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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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Indian Expert Claims that Russia Might help India in Nuclear Medicine

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Nuclear power must be developed.
Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi in a conversation. Wikimedia Commons.

Given the current high costs of making radioisotopes used in nuclear medicine, there is considerable scope of collaboration between India and Russia for their manufacture at affordable cost, according to an Indian expert.

Chandigarh-based Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) Professor Baljinder Singh told IANS here on the sidelines of the just-concluded 10th Atomexpo organised by Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom that such cooperation has become essential in view of the global shortage of molybdenum, isotopes of which are used in tens of millions of medical diagnostic procedures annually.

The molybdenum isotope 99mTc, for instance, is the most commonly used medical radioisotope worldwide.

“The molybdenum daughter radionuclide 99mTc is used the world over for imaging on gamma cameras,” Singh said.

“Most nuclear reactors have molybdenum as a by-product — there is a shortage of which globally.”

Singh, who is a jury member at the Atomexpo2018 for selecting the best research projects in the category “Nuclear Technologies for better Healthcare”, pointed out that as a leader in civilian nuclear technology, India is among a few countries making “significant” efforts to produce radioisotopes.

“India has made significant strides in this direction and the task of developing Linear Accelerator (LINAC) technology has been undertaken by Sameer (Society of Applied Microwave Electronics and Engineering and Research) located in IIT Mumbai,” he said.

“It is a Rs 100-crore project being funded by the Telecommunications Ministry. Apart from India, Canada and Russia are the only other countries undertaking advanced level research in this area.”

According to him, in view of the importance of nuclear medicine in early detection of cancer and the recent emergence of new radionuclides for effective treatment, an effort is needed in India to provide these at an affordable cost.

Partnering with a foreign institute having nuclear facility for production of medically useful radioisotopes, and radiochemistry training are required urgently as we have no such course in the country as yet," he said.
The two dignitaries sharing a light moment. Wikimedia Commons.

“Developed countries like the US and Japan have about four PET (positron emission tomography) scanners per million population followed by Europe at 2, and Australia at 1.6 per million. India scores very low with 0.1 PET scanners per million population,” Singh said.

“To have a reasonable ratio of 1 PET scanner per million population over the next ten years, India needs about 1,400 PET scanners and an equal number of gamma cameras.”

Read also: Merkel Told Putin, US Complicated Middle East Situation

He suggested that through tie-ups with Russia, India could arrange to be supplied with such imaging equipment at affordable cost.

Singh’s wish list at this Black Sea resort includes a collaboration with Russia in human capacity building in this area.

“We urgently require international collaboration on radiopharmacy training, as there is no such facility in India.”

Partnering with a foreign institute having nuclear facility for production of medically useful radioisotopes, and radiochemistry training are required urgently as we have no such course in the country as yet,” he said.

“Panjab University, Chandigarh, has taken a lead in starting an M.Sc Nuclear Medicine programme in 2007, jointly with PGIMER.”

Singh is hoping that his agenda would figure in the summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled to take place here next week. IANS.