Why I won’t cel­e­brate In­dia’s in­de­pen­dence Public art spend­ing freeze is pos­si­ble

Calgary Sun - - COMMENT - — Colin Craig is the In­terim Al­berta Di­rec­tor for the Cana­dian Tax­pay­ers Fed­er­a­tion.

Aug. 15 will mark In­dia’s 70th an­niver­sary as a free coun­try. That was the day in 1947 when it emerged from its long, dark, win­ter of al­most 1,000 years of for­eign rule.

The first in­va­sion of In­dia, with the in­tent of per­ma­nent oc­cu­pa­tion and de­struc­tion of its Hindu ethos, was made by the Arabs in 710 AD.

Af­ter that came Afghan, Tur­kic and Cen­tral Asian bar­bar­ians who com­mit­ted un­told hor­rors on a largely civ­i­lized and peace­ful peo­ple.

In­dia still lives with the scars of these in­va­sions, but more on that later.

From the 16th cen­tury on­wards, it was the turn of the Euro­peans, who osten­si­bly came for trade, but re­duced In­dia from be­ing one of the most pros­per­ous places on earth, to one of the poor­est.

First came the Por­tuguese, fol­lowed by the Dutch, French and fi­nally the Bri­tish Raj, that lasted 200 years. In­dia’s in­de­pen­dence 70 years ago came at a huge price and left a per­ma­nent scar that may never go away.

The 7,000-year-old In­dian Jin­nah, or­dered a so-called “Di­rect Ac­tion Day” which ended in the killing of Hin­dus in the city of Cal­cutta, to black­mail the sec­u­lar In­dian Na­tional Congress to con­cede to his de­mand for the “Par­ti­tion of In­dia”.

This so he could carve out an Is­lamic state, claim­ing Mus­lims could not live un­der the rule of non-Mus­lims, par­tic­u­larly the sup­pos­edly “un­clean” Hin­dus.

On that day Jin­nah un­leashed his thugs in Cal­cutta to an orgy of death, slaugh­ter­ing Hin­dus without mercy. Thou­sands were killed.

A Hindu reprisal against Mus­lims is what Jin­nah was hop­ing for and he got what he had planned.

Days be­fore the ri­ots, Jin­nah told a press con­fer­ence, as re­ported by Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist Mar­garet Bourke-White in her book, Half­way to Free­dom: “We will ei­ther have a di­vided In­dia or a de­stroyed In­dia.”

Both Jawa­har­lal Nehru and Ma­hatma Gandhi suc­cumbed to Jin­nah’s black­mail.

By the time the mas­sacres were over, few Hin­dus or Sikhs were left alive in La­hore, the an­cient Hindu city be­lieved to be named af­ter “Luv” the son of Lord Ram.

While Mus­lims who moved to Pak­istan from In­dia came of their own ac­cord, Hin­dus and Sikhs did not leave their homes on their own ac­count. Many were hunted down and killed or chased away.

Just two years af­ter the world had said “Never Again,” what hap­pened to the Jews in Ger­many hap­pened to Hin­dus and Sikhs in the new Is­lamic state.

It is po­lit­i­cally in­cor­rect to say so, but the facts stare us in our face.

On Aug. 15, this Mus­lim Indo-Cana­dian will not cel­e­brate my moth­er­land’s am­pu­ta­tion.

I leave that for the fiction writ­ers, who live in the rar­efied air where lies are passed off as good­will ges­tures. tarek.fatah@sun­media.ca

If you’re an­gry about the new $500,000 piece of “public art” on the Trans-Canada Hwy. com­ing into Cal­gary, take note — we as tax­pay­ers have an op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing about such spend­ing.

Yes, com­mon sense has es­tab­lished a small beach­head on the shores of dys­func­tion known as city hall.

This past Fri­day, city Coun. Sean Chu tweeted a story about the new $500,000 art in­stal­la­tion and asked, “Does this waste­ful­ness burn you too?”

The Cana­dian Tax­pay­ers Fed­er­a­tion re­sponded to him on Twit­ter by ask­ing, “Will you ta­ble a mo­tion to sus­pend public art spend­ing un­til the econ­omy re­cov­ers?”

We sug­gested a drop in the city’s un­em­ploy­ment rate and food bank us­age could be used to help de­ter­mine when Cal­gary’s econ­omy had re­cov­ered.

Make no mis­take, the best so­lu­tion would be for the city to let the pri­vate sec­tor take the lead on pay­ing for public art in Cal­gary — per­haps through cor­po­rate spon­sor­ship, in­di­vid­ual do­na­tions and volunteers work­ing to­gether to make public art.

How­ever, in the short-term, con­vinc­ing coun­cil to hold off on public art spend­ing while our econ­omy re­cov­ers is a re­al­is­tic step in the right di­rec­tion.

Coun. Chu re­sponded to our re­quest by not­ing that he had “tried that as amend­ment but didn’t pass, sadly.”

Chu was re­fer­ring to an at­tempt back in 2015 to halt spend­ing on public art while Cal­gary’s econ­omy was mired in a re­ces­sion.

When we asked Chu to try again, he agreed. Great! Those of us who are dis­ap­pointed with coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to con­tinue to spend mil­lions on ques­tion­able public art each year — while rais­ing prop­erty taxes — don’t have to just sit around and fume.

We have a chance to do some­thing about the prob­lem.

Be­tween now and the next coun­cil meet­ing in Septem­ber, we need to call, email, tweet and send Face­book mes­sages to the mayor and city coun­cil­lors and con­vince just seven of them to back Chu’s mo­tion.

For­tu­nately, there are signs that we can make this hap­pen.

Coun­cil­lors Magliocca and Suther­land have also ex­pressed vary­ing de­grees of dis­ap­point­ment with the new piece of public art

Coun. Peter De­mong might also sup­port Chu’s pend­ing mo­tion.

Af­ter all, De­mong tabled a sim­i­lar one back in Fe­bru­ary 2015, but it was out­voted 9-5.

How­ever, a lot has changed since early 2015.

Busi­nesses have shed tens of thou­sands of jobs and thou­sands of Cal­gar­i­ans have re­ceived pay re­duc­tions.

It’s very dif­fi­cult to ar­gue the city should spend mil­lions on public art while food banks have line-ups stretched out the door.

Not to men­tion, the most re­cent ‘public art’ ex­hibit has re­sulted in a huge back­lash.

Not only are peo­ple dis­ap­pointed with such lux­ury spend­ing, many are aghast that the city paid some­one from New York City to de­sign it.

If we can mo­bi­lize the frus­tra­tion that’s out there into ac­tion, we can con­vince seven other coun­cil mem­bers to vote with Chu and put a freeze on public art spend­ing.

So share this story with your frus­trated friends — show them there’s hope.

With a bit of ef­fort, we can bring some com­mon sense to city hall.

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