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Posts Tagged ‘JN Nehru’

A case of full blown hubris!

May 26, 2010 8 comments
Full blown case of hubris! (Artist - Michael Cummings - Publisher - Daily Express - Date of publication - 11 May 1958)

Full blown case of hubris! (Artist - Michael Cummings - Publisher - Daily Express, Britain; Date of publication - 11 May 1958).

In the years after independence, Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten continued to meet, and write, and share a love of India. When she died, suddenly, at the age of 58, Nehru sent an Indian Navy frigate to the spot where she had been buried at sea in the English Channel, to cast a single wreath of marigolds. (via Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire – Alex von Tunzelmann – Books – Review – New York Times).

No one to check him

This is beyond my imagination! Sending an Indian Navy ship to throw flowers at a girl friend’s funeral!

Without a leader of competing stature within the Congress, to check his growing hubris, Nehru’s disconnect grew. Gandhiji was assassinated in 1948. Sardar Patel was no more by the end of 1950. Ambedkar in 1956 and in 1958, Maulana Azad passed away.

From the opposition, Savarakar was rendered toothless after being charged in Gandhiji’s assassination. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee died in 1953, JB Kripalani, JP Narayan, Vinoba Bhave all ‘retired’ from electoral politics. Leaving Nehru to run freely.

On the other hand, Nehru coopted the CPI, Ram Manohar Lohia et al, into espousing radical variations of his socialist policies.

Nehru and Eisenhower

Internationally, Nehru became close to Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower’s ideas of the ‘military-industrial’ complex, his infamous ‘domino theory’, in 1954, appealed to Nehru.

Nehru and Zhou Enlai /Chou en lai (Picture courtesy - Outlook)

Nehru and Zhou Enlai /Chou en lai (Picture courtesy - Outlook)

It was during Eisenhower presidency that both America and India were on the same side regarding the Anglo-French-Israeli Suez invasion and the Hungarian crackdown by the Soviets.

Nehru regarded Eisenhower highly. On the other hand, Nehru’s overtures to Stalin were met with hesitation.

The US also used Tibet and India to confront China – who the US was fighting in the Korean peninsula. It was Eisenhower’s repeated threats to use nuclear weapons which made the Chinese back off to the 38th parallel – and created a North Korean strategy to obtain nuclear weapons.

Nehru’s schizophrenic policy of ‘Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai’ on one hand, and ‘forward positions’ policy on the other hand, without adequate military, diplomatic preparation, tempted the Chinese to ‘teach India a lesson.’ The CIA deluded Tibet into a confrontation with China, by ‘training’ some stragglers and irregulars.

1956 Elections – Socialist Gains

Eisenhower’s Domino story seemed to resonate in Nehru’s mind after the 1956 election. A shocked Nehru stampeded towards socialism. CPI and the Praja Socialist Party, won 19.33% of the combined vote – versus Nehru’s Congress which got 47.78% of popular vote. The performance of the Praja Socialist Party, a party formed in 1952, whose founder-members were Jayaprakash Narayan, Ram Manohar Lohia, JB Kripalani, was especially unnerving. This challenge to Nehru within 10 years of Independence from a non-Congress platform made these socialist leaders, legends in their own lifetime.

Echoes from the past

Did the advance of the oppressive Nehruvian State spark the Mohammed Rafi song – Chal ud je ray panchi, Yeh desh hua begaana चल उड़ जा रे पंछी, के अब यह देस हुआ बेगाना from Bhabhi (1957) – starring Balraj Sahni, Nanda, Jagdeep, Durga Khote et al. Music was Chitragupt and lyrics were Rajendra Krishan.

Other 2ndlook posts  on Nehru

India-China Timeline (Source – India Today)

1949: India recognises the People’s Republic of China.1950: India opposes UN resolutions branding China as an aggressor in the Korean war.

1954: China and India sign Panchsheel treaty.

1955: India objects to the inclusion of a portion of northern frontier on the official map of China.

1956: Chou en Lai visits India for the second time. The border question is formally raised.

1958: India objects to inclusion of parts of Assam and NEFA as part of Chinese territories in its maps.

1959: Dalai Lama escapes from Tibet, India gives asylum. China refuses to accept the McMohan line. Chinese troops kill nine Indian soldiers and capture 10 in Aksai Chin.

1960: Pushed by Khrushchev, Chou en Lai meets Nehru in Delhi. Talks end in a deadlock.

1961: Border skirmishes intensify.

1962: China captures Bomdilla and then announces an unilateral ceasefire.

1962: Colombo proposals negotiated between Nehru and Chou en Lai.

‘We needed to make a demon of Jinnah… Let’s learn from our mistakes’

August 18, 2009 2 comments
Could Advani have made such a misstep ...!

Could Advani have made such a misstep ...!

How seriously has India misunderstood Jinnah?

I think we misunderstood because we needed to create a demon.

We needed a demon because in the 20th century, the most telling event in the entire subcontinent was the partition of the country.

Your book reveals how people like Gandhi, Rajagopalachari and Azad could understand the Jinnah or the Muslim fear of Congress majoritarianism but Nehru simply couldn’t understand. Was Nehru insensitive to this?

No, he wasn’t. Jawaharlal Nehru was a deeply sensitive man.

But why couldn’t he understand?

He was deeply influenced by Western and European socialist thought of those days. Nehru believed in a highly centralised polity. That’s what he wanted India to be. Jinnah wanted a federal polity.

Because that would give Muslims the space?

That even Gandhi understood.

You conclude that if Congress could have accepted a decentralised federal India, then a united India, as you put it, “was clearly ours to attain”. Do you see Nehru at least as responsible for partition as Jinnah?

He says it himself. He recognised it and his correspondence, for example with the late Nawab Sahab of Bhopal, his official biographer and others. His letters to the late Nawab Sahab of Bhopal are very moving.

(via ‘We needed to make a demon of Jinnah… Let’s learn from our mistakes’).

A ‘victorious’ Congress, ruling for most of the 60 years of post-colonial India, had three clear propaganda imperatives.

The Masters Glee - Confusion of Indian Independence

The Masters Glee - Confusion of Indian Independence

1 – TINA, There is no alternative

They needed to prove that it was only the Congress which could ‘take on’ and  ‘defeat’ the ‘glorious and the mighty’ British Empire on which the sun never set. The logic went, “what could India(ns) have done without the Congress”. This thinking went deeper and dirtier, when a certain Deb Kant Barooah, declared “India is Indira and Indira is India.”

Similarly, Congress decided to re-write history and take all credit for the departure of the British colonialists. Contributions of leaders like SC Bose was ignored or the importance of the February 1946 joint action by the Indian Armed Forces against the colonial forces, was minimized to the ‘Naval Ratings Mutiny.’ Leaders like VD Savarkar (the first to write a non-colonial history of the War of 1857), or Shyama Prasad Mukherjee (the founder of the Jana Sangh-BJP) was dismissed as fascism.

Fact is, that Britain was bankrupt and could not hold onto India. Fact is, that for a 150 years – from 1797-1947, many rebellions, wars, individual hits were made against the colonial British Government. The myth of non-violent Indian freedom movement, served both colonial and Congress interests. It showed the British as ‘civilized’ colonialists – and the Congress as ‘enlightened’ leadership. Just like most Western literature caricatures African-American characters as hard-working, humble, docile, placid, obedient, gentle!

2 – If you don’t have an enemy, create one!

The Congress needed to create an enemy. A demon, who they could blame, use, abuse – and Pakistan fitted the bill perfectly. A failed state (!), a hotbed of terrorism – and to top it all, an Islamic State. What more could the West-Congress combine ask for?

Easily slipping into colonial legacy of ‘divide et impera’, the Congress went onto a disastrous foreign policy trail of Hindi-Chini bhai bhai. A solid realtionship with Pakistan would have,  arguably, saved Tibet from the Chinese maws – which Nehru’s foreign policy predicated.

Basking in the glory of Western approval

Basking in the 'glory' of Western approval

3 – Craven desires

To gain Western approval, acceptance, favours, privileges et al.

Consider the English language policy of the post-colonial Congress Government. It has massively subsidized English education in India so that the children of the elite could ‘escape’ to the West. The demeaning ‘population control theory’, the English language education – all, a result of this need of the Congress Party.

The deliberate colonial distortion of Indian history continues unchecked and unhindered. You only have to read Congress Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh’s speech at Oxford, praising the Raj,  while receiving his honorary doctrate, or Chidambaram’s decision to end “abject poverty” in India that he seems to “have known for 5,000 years.”

Coming to the BJP

When Advani goes to Pakistan and praises Jinnah, it cannot be an accident, or a slip of the tongue. It had to be a deeply thought out, well considered move – one can say, after watching Advani for nearly 30 years now. The man does not go out and missteps so wrongly. The ‘Advani-Jinnah-comments-fracas’ was for media consumption – and BJP party workers. If Advani wanted to re-write history (about time too), that was one way!

And if there were any doubts, then Jaswant Singh’s book, seals the argument.

PS –

  1. Dutifully, within 48 hours, the BJP decided to ‘expel’ Jaswant Singh from the party, for his pro-Jinnah book on 19th August, 2009.
  2. Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, promptly banned the book, in Gujarat. I see good sales for Jaswant’s book – and rehabilitation of Jinnah in India, BJP willing.
  3. On 23rd August Arun Shourie, ‘tore’ into the BJP leadership on the subject of Jaswant’s Singh’s book. India Today reported that he said, “Jaswant Singh’s book is a scholarly work. It deserves to be read,”, criticising the party for pulling the Jinnah remark out of context of the entire book.
  4. One day later, on 24th August,  KS Sudarshan, the former head of RSS weighed in on Jaswant Singh’s side. It was reported that
  5. “Jinnah had many facets. If you read history then you will come to know that Jinnah was with Lok Manya Tilak and was totally dedicated to the nation. And when Gandhi started the Khilafat movement, with the idea that currently we are opposing the British and if Muslims join in then their support will help gain independence. But at that time Jinnah opposed it saying that if the Caliph in Turkey has been dethroned, what has India got to do with it. That time nobody listened to him, which saddened him. So he quit the Congress and left for England and only returned in 1927,” Sudarshan said.
  6. On August 26th, 2009, newspapers reported that in response to BJP’s Jinnah-offensive the “Cong threatens protests against attack on Nehru”. Additional reports, stated that the “Cong(ress) plans defend-Nehru movement”. Manish Tiwari, the Congress spokesman rationalized that, “approval of Jinnah could easily come from the BJP-RSS leadership because “they had no role in the freedom struggle”.
  7. On 30th August, 2009, a former general secretary and vice-president, Pyarelal Khandelwal, wrote a letter suggesting that
  8. “Jaswant Singh’s expulsion should be taken back and the matter should be discussed with him in a respectable manner to resolve the problem,” the letter states. “The case gives the impression that while acting against the senior leader some party leaders had a well-planned intent to corner him and they showed too much haste,” Khandelwal says in the letter. It would have been proper and in keeping with the party’s image if the controversial portions of the book had been seriously discussed before taking action, as was done “in the case of Arun Shourie where a lot of patience was exercised”. Khandelwal also suggests that had Jaswant Singh himself kept the party view in mind and sent in writing details of the book before its release or discussed the issue with the appropriate people in the party, this situation could have been avoided. “The discipline of the party could also have been kept intact,” Khandelwal said.
  9. On 5th September, that “though BJP has expelled Jaswant Singh from the party, its parent organisation, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has invited his son Manvendra Singh to its national meeting in Mumbai.”
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