Thursday, December 4, 2008

How The Mumbai Attacks Change Everything in India


Stanford professor Rafiq Dossani wrote in a paper titled, "Prospects Brighten for Long-term Peace in South Asia" that radicalism in Pakistan relies on the military, and Indian economic growth made armed conflict unreasonable.

Dossani, who will appear Dec. 11 at the Commonwealth Club of California to speak about India's future as a world superpower, may have made a controversial reading of the future of the Indian subcontinent when he wrote: "Hindu radicalism in India, though gaining in both popular and political support, is insufficiently popular to support irrational aggression against Pakistan."

That was until last week's terrorist attacks in Mumbai changed everything.

Robert D. Kaplan writes a fascinating, yet boiled-down version of Indian relations between Muslims and Hindus on There are 154 million Muslims in India. Only Indonesia and Pakistan has a larger population. According to Kaplan, India has more to lose from Islamic fundamentalism than any other nation. With the rise of India as an economic powerhouse, the ruling Hindu middle class has created a new national narrative that has excluded the region's Islamic history:

Indians, especially the new Hindu middle class, began a search for roots to anchor them inside an insipid world civilization that they were joining as a result of their new economic status. This enhanced status, by the way, gave them new insecurities, as they suddenly had wealth to protect.

Just as 9/11 hardened national securities issues supported by many military hawks in the U.S., experts believe that the Mumbai attacks could push Indians toward a government more strident in its view of radical Muslims.

The party leader of the opposition Indian People's Party (BJP) is already ratcheting up an aggressive stance against Pakistan before national elections in a few months from now.

"Let us not forget, the 26/11 strike is not just another terrorist incident," said Rajnath Singh, "This is a declaration of an open war against India by terrorists and their perpetrators."

Criticism of the Indian government and reaction to the world media's use of September 11 imagery to describe last week's siege has been skeptical. A New York Times Op-Ed yesterday says "9/11" is not an apt metaphor for the attacks, and a column in The Nation says Mumbai is a domestic issue, not a part of a so-called "global jihad."

Dossani along with Sabeer Bhatia, co-founder, Hotmail and; entrepreneur
Kanwal Rekhi, managing director, Inventus Capital Partners; venture capitalist; philanthropist, and Ananya Roy, Ph.D., associate dean of Academic Affairs International & Area Studies, UC Berkeley, will discuss India's future growth toward superpower status at The Commonwealth Club of California Dec. 11 at 6 p.m.


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