H C Singh

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

Berlin Wall – Its Erection and Demolition

After the Second World War, USSR conquered, besides Eastern Europe, half of Germany. Accordingly after Allied Victory and defeat of Germany there were two Germanys- Anglo American conquest of West Germany and USSR conquest of Eastern Germany, Western Germany under Capitalist democracy and East Germany under Communist type of democracy. There was lot of hue and cry on the division of Germany into two parts. But in 1945 defeated Germans were helpless. They could not demand anything. They could not get anything. They were a defeated country that had gone to war to conquer entire Europe including USSR.

During Second World War Germany under Adolf Hitler, the Fascist dictator, committed many crimes against humanity, besides launching a war on East and West of Germany, killing millions, six million Jews were killed in gas chambers.

Now let us see how, when and why Berlin Wall was built to segregate West and East Germany, the artificial division of a country with one language and one culture. Berlin Wall was constructed by Soviet Government in 1961 because Germans, in thousands were leaving their homes and hearths, were crossing the so called boundary and going to West Germany where they were welcomed and where there was, now, real democracy neither Hitlerite Fascism nor communist type of thought control. West Germany had, in a few years, after the end of Second World War became real home of all Germans. About 100 Germans from East had died while crossing and trying to escape from East Germany.

Berlin Wall was built to stop this emigration form East to West Germany which was defaming USSR and telling not only West Germans but whole of World that USSR was itself not worth living.  This emigration was having far-reaching effect on Eastern Europe which after war was under communism. Poland in particular resented so much that its leaders were thinking of revolting against so called USSR occupation of their country.

During World War II almost half of Berlin had been destroyed by Allied bombings. As a result population of Berlin declined from 43 lakhs in 1938 to about 28 lakh in 1945. As British, French and US forces were far off, Soviet Union shipped “about 85 percent of city’s undamaged industrial equipment” to its own country as British and American troops reached Berlin in July and French troops entered Berlin in August 1945. Though Berlin was completely under Soviet Union, Western Powers demanded free passage which USSR did not accept. So the Berlin City was also divided into two parts East Berlin under USSR and West Berlin under Allies control, as earlier they had divided East and West Germany into two parts.

Division of Berlin, which was virtually on paper, did not work. Particularly it failed to satisfy Soviets as lot of East Germans and East Berliners were emigrating to West Berlin and West Germany. So  the USSR, in 1948 blocked all routes rail, road and water from East Berlin to West Berlin. Western powers, not to be left behind air lifted supplies to West Berlin for about 2 million residents. Thus the Soviet blockade failed and Soviet Union lifted the blockade in May 1949 but City Hall located in East Berlin was occupied by Russians. So the West Berlin had to have its own government in West Berlin. Within four years of the end of War, West and Russia became almost hostile over Berlin issue.

In 1958 Nikita Khrushev asked for demilitarization of West Berlin and converting it into free Zone. To this Western powers disagreed and rejected the proposed solution. As everyday more than 1000 East Germans were crossing into West Berlin and West Germany Russia in 1961 decided to build a strong wall to prevent any emigration to West Berlin/ West Germany. Thus in August 1961 strong Berlin Wall was built which was 4 meters in height and 40 kilometers in length. Berlin became an isolated city.

Bitterness in relations between Western Powers and USSR continued unabated for a decade. Only in 1971 USSR and West realized the  folly of segregation of Germans into East and West German’s. History is never static. History moves in all countries, all cultures and all civilizations. Thus in 1971, USSR and Allies (France, England and USA) signed an agreement on the status of Berlin. Representatives of East and West Germany sat together for months and finally worked out details agreeable to both the parties. So the agreement of 1971 came into effect in 1972. Relation with East and West Berlin and East and West Germany improved in 70’s. In 1989 there were wide spread demands for unification of East and West Berlin. East German government considering the time ripe for unification of East and West Berlin, removed all restriction on November 9, 1989 and as a result 29 year old Berlin wall was ‘opened’ and in due course demolished. It was a great day for Germans after defeat in World War II it was a first taste of victory. Though unification of Berlin and in due course of East and West Germany becoming once again an important country of Europe Germany.

Historic celebration of 20th anniversary of Demolition of Berlin Wall were attended by/besides million of Germans, all the leaders of the countries who fought war against Hitler’s Fascist Germany and defeated him after loss of millions of lives. Leaders who attended the historic function included German President Horst Koehler and Chacellor  Angela Merkel  British PM Gordon Brown, French President Nicolos Sarkozy, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Polish President Lech Walesa, and Hilary Clinton U.S Foreign Secretary. Former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev was a special attraction as it is Gorbachev whose reforming attitude persuaded Soviet leadership to the reforms. According the German crowd gathered to celebrate chanted “Gorby, Gorby, Gorby.” British PM Gordon Brown said “Two Berlins are one. Two Germanys are one. Two Europes are one.” This marks the significance of 7th November 1989 and so such almost world wide celebrations of 20th anniversary of Berlin Walls Demolition.

November 12, 2009 Posted by | Cold War, USSR, World, World History | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jinnah and Creation of Pakistan

Mohd Ali Jinnah the creater of Pakistan, who instigated communal riots, Muslims killing Hindus in Calcutta in 1946 and when he became the Governor General of Pakistan not only endorsed but encouraged the Muslims of West Punjab, in particular, to terrorize and even kill Sikhs and Hindus particularly the Sikh farmers and land owners in Lyalpur and Montgomery Dist which the Sikh farmers from East Punjab had turned into ‘Wheat Bowl’ of Pakistan by their hard work in two to three decades, so that Muslim farmers could occupy these fertile lands.
At the time of partition of India and creation of Pakistan only two states with Muslim majority were being ruled by Muslim League, Bengal and Sindh. At partition time Bengal and Punjab were divided, If NWFP had been offered the choice of independence or Pakistan it would definitely not joined Pakistan as is seen by the turmoil in NWFP and Baluchistan to this day after more than 60 years.
The great Calcutta Killings provoked by the Muslim League and its leader Mohd Ali Jinnah and Bengal Chief Minister Suhrawardy were responsible for the great and unprecedented Killing in peaceful Calcutta. Jinnah had said that to achieve our aim of getting Pakistan, ‘today we bid goodbye to Constitutional methods’ and August 16, 1946 was declared, Direct Action Day to instigate Calcutta Killing, a public holiday to give free hand to Muslim League hooligans to Kill Non-Muslims, Hindu and even Sikhs. Police and administration were absolutely inactive, non visible for the whole day so that Jinnah’s Words were put into action. That was the beginning of Partition Riots in which Lakhs of Hindus and Sikhs from West Pakistan in particular were killed and forced to leave their homes and farms and property and in retaliation Lakh of Muslims, too, were killed mostly in India, Punjab and mostly by Sikhs so that Killings of Hindus and Sikhs by Muslims of Pakistan come to an end.

Jinnah’s above Speech is in glaring contrast to his Speech of August 46. As it was too late and followers of Muslim League continued with their Killings for which Jinnah can not be absolved. In Contract Gandhi Ji Nehru and even Sardar Patel never instigated Hindus and Sikhs to Kill Muslims.

August 24, 2009 Posted by | Biography, India, Indian History, World, World History | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cold War Between USA and USSR

Since the end of Second World War in 1945 entire Europe including UK and entire South East Asia were thrashed and thus politically and diplomatically became ineffective, rivalry between USA and USSR commenced for legacy.

USA supported with all its might Chiang Kaishek against communist MaoTse Tung so that China does not become communist under Mao and does not become ally of communist USSR. The fight between Chiang supported by Macarther and Dulles went on for many years killing Lakhs of Chinese whether supporters of Chiang or Mao. Ultimately Mao used the strategy of long March, taking all the communist supporters to safer north west from where there could not be attack by allied forces. Very soon Chinese communists with back to the wall started advancing and eliminating Chiang Kaishek’s forces. In a couple of years Chiang was thrown out of mainland China and confined to Taiwan and a few islands like Quency and Mastu. After the victory over Germany during Second World War it was USA’s first defeat.

The weakness of Dulles-Eisenhower policy over Berlin is clear to many west Berliners who, as the American ‘Newsweek’ admits, are arguing, “we are not sure the allies are willing to back us all the way this time. Sure, they have promised but is it worth it to them” ( I December 1958). There is not much doubt that the West can stand firm in Berlin, perhaps as firm as it could ten years before, but that would mean, warns Paul Johnson, that “we must recognize that we are abandoning, perhaps for ever, the hope of reunifying Germany (New Statesman, 29 November 1958).

To consolidate their respective positions in the spheres of their influence, USA created NATO and SEATO. On the other hand, not to be left, USSR took strong action against dissenting communist countries like Yugoslavia and Hungary. Soviet intervention in Hungary was very cruel. It led to the execution of Imrey Nagy and his cabinet colleagues. There was hue and cry against Soviet activities in socialist Hungary. In retaliation, USA landed marines in Lebanon and British paratroops occupied Jordan.

USA despite being on the other side of Atlantic and despite the professing of Munro Doctrine got scared of USSR attack as is evident from American expert on diplomacy and world affairs Mr. George Kenan’s remarks on 2 December 1957 on BBC.

“I have never thought that the Soviet Government wanted a general world war at any time since 1945 or that it would have been inclined for any rational political reasons of its own to initiate such a war, even had the atomic weapon never been invented. We must get over the obsession that the Russians are yearning to attack and occupy western Europe and this is the outstanding danger.”

My both articles viz Quemoy in world politics as well as significance of Berlin crises are based on the cold war, American fears of USSR because of defeat in China and soviet fears of Americans intervention in Yugoslavia and Hungary as well as in Berlin and German area under USSR occupation after the end of second world war. This brief review of cold war is based on these observations.

August 24, 2009 Posted by | Cold War, USA, USSR, World, World History | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment