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Be afraid … Very afraid, Manubhai

Akali leader, Master Tara Singh threatened to go a hunger strike for a Punjab based on linguistic lines, had Nehru worried. RK Laxman's cartoon on Akali leader, published on June 23, 1961. (Image courtesy - timesofindia.com.). Click for larger image.

Akali leader, Master Tara Singh threatened to go a hunger strike for a Punjab based on linguistic lines, had Nehru worried. RK Laxman's cartoon on Akali leader, published on June 23, 1961. (Image courtesy - timesofindia.com.). Click for larger image.

Examining the history of political causes in the Indian context, should be a cause of concern to the Indian Government. The cynicism and casual attitude of Indian authorities is misplaced.

Western debates

For much time after Independence, the Indian Government spent time dilly-dallying on identifying boundaries of administrative States. Some suggested, that like Europe had drawn some arbitrary lines across Africa, India also should do the same. Or like the straight-line boundaries of States that make up the USA.

Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; Courtesy timesofindia.com. Click for larger image.

Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev's hunger strikes have touched a raw nerve across India. Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; Courtesy timesofindia.com. Click for larger image.

Western predictions about the collapse of the Indian nation were never absent from the public sphere. Without a past to go by, Nehru dithered.

You can’t hide

The man in the vanguard of the linguistic reorganization of states movement was Potti Sreeramulu – from Chennai. While Potti Sreeramulu was a Telugu, he was from Chennai – which at that time had a bigger Telugu population than today.

At stake was the issue of Chennai– then Madras. Would Chennai go to Tamil Nadu, when it was formed, or go to Andhra Pradesh, whose formation was already announced.

Rajagopalchari, another acolyte of Western ‘capitalism’, ignored Potti Sreeramulu. Finally after years of dithering, by Nehru’s administration, Potti Sriramulu went on a hunger strike.

Nehru and Rajagopalchari took no notice. Potti Sriramulu died. The formation of Andhra Pradesh followed.

Hunger strikes make rulers look bad

Gandhiji’s hunger-strikes were famous the world over – and the British made a pretense of succumbing to this moral force, at least in the case of Gandhiji.

Be afraid. Very afraid. What happens if Baba Ramdev ... (Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for larger image.

Be afraid. Very afraid. What happens if Baba Ramdev ... (Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for larger image.

Remember, the British had been casual about the demands and the subsequent death of a political prisoner, Jatin Das during hunger strike at Lahore Jail. Even before, in Northern Ireland, the death of Terence MacSwiney, the Lord Mayor of Cork, who died on 74-day hunger strike in 1920, while a prisoner of the British government, did not shake the British much.

Nehru’s indifference to Potti Sriramulu hunger-strike was a great propaganda point for the West. Nehru’s reputation was sullied.

Agony prolonged

After the death of Potti Sriramulu and the formation of Andhra Pradesh, demands for other States followed.

Samyukta Maharashtra was again very noisy and divisive. Similarly, Nehru dragged his feet on Punjab too. Master Tara Singh of the Akali Dal went on a hunger strike. A worried Nehru, ‘keeping in anxious touch with developments while making a tour of Uttar Pradesh’, had Tara Singh arrested. More than 30,000 Sikhs joined Master Tara Singh in jails across North India. Punjab, Haryana and Himachal followed.

Manubhai - Anna-Baba may not be very sophisticated politically or ideologically. But they are touching a protest nerve. That is the दुखती रग ' dukhti rag.' (Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for larger image.

Manubhai - Anna-Baba may not be very sophisticated politically or ideologically. But they are touching a protest nerve. That is the दुखती रग 'dukhti rag.' (Cartoon by Ajit Ninan; courtesy - timesofindia.com). Click for larger image.

India different

60 years on, many of these States are larger than 90% of the countries in the world.  There is need to break them up into smaller units. There are growing demands to do the same. Telangana is one such case – which has hung fire for more than 40 years.

Meanwhile the anti-corruption protests are reminiscent of the Jaya Prakash Narayan’s movement in the 1970s, which finally paralysed the Indian State – and provoked Indira Gandhi to impose emergency.

Indians joining in these protests, are protesting about many issues – and using Anna Hazare’s and Baba Ramdev’s Anna-Baba protest vehicle to ride. Anna-Baba have succeeded in identifying the दुखती रग ‘dukhti rag’ – the jangling nerve, of the people.

Anna-Baba’s agendas are thin – very thin. But the people are thick as flies. Just like Jaya Prakash Narayan’s movement.

Manubhai, those who don’t learn from history …

The cost of American attention

December 3, 2010 Leave a comment
President Gerald R. Ford and the Shah of Iran confer over a map during the Shah's May 1975 visit to Washington, D.C. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger sits in the background. (Photo courtesy of Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library)

President Gerald R. Ford and the Shah of Iran confer over a map during the Shah's May 1975 visit to Washington, D.C. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger sits in the background. (Photo courtesy of Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library)

Gratitude – the heaviest burden

Policy mavens in India, the print and visual media, all ‘gratefully’ acknowledge US role in the de-hyphenation of India and Pakistan. Indians have also become grateful to the USA, for ‘allowing’ India to play a role in Afghanistan.

So, India was at pains to justify its own policy, when Obama called on India to re-look at support to the regimes in Iran and Myanmar (Obama still calls it Burma).

India would do well to look at some facts and history. I will not use the indefensible and well-known US record in Pakistan.

Look back in anger

Instead, let us look at Iran itself. Shri Obamaji, can you without cringing, recall American involvement in Iran? Iran, under the Shah of Iran? A more totalitarian and repressive regime the people of Iran have not seen. A regime that the US installed, supported, promoted and shoved down the throats of Iranians.

Regime change

Are you forgetting Chile-General Pinochet, Bhai Obama? The military junta of Chile, that the USA supported, promoted, aided, propped up – and installed. After murdering the democratically elected President of Chile. Hint – his name was Salvador Allende. Choosing between Chile’s generals, the Shah of Iran and the Myanmarese junta is a no-brainer. Lessons we don’t need, Shri Obama? At least, not from America!

India may soon have a nuclear China, Pakistan, Iran at its borders. (Cartoonist - Patrick Chappatte in "International Herald Tribune"; cartoon courtesy - sinotrading.us). Click for larger image.

India may soon have a nuclear China, Pakistan, Iran at its borders. (Cartoonist - Patrick Chappatte in "International Herald Tribune"; cartoon courtesy - sinotrading.us). Click for larger image.

Oh! And by the way

You should know something about Afghanistan. Something which your State Department probably has not informed you.

India and Afghanistan was India.Till the British Raj lost Afghanistan.

Americans and Obama do no favor to India by accepting India’s interest, role and influence in Afghanistan. We Indians still remember that Afghanistan was an essential part off India – as do the Afghans. Without taking recourse to Ashoka, Mauryans and the Gupta kingdoms, which ruled over Afghanistan. Indian TV shows still rule over Afghanistan.

From 14th-18th century, it was the Afghan Indians who ruled over North India and Delhi. Ranjit Singh’s Sikh kingdom ruled over Afghanistan till about 170 years ago.

Coming back to Iran

Any regime is better than the American-installed Shah’s misrule. The reactionary Islamic regime in Iran is a result of the US-sponsored nightmare under the Shah. Some 30 years ago, Ayatollah Khomeini, returning from exile, seemed like deliverance, after the Shah fled Iran.

The cost of American attention and lessons of Pakistan are not lost. The people of Iran, I am sure, will do well without American attention. I have no doubt that the pendulum of politics in Iran will swing towards sanity and balance – soon. Unlike Pakistan, an American client-State.

Americans and Bourbons – learn nothing , forget nothing

What I seriously doubt is the American ability to learn or forget. The USA cannot forget Haiti, or learn from the Cuba. Even 200 years after Haiti’s independence. And a 100 years after America failed to ‘purchase’ Cuba.

The Cost Of Western ‘Aid’

October 5, 2008 3 comments

a picture of Milton Friedman, the doyen of the Chicago School — he and his cohorts were the other doctors — and their battle to win the hearts and minds of Latin Americans. Middle-of-the-road economists who advocated a more gradualist approach were marginalised — in fact, one of them was car-bombed by Chilean dictator Pinochet’s secret police — as the Chicago boys took over. The war on terror was really a war against all the obstacles that stood in the way (via V V: Capitalism and its violence).

Could India Have Resisted ‘Western Advisors’

While the role of ‘Russian’ advisors has been well documented by Western media, the role of Western advisors is usually forgotten.

This is interesting stuff, because most Indians today forget that the West speaks from both sides of the mouth – and while the “Western’ advisors pushed planned economies, even in the USA, they are today picking holes in India’s growth management record during that period.

Eminent Economists Were Sent To India

A ‘free-market’ economist like Milton Friedman also got involved in the Indian exercize – and like this blog shows, the argument was more about content, rather than the planning process itself.

Few remember that the US deputed JK Gailbraith, an ’eminent’ economist , who was made an ambassador to India, to ‘guide’ the Indian Government, during Jawaharlal Nehru’s time. The major output of that advice was the discredited population policy of India.

Western aid was tied to India following such advice. This continued to happen till 1991 – like this incident shows. MJ Akbar quotes on how American influence was behind Manmohan Singh’s appointment in 1991.

The West was all about planned economies

It must be remembered that West was pushing planned economies not just down Indian throats – but down the throats of a hapless, starving Europe also. The most memorable cases came from Britain. Tired of food shortages, rationing, a desperate Britain announced

ill fated grandiose scheme that were heralded, with many a flourish of political trumpets, before grinding to an ignominious halt under the sheer weight of bureaucratic inertia and slipshod planning. The very names of these schemes – groundnuts from Tanganyika, eggs in Gambia, rice in Nyasaland – will evoke wry smiles among those whose memories can stretch back to the immediate postwar years, when “big is beautiful” caught the imagination of planners and politicans alike.

Colonialism and development- Britain (from Colonialism and development: Britain and its tropical colonies, 1850-1960 By Michael Ashley Havinden, David Meredith)

Colonialism and development- Britain (from Colonialism and development: Britain and its tropical colonies, 1850-1960 By Michael Ashley Havinden, David Meredith)

Modern India

And like this review shows, many of the benefits that we take for granted and proud of, were a result of Nehruian planning!

Failed Westernisations

February 7, 2008 Leave a comment

Guernica / America’s Century of Regime Change

More by Kinzer on Regime Changes.

Failed Westernisations

For ambitious nations wanting to modernise, the easy way out seemed to be ‘copycat’ westernisation. Amongst the first ‘copycat’ states were China and Turkey. China, led by Sun Yat Sen, was the first major power, which tried going down the western path. The Japanese invasion of Manchuria sounded the death knell of the Chinese Republic and Monarchy.

Ataturk’s Turkey

Turkey – led by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was the next ‘copycat’ attempt at westernisation. After WW2, the victorious allied powers dismantled the Ottoman Empire. Turkey was reduced to a rump state.

For more click here.

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