Tuesday, May 27, 2014

India has not spoken her last creative word

My article in NitiCentral about the new government.

Here is the link...

Let me say a few ‘personal’ things.
It was perhaps a coincidence or my good ‘karma’, but traveling from France to India in 1972, I kept a pocketbook in my backpack: the French translation of The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo’s philosophical magnum opus. I have to admit that I was not able to not decipher much about the Master’s philosophical vision. It was, however, to greatly influence my life and answer my fundamental question: should the ‘outside world’ be transformed into something ‘beautiful’ in the image of the Divine or should the material world be abandoned and all life devoted to reaching ‘higher’ realms?
I had serious reservations about the latter. Traveling in India in the early 1970s was a shock; the dirt, the chaos in the big cities, the lack of ‘modern’ facilities, the blaring loudspeakers, the crowds, the crowds everywhere, everything was a constant reminder that things were not so bad in Europe where trains ran on time, towns were clean, information was easily available to the public, civic cleanliness a way of life.
At the beginning of the 20th century Sri Aurobindo wrote these words which changed my life: “India of the ages is not dead nor has she spoken her last creative word; she lives and has still something to do for herself and the human peoples. And that which must seek now to awake is not an anglicised oriental people, docile pupil of the West and doomed to repeat the cycle of the occident's success and failure, but still the ancient immemorable Shakti recovering her deepest self, lifting her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and a vaster form of her Dharma.”
It touched me so deeply that I decided to settle in India. It was 40 years ago.
The recent years have been rather depressing; India seemed to have gone into a deep lethargy, to say the least.
Can the new set up in Delhi makes us dream again of India of the Ages? During the first months of Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure in 1984, we lived similar hope; it did not last long as ‘the power-brokers’ soon took over the government machinery. 2004 witnessed another era of expectation, but due to the constraints of a coalition government, optimism quickly faded away.
This time around, hundreds of millions are expecting real, concrete changes; in apparently small details too.
An example, some 10 days ago, a well-known and popular Lama from Arunachal Pradesh passed away in tragic circumstances. Since then, I have been trying to phone a friend in Tawang to offer my condolences. Each time, I dial his mobile number, I get a message ‘this number can’t receive in-coming calls’. Can’t you believe it?
Successive governments at the Centre have been unable to provide proper infrastructure (roads, communications, etc.) to India’s border areas; sixty-seven years after independence, it is a shame. I think Modi Sarkar can make a difference in this field, like in many others and hopefully, the ministries dealing with the Himalayan frontiers will immediately and ruthlessly be taken to task. 
Now take India’s relations with China and particularly the border issue, here too, the Modi Sarkar should make a difference.
I am convinced that one of the main issues which hinders any significant progress is the fact that the history of the border areas has been kept under wraps for political purpose.
Everyone has heard about the cause célèbre, the Henderson-Brooks-Bhagat Report on the 1962 debacle in NEFA and Ladakh. For more than 50 years, the report was kept secret only to protect a few.
What is worse, the defence minister lied in the Parliament; he mentioned the Report’s ‘operational value’ as a pretext to keep it secret; this was just a bogus excuse as we can see now.
This particular report is the tiny tip of a massive iceberg; the Indian public is today not allowed to know India’s history, (even after the legal 25-year gap has elapsed). No proper rules have even been framed for declassification of archives (or if the rules exist, they are kept secret).
Take the Aksai Chin dispute, for years the Nehru government knew about the construction of the road across northern Ladakh, but the common man and the Parliament were kept in the dark. The Lok Sabha got to know ‘by chance’ in December 1959. Fifty-five years after the event, there is not a single declassified file on the subject.
Because Modi is a strong leader with a good majority, I believe that he will not hesitate to look at the past with an open-mind, and to take the necessary hard decisions. Only a strong government will be able to stand up to the Chinese, and eventually acknowledge Indian past mistakes, if any. 
The Modi Sarkar can change the relations with China for the best; Beijing will undoubtedly understand better a straight-speaking leader than back-bending ones.
Former Foreign Secretary A.P. Venkateshwaran, who was posted as Indian Ambassador in Beijing in the early 80’s, often recounted this anecdote demonstrating that the ‘pacifist’ Indian leaders were not understood by the Chinese leadership. One day he was requested by the Party’s Politburo for a subtitled copy of the movie ‘Gandhi.’ It was loaned by the Embassy for a private screening for the Party leadership and when the Chinese official returned the copy to the Embassy, the Ambassador asked him how it was received. The official thanked the Government of India for its generosity and “replied enigmatically that it was a splendid and moving account of Gandhi’s life. But no one had been able to understand what his non-violence is about!”
A recent Global Times commentary showed that Beijing perfectly grasped the meaning of Modi’s statement in Arunachal: “Times have changed… Expansionist mindset won’t be acceptable. China too will have to give up this mindset. Only the mindset of development will be in currency.” The then Gujarat CM added: “No power can snatch it from us”.
Modi rightly stated in Arunachal: “the clarion call of Jai Hind reverberates in the land.”
Another factor is bound to play a vital role in case of tensions. While the situation on China’s borders is extremely unstable (see, for example, the bomb blast which killed some 30 people in Urumqi), the Indian electorate (an unknown concept in China) has massively voted for Modi and the BJP in the Himalayan belt. From Ladakh (1/1) to Himachal (4/4), Uttarakhand (5/5) and Arunachal (1/2), 10 out of 12 Lok Sabha seats have gone to the BJP. As the local populations become more and more restive in Tibet and Xinjiang; often violently opposing Beijing’s rule, the Himalayans in India have massively voted for Modi and shown their strong patriotic fabric. One can easily imagine that it is a game changer in case of a conflict.
The Modi Sarkar means that these things and many others can change in the Land of Bharat. Hopefully, India has not spoken her last creative word.

1 comment:

Laljee Verma said...

Thanks, for bringing out facts of India's mistake in identifying Chinese game plan. India must come out of shackles of democratic voyeurism and proceed on the path of realistic politics to build stronger and meaningful foreign relation.