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When India’s most democratic Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru behaved like a school master with Krishna Menon

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BY ANIL K. RAJVANSHI

(This write up is the second part of the series ‘My take on Jawaharlal Nehru’ )

The behavior of Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru was in complete contrast to that of Vallabh Bhai Patel, the then deputy Prime Minister of India. Patel was a nuts and bolts man, with feet on the ground and believed in the dictum of “God is in details.”

Nehru, on the other hand, was never a stickler to details. He was a thinker and left the details to his subordinates. In fact he left too much to his subordinates so that his ideas were not implemented as he would have wished.

My uncle Dr. Atma Ram who was the Director General of CSIR during late 1960s narrated to me an incident about Nehru’s distaste for details.

Dr. Meghnad Saha the very famous Indian astrophysicist was entrusted the task by Nehru to make the first Science and Technology (S&T) plan of India. He was given a residence in a magnificent bungalow in Shimla and few months to prepare the plan. Dr. Saha took with him Dr. Atma Ram, his onetime student at Allahabad University, as his assistant. Dr. Atma Ram told me that Nehru came for just 15 minutes and okayed the plan without even looking at it properly. Either he trusted Meghnad Saha completely or S&T was not very much in his vision field at that time! Dr. Atma Ram told me that both he and Saha felt that their 2-3 months were wasted.

Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel on the contrary was a great administrator. Shri. B. B. Vohra, a member of the first Indian Administrative Services (IAS) batch once told me an anecdote about the administrative skills of then deputy Prime Minister.

Before Indian Administrative Services (IAS) came in existence, India was ruled by officers of Imperial Civil Services (ICS). Patel wanted one uniform IAS for the whole country whereas all the regional leaders wanted separate administrative services for their states. To resolve this issue Patel called a meeting of all State Chief Ministers (CMs) in Delhi to come to a consensus on this thorny issue. Patel started the meeting at 9 a.m. and told the CMs that it will end at 5 p.m

During the meeting one after another all the CMs spoke about the need of having separate administrative services which will be state based only. Patel sat quietly listening to the CMs speeches. At 5 p.m. sharp Patel rose and told the group that the meeting had been very productive and that he had learnt a lot regarding their problems and their views, and the consensus was that we should have only one IAS! He told his staff to write the minutes of the meeting accordingly and put this as the resolution passed! There was a pin drop silence in the room and not a single CM had the guts or the courage to go against Patel. This was the Iron Man of India!

Patel and Nehru never saw eye to eye on most matters and Gandhi ji was constantly worried about their differences. Yet Patel was magnanimous and big hearted. My father told me of an incident about this trait of Patel. A very close associate of Patel (who was a good friend of my father) told him that at Patel’s death bed he and other followers told him that they will become orphans after he was gone since they would have lost their only leader. Patel told his followers that after him Nehru will be their leader and they should follow him. He told them that though he had differences with Nehru but now he was their leader. I wonder whether Nehru would have shown such magnanimity.

Chacha Nehru’

Nehru really liked children. He was rightly called “Chacha Nehru” (Uncle Nehru). Sunder Lal told me about one incident regarding his love for children. Nehru had invited all the newly elected MPs of his party for a dinner at his house. The dinner was held in the lawns of Teen Murti house. During dinner, Nehru saw that some street urchins had climbed the boundary wall and were looking at the guests who were having dinner. So he took his plate and went to the wall and gave it to a young boy. Immediately all the MPs also gave their dinner plates to the urchins!

Nehru nevertheless was a vain person and very susceptible to flattery. My father told me that one very mediocre writer from Allahabad decided to translate Nehru’s Discovery of India into Sanskrit and wanted to have discussions with Nehru regarding it. Nehru gave him unlimited access to his house so he could go in and out of Teen Murti house wherever he wanted. Besides he gave him lots of his personal time.

Nehru’s uncle Dr. Atal was a very close friend of my father. They were both in Lucknow jail together during the freedom movement. Dr. Atal was a good friend of Chairman Mao and Chou-en-lai and hence was sent by Nehru as his emissary to China just before China war of 1962. Any time Dr. Atal introduced my father to Nehru he would say “Jawahar meet my friend Jagdish”. Nehru never liked being addressed as Jawahar and would flinch at this introduction.

Another instance of Nehru’s vanity and temper was shown in a film entitled “A day in the life of Prime Minister” which was shot by BBC in early 1960. I saw this movie when I was a student in the US in 1970s. The documentary showed Prime Minister Nehru’s day from morning (breakfast) to late night dinner. The BBC team had picked January 26, India’s Republic Day for shooting.

In one of the scenes Pandit Nehru was shown sitting in the front row watching the Republic Day parade with some foreign dignitary and Krishna Menon – the then defense minister of India. It was quite a sunny morning so Pandit Nehru was holding a folded newspaper to shade his eyes. The scene showed Krishna Menon as per his nature continuously chatting with the guest. Nehru got quite irritated and said “Menon can’t you stop talking for a bit”. After this rebuke Krishna Menon kept quiet for a few minutes but again started chatting animatedly. By this time Nehru lost his cool and he whacked Krishna Menon on his shoulder with the folded newspaper and told him to shut up! I could not believe that the most democratic Prime Minister of India would behave like a school master with the Defense minister of India! I believe this movie was never shown in India.

Similarly Sunder Lal ji told me of an incident that Nehru had this habit of threatening MPs that he would resign if they did not agree with him. I guess sometimes after 1962 China war he again threatened that he will resign. The young MPs said please do so. Nehru was really taken aback as he never expected such an answer from his MPs. I guess he was living in his own world.

Sunder Lal also thought that Gandhiji’s act of making Vinoba Bhave as the first individual satyagrahi instead of Nehru was meant to bring Nehru down in size and reduce his vanity and ego.

Even with all these shortcomings I think he was a great prime minister who had certain vision for India. Naturally he was a prisoner of his time so that the vision was colored by those times and events. Now in hindsight some consider it flawed. Nevertheless he had a vision for the country, was a great patriot and was honest. Such qualities unfortunately have not been seen in prime ministers of recent past.

This article is a part of two article series ‘My take on Jawaharlal Nehru’ by Anil Rajvanshi. The author is the Director and Hon. Secretary Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute (NARI). He could be reached at  anilrajvanshi@gmail.com)
 

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of NewsGram.

 

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Here’s Why China is Predictable and Not Inscrutable

India could’ve easily predicted the Chinese coming on 5 August 2019

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The Chinese actions are far away from being Inscrutable. Pixabay

As the tensions rise between India and China along the borders in Ladakh, Shekhar Gupta in his article for The Print invokes an American political satirist P.J. O’Rourke.

Talking about his works Shekhar points out that in his ‘A Brief History of Man’, P.J. O’Rourke writes a small sentence “Meanwhile, in China, there were the Chinese.”. This sentence is relevant to us today.

Shekhar Gupta believes that the sentence conveys us a sense of resignation about the “inscrutable” Chinese. This thought happens to be familiar thought in the West.

“But we don’t live in the West. We’ve lived next door to China for as long as first civilisations grew.”, writes Shekhar Gupta

Let’s look at the history of Indian interactions with China since independance. What is inscrutable about it? Talking about the military assault across two fronts in 1962, it may have been a surprise to our leaders back then, but that is only because they were delusional.

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Chinese actions in respect to India are predictable now. Pixabay

From Chinese ultimatum to India to “return their stolen yaks and sheep” in 1965, to their appearance along the Ladakh frontier this year, China happens to be completely predictable and far from inscrutable. Especially keeping in mind Chinese actions in respect to India.

The push at Nathu La (Sikkim) in 1967 was probably to check out the resolve from India. Which they saw at its weakest — having fought two recent wars (1962 and 1965), famines, ship-to-mouth existence, political instability and a diminished Indira Gandhi. . The Indian response was a lesson they quickly learnt. What did the Chinese do after that? They have kept the peace for 53 years. Will you call that response evidence of Chinese inscrutability? They probed us, got a rude push-back, and decided to wait and stir the pot in different ways, at different times, says Shekhar Gupta in his artcile for The Print.

The Chinese kept the hold of what they wanted in 1962. According to Shekhar the truth is, they had it in their possession almost fully, barring small, tactically important slivers in Ladakh. They asserted their ownership and let their larger claim, Arunachal Pradesh, fully in Indian control, go militarily uncontested.

The Chinese never gave up claim on it. In 1986-87, they again checked us out at Wangdung-Sumdorong Chu (Arunachal), when they saw Rajiv Gandhi take India’s defence budget to a 4 per cent-plus of GDP. And once more, the response was firm and the Chinese backed off. The lesson we learnt according to Shekhar Gupta is that the Chinese won’t open fire randomly for the sake of it, Or when they are absolutely sure of an easy victory so they could be seen like ‘teaching an upstart a lesson’ as they did in 1962. Predictable.

Each and every action and response of China fits a pattern- Deliver a message, add leverage, and return, according to Shekhar Gupta.

India, China and Pakistan shared this unusual ‘triangulation’ in which China was using Pakistan to keep India preoccupied, said Former Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh during his tenure.

His idea was to break this ‘triangulation’ by seeking peace with Pakistan. He thought, that a country as big and powerful as China, would see less of an incentive for peace with India than Pakistan.

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Former Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s idea was to break this ‘triangulation’ by seeking peace with Pakistan. Wikimedia Commons

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Shekhar Gupta believes that today, that option is not so available, as hostility with Pakistan is central to the Modi-BJP politics. They’d rather make peace with China than Pakistan. That is why the lavish welcomes and frequent meetings with the Chinese leaders. The objective, still, is escaping that triangle.

Another instance of Vajpayee explaining the Chinese negotiating style. “Dekhiye, aap aur hum baithe hain aur vaarta kar rahe hain (see, you and I are sitting and negotiating),” he said. If two people require something and the first person asks to let go of something, the other will say no. Then the first person again asks for something little less, then again the other person might say no. But ultimately the second person will relent and let go of some. The Chinese would never do that.

Both these leaders underlined that the Chinese are consistent, and predictable. And that is why we should not be shoched or surprised by what they have unveiled across Ladakh. We should have anticipated it on 5 August last year when we made the big changes in Jammu & Kashmir. This Chinese move, like all others in 60 years, was fully predictable. Even the timing, says Shekhar Gupta in his article for The Print.

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Apple Manages to Open Nearly Half of its Retail Stores Worldwide

Apple has reopened nearly 256 retail stores globally

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Nearly half of Apple retail stores are now open globally. Pixabay

Apple has managed to reopen nearly 256 retail stores out of more than 500 worldwide, as it aims to safely restart operations.

Apple closed all its retail stores outside Greater China in March as COVID-19 pandemic spread. All the Apple stores in Greater China are now open.

“In China, and later around the world, we were one of the first companies to close our stores. In Greater China, we saw the importance of swift action — and the critical importance of social distance — to slow the virus’ spread,” according to Apple’s head of retail Deidre O’Brien.

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Apple is conducting enhanced deep cleanings at their stores to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. Pixabay

“As time has gone on, we’ve continued to refine and expand our in-store health and safety measures, which have proven so effective in places like Greater China, where our stores have been safely open for months,” he added.

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Apple is taking some additional steps in most places. Throughout the day, Apple is conducting enhanced deep cleanings that place special emphasis on all surfaces, display products, and highly trafficked areas.

“Face coverings will be required for all of our teams and customers, and we will provide them to customers who don’t bring their own. Temperature checks will be conducted at the door, and posted health questions will screen for those with symptoms — like cough or fever — or who have had recent exposure to someone infected with COVID-19,” O’Brien elaborated. (IANS)

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COVID ‘Just the Tip of The Iceberg’ Warns Virologist known as ‘Bat Woman’

Top Chinese virologist, has warned that new viruses being discovered are "actually just the tip of the iceberg"

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COVID is only the beginning says virologist. Pixabay

A top virologist from China, famous for her work on researching coronavirus in bats, has warned that new viruses being discovered are “actually just the tip of the iceberg”. In an interview on Chinese state television, Shi Zhengli, known as the ‘Bat Woman’ for her research about bats and the viruses associated with them, also called for greater international cooperation in the fight against epidemics such as Covid-19.

Zhengli, the Deputy Director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, said research undertaken in viruses needs governments and scientists to be transparent with their findings, and cooperative, reports dailymail.co.uk.

She also said that it is ‘very regrettable’ when science is politicised. Speaking to Chinese state television CCTN, Zhengli said: “The unknown viruses that we have discovered are actually just the tip of the iceberg. If we want to prevent human beings from suffering from the next infectious disease outbreak, we must go in advance to learn of these unknown viruses carried by wild animals in nature and give early warnings,” Zhengli was quoted as saying to CCTN.

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COVID and other viruses need more research says an expert. Pixabay

“If we don’t study them, there will possibly be another outbreak,” she added.

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Her interview comes after, both US President Donald Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have suggested that the Covid-19 originated in a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the pandemic erupted last December last month. Earlier, Zhengli had also said that even after the world finds a way to combat the virus responsible for Covid-19, it should prepare for more outbreaks caused by bat-borne coronaviruses. (IANS)