brother has vision trouble
Thanks to the perceptive journalistic
sense of Siva Illankesan, a former colleague of mine in Hong Kong
who is now doing duty for Rupert Murdoch's News Corp in Sydney, I
read the speech by India's new president Abdul Kalaam.
interest in words of wisdom irrespective of their source, Siva emailed
it to me as he always does when he does run into words that are
interesting, amusing and even bootlicking. The latter comes largely
from some so-called sports writers whose tendency to lavish praise
on sports ministers and political leaders of the day has turned
sports journalism into a joke.
But this was
no joke. The new president of India is a reputed nuclear scientist
and has played a lead role in taking India into the Nuclear Club.
One can debate
till doomsday whether this was a desirable development or not. And
were the discussions left to Indians themselves, whose proclivity
to talk endlessly has gained some universal notoriety, they will,
I suppose, go beyond Armageddon.
Still a man
who helped bring India into the nuclear age must be heard. President
Kalaam says he has three visions for India. For my purpose it is
sufficient if I deal with one vision- the first.
years of our history, people from all over the world have come and
invaded us, captured our lands, conquered our minds. From Alexander
onwards. The Greeks, the Turks, the Moquis, the Portuguese, the
British, the French, the Dutch, all of them came and looted us,
took over what was ours. Yet we have not done this to any other
nation. We have not conquered anyone. We have not grabbed their
lands, their culture and their history and tried to enforce our
way of life on them. Why? Because we respect the freedom of others.
That is why my first vision is that of FREEDOM".
A most venerable
vision, a most laudable objective, this publicly avowed respect
for the freedom of others.
cannot seriously quarrel with the first part of that statement-
the invasions largely by western conquerors both ancient and modern,
the pillaging of the lands and the attempt to impose an alien way
But what is
worrying is President Kalaam's attempts to white-wash India of all
such criminality, of violations of international law and good neighbourly
policy and to dress collective India in a lily-white dhoti.
Had such thoughts
been expressed by some jingoistic Hindutva determined to parade
India before the world as one sinned against but never sinning,
they could have been simply dismissed as the rantings of the self-righteous.
But these words
do not emanate from the mouths of babes or the Brahaminical bigots
They are the
considered thoughts of an educated man. It is possible, of course
President Abdul Kalaam knows more about nuclear fission than history,
that he has spent the latter years of life pouring over scientific
data deep in some laboratory in Rajasthan than in historical study.
has not had the time-or the inclination- to study India's history
over the last 3000 years-the period that occupies his mind most-
and so knows less about modern Indian machiavellianism than even
of the political machinations of Kautilya, the prime minister of
Had he but
studied the lessons of history- Indian history at least- he might
have saved India's neighbours a great deal of grief and suspicion
and himself much embarrassment.
Kalaam is ready to go back 3000 years to establish the foreign policy
purity of India, obviously he is not limiting himself to modern
India, the post-independent country.
memory might be jogged, if he is not actually edified, about South
Asian history, if he was referred back to the numerous invasions
of Sri Lanka by the Cholas, Pandyans and others from non-belligerent
India, forcing the kings of Lanka to shift their capitals south.
This moving of capitals to escape the marauders from our neighbour
to the north is known to students of history as the drift to the
It is these
invasions which not only brought Hinduism to Lanka but also gave
several centuries later, the LTTE "vision" that a Tamil
kingdom stretched from Jaffnapatnam to the deep south, a claim that
is hardly borne by historical, epigraphical, archaeological or cartographical
Such a vision
is as much a figment of Dravidian imagination as President Kalaam's
vision of an eternally victimised and non-belligerent India is a
figment of his imagination.
If India is
what Abdul Kalaam claims it is, why are all of India's neighbours
deeply suspicious and fearful of it? It is not merely its geographical
size and enormous population that make its neighbours, including
one born through Indian midwifery, nervous.
Surely it is
because even in modern times India has shown by deed, if not by
word, that it has in no way abandoned the political philosophy of
Kautilya as enunciated in his book the "Arthashastra".
Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi was a great follower of the
Kautilyan philosophy and subscribed to his policy of waging "battles
of intrigue" and "secret wars" to achieve her objective
of Indian preponderance and paramountcy in the region.
It seems that
President Kalaam has completely dry-cleaned his mind of India's
military occupation of Goa, of initiating the border clashes with
China at the behest of Indian intelligence that led to the Sino-Indian
war of 1962, India's annexation of Sikkim in 1975 and its role in
the break-up of Pakistan in 1971.
It might also
be useful to remind Abdul Kalaam that while he was helping to bring
India into the nuclear arms age, Indira Gandhi and later his son
Rajiv were training, arming and funding Tamil separatists to subvert
the legitimate government of a neighbouring country. But now it
cries foul when Pakistan-inspired terrorists strike at India.
And lest the
bomb-making president forgets, it was the very forces that the Gandhis'
created and fostered that killed Rajiv Gandhi. If President Kalaam
is not privy or inclined to read the numerous books that have been
written by Indians and other subcontinental authors about Indian
duplicity, then at least he should lay his hands on the Jain Commission
report that could help provide him with a clearer vision.