H C Singh

Brief Review of India from Midnight to the Millennium and Beyond – By Shashi Tharoor

This is the most famous and perhaps the best book written by former Asst Secretary General of UN and former cabinet minister of India. As Shashi writes frankly without inhibitions a number of politicians and even writers and intellectuals get agitated. As a result Shashi Tharoor became controversial as a writer as a politician and as an intellectual. Accordingly he had to tender his resignation from the coveted ministership of UPA. Basic facts about India, its past and future, despair and hope are as under:

Most important development from midnight of August 15, 1947 to present day (millennium) is economic development. Under Nehru era because of socialistic pattern of society and state central of industries the economic growth was virtually static. It is only after Narsima Rao included in his cabinet brilliant economist Dr Manmohan Singh who had been in World Bank before coming to India as governor of Reserve Bank and ushered a complete change in economic systems. Economic growth jumped to 5% of GDP to 8.7% and was about to touch 10% of GDP. In Shashi Tharoor’s words country’s dynamic growth, averaging 5.9 percent annually at the cusp of the millennium and rising to 8 percent by 2007 with talk of even 10 percent in the next 5 years and “India’s gross domestic produce is rising so rapidly that it increases each year by amount that exceed the total GDP of Portugal or Norway.” The other significant fact is that “ India’s foreign reserves in 2007 exceed 140 billion dollars enough to cover fifteen months” worth of imports sixteen years ago, the country had to mortgage its gold in London because the foreign exchange were dry”.

Shashi Tharoor is against fundamentalism or communalism, whether it is of Hindus or Muslims. Though Shashi says he is a Hindu and is proud of Hinduism, its thousands of years old culture. In his own words: “I, too, am proud of my Hinduism. I do not want to cede its varieties to fanatics. To discriminate against another, to attack another, to kill another, to destroy another’s place of worship on the basis of his faith is not part of my dharma, as it was not Vivekananda’s. It is time to go back to these fundamentals of Hinduism. It is time to take Hinduism back from fumdamentalists.” Tharoor blames Muslim communalism, under Muslim League before and after independence and the partition of India and partition riots engineered by Muslims first in Bengal and then in Punjab, for the “ Hindu resurgence is the mirror image of Muslim communalism of 1947” Shashi Tharoor elucidates in few words. “Hinduism is a civilization not a dogma”. About bombing by Muslims in Bombay, in particular and elsewhere in India, Tharoor rightly and optimistically says “Bombs alone cannot destroy India, because Indians will pick their way through the rubble and carry on as they have done throughout history.”

Inspite of wide spread corruption all over the country in administration from villages, Tehsils, Districts, Provinces and the central government, inspite of separatist tendencies here and there, inspite of threats by neighbours like China and Pakistan, India will march ahead. In Shashi Tharoor’s words: “Corruption, violence, sectarianism, the criminalization of politics and widespread social tension all mounted during a period when a degree of economic liberalization opened up a new entrepreneurial ferment.” Shashi Tharoor is very optimistic about India’s future and rise in the comity of nations amongst the top 3 or 4 nations despite, at present, about 60 percent people living below poverty line because there is continuous rise in the jobs for all technocrats, doctors, business managers, farmers and even all types of labourers, organized or unorganized. India is definitely going to shine come what may.

 It is apt to conclude with Shashi Tharoor’s own words, “New ideas emerging from new experiences refresh and alter traditional ideas based on old experiences but do not replace them. One does not have to believe in the cynical view of history to accept the upanishdic idea of constant rebirth of the timeless. India is arguably the oldest continuing civilization in the world, one that in essence has throughout remained connected to, and conscious of its own antiquity (whereas Greeks, Egyptians and Persians had to rediscover or reinvent a past from which history had ruptured them). Secularism can only be effective when reconciled with and assimilated into, this continuing civilization” but “ Indian secularism should mean letting every religion flourish rather than privileging one above the rest, while ensuring that tradition of dharma infuses both in public policy and private conduct.”

 

August 5, 2010 Posted by | Achievers, Biography, Corruption, Hinduism, India, Indian Economy, Political Commentary, Politics | , , , | Leave a comment

Indian American Governors in the USA

It is great tribute to intelligence and adjustment of Indians in a foreign country, USA, to rise to such a coveted positions as to be governors of American states. Bobby Jindal was the first to be elected to US house of Representatives and then to become Governor. Equally, rather much more, is the achievement of an Indian-American woman, Nikki Haley to be nominated by Republican Party to become Governor of another American state. It is noteworthy that there are immigrants in large numbers form other Asian countries like China and Japan but none from their communities has attained high positions in American politics, not to speak of a Chinese or Japanese origin American becoming governor of an American state, though there are so called China towns and big Japanese enclaves.

Both Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley were brought up by Indian-American parents as Hindu and Sikh respectively. Both got converted to Christianity of their own as they grew up. Bobby Jindal embraced Christianity when he was too young and studying in High school while Nikki Randhawa became Christian at the age of 24 when she had experienced racial discriminated by white American against non-white Americans belonging to other religions than Christianity.

Bobby Jindal married an Indian-American girl. Priya Jolly when he was 24. Nikki married an American Christian Micheal Haley, after a Republican had called her ‘rag-headed’. Thus Amarita Nikki Randhava thereafter became Nikki Haley though she was daughter of Dr. Ajit and Raj Randhawa, hailing from Amritsar, the holy city of Sikhs like Vatican for Christians. But Nikki and Micheal Haley were married twice, once under Sikh rites in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib and again under Christian rites performed by a bishop.

Nikki Haley though has been nominated by Republican Party to be Governor of South-Carolina state will be actually sworn in November 2010. There are bound to be jubilations amongst American Indians, particularly amongst. American Sikhs, besides her relations in USA and India.

Governor Bobby Jindal is now 39 years old, while Nikki Haley is only 38 years old. To be Governors of American states in their thirties is really a big achievement. To be Governor of American state has the status and powers of an Indian states Governor as well as Chief Minister, as Governor of an American state appoints his own Cabinet and other officials, they don’t have to be elected or nominated while in India Governor is mostly figure-head and is to act on the direction of President or Central Government while all power rests with the Chief Minister who is a political party’s nominee and has to follow the instructions and guidance of the Party.

July 7, 2010 Posted by | Achievers, Biography, India, Political Commentary, Punjabi, USA | , , , , | Leave a comment

Some Little Known Facts about Jallianwala Massacre

  Very few people in India, perhaps none abroad, know as to why General Dyer ordered massacre of innocent men women and children on April 13 1919, the Baisakhi day. Here are some important little known or unknown facts which resulted in the massacre of more than 500 and serious bullet injuries to more than 1500, mostly citizens of Amritsar who had gathered there to listen to Gandhi and other leaders against what Gandhi called “Devilish” piece of legislation ie. two Bills under Rowlett Act.

 Arthur Herman, the author of Book “Gandhi and Churchill, describes the event before massacre of hundreds of innocent Indians gathered in Jallianwala Bagh as under:

‘ Winston Churchill told the House of Commons , “Never has there been a time when people (Indians) were more disposed to turn to courses of violence or show such scant respect for law and custom , tradition and procedure.” To ally the fears of men like Churchill Indian government officials decided to act.’

In February 1919, as the Defense of India Act was to expire six months after the war; two bills by Sydney Rowlett, reached the Legislative Council in Delhi; “an outery began. Even with every Indian member (of legislative council) voting against it the bills were passed in March and became law. The two bills contained two controversial provisions. One allowed judges to convict suspected terrorist or subversives without a Jury, the other sanctioned interning those same suspects without trial.”

Gandhi thought by supporting British war effort India would get independence (Swaraj) or at least Home rule. So Gandhi had enthusiastically supported the British Empire in their war against Germany. He even went so far as to recruit 20 able-bodied persons from each village in Gujarat and walked for hundreds of miles. At the end he could recruit only forty instead of more than a thousand. He justified his war effort to the annoyance of his close associate (Sardar) Patel, who refused to be a party to that effort of Gandhi, due to twist in his philosophy of Ahimsa- Annie Besant sarcastically called Gandhi “Recruiting sergeant” of British Empire. Even many villagers felt ashamed of their Gandhi’s support to British and left his meetings or showed their back.

Gandhi justified his pro British stand. Gandhi went so far as to say “Of all my activities I regard this (recruitment) as the most difficult and the most important.”

It is surprising that there is no mention of Gandhi being pro-British upto 1919 in the ‘Advanced History of India’ by Dr R C Majumdar and others, and also Gandhi going to many villages to recruit as soldiers for British-Indian Army and the sarcastic remark of Annie Besant, that Gandhi was “Recruiting Sergeant” for the British.

It is noteworthy that Gandhi’s pro-British views in 1914 to 1919 were in absolute contrast to Annie Besant’s views…. Annie Besant a British citizen who came to India and after seeing extreme poverty in villages and the conditions of vast majority of Indians, the repressive imperialist rule by the same British who were just and democratic in their own country, got so perturbed that she started ‘Home Rule India’ party. She wanted British to concede independence to India. She said “The moment of England’s difficulty is the moment of India’s opportunity.” But Gandhi differed with her and wanted India to support British war effort “unconditionally, spiritually and physically.” Lokmanya Tilak was released from jail after the 1st world war started in 1914. Tilak wanted like many other Indians British to concede ‘Home Rule’ to India, if not independence, just now. He therefore joined Annie Besant’s Party. As a result within one year, Annie Besant’s ‘Home Rule League’ had more than 60,000 full time members while “Indian National Congress had only 20,000 members.”

However after the end of war with Germany, British Government and in particular imperialist Winston Churchill went back from their promise of conceding Home Rule to Indians. This made Indian National Congress furious and Gandhi, too, felt betrayed by British. So he joined the independence movement of Congress and was going to address congress sponsored meeting at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, just, adjoining the Golden Temple the holiest Sikh Gurdwara. But on way Gandhi was taken out of train before reaching Amritsar, arrested and taken to Bombay. Punjab Government, as well as the British Government of Delhi kept this and Jallianwala massacre and meeting as top secret and did not let anyone know for couple of months.

In brief here is sequence of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre on 13th April 1919: Dyer entered (Amritsar) city central with a convoy of Armoured cars, his troops following. With him was the Amritsar town “crier.” He was shouting Dyers order in Hindi and Punjabi, English and Urdu. “On reaching his temporary headquarters, he learnt that a demonstration was under way in Jallianwala Bagh. He became furious, rather lost balance, at the “deliberate violation” of his order and immediately marched with “ninety Baluchis and Gurkhas towards Jallianwala Bagh where thousands of citizens had gathered to protest against the ‘devilish’ provisions of Rowlett Act. With Dyer were only four British, two officers and two security guards. ‘Otherwise there were no white soldiers at all.’

Arthur Herman describes the order of Dyer as under:

“Dyer barked the order to open fire. For ten minutes Dyer encouraged his soldiers to keep shooting unless bodies carpeted the ground.” Dyer and his troops had marched off after completing the massacre in Jallianwala Bagh leaving about a thousand dead and more than 2000 wounded. “Cries of pain and moans rose to the roof tops, bodies lined the entire wall around the Bagh. In many places the eyewitnesses said, they were ten feet deep.”

Where an English woman had been pulled from her bicycle, “Dyer ordered every citizen of Amritsar to ‘crawl on all fours”. He also set up a whipping post where any ‘native’ who refused to crawl was to be flogged.

‘Gandhi did not hear of this massacre and cruelty at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar ‘until June’. For almost two months there was complete clampdown. But as the news of worst ever British tyranny trickled there were unceasing protests and cries all over India.

Jallianwala Bagh massacre united all Indians against British, for the first time. Rabindra Nath Tagore returned his knighthood in protest, Gandhi returned his Kaisar-e Hind medal that was awarded for his pro-British services in South Africa. Jinnaha relinquished his membership of imperial legislature. Motilal Nehru collected his British furniture, suits and ties and made bonfire in his home garden and started wearing hand span Khadi clothes.

“The evidence was harrowing. Eyewitnesses who had watched the Jallianwala Bagh killings from the rooftops had seen “blood pouring in profusion…even those who were lying down were shot….Some had their head cut open, others had eyes shot and nose, chest, arms or legs shattered.” Some witnesses had sat all night in the Bagh with dying husbands and brothers. Others remembered the bodies of those who had been shot, but managed to escape, being left in the street for dead-including the bodies of small children.”

 “At one point an entire wedding party had been flogged for failing to follow the crawling order.”

 The pain and cries because of more than a thousand deaths in Amritsar “united Indians as never before and after”. More than any other events “Amritsar and its aftermath solidified national support for Indian independence.

February 26, 2010 Posted by | Achievers, Biography, India, Indian History, Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa, Political Commentary, Politics, Punjabi, World, World History | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Gandhi in South Africa- Success, Failure and Firmness

 Gandhi had led agitation against registration of Indians who were required to be finger printed. Many were arrested including Gandhi for reentering Transval without registration. Gandhi had talks with General Smuts, Transval’s colonial secretary. After negotiations Gandhi, in exchange of release of all Indians agreed to the “condition” of finger printing to which earlier Gandhi had called “Block Act” that led to agitation by all Indians. This made many Indians furious for Gandhi’s surrender before General Smuts. Here is the violent reaction of some Indians to Gandhi’s surrender as detailed in book ‘Gandhi and Churchill’ by Arthur Herman (page 157)

“On Feb 10, 1908, Gandhi took a walk to the Johannesburg registration office in order to be the first to be voluntarily finger printed and registered as a resident Asian.” A man named Mir Alam stopped Gandhi as he had been active in Satyagraha Campaign that was led by Gandhi himself. “Where are you going?” he asked Gandhi in a cold tone, “I am going to take out a registration certificate” Gandhi replied and offered to take Alam with him. Instead Alam struck him across the face. Gandhi went sprawling, Sheing open his face on the sharp rock on the ground. Alam started kicking him and was joined by three or four others, cursing and shouting. Finally Gandhi’s friends managed to push them away, carried him to nearby shop and called for a doctor. “On March 5 he was again assaulted in a mass meeting in Durban….” The police had to escort Gandhi to safety” and much booing and hissing.

Young Gandhi who had studied Law in England was not able to defend his first case in an Indian court in fact he could not utter a word and walked out of court in agony. Then he left for South Africa when he helped many Indian businessmen in local courts. But finally where he led an agitation against what came to be called ‘Block Act’ he miserably failed, was beaten and humiliated. But young Gandhi did not loose heart, he stuck to his mission of getting justice for India from arrogant British imperialists. He had seen in England how the common British citizen was cared by law and justice but in contrast how, in India and to perpetuate their imperial rule the very Britishers became arrogant rulers without a bit of Western culture and justice that he had witnessed in England.

Before leaving for India, after the failure of Gandhi inspired and led agitation, he did not regret, as many Indians in South Africa expected. Gandhi was firm in his principles and philosophy of Ahimsa. All Gandhi could cling to was the most cherished faith as he put it “that all activity pursued with a pure heart is bound to bear fruit, whether or not such fruit is visible to us. Because of this philosophy of being of pure heart in whatever one does, Gandhi in due course, after leading Indian independence movement, through Ahimsa i.e. non violence, became to be known as Mahatma Gandhi.

February 17, 2010 Posted by | Biography, Indian History, Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa, Political Commentary, Punjabi | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teachings of Guru Nanak – Founder of Sikhism

Nanak was born on 15th April 1469 in village Talwandi, close to Lahore, now called Nankana sahib (in Pakistan). His father was Mehta Kaalu, a devout Hindu. Nanak as a child was precocious and exceptionally intelligent. Though he studied Punjabi and Sanskrit he was not interested in normal schooling. He was often found in the company of holy men both Hindus and Muslims. He listened to them very attentively and even questioned them quite often. Nanak was about 10 year old when he astonished family priest Pandit Hardyal that ‘there is no Hindu, no Mussalman. At the age of 11 Nanak openly revolted by refusing to wear the customary Janeu. Not only that, boy Nanak recited his own views before the Pundits and guests of Mehta Kaalu’s family in Punjabi. (English Translation) is as under:-

Out of the cotton of compassion,

Spin the thread of contentment,

Tie the knot of continence,

And the twist of virtue,

Make such a sacred thread,

O Pandit, for your inner self.

Pandit Hardyal then predicted and told the guests and Nanak’s parents and others that Nanak would be a great philosopher and learned personality as he is gifted by Ram (God) to be a teacher of men. He would have many followers, both Hindus and Muslims. At this young age of 11-12 his teachers were impressed by Nanak’s efforts for spiritual enlightenment.

Mehta Kaalu wanted his son Nanak to be good in studies and thereafter attend to family business. So to divert Nanak form his spiritual quest he sent him to mind the cattle and thereafter to sit on the shop. Nanak was not interested in worldly professions like farming and business.

Nanak always wanted to do something good for all. So he did not like to remain under the protection and guidance of his father. The only member of the family who understood Nanak was his sister Nanki. Thus after marriage and two sons, Nanak left his home quietly, like Sidharath Gautam, a thousand years before. He commenced his long journey with two companions (disciples) one Muslim Rabab (Rebeck) player, Mardana and the other a Hindu, Bala who would also recite Nanak’s sayings and poems to the gathering of devotees. Wherever Nanak went people listened to him attentively and were so impressed that they stared calling him Guru (Teacher) Nanak. Guru Nanak never discriminated between Hindus and Muslims. Babar, while invading India and capturing parts of India killed, if not lakhs, thousands of Hindus who refused to abandon their Hindu religion and become Muslims. Babar the Mughal tyrant even imprisoned Guru Nanak. After his release Guru Nanak complained to Almighty Lord, Allah or Ram, as to why he allowed Babar to commit such atrocities on peaceful people of Hindustan. Here is the famous couplet:-

There was so much bloodshed and crying by innocent victims Oh Lord! didn’t you feel the pain?

The people of Hindustan were wailing under tyranny of Mughals.

Why Oh Lord you didn’t take pity on them.

Nanak concluded – If powerful were to slay another powerful I would not grieve

Inspite of being imprisoned by Barbar and inspite of having been witness to his cruelties on people of Hindustan, Guru Nanak did not become anti Muslim. He always considered Hindus and Muslims alike.

After visiting holy places all over India in North, South, East and West, Guru Nanak turned towards Muslim holy places in Arabia, Baghdad and Mecca. In Mecca, Nanak ‘Darvesh’ (Holyman) was questioned by Quazis and Maulvis as to why he was lying with his legs towards West, Allah is in the West. So Muslim pray and bow towards West. Guru Nanak replied Allah is every where on all the sides of earth. Thereafter Baba Nanak was asked: which of the two religions is better Hinduism or Islam. Darnesh (as he was called by Muslims) replied: Without good deeds (Shubh Ammal) none is better. Without good deeds both Hindu and Muslim would cry.

Then to the surprise of all the Muslim gathering, without fear, Darvesh Nanak advised Muslims to be courteous and truthful, as under:

 Make love thy mosque

Sincerity thy prayer carpet

Modesty thy circumcision

Courtesy thy Kabba

Truth thy creed

Rosary thy will of God

Guru Nanak’s advice to all, Hindus, Muslims alike was to work, even also do hard work as first priority, then remember Allah and Ram and thereafter out of earnings from work set aside one-tenth of earnings for poor and needy.

Guru Nanak was against caste system which was and, even after 500 years, is prevalent in Hindus. Guru Nanak explained: The Hindus say there are four castes, but they are all of one seed. It is like clay of which pots are made in diverse shapes and forms. Yet the clay is the same. How can one amongst them be high and other low?

Guru Nanak felt very sad that women were being discriminated by both Hindus and Muslims. Guru Nanak proclaimed:

Why should we consider women cursed and condemned. When from women are born leaders and rulers. From woman alone is born a woman. Without woman there can be no human births.

 Guru Nanak speaks about good conduct and good manners

To all his advice, even today, is universal truth:

If one is rude or harsh to another,

Not only the one who is treated harshly,

But even the one who utters harsh words,

His body and soul suffer.

And further

Sweetness in speech and behaviour,

And absence of pride and ego

Says Nanak, is the essence of all goodness.

To sum up Guru Nanak worked for, spoke, wrote for harmony between Hindus and Muslims, two dominant religions in India during his times and even today, in the Indian subcontinent.

January 29, 2010 Posted by | Achievers, Biography, India, Indian History | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Maharaja Ranjit Singh The Great

Ranjit Singh was born on 13 November 1780 and was named Budh Singh but the moment his valiant father Mahan Singh returned after subduing Pir Mohammad and his brother Ahmed Khan, capturing their forts at Sayyid nagar, Kot Pir Mohammad and Rasulnagar, first he did was to change the name of his son to Ranjt, which meant victor of battles. Mohan Singh was chief of Sakerchakia Misl, foremost of the 12 Sikh Misls.

Mahan Singh’s father’s great grand father was Desu, a cultivator who owned 25 acres of land. He belonged to village Suker Chak, near Gujranwala and so the name of Misl came to be known as Sakerchakia Misl. At the age of 50 Desu decided to meet Guru Gobind Singh as, himself being giant of a man and fearless fighter, he had heard about the great Gurus Khalsa and Khalsa’s fight with cruel Mughal rulers who had massacred lakhs of innocent Hindus during their rule. Seeing Desu touching Gurujee’s feet, Guru Gobind Singh was impressed by his strong personality. As soon Desu expressed his desire to become Sikh, Gurujee himself baptized him and named him Budha Singh. He joined the Khalsa at Anandpur Sahib and participated in many battles. Budha Singh became martyr in 1715 at Gurdas Nangal, fighting along with Banda Singh Bahadur. When Budha Singh died, his body had seven ballet wounds and 29 scars of arrows, swords and spear cuts. Similarly Ranjit Singh’s father Mahan Singh died when Ranjit was boy of 10. He was immensely inspired by his grand father Charat Singh, who fought many battles with notorious Muslim invader Ahmed Shah Abdali who had destroyed the sacred Darbar Sahib Amritsar twice. During fierce battles in 1761,1764 and 1766 Afghans tried his level best to subdue Charat Singh but after every fight the Misl’s head emerged stronger than before and annexed more territories.

By the time Ranjit Singh became Chief of the Misl at the age of 15, he had become expert horse rider, knew perfectly how to handle sword and spear as well musket. Thus in another five years by the age of 19 he had conquered Lahore. He was such a valiant person with immense self confidence that he did not care for his illness at he age of 6 when he lost one eye because of severe attack of smallpox. As C H Payne, a historian puts it: “The gifts which nature lavished on Ranjit Singh was of the abstract rather than concrete order. His strength of character and personal magnetism (were to be) the real source of his greatness.”

In December 1795, Ranjit Singh, when he was just 15 years old, wrote to Maratha Chief, Daulat Rao Scindia, who was at the time in Aligarh, to join the Sikhs so as to expel the Afghans from India once for all. But Ranjit Singh received no reply from Maratha chief and was very much disappointed as he had hoped if Marathas, another valiant people of India, would join him to complete the mission of expelling Afghans from India.

Ranjit Singh also tried to get full support from Sahib Singh Chief of Phulkian Misl, which was quite well known. Ranjit Singh invited Sahib to join him for expelling Afghans from the Sikh homeland. It was not a big surprise that Ranjit Singh received no reply from Sahib Singh Earlier, the founder of Phulkian Misl Alla Singh had betrayed the Sikhs as it was Ahmed Shah Abdali, with a view to cause split in Sikh Misls, who made Alla Singh as Raja of Patiala in 1763, though only a year back in 1762, the same Abdali had attacked and destroyed the sacred Harmander Sahib killing thousands of Sikh pilgrims and “filled the sacred sorovar with dead bodies of Sikhs and carcasses of cows. He also made, to scare Sikhs once for all, pyramid of Sikh’s heads on the site of devastated Harmander Sahib.” The two incidents of young Ranjit Singh’s approach to Maratha Chief and also Phulkian Misls Chief are very significant and demonstrate the efforts of Ranjit Singh to have alliances against Afghan invaders and destroyers of Holy Harmander Sahib.

It was 17 years old Ranjit Singh who had crushed furious Zaman Shah who had attacked Amritsar. This humiliating defeat demoralized Afghan descendent, Sikhs blood thirsty, Ahmed Shah Abdali. Thus Zaman Shah was not only defeated at Amritsar but his Army was chased to the gates of Lahore by Sikh Army of Ranjit Singh. While running back to Afghanistan Zaman Shah had lost 12 crucial guns in Jehlum River. He appealed to Ranjit Singh to rescue his guns and in return he would not oppose Ranjit Singh’s taking over Lahore. Ranjit Singh proved to be a diplomat. He readily agreed so as to become ruler of Lahore. Thus young Ranjit Singh laid the foundations of Sikh Empire, through bravery and diplomacy. Such a diplomacy proved useful and helped Ranjit Singh in dealing with British East India Company after a couple of years, as it required give and take and not obstinacy with the opponent who may or may not be more powerful.

Conquest of Lahore by 19 year old Ranjit Singh was very significant because it made him Maharaja or Ruler of not only Lahore but vast territory of Punjab. Lahore had been invaded and conquered by Muslim rulers from 1014 when Mohammad of Ghazni and thereafter it became home of many dynasties including Ghoris, Mongals, Tugh laks, Khiljis, Lodis and Suris. Even Mughal Emperor Akbar had made Lahore as the capital of his vast Empire of India in 1584. He built famous Lahore Fort which after 1799 became Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s principal residence.

Despite rivalry between Misls of Sikhs, Ranjit Singh at the young age of 19 demonstrated his and his Misls superiority by conquering vast area of Punjab and becoming ruler of Lahore as Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It is apt to compare Ranjit Singh with Alexander the Great. Though Alexander conquered vast empire from Greece to Punjab he did not or could not consolidate and rule over it. In contrast Ranjit Singh Lion of Punjab, conquered vast areas as the valiant Sikhs of Guru Gobind Singh never showed back: they, to last man, died fighting. He himself had led the Khalsa Army from the age of 15 to demonstrate that he was though chief of Misl and ruler, he was one amongst them. It is strange and painful that no Indian political leader or historian has developed on the greatness of Ranjit Singh or compared him with Alexander or Napoleon. Napoleon ultimately lost all his conquest. Neither Alexander nor Napoleon lost by treachery or conspiracy against them by their rivals. Alexander could not consolidate and had to retreat to Greece. Napoleon lost the war fighting and was defeated. Maharaja Ranjit Singh never lost in battle in 30 years of his rule. That is why he was and is known as Lion of Punjab.

In 1830, the population of Sikhs Empire was about 25 lakh of which 50% were Muslims, 42% Hindus and 7 to 8% Sikhs. This is rough estimate based on perhaps the first ever census of Punjab in 1881. Based on 1881 census Punjab’s population was placed at 2.2 million ie 22 lakhs. In 1881 Punjab included whole of west Punjab, East Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, Sikhs accounting for only 7% ie about 2 lakhs of the population against 50% Muslims, 42 % Hindus and 1% Christians and others (quoted by Patwant Singh) in ‘Empire of the Sikhs’. It becomes clear that Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s Empire extended from Satluj River to Khyber Pass near Peshawar and in the west from Jammu to Kashmir which included ladakh and Gilgit.

Perhaps it is unknown in the world history that 7% people conquered and ruled over 93% and that, too, without any religious or political turmoil. Napoleon to an extent Ranjit Singh’s contemporary tried to conquer vast Empire extending to East Europe and Russia but got defeated. Similarly during 1st World War Germany tried to repeat what Napoleon failed but faced ultimate defeat and humiliation as Germany itself was conquered and divided. It becomes, to a great extent clear, that Maharaja Ranjit Singh alone in world History of last two centuries or so conquered and ruled for 30 years over a vast Empire which included NWFP ( which was till then part of Afghanistan. Thus whole of modern world must recognize Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s greatness and also of valiant Khalsa Army. 

Maharaja Ranjit Singh despite being a Sikh Ruler was absolutely secular. There were Sikhs, mostly generals like Hari Singh Nalwa nd Akali Phoola Singh, there were Hindus like Dhyan Singh who was PM and his brother Gulab Singh, and Muslims like Faqir Azazudin who was Foreign Minister. After Ranjit Singh’s demise traitors like Teja Singh became prominent ministers. That is how the Sikh Empire was lost.

I shall just quote from my memory a few lines from Shah Mohammad’s poem on First Sikh War with British East India Company. Shah Mohammad, a Muslim poet of Punjab, who wrote many poems in Punjabi and recited them in Punjab says:

“Teja Singh see Yaar Farangian daa”

 After mentioning in brief Teja Singh’s treachery of being friend of Britishers, Shah Mohammada writes:

Shah Mohammada Singhan Ne Gorian De

Wang Nimbuan Lahu Nichor Ditte

Je Kar Hondi Sarkar Taan Mul Paandee

Jehrian Khalse Ne Teghan Morian Ne

Shah Mohamada Ik Sarkar Bajon

Faujan Jit Ke Annt Nuun Horian Ne

In simple English translation Shah Mohammad says:

Sikh soldiers squeezed British soldiers blood, as one squeezes lemon.

If  Maharaja Ranjit Singh had been alive,

He would have appreciated and honoured the Sikh soldiers for bravery

As some Sikh soldiers fought with just swords in their hands.

Shah Mohammed concludes:

But for Sarkar (Maharaja Ranjit Singh) Sikh having won ultimately lost.

Sikhs lost first Sikh War and Second Sikh War because of treachery of men like Teja Singh and Dogras like Dhyan Singh, who was Prime Miniser during Ranjit Singh’s lifetime, and his brother Gulab Singh and conspiracy of British East India Company.

January 8, 2010 Posted by | Achievers, Biography, India, Indian History, Muslims, Politics, Punjabi, Religion, Sikhism, World History | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shashi Tharoor’s Contribution to India’s Unity

       Shashi Tharoor’s version of India and its unity in Diversity under all circumstances, pressures from inside and outside is commendable. It is a vision of which every Indian is proud and values. It is a vision which makes Shashi Tharoor, a Keralite, a great Indian. Though USSR disintegrated, but India, though remained under Nehru’s Soviet model of socialism for almost 20 years, has not and shall never disintegrate. Despite some neglects and omissions Shashi Tharoor’s concluding remarks about India’s invincible unity are reproduced below:-

 “There is remarkable resilience about the Indian state (which has proved the foreign analysts wrong) one that is sustained by an intangible sense of nationhood and shared destiny. India is a country held together in Nehru’s evocative image, by strong but invisible threads that bind Indians to a common destiny. Indians are comfortable with multiple identities and multiple loyalties, all coming together in allegiance to a larger idea of India, an India that safeguards the common space available to each identity, an India that remains safe for diversity, taken for granted by most Indians. It is this quality that will prevent the disintegration so widely predicted for my country.”

 In a multi lingual, multi ethenic and a multi cultural country some problems are bound to arise particularly in the East India which had been neglected for thousand of years by Muslim rulers of India and British rulers of India for almost 200 years ignored the problem of East except trying to safeguard the Northern and Eastern boundary by virtue of Young Husband expeditions Mac Mahon Line, that, too, when China was a very weak country whose territories of Korea and Manchuria were conquered and occupied by a small country like Japan and eastern ports like Macao and Hongkong by European imperialists. India got a bad legacy in East but has been trying to solve the problems of East India, since 1947. There have been linguistic problem in many parts of India which were solved by State Reorganization Commission. Punjab problem was also solved. Now there is problem of Telergana, which too, will be solved. Problems will continue to be there, as indicated above, and explained by Shashi Tharoor because of “remarkable resilience” all problems will be solved and India will ever and ever remain united.

 India is a country of which all Indians are proud of and feel so and are sure of its unity in diversity whether they are Keralite’s like Shashi Tharoor or Kashmiri’s like Sheikh Abdullah, or from any other Indian state or Union territory from Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh (Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist majority respectively) in north to Kanyakumari in South and from Nagaland and Arunachal in East to Goa and Maharashtra in West. All the inhabitants of various states and Union Territories at home they are known as Kashmiris, Punjabis, Marathas, Gujaratis, Assamese, Bengalis, Orias, Telegus, Tamils, Kannadas or Keralites, but when they go abroad they say with pride and they are known as Indians whether they go to America, Europe, Russia, China or Japan. This is the most significant aspect and proof of India’s Unity in Diversity.

December 21, 2009 Posted by | Achievers, Biography, India, Indian Economy, Indian History, Muslims, Political Commentary, Politics, Punjabi, Religion, Shashi Tharoor, World | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shashi Tharoor on Indira Gandhi

As a realist, Shashi Tharoor seems to be having more criticism than praise for Indira Gandhi, particularly because for virtually no reason she imposed state of Emergency in 1971 for the first time in India since independence. Ordinarily if an ordinary and unknown judge of Allahabad had ‘convicted’ her on technical ground for electoral malpractice. She could ordinarily appeal against this Judgement in the higher Court, even, if need be in Supreme Court and waited for final order of the higher or highest court. But it was not to be, Indira Gandhi was impatient, hungry for power even by undemocratic means as has been quoted by Guha in the following passage: which proves glaring undemocratic feeling and action by Congress under Indira Gandhi.

“During 1972 elections congress won in 13 states including Bihar MP and Maharashtra. However in West Bengal Congress used all undemocratic means to come to power “mixture of terror intimidation and fraud. Gangs of hooligans stuffed ballot boxes with the police idly looking on. There was mass scale rigging in Calcutta—goondas paid by the congress told voters assembled outside polling stations that they might as well go home, since they had already cast all the registered votes” (Quoted by Guha from eye witness account)

Shashi Tharoor, too, thinks of Indira Gandhi, skilled in acquisition of “power by all means, fair and foul. She could not bear or stomach defeat,” in Shashi Tharoor’s own words.

“Mrs. Gandhi was skilled at the acquisition and maintenance of power, but hopeless at the wielding of it for larger purposes. She had no real vision or program beyond the expedient campaign; “remove poverty” was a mantra without a method.

In a very brief account of Operation Blue Star and with no mention at all of Rajiv Gandhi’s indirect collusion with massacre of Sikhs for four days since he was sworn in as PM, and not ad-hoc PM like Gulzari Lal Nanda, immediately after Indira’s assassination, Rajiv Gandhi did not call the Army nor instruct the senior congressmen to stop the onslaught on Sikhs. About Indira Gandhi, Tharoor says “Mrs Indira Gandhi never understood the extent to which so many Sikhs saw ‘Blue Star’ as a betrayal” in the horror of anti-Sikh riots that followed it, which saw whole families burned alive for the Sin of sharing the religion of her assassins.

On Mrs Gandhi’s encouragement and reported financing of Bhinderan-wale

Tharoor writes:

As the murders mounted, Mrs Gandhi had little choice but to destroy the monster( Bhinderan-wale) she herself spawned and finally violated a basic tenet of Indian state by sending armed troops into a place of worship, the historic Golden Temple in Amritsar to flush out the terrorists holed up there………. But her real fault lay in having created the problem in the first place and in letting it mount to the point where destructive force of ‘Operation Blue Star seemed the only solution.’

The assault on Golden Temple alienated many Sikhs like eminent writer and journalist, Khushwant Singh whose patriotism was unquestionable. However Indira Gandhi’s assassination was unfortunate though it was a reaction to attack on Golden Temple, the most sacred Gurdwara worshiped by the Sikhs all over the world. Though she had been advised or warned by her own intelligence to remove her Sikh body guards as they feared that as Dyer who ordered Jallianwala Bagh massacre was killed by Udham Singh, something like that may happen to her. But Indira Gandhi did not accept their advice. Had she accepted this advice many feel that she might not have been assassinated and thousands of more Sikhs might not have lost their lives in the first week of November 1984.

December 17, 2009 Posted by | Achievers, Biography, India, Indian History, Political Commentary, Politics, Shashi Tharoor, Terrorism, World History | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shashi Tharoor on Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru who was PM of Interim Government of British India under Lord Mountbatten become, logically, the first PM of Independent India on 15th August 1947. In this connection, Tharoor’s comments on British policy and also Nehru’s historic speech are worthy of praise and are reproduce below:

 “If the structures of British rule tended toward the creation of a united India for the convenience of the rulers, its animating spirit was aimed at fostering division to achieve the same ends. This seeming paradox (but in fact entirely logical construct) of imperial policy culminated in the tragic Partition of India upon independence—so that August 15, 1947, was a birth that was also an abortion.”

 “But despite the mourning in many nationalist hearts at the amputation that came with freedom, despite the refusal of Mahatma Gandhi to celebrate an independence he saw primarily as a betrayal, despite the flames of communal hatred and rioting that lit the midnight sky as the new country was born, there was reason for pride, and hope. India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, put it in words that still stir the soul:

 “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.”

 After 15th August 1947 address to the nation, Jawaharlal Nehru’s long career as PM extending to 17 years was not cent per cent praise worthy. There were many short comings. Shashi Tharoor has written so much on Nehru which is, significant, requires equally detailed comments. Being son of Moti Lal Nehru and educated in England, like Mahatma Gandhi, 29 year old Jawaharlal Nehru became in 1918 the youngest member of congress working Committee. Soon Gandhi chose him as his protégé. During independence movement Nehru spent 18 years in British jail. Thus in 1946 Jawaharlal “became Gandhi’s nominee” for Prime Ministership in interim Government of India. Being Mahatma Gandhi’s heir no leader of equal statue in Congress opposed him.

 Nehru’s first test of competence as PM was his inaction and failure to delete the line, added while accepting Instrument of Accession of Kashmir to India, mischievously by Mountbatten (possibly on the instructions from British Government). Nehru as PM of a Sovereign Country should have deleted this clause. Second blunder of Nehru on Kashmir was, that, too, under Mountbatten pressure or influence, to agree to cease fire when whole of Kashmir could be captured by Indian Army in just a fortnight more – Mountbatten had met Jinnaha in Lahore and had consented without consulting PM or Indian cabinet to refer Kashmir question to UN and thereafter to hold plebiscite. Had there been strong and determined PM like Sardar Patel, so much bungling on Kashmir would not have been there. Infact there would have been no Kashmir Problem at all, which has cost India lives of thousands of valiant soldiers and also lives of innocent Kashmiri citizens besides thousands of crores of rupees.

 Nehru’s other significant failure related to 1962 War by China when Nehru left for Sri Lanka saying I have ordered my Army to “throw Chinese out”. Defeat at the hands of China was so shocking that in a couple of years Nehru died in 1964. Unfortunately though Shashi Tharoor has written so much on Pandit Nehru in his book he has failed to comment on the vital issue of Kashmir and Nehru’s failure one after another to assert India’s views against British Governor General of India, Mountbatten.

 About Nehru’s all embracing nationalism and secularism Tharoor says: “Under Nehru, the Congress remained more a nationalist movement than a political party, embracing every ideological tendency, every religion, class or caste interest within it.” That is why so long as Nehru was PM despite his shortcomings, congress continued to be the only, virtually unchallenged, political party.

 Nehru’s socialist pattern of economics led to what is called ‘Inspector Raj’, whether the inspector is if Police, of Rationing Deptt, of Income tax. Though there was no ministerial corruption but state central of Industry led to increase in corruption and poverty. There were no avenues for the young educated aspirants. Shashi Tharoor rightly remarks “State directed industry simply did not have the absorptive capacity to soak up rural surplus labour.”

 Accordingly the best act of Narsimha Rao with Dr Man Mohan Sigh as Finance Minister was to abandon Nehru socialism and allow so called capitalism which led to rise in private industry, trade and all round improved India’s economy. It opened avenues of employment for poor villagers as well as educated and highly educated youngmen who had suffered under Nehru’s Socialism. Nehru’s socialism combined worst features of capitalism and socialism, so it was bound to be abandoned.

 It is surprising that Shashi Tharoor has neglected many political leaders. For instance there is no mention of Sardar Patel who was Minister of States, consolidated and unified India by incorporating 500 or so Princely States. Sardar Patel ordered the British C – in – C of India, who was reluctant, to send Indian Army to Kashmir when invaders from Pakistan had reached outskirts of Srinagar. There is only one small para on Lal Bahadur Shastri, who won a war against Pakistan and died of Heart Failure in Tashkent. There is no mention of other prominent leaders like Dr Rajendra Parsad, first President of India, Jaiparkash Narain, a selfless Gandhian. Even there is no mention of Atal Bihari Vajpayee who was Prime Minister of India and longest serving. Member Parliament, Shashi Tharoor has written a lot about Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi even mentioned about Rajiv Gandhi and Deve Gowda. These neglects and omissions as outlined above are noteworthy in such an important book on INDIA.

December 16, 2009 Posted by | Achievers, Biography, India, Indian History, Political Commentary, Politics, Religion, Shashi Tharoor, World, World History | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Shashi Tharoor on Mahatma Gandhi

Attenborough’s picture on Gandhi was awarded 8 Oscars. Other film producers protested or regretted, As Gandhi was not awarded Nobel Peace Prize, though his follower in USA or self proclaimed Gandhians like Martin Luther king jr. and Adolf Perez Esquivel became Nobel laureates Seven Oscars to Film on Gandhi was perhaps to equate Gandhi with Nobel Peace Prize winners.

Shashi Tharoor in the opening pare on Gandhi writes: “Mahatma Gandhi was the kind of person it is more convenient to forget. The principles he stood for and the way in which he asserted are easier to admire than to follow. While he was alive, it was impossible to ignore. Once he had gone he was impossible to imitate” In Gandhi’s own day non violence could have done nothing for Jews of Hitler’s Germany.

In next few pages Shashi Tharoor clarifies Gandhi’s philosophy of non violence, “Satyagrah (literally holding on to truth) and adds there is no denying Gandhi’s greatness. While the world was disintegrating into fascism, violence and war, Gandhi taught the virtues of truth, non-violence and peace. He destroyed the credibility of colonialism…. Yet Gandhi’s truth was essentially his own….. Gandhi’s “triumph” did not change the world forever. It is, sadly, matter of doubt whether he triumphed.”

India after independence “paid lip service to much of its Gandhian patrimony while striking out in directions of which Gandhi could not have approved. Neither the Government nor the people understand and follow truth and non-violence. There are injustices, corruption every where in every sphere of government form Panchayats, Tehsils, Districts, States and Central Government. Persons like Lalu Prasad Yadav, Paswan and many others have flourished in corruption. Though there are cases against them but nothing has happened and nothing is likely to happen. Lalu and Paswan have been Ministers in Central Government and Koda has been Chief Minister. There is public holiday on Gandhi Jayanti and visit to Gandhi’s smadhi. That is all that is left of Gandhi and Gandhian philosophy of truth and non-violence.

 However, many Hindus considered Mahatma Gandhi as pro Muslim as he had compelled the Government of India to pay to Pakistan Rs 500 crores of undivided India’s assets when that country was at war with India in Kashmir. Gandhi was unfortunately assassinated by a Hindu fanatic Nathu Ram Godse who, after trial was hanged. . This alarmed not only whole of India but the rest of world as Gandhi was considered apostle of non violence and peace. He was a religious Hindu but moderate who as leader of Independence Movement of India inspired all Indians of all religion and all castes and professions. It is unique in history that a leader like Gandhi led independence movement against most powerful colonial Power. British for four decades without any break despite Gandhi’s shortcomings, which every human being has, pointed rightly by Shashi Tharoor, Gandhi was great. His non-violent movement for independence inspired many leaders of British and other European colonies that brought end to colonialism all over the world and the British Empire in whish “Sun never Set” And in America coloured leaders like Martin Luther King jr fought in non violent way and won equality with whites. It is because of this movement, inspired by Gandhi, that today Obama, a coloured citizen of USA, is President.

December 15, 2009 Posted by | Achievers, Biography, India, Indian History, Political Commentary, Shashi Tharoor | , , , , , | Leave a comment