INDIA AND Pakistan teeter on the brink of all-out nuclear warfare. New Nukes by Praful Bidwai and Achin Vanaik charts the way Western governments poured arms and nuclear technology into the region. The book also explains how the governments of India and Pakistan squandered resources on warfare to the detriment of the mass of people. Kashmir is the flashpoint for this crisis.
Tariq Ali's new book, The Clash of Fundamentalisms, has an excellent chapter on Kashmir. It shows how the region is made up of diverse peoples
with different religions who share a common tradition and cultural practices. Ali powerfully exposes how the ruling classes of India and Pakistan use Kashmir as a political tool. He says Kashmir is the unfinished business of partition. Recent killings in Gujarat are tragic reminders of communal hatreds whipped up during that episode. Novels provide graphic descriptions of the communal violence of partition that left ten million dead.
Tamas by Bhisham Sahni and Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh are powerful stories of Hindu, Sikh and Muslim communities living together.
Both books show that partition and the demand for separation had little support, until the violence began. They are both written by authors committed to a secular, united India. They are an indictment of the role of the British and nationalist leaders complicit in divide and rule policies.