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In memory of India’s founding fathers(Book Review)

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Title: Understanding the Founding Fathers –An Enquiry into the Indian Republic’s Beginnings Author: Raj Mohan Gandhi; Publisher: Aleph Book Company;
If we go through the scenario of political leaders, we will see them standing under a dim light of peace. This situation best describes the leaders who are involved in promising country’s independence or giving a blue map of its future strategies.

No matter how many years surpass, the people, opposition or the critics will still go on counter questioning their motivations, capabilities and achievements. India’s founding fathers are just the illustration of these actions.

In the Indian context, these could entail the prospects that could have ensued if Vallabhbhai Patel had been free India’s first Prime Minister instead of Jawaharlal Nehru, or if Subhas Chandra Bose had stayed in India during World War and led the freedom struggle and/or independent India.

Then how about if BR Ambedkar had not left Nehru’s cabinet, or going back a bit, the leadership of a united India had been given to Mohammed Ali Jinnah?

But as author Raj Mohan Gandhi observes, “These questions may usually be dismissed as being purely hypothetical but a related question makes practical sense. Are our present-day discontents of recent origin or connected to the beginnings of the Indian republic? Were crucial mistakes made in the 1947-50 period?”

It is an attempt to answer these questions that led to this work whose small size does not reflect its weighty and reasoned erudition but he admits its aims were first more limited – “merely wanting to address sweeping criticisms of (Mahatma) Gandhi and Nehru levelled by two interesting men – a swami from Gujarat and a professor from America”, both of who he only came to know about in early 2015.

Swami Sachidanand of Gujarat blames Mahatma Gandhi, for weakening India by his espousal of ‘ahimsa’, leading to the ignominious defeat to the Chinese in 1962 , as well as the Hindu community, by failing to understanding “two things: the value of the sword, and the danger from Islam.

On the other, American ‘Marxist’ scholar Perry Anderson, in “The Indian Ideology” (2014), charges the Mahatma with being “anti-Muslim, that he forced Pakistan on an unwilling Jinnah, that he helped fashion a Hindu state where Muslims would remain subordinate, a state which had enslaved the people of Kashmir”, and prescribes Indians banish Gandhi, Nehru and Patel and others and “all they represent”.

With “the Swami and the Professor were in essence cancelling each other’s charges against Gandhi, a reply would merely require quoting each to the other” but the author, despite a part of him encouraging this response, holds the issue is greater – for there are many Hindus who believe or led to believe what the Swami thinks contentions, and likewise, many Muslims in both countries about the stand most lately expressed by Anderson, “and if facts and reasons could clarify a few minds, an effort to supply them might be worthwhile”.

He begins with his rebuttals of both Sachidanand and Anderson, by extensively citing their criticism and inferences and countering it through Mahatma’s recorded writings, statements and actions – and simple logic.

The next chapter does the same for Nehru and the fourth deals with Jinnah, Bose and Ambedkar, who have all been praised by Anderson, laying out a tantalizing premise of whether they could have “joined hands to give India and Pakistan an alternative history, free of Partition and its killings and perhaps free also of the injustices and inequalities that have scarred the subcontinent?”

It is a thought-provoking work that the author, a grandson of the Mahatma, has penned and despite his relationship, he is quite balanced and freely acknowledges his grandfather’s shortcomings and mistakes. And there is something new that most of us will find, though it may not be very salutary, e.g.what ex-INA men ended up doing.

But the real value of this book is that icons are humans and not infallible or beyond debate, and issues of disagreements, or any perceived dishonors, can be discussed peacefully and logically, without sending oneself into paroxysms of rage and needing coercive action or bans to assuage.(IANS)

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India China’s Fight Over the Doklam Plateau Explained

Doklam or Donglang, is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India

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picture from- indiaopines.com

By Ruchika Verma

  • India and China have an old history of disputes
  • This time, the dispute is regarding the Dokplam Plateau
  • The area is of strategic importance for both the nations

Disputes between India and China are not at all uncommon. The rivalry between the two nations is famous. There have been several disputes between the two on the India-China border in past, and there seems to be no stopping for these disputes in the present or future, for that matter.

India and China have a n old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com
India and China have an old history of repeated disputes. zeenews.india.com

In June 2017, the world witnessed yet another dispute arising between India and China. This time the dispute was about China building a road extending to Doklam Plateau, which both nations have been fighting over for years now.

Also Read: China is likely to get involved if India disrupts $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

History of the dispute 

Doklam or Donglang (in Chinese), is a disputed area between China and Bhutan located near their tri-junction with India. India doesn’t directly claim the area but supports Bhutan’s claims on it.

India fits into the picture, as this plateau is an important area for India. Not only is Bhutan one of the biggest allies of India; China gaining access over the Doklam Plateau will also endanger India’s borders, making them vulnerable to attacks.

Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan's borders.
Dopkam plateau is an important area near India, China and Bhutan’s borders.

Apart from the hostile history of the two nations, the Doklam Plateau is also important for India to maintain its control over a land corridor that connects to its remote northeastern States. China building a road through Doklam surely threatens that control.

A complete timeline of what happened in the recent Doklam Standoff 

On 16 June 2017, Chinese troops with construction vehicles and excavators began extending an existing road southward on the Doklam plateau, near India’s border. It was Bhutan which raised the alarm for India.

On 18 June 2017, India responded by sending around 270 Indian troops, with weapons and two bulldozers to evict the Chinese troops from Doklam.

On 29 June 2017, Bhutan protested against the construction of a road in the disputed territory.  According to the Bhutanese government, China attempted to extend a road in an area which is shared both Bhutan and India, along with China.

Between 30 June 2017 and 5 July 2017, China released multiple statements justifying their claim over the Doklam plateau. They cited reasons as to why the Doklam standoff wasn’t really needed. And how China has not intruded into India’s territory to incite the standoff.

On 19th July 2017, China asked India again to withdraw its troops from the Doklam. On 24th July 2017,  Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in his statement, asked India to withdraw and behave themselves to maintain peace.

India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC
India and China seem to never agree when it comes to their borders. BBC

Also Read: Why India Must Counter China’s High-Altitude Land Grab?

What followed till 16th August 2017 was China constantly alleging India of trying to create trouble. They accused India of trying to disturb the peace and not withdrawing the troops, even after repeated reminders. They also accused India of bullying.

India, however, kept quiet during the whole fiasco, only releasing a statement regarding their stand and position at the Doklam standoff.

On 28 August 2017, India and China finally announced that they had agreed to pull their troops back from the Doklam standoff. The withdrawal was completed on that very day.

On 7 September 2017, many media reports claimed that both nation’s troops have not left the site completely. They were still patrolling the area, simply having moved 150 meters away from their previous position.

On 9 October 2017, China announced that it is ready to maintain peace with India at the frontiers. India reacted in affirmative, the peace was established when Indian Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman’s visited Nathu La.

The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay
The issue between the two nations may rise again. Pixabay

The Doklam issue, for now, is resolved. However, given the history of disputes between India and China, it won’t be a surprise if the issue resurfaces again in near future.