Sunday, October 28, 2012


A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books The cabinet reshuffle that was announced this morning reminds me of the famous line that a hopeless and desperate measure can be compared with rearranging the deck chairs on the sinking Titanic. The Congress party over the past 10 years has presided over scandals of monumental proportions and in spite of Parliamentary inquiries nothing tangible has emerged. The Joint Parliamentary Committee which was to probe the 2G Spectrum Scandal was stymied right from the start by the recalcitrant attitude of the Congress party and this faced the main opposition party to quit the panel. The Coal Allocation Scandal has cost the national exchequer more the 6 billion US dollars and there is no visible sign of the scandal going away soon. To make matters worse, the Son in law of Sonia Gandhi seems to have built a real estate empire using funds from sources which are clearly illegal and dubious. Against this backdrop, the chances of the Congress doing well in the 2014 General Election are rather slim. However, the BJP is caught in its own internecine factional squabbles and this has left the party weak and in disarray. Except in Gujarat where the Party can boast of good governance, the BJP ruled states are all mired in corruption and mal administration with Karnataka being the most egregious example. Now ManMohan Singh has reshuffled his pack and as we know from history, the Prime Minister even in a coalition government has the choice of whom to appoint in his hand. In India since the Prime Minister is a nominee of the Dynasty, he enjoys no such constitutional freedom. He took orders from the Dynasty's Crown Price--Rahul Gandhi-- and all changes were made according to the whims and wishes of the Crown Price. So much for Democracy. Dynastic Fascism has reached such a level that even the pretense of constitutional propriety has been given up. The Newspapers were full of Reports to the effect that Rahul "thought" that such and such a person was to be inducted and such and such a person was to be shown the door. The net result being an elaborate exercise in futility. The fact that a corporate house, Reliance which is an important multi national company in the OIl and Petroleum Sector has succeeded in getting rid of Jaipal Reddy who was relieved of the portfolio< Oil and Natural Gas". The Supreme Court has also given its verdict against Reliance and yet the Governmant chooses to dismiss a minister rather than enforce rule of law. and there is also the mysterious matter of the death of Rajasekar Reddy who also incurred the wrath of this Company. I think Man Mohan Singh has sent out a wrong political message. Ministers involved in scams have been retained. Salman Kurshisd who is involved in a public spat with Kejriwal has been promoted and given a more important portfolio. Maken the Sports Minister at the time of the Common Wealth Games which were mired in financial scandals has been given the status of a Cabinet Minister. I think all those who deserved to be sacked have been rewarded and instead of helping to improve the image of the Government, this reshuffle will only strengthen peoples' opinion that it should go. or as Oliver Cromwell said, Go. In God's name Go.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

india's china war; 50 years on an assessment

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books
Fifty years ago, almost to date Jawaharlal Nehru led India to a military diasater whose effects are still felt today. For a month from October 18th 1962 till the middle of November the troops of the Peoples Libaration Army, China punded India into defeat and inexplicably retreated back to their positions, beyond the MacMohan Line. The military defeat of India has been studied in the Henderson Brooks Report which fo9r some reason has not been made public. However, facts have emerged in recent years which clearly show that it was Jawarharlal Nehru and his then defense minister Krishna Menon who were primarily responsible for the disaster. 1962 lives in popular imagination, but the ghost of that stunning defeat have not been exorcized. The great Athenian historian, Thucydides wrote in his History of then Peloponesian War the states go to war because of (1) honour, (2) fear and (3) interest. This triad of motives still forms the basis on which inter state conflict can be studied. China and India have had two thousand years of peaceful coexistence which Nehru in his misbegotten ambition to overawe China and its revolutionary leadership almost destroyed. The two sectors in which India and China had serious disputes was the Aksai Chin Sector and the Twang Sector. In both these sectors the Chinese leadership indicated a willingness to negotiate, but it was the intransigence of Nehru and his factotum, Krishna Menon, which came in the way. The fact is that the alignments on the MacMohan Line pertaining to these two sectors were drawn up at a time when China was already been defeated in the Opium Wars and after the Western intervention following the Taiping Rebellion and more damagingly the surveys were undertaken after the Boxer Rebellion, particularly in the Ladak region adjoining the Aksai Chin. The British era maps as A G Noorani has shown in his book India-China Boundary Problem: History and Diplomacy were very faulty and often showed Indian claims as lying in China and Chinese claims as falling on the Indian side of the Line. As Lord Curzon and following him many have remarked that frontiers do not become boundaries. China was able to negotiate successfully with all the seven countries with which it had serious territorial disputes and there are questions only with regard to the Sino_Indian frontier. This fact clearly demonstrates that the Indian leadership was at fault. Instead of negotiating with Chou en Lai who repeatedly called on Nehru, the then Prime Minister and his Defense Minister" Krishnamenon advocated what they called a Forward Policy. The Indian Army was not in favor of the forward policy as they knew that the lay of the land favoured the Chinese and that the Indian Army did not have the means to tackle the Chinese. Without any preparation or even a strategy the political leadership forced the Indian Army to fight a battle/ war it knew it could not fight. The result was absolute chaos. China cannot be blamed for the failure of the Indian political leadership. The issue of the unresolved Boundary Dispute got further entangled by Indian involvement. much against Indian national interest in the Tibetan Issue. Anyone who knows the history of China will say that Tibet had always beenn a part of China. From the late nineteenth century, and more specifically from the time of Lord Curzon the Indian Government tried to make Tibet a client state by detaching it the suzerainty of China and almost succeeded. China which was very sensitive to the "unequal treaties" repudiated these agreements and India being an Asian country which had got freedom from colonialism must have encouraged China to assert its rights. Nehru unfortunately chose to uphold the colonial legacy and that mind set resulted in tension over the issue of Tibet. China was driven to war by the wrong and contradictory polcies of the Indian Government as articulated by Jawarharlal Nehru.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books On his facebook, Shri Robert Vadra, Soni-ji's damad had talked about India being a banana republic of mango people. The mango people that Shri Vadra refers to is of course the subversive reference to the very slogan under which his Mother in Law fought the election: AAM ADMI KA HAATH CONGRESS KE SAAT. It is a story as old as the hills that those who enjoy wealth and luxury without straining themselves have contempt for those who earn their honest bread and keep. The "Msngo People" of India may be stupid for having voted the Congress but they are by and large hardworking and decent, something that cannot be said of the average Congressman. Vadra, a small time operator from Maradabad made it to the big league of movers and shakers by virtue of his marriage or put it more crudely by being the damad of the dynasty in power. Having got political power he wants to enjoy it like the Bourbons of France after the Restoration in 1815. His reference to Indians as "mango people" does not smack of elitism because Vadra knows that his background is anything but elitist. He has neither education nor the skills required to make him earn an honest livelihood,and his entry in politics during the last Assembly Elections backfired and was the main cause for the miserable failure of the Congress party. India does not have a hereditary aristocracy and the likes of Vadra with political clout along with the Rahuls, the Vikas. the Akileshes, the Marans and the Karunanidhis become the aristocracy of power. They perform an important role: they translate political power into money and wealth. The main reason why corruption has increased many time over is because of dynastic fascism of the sort favoured by the Congress and mindlessly of the so called "secular" parties. Only the Communist factions and the BJP are not touched by this tendency. In fact Patrick French inhis recent book has shown that the vast majority of the MPs in the current Lok Sabha are sons, daughters and grandchildren of politicians. In other words the pool of talent from which politicians are recruited is decided in the bed room and that is the reason for the phenomenal increase in corruption. Dynastic politics breeds monumental corruption and the recent spate of scams is proof of this statement. The other fruit that figures in Vadra's eloquent comment is Banana.The term banana republic came into being when the great pioneers of human rights and democracy,USA, started intervening militarily in the affairs of South American counties in order to safe guard the interests of the UNited Fruit Comapny. They routinely intervened in the internal affairs of Latin and South American countries and got rid of the authoritarian leaders whom they had propped up in the first place and replaced them with men of their own choice who they felt would do the bidding of the UFC. These kleptocracies were all tied to US banking and financial interests and so the term banana republic came to represent the corruption and filth spewed by US backed regimes. India has already become a banana repulic as there is a total break down of law and order and the only hope that remains is the judicial intervention. The Coal Gate Scam and 2G Spectrum Scasm both are symtomatic of crony capitalism of the worst kind. And why not Vadra. He gets a loan without interest from DLF to buy its own property ans such sweetheart deals are possible only in BANANA REPUBLICS WITH MANGO PEOPLE.

Monday, October 1, 2012


A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books Writing History is not easy and to write the histories that endure is one of the most difficult intellectual tasks and E J Hobsbawm who dies in England yesterday epitomised this truth to the fullest extent. Along with Rodney Hilton, Christopher Hill and a handful of young activists of the British Communist Party, E J Hobsnawm was the founder of the Past&Present Society, a historical forum which pioneered the use of Marxist and Marxian method to the study of the past. EJ Howsbawm was also a rigorous advocate of the theoretical mode of apprehending the past which rejected the naive narrative of political and military events as the backbone of Historiography. The rise of the Nation State in the nineteenth century made it necessary for the newly emerged nations to seek legitimacy for their existence in the past and following the German historian Ranke, the professional historians rallied around the war cry of nationalism. The Marxist historians avoided the allure of nationalism, but fell to the seductive charms of the Communist World Revolution. E J Hobsbawm was an early adherent of this ideological label as he himself says in his extremely lucid autobiography. Hobsbawm can be called a social historian in the most complete sense of the term because he believed that events in history can only be explained when they are placed in the context of society in which the events are rooted. He is however not a blind follower of the economic deterministic model for explaining the past. Individuals act out of choice not necessity,but their choice is largely structured by circumstances transmitted through time. His best work in which this method of social history is worked out is his study of Bandits. This elegant work along with its companion volume, Primitive Rebels tries to explain social banditry in terms of a society which was transforming itself from an agrarian or peasant society to one in which commerce and industry were becoming increasingly salient. In Labouring Men, Hobsbawm tried to unravel the culture of the English working class as it was changing from an artisanal class to a work force in the newly industriaslizing parts of England even as it was reeling from the after effects of the enclosure movement. Hobsbawm historiography was rooted in the joyous optimism which as he is not tired of pointing out was inherited from his Jewish mother. There is a purpose to human existence and it is the historian's sacred duty to document the richness and clour inherent of man's struggle for survival. This meaning which the study of history imparts has been virtually thrown away by a whole generation oh historians who marched under the banner of post colonialism and literary perspectives. By diminishing history and making Historiography a variant of "discourse" and a discourse inflected with power in the Saidian sense, history stood impoverished and it was left to E J Hobsbawm to soldier on tirelessly against the demons of deconstruction and relativism. The death of E J Hobsbawm is a tragic loss to the world of History and this blogger not a Marxist but a historian, pay my tribute to a great historian whose work will continue to inspire generations of men and women who believe that human life has meaning and History is the only means available to record it,