Saturday, April 13, 2024

When we cry for Ukrainian refugees but for those of Kashmir? Long shot

Many of my contemporaries from the brotherhood of seafarers of the ‘70s (women had not made their arrival in matters maritime when we set out to travel the world of water) were exposed to wars, battles, revolutions, civil strife, changes in regime and much more very early in life. Vietnam, Iran-Iraq, Mozambique, Madagascar, Bangladesh, the Horn of Africa, an assortment of West African countries, South America, Poland, USSR, Yugoslavia were what our conversations at the bars of an assortment of seaports were about.

Frankly, these were the countries where we could make triple wages, and at levels of risk which were similar to working on ships carrying fossil fuels, arms and ammunition anyways. Even simple cargoes like grains and ores could shift or get flooded at sea, taking everyone down, so what were a few violent uprisings here and there? In any case, post 1971, Indira Gandhi had given Indian seafarers a very strong and solid name as well as strength. New countries pretty much admired India and Indians – as long as we did not disagree with these new countries.

So, whether a regime was going from Communism to Religion (Poland), Religion to Communism (Vietnam), Monarchy to Religion (Iran), Monarchy to Invasion (Kuwait), Strength to Division (Yugoslavia), Religion to Split (Bangladesh), Communism to Democracy=NATO (ex-USSR many), Re-Unification (Germany), Unable to Understand (South & North Korea), Back to Colonials (Africa various), Indians unwelcome to Indians please return (Uganda) or whatever, our role as seafarers was to agree with the local sentiment, unload cargo and if possible also load something, and then make a quick exit.

To return to safe haven, which was, simply put, India. Think about that – there was no safer place than India for Indians, and many others, as repeated waves of refugees from all over the world realise.

Today, Ukraine vs Russia takes centre-stage, just as Kuwait vs Iraq took centre-stage in 1990 – but what do we know about what is happening in our own country in India in these contexts? The internal refugees from, say, Kashmir?

The White Man is busy fighting the White Man. In previous wars, they got the Brown Man and the Black Man to fight their proxy wars on the lands of the Brown Man and the Black Man. This time around, the White Man is fighting the White Man on the lands of the White Man.

In the lyrics of this song by QUEEN, obviously not given much air time since it was released in 1976 –

“White man, White man, Take a look around

Every skin and bone, Hey, What is left of your dream ?

Just the words on your stone, A man who learned how to teach

Then forgot how to learn, Oh yeah”

For me, the deeper question is this – why did so many students have to leave India to go and study in Ukraine? There are two main possible answers which are questions –

There weren’t enough options in India, and why?

The chances of EU Citizenship if Ukraine went to NATO.

In both cases, they had to return to India. For safety. Like we did, 40-50 years ago.

Veeresh Malik was a seafarer. And a lot more besides. A decade in facial biometrics, which took him into the world of finance, gaming, preventive defence and money laundering before the subliminal mind management technology blew his brains out. His romance with the media endures since 1994, duly responded by Outlook, among others.)

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