Were we accursed to be born in India, before Modi’s advent?
If there is anything which shows how a small minded petty person has assumed the office of Indian Prime Minister it is these latest remarks of Narendra Modi in Shanghai and then repeated in Seoul in his recent three nation tour of South East Asia. Modi said, and I quote, “There was a time when Indians would be ashamed and say, “What is this place?”…“What sins did we commit in our last life to be born Indian in this one, Is this any country? Is this any government? What kind of people are these? Let’s just leave and go,”
Modi and his Non-resident variety of Indians, mostly from the saffron brand, who fled the country to greener pastures while we were struggling to fight against all odds post-independence may be the ones who may have felt what Modi said. But do we?
What was India at the time of independence? What was the state of our industry, agriculture, education and social parameters? In the 1965 Indo-Pak war, of course presided over by Parivar’s darling Lal Bahadur Shastri, the Indian fighter Gnat planes gave a bloody nose to the highly sophisticated Sabres of Pakistan imported from the USA. Shastriji who was sadly in office only for 18 months and was drawn into a war with Pakistan less than a year in office couldn’t possibly have initiated the production of the Gnat fighter planes. These were the legacy of the founder of modern India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. In the 18 years (1947-65) India was producing from a needle to cars to aeroplanes, while Pakistan securing independence a day earlier than India was producing nothing. Pakistani sophisticated imported Patton tank still stands in Chandigarh as a reminder of the humiliating defeat we dealt to numerically and technologically superior Pakistani army. All that was thanks to Nehru’s vision. We were fully self-reliant while Pakistan was a client state of the USA.
Faced with the prospect of siding with the US and Western Bloc, for Nehru was no Communist, he chalked out his own non-aligned course, together with the charismatic Egyptian leader Gamel Abdel Nasser, Yugoslavia’s Marshal Josip Broz Tito and Indonesia’s Sukarno, which to date Modi himself has not been able to disown, for all his disdain of Nehru.
On the agriculture and irrigation front it was Nehru’s vision first of abolishing Zamindari system and thus curbing land holdings in UP at least and simultaneously initiating the building of Bhakra Nangal Dam which turned the poorer non—producing east Punjab of the united India into India’s granary for decades and almost todate and UP benefitting from the Green revolution.
On the social front India developed a sound system of reservation for the Dalits and backwards despite constant Sanghi sneerings “Quota wale, quota wale” against the Dalit officers. India soundly established itself as a progressive modern and secular nation. Are we to be ashamed of any of this? Shouldn’t we be proud of what India achieved in last six decades? Was Mandal Commission recommendation and reservation for the OBCs from which Modi too benefitted a curse? A curse it was upon the Savarnas for sure, who started fleeing the country in droves post Mandal. But for the deprived sections of the Indian society it was a boon.
The problem with Modi and his other Sanghi cohorts is that their role model is Pakistan. I visited Pakistan as a young teenage boy in 1965. It was being ruled by Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan. The average middle class Pakistanis, like our family members, were far more prosperous, than us no doubt. They had cars, refrigerators and other gadgetry in their homes and had banned cycle rickshaws, while we were still bussing it. But they were not producing even a needle in Pakistan. The traders were thriving importing the world’s best and selling all that at a premium.
Pakistan Economist once lamented in its write up how before Partition of India the current Pakistan state of Punjab produced enough wheat for the entire India and how the same Punjab can barely produce enough for itself. It didn’t say why? But the real reason for agriculture lagging in Pakistan is the refusal of the state to limit land holdings. Zamindari system is alive to date in Pakistan. Is this what Modi and his Sanghis wanted us to emulate and feel proud of?
There is only one Muslim majority state in India, Jammu and Kashmir. Putting aside the contentious issue of which side Kashmir should rightfully go, let us not forget that Kashmiri Muslims were the first to fully shed illiteracy several decades ago, because Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah made school education universally free in the state. Also his other revolutionary step was to introduce land ceiling. Compare our Kashmir with the Muzaffarabad and the rest of Pakistan occupied Kashmir. They are no match to us. Is that a reason to feel ashamed of or feel proud of?
Modi and his Sanghi fellow travellers would love to see India turn into another Pakistan, a totalitarian, narrow minded obscurantist state, which Pakistan’s third dictator and the founder of religious fanaticism and terrorism General Mohammad Ziaul Haq turned it into and that is why for all the fulminations against Pakistan, has anyone ever heard any Sanghi, Modi included, utter a word against Ziaul Haq. I once challenged J P Mathur before a score of journalists to show me one statement the BJP ever made against that mullah in Khaki throughout his 11 year rule.
Naturally if our role model is Ziaul Haq which is true in the case of Modi and his Sanghi cohorts, he and his ilk will feel ashamed of the last six decades, including the six years of Atal Bihari Vajpayee rule. For please remember that the Sanghis were extremely apprehensive of Vajpayee making peace with Pakistan. Mathur commended before a large group of journalists Sushma Swaraj and L K Advani for sabotaging the proposed Agra Summit with General Parvez Musharraf.