Tag Archive for 'Jaswant Singh'

Knight of the Generals?

Shashi Tharoor in The Times of India:

As stage-managed elections ratify the consequences of three decades of military rule in Myanmar, the perspective from its neighbour India may help explain why there is continued international acceptance of the country’s long-ruling junta.

Burma was ruled as part of Britain’s Indian empire until 1935, and the links between the two countries remained strong after Burma gained its independence in 1947. An Indian business community thrived in Burma’s major cities, and cultural and political affinities were well established. India’s nationalist leader and first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was a close friend of the Burmese nationalist hero Aung San, whose daughter, the Nobel laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, studied in New Delhi.

For many years, India was unambiguously on the side of democracy, freedom and human rights in Burma – and in ways more tangible than the rhetoric of the regime’s western critics. When the generals suppressed the popular uprising of 1988, nullified the overwhelming election victory by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) in 1990, shot students, and arrested the newly-elected leaders, India’s government initially reacted as most Indians would have wanted. India gave asylum to fleeing students and a base for their resistance movement (along with some financial help), and supported a newspaper and a radio station that propagated the democratic voice. More:

Beyond boundaries

India’s heterodox religions and their traditions remain stronger than the idea of a unified nation-state. They have survived a long and violent history, writes Pankaj Mishra in The National

India is one of the world’s oldest civilisations; but as a nation-state it is relatively very new, and its nationalism can still appear weak and unresolved, as became freshly clear in August, when the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party expelled its veteran leader Jaswant Singh. Singh had dared to praise, in a new book about the partition of India, the founder of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Indian nationalists, of both the hardline Hindu and soft-secular kind, see Jinnah as the Muslim fanatic primarily responsible for the vivisection of their “Mother India” in 1947. But Singh chose to blame the partition on allegedly power-hungry Hindu freedom fighters, rather than Jinnah, who he claimed had stood for a united India. more

Invoking a mystic Indian identity

In the Telegraph, Sunanda K. Datta-Ray reviews Jaswant Singh’s “Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence“:

Jinnah and Gandhi

Jinnah and Gandhi

If Mohammad Ali Jinnah was the first Paki and Lord Mountbatten the first Paki-basher (as an old joke went), Calcutta’s Direct Action Day was the first Jehad. Jaswant Singh records that a leaflet warning the “Kafer” of “the general massacre” on August 16, 1946 also reminded Muslims they had once worn the crown and ruled this country but “had become slaves of Hindus and the British”. Displaying Jinnah’s picture, the leaflet spoke of “a Jehad in this very month of Ramzan”.

This is worth repeating because inspired gossip accuses the author of glorifying Jinnah as the apostle of Indian unity and of blaming Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel for demonizing him. Neither charge can be sustained, confirming that the contrived furore over the book reflects the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s dislike of the author and a demoralized Bharatiya Janata Party’s internal power struggles. The ambitions of the egregious Narendra Modi, who cannot have read this massive volume of 669 pages and probably would not have understood it if he had, obviously helped to whip up hysteria.

Modi’s understanding must not be faulted too much, however, for in his anxiety to be fair to all sides, Jaswant Singh often seems to contradict what appears to be his thesis. More:

Don’t fix history, look at the future

Chetan Bhagat, author of the bestseller, One Night @ the Call Centre, in the Times of India:

The BJP is screaming that Mr Jinnah was not indeed as secular as claimed by Jaswant Singh. Experts on TV are citing events in 1932 which prove that Jinnah was a good person; countered by an equal number of experts citing historical events which prove that Jinnah did terrible things.

To answer the Jinnah question from the point of view of the young generation – Who cares?

Really, whether Mr Jinnah did wonderful things or he did horrible things and whatever point of view your party likes to take – who gives a damn? How is this relevant to the India we have to build today? Are we electing leaders for the future or selecting a history teacher?

The strange thing is the media buys into this pointless debate – about Mr Jinnah being good or bad and spends hours discussing it. By doing so, it gives legitimacy to the whole exercise.

Meanwhile, the young generation fails to understand why do our politicians become so passionate defending these relics of the past? Why don’t they have a fanatical debate about how fast we will make roads, colleges, bridges and power plants? Why don’t people get expelled over current non-performance rather than historical opinions? Why don’t we ban useless government paperwork rather than banning books about dead people? More:

Nehru, Jinnah responsible for partition of India: Jaswant Singh

Karan Thapar interviews Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Jaswant Singh on his book ‘Jinnah – India, Partition, Independence‘ on CNN-IBN. Jaswant Singh has been expelled from the Hindu nationalist BJP for praising Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah, considered in India the architect of the partition. Authorities in the BJP-ruled western Indian state of Gujarat have banned the book for its “defamatory references” to Vallabhbhai Patel, India’s first home minister.

Karan Thapar: Mr Jaswant Singh, let’s start by establishing how you as the author view Mohammed Ali Jinnah? After reading your book, I get the feeling that you don’t subscribe to the popular demonisation of the man.

Jaswant Singh: Of course, I don’t. To that I don’t subscribe. I was attracted by the personality which has resulted in a book. If I wasn’t drawn to the personality, I wouldn’t have written the book. It’s an intricate, complex personality of great character, determination.

Karan Thapar: And it’s a personality that you found quite attractive?

Jaswant Singh: Naturally, otherwise, I wouldn’t have ventured down the book. I found the personality sufficiently attractive to go and research it for five years. And I was drawn to it, yes. More:



[The other parts of the interview are on YouTube.]

And below, Jawed Naqvi in Dawn:

But Jaswant Singh is not quitting politics, much less the country. In fact an endorsement of his quest will be palpable as early as this weekend when Ramazan, the month of fasting for Muslims, begins. In Lutyens’ Delhi, the hub of India’s power dynamic, the circus of feasts will see robed clerics from diverse Islamic clusters getting invited to the prime minister’s house to break bread. Government ministers, party leaders, MPs, power peddlers, middlemen, in a nutshell everyone who lives by the 13 per cent Muslim vote in India or those who need to flaunt their secularism will take turns to rustle up an appetising Ramazan menu. Of course, only a minority of India’s 150 million Muslims are mullahs and so a few of the less pious variety would also be given a slot in the meandering queue to rub shoulders with the high and mighty.

Had Jinnah had his way, there would be no need for the pathetic lottery of Ramazan invitations. There would be no need for the Justice Sachchar Committee, set up to investigate why Indian Muslims continue to be economically and socially backward six decades after independence from colonialism. More: