Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Tale of Boredom and Stuff

SENN (2013)

Produced By: Josh Feldman, Britton Watkins
Director: Josh Feldman
Starring: Zach Eulberg, Lauren Taylor, Taylor Lambert, Wylie Herman and others
Pros: Intriguing story
Cons: Slow, poor storyline, irritating music, and everything else was pretty bad too
Rating: * of 5 (1 of 5)

It was Halloween, so I thought I should watch a science fiction film for the occasion. Because most of the popular movies tend to bore me greatly (Gravity being the most recent example), I decided to try an 'artsy' movie that was made on a shoestring budget. And that's how I ended up watching Senn (plus it sounded similar to my name). And I do regret it - not that it was all bad, but most of it was. The premise of Senn is actually pretty good, but a premise makes a couple of pages in a script. The rest seemed to have been either made up in a hurry or worse, on the fly.

Most of the movie happens on a bed. Yes, the main characters are mostly sleeping or, when they're walking around aimlessly, they do so in a seemingly endless supply of new clothing. Which is strange, considering they are on an alien ship. But if this movie looked into details, it would've been so much better. Creating a fancy new script to depict an alien world is one thing, and putting in enough details to make it coherent is quite another. And while I understand the limitations of a budget, this movie actually overdid the special effects, again reflecting a lack of subtlety on the part of the director. Add to that a bad storyline and background score, and it was a long journey downhill.

Except for the premise itself. That might actually make for an interesting sci-fi novel. But a good story can only get you so far - Senn had 1,041 light years to go! (OTFS)

The #GOPDebate on CNBC: My Thought

Last week, CNBC hosted the third Republican Primary Debate, which was probably a mistake. This debate, smaller than the last two, certainly packed more punch, but that was directed more at CNBC than at the contenders themselves. Nonetheless, there were several major highlights from the debate, most notably that all the candidates appear to have closed ranks against the Democrats, with even Donald Trump being less combative (he didn't even speak the longest). Indeed, I am starting to like Trump despite of myself, because behind that clown-like exterior and presumably rabid xenophobia seems to be a fairly logical, if egotistical, person. His opinions on the Middle East are quite accurate, as are his thoughts on immigration.

The star of the debate was certainly Marco Rubio, while the biggest loser was Jeb Bush. That is discounting even the presence of Rand Paul and some of the others, including Gov. Chris Christie, whose time in this race ended long back. This race appears to be between Carson, FIorina, Trump, Bush and Rubio, with even Ted Cruz failing to get too deep in. Of course, given the number of people it started with, five probable candidates is not so bad.

Unlike the FOX and CNN debates, this one went into a variety of issues, with a grater focus on domestic issues. Contrast this to the last two, where Iran seemed to occupy half the time. Some of the candidates seemed to take a leaf out of Bernie Sanders' book this time round, talking about 'real issues' without really saying much about them, and with utter disregard for time limits. This actually made it very interesting to watch because while most Republicans seem to agree on foreign policy - with Rand Paul being a notable exception - the real faultlines lie in domestic issues. Nonetheless, CNBC could have chosen a much better format than the rapid-fire one that essentially left candidates with little time to speak and the audience hoping for more insight. 

Why is Bihar poor?

As the long-drawn Assembly election in Bihar enters its second half, I have been intrigued by the machinations. The media of course, has its own agenda, as do these Award Wapsi people. But Bihar is very different from Delhi. In all my years, I've always heard about a mythical creature - the politically suave and knowledgeable Bihari, who knows and understands the ins and outs of politics and government. And yet, Bihar seems to be on the verge of bringing back Lalu Yadav to power, the man who drove the state to the dark ages.

Let's talk about this mythical creature. The average Bihari probably knows a lot. Does that help them in any which way? Aside from getting some government jobs, probably not. This is probably the classic case of quantity over quality - sure, the average Bihari might know a lot, but that comes to nothing. A blatantly militant and casteist Lalu Yadav, together with the extremely opportunistic Nitish Kumar, seem set to capture power in Patna, thus returning the state to its former form. An alternative that speaks the message of jobs, infrastructure and development looks to be losing. And all this, presumably, because one side couldn't get its caste equations right! Sure, caste is still important in India, but it seems Bihar and UP remain the last places where it dominates over all else - even life and death by the looks of things.

Therefore, it seems that the politically savvy Bihari is a myth - they are simply the maggu student who is able to memorize vast amounts of information without ever making any sense out of it. Until they help themselves up, they will be destined to hold government jobs (whose entrance exam is the mother of all tests of rote memorization) or work as helpers in those parts of the country that have moved far ahead, with far less so-called knowledge. 

The Idea of India Syndrome

The striking down of the 99th Constitutional Amendment and the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act by the Supreme Court will go down as one of the most glaring display of judicial activism and legislation by the unelected in the history of the Court. The judgment does far more than comment on the constitutionality of the two pieces of legislation, but strikes at the entire constitutional system and eventually comes back to his the very people with whom sovereignty is supposed to lie.

The judgment falls on two counts and both of them can be termed sanctimonious. First, in one broad stroke, it paints the entire democratic system in India, the political parties, politicians and institutions (specifically the Law Minister) as evil fiends who must be kept out of judicial appointments for no other reason than that they have to be accountable to people through elections and Parliament. For the judiciary needs no accountability, because it says so, and interprets the Constitution accordingly, completely abusing its powers. On the second count, the verdict puts common people (the eminent personalities) out of the system as well as they need to be selected by a committee that is two-thirds political (the PM and the LoP). Therefore, the judgment completely turns the judiciary into an ivory tower, beyond the reach of anybody, at complete divergence from the Constitution and the original intent of the Constituent Assembly.

I call this sanctimoniousness the 'Idea of India' syndrome - the idea that a small, elite group of people can and should control India, for India's people are too stupid to know what's good for them and therefore, do not share the same 'Idea of India' as the elite, who are always right, no proof required. As it stands, the Indian judiciary has largely failed a vast majority of people. Dockets are overfilled, cases drag on for decades. According to one study, if there were no new case filed today, it would still take 360 years to clear all pending cases. This is ridiculous and, as if that were not enough, this judgment makes it impossible for people to have a say about judges themselves. The NJAC may or may not have had problems, but the fact is that if a man or woman on the street felt aggrieved by a judge granting endless adjournments, and then is horrified to hear that the same judge is being promoted to the higher judiciary, that person cannot even so much as write a letter of protest, because the Collegium holds its meetings behind closed doors and does not ask for public inputs, the only one of the three branches of government that has that sort of power. Sovereignty does not lie with any branch of the government, it lies with the people, but only in the judiciary have people been completely left out in the cold.

As if this were not enough, after the judgment, the judiciary has appropriated even more legislative powers to itself, because of course elected representatives of the people cannot defend the 'Idea of India.' The very act of asking for public comment on an improved collegium should have been unconstitutional, because the Constitution did not create the collegium and the courts cannot legislate to first create it and then invite comments to improve it, and yet that is exactly what is happening. If Parliament is creating bad but constitutional laws, it is for the people to judge, not for the unelected elite.

Finally, irony was slaughtered in the majority judgment, when one judge expressed fear that the government may discriminate against LGBT people in appointing judges. The Supreme Court sanctioned legal persecution of LGBT people a few years ago. If a judge is LGBT, they are liable to go to jail, and such a person cannot be considered suitable to be in the judiciary even by the Collegium. I fully support repealing Section 377 and ending the judicially-endorsed Victorian law that is a blot on our society and indeed, is alien to ancient Indian culture. But as the law stands, with the full backing of the Supreme Court, discriminating against LGBT people is perfectly legal, whether done by the Collegium or the NJAC. Exactly how this defends anybody's 'Idea of India' is beyond me.

Justice Markendaya Katju rightly said that the judiciary is beyond redemption now. With this judgment, it just fell a little further. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

False Comforts

In the last few days, former-Indian-now-Pakistani newspaper Dawn has been publishing a great many editorials that celebrate Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as an Indian version of Zia ul Haq and one who has somehow broken down the difference between the two countries that were and remain one nation - not mentioning that the difference they were referring to would be described in the West as that between a civilized state and a group of barbarians with guns. This is all claptrap of course and nothing more than false comfort for the Pakistani elite that, for some unknown reasons, seems to want to compare Pakistan to India all the time.

India is not a perfect place - communal incidents have been happening for centuries. At one time, it was Islamic rulers destroying Hindu temples, then it was Hindus fighting Muslims, and now it's pretty much everybody fighting themselves and each other. While this seems horribly bleak, it needs to be put into some perspective. The population of India is the second highest in the world among countries, and given the torturous history, there are certainly going to be violent incidents - no country in the world, not even the rather homogeneous Scandinavian states, can claim otherwise. But when seen in the context of the Indian subcontinent, India is a remarkably free and peaceful place, indeed the most democratic nation in this part of the world.

A few days ago, the Muslim world celebrated Muharram, a Shi'a festival. In India, Shi'as celebrate it through private rituals as well as the rather public display of self-flagellation. Aside from minor scuffles in some remote part of the country, life continues as always. In Pakistan, for years now, Shi'as have been murdered in terrorist attacks. Whole anti-Shi'a militias exist and, like their anti-India/Afghanistan/US/Israel/Iran counterparts, they disappear and reappear after every ban. And Shi'as are still Muslims - in 1947, Pakistan had the second-largest Hindu population in the world, and today there are just a handful left, fewer than the population of much smaller Nepal. In contrast, India's Muslim population has risen over the years. The state-approved discrimination of religious minorities in the Islamic Republic is unimaginable in India, where even today, the Vice-President of the Republic is Muslim, as was arguably the greatest President. In Pakistan, only a Muslim can hold those posts, by law.

By this metric, for Dawn to say that India has turned into Pakistan since Modi came to power is rich. It is the false comfort that the Pakistani left lives in, totally unattached to the violence and systemic destruction of 5,000 years of history that happens everyday, right outside their gated communities. In fact, as Rupa Subramaniam wrote for Newslaundry, incidents of communal violence have decreased and are largely limited to just a few states, chief among them being UP (for statistical as well as political reasons). It seems Dawn has been taking the staunchly anti-Modi, Left-Liberal Indian media (lovingly called #Presstitutes here) too seriously. There is no reason for Dawn to believe the likes of NDTV, the Hindu and the Indian Express. Not too many people in India do either. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Which Constitution is Ananya Vajpeyi Talking About?

This article is a rebuttal to this one published in The Hindu, by request.

The Constitution of India is a very unique document - everybody seems to love it and hate it simultaneously, not as two groups, but internally, individually. In some ways, it has become a quasi-religious text that can be interpreted in any possible way. Indeed, in the mixing of religious texts with Constitutionalism, Ananya Vajpeyi brilliantly, and certainly purposely, displays the fine art of obfuscating facts and bending interpretations to suit an agenda. The summary of her article, behind layers and layers of scholarly discussion on the caste system, is that Modi and his party (and the larger Sangh Parivar) are evil, they have been evil since 5000 BC (or earlier), and that they are subverting a liberal Constitution in every possible way. All of these are obfuscations.

Caste and How to End It

Let us first consider the scholarship on caste. Let me be clear - the caste system was inhuman, and it condemned people to a life of penury for not just decades, but thousands of generations. It has no place in a modern, scientific society, and therefore, the RSS' agenda of ridding Hindu society of caste deserves praise and support. However, unlike what Vajpeyi would have us believe, caste was an extraordinarily efficient social system for reasons known to her Western paymasters since the time of Adam Smith. It is the same principle on the basis of which Henry Ford could mass-produce cars: specialization. A group of people specializing in a particular task (materialistic as well as spiritual) and nothing else, is far more efficient than the same group doing a little bit of everything. The result is a prosperous society - but one where that prosperity is not shared. Indeed, if anything can break caste forever, it is the industrial revolution that allows societies to produce efficiently through machines instead of people, eliminating the need for human specialization. In short, capitalism is the greatest breaker of caste, a fact that Ambedkar knew quite well, but which leftists like Vajpeyi, who place more faith in government than on individuals, don't want to think about.

Intolerance in Society

Next, the question of the BJP. There is no doubt that there are some elements in all political parties that are inherently communal, in favor of or against some religion or group. This is true of the Congress, the BJP, the IUML, the AIMIM, the TMC, the DMK, the RJD, and even the Communists, as their recent confabulations in Kerala to oppose the SNDP show. But to suggest that somehow communal peace and freedoms have been suppressed by the Modi government is nothing short of political brinkmanship. Communal relations have been difficult in India for centuries - from the decades when Hindus were herded across the Hindu Kush to be sold as slaves by Islamic invaders, to when European colonists took it upon themselves to 'civilize' a civilization that was millenniums older than theirs, and of course the catastrophe that was the Partition of India.

And while everyone is concerned about peace, the problem with Vajpeyi, and her entire ilk, is that her concern is selective. A terrible incident like the #DadriLynching under the Congress would've either been ignored or just tossed on to the Samajwadi Party; but when it was done with the BJP in Delhi (not Lucknow), it must be Modi's fault. In her enthusiasm to pin everything on Modi, she even cites the murder of Narendra Dhabolkar in Maharashtra, who was assassinated in August 2013, when Modi was still the CM of Gujarat, Manmohan Singh was the puppet PM of Sonia Gandhi and the Congress-NCP were ruling the state for over a decade! It is this selective outrage that has made people immune to such horrific murders - 'a Muslim was killed, but a Hindu was also killed somewhere,' so balance has been restored to outrage on either side! Instead of genuinely standing up for human life, what Vajpeyi and her comrades have done is to show the Hindu right the power of selective outrage, and they have simply learned to use the same stick. The real problem here is that a human was killed, and not that a Muslim was killed, but to Vajpeyi, those two things are as far apart as the earth and the sky.

If anything, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying his best to bring economic strength to all, through infrastructure and jobs, which will hopefully give people too little time to literally run riot. After all, it is pretty hard for people working in factories to take a break, murder a few thousands, and return without losing too much pay to feed their families! As long as a vast majority of people are poor, there will be an endless fight for limited resources, and those fights will be along whatever lines possible - religion, caste, region, etc. The way out of the cycle of centuries of violence is economic prosperity, an endeavor that the Nehruvian state miserably failed to achieve, and which the PNV Rao state has been able to do with limited success but great promise. If anything, people genuinely interested in breaking this cycle should be supporting Modi's economic reforms. But then, genuine concern is not really the point of these Op-Eds, is it?

Constitutional Myth
The last myth that Vajpeyi and her comrades repeatedly pander around is that the Constitution was liberal and that Modi is working tirelessly to undermine it. Neither assertion could be farther from the truth. In the Indian Constitution are provisions for separate civil codes based on religion, for separate educational and religious regulatory requirements for so-called minorities and majorities, a provision that makes the prevention of cow slaughter a non-enforceable duty of the state, the infamous provisions for separate educational seats, jobs and even promotions on the basis of caste, and a separate constitution for one and only one state, among other 'liberal' (sarcasm) provisions. As if these were not enough, the amendments to the Constitution take away free speech and expression (First Amendment), the right to own property (44th Amendment), and the right of Muslim women (and only Muslim women) to alimony through due process (Shah Bano). And all this before anybody even heard of Modi!

Indeed, all the illiberal moves of any Indian government have been perfectly Constitutional - from banning books and newspapers to arresting people on the flimsiest charge of hurting so-called sentiments. And if the Constitution didn't support such illiberal moves, it was suitably amended. Why let a little something like the law come in the way of secularism and socialism, eh? If Narendra Dhabolkar had not been killed, he would have be just one FIR away from being an under-trial prisoner for life, very much legally. Vajpeyi, like all her comrades, feels so concerned for Wendy Doniger's book on Hinduism that was pulped by Penguin (and not banned by any government), but not for Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses that was banned by the full force of law that derives its authority from the same 'liberal' Constitution.

The very unpleasant truth is that the Constitution codified divisions in society and enforced them. It started by making out a case for an equal and just society, in a non-enforceable Preamble, and then went on to set the stage for exactly the opposite, the fruits of which we are 'enjoying' now. Almost like the dystopic Soviet Union, it tried to create equality by pushing inequality down our throats through a big, paternalistic government. Even the rather ban-happy BJP is essentially deriving all its powers from the Constitution. Modi is not opposed to the Constitution; in fact, at worst, they are on the same side!

A Real Case
The problem with Ananya Vajpeyi and her ilk's writings is that they are so woefully disconnected from history and society, either on purpose or through sheer indoctrination, that the only outlet that they can get a voice on is The Hindu, with a daily readership that represents less than 0.1% of India's population, most of it in one city. These armchair socialists are so ensconced in the taxpayer-funded comforts of the state that they live in their own parallel universe, a universe where India did not exist before 1947, where the Constitution was the most ideal document, and where a man named Narendra Modi stole an election to destroy their utopia (although the part about ending leftist utopia is probably true).

The obfuscation is so obvious, the agenda so clear, that it is not even funny anymore. What these so-called liberals are telling us is: either vote for our people and share our values, or we will convince you that you're in very deep shit, one op-ed at a time. To quote one such liberal from another decade, as Swapan Dasgupta does in his article, "I don’t feel out of touch with the people, they might feel out of touch with me but that is their concern, not mine."

What they're saying through layers and layers of obfuscation is: liberalism is a myth, it's all about power. In 2014, the only thing that changed was that people realized one thing: two can play at that game.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Thank You, Nayantara Sahgal

Noted writer and Sahitya Akademi member Nayantara Sahgal started off a deluge of sorts of recipients of the Sahitya Akademi award returning their awards over the tragic lynching of a man in UP for allegedly consuming beef. Following Sahgal, many more writers and poets, some noted and most sundry, have returned their awards for the same reason. However, this is actually a blessing for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is being blamed (as always) by leftists, conveniently bypassing Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav under whom law and order in UP has been on a downward slope for a long time, and the Congress party, which initiated the banning of cow slaughter and indeed, put it in the Constitution (a fact conveniently forgotten by leftists who otherwise claim great love for the document).

They say that when a ship is sinking, the rats run away first. This is precisely what is happening. The army of leftists who have grown accustomed to suckling off the udders of the socialist state, courtesy the Congress party and its first family, are deeply worried that Narendra Modi is undoing the system that they ruled over, a system that humiliated conservative Hindus for being themselves while keeping the poor, desperately poor and at the beck and call of a a massive state. Modi is not Vajpayee and he is not interested in keeping the status quo and unknowingly allowed the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty's structure (what I call the 'Deep Congress') to remain intact and ready to destroy him. If the fact that Sahgal is related to this dynasty directly is lost on the die-hard supporters of the party, then her declaration that the only reason she chose to return her award for the Dadri Lynching, and not the any of the countless communal tragedies that have happened before, is because the current government if a 'Hindutva' one, which is code for Narendra Modi. Human tragedy is not the point at all here, it is purely political.

It is therefore a great victory for Modi that these rats are jumping ship - clearly he is doing something right against them! Moreover, it gives a chance for people to see for themselves the sort of leeches that the Congress has cultivated and those who have been sucking the Indian taxpayer. Instead of having to go through the arduous trials of due process, they have pleaded guilty by themselves. And what does that amount to? Modi may or may not win in 2019, but the Indian right is on the ascendancy. The Congress knows this, which is why it is using its proxies in this incident instead of taking it on directly; it is also why Rahul Gandhi's puppet masters have been trying to cultivate his latest soft Hindutva image (in an echo of his father). By disrobing themselves such, the right wing will know its enemies and, at the opportune time, it will strike. The greatest power of a massive leftist state is its ability to maintain secrets - that is being eroded. Indian philosophy says that victory and defeat happen in cycles, one must learn to gain from both of them. That is exactly what the Indian right is doing, whether one calls it victory or defeat.

And therefore, Nayantara Sahgal deserves a big thanks from the right wing for initiating this mass disclosure of loyalties. Only Pakistan has been able to do this before. 

Answer the Palestinian Question

The recent spate of violence in Israel, centered around stabbing by both sides, and presumably triggered by restrictions placed at the disputed Temple Mount/al Aqsa mosque, is a worrying trend that frustration is growing on both sides over an unsustainable status quo. While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has placed some emergency measures, they may only cure the symptom but not the whole problem. The real question is of the future of Palestine and the answer, while not easy, has to come sooner than later to avoid yet more escalation. Except for its staunch ally America and possibly its new ally India, Israel is very much turning into a pariah internationally, which is a matter of deep concern for its wellwishers who wish to see it assume its rightful place as a free nation.

The biggest problem are the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which are illegal by International Law and which no country will accept as being sovereign Israeli territory, not even Israel's allies. President Obama, who is the head of state of the US whether Netanyahu likes him or not, has repeatedly demanded that these settlements be halted, and has been rebuffed each time, one of the key reasons Israel-US tensions have been on the rise. These settlements make Israel's claims of wanting peace sound hollow as it looks to make a Palestinian state impossible through a thousand cuts. If a two-state solution is even on the cards, these settlements must not only end but be reversed altogether as a violation of International Law.

If, on the other hand, a two-state solution is not an option for Israel, as Netanyahu has said before, then the only solution is a one-state solution comprising both Jews and Palestinians, under the same law. This effectively means that the dream of the Jewish state would be impossible. The alternatives are thoroughly unacceptable to any decent human being: creating an apartheid state that discriminates against Palestinian citizens of Israel, or a Nazi solution of wiping out the Palestinians altogether. If Israel chooses either of these two, not even the US will be able to save it from the massive international backlash that it will face. There is no deal of propaganda, or even truthful explanations, that can explain a dead child.

Indeed, by choosing either of these two - the one-state or the two-state solution - Israel would be on a much stronger footing. It could easily invade an independent Palestine and tear Hamas apart by citing the rocket attacks as a declaration of war, and this time the typical leftist excuses of Palestine being ravaged by Israeli occupation would not hold water. While this might sound terrible, it is necessary in dealing with terrorists supported by a state (a lesson that both the US and India should learn in Pakistan) and indeed, perfectly justified as self-defense. If Palestine and its people, including Hamas, were to be absorbed into Israel, then Hamas would simply be an insurgent group that could be dealt with without the problems of the Oslo accords, and so-called questions of human rights would simply be subsumed as an internal affair.

More than the Palestinians, Israel has much to gain from concluding the long-drawn out peace process, which is what Israel's supporters greatly desire. For as long as the Palestinian question looms over its head, Israel remains handicapped globally. And as a corollary, status quo hurts Israel as much, if not more, than Palestine.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

War and Peace Lecture: Who gets respect?

For several years, Opinions 24x7 has honored the memory of Mahatma Gandhi through the Gandhi Peace Lecture series on his birth anniversary. This year too, we fully intend to do the same - however, with the passage of time, it has become clear that while Gandhi's principles of ahimsa and satyagraha remain relevant, they cannot be seen in isolation. Many of the moral issues that face us today, from terrorism to religious violence, cannot be fully addressed without examining the larger context in which non-violence exists. Therefore, 2015 onward, we have decided to rename the series as the War and Peace lecture.

This has an additional significance - October 2, the International Day of Non-Violence, is also the birth anniversary of India's second Prime Minister and victor of the 1965 War with Pakistan, Lal Bahadur Shastri. Shastri was no warmonger of course, he was after all a follower of Gandhi himself. But when faced with an impossible choice from Pakistan, and forced to expand the theater of fighting, marking the first time since Partition when Indian troops were at Lahore, he did not hesitate. It is then fitting that we rename the series to the War and Peace blog.

Any Difference?
But really, has anything changed? Does peace have any value unless it is backed by the promise of unacceptable war? What would have happened had the British ignored Gandhi and allowed him to die in one of his hunger strikes? The fear was certainly of massively violent resistance to the centuries old occupation of India, violence that would have been impossible for the occupiers to quell.

Not that there was no violence. The occupiers had hanged several revolutionary fighters, and the Indian National Army had conquered Burma as well as the British-Indian Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Britain was squeezed to defend not only itself in Europe but also its most prized colony. Seen in this historical context, the Quit India Movement was not just a moral fight against the British but one that threatened to push the entire Empire into total collapse before the Axis powers.

Subtle Difference
If war is the only way a mighty empire could be brought to its knees, was Gandhi's non-violent philosophy of any value? It seems that it does not, for its power only lies in the promise of war. But there is a difference, and that difference lies in the answer to the question as to who earns respect. Respect is not automatic between countries or people. Outside sophisticated social systems as in Asia (which are fast breaking up), respect can only be earned by an individual. Similarly, peace too must earn its respect. A peace that is achieved through the sledgehammer of total warfare does not earn respect.

And this is the key. An enemy, when faced with an adversary that they do not respect, will have no fear in fighting back with vengeance. That is why the British hanged the violent revolutionaries, or tried to hang officers of the INA after World War 2 at the Red Fort trials. For to them, there was nothing to respect in violence. Gandhi offered one thing that, in its most naked form, commanded respect - truth. The truth, as embodied in the American Declaration of Independence, that all men are born equal and free. No amount of violent suppression or indeed, any human activity, can change this truth. Only by grasping truth could Gandhi's peace win his war.

Truth earns respect. War and peace are but mere stages.