Right To Question

Re-evaluting Indian History

Sudip Bhattacharya

Every human being wants security in his family, in all areas, especially, economic and after these are achieved, then, to be loved and accepted in the society, and, may be, even nationally and globally. The primary motivation for human endeavor is this twin desire: to achieve security and gain acceptance. This means success in life. Reputation (or Yasha) means some success; comfort and security bring a feeling of more success. The inherent abilities and profession specific traits take a person to a specific level of success. Generally, craving for more takes one somewhat more ahead. But, for one to reach pinnacle of success, he has to be ambitious.

Ambition comes into play when one is not satisfied with what one gets and deserves. Each additional degree of ambition raises the goal to a higher peak. Such ambition often brings in its wake many evils, when scruples for adopting unfair means are forgotten. For sometimes, there has been a growing erosion of professional ethics all around, and simultaneously, the tendency of keeping up with Jones and competition in all areas, have intensified. Therefore, this trait, viz., lack of scruples has come to play an ever-enlarging role. Lack of scruples, works in opposite direction to ambition. Here, each step, down to a lower and lower degree of scruples, ironically, seems to pave the way to a higher and higher pinnacle of success.

When unscrupulous and ambitious people occupy govt. chair, they resort to utilizing positional power and money power for self-promotion and personal benefit. People in govt, obviously, have substantial command over these two things. Activists, NGOs, and private sector have some money power but not much positional power. Media, on the other hand, has positional power to a great extent, because everyone wants to keep it happy. So, it is the degree of ambition, in ascending order and degree of scruples, in descending order inherent in the mental make-up of a person that determines his/her achievable success.

In India, some of the top leadership of UPA govt. and many others in different fields, as extensively reported in the media, appear to have fallen prey to the inter-play of their riping ambition, greed and falling scruples. And, consequently they became guilty of various misdemeanors and improper acts. Lalu and Jayalalitha have been convicted, although the latter got recently acquitted in high Court. Ramalingam Raju has been punished for cheating. Raju, Maran and Kalmadi have been prosecuted against. P K Pachury is under cloud for various reasons. Teesta Sitalvad is under scrutiny for "misuse of foreign donation". Unsavory reports about misuse of office by Greenpeace, a well known NGO and Mulayam, Powar, Patil, Rajiv Shukla, Shusma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje in politics and Barkha Dutt and Vir Sangvi in media, among others, appeared in press.

Traditional India taught people to contain their desire within reasonable needs and to be happy. West on the other hand gave consumerism and cut throat competition which calls for aggressive approach in modern marketing parlance. Profit is never enough, so be ambitious, i e, aggressive; have no scruples to miss-sell and defraud. Such attitudes not only threw ethics to the wind, but also economic prudence. This was amply demonstrated in the last international financial crisis and many other financial scandals like manipulation of LIBOR fixation and tax avoidance.

Yet, there are, in India, many successful political leaders who are endowed with merit, profession specific skills and zeal to achieve success without being vitiated by ambition in the sense described above and who have been very scrupulous.

Netaji Subhas Bose definitely qualifies to be in this category at the highest position. Nehru was also, so far, considered to be in the same class. But, his role as a freedom fighter and, especially, as the architect of democratic institutions have continuously been highlighted. However, for a rigorously objective assessment, one should re-examine the following issues and questions:
ü   Whether INA or INC or both—who brought independence. Whose contrbution and sacrifice was higher?
ü   The long term effect of Gandhiji's intervention against Subhash in Congress and retracing the course of events leading to Subhash's decision to seek alliance with Germany-Japan in armed struggle for ejecting the British. Didn't Netaji's decision to leave the country leave the field open for Nehru to buttress his claim for Premiership?
ü   Was the Partition and its tragic aftermath, loss of millions of life and the largest ever uprooting of people known to history, avoidable? Nehru's role in this decision including his motive behind agreeing to Partition, his remorse or lack of it, ought to be reassessed.
ü   System and structure of parliamentary democracy was borrowed from UK, France and USA and the Union Cabinet, comprising many stalwarts like Patel, Rajagopalachari, Rajendra Prasad, etc., implemented this, of course, with Nehru as the prime minister. Credit should be distributed among all of them and not heaped on Nehru alone.
ü   The constitution was drafted by a committee chaired by Ambedkar. B N Rau was the constitutional adviser and S N Mukhherjee was the chief draftsman. Constituent Assembly of more than 300 members with Shri Sacchinanad Sinha and Rajendra Prasad in Chair, HC Mukherjee in Vice-Chair, met over 166 sessions in 2 years, 11 months and 18 days.
ü   In Nehru's time, major financial scams occurred like Jeep Scandal, Haridas Mundhra- TTK scandal and one involving Dharma Jayanti Teja.
ü   Dynasty role and nepotism made their most successful entry during the time when his authority could never be challenged.
ü   Chinese aggression and debacle of Indian Army took place during his regime.
ü   Brook Henderson report got suppressed.
ü   It is understood that a permanent seat in the UN Security council was offered to India during his tenure as PM, but he declined it instead preferring early admission of China into it.
ü   His role as PM in introducing and facilitating the Freight Equalization Scheme for neutralizing the inherent advantages of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa on their own mineral resources.
ü   Currently unfolding his alleged role in spying on Netaji family and alleged support to UK, Russia and USA in their treatment of Netaji. Mismanagement of Kashmir problem ignoring and even humiliating Patel and Shyamaprasad Mukherjee.

In this connection, let us also consider-views of historian and researcher Purabi Roy, as given in TOI dated 21/04/2015. Here freedom fighter Aruna Asaf Ali is quoted to have said to Stalin that Nehru was a socialist; the Communist Party in India received all help from him, including financial; and hosted tea parties when all problems could be discussed. Also, as per observation made by Sandhya Jain in Pioneer dated 21st April, 2015: the book, ‘Judgement: No Aircrash, No Death (2010)’, says Nehru received information that Netaji left Japan for Manchuria via Saigon in August 1945,  fearing arrest by the British after Japan's defeat, and moved towards Russian territory. Nehru wrote to British Prime Minister Attlee that "Subhas Chandra Bose, your war criminal, has been allowed to enter Russian territory by Stalin ... a clear treachery by the Russians". The Mukherjee Commission has established that reports of an air crash in Taiwan (August 18,1945) was false. Another lingering mystery concerns treasure Netaji was allegedly carrying when he disappeared.

Let us declassify all the relative files on spying on Netaji family and on freedom movement including Kashmir imbroglio. Then, constitute an enquiry commission headed by a retired CJ of Supreme court to 'concretely analyze the concrete' and report findings. People responsible for criminality or irregularity must be brought to justice. More importantly, history is always based on the then archival and other documentary evidence and therefore, has to be written afresh, if new information is unearthed and points on the contrary to the held opinion.

Vol. 48, No. 7, Aug 23 - 29, 2015