Sunday, 18 April 2010

Narendra Modi and the doctrine of 'command responsibility'

The doctrine of 'command responsibility' holds that that the person holding command is responsible for the actions of his subordinates, including acts of omission.
The allegation against Narendra Modi is that he either himself abetted, or at the very least failed to prevent, heinous acts of violence in the aftermath of the Godhra atrocity.
In Indian law, Modi would face criminal charges if admissible evidence substantiates the allegation.
A separate question- one relating to the chances of success of court cases filed against Modi, on Human Rights grounds, in a foreign jurisdiction or one founded upon a claim for damages under the U.S Alien Torts Claims Acts- has to do with 'command responsibility'.
This begs the question as to whether Modi had inherited a machinery of State that was fit for purpose and, as such, amenable to command.
What are we to say of a State where, in 1992, the police were in the pockets of a gangster (who also financed the Congress party) who assasinates a senior Congress M.P who was about to present damaging information about him to the Central Home Minister? The same gangster, together with a former Congress Minister of Fisheries, then arranges a terror attack on Surat in response to the Babri Masjid demolition before fleeing to Pakistan.
Modi, over the years, may well have eliminated at least the criminal/terrorist/police nexus. But, in a democratic set up, how much further can he go to break the nexus between land sharks and corrupt policemen? What of illicit liqor, the flesh trade, drugs and the various other ills associated with rising material prosperity?
As for religious and caste prejudices- can his mantra 'all religions are equal paths to God' really prevail?
Modi was brought into Gujerati politics because he was neither a Patel nor a Kshatriya. He was supposed to confine himself to speech making and, perhaps, building bridges to adivasis and marginalized farmers. His response to the Kutch earthquake showed the calibre of the man. But Godhra should have cut him off at the legs. Riots are the means used by the middle level party bosses to render the guy at the top impotent. It's all about countervailing power. The middle level guys are paid off by the criminals who then themselves can rise to become political figures.
Modi essentially took responsibility for the post Godhra riots, utterly obscene though they were, thus rising above his rivals and concentrating power in his hands. With the courage of desperation he then brokered a deal with the farmers whereby they gave up free electricity in return for an assured power supply at night at a lower rate. This was only one of many path-breaking initiatives that he took. Some see Modi's manic energy, post-Godhra, as a psychological defence against the horrors of the riots. What is unquestionable is that Modi changed how Government and Society interacted.
His attitude towards Panchayat Raj- where he encouraged unanimous voting in elections- indicate his supicion of the political instrumenalization of disorder that is the other side of the coin of party politics.
Modi refers again and again to the fact that he wasn't involved in student politics and held no elected office until parachuted in by the BJP high command.
Both Godhra and its aftermath were the inevitable result of a corrupt political process in which not just criminals but also terrorists could be used to appeal to 'vote-banks'. The hilarious story of Ram Vilas Paswan taking along an Osama bin Laden look alike to gather Muslim votes shows how cynical our politicians are.
In this context, Modi's moral as well as 'command responsibility' for the post-Godhra riots pales into insignificance when compared to the hereditary masters of the Nation's destiny.
But, what's next for Modi? Sooner or later the very prosperity he has helped create will fuel a demand for change. Patels and other forward sections have attractive candidates of their own. A lot of money is being made in Gujarat. 'Rent seeking' has enormous scope for expansion. Few public officials and politicians like seeing money go straight to the poor through Garib Kalyan Melas.
And, without Modi, the necessity for communal riots will once again make itself felt. After all, how else are elections to be won?

8 comments:

Sanjay K said...

The heinous rape and murder of the daughter of, former M.P, Ehsan Jaffri, as reported by Arundhati Roy, cries out for vengeance.
However, since the victim was living in America at the time and remained unaware of her lamentable fate, WE MUST MOVE BEYOND MODI TO NAB THE BIGGER CRIMINAL GEORGE BUSH!
This is because the worst type of rape and murder is the one where even the victim is too intimidated or 'brain-washed' (see Noam Chomsky on 'manufacture of consent') to realize it has happened and to report the matter properly to Teesta Setalvad or other responsible N.G.O entrepreneurs.
As Osama bin Laden has mentioned, millions of innocent Muslims are being butchered right now on every street in every country of world. The fact that we can not see these atrocities, or that those being killed and raped may continue to go about their normal business oblivious to the horror of their plight, should not stop us from reporting on these incidents or lobbying for action to be taken against their perpetrators.

Sonal said...

I'd advise you to read Achyut Yagnik on the background to Modi. http://www.crisisstates.com/download/india/yagnik&sud.pdf
Modi wasn't brought in because of a conflict between Patels and Kshatriyas. Keshubhai fell because of resentment of RSS favoritism within the BJP especially at grass-roots level.

windwheel said...

Keshubhai Patel was replaced because of poor showing in local panchayat elections. Though allegations of RSS favoritism may have been raised, the fact remains tht the RSS is not a cohesive entity when it comes to vote grabbing and 'kissa kursi ka'. R.S.S svayamsevaks turn upon each other with the same alacrity as Congress wallahs. The career of Shankarsingh Vaghela, or the 2004 attempted rebellion against Modi amply illustrate this point.
The truth is that there were and remain substantial governance and development issues for voters to concern themselves with. Modi's achievements are impressive but it is not true that he leads a disciplined cadre based mass movement where all party memebers holding elected office are loyal and selfless.
Gujerat would have progressed much better if
1) more C.M's had completed their term
2) the centre had not interfered by imposing their own vote-catching formulae or promoting their own candidates.

Sonal said...

I think you are wrong about the R.S.S.
It is not the case of a few extremists giving a bad name but, instead, of a type of deception whereby the extremists represent the true beliefs of the organisation.
I refer you to the findings of the Liberhan Commission (link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberhan_Commission)
It is quite useless to use terms like doctrine of command responsibility and so forth. Kalyan Singh was C.M at the time of Babri demolition. Uma Bharti, Vagehela and Advani were right on the scene. Vajpayeee's own speech says unambiguously that kar sevaks can go ahead with everything except actual building of temple for which Court approval was pending. Here is the relevant quote- 'I will tell you the arth (meaning) of the Supreme Court verdict. It does not mean we have to stop kar seva. Actually, the Supreme Court has given us the right to continue kar seva. Rokne ka to sawal hi nahin hai (There is no question of stopping us). Tomorrow we will not be violating any court order if we perform kar seva. It is however true that the Supreme Court has ruled that till the Lucknow bench announces its decision, you people cannot do mandir nirman (construction of temple)."
Now the organisers of the rally had given undertakings to the Court that no damage would be done to the structure. It is pointless to say that they had no control or that the actual work was done by 'government agents'. The court was defied. A criminal action was committed. But, after 19 years, what action has been taken?
You have raised a false objection by saying 'state was not amenable to control' hence Modi bears no guilt. According to you he is a Nero who held no power, possessed no praetorian guard, and played the fiddle while Rome burned because that was the custom and religious observance of that time.
The illogic of your position is revealed when you praise him for Earthquake relief work in Bhuj and so on. If R.S.S volunteers could arrive quickly before the army to help the survivors, why not to restore law and order- an easier task?
This is not a logical post and shows confused thinking or partisan agenda.
Sorry to be blunt.

windwheel said...

I think the R.S.S takes pride in two types of activity which are linked in their minds
1) socially useful and patriotic actions e.g. earthquake relief which have the effect of promoting discipline and esprit d'corps among participants
2) violent actions including 'defence' against the violence of some other community- or taking an eye-for-an-eye vengeance.
The R.S.S does have a lot of positive points- e.g opposition to caste, opportunity to gain discipline and organisational and communications skills and hence can serve as a spring board into public life.
I imagine RSS volunteers would have turned up at Bhuj no matter who was C.M and they would have wanted to 'punish' Muslims after Godhra no matter what Modi did.
When Keshubhai falls out with Modi, what could the R.S.S head honcho do about it? Absolutely nothing.
Modi attracted support because of his R.S.S connection but he support was not command. He had some power, being C.M (which he exercised by calling in the Army) but riots aren't one of the things C.M's have a lot of power over.
Could he have done more? Sure. But why would he want to? Certainly, it is possible that someone has him on tape saying 'kill and spare not'- but even then, is it bluster on his part or an actual command.
He'd been in office for five or six months. Life expectancy for C.Mships in Gujerat was what? ten months? eighteen months? He'd look better as the strong man who orders the carnage than the impotent guy who can do nothing except wait for the ARmy to show up.
Incidentally, w.r.t Vajpayee, you are sullying the memory of a great spiritual saint who went on a fast to death to save the Govt. of Kalyan Singh from Evil Governor Romesh Bhandari. Billions of Hindus all over the world wept tears of blood as the saintly Atalji literally wasted away before our eyes. I remember praying to Bharat Mata at that time saying- "Mummy, please make him stop! I can't bear it any more! Has the world ever witnessed such a piteous sight?"
Goddess showed compassion to me by telling me to fuck off and like get a proper job you drunken little turd.

Sonal said...

I think you are in denial about a plain fact. The RSS and the Sangh Parivar are anti-minority. They want Christians and Muslims to feel that they are second class citizens and that they should constantly be looking over their shoulder to ensure that they do not unwittingly give offence. In other words, they want to turn India into Pakistan. But would you really be very comfortable in Hindutvaland? No alcohol, non-veg restaurants relegated to the red light district, ban on all books or films or T.V series which might be objectionable to Hindus, no Valentine's day, public money spent on Yagnyas for Rain and cow's urine and Ganga jal instead of proper medicines.
Did you notice that some RSS nutjob is asking the Sikhs to chuck out the devotional poems of Baba Farid and other Muslim saints on the grounds that 'Muslim faqirs are not true faqirs'.
So how would you like being a citizen in Modi's Reich? No Urdu ghazals, no gin and tonic, no biryani- no doubt, it will be discovered, Taj Mahal was built on the samadhi of some Yogi or the other- demolish it.
Then maybe you will be happy.

windwheel said...

My dear Sir (or is it Madam?) I never said Taj Mahal should be demolished! I only asked that it should be taken over by C.P.W.D and repaired to a proper standard. This will necessitate bringing in some foreign experts and contractors. For just a few trillion Rupees the whole place can be flattened in time for the Commonwealth Games.
Statue of Mayawatiji destroying the Mulayam Singh Yadav demon should be erected on the spot. Environmental protection and conservation of wild life is also important. Place can be declared a tiger reserve.
By all means our brothers in R.S.S and Taliban and Naxalbari should be welcomed to give their input. Capacity for corruption is infinite and NO INDIAN POLITICIAN IS BEYOND HOPE OF REDEMPTION!
Matching capacity for corruption is colossal ineptitude. This is the safeguard of our cherished liberties.
My message is message of peas and reconciliation.
My dream is of a united India where Muslims will spontaneously cry out Vande Mataram while pocketing bribes and Hindus will bomb each other on behalf of al Qaeeda (which should be merged with B.C.C.I)
My only request is that National Anthem be changed to
India good, India nice
Indians eating plenty rice
India nice, India good
Thoughts of India give me wood.
It is my own composition and royalties should be paid tax-free.

Sonal said...

I think you are trivializing this issue. Modi is an admirer of Hitler. School textbooks in Gujarat have been changed to praise Hitler. You say you have faith only in corruption and factionalism. What sort of political philosophy is that?
India is sleep-walking towards disaster. People like you are too shallow minded to realize the danger.