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What India could learn from Israel

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Vijeta Uniyal 

  • To become a successful nation, India realizes that we have to emulate the Jewish quest for spiritual and worldly learning. We need a nation of empowered men and women, free and fearless to develop social, technological, entrepreneurial and humanitarian creativity, even while under constant attack.
  • When we see the restoration of Jewish State and revival of Judaism in its ancient lands, we Hindus see ourselves. If Judaism is incomplete without the Jewish homeland, the essence of Hinduism is indivisible with the geography of India. Just as Jews were forced out and in exile for millennia, Hindus too suffered a millennium of Islamic and later European subjugation in their own homeland.
  • Recent terrorist attacks in Brussels, Mumbai, Paris, Istanbul and Ankara are simply what Israel has been living with for decades — and India, France, Belgium and Turkey do not have “settlements.” The conflict is not about “settlements”. It is about one group of people trying imposing its will, culture, religion and way of life on another group. With Israel, the “settlements” are only the pretext. If you look at any map of “Palestine,” it has the exact outlines of Israel.

For most Indians, it is hard not to feel a deep sense of historic gratitude towards Israel and the Jewish people. The State of Israel came to our military aid in just about every war India fought as an independent nation since 1947. Our elected leaders, in their vanity, polished their statesmanlike credentials denouncing Israel at every possible international gathering, even as they kept on turning to the Jewish State for help in times of dire need, whether civilian or military. From Golda Meir to Ariel Sharon, Israel never turned down any request.

Getting nothing in return, the tiny and beleaguered nation paid a price for its support for India. At times, adversely affecting its relations with China or annoying its most vital ally, the United States, by extending support to a “socialist” country at the height of the Cold War.

If there ever was a true sign of goodwill extended from one nation to another, Israel had shown it toward India and so many other nations, from Zaire to Haiti and elsewhere.

Despite this, it took India more than four decades just to treat Israel as an equal partner on the world stage — when India established full diplomatic relations with Israel in January 1991.

India, however, had one redeeming quality. Although our political leaders hitched their wagon to the Soviet Union and the Pan-Arab nationalism in the early days of the Cold War, the Hindus of India, who constitute an 80% majority of the country’s population, have been steadfast and consistent in their support for the State of Israel and the Jewish people. An international survey conducted by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2009 found Indians having the most favorable opinion of Israel, even ahead of U.S. respondents by a small margin. In August 2014, at the height of Gaza conflict, the city of Calcutta staged a 20,000-strong rally in support of the Jewish State, making it probably the largest pro-Israel rally that Asia ever witnessed.

Finally, with the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2014, the India’s official policies have begun to reflect the desires and aspirations of the majority Hindu population of the nation.

The homecoming of the Jews and restoration of the Jewish State in its historic land has been a source of great hope for us Hindus. When we see the restoration of Jewish State and revival of Judaism in its ancient land, we Hindus see ourselves.To become a successful nation, we realize that we have to emulate the Jewish quest for spiritual and worldly learning. We need a nation of empowered men and women, free and fearless to develop social, technological, entrepreneurial and humanitarian creativity, even while under constant attack.

If Judaism is incomplete without the Jewish homeland, the essence of Hinduism is indivisible with the geography of India. Just as Jews were forced out and in exile for millennia, Hindus too suffered a millennium of Islamic and later European subjugation in their own homeland.

After surviving the most vicious genocide in human history — a brutal and systematic attempt by Nazi Germany to annihilate the entire Jewish population of Europe, claiming six million Jewish lives, the Jewish people worked to create a nation based on democracy, freedom, equality for people of all religions and ethnicities — the only democracy in the Middle East.

Today, over a million Arabs enjoy equal citizenship rights in Israel, and a level of religious liberty and the rule of law never seen before in the Middle East. Arab Israelis are present in all walks of Israeli life; holding top positions in business, academia, media, government as well as military leadership.

The tiny nation of Israel absorbed wave after wave of immigration, including a million Jews driven out of the Arab lands soon after the creation of Jewish State in 1948, Ethiopian Jews, and Russians escaping communism. Today, Israel is home to over 80,000 Jews of Indian origin. They have been fully integrated and have excelled in all areas of society. They serve gallantly in the Israel Defense Force and bring glory to the country in sports. An IDF soldier of Indian origin, Barak Refael Degorker, was killed by Hamas during the Gaza conflict of 2014. Mumbai-born Sarah Avraham became Israel’s 2012 women’s Thai boxing champion.

As the nation-states of Europe drive toward an impending disaster in failing to assert their spiritual and national identity in the face of the massive influx of Muslim migrants, only the example of Israel offers us hope.

We must admit the failures, based on European liberalism, in our nation-building project. Western-style “affirmative-action” has failed to rid the country of caste-based discrimination, and all that the European style of hypersensitivity towards “Muslim sentiments” has done is stifle cultural freedoms in the country. India became the first nation to ban Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses, before even Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other theocratic Islamic regimes announced their fatwas and bans. For decades, India shied away from technological and academic cooperation with Israel. India seemed to have been trying to act even more Arab than the Arabs themselves.

Only an enlightened nation, built on a strong bedrock of Hindu unity, can ensure a secure and prosperous future for India. We cannot build a nation on foundations of an unjust and immoral caste system.

Just as the resurgence of Judaism in its historic and ancestral homeland means no threat to the Muslim faith, Hindu resurgence and unity should cause no harm to religious minorities of other faiths. Countries that would like to succeed and thrive would do well to follow the example of Israel.

The terrorism originating from neighboring Muslim lands must not only be countered militarily, but also with a renewed assertion of our on spiritual and national identity.

Arabs and Muslims might surely realize that they themselves have been the biggest losers of the wars of fanaticism they have waged, and turn their attention to rebuilding their societies and facing the real issues of violence, bigotry, ignorance and poverty — to name just a few.

Until then, we all have a nation to build and a home to defend.

Recent terrorist attacks in Brussels, Mumbai, Paris, Istanbul and Ankara are simply what Israel has been living with for decades — and India, France, Belgium and Turkey do not have “settlements.” The conflict is not about “settlements”. It is about one group of people trying imposing its will, culture, religion and way of life on another group. With Israel, the “settlements” are only the pretext. If you look at any map of “Palestine,” it has the exact outlines of Israel.

It is beyond our scope, as Indians, to heal the pathologies of the Muslim world. We can only limit the damage by defending our home and securing our national borders.

Until that day comes, we would all do well to stand with Israel.

Vijeta Uniyal is an Indian current affairs analyst based in Europe.

This article was first published at www.gatestoneinstitute.org/

 

Next Story

Are There Enough Jobs In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Led India?

“More young people are entering the labor force, millions want to leave agriculture but can’t find construction work because construction activity has slowed down because the investment rate in the economy has slowed down.”

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VOA
Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party dismisses concerns about the job data saying it does not capture the real picture because it focuses only on the 15 percent of Indians who work in the formal economy. Pixabay

For people streaming in from rural areas around New Delhi, the first stop is a collection of busy city intersections where contractors select daily wage labor from the crowds of young and old waiting every morning to get work.

Many standing at these intersections say they get work for barely half the month. “I have the ability to work hard. I never turn down any work. But I would prefer to get a cleaner, permanent job,” says 29-year-old Tek Chand. “The problem is one day I have money to buy rations, the next day I don’t.” Like millions of others, he migrated from his village three years ago to seek work and a better life in the city.

FILE - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, arrives with his cabinet colleagues on the opening day of the budget session of the Indian Parliament, in New Delhi, Jan. 31, 2019.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, arrives with his cabinet colleagues on the opening day of the budget session of the Indian Parliament, in New Delhi, Jan. 31, 2019. VOA
As India prepares for general elections on April 11, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being attacked by opposition parties for failing to make good on a promise he made in 2014 to create millions of jobs for India’s huge young population. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party rebuts that criticism and says India is generating new opportunities as it becomes one of the world’s fastest growing major economies.

Job creation is a massive challenge for a nation with one of the world’s youngest populations — half the country’s 1.3 billion people are under the age of 25.

Recent data shows that joblessness has soared to record high levels. Opposition parties have made joblessness one of their principal election planks and have accused the prime minister of failing the estimated 8 to 10 million young people who enter the workforce every year.

The independent Mumbai-based Center for Monitoring Indian Economy estimates that unemployment reached 7.2 percent last month and that 11 million jobs were lost in 2018. With a working population of 500 million, that translates into more than 30 million people waiting for jobs. An unpublished official survey that showed unemployment at a 45-year-high has also been widely quoted by Indian media.

India's main opposition Congress party President Rahul Gandhi speaks during a public meeting at Adalaj in Gandhinagar, India, March 12, 2019.
India’s main opposition Congress party President Rahul Gandhi speaks during a public meeting at Adalaj in Gandhinagar, India, March 12, 2019. VOA

On the campaign trail, the head of the main opposition Congress Party, Rahul Gandhi, who is seen as Modi’s principal challenger, talks repeatedly about a “jobs crisis.”

“Our government is refusing to accept that we have a massive crisis and potential disaster in front of us,” Gandhi told a group of university students in New Delhi recently, many who will be first time voters.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party dismisses concerns about the job data saying it does not capture the real picture because it focuses only on the 15 percent of Indians who work in the formal economy. It points to a recent industry report that jobs have been created in the medium and small sectors.

The BJP says millions of people have found work in the transport and infrastructure sectors or as delivery boys in booming online businesses as India becomes one of the world’s fastest growing major economies. They point out that the issue is not jobs but livelihoods, and point to millions of people who are not counted in job data.

They are self-employed people like cab owner Chain Pal Singh. As the app based taxi business boomed, Singh’s friend, who operated a cab, persuaded him to quit his job and take out a loan to buy a car. His decision has paid off — in four years he has earned enough money to invest in two more cabs.

Singh says he is much better off than when he held a job. “I used to earn about $225 dollars a month. Now in some months I can earn almost double that amount. Its beneficial for me.”

Following defeats in key state elections in December, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told parliament last month, “This truth has to be acknowledged. The unorganized sector has 80 to 85 percent of the employment.” He pointed to millions of commercial vehicles sold in recent years and questioned if they had not generated jobs for drivers.

Economists admit India’s large informal sector has made it difficult to calculate employment, but they say joblessness or underemployment remains the country’s biggest challenge. While scarcity of jobs is not a new problem, two disruptive economic steps in the last two years exacerbated the problem.

In 2016 a sweeping currency ban meant to tackle the problem of illegal cash, dried up jobs as it created huge currency shortages, particularly in small businesses and in the countryside. A poorly-implemented tax reform known as the Goods and Services Tax a few months later was another blow to businesses.

Meanwhile, Modi’s “Made in India” campaign, which aimed at making India a manufacturing hub like China, has made a slow start and sluggish labor-intensive sectors cannot cater to growing numbers of job seekers.

“We can’t keep patting ourselves on the back that we are the fastest growing economy specially if all these other indicators are not growing at a rate that will absorb the growing labor force,” says Santosh Mehrotra, a human development economist at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

“More young people are entering the labor force, millions want to leave agriculture but can’t find construction work because construction activity has slowed down because the investment rate in the economy has slowed down.”

Also Read: The Mental Health ‘Epidemic’: About Six in Ten Teen Say, They Feel A Lot Of Pressure To Get Good Grades

He points out that exports, another sector that created a number of jobs has also not been performing well.

As the campaign heats up, the opposition will try to keep the spotlight on jobs, or lack of them, even as the BJP tries to focus on national security following a recent confrontation with Pakistan. The final verdict on whether to give Prime Minister Modi a second term in office will be delivered by millions of voters when they cast their ballots. (VOA)

One response to “Are There Enough Jobs In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Led India?”

  1. If the employment picture is bleak despite the construction of so many more Kilometers of roads, railways, air ports, bridges, toilets and other infrastructures compared to the five or even ten years of UPA government, imagine where we would be if we had UPA III government .