What Modi told Cameron about Kashmir’s self-determination

The two leaders have a heart-to-heart conversation on the ex British PM’s last day in office.

On his last day at 10, Downing Street, a gloomy British prime minister David Cameron decides, on an impulse, to personally express his thanks to some heads of government he’s known during his period in office. The calls are short and businesslike.

Not so when it reaches the Indian prime minister. Narendra Modi feels that Cameron needs consolation, but could also do with a bit of advice (it is also easier to advise the leader of a P5 state when he is out of power). After initial pleasantries the conversation goes something like this:

Modi: Brother, I hope you don’t mind it, but I must tell you that calling all those referendums was wrong.

Cameron: What “all” referendums? I had only two – Brexit and Scottish independence.

M: But two is too many bhai. You should only have such things when you are very, very sure to win.

C: Yes, yes, I thought that I would win. That’s why I called the referendum, but something went wrong. But nevertheless, we have to have voting in a democracy.

M: Yes brother, of course, of course. We know that. We are the world’s largest democracy you know. We have elections all the time – parliamentary elections, Assembly elections, municipal and panchayat elections. We even have elections in Kashmir. And if they don’t want to vote our army boys see that they vote. They push the Kashmiris to exercise their democratic right. We make sure that our democracy works.

C: But some issues are very important. You need to have a referendum.

M: It’s there in your constitution?

C: No, no. We don’t even have a written constitution.

M: Then? How can you make such a mistake? See us. Our Delhi CM is asking for a referendum for full powers for his state government. We said nothing doing, not in our constitution. We called him an anti-constitutional anarchist.

Of course, when we wanted to have a referendum to takeover another state, Sikkim, we had a referendum. But at that time we had made sure everything went our way. Our army first took over the king’s palace and put him under house arrest and then, within five days, we had the referendum. No one was there to oppose us, no debate – 98 per cent voted in our favour. You have to make sure in a democracy brother.


C: It’s not the same everywhere Modiji.

M: I know. But the referendums you guys take give us the shivers. I was really tense during your Scottish vote. If it had gone against you, we would have had real problems. Would have given a boost to all our independence lovers here. Demands for a Kashmir vote would have got stronger.

C: But your Nehru promised the UN he would hold a plebiscite.

M: No problem with that. I too would have done that in 1948. The Indian people had been fighting so long for freedom; Nehru had to make a show that we were for freedom for all peoples. I’m sure from the beginning he had no intention of having a plebiscite in Kashmir. He knew we could never win. It was only where he knew we would definitely win, in a place in Gujarat, that he immediately had a vote – only 91 votes went against us.


C: But Kashmir won’t agree so easily. There seem to be massive stone-pelting protests on at the moment – against killing of a leader of the armed struggle there.

M: That? We know well how to deal with that. We just increase the numbers of security forces. It already is the world’s topmost militarised zone. As long as we can convince the Indian people that these protesters are terrorists from Pakistan, we have nothing to bother.

C: But those protesters are not terrorists are they?

M: Did I say they were? You miss the point brother. I said that we only have to convince the Indian people that the Kashmiris are all terrorists… for that we have a good cooperative media who only give the government version. We just have a few troublemakers whom we can set right. On Kashmir even all our opposition parties are good fellows – whatever we do, they won’t say a word against the government.

C: Dozens are dying, hundreds have been injured.

M: Some blood has to be spilt. But nothing to worry. See, I did not even have to cancel or cut short my Africa tour. Even during all the firings and killings in Kashmir, I was busy in South Africa spreading Mahatma Gandhi’s message of non-violence. It is very important for the world to see me as a follower of the Mahatma – you see I still have to get over all those charges on me of mass killings in Gujarat in 2002. There are some human rights wallahs who go on and on after me.

C: I know those types. They have been going on after poor Tony Blair for Iraq war crimes. I don’t know how it will be for me after I’m out of power. I too have a war crimes complaint against me for bombing Syria – by some Scottish independence partymen. After Brexit vote they are demanding a new Scotland referendum and they may win this time. I’m worried.

M: Don’t bother too much Davidbhai. The Americans will have to see that none of their friends face trial for war. We may talk of peace but we need war all the time, at all times. Even the Mahatma recruited soldiers for your wars. War and violence are necessities recognised by all. The important thing is to be on the winning side. Only losers can get punished as war criminals.

C: But Modiji, you better do something about Kashmir.

M: Yes, yes, we have got some good suggestions from the Israelis. We are putting them into practice. We are trying some army settlements and some fortified Kashmiri Pandit settlements – how the Zionists did in Palestine.

If we manage to change the demography then we can definitely go for a referendum for Kashmiri self-determination. We can show that we also uphold the right to self-determination in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which we ratified in 1979.


[The pleasant exchange of views comes to an abrupt end with Samantha reminding Cameron that it is time he left for Buckingham Palace to hand in his resignation.]

By Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira



Eight uncomfortable questions PM Modi could have faced in US

We are concerned, greatly concerned. On the very first day of his visit to the land of the superpower Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been caught committing a crime against the national flag. Luckily, it happened outside our borders. The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, which makes Modi’s act of signing on the flag a cognisable offence, only extends to “the whole of India” and not to US soil. So Modi is safe for now.

But how did he make such an elementary mistake? It must have been all the excitement. There seemed to be loads of excitement out there as the budding superpower came calling. Mark Zuckerberg had posted his excitement on Facebook, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wasYouTubing about the excitement of all Googlers. Amidst all this fun and noise even the best of us – even our Modi – can make horrible mistakes like sullying the flag in a foreign land.

We were worried and hope things didn’t get worse. It’s not the speeches and the meetings with heads of government and Fortune CEOs that made us nervous. Those all run according to prepared scripts and nothing much can go wrong. What’s kept us on the edge is that outrageous experiment in “Townhall Democracy” that Zuckerberg had got lined up for Prime Minister Modi. He would have what he calls a “Townhall Q&A” on September 28 at the Facebook headquarters. And he has spent most of the last two weeks calling for questions to be asked.

Now we all know how shy and reticent a person our PM is. We know how he, since becoming PM, has been extremely allergic to facing questions from the press or from anyone except his close buddies. And, unlike the earlier US trip with its cheering crowds at Madison Square Garden, this time there is quite a bit of antagonism around. A group of academics had written an open letter telling Silicon Valley CEOs to be cautious of dealing with him; even the Patels, his normally loyal supporters, had been mobilised by Hardikbhai to demonstrate against him. So who knew who was lurking in the corners of that Townhall ready to waylay our prime minister with the sort of ambush questions that can be quite hurtful if not tackled well.

The only solution was to be prepared for the worst. At times like this it was up to all of us to rise to the cause. It was with such a spirit that we decided to help Prime Minister Modi by supplying a list of questions that could be asked by potential troublemakers at the Townhall. It’s the least we could have done to help our prime minister be prepared.

1. You have time and again suspended internet and mobile communication in places like Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir. Is it an experiment in revitalising ancient forms of transmission known since Vedic times?


2. Your Draft Encryption Policy 2015 has some interesting suggestions for effective control on WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Will implementation of this policy change the present position where India makes more government requests to restrict access to Facebook than all other governments put together? Have you shared these policy ideas with other world leaders and can they be developed into a model for universal thought control?


3. Make in India requires a lot of land, but you have put the Land Acquisition Ordinance on hold because of the Bihar elections. How soon after the elections do you hope to restore it?


4. When does the Indian government plan to patent and produce Vedic airplanes? Could they be used to clear tribals and Maoists from the land needed for investments in new projects?

5. You have enlightened the world about plastic surgery practised in India in ancient times. Is there any plan to introduce Vedic plastic surgery in the curriculum of medical colleges?


6. Ban on beef and other types of meat gives an underhand advantage to Indian meat exporters. Other exporting countries can move the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against India for unfair trade practices. What is your view on this?

7. If you don’t give Patels reservations in India, can you ask US president Barack Obama to provide a green card quota for Patidars?


8. Since Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) students continue to oppose Gajendra Chauhan as chairperson, why don’t you propose him for Harvard or some other American university? It would suit the global Parivar stratagem.

How Salwa Judum is making a comeback in Chhattisgarh

ColoursOfTheCage tries to visualise how a conversation between Chhavendra Karma and an agent representing the corporations must have arrived at this plan of action.

The Salwa Judum launched in 2005 in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh has gone down as one of the most notorious counter-insurgency campaigns of post-1947 India. The governments of state and Centre joined together to arm an unlawful mercenary force of landlords and their henchmen that terrorised the local tribal population who supported the Maoist movement. Villages were burnt down, hundreds were murdered and raped, and 3,50,000 were forced out of their homes, and it was only in 2011 that the Supreme Court declared that the Salwa Judum was unlawful and that the state support for it was unconstitutional. Its main leader, the landlord politician, Mahendra Karma, was himself killed by the Maoists in 2013.

Now two years later, his son, Chhavendra, has created a furore and a new wave of fear in the area by announcing that he intends to launch part two of the Salwa Judum. Many are asking the question: why does Chhavendra Karma want to now relaunch something which has not only failed miserably but has also been prohibited. StoriesUnscene decided to go behind the rhetoric of Salwa Judum 2.0 to find out the motivation and support behind it and the corporate forces that mainly stand to gain from a new reign of terror. We try to visualise how a conversation between Karma and an agent representing the corporations must have arrived at this plan of action.


Corporate agent: Namaste Shri Karma! How do you keep busy these days?

Chhavendra Karma: What to tell you Shethji. Forget about me, I’m worried about my boys. After the collapse of Salwa Judum, nobody is giving any funds and all my boys are deserting me. If this goes on for long I won’t have any body left.

Agent: That’s not good. There’s lots of work to be done. And lots of money to be earned. So many big companies are ready to spend thousands of crores – just two projects are worth 24,000 crores. They know they can make hundred times more in profit.

Karma: But we don’t see any of it. Nothing reaches us. Don’t you want the locals to develop.

Agent: Of course, of course! You local landlord guys should do well. You are our main support and we will definitely give you something. But the big bosses want results. The land has got to be cleared no. if your villagers are allowed to stand in the way how can we get profits?

Karma: They think their whole livelihood will be destroyed.

Agent: See Karmaji, both you and I know that there cannot be development without pain. Someone has to suffer. No construction without destruction. Vikas requires Vinash. Destruction of hundreds of villages and lives of lakhs of villagers may take place, but think of how many billion dollars of construction will take place. Tata, Essar, Jindal, Mittal, all ready to put money – even big American capitalists like Texas Pacific Group. If people like you handle things properly, your earnings will be in hundreds of crores. But the villagers shouldn’t be selfish and stop development. They should quietly leave.

Karma: You know they won’t leave quietly.

Agent: That we know. They are even forming their own government. But our government is making arrangements. Number of para military is being increased. Big part of Abhujmaad is being handed over to the military. If people start opposing the military, then the air force will have to help them. Drones are anyway there. All means will be used. No one should be allowed to stand in the way of development after all. Do you know how the USA became the most developed country? They did not allow some few lakh tribals to stop them.

Karma: My father was all for development. I am all for development. I know our adivasis – they won’t cooperate and sacrifice quietly for development – we will have to force them out like my father did in the Salwa Judum. My father worked at a different level and achieved much more than the para-militaries.

Agent: Why do you think I came to you? Your father’s work must go ahead.


Karma: Aah, but that Supreme Court will also create trouble.

Agent: That too can be seen too. Last time we made a mistake and didn’t give that enough importance. This time we’ll see that all that is arranged. Companies will even be ready to put some crores to buy the cleverest lawyers.

Karma: But do you think these parties have guts to fight in the open. Even Congress, my own party may not support me. And who can trust the BJP!

Agent: Parties no need to worry. My bosses will see to that.

Karma: This will all cost money. My boys like to enjoy …and they need modern arms and equipment.

Agent: That is our responsibility. It is called CSR – corporate social responsibility. We are all for the development of you and your boys. In fact you should give up the old ‘Salwa Judum’ name. I think it has got something to do with hunting, which is quite primitive. Let us be modern and give a name with ‘Development’ in it. Then our companies can even directly give you hundreds of crores from our CSR funds. Your ‘Development’ is the social responsibility of our big corporations.

Karma: (eyes lighting up) I will be responsible for proper usage of the funds. We will see that all the iron ore hills from Raoghat onwards are cleared of all villages. Along with the Bastar region we will also develop Rajnandgaon and Gadchiroli. And this time we will see that everyone sacrifices for the sake of development. We will call ourselves Vikas Sangharsh Samithi. We will do the Vinash necessary to attain Vikas.

(And this is how the idea of Salwa Judum 2.0 was conceived.)

By Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira


Few reasons the new Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal needs to be scared

Stories Unscene writes to Arvind Kejriwal on free water, free Wi-Fi, contract labour reform, corruption, full statehood, stability, and his dream of political revolution.

 Dear chief minister Arvind Kejriwal,

Congratulations on your victory – even though, as you yourself said, your victory is very scary!

You are right when you say that your mandate is very scary. It is scary, not so much because of the common man and his great expectations, but more so because of the big men and their expectations. It is the big men – the money-bags, the men who hold the strings of all governments – who will insist that you should listen to them… or be silenced.

Take your plan for free drinking water for example. Any sane person will agree that water should be free and that it is the job of any government to see that water for basic living needs is provided. But there are some very, very, big men who think differently. You yourself have written how the World Bank is very strongly pushing for the privatisation of water supply in all cities. The World Bank represents the interests of the biggest companies and men in the world. Are you ready to fight the World Bank? It is mighty scary!


You say you are opposed to the contractualisation of labour and will amend the Contract Labour Act in favour of the workers. But you must be knowing that the world’s biggest corporates earn their super-profits by keeping contract workers, at ultra-low wages and without any basic benefits or safeguards. Do you think you can cut the corporates’ profits… and yet survive? I have my doubts Mr CM. Those guys stop at nothing to push their interests. Getting on their wrong side can be quite scary? Quite quite scary!

We like Wi-Fi. We like your promise of freely available Wi-Fi. But one small doubt CMji. When the Aam Aadmi freely avails of Wi-Fi, will he be able to freely express himself on Wi-Fi? So many are arrested every year under the Information Technology Act and other laws for just posting or tweeting something “offensive” to the government or some politician. Will you be able to change the laws? Or will more free Wi-Fi only mean more arrests of those who freely speak their mind on that Wi-fi? Scary, very scary!


You promise to end corruption and crony capitalism. But can you show us any capitalist country which does not have crony capitalism? Can you show any capitalist government which does not take its directions from small cliques of capitalists? Can you ever end crony capitalism without ending capitalism itself? But that requires a revolution, and revolution is a very very scary thing.

You want decentralisation, but the big men want centralisation. You want Delhi to be a full state, but the powers of the existing “full” states have been constantly reduced and the powers of the Central government increased. Many of your promises, like changes in laws and policies, mean nothing, unless you strike deals with those who have the powers. But I hope Mr Kejriwal you will not make deals. That for us would be very scary.

They say that Kejriwal has changed. The media had criticised you for resigning in 49 days and you apologised again and again for that. You were criticised for calling yourself an anarchist and you responded by promising stability. You have given the slogan Panch Saal Kejriwal. But, is that the right slogan? What is the point of stability for stability’s sake. Stability can mean stupidity, or duplicity, if you cannot do what you have promised to do. Honesty demands that, if you cannot fulfil most of your promises, you should not cling to your chair.

People are cynical and have learnt to expect little from the established parliamentary parties. Your campaign only seems to have given a new lease of faith. Those who have voted for you, particularly the poor, have immense hopes and still greater needs, which you have no programme to fulfil. Many desire nothing short of a revolution – a change much greater than the dream of “political revolution” announced in the AAP Vision statement. But the existing system leaves no scope for any CM to bring about even the mildest form of revolution.

One last thought. Do not bandy the word revolution too much. You may not mean much, but the ruling classes of this country take the word revolution very seriously. In the 1970s, when Jayaprakash Narayan raised the slogan of “total revolution”, an Emergency was called and he was put in jail for years. You have already received open death threats on TV from a supporter of the ruling party at the Centre, without even an FIR being registered against him. Even the Prime Minister himself has called you an anarchist and told you to join the naxalites. You won’t. But, if you even talk too much about revolution, the powers that be can do a lot of things to silence you, to muffle you. And that Mr Muffler Man can be really scary, really very scary.

Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves


What US President Obama would have told Prime Minister Modi on 2015 Republic Day

The Republic Day 2015 Parade was a great occasion for Prime Minister Modi and President Obama to cosy-up and share experiences of governing two of the largest and most complex countries. Floats passing by, weapons on display and planes flying past was an ideal backdrop for a heart-to-heart exchange of ideas on development, good governance, and all those myriad little things that go to make great democracies. Stories Unscene tries to capture what a one-on-one tête-à-tête may well have been.


Modi: Barackbhai, how are you enjoying your stay here? Hope everything is as you like it.

Obama: Saaru che Narendra, it’s been great! Everything’s simply awesome! Delhi’s a glorious city; long history, massive population… must be millions out there cheering the parade – though of course, can’t see much in this blessed fog. How do you do the security? Must be tough.

M: Oh, it’s easy. We just close down the Metro and cordon off the roads in advance; only let in those we want. No public, no trouble no? They can see it on TV. We all watch cricket that way.

(Shouts of of “Modi, Modi” fill the fog.)

O: How’re the Delhi elections going? Saw your hoardings all over – but who’s that guy in the muffler – your man for Delhi, huh?

M: Hey Bhagwan, not mine, not mine! He’s Arvind, an anarchist! I told him to go join the Naxalites. I’ll send him packing this time – no more elections for him.

O: So sorry Naren, no offence meant. But what’s this Naxalite business?

M: No business Barackbhai, those Naxal guys are anti-business. They’re Maoists.

O: Good God! You’ve got Chinese here? Get them out pronto. On that I’m with you all the way.

M: Not Chinese, Barackbhai. These guys are Indians. My biggest internal security threat. Those guys just don’t want us to do good business. They’re worse than those environmentwallas. They’re mostly adivasis and won’t allow us to clear forests and forest dwellers. So many of our mines, big dams, power projects are all on hold. No development!

O: Real backward guys, huh? Wall Street boys won’t like it one bit. You’ve gotta be firm man. Cannot let a few aboriginals get in the way of a country’s growth. We too had our Red Indians. If we hadn’t cleared them out where would the US be? Development comes with a price you know. Someone’s got to sacrifice for the greater good.


M: Yeah yeah. No sweat Barackbhai, it’s as good as done. Our Raj is on the job. His home department has brought a new policy to handle this stuff. Clear, hold, build, you know. Clear out the locals, hold on to the land, build on top of their ruins. You guys did it Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq. Some say you guys made a mess, but Raj and I know you’ve done a great job. And no time to lose now. Our own chaps – Tata, Mukesh, the lot – are also getting irritable. Can’t blame them no? There’s gold to be got under those jungles – and lots to go around. That’s why I want more of your boardroom guys taking interest.

O: Our big boys will come on board, but they’ll need some guarantees. Can’t run around taking risks. Put in billions and then see them rot while some half-naked natives call the shots.

M: That hurts Barackbhai. We’re doing our best. (Just then an aging Chetak hovers over sprinkling rose petals. They wave to the helicopter and to the cameras.)

M: We’re putting in all we have to shove the adivasis out. We’ve even started using some of these helicopters. But those fellows have starting firing on them and our air-force boys don’t want to go in.

O: Our Apaches and Chinooks will come in handy for you. We’ve got real armoured choppers. But you can’t go on being so delicate. You’ll need carpet-bombing someday soon. We’ve learnt all this the hard way. No namby-pamby in things like this.

M: I know Barackbhai, I know. But these human-rightswallas go on creating a fuss. They say that adivasis are our own people, our own citizens. Some judges say our Constitution won’t allow it.

O: Aw Naren, we too have a Constitution. But that does not stop us from finishing off our citizens, when it’s got to be done. And all very legal, mind you. I myself sign the warrants. I’m using drones. Wonderful machines! Something like video games. Zero in… Wham, bam, boom.  There are mistakes here and there and many others get knocked off, but you can’t cry over collateral damage. You too must have them.

M: We’ve started on that. Manohar, our military boss is smart and will push through all deals in a jiffy. But don’t your courts and media guys raise a stink.


O: You give them the right laws and the courts will do their job.

M: We’ve got UAPA, an anti-terror and unlawful activities law. But some judges are watering it down.

O: “You Paa” … Doesn’t sound too good. We’ve called our anti-terror law PATRIOT. Great name  and helps to get everyone on board. Everyone wants to be a patriot, most of all the media. Of course for the media you’ve got to get the owners on board.

M: I’ve got most of them to fall in line. And Mukesh and other friends can mop up some more. If anyone goes too far we’ll clamp down on them.

O: But … don’t you have First Amendment Rights – you know Freedom of Expression and all that.

M: Yeah, we have our First Amendment – Nehru got it passed. But it wasn’t for granting freedom of expression – it was for restricting it.

O: Wow! Our Founding Fathers didn’t think that way. Sometimes I wish they had.

M: Barackbhai, you’re just my sort of guy. May the force be with you! (And it was then that Michelle got into conversation mode and started asking about Jashodhaben’s health. That really spoilt the mood.)