Sunday, January 30, 2011



Everybody wants the discredited Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who is still tenaciously sticking to power, to go.

2. But nobody knows who can command the respect and confidence of the street protesters after he goes. The faces of the real leaders of the revolt are still hidden.

3.What are the characteristics of the revolution now sweeping across the Arab world?

4. Is it a genuinely democratic revolution? Many of us, including me, thought it was and still hope it is, but we --- at least I---are no longer certain it is.

5. Is it an Islamic Revolution with a democratic mask?

6. Many of us, including me, thought it was not and still hope it is not, but we--- at least I-- are no longer certain it is not.

7. Particularly after seeing the welcome that was accorded to the 69-year-old Rachid Ghannouchi, the Islamist leader of Tunisia, who returned to Tunisia this week-end after having lived in political exile in Europe for nearly 22 years. Thousands of people -- it is a large number for Tunisia--- welcomed him at the Tunis airport. No political ambition, he proclaimed, but nobody in Tunisia takes his proclamation seriously.

8. The democrats and secularists in Tunisia, who are concerned over his return, were also at the airport to caution him to behave and not to try to hijack the Jasmine revolution after it has succeeded and turn its white colour into green.

9. They shouted: " "No Islamism, no theocracy, no Sharia and no stupidity! " The number of people whom they could mobilise was very small. Some reports say less than a hundred.

10. Is it a harbinger of an emerging struggle between democrats and Islamists---with the Islamists ultimately expropriating the gains of the revolution and imposing an Islamic rule instead of the democratic rule hoped for by the protesters and for which many of them sacrificed their lives?

11. This is not a far-fetched scenario. It happened in Iran post-1979. The children of what seemed a democratic revolution in the beginning were devoured by the Islamists after they came to power with their help and an Islamic rule was imposed on Iran.

12. As the cliche goes, every revolution begins with noble intentions and ends up by devouring its own children.

13.What happened in Iran post-1979 could happen in Tunisia, Egypt and the rest of the Arab world in the months to come.

14. Irrespective of whether Mubarak lasts in power for a few more hours, a few more days or a few more months, he is already passee. He is already on his way to the dustbin of history.

15. How to ensure that it is democracy and religious and political moderation that will emerge as the ultimate victor? That is a question to be tackled by the people of these countries. The international community will have little role in deciding the future shape of things to come in these countries. Its options are very limited. One thing it can and should do is to refrain from supporting elements which stand discredited and which have become the anathema of the people. And hope for the best, while mentally preparing itself for less than the best. (31-1-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )



I have been in receipt of the following letter by E-Mail from Mr.Christophe Jaffrelot, an eminent academic and analyst from France, who analyses from time to time the various aspects of the Hindutva phenomenon in sections of the media. The letter is self-explanatory. I would like to assure him that my reference to him in my article did not mean that I agree with any criticism of him. My article summing up the salient points of the detailed comments received/ seen by me was not the outcome of any pressure on me.Those who know me well would vouch for the fact that I am an intellectually fair and courageous person who never succumbs to any pressure from any quarter---governmental or non-governmental, from any section of the political spectrum, right, left or centre . A large number of Hindutva enthusiasts--- including some personally known to me---- felt hurt and anguished by the defamatory attacks on me as well as by the strong lanugage used by me in my response to those attacks. I felt that fairness demanded that I should carry in my blog a summary of the comments from the Hindutva enthusiasts along with my further observations where needed.--B.Raman 31-1-11


I have just read your piece "Reactions to my article on Hindutva in the web world". I have been shocked to see that I was mentioned there among the foreigners who "make an earning out of denigrating the Hindutva enthusiasts". Since you make a point, in each of your written contributions, to be accurate, in addition to the spelling of my name, I would like to correct the substance of your judgement. I earn nothing - financially or otherwise - in doing what my conscience dictates and what the ethical code of my occupation requests. Being from a continent which has experimented the Nazi and Fascit episodes you referred to recently, I try to be in peace with myself and to gather the needed courage for that. I do hope that you will continue to follow the path you had taken in spite of an obviously strong pressure.

Yours sincerely,

Christophe Jaffrelot