know these responses.Below is the link to post your comments.
    Guru Fateh
    Charanjit Singh

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Opinion/Columnists/Pakistan-needs-a-Beant-Singh/articleshow/4167078.cms#write

  21. Jaspreet says:

    There is no parallel between Taliban movement and Punjab Dharam Yudh Morcha. Swaminathan's column reflects lack of knowledge on Punjab's problem and Sikhs. His comment "Religion and violence make a very dangerous mix." is true in present Indian state where Hindu Fundamentalists kill minorities and are at large. No fake encounters, no death penalty for Hindu Fundamentalists but when it comes to other minorities Swaminathan has a label to give. I can see TOI is creating an opinion thru these columns. Same old dirty practice

    Jas.

  22. Jaspreet says:

    There is no parallel between Taliban movement and Punjab Dharam Yudh Morcha. Swaminathan’s column reflects lack of knowledge on Punjab’s problem and Sikhs. His comment “Religion and violence make a very dangerous mix.” is true in present Indian state where Hindu Fundamentalists kill minorities and are at large. No fake encounters, no death penalty for Hindu Fundamentalists but when it comes to other minorities Swaminathan has a label to give. I can see TOI is creating an opinion thru these columns. Same old dirty practice

    Jas.

  23. RISHI says:

    The SANT NIRANKARI MISSION is an all Embracing Spiritual movement, cutting across all considerations of caste, color and creed.

    The Mission seeks to reveal God to all human beings irrespective of their religious faith, sect or community and thus liberate them from the shackles of ignorance, superstition, ritualism and dogmatism in the name of devotion to God.

    It firmly believes that the realization of God is the real objective of human life and this can be achieved only through the benevolence of the living true master… THE SATGURU.

    The realization of God not only maintains balance between spirituality and materialism in day to day life, But also takes a person spontaneously to the cherished achievement of brotherhood of mankind which leads to peaceful co-existence.

    The meditation here is to feel existence of God all the time everywhere. The mission also emphasizes the need and importance of the company of fellow enlightened beings (SATSANG) and selfless service to humanity (SEWA).

  24. RISHI says:

    The SANT NIRANKARI MISSION is an all Embracing Spiritual movement, cutting across all considerations of caste, color and creed.

    The Mission seeks to reveal God to all human beings irrespective of their religious faith, sect or community and thus liberate them from the shackles of ignorance, superstition, ritualism and dogmatism in the name of devotion to God.

    It firmly believes that the realization of God is the real objective of human life and this can be achieved only through the benevolence of the living true master THE SATGURU.

    The realization of God not only maintains balance between spirituality and materialism in day to day life, But also takes a person spontaneously to the cherished achievement of brotherhood of mankind which leads to peaceful co-existence.

    The meditation here is to feel existence of God all the time everywhere. The mission also emphasizes the need and importance of the company of fellow enlightened beings (SATSANG) and selfless service to humanity (SEWA).

  25. harinder says:

    It killed SIKHS on 13 Apr 78.

    So how is it all embracing ?

  26. harinder says:

    It killed SIKHS on 13 Apr 78.
    So how is it all embracing ?

  27. […] always (or at least usually) stupid Times of India at least provides us some context: According to police sources, Kumar had […]

  28. […] many occasions, I have noted my dismay at the joke of journalism that calls itself the Times of India. They never cease to provide stupid nonsensical and […]

  29. Imran says:

    TOI today is more inclined towards getting new ads n papers are focused mostly on ads. i think they need to start thinking over more serious news than making the appear like an AD MAGAZINE..

    GOOD DAY.

  30. Sher says:

    Nirkankaris were reformists? Claiming a living Guru that was greater than the Guru Granth Sahib and opening fire on protesting Sikhs in 1978 is reform? "
    Why this intolerance Jodha?
    Why a faith cannot have a living Guru? I find your assertion about Nirankaris claiming their Guru to be greater than SGGS a bit hard to believe. Since you are a highly accomplished scholar (no, i am not trying to flatter you), I cannot believe that you are giving such a twisted account of the Nirankari-Khalsa clash on the Baisakhi day 1978.
    Simple question: Where did the clash happen?
    Ans: It happened inside the ‘pandal’ where Nirankari convention was being held with the permission of Akali-BJP government led by PS Badal. While every writer mentions the killing of 13 Sikhs including Fauja Singh of AKJ, the murder of three Nirankaris is conveniently glossed over. You seemed to be appalled at the thoughts of Niranakis/Police opening fire in self-defense over a frenzied group of sword-wielding Sikhs who killed three Nirankaris.