Independence Day anniversary: Challenges to India

Wednesday 14th August 2019 10:35 EDT

The early post-Partition years for India were a battle for survival. Droves of western Jeremiads then and later predicted the country’s lapse into civil war and famine and, failing that, a turn to military rule. The London Times Correspondent in Delhi, Neville Maxwell, in the final dispatch wrote that the general election of 1967 would be the last before an army takeover. Maxwell extolled Maoist China’s Great Leap Forward, the People’s Communes and the Cultural Revolution as the only sure road for Third World salvation. Mercifully India opted sanity, perseverance and struggle. The Green Revolution led to an exponential increase in grain output which banished the spectre of famine, while in a parallel development the foundations of industry were established. There was bureaucratic sloth, errors of economic policy and much else that confined India to what was derisively described by an Indian economist as the ‘Hindu rate of growth’. In 1991, landmark economic reforms under the stewardship of Dr Manmohan Singh, empowered by then Congress Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, released India from its bureaucratic shackles of licence-and-permit raj.

Yet, during this period, the foundations of nuclear and space science were laid by physicists Homi Bhabha, Homi Sethna and Vikram Sarabhai with financial help and cooperation from the Nehru and Indira Gandhi dispensations. The sources of Indian strength today, warts and all, were thus diverse and should not be forgotten for party political advantage, India being the sum of its parts.

We come thus to the security challenge confronting India in Kashmir. State broadcasters abroad including the BBC start their reports with the anodyne statement that India and Pakistan went to war over the disputed territory of Kashmir. Would statements ascribing the origins of the First and Second World Wars to simple territorial disputes suffice, without subjection to critical scrutiny the broader aims, and hence the culpability of the Kaiser’s Germany and its Hitlerite Nazi successor?

The rulers of the Princely States of British India were given the choice of opting for the new India or Pakistan. Maharaja Hari Singh, the sovereign of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, was hesitant. India and Pakistan agreed on a standstill agreement to give Hari Singh time to make up his mind. However, the Pakistan government and army, commanded by Akbar Khan, under the nom de guerre of Tariq, the general who led the Islamic assault on medieval Spain bespoke a holy crusade or jihad against the infidel. Warrior tribes from Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province, armed and abetted by the Pakistani regime headed by Mohammed Ali Jinnah poured through the passes in October 1947 into the Vale of Kashmir, killing, looting and raping. Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs were butchered. The state constabulary were overwhelmed, and the raiders were soon at the gates of Srinagar. His hand forced, Hari Singh signed the document of accession to India. Sheikh Abdullah, the popular Muslim leader, endorsed the plea for Indian help. Indian troops were flown in and the invasion was halted and reversed. The Pakistan Army took over the reins, India went to the United Nations and under its auspices a ceasefire took effect on January 1, 1949. A UN brokered plebiscite was to be held on condition of a prior withdrawal of Pakistani forces from Kashmiri territory.

This condition was bnever fulfilled.

We may now turn to the account of V P.Menon, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s principal aide, who in his classic work, Integration of the Indian States, wrote: ‘When I recommended to the Government of India the acceptance of the accession of the Maharaja of Kashmir, I had one consideration and one consideration alone, viz, that the invasion of Kashmir by the raiders was a grave threat to the integrity of India. Ever since the time of Mahmud of Ghazni, that is to say, for nearly eight centuries...India has been subjected to periodic invasions from the north-west. Mahmud Ghazni had led seventeen of these incursions in person. And within less than ten weeks of the establishment of the State of Pakistan, its very first act was to let loose a tribal invasion through that north-west. Srinagar today, Delhi tomorrow. A nation hat forgets its history or its geography does so at its peril.

 Menon’s conclusion is revealing: ‘India had no territorial ambitions in Kashmir. If the invasion by the raiders had not taken place, I can say in the face of any contradiction that the Government of India would have left Kashmir alone.’ The crusader’s zeal has led Pakistan to repeated military misadventures. In 1965, its incursion was repelled; in December 1971 its army of occupation in East Bengal, now Bangladesh, was routed, despite the military and political support of the Nixon-Kissinger administration, and its then de facto ally, Maoist China.

By severing diplomatic and trade ties with India, the Imran Khan government has miscalculates again. The hollow, rancid bombast of conventional and nuclear war with India, and the country’s deepening hallucinatory anti-Indian obsessions, even as the country’s economy is significantly smaller than that of the Indian state of Maharashtra, Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws targeting its minority Christians and Hindus will not be lost on the international community.

Pakistan’s minor exports are textiles, leather and basmati rice, the last, a part repayment of loans to the Gulf monarchies. Its major export, the world has come to recognize, is jihadi terrorism. The national hypnosis of Pakistan as a Great Power is sleep walking its leadership into yet another calamity.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s conciliatory outreach to the people of Kashmir assuring them of a return to democratic norms – elections, legislative assembly, government of popular choice and much else including massive privates sector and government investment, of which the broad mass of the Kashmiri people have been starved by the self-perpetuating Huuriyat fat cats. How Kashmiri society in the main responds to his message will become clear in the coming weeks and days. Hopefully good sense will prevail, leading to a new dawn of prosperity and development for the entire region, Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. (See page 12 for background).

Bangaluru outpaces Indian rivals

Once a pensioner’s nirvana, now a global hi-tech centre of excellence: Bangaluru is galloping ahead of Delhi – as capital and state – and also Greater Mumbai, both currently in the shadows by comparison. What features most in Bangaluru’s rise to eminence? The movement of venture capital is the likely answer. From January to August, Bangaluru-based companies amassed $405 million in venture capital investments from 100 deals, according to Venture Intelligence. Over the same period Delhi received $239 million in 67 deals, while Mumbai got $209 million from 48 deals. This is no temporary phenomenon, it appears to be a long -term trend sentter.\

Chennai-based Venture Capital’s co-founder and Managing Director Arun Natarajan remarks: ‘If you use Venture Capital as a filter, Bangaluru’s head- and-shoulders above any other city.’ Every quarter, almost inevitably, it’s Bangaluru in front. At places two and three, Delhi and Mumbai have been left well behind.

A city of around 12 million inhabitants today, in the mid 1980s, Bangaluru’s population was no more than four million, when the first tech company, Texas Instruments, arrived. Since then Bangaluru has become India’s principal hi-tech hub. In the process it has grown beyond the software services, which were once its gateway to the future. There are myriad transformative initiatives today, from multitudes of start-ups, 30 per cent of the country’s aggregate, to electric vehicles that auto makers hope will capture a vast unfolding market. Bangaluru is now the for the global automotive manufacturers such as Daimler-Benz, BMW, Bosch and Volvo, which have engineering support services in the city.

Many banking and fintech firms have bypassed India’s financial capital, Mumbai, to roost in Bangaluru. These include global giants like Morgan Stanley and Gokldman Sachs. Says Biocon head Kiran Mazumdar Shaw: ‘Bangaluru’s got an ecosystem the soft-and –hard infrastructure in technology. There’s also engineering talent.

Bangaluru is the headquarters of long established firm. Hindustan Aeronautics; the city and its environs have brought US mega-companies Boeing, Pratt & Whitney and Sikorsky into its fold. ‘The best companies come here, and the best people follow,’ said a local business consultant. The city has become the magnet of the country’s best IT talent, Bangaluru has 1.9 million tech workers, predicted to reach 2 million by 2021, overtaking Silicon Valleyin raw numbers. Bangaluru symbolizes India’s future, and it works

comments powered by Disqus

to the free, weekly Asian Voice email newsletter