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.
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.
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
- Warped Indian history – By Nehru
- Cong plans defend-Nehru movement
- India & Socialism – Nehruvian Folly?
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.
Lal, Bal and Pal Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal who hailed from Punjab, Maharashtra and Bengal, respectively, and adopted Swaraj as the destiny of the nation, could form the subject of yet another pavilion. Tilak’s memorable phrase, “Swaraj is my birthright and i shall have it”, his differences with the more moderate Gopal Krishna Gokhale and the split in the Congress into an ‘aggressive nationalist’ wing under him and a moderate wing under the latter may provide some of the themes for this pavilion. The Partition of Bengal and its reversal forced by the swadeshi movement, the visit of King George V and the Delhi-Lahore conspiracy are some additional events the pavilion could exhibit. (via Another Tryst With Destiny – The Times of India).
Post-colonial Indian history has been completely swamped by Congress propaganda. Leaders in the vanguard, the leading lights, have been have been cursorily dismissed or their names wiped clean. Those who pursued different directions, disagreed with GNP (Gandhi /Nehru /Patel) were villified, ignored or dismissed. Leaders like Lal, Bal and Pal, are completely forgotten. Subhash Chandra Bose is a vague memory today.
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 Madan Mohan Malaviya, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee (the founder of the Jana Sangh-BJP) was dismissed as fascism.
A ‘victorious’ Congress, ruling for most of the 60 years of post-colonial India, had three clear propaganda imperatives. One – There is no alternative to the Congress. Two – If you don’t have an enemy create one . Like Pakistan. Three – Gain Western approval.
The threads of Indian independence
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! Fact is, that Britain was bankrupt and could not hold onto India. Congress decided to re-write history and take all credit for the departure of the British colonialists.
Apart from the War of 1857, there were more than 75 battles, skirmishes, revolts, mutinies, involving thousands, up to lakhs of Indians, across India. And more than double that many conspiracies, plots, hold-ups, explosions, bombings, which were not organized. These more than 200 violent actions have been completely glossed over by post-colonial India’s historians. Obviously, more than 200 incidents of violent opposition to British misrule over 150 years (1800-1947) deserves better treatment by official historians. Especially, the people who were ‘behind’ this.
Fact is, that Britain was bankrupt and could not hold onto India.
- Desi Nostalgia For British Raj (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- The British Salt Tax. How Damaging? (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- ‘Opium financed British rule in India’ (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- How British Raj Ended Thugee in India (2ndlook.wordpress.com)
- Canadian Author Unveils Stunning Masterpiece on Website (prweb.com)
For the opportunity to make a mark is more at state level, where the administrative unit is small enough for a strong-willed and focused chief minister to be able to make a difference. No one took notice of Nitish Kumar when he was in New Delhi, but he has now made a reputation for himself as chief minister in Bihar, in just 41 months. The same goes for Naveen Patnaik (anyone remember the portfolio he held as a central minister?), who stands tall in Orissa. The examples of Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh and Digvijay Singh in Madhya Pradesh have been touted often enough, but there are more contemporary examples too, like Narendra Modi in Gujarat—who has outshone all the BJP leaders in New Delhi who saw themselves as the inheritors after the Vajpayee-Advani era. Vasundhara Raje Scindia had a similar opportunity in Rajasthan, but she muffed it. Now there is growing recognition of Shivraj Singh Chauhan in Madhya Pradesh and Raman Singh in Chattisgarh. Even Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was beginning to acquire star value, till Nandigram and Singur happened. (via Business-Standard).
It brings out one interesting development. LK Advani (?) and Manmohan Singh are possibly going to be the last colonial-era Prime Ministers of India. The next generation of political leaders will be Indians who have grown in the post colonial India.
Colonialism is hearsay, propaganda, exaggerations – a second hand experience, to most young post-colonial Indians. Brought up on a diet of nation building, socialism, (opportunistic) English education, limited exposure to the rest of the world, they have seen rapid change. From an India, which was a ship-to-mouth basket case, to an emerging power, seems to be have been a facile and an easy experience – with little credit being given to Indian political leadership for managing the post-colonial Indian system.
The One Solution to all problems
In the immediate post-colonial India, for every problem, there were two common remarks. One, “The Government should do something about this.” The second was, “It is not like this in foreign countries.” Whether it was overflowing drain or a pothole on the road. Looking back, things have changed.
Over the years, Indians use this phrase less and less. These phrases are now close to becoming either extinct or may even become a parody. It may make its way into Indian films as a joke.
Success … hubris …caution
On one side it makes them brash – but more dangerously, it makes them see the future simplistically, as a case of just adopting or modifying the Western model to suit Indian requirements. This is in itself may not objectionable, but for the fact, that most of the new leaders have been fed on a staple diet of Western propaganda – where the elephants in the Western rooms have become all but invisible. Don’t believe me – look at Chidambaram saying that he wants to end 5000 years of Indian poverty.
Elephants in the room
Western models, which have evolved through the prism of slavery, colonialism, genocide, concentration of power are an end-of-life model. To use end-of-life products may seem like a low cost solution in the short run. The bigger issue in most cases is the lock-in effect that these legacy systems impose on the ‘buyers’ – e.g. Singapore.
This, then may become the biggest risk in the future – the mute and blind acceptance of ‘dominant’ Western models. Aiding this risk is the English language education, which is one such legacy system, which has locked India into a high cost spiral of adopting decrepit Western models with decreasing returns.
India’s successes have been built on Indian models – and Western models have been singularly unsuccessful.
How will India’s young leader’s face up to this challenge? Will they ‘fall into the trap’ of copying successful countries or take the easier path of renewing the Indic model, which may initially, seem difficult.
Socialite Paris Hilton showed off her ignorance recently when she thought Gordon Ramsay was the British prime minister.
She said: “I love Britain. London is my favourite city in the world.” But when asked if she knew who the British prime minister was, she replied, “Yes, it’s Gordon Ramsay, isn’t it?” (via Paris Hilton thinks Gordon Ramsay, and not Brown, is British PM).
I think Rahul Gandhi needs to learn from Paris Hilton. After all, why waste time with Britain – a nation, 5 times over its GDP, in debt. A nation, that is a nobody in manufacturing, services, currency – a nation in terminal decline into anonymity?
Rahul Gandhi’s dalliance with Milliband reminded me of Nehru’s dalliance with the Mountbattens. I am still unclear who Nehru was having an affair with – Lord or Lady Mountbatten?
And I think, it was the reporters that got it all wrong. Why did this reporter think that Paris Hilton should know who the Prime Minister of Britain was?