Tuesday, September 25, 2007

RAHUL GANDHI'S RISE: ANOTHER HIMALAYAN BLUNDER?

The inevitable has happened. The only possible future Chief of the Congress has, at last been formally given a party rank.The king is not dead. Long live the king. This is Indian democracy of the 21st century.

Sycophants both within the Congress as well as in the media and other institutions systematically infiltrated and corrupted during the long dynastic rule are rejoicing. They can live well only if the king lives! And in the anointment of Rahul Gandhi as the General Secretary of the Congress party, they see a ray of hope for the victory of a coalition led by him in the next elections which appear imminent. The commies only have to stop their mindless barks and take a tiny bite!

The real question that should actually concern remaining countrymen is whether this development is good for the nation and whether this latest offering form the Nehru-Gandhi stable can be trusted at all to lead this nation forward without the very, very heavy baggage of the family legacy that will, naturally have to be borne by the nation. Rahul has already placed his family virtually above the nation, citing the family’s achievements and sacrifices, without which, he feels, the country would probably not have made any progress worth talking about.

I had earlier written that the Nehru-Gandhi family is responsible for the demise of the Congress, and that the party, if it has to survive, has to shed this heavy load. The logical question that comes next is: How can something which is not good for a political party be good for the country as a whole?

Are we in for another series of Himalayan blunders to add on to those which have damaged this country considerably, and for which the price is still being paid in blood?

Rahul says he is ‘blind to religion’. Everyone knows that his great grandfather, Nehru, too was blind, not just to religion but to the elementary strategic security requirements of nations, particularly a huge one like India. And this blindness, despite the strategic framework painstakingly created by the British available to him as Prime Minister, has caused incalculable and irreparable long term damage to the country.

It would be worthwhile recounting a few of these unforgivable ‘Himalayan Blunders’.

The first series of blunders were, of course, committed almost immediately after independence in Kashmir. To my mind, these stemmed from Nehru’s well concealed parochialism. Before you laugh and move on dismissively, just read on for a few minutes. Nehru was a Kashmiri Pandit. This Kashmir of Nehru is roughly about 100 kms long and about 30 kms wide on an average. It is only here that Kashmiri language is spoken. The rest of the vast state of Jammu and Kashmir has no ethnic commonality or similarity with Nehru’s Valley.

In 1948, Indian troops were sent in to evict Pakistani raiders who had attacked the Muslim majority Valley to annex it. The moment India troops successfully drove them out of the Valley, Nehru declared a ceasefire, even though the troops were poised to easily recapture the rest of the occupied areas. Nehru simply had no interest in other areas still occupied by Pakistan since there were virtually no ethnic Kashmiris living there. Thus, he gave away a huge part of the state to Pakistan for free, leaving it as hungry as before for the Valley but physically much closer to it than in 1947. A strategic blunder whose incalculable costs are still mounting. Then, pandering to the greed of fellow Kashmiri Sheikh Abdullah to perpetuate his dynastic rule in Kashmir while talking of ‘Kashmiriat’ i.e. the common ethnic identity of both Hindu and Muslim Kashmiri speaking people, Nehru gave this country Article 370 of the constitution, a fatal mistake he made nowhere else. Perhaps his secret desire to protect his ancestral culture from being swamped by hordes of refugee settlers clouded his judgment, to the complete detriment of national interest. What happened to Kashmiriat is well known: all Kashmiri pandits have been driven out of the Valley of Nehru by ethnic Kashmiri Muslims. Religion has triumphed over ethnicity, just like it did at the time of partition of India. Nehru should have known better. But, he was blind to religion.

The above view will start appearing plausible and very logical when viewed in the light of Nehru’s other catastrophic blunders. It is well known how the British carefully prepared for the strategic defence of India by creating ‘areas of influence’ all around India. Afghanistan, Tibet and Burma were kept firmly under British influence, even some control, as they directly impacted on India’s strategic security. These were India’s buffers which kept other powers at arms length from Indian Territory.

What did Nehru do? First in 1948, he allowed Pakistan to capture and keep the complete Northern areas of J&K and some areas in the West, allowing them to virtually overlook the Valley, the only real estate in which Nehru had parochial interest. Then, a little later, he allowed the Chinese to occupy Aksai Chin. When queried in Parliament by Piloo Modi, if I correctly recall, Nehru replied, ‘why are you worried about a land where not a blade of grass grows?’, or words to that effect! The strategic disaster of his virtually ‘gifting’ of Tibet to China is too well documented to be labored upon again. This led to the well known Himalayan blunder of 1962, when China captured large parts of Indian Territory, and continues to keep parts that are of strategic interest to it while maintaining a claim over some other areas, including the whole of Arunachal Pradesh, mainly as a tactical bargaining ploy.

Very few people outside of Assam know that when the Chinese Army reached Tezpur in 1962, Nehru came on national radio and bid goodbye to Assam from India! This statement of his still rankles the Assamese who quote it as an expression of the step motherly treatment given to them by Indians in the rest of India. See the double whammy here; Nehru not only gave away Tibet to China, he meekly gave away even the entire Northeast to that country. That it is still a part of India is only because the Chinese unilaterally withdrew from the occupied areas which they did not see as strategically necessary or which they found difficult to defend over a length of time

Tibet, India’s almost impregnable buffer against mainland China at the time of Independence, was made China’s buffer against India by Nehru. Chinese forces, which were thousands of miles away form India’s borders, are now at our doorstep.

Burma, was, and continues to be forgotten completely, while the Chinese have made major inroads there, to the detriment of India’s strategic interest. India, following in the fancy footsteps of Nehru, is again making the blunder of giving the lack of democracy in Burma precedence over national interest. How can there be a break from this ‘Nehruvian’ thinking when there is dynastic democracy, and the Family is placed above the nation?

The real cost of Nehru’s blindness to religion will only be known after a couple of decades, unless the country takes some decisive steps to control certain disturbing communal trends. His British inspired statement on ‘Aryan’ Ram attacking ‘Dravidian’ south has already proved disruptive and is back in the forefront, thanks to the Ram Setu controversy. One can disturbingly visualize that Rahul’s blindness to religion will be no different, and in fact is likely to be even more out of touch with the pulse and soul of this country, as well as its strategic interest.

So, as another ‘Nehru’ readies to grab the reins of this country, it is time for us to retrospect and realize that the continuity on offer is not for the county’s good at all. The demise of the Congress party due to the Nehru-Gandhi family is fine; the demise of the country is simply not acceptable.