This blog reviews books, politics and international events from a distinct perspective. Book reviews will be interesting to historians and graduate students alike.
Friday, November 30, 2012
AN Objective Assessment of Nehru" The Indian Ideology Reviewed
A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books
Perry Anderson, the author of The Indian Ideology i8s a well known historian and the author of Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism and the Lineages of the Absolutist State.
In this book reviewed in this blog, Perry Anderson has raised questions which Indian historians writing history in nthe service of the nation state have failed to ask. Worse anyone even attempting a critical analysis of the Nehruvian Era is dismissed as a "communal" historian,a label which makes serious historiography well neigh impossible. The result is that modern Indian historiography is dominated by myths which are repeated without the slightest fear of being exposed as myths. The political trauma of 1947 created not one but two identity based states and while Pakistan is content with its status as an Islamic confessional state, India under Nehru has pretended to be a "secular" state and as Perry Anderson has shown the Congress even at the height of its popularity in the 1930s did not attract more than 3% of its membership from the Muslim community. The conceit of the Congress Party that it represented the entire nation made the party reluctant to seek accommodation with the Muslim League and contri8buted to the process of India getting fragmented. In Indian historiography this episode is usually painted as the wily Jinnah manipulating the Viceroy behind the backs of the Congress leadership when most of them were in Jail. The truth lies as Perry Anderson points out in the arrogance of the Congress leadership which refused to compromise with the League even when Jinnah showed a keen desire to engage with the Congress. The second point that Perry Anderson makes which deserves serious consideration is the fact that the Elections held under the 1935 Government of India Act the Congress did not win even a single Muslim seat. And when the Congress leadership decided to quit office in 1939 after the declaration of war, the field was open for the league to interact with the Muslim masses and further its ends. Rather than blaming the League, the politics of the Congress needs to be reassessed.
Another myth exposed by Perry Anderson which stands modern Indian historiography on its head is the acknowledgement that the Congress pursued a communal agenda and the violence directed against Muslims during Partition emanated from Congress men rather than the favorite whipping boy of the liberals, the RSS. Given the fact that the Congress was responsible for the biggest massacre of post Independent India when thugs of the Congress Party killed more than 15,0000 Sikhs in north India and successive Congress regimes have abetted in the crime by ensuring that the perpetrators are not brought to justice, the analysis of Perry Anderson is certainly close to the truth. The historians maintained by the state lie Bipan Chandra and S Gopal do not seem to understand that the very dynamics of the movement led by the Congress contributed to the violence of Partition.
Perry Anderson's analysis of the Nehruvian era from 1947 to 1964 is not only accurate but is also a sophisticated study of Nehru's methods of statecraft. As Anderson points out Nehru did not run a Government, he presided over a Court with fourth rate individuals like Krishna Menon, O Mathai, B M Kaul etc. The result was the political disaster in 1962 when India was soundly defeated by China. Anderson rightly points out that the McMohan Line which Nehru took as sacrosanct was the result of British chicanery and China showed every willingness to negotiate. But given the arrogance inherent in the Nehruvian vision of India, there was no place for negotiation or diplomacy: Throw the Chinese out was the motto of the so called forward policy which led to disaster. In suppressing the Revolt of the Nagas after Independence, Nehru permitted his Army, armed with the Armed Forces Special Powers Act to indulge in extra legal killings and human rights abuses on a monumental scale and the result is there form all to see. And in Kashmir also the same policy of using a local collaborator, Sheikh Abdullah and then discard him when he began to take Plebiscite promised by Nehru too seriously. Amd all this while quiety promoting his dynasty which still unfortunately is in power.
The Indian Ideoly is a great book and all students of modern Indian history must read this book. Nehru was a giant with feet of clay and it is time Indians are told the truth about their recent past.