Random Thoughts

Demography : Policy and Destiny

The current decision by Israel to withdraw from Gaza at the cost of irritating the 9000 settlers is not some altruistic charity. There are over a million Palestinians who would become voters if Israel absorbed them. Israel's dilemma is between to continue being a democratic but Jewish state or expanding its territory to include a majority of Palestinians deprived of vote and power and thus become a slave state. It had hoped that the return of the Jewish Diaspora would be sufficient to swamp the statistically increasing growth of the predominantly Muslim Palestinian population. Individuals unfortunately vote with their feet primarily for economic security which trumps freedom, civic rights, ethnic and religious identity, as the migrations of Muslims to Europe, division of British India and the further fissions and turmoil of Pakistan demonstrate.. The example of African-Americans choosing to stay on in racially segregated America of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the clinging of discriminated Indians to dishonorable second class citizenship in apartheid South Africa in the twentieth century, clearly prove that freedom and civil rights take a subsidiary position to economic security. As the Sanskrit adage states, "Bubhukshitam kim na karoti papam". What sin will a hungry person not commit? What it implies is not fully appreciated by literal translation, like much deliberately ambiguous dual meaning wisdom, that is the charm of Sanskrit. For in defining a hungry person, it reflects superficially on the fullness of the contents of the stomach, while implying metaphorically the insatiable nature of the appetite of desire, often never satisfied.

There are other factors about demographics that determine far more important aspects of nation states and their foreign policies. One of the lesser known examples is Mexico's encouragement of white migrants into its territory of Texas in the earlier part of the nineteenth century. This led to a majority of American whites in the region, with their eventually increased economic power and the inevitable desire for political power. Texas, then became an independent republic and eventually a state of the US, together with Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona and California to the detriment of Mexico and loss of half its territory. The current legal and illegal immigration by Mexicans is a major worry for the US to prevent reversal of this past serendipitous good fortune.

The need for cheap labor and jobs that natives are unwilling to do, creates a conflict between economics and politics. The rise of vigilante groups to extra judicially police the borders of America with Mexico, is a direct consequence of this conflict. There is another legitimate worry that the demographic rise of a Latino minority will force the proverbially unprincipled politicians to pander to them for the vote banks and thus weaken the political and economic power of the dominant Anglos. The overwhelming economic and media power of a numerically insignificant Jewish lobby in America has tilted its foreign policy towards Israel. An equally important factor is the need to dominate and control the energy rich Arab states with the collusion of their corrupt leaders and the complete absence of a significant economically and politically powerful Arab or Muslim voting power bloc in America. Thus, minorities with power can guide the foreign policies of a nation to its long term detriment due to the willingness of elected officials and their lust for perpetuation of their power.

This conundrum is what Europe faces. France with a nearly 10% Muslim population has significantly moderated its foreign policy to be pro-Arab to prevent domestic unrest and terrorism. India's pro-Palestinian foreign policy for nearly fifty years was based on preventing unrest in its large Muslim minority and to prevent domestic unrest, rather than some high moral standards or an unflinching commitment to them. It was the failure of this policy to win any fairness or reciprocity from the Organization of Islamic States committed to blindly backing the Islamic Ummah and their refusal of participatory or observer status to India at Pakistan's behest, that led to final disillusionment and re-evaluation of reflexive and failing policies.

There is however, another long term time bomb that Europe is beginning to face and worry about. It is a fact of life that economically and educationally disadvantaged persons tend to have higher birthrates and because of its backward and orthodox nature, Islam fits the bill. This means that Muslim populations in all countries have far higher growth rates. In democratic countries this inevitably leads to greater political influence and a temptation for politicians who are almost universally scum buckets to sell out ideals, future and country to cater and pander to these captive vote banks. India which has suffered prior partition should be acutely aware of this problem, but still suffers from this malady with resultant winking at illegal migration from Bangladesh for economic reasons. It provides venal office seekers with a captive vote bank and election victory, translated into individual personal gain by politicians who are almost uniformly vermin. It is immaterial to the power hungry that this is a major threat to the integrity and security of the nation.

Denmark, Britain and Netherlands, formerly liberal countries have taken the Draconian step of restricting or making immigration for new spouses of immigrants. While marriage between Indian and Pakistani Muslims is not a significant problem, the flooding of Bangladeshi immigrants is a dangerous demographic disaster to the detriment of a secular India. No intelligent liberal wants to take the Israeli position of religious discrimination. The militant antipathy of those converted by bribery and the constricted nature of Abrahamic religions with their arrogant certitude, proselytizing philosophy and narrow minded derogatory and hostile attitudes to native religions, is a worrisome danger difficult to counter by a secular or tolerant Hindu majority. There are Indian Christians, Muslims and leftist Hindus in America who make a concerted effort to condemn India and sabotage any co-operation between the United States and India to the point of national harm. While they pontificate their high ideals, most are either stupidly impractical, misguided idealists or self-loathing zealots like male chauvinists willing to commit suicide to make their wives discriminated and socially handicapped widows. Earlier, I had rejoiced that India did not have immigrants in the West who hated their own country like Cubans, Iranians or Vietnamese, whose reasons are more economic than political, but there are a growing number of such zealots who receive funding and encouragement from vested interests and local partisan American zealots. One must give credit to Ashley Tellis and his similar cohorts of first generation Indian immigrants who have switched allegiance without severing emotional ties or a sense of fairness, but there are a lot of Amichands and Mir Jaffars willing to betray for instant benefits, a few minutes of limelight or a religious hostility for no rational reasons.

While it is important to be vigilant and counter their false propaganda, it is of greater importance for India and Indians to be inclusive, eliminate discrimination, uplift the masses to prevent conversion by bribery, which could lead to further partition or dismemberment of India. This is the aim of our enemies, some of whom are wolves in sheep's clothing, masquerading as do-gooders and well-wishers. The intent is not to become paranoid or conspiracy theorists like some of our own Hindu fanatics, but to be consistently cognizant, perennially vigilant and skeptically analytic, without becoming obsessively suspicious, destructively cynical, pathologically xenophobic or incurably bigoted. 


More by :  Gaurang Bhatt, MD

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