H C Singh

Passing away of Pandit Nehru

(Brief assessment of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru)

In 1964, India’s first PM who became Prime Minister in 1946 in united India before Partition of 1947, passed away after 18 years as PM, longest period for any PM, except in communist country. Pandit Nehru from 1946 to 1950, as long as Mountbatten was Governor General of British India or even after Indian Independence, was subservient to Lord Mountbatten and till the departure of Mountbatten he was like member of Mountbatten family. This proved to be curse because Mountbatten mischievously had added a clause while accepting, Kashmir’s instrument of accession to India, duly segined by Maharaja Hari Singh, and forwarded to Pandit Nehru by Kashmir’s ‘PM’ Mehar chand Mahajan, whom Jawahar Lal had a fortnight earlier told to get -lost. When he had come with the same instrument of accession, though hundred of princely States sent the similar Instrument Accession which were accepted. In Kashmir’s case, Pandit Nehru received the Instrument of Accession when Sheikh Mohd Abdullah told the PM of India that Pakistani invaders had almost reached the outskirts of Srinagar and on the way they were looting and indiscriminately molesting Hindu, Sikh and Muslim women.

To India’s and Kashmir’s misfortune Kashmir’s instrument of Accession was sent to Mountbatten who had added, as said earlier, an uncalled for and dangerous clause that ‘will of the people of Kashmir’ will be taken afterwards. Jawahar Lal Nehru as India PM could have deleted this clause after discussing with GG but did not or could not use his intelligence, discretion or authority as Prime Minister considering himself the final authority and Mountbatten as titular head. It was only after Mountbatten’s departure that he became real and effective PM with C Rajgopal acharya as titular Governor General for a couple of years till 1952, when Indian parliament became effective under the new Constitution.

It is significant to quote from CF Andrews ‘Great Men of India, Jawahar Lal Nehru writes in another remarkable passage about himself, “I have been a queer mixture of East and West, out of place everywhere, at home nowhere. Perhaps my thoughts and approach to life are more alien to what is called Western than Eastern, but India clings to me as it does to all her children, in unmeasurable ways. I cannot get rid of my past inheritance or my recent acquisition. They are both part of me and though they help me both in the East and West, they west in me a feeling of spiritual loneliness, not only in public activities but life itself. I am stranger and alien in the west. I can not be of it. But my own country also, sometimes. I have an exile feeling.”

Nehru depended on Rajaji’s advice as he regarded Rajaji as his closest friend, guide and associate in the entire hierarchy of congress government as well as congress party.

But it will appear strange that after a year or so Nehru sent Rajaji as chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. A former head of state, first Indian Governor General being shifted out of Delhi to far off Madras was something CR could not stomach. Soon he left the congress party and Nehru and found his though short live Sawtantera Party.

That was not all Dr. Rajendra Prasad the first elected President of Indian Republic under new constitution was not given the respect due to the Head of Democratic Republic though Dr. Rajendra Prasad was orthodox Hindu and Pandit Nehru a progressive Indian, not much of a Hindu. Their differences come to limelight when Dr. Prasad opposed the Hindu Code Bill sponsored by Dr. Ambedkar, the then law Minister and Pandit Nehru supported the Hindu Code Bill even saying that in getting the Hindu code Bill passed involved his prestige. But because of opposition from vast majority of Hindus who were orthodox and were led by RSS, the bill could not to be passed in the constituent Assembly. As a result Dr. Ambedkar resigned from the cabinet.

As Nehru had even opposed the election of Dr. Rajendra Prasad as President of India their differences increased to somewhat dislike for each other. With the demise of Sardar Patel in 1950 December, Nehru felt free and independent of any restraint, direct or indirect, from any other congress leaders in Party or Government as Sardar Patel was the only the leader who had large following in congress though he was Home Minister and Minister of states. So long as Patel was alive Nehru was virtually reduced in status, though a PM, as Minister of External Affairs with virtually no interference or advice in connection with integration of princely status and more particularly Police Action in Hyderabad.

Guha’s remarks on the President of India’s visit to Somnath Temple, which had been destroyed many times by the Mughal invaders and rulers, show the extent of differences amount of disrespect that Nehru had now cultivated against Dr. Rajendra Prased: “when the President of India chose to dignify temples consecration with his presence, Nehru was appalled. He wrote to Prasad not to participate in the ‘spectacular opening of the Somenath temple (which) unfortunately had a number of implications’. But Prasad disregarded the advice and went to Somnath. Although he was a Hindu, said Prasad at Somnath. ‘I respect all religions and on occasions visit a church, a morque, a dargah and a gurudwara’.

Like Rajaji who was sent to Madras as CM uncrumoniously so Dr. Rajendra Prasad was not given second term as President and not provided a befitting residence after vacating Rastrapati Bhawan, had to leave for Patna without a farewell befitting First President of India.

After that Nehru made his daughter Indra Gandhi Congress President . Her first undemocratic act was to organise mass upsurge against first Comminist government of EMS Nambudripad in Kerala to force him to resign. It is written that after the EMS Govt was dismissed she asked American government through US Ambassador to compensate her party with millions of dollars to fight another election to keep these Communists in Kerala down and out.

Thus Nehru groomed his daughter and had he lived for a few more years he might have given her more responsibility in Party and Government. It is in this light that after Lal Bahadur Shastri’s brief Prime Ministership, she became an obvious choice of congress Party to become Prime Minister. In this way Jawahar Lal Nehru laid the foundation of dynastic rule in centre and in states. This dynastic rule politics has done great harm to India and Indian democracy.

As I have explained earlier Nehru considered himself at least half western in thoughts, words and to an extent in his deeds. That is why he could not adjust with the cent per cent Indians in upbringing and culture like Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Sardar Patel.

Nehru accepted socialism and tried to implement so called Socialist Pattern of Society which in due course degenerated into what was being called ‘Inspector Raj’. Half hearted attempt to implement Marxist Socialism was bound to fail as vast majority did not know about Marxism or socialism. They only knew about Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of Ahimsa. Some followed revolutionary philosophy of Bhagat Singh and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Accordingly Socialist Pattern of Society, instead of improving the lot of farmers and organised and unorganised labouress, made them subservient to Rationing Inspectors and the like. There was no progress in Industry and Agriculture. Rather both Agriculture and Industry deteriorated. Thus India under Nehru’s Socialist Pattern of society instead of moving forward went backward, economically, socially and politically.

Similarly Nehru’s efforts to organise non- aligned nations with Tito of Yugoslavia and Nasser of Egypt and the policy of Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai ultimately failed.

In 1962 there was Chinese aggression, which was absolutely unprovoked, into North Eastern border of India called NEFA and ladakh. Chinese troops were advancing and capturing vast areas when Nehru made a statement that I had asked Indian Army “to kick Chinese out” and he proceeded to Ceylon, little realizing the consequences of such an incursion into Indian territory which had never occurred before. Within a fortnight Chinese troops overran entire NEFA and reached the boundary touching Assam. Then Chinese dictated terms of withdrawal of Chinese troops after making hundred of Indian soldiers prisoners.

In Military History of India and South Asia, it is stated as under: “After defeat of India in 1962 at the hand of China and after China dictated the terms of withdrawal from vast areas of NEFA and some areas of Ladakh, Pandit Nehru now decided to approach USA for air cover”. Writing to President John F Kennedy he described the situation as “really desperate” and requested immediate dispatch of 12 squadrons of fighter aircrafts—–for Nehru who had talked so much on non alignment, it was a crushing acceptance of failure.

Though President Kennedy, on the recommendation of US Ambassador in India John Kennedy Galbrith, a renowned Harward Economist who gave twist to USA’s a Free Market Economy, agreed to Nehru request for a financial aid and arms and sanctioned “supply of a million rounds for machine guns, 40,000 land mines and 1,00,000 mortar rounds. Though USA was not in favour of India because of India’s close contacts and relations with USSR, many senators opposed giving military and financial aid to Nehru who was a proclaimed socialist and to a great extent anti-American in opposition to Pakistan who had always been pro American. Senator Russel in particular opposed any sort of assistance to India. His opposition to Kennedy helping India militarily got wide publicity in USA as senator Russel was the chairman of senate Armed Forces Committee.

This was and the humiliating defeat of Indian Army had weakened Nehru’s position not only in USA and rest of world where he was known as champion of non alignment, but also in India and Congress Party itself. As a result decision making had been shifted from Prime Minister’s house to the congress Parliamentary Party. Inspite of hostile criticism by Senetor Russel and many others Kennedy and Galbrith, though upset, continued to give moral support to Nehru and India.

Chinese aggression and defeat of Indian Army was a great and unbearable shock to Pandit Nehru who had treated himself not only undisputed leader of India but of entire non-aligned world. Krishna Menon, Nehru’s favourite Defence Minister had to resign. Jawahar Lal Nehru himself could not bear this shock and in frustration and shame, within two years he scummbed to this unbearable shock and passed away in 1964.

However Nehru made an emotional speech in 15th August 1947 which is considered very touching and is renowned not only in India but throughout the English speaking world. India’s Prime Minister said: at midnight of ushering 15th August and India’s Independence; “At the stroke of midnight hour, when he world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom—-a moment which comes rarely in history when we step out from the old to the new, when as age ends and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed finds utterance”.

There is no doubt that Nehru was one of the renowned leaders of India’s struggle for independence. Few nations have had leaders of such acknowledged intelligence as Jawahar Lal Nehru Dr. Rajendra Prasad, C Rajagopal Acharya —-Jawahar Lal Nehru served three full terms in office, (as Prime Minister) a privilege denied to any other Prime Minister of India or abroad in a democracy.

Thus despite all his shortcomings because of love for Western Culture and not considering Mountbatten as titular Governor General and not being able to take strong action in Kashmir and Hyderabad fovouring his sister Vijay Laxmi Pandit and daughter Indira Gandhi over others Jawahar Lal Nehru was a great and respected leader of India. He was pride of India like Gandhiji and will be remembered for ever. Even Ghandhiji had same shortcomings but these do not mitigate his status in India and the world. So Nehru, too, will be remembered always.

August 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sardar Patel

Sardar Patel, unlike Gandhi and Jawahar Lal had roaring practice as a brilliant lawyer thus in a few years he saved enough money and booked a passage through Thomas Cooke for UK to become Bar – at- Law. But that was not to be through for the time being. His elder brother Vithal Bhai Patel asked him to allow him to go to UK. Just to become Bar-at-Law. As initials of both brothers were the same VB (Vallabhh Bahi and Vithal Bhai) Vithal Bhai traveled to UK in the same ticket, as Sardar Patel had lot of regard for his elder brothers being from a peasant family. This showed how selfless was Sardar Patel to start with and continued till his demise. Now I quote from the book by Mr. Chapra “Sardar of India”

“When his brother returned to India after completing his studies in London, Vallabh Bhai left for the UK in 1970 and joined the Middle Temple Inn. With his meager resources, he had to work hard in London too and would walk about 14 kms daily to go to and return from the library in the middle temple when he was already 35. The Sardar won a prize of £50 and got a first-class and first position in the finals in the Inns of Court, London. Being the son of a peasant, Vallabh bhai was eager to go to the villages around London and acquire first-hand knowledge which he did after his examination was over. He returned to India with flying colors. In spite of an attractive offer made by the then Chief Justice of Bombay, of a Professorship at the then Chief Justice of Bombay, of a Professorship at the Government Law School (the college was known as ‘school’), Vallabh bhai preferred to come over to Ahemdabad.”

Sardar Patel had decided to do for Ahemdabad and thereafter for Independence movement under Gandhiji though he did not agree with the Mahatma in every aspect. He devoted more time, after declining professorship of Law College to municipal administration with a view to improve. He thereafter took stand against two arrogant British Commissioners and got them removed. These officers were Mr Shillidy and Masscy.

His spirit of service for people was remarkable. It came from his heart and soul in this connection I would like to quote Shri G.V Malvankar another prominent social worker and followers of Gandhiji and his non-violent movement for India’s freedom from British Rule.

“His spirit of service and devotion to duty were of such an exceptional character that as chairman of the municipal sanitary committee, he struck to his residence in the city of Ahmedabad when plague (1917) was raging and refused to move out for personal safety. His was a familiar figure moving in the streets of Ahmedabad, getting the sewers cleaned and the plague-stricken areas disinfected.”

Sardar Patel’s unique contribution to India’s unity and unification, as never before, was (1) Integration of 562 Princely states with newly independent India and (2) successful intervention in Kashmir when all the others leader were indifferent and seemed helpless against British intrigues and for Pakistan Jinnah not only wanted to integrate Kashmir with Pakistan but waited and tried to win over Maharaja of Jodhpur and Nawab of Bhopal with all types of temptations like a corridor, and financial help, arms and use of Karachi port.

Failure of Jinnah and success of Sardar Patel is described by K.M. Punnikar who was Prime Minister of Bikaner in letter dated 7th September 1947 to Sardar Patel that your understanding and vision killed the dispersion of most of the princes and gave us support when we most required it and not only India but the states as a whole owe you a deep gratitude.”

It was indeed a miracle that the Sardar was able to achieve the merger of about 562 princely states comprising one-third of the total area of India into the Indian union within a short span of less than two years. The obstacles seemed to be insurmountable when he took over the reins of office.

Later on Mountbatten used to observe, according to Hudson, “I am glad to say” that “Nehru has not been put in charge of the new states department, which would have wrecked everything. Patel, who is essentially a realist and very sensible, is going to take it over…..”

A few days before 15 August 1947, hostile combination of Indian Princes sprang up with a plan to protect the Pakistan frontier from the border of Sindh to the borders of Bhopal on the one side and to the Surat District on the other. It was indeed a bold and formidable move but the Sardar was able to break this combination; each element, to quote K.M. Munshi, “was segregated and destroyed”.

On the success of his mission Sardar in a statement before the Constituent Assembly on 12th October 1949 observed:

The great ideal of geographical, political and economic unification of India, an ideal which for centuries remained a distant dream and which appeared as remote and as difficult of attainment even after the advent of Indian independence was consummated by the policy of integration.

The story of the merger of the Indian states into the Indian union has been told by the Sardar’s right – hand man, V.P. Menon, in his well – known work, The story of the Integration of Indian Stated and need not be repeated here. “Suffice to say that the Sardar’s India was greater in size than that of Samudragupta, Asoka and Akbar and the writ of the Center wielded an authority and respect never dreamt of by these greatest of Indian rulers.”

Nizam of Hydrabad supported by Razakars and Pakistan had ambition of being ruler of an independent country duly being recognized by Pakistan, Britain and India. But Sardar Patel was determined to end Nizam’s dream and integrated Hyderabad fully like any other princely state. He called Major General Choudhary asking him straight question as how many days of military (Police) action would be required to finish Razakar resistance and integrate Hyderabad with rest of India. General cordially said at the most a week.

Thus Hyderabad was made part of Indian union within 5 days and Major General Choudhary was honoured as military governor of Hyderabad and Sardar Patel when he visited Hyderabad after a few days stayed with General Choudhary who felt greatly honured.

As in the case of integration of Hyderabad there was division in the cabinet in case of Kashmir Mountbatten had sympathies with Pakistan as he was friendly with Churchill and was influenced by his thinking. The chief of army of India, General Bucher was reluctant and was against sending Indian Army in Kashmir. It was only Sardar Patel who was, as in the case of Hyderabad determined to send Indian Army to Kashmir for Kashmir’s accession and integration with India.

In Hyderabad Hindus were in majority while in Kashmir it was quite different as Muslims were in majority in Kashmir. Hindus were in Majority in Jammu and Buddhist were in majority in Ladakh.

To solve the Kashmir problem there was a meeting under the chairmanship of Lord Mountbatten. From the biography of Vallabhbhai Patel, I quote below in length to clarify the role of Mountbatten, Bucher, Nehru and Patel.

“General Bucher asserted that resources available to him were so meager that military assistance to the state would not be possible. Lord Mountbatten exhibited studied diffidence. Panditji presented a picture of acute anxiety and deep concern. Sardar listened, did not utter a word.” He was a picture of calm equipoise. His silence was a strange contrast to a picture of defeatism and helplessness that otherwise pervaded in the meeting. “Suddenly Sardar moved in his seat and immediately in his gruff and resolute voice attracted everybody. He conveyed the following: “Look here, General, Kashmir must be defended at all costs and come what may, resources or no resources. You must do it and all assistance will be rendered by Government. This must, must and must be done. Do whatever you like, but do it…” The General wore a grim look. A ray of hope shot through me. The generals might have wished to demur, but Sardar quietly got up and saying that arrangements for ‘operation airlift’ would be ready by the next morning…defense of Kashmir thus was the result of Sardar’s decisiveness and determined will to implement the decision, whatever the odds.”

Sir Aurobindo, the great seer who had given up active politics and lived the life of a Karmayogi in Pondicherry, had rightly prophesied as early as December 22, 1946, in a remark to a query from his disciple. “Out of all of them. Patel is the only strong man.”

Along with General Bucher, Nizam was supported by many Britishers of the conservative party like Sir Walter Monckton and RA Butler who were on Churchill’s side. Butler emphasized that “Britain should press for the just claims of Hyderabad to remain independent”

Thus Sardar Patel’s achievements like the Police action in Hyderabad, sending Indian Army in Kashmir against opposition by Britishers and indifference of Nehru were more than any other Indian contemporary or past leader and rulers. Whole of India salutes the great Sardar and shall remember him for ever.

Nehru – Patel Controversy

Nehru was Prime Minister duly supported by Gandhi and all the Congress leaders and workers after independence of the country. After partition of India and creation of Muslim state of Pakistan, Patel wanted that Muslims of India should prove their loyalty to India but Nehru was of the opinion that it was the responsibility of Congress and the Government to make Muslims of India feel secure.

Though Nehru and Patel did not see eye to eye on many subjects and policy matters, it was ultimately Sardar Patel who advised all congress men to follow Nehru as Bapu appointed him as his successor and had even proclaimed him as such. It is the duty of all Bapu’s soldiers to carry out his bequest. I am not a disloyal soldier. It was Patel’s decency that prevented an open rupture between the two over Congress Presidency.

August 24, 2009 Posted by | India, Indian History | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment