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New Delhi: Kuldip Nayar, senior journalist and a close associate of India’s second Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, said that the former PM was confident of the peace in the subcontinent and he inked the Tashkent Accord with Pakistan on January 10 to facilitate stability in the region. Nayar stated that the reason behind the collapse of the accord was Shastri’s death next day.
“Shastri was very sagacious. He firmly believed India could make peace with Pakistan but not with China,” said Nayar in an interview, adding that it was the Prime Minister, who got the then Pakistani President Field Marshal Ayub Khan to pencil in the words “without resorting to arms” in the first draft of the Tashkent Agreement.
Under the agreement, the two countries agreed that their armies would return to the positions they held on August 5, 1965, the day they went to war for the second time after the partition of the subcontinent in 1947.
“Ayub Khan was inclined but (Pakistani foreign minister Zulfikar Ali) Bhutto stormed out of the negotiations, saying he would denounce the President (back) home. After Shastri died (in circumstances that are still suspect), and thanks to Bhutto, whatever had been achieved at Tashkent collapsed in Rawalpindi (then the Pakistani capital), Nayar, still sharp as a razor in spite of his 93 years and possibly the only survivor of Tashkent, noted.
Reinforcing this view, Nayar recalled Ayub Khan saying on the morning of Shastri’s death: “Here lies the man who could have brought Pakistan and India close.”
Ayub Khan, in fact, was one of the two front pall-bearers (on the left) who carried Shastri’s coffin to the aircraft that transported it to New Delhi.
Elaborating on Shastri’s sagacity, Nayar pointed to a letter, then Shah of Iran, Mohammad Raza Pahlavi, wrote to Ayub Khan in the wake of the Chinese invasion of India in 1962, asking him to send Pakistani troops to beat back the invaders.
“A copy was marked to (India’s first prime minister) Jawaharlal Nehru, who sought (home minister) Shastri’s comments. Don’t accept it, Shastri said because if tomorrow Pakistan asks for Kashmir (still a sticking point between the two nations on which they have fought four wars), we’ll be in a difficult situation,” Nayar contended.
Shastri had assumed office after soon after India’s first Prime Minister died on May 24, 1964, in spite of the fact that it was widely felt that Nehru wanted his daughter, Indira Gandhi to succeed him.
So how did Tashkent, now the capital of Uzbekistan but at that time part of the undivided Soviet Union, come to be chosen as the venue of the peace negotiations?
“The Americans stepped in (after the 1965 war ended) but Shastri said ‘No. They have given them (Pakistan) arms. We can’t trust them. The Soviets stepped in; they said, come to Tashkent, known for its kababs and good food. Shastri was a strict vegetarian, but he said, let’s go.”
Though, military cooperation between India and the Soviet Union had begun soon after the 1962 war with China, this took a quantum leap soon after the Tashkent Accord and today, India imports almost 70 percent of its armaments from Russia, the successor state after the collapse of the Cold War superpower.
Nayar also said there was much bonhomie between the Indian and Pakistani delegations, as also between the journalists of the two countries who were reporting on the talks.
“We (the journalists) were staying in the same hotel. Bahut milna julna tha. Saath khate peete the (There was much camadaraderia. We used to eat and drink together. After Shastri’s death, all of them came to sympathize with us). The next morning, even people on the street came to sympathize with us,” Nayar recalled.
As for the circumstances of Shastri’s death hours after the Tashkent Accord was signed, Nayar said: “There is a general perception that he was poisoned, there should be an enquiry, even though a long time has elapsed.
The government says there are certain papers whatever papers there are make them public.”
Speaking about the future of India-Pakistan ties, Nayar saw great hope. “There are fringe elements (as evidenced in the attack on the Pathankot IAF air base soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dramatic visit to Lahore via Kaul after a state visit to Moscow), but everyone realises that peace must prevail,” he said.
“Had people like Lal Bahadur Shastri been around, all this would not have happened,” Nayar concluded.(Vishnu Makhijani, IANS)(Image:eastcoastdaily.in)
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(Article originally written by: N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe)
Keywords: Clothes, garage, Poshmark, India, Old Delhi, social marketplace
Great historic events that have shaped the world and changed the outlines of countries are often not recorded in memory, or so we think. Wars made sure to destroy evidence and heritage, and the ones who survived told the tale of what really happened. Folklore, albeit through oral tradition kept alive many such stories, hidden in verse, limericks, and rhymes.
Ringa-ringa-roses, a common playtime rhyme among children across the world, is an example of folklore that has survived for many centuries. It tells the story of the The Great Plague of London which ravaged the city between 1665-1666.
The Plague broke out from improper disposal of garbage and poor sewage conditions. Fleas from the rats that lived in the sewers spread the disease that killed more than half of London's population. Many people fled from their homes as there was no medicine available for those who were infected.
Beak-shaped masks worn during the Great Plague of London Image source: wikimedia commons
It was around this time that masks began to be invented. The first masks were shaped like beaks, and were worn not to protect the wearer from the disease, but to the prevent them from being able to smell the decay and death around them, which they called 'miasma'. The beaks were filled with floral herbs that allowed doctors and nurses to tend to the sick without being reviled from the smell.
Children are often seen forming circles by holding hands and reciting loudly,
Pockets full of posies
We all fall down"
An illustration of the Great Plague of London, 1665 Image source: wikimedia commons
When the last line is sung, they break the circle and fall down. The roses and posies are believed to be the preferred fragrances inside the masks, and a single sneeze (a-tishoo) was enough to infect the one who was exposed to the disease. Consequently, they fell down, ill, and later died.
An alternative version of this rhyme is sung about the fall of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the aftermath of World War II. The roses and posies are interchanged with geranium and uranium, to symbolise what was used in the atomic bomb. But this version is not as famous the original.
Keywords: Rhymes, Ringa-ringa-roses, Great Plague of London, WWII, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Folklore
In modern times, many social movements aim to bring reform to the society we live in, on the basis of certain existing patterns. Patriarchy is something that many aim to cleanse our cultures of, to usher in the era of social and gender equality. Despite all these so-called movements, in southern India, certain societies that patronise matriarchy have existed since before India's independence. The Nairs and Ezhavas of Kerala, and Bunts and Billavas of Karnataka are matrilineal societies that continue to thrive in a patriarchal country.
Kerala remains separate from the rest of India in many ways. Be it literacy policy, form of government, or cultural practices, this state does not always conform to the ideal that India is known for. Even so with their social structure. Certain tribes have remained matrilineal, where the decision-making power rests with the eldest female of the family.
The Nairs and Ezhavas of Kerala, and Bunts and Billavas of Karnataka are matrilineal societies that continue to thrive in a patriarchal country. Image source: wikimedia commons
A male member, who is the close confidante of the matriarch is chosen. He plays a crucial role in representing the male members of his family, and his opinion is highly valued. He is called karavanan. The men reside in separate rooms or in separate houses, and do not interfere in the upbringing of children. Property is also passed down along the lineage of the eldest female. Among the Nairs, matriarchy is more prominently adhered to than the Ezhavas, who have some patrilocal connections.
In Karnataka, the Bunts and Billavas belong to the Tuluva ethnic group. They are also a predominantly matriarchal society, founded on the belief in a legend. Their matrilineal descent is known as Aliyasantana.
The story is told of a demon who threatened to destroy a kingdom if the king did not sacrifice his sons, but the king's sister comes forward to offer her children in sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom. The demon is touched and does not destroy the city. Since then, the kingdom, or the property is inherited through female lineage.
In Karnataka, the Bunts and Billavas belong to the Tuluva ethnic group. They are also a predominantly matriarchal society, founded on the belief in a legend. Image source: wikimedia commons
In the recent past, many of these matriarchal societies have been reduced to matrilineal societies by certain governmental laws. They fall under the patriarchal scheme of the rest of the state but have reserved the right to pass on property and heritage through the female line. In the North east of India, matriarchal dominance is far more resilient than the south.
Keywords: Bunts, Billava, Nair, Ezhava, Aliyasantana, Matrilineal, South India, Karnataka, Kerala