The Candid Eye

October 4, 2010

Home truths for Rahul Gandhi!

In what is clearly an indictment of PV Narasimha Rao, one of India’s greatest Prime Ministers, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi declared a couple of weeks ago that the Babri Masjid would have been saved if a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family had been in active politics at that time. Though Mr Gandhi has belatedly tried to make some amends, this incident has once again brought to the fore the feudal mindset of members of the Nehru-Gandhi family, their insecurities (which prevent them from acknowledging the contribution of leaders outside their family) and their persistent efforts to distort historical truths.

Rahul Gandhi Family - Courtesy :

Since Mr Gandhi has sought to give us a glimpse of what would have been if a member of his family had been at the helm in December 1992, here is a summary of this family’s track record when it did hold the political reins. Let us begin at the beginning. Acting on the advice of Lord Mountbatten, the first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, gave Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel the task of integrating all the 565 princely states in the Indian Union. Even as Sardar Patel set about his task, Nehru, in a display of pettiness typical of this family, moved “Kashmir Affairs” from the Department of States to the Ministry of External Affairs, which was under his charge. Patel executed his responsibility in a clinical and ruthless manner and successfully completed the gigantic task of stitching together 564 princely states into the Indian Union. Nehru took on the responsibility of integrating one princely state (Jammu & Kashmir) and we all know the consequence – this has remained India’s most problematic State for the last 60 years.

But Nehru’s Kashmir blunders did not end here. In October 1947, Pakistan sent in thousands of heavily armed tribesmen into Jammu & Kashmir in a bid to capture it by force. After Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession, the Indian Army marched in and began pushing back the intruders who had captured Baramulla and cut off power supply to Srinagar. Even as our gallant soldiers were driving out the intruders, Nehru cried halt to the Army operation and, much against the advice of Sardar Patel, took the fateful decision to lodge a complaint against Pakistan before the United Nations Security Council on January 1, 1948.

With this single act, Nehru demoralised the Army (which wanted just a few more days to throw out the intruders), allowed Pakistan to retain 30,000 square miles of illegally occupied territory in Jammu & Kashmir and internationalised the Kashmir issue. So, while Nehru made a mess of the Kashmir issue, Patel coaxed, cajoled or bamboozled recalcitrant princes like the Nizam of Hyderabad and a couple of pro-Pakistan princes on the Gujarat coast to fall in line and accede their territories to India. But for Patel’s firmness, we would have lost Hyderabad and the coastal areas of Gujarat to Pakistan in1948 itself and Hyderabad, in the words of the Sardar, would have become an “undigested lump” in India’s belly.

Let us now examine the report card of another member of this family – Mrs Indira Gandhi.

In 1975, Mrs Gandhi imposed an internal Emergency and turned a vibrant democracy into a dictatorship. Her Government wrecked the Constitution through a series of horrendous amendments, jailed most of her political opponents under draconian laws, ordered forcible sterilisation of men in the reproductive age group and sent bulldozers to drive out the poor from the cities. All this would never have happened if a non-Nehru-Gandhi had been the Prime Minister.

Thereafter, between 1980 and 1984, Mrs Gandhi’s Government offered tacit support to Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale just to spite the Akalis and allowed him to store deadly weapons in the Golden Temple. When things went out of control, she ordered the Army to march into the shrine, causing huge loss of human life and hurting the pride of the Sikhs. Thereafter, Mrs Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards leading to a pogrom in which more than 3,000 Sikhs were lynched in Delhi and other parts of northern India at the behest of Congress leaders. None of this would have happened if a non-Nehru Gandhi had been the Prime Minister between 1980 and 1984.

Coming to the era of Rajiv Gandhi, his approach to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) eerily resembled the Sikh militancy story. This too ended in the tragic deaths of hundreds of brave, young soldiers and the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. All this would never have happened if a non-Nehru-Gandhi had been Prime Minister between 1984 and 1989.

There are several other decisions taken by members of this family, which have resulted in much social, economic and political strife. For example, Rajiv Gandhi succumbed to pressure from the Muslim clergy and amended the law to deny maintenance to divorced Muslim women after the Shah Bano case. Thereafter he felt compelled to appease Hindu sentiment and so had the Ram Temple in Ayodhya unlocked and a ‘shilanyas’ performed. Yet, Mr Rahul Gandhi showers abuse on Narasimha Rao and expects us to believe that the family that blessed the ‘shilanyas’ would have saved the masjid! The list is endless.

However, since Mr Gandhi has sought to run down Narasimha Rao, we need to ask ourselves whether members of this family have ever had the civility to acknowledge the contribution of national leaders from outside this family, be it Sardar Patel, BR Ambedkar or Narasimha Rao. When Narasimha Rao became Prime Minister we had mortgaged gold to the Bank of England because we had run out of foreign exchange. By the time he completed his five-year term, he had laid the foundation for India’s emergence as an economic superpower. I shudder to think what would have been India’s fate if instead of the cerebral Narasimha Rao, a Nehru-Gandhi had been the Prime Minister between 1991 and 1996!

Narasimha Rao, along with Mr Manmohan Singh, not only gave India hope but also unlocked the creative genius of Indians, which had been bottled up during the era of the Nehru-Gandhis. The Nehru-Gandhis will never acknowledge this, but we do not have to be so ungrateful. Now that Mr Rahul Gandhi has sought to besmirch the image of Narasimha Rao, we must demand the appointment of a Truth Commission to document the commissions and omissions of every Prime Minister so that our post-independence history, which is currently corrupted by the mythology promoted by the Nehru-Gandhis, becomes a more honest narrative.

Source : The Pioneer

May 27, 2009

An advice not taken

Babri Masjid Ram Mandir was a national issue of tension some years ago. His Holiness Sri Sri Ravishankar (henceforth Guruji in this article) had suggested some important feasible solutions. Having not taken into consideration, an opportunity for peace was lost.

It is sad that Prabhakar, leader of LTTE, is killed. Is this how we treat our political oppositions? Is there nothing like a peace treaty, an agreement of understanding?

In past there have been wars, for power, religion, territory, wealth – but they had a human corner. An opposition king was not brutally murdered (atleast in many cases). There would be a peace at the end of war.

What is the guarranty that another Prabhakar won’t be born?

Guruji had visited Srilanka 3 years ago. He talked with Prabhakar saying, “you think you are leading a freedom fight, but the world thinks you as a terrorist. All goals are not achieved by war, talk to government and come to a peaceful agreement.” And he told the government, “see, all wars are not won by power alone. There needs to be a dialog. You cannot make peace with a totally defeated enemy, you cannot make friends with them. So having shown the power, come to the talking terms.” Both did not listen. Prabhakar said, Guruji you don’t know politics, you do your teaching of meditation and all that. Government anyways wanted to wipe out LTTE totally.

By disagreeing to simple words of advice of the saint, the two parties have lost the chance, and lives of lakhs of people are devastated. Srilankan Government has lost all faith and concern of Tamils in India.

On the other hand, listening to Sri Sri, Gujjar agitation could be overcome, and peace was brokered between Raje and Gujjar.

There are numerous examples in the history, where prosperity has downed when the Kings ruled the country in consultation with the Guru s. Why so? Simply because one who is Ruler, looks for proper administration, and one who is reformer, looks for proper benefit for all. A Ruler without the guidance of reformers can become selfish, biased, corrupt. A Reformer without aid of Ruler finds it tough to bring a remarkable change in the Society.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had Swami Ramdas as his guiding mentor.

Chanakya was the guiding mentor of Chandragupta Mourya.

Buddha guided King Ashoka. And in much olden days, Krishna guided Pandavas and Vasishtha Rishi trained the King Rama.

Who are all the saints today in India and abroad? Its true that there have been a few frauds under the umbrella of sainthood, and it has been punished time and again. However, majority are good only. Why haven’t we heard of their works, their ideas for building a nation…

Rulers and Reformers in India need to join hands together.

May 23, 2009

The Jaffna Tamils

Filed under: Sri Lanka — thecandideye @ 3:00 AM
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This article appeared in SAAG by B.Raman.I have reproduced the same.

As I watched TV visuals of the death of V.Prabakaran, the head of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and read and heard accounts of the way his dead body was disfigured and rolled in dirt  by the Sri Lankan Army , my mind went back to the years 1951-55 when I was a student of the Loyola College of Chennai, run by the Society of Jesus. Every class, including mine, had four or five Tamils from the Northern Province of Ceylon as Sri Lanka used to be known before 1972. Even in those days, they never considered themselves part of Ceylon. They would introduce themselves as Jaffna Tamils and not as Ceylonese Tamils.

2. Every middle class family in Jaffna would save whatever money it could and send its offspring to Tamil Nadu for higher education. The most popular colleges among the Jaffna Tamils was the Loyola and the Christian Colleges of Chennai and the St.Joseph’s of Tiruchi. They were intelligent, hard-working and with a keen sense of humour. During off-class hours, they would keep to themselves and did not mix much with other students.

3. Every Jaffna Tamil, like a Tamil from Tamil Nadu, wanted to become a Government servant. The other popular profession was as lawyers. When they went back to Ceylon after completing their college education in India, they would join the Government service in Colombo. In the first few years after Ceylon became independent, the Jaffna Tamils dominated the Ceylonese bureaucracy.

4. They dominated the buraucracy even in the then Malaya and Singapore. The British preferred employing the Jaffna Tamils as bureaucrats in many of their Asian colonies. Apart from their intelligence, command of the English language and capacity for hard work, the Jaffna Tamils also had a good reputation for their integrity and honesty.

5. The Wikipedia writes as follows of the Jaffna Tamil community in Malaya and Singapore: “Ceylonese Tamils made up an overwhelming majority in the civil service of British Malaya and Singapore prior to independence…..Many of the first Asian and non-white doctors and engineers in Malaya and Singapore were of Sri Lankan Tamil descent. The world’s first Asian surgeon was Dr S.S. Thiruchelvam, a Malayan of Ceylonese Tamil origin. Former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew once said: “In terms of numbers, the Ceylonese, like the Eurasians, are among the smallest of our various communities. Yet in terms of achievements and contributions to the growth and development of the modern Singapore and Malaysia they have done more than warranted by their numbers. In the early days of Malaysia’s and Singapore’s history the civil service and the professions were manned by a good number of Ceylonese. Even today the Ceylonese community continues to play a prominent role in these and other fields of civil life. For example in Singapore, today, the Speaker of Parliament is a Ceylonese. So is our High Commissioner in Great Britain. So is our Foreign Minister. In the Judiciary, in the civil service, in the university, in the medical Service and in the professions they continue to make substantial contributions out of all proportion to their numbers. They are there not because they are members of a minority community but on the basis of merit. The point is that the Ceylonese are holding their own in open competition with communities far larger than them. They have asked for no special favour or consideration as a minority. What they have asked for – and quite rightly – is that they should be judged on their merits and that they be allowed to compete with all other citizens fairly and without discrimination. This, as far as the Singapore Government is concerned, is what is best for all of us. I believe that the future belongs to that society which acknowledges and rewards ability, drive and high performance without regard to race, language or religion.” He used the word Ceylonese, but he was actually talking of Tamils of Jaffna origin working in Singapore.

6. In my younger days, the Jaffna Tamils had a reputation for being meek and mild. We used to make fun of them by saying that if a policeman or a soldier pointed a gun at them they would tie their lungi above the knees and run. It is remarkable how Prabakaran made them shed their meek demeanour and stand up and fight for their rights. They fought ferociously because they felt degraded and humiliated by the Sinhalese majority after the British left Ceylon in 1948.

7. They put up with all the humiliation and indignity heaped upon them for 35 years. Then, they could no longer. They took to terrorism and insurgency to give vent to their anger. Their revolt against the Sinhalese might have been crushed by the Sri Lankan Army, but their anger remains—- in the Tamil areas of Sri Lanka itself as well as in the diaspora. Since the LTTE-led revolt broke out in 1983 nearly one million Sri Lankan Tamils are estimated to have fled abroad. You find them all over West Europe, North America and Australia.

8. In response to my articles on the LTTE and Sri Lanka, I get a large number of personal messages from the members of the diaspora. Some are angry, but polite. Some downright abusive and threatening. Some curse India for allegedly letting down the Tamils and pray to God to punish India and the Indians for not helping the Tamils. “Just because Prabakaran killed Rajeev, you are punishing the entire Tamil community,’ complains one message.” Your Prime Minister has not uttered a word of condemnation of the cruelties inflicted on the Tamil civilians by the SL Army. I pray to God that all of you must suffer one day the same way we are suffering.”

9. The Tamil diaspora is yet to come to terms with the consequences of the death of Prabakaran to the future of their struggle for dignity and equality. They are studying how the Jewish diaspora conducted itself in its darkest days in the 1940s. The message that is being tom-tomed across the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora is: “Let us emulate the Jewish diaspora. We will prevail just as the Jewish people prevailed”.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai.

May 22, 2009

Origins of the Srilankan Civil War

Filed under: Sri Lanka — thecandideye @ 3:00 AM
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The agony and suffering of Srilankan Tamils due to war have caused so much agitation and in some places violence in TN.Periyar Dravida Kazhagam even attacked the convoy of Army trucks in Coimbatore some days ago.See the video here. This act of PDK against Indian Army definitely needs to be punished.Whatever be the cause, this cannot be justifiied.Even the election compaigns had seen so many twists and turns from all the parties on the Srilankan Tamils.Jayalalitha, the AIADMK supremo also joined those people who demanded Independent Tamil Eelam in Srilanka.Each party tried to make use of this Sri Lankan Tamil issue to its advantage in the elections.

It is also worth to know about the Srilankan Civil War.Information in Wikipedia says that the government of D.S. Senanayake passed legislation stripping the estate Tamils of their citizenship in 1949, leaving them stateless.

The effect was to tilt the island’s political balance away from the Tamils. In 1948, at independence, the Tamils had 33% of the voting power in Parliament. Upon the disenfranchisement of the estate Tamils, however, this proportion dropped to 20%. The Sinhalese could and did obtain more than a 2/3 majority in Parliament, making it impossible for Tamils to exercise an effective opposition to Sinhalese policies affecting them. The main reason for the imbalance was that several multi-member constituencies elected a Tamil member of Parliament in a majority Sinhala electorate. The idea in having multi-member constituencies was to prevent domination of minorities by a future nationalist government.

The SLFP government led by Solomon Bandaranaike was sworn into office on a platform that of helping the growing population of unemployed youth who despite general educational achievement were disenfranchised by the ‘Sinhala Only’ language policy. A majority of civil servants under colonial rule were Tamil whose positions benefited from free English-medium missionary schools in the north and east of the island. When Sinhala became the official state language, many Tamil workers in government employment who were not fluent in Sinhala lost their jobs. The Tamil Federal Party led a group of Tamil volunteers and staged a sit-down satyagraha (peaceful protest). This protest was broken up by alleged hardline Sinhalese nationalist gangs.

Importing Tamil language films, books, magazines, journals, etc. from the cultural hub of Tamil NaduIndia was banned. Sri Lanka also banned groups such as the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham and the Tamil Youth League. Culturally, Tamil Sri Lankans were cut off from Tamil Nadu. Foreign exchange for the long established practice of Tamil students going to India for university education was stopped. Equally, examinations for external degrees from the University of London were abolished. The government insisted this was a part of a general program of economic self-sufficiency, part of its socialist agenda, however most of the Tamil population did not accept nor believe this.

During the 1970s university admissions were standardized. This initiative took place to rectify disparities created in university enrollment during colonial rule.Under the British, English was the state language and consequently greatly benefited English speakers. However, the majority of the Sri Lankan populace lived outside urban areas and did not belong to the social elite, and therefore did not enjoy the benefits of English-medium education. The issue was compounded further by the fact that in northern and eastern regions of the island, where a largely Tamil speaking populace resided, students had access to English-medium education through missionary schools regardless of their socio-economic status. This created a situation where the large proportion of students enrolled in universities were English speaking Tamils, particularly in professional courses such as medicine and engineering.

The government policy of standardization in essence was an affirmative action scheme to assist geographically disadvantaged students to gain tertiary education. The benefits enjoyed by Sinhalese students also meant a significant fall in the number of Tamil students within the university population.At first, Tamil politicians pushed for a federal system through the Federal Party. This was met with suspicion and resistance from many Sinhalese.

In the 1960s, the government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike proceeded to nationalize most missionary schools in the country, secularizing them and changing the language of instruction from English to Sinhala only. After this, it became rare for Sinhalese and Tamil children to attend school together. Unable to speak Sinhalese, it became increasingly difficult for Tamil youth to gain access to civil service jobs or attend univerisities, and unemployment rose.

A mob went on rampage on the nights of May 31 to June 2 burning the market area of Jaffna, the office of the Tamil Newspaper, the home of the member of Parliament for Jaffna, the Jaffna Public Library and killing four people.The destruction of the Jaffna Public Library was the incident which appeared to cause the most distress to the people of Jaffna. The 95,000 volumes of the Public Library destroyed by the fire included numerous culturally important and irreplaceable manuscripts. Witnesses reported the presence of uniformed police officers in the mob and their involvement in the deaths of four individuals.

The concept of a separate nation, Tamil Eelam, was proposed by the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) in 1976 . TULF was a coalition of parties who went on to campaign in the 1977 elections for an independent state for Tamils in Sri Lanka. They won most of the Tamil seats, but the government later banned them from Parliament for advocating an independent state.

May 16, 2009

One more Potential Academy Award Winning Film from India!!

When India is celebrating the victory of Slums and Dogs and its award winning music director AR Rahman’s incredible music,here comes another film with well thought out,pre planned,fascinating story line.The movie name –  ‘Nutritious Hunger Strike ‘, directed/enacted/screenplayed by  Karunanidhi.You need to watch this wonderful movie,beautifully enacted by the hero Karunanidhi, if you have not seen already.One fine day,Hero Karunanidhi after finishing his breakfast  followed by fresh juice decides to go on hunger strike.The reason – People of Tamil Nadu are so worried and agitated about the plight of Srilankan Tamils.So our hero being a Tamil,needed to do something dramatically to grab their attention.His dramatic decision to go on hunger strike drama,indeed grabbed people’s attention.For the people who have missed this, here below is one of the scenes in the drama.Infact it is the only scene as far as I remember.Click here for the scene.

Here is the chronology of scenes of our Karunanidhi in the drama ‘Nutritious Hunger Strike’.
6AM : Getting up
6AM : 7AM – Getting Ready
7AM : Hot medium spicy Soup is being served to our Karunanidhi
7AM – 7.15AM : Drinking the warm medium spicy soup
7.15AM – 7.45AM : Reading Newspapers and Recollecting what he had said to the press the previous day so that he can lie based on the previous one.
7.45AM – 8AM : Arcot Veerasamy calls up Chidambaram and confirms whether he would call our hero at 11.45AM sharply.
7.45AM – 8AM : At the same time,Dhayalu Ammal,Karunanidhi’s wife calls up the family doctor and asks him to come to Marina beach directly
8AM – 8.10AM : Goes to Dining area.Yes he doesn’t want to waste the energy,which he wants to use while sleeping aka hunger strike
8.10AM – 8.30AM : Takes breakfast – Hot Idlies with Sambar and Chutney.Doctor has advised him not to take anything other than Idlies as break fast.After packing Fresh Apple juice and ground nuts,our ‘Nutritious Hunger Strike’ crew sets out for Marina beach.
8.30AM – 9AM – In the AC car,Karunanidhi drinks Apple juice and binges on groundnuts for sometime.
9AM : Arriving Marina beach.The stage is set by this time.
9AM-9.15AM : Goes to the stage,waves his hands and starts sleeping on the couch.
The crew was getting worried on seeing the suffering that our Karunanidhi was going thru in the Air conditioned couch.They were crossing their fingers all the time during the shooting of the drama.
11.45AM : Chidambaram calls up Karunanidhi and tells him that Strikes on Tamils in Srilanka have been stopped.Karunanidhi on hearing this sighed relief and declares that war has been stopped by his hunger strike.
The next day, Sri Lankan ministers had once again said they will not stop the strikes and is not interested in evacuating the 2 lakh Tamils from the war zone.When Karunanidhi was asked to give a clarification on this statement,he promptly replied ‘Even though the rain stopped, still there will be some winds and drizzle’.

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