मुम्बई हमले के समय पुलिस की सक्रियता की सच्चाई

पहले भी मैंने तहलका में छपे एक लेख का जिक्र किया था जिसमें साफ़ जाहिर है कि ऊँचे पद पर बैठे कुछ मक्कार (और देशद्रोही) लोग इतनी बड़ी तादाद में लोगों के जान गँवाने के उत्तरदायी हैं.

उन पर देशद्रोह का मुकदमा क्यों नहीं चलना चाहिये?

आप भी पढ़ें: Senior cops did not respond to 26/11 situation: Hasan Gafoor
Some of the top Mumbai police officers have been accused by their former boss of dithering from "responding to the situation" during the 26/11 attacks. Gafoor Hasan, the then Mumbai Police Commissioner, said, "a section of senior police officers refused to be on the ground and take on the terrorists. By doing so, they chose to ignore the need of the hour."

Naming some of the seniors, Hasan, in an interview published in 'The Week' magazine just days ahead of the first anniversary of the attacks, said, "I told you there were a handful. For example, K L Prasad refused to come to the Trident and decided against hitting the roads. Devena Bharti, K Venkatesham and Parambhir Singh did not appear keen on responding to the situation as it kept dawning on us."

Prasad was then the Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) while Bharti was the Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime). Venkatesham was the Additional Commissioner of Police (South Region) and Singh was the Additional Commissioner of Police (Anti-Terrorism Squad).

"Yes, there was dearth of eagerness on the part of a handful of senior officers to be on the ground during those days," said Gafoor, replying to a question if he noticed a bit of unwillingness among the senior officers.

Now Director General of Police (Housing), Gafoor received a lot of flak from the Ram Pradhan Committee, which probed into how the security agencies responded to the deadly terror strikes that claimed more than 180 lives.

It had observed that command and control was not properly exercised during the handling of the attacks.

Asked how he felt when let down by his own men and if there was a bigger embarrassment, Gafoor said "yes there was, indeed. On November 28, I attended a meeting with the DGP and Home Minister. I was told to withdraw the NSG and instead use the Mumbai police for the ongoing operations. The DGP told me that the entire world was watching us and so we should put an immediate end to the siege and help defuse the crisis. This sounded ridiculous, as the NSG is an elite force that can tackle such crisis situation. I said it was even preposterous to even think of taking off the NSG."

Recalling the events that took place on November 26 last year, Gafoor said "the first thing on my mind was, of course, to liquidate the terrorists or to restrict and compel them to a corner and then cordon off the targeted area -- all this to engineer the safe evacuation of the people trapped inside."

Lauding the NSG for doing a "great job" in eliminating the terrorists, the former Mumbai Police Commissioner said "without them it would not have been possible to even map the terrorists' movement inside those built-up areas, let alone take them head on and overpower them ultimately."

Asked if believes that he was made a scapegoat, he said, "I cannot comment on that. But yes, political considerations do play a part in lot of things that are decided and ratified. It is politics and much more beyond."


कोई भी मूल्य एवं संस्कृति तब तक जीवित नहीं रह सकती जब तक वह आचरण में नहीं है.


What class are you in?

The right to education bill was long overdue. While the quality related provisions of the bill leave much to be desired, one of its more interesting provisions is the requirement that private schools take in at least 25 per cent students from marginalised communities within the neighbourhood. Since the state will reimburse the schools based on its average spending per child, some see in this provision of the bill elements of a voucher system. But this provision could, if implemented correctly, usher in far-reaching social changes. It will force us to confront an unspoken issue in Indian society: how we educate children into a culture of equality and reciprocity in the face of immense inequality. While there is an abstract allegiance to norms of equality and rights in a formal sense, the social mores and interpersonal norms of recognition are marked by all the disfigurements of hierarchy.

In many ways, recent social developments have contributed to the evasion rather than a resolution of this issue. One of the, perhaps unintended, by-products of the reservation discourse was this. On the one hand, it immobilised far more discomforting discussions about discrimination and the norms of social behaviour that would give minimal meaning to recognising the equal moral worth of all citizens; on the other hand, it converted what should have been a discussion about debilitating hierarchy into a political clash over identity.

Second, despite the rhetoric of inclusion, our institutional architectures were de facto creating new forms of segregation. One of the biggest worries about private education is that, despite all its promise, its capacity to segregate by class is immense; fee structures make this an inevitable outcome. Arguably, the top private schools are now even more upper class than old “convent” schools. Within the state structure itself, the state was able to give access but not dismantle social hierarchies. One of the most shocking pieces of research suggests that Dalit children were more likely to be subject to corporal punishment at the hands of government school teachers. One of the reasons for preferring private schools by the poor is the perception that low-end private schools, whatever their quality, are less likely to be degrading experiences for children. And many government institutions have also encouraged a form of segregation. There are other interesting patterns. A few years ago, it was possible for children to “mix” across social classes, at least in play; the streets and parks, forms of play, were at least temporarily open spaces for kids. Those spaces exist even less. To be sure, that form of mixing was still marked by a sense of hierarchy and power, but in an odd sense privileged kids a few years ago were more likely to have a sense of children with deprivation than they do now.

There is also a subtle transformation happening in caste relations that is positive, but still one that poses interesting challenges for social relations. The sense of empowerment and dignity amongst Dalits has been growing. There are interesting measures of this. In many cities, the marginalised, even those in a relationship of servitude, assert a sense of dignity in one crucial respect: by their refusal to clean toilets, at almost any price. In some ways this is an astonishingly encouraging phenomenon. To invert Gandhi, the revolution is not how many upper castes clean their toilets; the revolution is measured by how many lower castes have the option of refusing to clean other people’s toilets. This change is not as widespread as one would wish, but it is clear and palpable. But it is precisely this moment of rightful reclaiming of dignity that also makes the question of social relationships across caste and class divides tricky. The worry about being slighted, even unintentionally; and on the other side an uncertainty about how to handle this new social state leads to a kind of safe harbour of isolation. On college campuses certainly, there is a subtle dynamic that often makes de facto ghettoisation a psychologically more comfortable zone than the labour of creating norms of reciprocity. These changing dynamics complicate the still powerful markers of social hierarchy; the master-servant relationship, although transformed in some ways, experientially inscribes hierarchy more than any abstract teaching of equality can counter.

How much social mixing the legislation will produce is an open question. But implemented properly, it could force parents and children to confront the dynamics of hierarchy and exclusion in a way in which they have not had to. Even the most privileged schools will have to ask: what does the pedagogy of inclusion truly entail? Our entrenched hierarchies or embarrassed avoidance of this question will now have to be squarely challenged in our schools. But we would be living in a fool’s paradise if we think negotiating this issue will be easy. At the most mundane level, schools will have to cope with students with vastly different economic and family backgrounds; even supposedly enlightened universities have not found it easy.

Second, a lot of research suggests the disquieting possibility that students from marginalised groups under certain conditions do less well in the presence of upper caste kids. Their sense of self-esteem can be adversely affected by this social experience. And for the privileged it can, sometimes in subtle ways, provide more ground for expressing their prejudice. And it is fair to say that very few of our teachers are trained to handle complicated social dynamics; if government schools are any guide, they are perpetrators of exclusion. None of these challenges constitutes an excuse not to implement this significant step towards a common school system. On the contrary, it reinforces the idea that we need measures to reverse the trends that re-inscribe social hierarchies.

Arguably, the process of assimilation in common spaces would be made easier if the relevant criteria of inclusion were not exclusively caste. The objective should be to remove deprivations based on caste, but using the instrumentality of caste itself to address that deprivation often reinstates the very identities we are trying to dissolve. Doubtless, this is a complicated issue. But make no mistake about it: teachers, parents, administrators and students will now be truly tested in how they shape their own sense of self in relation to others. It is one thing to not discriminate, to support social the uplift of the marginalised and engage in the rhetoric of equality. It will be quite another challenge to make the school a site where all kinds of children can feel equally at home, and the promise of common citizenship be redeemed.
(Pratap Bhanu Mehta)
कोई भी मूल्य एवं संस्कृति तब तक जीवित नहीं रह सकती जब तक वह आचरण में नहीं है.

The original Mrs G

Indira Gandhi’s place in modern Indian history is deeply paradoxical. Her policies, actions and outlook on power made Indian democracy fragile to the point of destruction. The Emergency was simply symptomatic of a larger trend towards institutions. She had, during her tenure, wilfully assaulted every single institution: the judiciary, federalism, the police. Her own party had become excessively centralised. She tolerated and created a style of politics that was lumpen at its core: an odd combination of corruption, violence and the use of arbitrary power. Her tenure created the politics of anxiety in the shape of several secessionist movements. And despite some retrospective credit being given to her for bank nationalisation, and interventions in agriculture in the early seventies, her economic policies were largely a disaster, making the seventies the truly lost decade of Indian economic growth.

Her assassination and the brutal massacre of Sikhs that followed were, in different ways, profoundly tragic events. But both traced their origins to a politics that Indira Gandhi had tolerated, if not positively encouraged. In many ways, the Punjab crisis, of which these two events were the violent denouement, embodied the worst aspects of her legacy. The Congress consistently fished in troubled communal waters in Punjab, using sectarianism rather than rising above it. The state first let the crisis develop through sins of omission and commission, and then when pushed to the brink responded with brutal force. The legitimation of the violence that followed was premised largely on the deification of her persona. Only in the context where her party members believed that “Indira is India” could the massacre of three thousand people be so easily justified. Even the political shock troopers of the Sikh massacre, most of whom have since become icons of political respectability, were products of a violent street politics she had done little to curb during the Emergency. It was almost as if the context in which her assassination came to be embedded made it difficult for her death to achieve the status of martyrdom. The Congress will be doing itself a disservice by remembering her assassination as a day of martyrdom. Instead it is a day to recall how democracies can become vulnerable to their own worst tendencies.

And yet, the reverence and nostalgia for her has survived this indictment. In part, this is because her personal qualities seem to transcend her politics. While she fomented communal politics, there is little doubt that she did not have a communal bone in her body. Even as she was subverting institutions, she could project an aura of democratic grace; her authoritarianism worked precisely because her persona seemed not dictatorial. As the Congress inches towards becoming an unchallenged force once again, it will be better served by examining how a leader of many remarkable personal qualities could preside over so much conflict and bloodshed. The lessons it will have to take on board are these. Leaders are more effective when they work through institutions rather than attempting to subvert them. Second, sound economic policies are not a matter of simply projecting good intentions; they require a concerted understanding of the causal conditions that make for successful intervention. Third, being personally secular is neither here nor there. The important thing is to fish in the treacherous waters of communal identification, from wherever it comes. Fourth, as the Punjab crisis demonstrated, when the state does not act impartially and in time, it sows the seeds of greater violence in the future. Fifth, democracy is not just about the practice of popular authorisation. It is about a whole gamut of constitutional values that have to be zealously guarded.

But Indira Gandhi’s mystique is perhaps best captured by her famous by-election slogan “ek sherni sau langoor, chaalo chaalo Chikmanglur”. She has come to represent the paradigm of a decisive leader, someone who not only knew how to create her own power against great odds, but also knew how to decisively use it. Perhaps the most admired aspect of her legacy, one that even her bitterest critics from the BJP envy, is her foreign policy. The nuclear tests signalled India’s decisive independence. But they also for ever altered the strategic landscape of the subcontinent in ways we are still coming to terms with. Her intervention in the Bangladesh crisis was a remarkable combination of realpolitik and humanitarian concern. But it has to be said that, though India won the war, it lost the peace. Not only did the Shimla agreement not decisively resolve outstanding issues between India and Pakistan, the traumatic effects of that war still reverberate in Pakistan’s psyche. It is difficult for us to now imagine the global context in which India stood in the early seventies. The US was not just hostile to India, but had been actively subverting democracy around the world. And it is important not to forget that the shadow of Allende loomed large on every democratic country in the world. Indira Gandhi converted a legitimate sense of being under siege into a state of paranoia, where every opposition was identified with a foreign hand. But she gets credit for standing up in the face of immense pressure.

But the other side of the slogan “sau langoor” is equally important. While Indira Gandhi’s intoxication with power was dangerous, there was nothing petty about it. Even when most misguided, she drew confidence from the fact that she was acting on behalf of a people. We have forgiven her in part because she was a Napoleonic figure of sorts. Even in her subversions of democracy, she could embody an abstract idea of the people; popular identification with her survived all institutional perfidies. Most of her opponents by contrast, even at their most virtuous, seem never to be able to rise above their narrow interests. In retrospect, with a couple of exceptions, almost all political forces that crystallised in opposition to her — from the motley crew of Lohiates, to the trench warriors of the BJP — could do everything but project the idea that they stood for India, broadly understood. The nostalgia for Indira Gandhi is based on a kernel of truth. She was the last leader who could truly belong to the whole of India. And the profound question Indian democracy has faced since is this. Are we safer with a fragmentation of interests, however narrow they appear, checking and balancing each other? Or do we need a leadership that is an embodiment of the people as a whole, with all the risks that such personification of popular power entails?
(Pratap Bhanu Mehta)

कोई भी मूल्य एवं संस्कृति तब तक जीवित नहीं रह सकती जब तक वह आचरण में नहीं है.

Opportunity, Made in China

The China Factor has staged a dramatic comeback in our minds, hearts, in public debate and, regrettably, as a negative one. Did it have to be like that? Post 1971, as we felt progressively more secure externally, we had been liberating ourselves from the fear of China. Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to Beijing became a happy turning point, followed by many other significant, though small steps in reconciliation. All this while the Dalai Lama was in India, continuing with his activities, spiritual and temporal, and getting into spats with China. Never before have the Chinese ratcheted up the protests to the level we see now, as he sets off to Tawang — and never before have we reacted with so much alarm.

So what is different now? You can analyse the Chinese motivations for ever. In fact, analysing “why is China behaving this way” is a flourishing global industry and we can further swell its ranks while, probably, coming to the same conclusion after our exertions that everybody does, about the inscrutability of the Chinese. Why don’t we, therefore, examine for a change “why are we behaving this way”. Or rather, reacting/responding this way?

There’s been a lot of provocative talk in Beijing, but we have seen no evidence of any military movement. In fact the one thing you can say with confidence — and since it is a well-known fact we are not betraying any secrets by saying so — that our satellites are good enough now to detect anything really unusual or significant in that area. Yet, some of the talk on our side is curious: upgradation of airbases along the borders, stationing of Sukhois, raising two more mountain divisions, sanction of funds and, lo and behold, quick environmental clearance of road-building projects in the border region. What do we expect? That, if the Chinese really intend to invade us, will they give us five years to get ready? Or, for heaven’s sake, if they did indeed invade us, will they just walk in, and annex Tawang or whatever else? Neither of the two is an inevitability or even likely. Our armed forces are good enough today to defend their territory and, while capability upgradations are needed, the flurry of activity today is not much preparation of some future invasion, but to make up for lost years in our military modernisation.

Then why did we react with such alarm? Go back to 1987, when a real border stand-off took place with China (starting with Sumdurong Chu, ahead of Tawang) and both armies did indeed build up eyeball to eyeball. None of the alarm that seized us over the past few weeks was evident then. There was, in fact, a feeling of stoic confidence. Today, as a nation, economy, and military power, we are much stronger. Why, then, did we get more worried?

Could it be that this came from a much larger number of our people having much greater exposure to how rapidly China had progressed? Or in fact how much faster than us they had progressed? Until a decade ago, it was merely a talking point for the aam admi in India. Today, he sees images of the flawless grandeur of the Beijing Olympics while we make an embarrassing spectacle of our waffling with a mere Commonwealth Games. He sees Chinese goods swarm his daily life, from chappals to rakhis to TV sets to Ganesha idols while reading of how much of our exports to China are colonial-era raw materials like iron ore. Then he reads all the stories of the fears we have of high-tech Chinese goods and equipment, in vital areas like telecom and power, and of Chinese contractors in road and pipeline building. Could it just be that all this is now creating a deep-set inferiority complex, a feeling that we have been left behind, that we have lost that competition that we thought so enhanced our global stature? India-China was one hyphenated equation we so loved as the rest of the world used it in terms of our rising economic strength, and global power. I know it is an audacious — and risky — point to make, but could it be that the realisation of just how large the gap between us and China has become, and how fast it is increasing, has panicked us into believing that we have lost the competition even before we could join it, much like the war in 1962? Or that the Chinese, powering along at double-digit growth still, have peeled away like a champion marathoner over the also-rans in the last lap, in this case taking that hyphen away with them?

An analysis of our own minds may show that the answer to our fears does not just lie in modernising more air bases or checking out the fortification of our forward defences and the quality of our bunkers. That we should do — and should have been doing — anyway. Good fences, as they say, make for good neighbours. The answer lies in getting our act together as a nation, a system of governance and society to be at least a worthy near-equal to China. We have to defeat internal threats like the Naxals with a sense of purpose, rather than lose time in vacuous debate; multiply, three times over, the pace of infrastructure-building — not just in Arunachal and Ladakh, but all over India; liberate ourselves from the fear of double-digit growth; and show much greater national focus than we do.

The real threat today lies in our heads, collectively. Our country has somehow found smug peace with the idea of growing on the basis of “China minus four”, that is, if China grows at 10 per cent, aren’t we so happy to grow at six. Then we celebrate so proudly the fact of being the “second fastest growing economy in the world”. We forget that the Chinese grow that much from an economic base four times bigger than ours. And that if this differential continues, they will soon go so far ahead that we could be reduced to being to China what Mexico is to America. Will that leave us with more secure borders, even if we double our armies?

The fact is, our armies are now good enough to defend our territory, and will continue to be so. In fact, they will be stronger each passing year. But national power and pride are no longer determined merely in terms of territorial size or integrity. Cuba can protect its territory, but can it stop lakhs of its people from escaping to Florida? An electric fence built by the Americans cannot stop thousands of Mexicans from streaming in, and they will not stop even if Mexico were to use its entire army to keep its own people “within”. In today’s world, it is not rival armies, but your own people who can defy your borders and render them irrelevant. If the current differential in our economic growth and China’s continues for another decade, many of our border populations will start asking us, and themselves, some hard questions. Are we prepared for that?

If we want to, we will have learn to look at China through a new prism, as an opportunity, rather than as a threat or enemy. Opportunity, because you can use the Chinese example to push for faster decision-making, decisive governance, economic reform to at least slow down the pace by which we are falling behind. If you merely focus on the military, you will be trapped forever in the “threat” syndrome and losing the real battle before you even joined it.

(Shekar gupta)
कोई भी मूल्य एवं संस्कृति तब तक जीवित नहीं रह सकती जब तक वह आचरण में नहीं है.

Manu’s parole shames us all

How fortunate for us that Manu Sharma cannot stay away from bars. And, bar brawls. Were it not for this inexplicable lure of Delhi’s nightlife, this murderer would have probably used his undeserved parole to disappear, with the help of Daddy’s money, to some sunny spot for shady people and live happily ever after. Ever since he was arrested for killing Jessica Lal, Daddyji has been using his money and political influence to try and get his spoilt, violent son out of jail.

How did this monster make parole? We now know from the police that it was on account of the kindness of the Chief Minister of Delhi that Manu Sharma was released to attend the ‘last rites’ of a grandmother who died more than a year ago and a sick mother who was healthy enough to be seen socialising in Chandigarh. Sheila Dikshit has tried to explain why she paroled Manu Sharma. It was routine, she said, and she broke no laws and all she did was sign the paper and send it on to the Lt Governor. We need to ask if this is a good enough explanation? Is it routine to release convicted murderers just like that? Is Manu Sharma just any old murderer?

The reason why Jessica’s heartbreaking, horrific murder so caught the country’s imagination was because in Manu Sharma’s remorseless face we saw reflected all the things that are wrong with India’s political system. And, it must be said, Delhi society. We saw evil, cynicism, callousness, cowardice, greed and the power of money. Jessica was shot dead in a restaurant full of rich and powerful people. Everyone knew who did it. But, if it had not been for Bina Ramani, and her daughter Malini, Manu would never have gone to jail. The police and the Delhi government did everything in their power to get these two women to change their testimony. Bina’s husband was not allowed to go to Canada to attend the funeral of his only brother. Bina spent more than ten days in jail, mostly in solitary and in appalling conditions, for no reason. Cowardice and money power bought the silence of all other witnesses. Shame on Delhi.
More sickening than the cowardice of Delhi society is the cynicism of the Congress. It has not even tried to deny the murderer’s father political power. Venod Sharma is so powerful that he was allowed to contest from Ambala in the recent elections to the Haryana Assembly and according to some reports Manu helped him during the campaign. When Rahul Gandhi wanders about the countryside with the stated aim of bringing better people into politics does he remember Manu Sharma? How can we expect higher standards in public life if his own party has no qualms about allowing convicted murderers to campaign in elections?

Why should the Congress Party need someone like Venod Sharma at all? Why should he be so important that the Prime Minister went personally to campaign for him? The Prime Minister is an honourable, decent man. Did it not embarrass him to campaign for a man who has no respect for the rule of law? Venod Sharma has gone out of his way more than once to subvert the course of justice. And, he brought up his son to believe that India was a country in which the rule of law did not exist for people like him. Sadly, Manu Sharma is not the exception but the rule when it comes to the children of our politicians. If those who we elect to make our laws have no respect for them India will soon end up being ruled by criminals.

If Jessica Lal’s murderer gets away, it will be proof that India’s criminal justice system is so hopeless that it cannot do justice even when a young woman is murdered for nothing. Manu Sharma is in Tihar Jail thanks to our courts. The police went out of its way to help him get away. The reason why we must remember this and put relentless pressure on our politicians to behave is because if the police can be so easily manipulated by a two-bit, regional politician think of how easily it could be manipulated by the huge money power that India’s enemies wield? The police are our primary and most important line of defence against jihadis and Maoists whose stated aim is to destroy India. What chance do we have?

Manu Sharma is back in Tihar Jail because the media made sure that he had no choice left. If our oft maligned 24-hour news channels had not pursued the story relentlessly, if the newspapers had not followed it with equal doggedness, who knows where Manu Sharma would have been at the end of his generously extended parole. That he qualified for parole at all shames India. It shames us all.

(Tavleen Singh)

कोई भी मूल्य एवं संस्कृति तब तक जीवित नहीं रह सकती जब तक वह आचरण में नहीं है.

A legacy best forgotten

As a dutiful daughter-in-law, Sonia Gandhi always remembers the late Mrs Gandhi on her death anniversary. She takes flowers to her samadhi, listens to religious hymns on nationwide television and makes a special effort to attend commemorative events. This is admirable and to be commended in a country where the ‘saas-bahu’ relationship is usually fraught and ugly. It is when she goes beyond the personal and tries to steer us back towards the policies of her late mother-in-law that conscientious columnists like me are forced to raise a small voice of protest.

Sonia Gandhi is the most powerful politician in India so what she says is taken seriously. Not just by the sycophants and flatterers in the Congress Party but by ordinary Indians as well. Especially those millions of young voters who have no idea how bad the times were when Indira Gandhi ruled. No idea at all of what a shabby, second-rate country India was then or that it got that way largely because of Mrs Gandhi’s policies. So when Soniaji invokes her mother-in-law’s name, as she did on her death anniversary last week, to hold her up as a role model for young Indians, she needs to be careful.

Let me give you some extracts from the article Soniaji wrote in praise of mama-in-law in her party magazine, Sandesh, last week. “Let us reflect on and recall the simple and austere manner of her living and conducting herself. Let us continue to be guided by her... Her contributions are numerous and continue to resonate. It was her bold political leadership that made India self-reliant in the production of wheat and rice that brought prosperity to lakhs and lakhs of farmers, transforming rural India.” The dutiful daughter-in-law went on to praise Mrs. Gandhi for her “compassionate” leadership and for bank nationalisation. Soniaji believes bank nationalisation is the reason why India was not hit so badly by last year’s credit crunch.

When I hear this kind of drivel from India’s most powerful politician, I consider it my duty, as a responsible political columnist and as someone who lived in Mrs Gandhi’s time, to set the record the straight. Indira Gandhi was a charismatic politician with an amazing ability to convince ordinary Indians that she was their one and only benefactress. Not a quality to be sneered at and I am not sneering. But, when I try to remember anything good she did for India from an economic or political point of view I come up with a very short list.

Certainly, I would not credit her with improving the lives of Indian farmers. They lived in desperate poverty then. And, the reason was that under Mrs Gandhi rural India was given charity instead of development. Anti-poverty schemes instead of roads, schools, hospitals and jobs. Anti-poverty schemes so leaky that her son admitted when he became Prime Minister that no more than 15 paise in a rupee reached beneficiaries. And, with all her talk of ‘garibi hatao’, India remained as poor when she was killed as when she first became Prime Minister.

Politically, she made serious mistakes that created the secessionist movements in Punjab and Kashmir and that exacerbated them in the Northeastern states. Her creed was secularism but in her time there was at least one major Hindu-Muslim riot every year. Her foreign policy was paranoid and so viscerally anti-American that we supported the Soviet Union even when it invaded Afghanistan. It’s lucky for her that she did not live to see the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War and the Berlin Wall coming down because she may not have known what to do next.

By 1984 when she had ruled India for nearly 20 years, she succeeded in turning India into a country in which everything was in short supply and everything second-rate. It was not just she who was ‘austere’ in her lifestyle, we all were. There was no choice. Every Indian did without regular supplies of electricity and clean water and without luxuries of any kind. Even Indian industrialists lived in genteel poverty. And, they hid their entrepreneurial skills for fear of being fined by Mrs Gandhi’s government in case they exceeded their quotas. The licence raj was at its zenith when she was Prime Minister and unsurprisingly, the Indian economy grew so slowly in her time that there was very little wealth to distribute to the poor. Bank nationalisation put Indian banking back by at least 20 years. So for Soniaji to continue praising this policy decision exhibits her own ignorance of economics.

In the end may I humbly submit that it has taken India 25 years to recover from Indira Gandhi’s legacy and we have still not fully recovered. To go back to it now would be insanity.
(Tavleen Singh)

कोई भी मूल्य एवं संस्कृति तब तक जीवित नहीं रह सकती जब तक वह आचरण में नहीं है.