H C Singh

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

Appreciation and comments on Shashi Tharoor’s Book INDIA: From Midnight to The Millennium and Beyond

There is absolutely no doubt that Shashi Tharoor, besides being a great diplomat of UN and now almost Foreign Minister of India, is an excellent thinker and great writer of India. His ideas about Indian nationalism, Unity in Diversity and the detailed expression of these two fundamental issues is matchless. It is apt to reproduce in detail Tharoor’s views on these two aspects as under:

Indian nationalism is “not based on any of the conventional indices of national identity. Not language, since India’s Constitution recognizes eighteen official languages, and there are thirty-five that are spoken by more than a million people each. Not ethnicity, since the “Indian” accommodates a diversity of racial types in which many Indians have more in common with foreigners than with other Indians—Indian Punjabis and Bengalis, for instance, have more in common with Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, respectively, than with other Indians. Not religion, since India is a secular pluralist state that is home to every religion known to mankind, with the possible exception of Shintoism. Not geography, since the natural geography of the subcontinent – the mountains and the sea–was hacked by the Partition of 1947. And not even territory, since, by law, anyone with one grandparent born in pre-Partition India – outside the territorial boundaries of today’s state—is eligible for citizenship. Indian nationalism has therefore always been the nationalism of an idea. It is, as I have tried to demonstrate in this book, the idea of an ever-ever land emerging from an ancient civilization, united by a shared history, sustained by pluralist democracy.

 In 1996 the then prime minister, H.D.Deve Gowda, stood at the ramparts of Delhi’s, Red Fort to deliver Independence Day message to the Nation “What was unusual this time was that Deve Gowda, a southerner from the state of Karnataka, spoke to the country in a language of which he did not know a word. Tradition and politics required a speech in Hindi, so he gave one—the words having been written out for him in his native Kannada script, in which they, of course, made no sense.”

Such an episode is almost inconceivable elsewhere, but it represents the best of the oddities that help make India. Only in India could there be a country ruled by a man who does not understand its “national language”; only in India, for that matter.”

 There are some more very significant views of Shashi Tharoor on India’s Unity in Diversity, particularly about Sonia Gandhi whom many like Sharad Pawar considered a foreigner and not eligible for being the leader of Congress Party or Government as PM. As a congress Party has been in existence and leading the Indian Independence Movement for more than a hundred years. Here are some extracts from his book:

 India’s national identity has long been built on the slogan “unity in diversity.” The “Indian” comes in such varieties that a woman who is fair-skinned, sari-wearing and Italian-speaking, as Sonia is, is not more foreign to my grandmother in Kerala than one who is “wheatish-complexioned,” wears a salwar-kameez and speaks Punjabi. Our nation absorbs both these types of people; both are equally “foreign” to some of us, equally Indian to us all.

 Shashi Tharoor’s views on Unity in Diversity of India are superb. He has also written analytically on Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru Indira Gandhi even on Sanjay Gandhi. But there are other aspects on which some comments are called for particularly, his neglect of leaders like Dr Rajendra Parsad India’s first President who was first Bihari who topped in MA economics in Calcutta University with remarks of the Examiner “Examinee knows more than the examiner. There is also neglect of Dr Abdul Kalam Azad who though a Muslim was a dedicated follower if Gandhi till his last breath. Sardar Patel, Deputy PM who consolidated India by incorporation 500 Princely States and even Hyderabad by Pohri Action and Gandhian. Jaya Parkash Narain even to an extent of Lal Bahadur Shastri, glaring omissions of prominent leaders from opposition: E.M.S Nambodrepad, virtually founder of Communist Party in India and first Communist Chief Minister of Kerala and of an Indian State. Even Atal Bihari Vajpayee who has been Prime Minister of India as well as longest serving Member of India’s Parliament. These omissions are noteworthy in a famous book on INDIA.

December 14, 2009 Posted by | Achievers, Biography, India, Indian History, Political Commentary, Politics, Religion | , , , , , , | Leave a comment