May 30, 2007

Quote of the day : Lakshminarayanan, Ann Arbor, MI USA

"The role that President Roosevelt played in pushing Churchill towards Indian independence and the US gesture to be the first country to send an ambassador to India is neither appreciated nor known among the India's polity nor did the historians pay much attention to the subject. Better management of the relationship with US early on might have paid dividends and the world history could have turned out to be totally different than what we have witnessed."
V. Lakshminarayanan (Ann Arbor, MI USA)




The Above is an excerpt from review of BOOK: “Untold Story of India’s Partition: The Shadow of the Great Game”

Sarila summarises, "Once the British realized that the Indian nationalists who would rule India after its independence would deny them military cooperation under a British Commonwealth defence umbrella, they settled for those willing to do so by using religion for the purpose. Their problem could be solved if Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the leader of the Muslim League Party, would succeed in his plan to detach the northwest of India abutting Iran, Afghanistan and Sinkiang and establish a separate state there - Pakistan. The proposition was a realizable one as a working relationship had been established between the British authorities in India and Jinnah during the Second World War and he was willing to cooperate with Britain on defence matters if Pakistan was created."

Imperial policy was and is divide and rule - whether setting Muslim against Hindu in India, Bosnian Muslims against Serbs in Yugoslavia, Sunni against Shia across the Middle East, Protestant against Catholic in Ireland, or Scottish against English in Britain. As Sarila notes, "The successful use by the British to fulfil political and strategic objectives in India was replicated by the Americans in building up the Islamic jihadis in Afghanistan for the same purpose, of keeping the Soviets at bay."

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Key features that one learns from this book are: i) the British determination to hold on to India as long as possible, and in the event that this becomes impossible, secure the northwestern portion of India to thwart any real or imagined Russian adventures, ii) The naivety of Indian National Congress leaders, especially Nehru, about the survival of an independent India in a predatory world, iii) the aging of Gandhi and weakening of his faculties and judgment in dealing with the changing political environment, iv) Even though Mountbatten contributed to bringing the princely states into the Union he also did double cross Nehru in dealing with Kashmir, and v) Hunger for power at any cost on the part of Jinnah who died regretting what he had done with his life.

The role that President Roosevelt played in pushing Churchill towards Indian independence and the US gesture to be the first country to send an ambassador to India is neither appreciated nor known among the India's polity nor did the historians pay much attention to the subject. Better management of the relationship with US early on might have paid dividends and the world history could have turned out to be totally different than what we have witnessed.

The author has to be specially commended for his assessment that Indian independence came not because the British had an enlightenment about egalitarianism or human rights but because the empire was economically not tenable any longer, and even more important, the events of the second World War and its conclusion created an environment in India where they could not even count on the loyalty of the Indian army any longer. The "awe" with which the ordinary Indian looked at the Englishman had ended. The bluff that worked for two hundred years stopped working.

It is a must read for any student of Indian history and politics since it gives insight into the situations affecting the national security and political decisions made even today. We all have heard so much about the "Divide and rule" policy of English. The reader is able to witness that policy in action in this book.

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