Posts Tagged ‘Congress Party’

Old Guard vs Young Brigade: Can Rahul Prevail

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

Old Guards Vs The Young Brigade: Can Rahul Prevail?

By

Col (Retd) Bhaskar Sarkar VSM

Website www.bhaskarsarkar.com ; www.twitter@COLSARKAR

The fight between the old guards and the young brigade of the Congress is finally in the open. Like his father, Rajeev Gandhi (Mr. Clean of yester years), Rahul Gandhi has been keeping his instinctive aversion to the culture of corruption in the Congress in check. This was possibly due to biddings of his mother. It is always difficult for a young man to come out of his mother’s influence. But his patience seems to have burst when the Congress brought in an ordinance to save the membership of the parliament of convicted political leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav. His going public with his views against the Ordinance forced the Congress to withdraw the Ordinance. But he immediately fell silent on other instances where the Congress Old Guard kept stalling attempts to investigate scams by denying the CBI permission to question senior bureaucrats or to prosecute tainted leaders without assigning any reason. He has remained silent over the Maharashtra Governor’s refusal to allow prosecution of ex chief minister Ashok Chavan and the Maharashtra Cabinet’s decision to reject the finding of a judicial commission on the Adarsh Housing Society Scam set up by the same Cabinet without assigning any reason. However, by design or otherwise, another member of the young brigade, central minister and Congressman  Milind Deora has taken up cudgels against corruption and gone public with his demand that the Adarsh Housing Society scam must be effectively investigated and the guilty punished. The other interesting development in the struggle between the Old Guard and the Young Brigade is the attempt by the old guard to reverse the decision of the Congress, possibly taken at the behest of Rahul Gandhi and the Young Brigade, to unconditionally support the AAP in forming a government in Delhi.

It is natural for the Old Guard in political parties, bureaucracy and the police to be alarmed by the anti corruption election plank of the AAP and its adoption by the Young Brigade in the Congress. For decades they have thrived from the Congress Party’s benign tolerance of corruption and amassed hundreds of millions, thousands of acres, tons of gold and lucrative benami properties. They hold esteemed position in society and have started political dynasties which they hope will last forever. They are aghast that their own scions are questioning their wisdom of turning a firm blind eye to corruption.  The fear of being exposed and being held accountable by the long arm of law have unnerved them to rebel against the party policies.

History of Struggle

The history of struggle between the Old Guard and the Young Brigade is nothing new. Indira Gandhi, in her early days as Prime Minister, faced opposition from the “Syndicate” of Old Guards to her policies. She was bold enough to take them on in selection of the presidential candidate, preferring V V Giri to Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, backed by the “Syndicate”. Her candidate won and she packed off the Old Guards and established a new order.

Rajeev Gandhi was confronted by the Old Guards (his mother’s confidants or new order) on his attempts to clean up corruption and to introduce the Muslim Women’s Maintenance Bill in line of the Supreme Court judgement on the “Shah Bano” case. But he lacked the guts and political acumen of his mother. He lamented that only 25 paise of each Rupee earmarked for development reached the poor but did nothing to check the leaks. The Old Guard made merry and ferried their spoils to undisclosed stashes and foreign tax havens. Only a few unfortunate ones like Sukh Ram were caught and convicted.

Conclusion

The battle between the Old Guards and the Young Brigade in the Congress has started again. The Young Brigade has rightly recognized that India and the Indian electorate are changing. One third of the Indian electorate is below 35 and in another five years, almost half of Indian electorate will be under 35, literate and social media savvy. An army of RTI activitists and investigating journalists are constantly unearthing instances of corruption. With media coverage of corruption reaching every corner of the country almost instantly, it is not possible to hide corruption the way it could be in the good old days. The stunning electoral victories of the poor man’s AAP and the Congress’s electoral rout in the Delhi state, Rajasthan and MP elections was proof enough for the sceptics to admit that honest politicians could win elections and that young India was fed up of the two timing dishonest and criminally oriented politicians and ready to throw them out. The Young Brigade therefore wants to opt for probity in public life to survive.

For the Old Guards, the stakes are too high. The Lok Pal Bill (whether adequate or inadequate) has been passed. Rahul Gandhi is pushing for four or five other anti corruption bills to be passed. AAP and BJP are promising to reinvestigate closed cases. The Old Guard will therefore employ every trick in the trade to stall investigations and prevent the Young Brigade of the Party to sideline them and take over the Congress Party.

It will be interesting to see whether Rahul Gandhi has the guts of his grandmother to take on the Old Guard and rid the grand old Congress of its corrupt and criminal elements, bring transparency and probity in functioning of Congress governments and take the wind out of the sails of AAP and BJP and win back the confidence of the electorate before the Lok Sabha elections. A lot will depend on whether he has the support of his mother in his endeavour. If he fails it is curtains for the Congress in the next election.

Should We Forget Nehru

Thursday, December 14th, 2017

Should We Forget Nehru

By

Col (Retd) Bhaskar Sarkar VSM

The BJP Government of Rajasthan has revised its text books to eliminate the mention of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru as the first prime minister of India. Our honourable Prime Minister wants a Congress “Mukt” (free) Bharat (India). It is only natural that his party men will try to erase the memory of great leaders that the Congress Party has produced and hope to improve their standing with him. This pathological hatred of the Congress Party, particularly the Nehru, Gandhi family is unbecoming of a great leader. Respect begets respect. Hatred begets hatred. This action of eliminating the name of Pandit Nehru, like many other controversial dictates of BJP governments like banning possession and consumption of beef in Maharashtra (since set aside by the High Court), Gujarat and Haryana, closing dance bars (since set aside by the courts), saying “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, singing “Vande Mataram”, teaching Sanskrit, Indian culture and Manusmriti at engineering colleges is now a matter of debate in the media, coffee shops and teas shops. May I also be allowed to say my bit?

Pandit Nehru’s role in India’s freedom struggle is neither unique nor spectacular. Many well known persons like Subhash Chandra Bose and Mahatma Gandhi and many unknown freedom fighters have made greater contributions or sacrifices. I agree that Pandit Nehru need not be remembered as a freedom fighter. I also agree that his becoming prime minister could have been an act of favouritism on the part of Mahatma Gandhi. He is unfairly held responsible by many for Partition and the Kashmir Problem. (It was the “Direct Action” riots started by the Muslim League in 1946 that forced Partition.) I hold him responsible for introducing and tolerating a culture of corruption and nepotism among the political class and government servants which has continued unabated till today. I also blame him for weakening the armed forces and leading the country to a disastrous defeat in the 1962 war with China. Nehru also neglected agriculture which led to our being dependant on US PL480 food aid program. I cannot say how many of these mistakes were committed in good faith and how many were due to lack of administrative experience. Whether he should be forgiven or not is for each one of us to decide ourselves after due diligence and not based on BJP propaganda? (Will Modiji be forgiven for “Demonetisation”? Only time will tell.)

I am a great admirer of Nehru the visionary, a man who dreamt big and set India on the way to be the knowledge, industrial and economic powerhouse that we are today. I want to chronicle his contribution to the modernisation of India for the knowledge of the younger generations who are unaware of his enormous contribution to India’s growth and are encouraged by those who envy his achievements not to give the man his due. Please remember that he was Prime Minister from 1947 to 1964. Let us see what he achieved during these 17 years.

Field of Education

Nehru could visualize the need for professional and technical education to take forward a resurgent India. He founded the Indian Institutes of Technology at Mumbai (1958), Delhi (19610, Kanpur (1959) and Kharagpur (1956). Indian Institute of Technology (Kharagpur) Act 1956 founded the basis for these institutions. Institute of Technology’s Act 1961 created 16 Engineering colleges all over India. Over 350,000 students strive to join the IITs every year. Do they know who started them?

Nehru established the Atomic Energy complex at Trombay in 1954. This was later renamed Bhabha Atomic Research Centre 1967 and is the bedrock of development of Atomic energy for peaceful and military purposes. He established the Indian National Committee for Space Research 1962 which became ISRO in 1969. India is now the third ranked power in space technology after the US and Russia. He established the Defence Research and Development Organization 1958 so that India’s requirement of Defence equipment could be developed and built in India.

He was responsible for setting up the IIM Kolkata and IIM Ahmadabad in 1961. The inception of almost every institution of higher learning that we have today was due to Nehru’s vision of the educational needs of the people of a vibrant, modern, industrialized and prosperous India.

Field of Industry

Nehru was the originator of “Make in India” concept but not the slogan. Unlike other developing countries like Indonesia, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria etc, Nehru set India on the path to industrialisation. He set up three public sector steel plants at Bhllai 1955, Durgapur 1960 and Rourkela 1959. Chttaranjan locomotive works established in 1950 has produced 2351 steam locomotives from 1950-72. It now produces electric locomotives. Integral coach factory Chennai set up in 1955 built coaches for Indian railways. Mazgaon dockyard was nationalized in 1960, Garden Reach workshop was established in 1960, Hindustan Shipyard Vizag nationalized in 1961, and Goa Ship Yard set up in1967 to build ships.  Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd was formed in 1964 as the pioneer of our aeronautical industry. Heavy vehicle factory was set up at Avdi 1965 to build battle tanks. Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) set up in 1964 is a world leader in turbine manufacture. Bharat Electronics established in 1954 pioneered manufacture of radio, telephones and radars. Bharat Earthmovers established in 1964 pioneered productions of earth moving equipment in the country. Bharat Petroleum 1952, and Indian Oil Corporation 1964 are the pioneers of crude oil refining and distribution of petroleum products in the country. Heavy Engineering Corporation Ranchi established in 1958 produced heavy machinery for steel and other heavy industries. HMT established in 1953 produced machine tools and watches. ONGC established in 1956 pioneered exploration and production of crude oil in the country. India is perhaps the only developing country where the oil industry is not controlled by foreign companies. Shipping Corporation of India, was established in 1961to meet our shipping needs. Uranium Corporation of India started producing uranium in 1967. Nehru along with the Tatas, Birlas, Munjals, Mahindra was the founding father of industrialized India.

Field of Health Care

Nehru was responsible for the setting up of AIIMS Delhi 1956. Hindustan Antibiotics Ltd was set up in 1954 to meet our immunization needs.

Irrigation and Hydro Power

Nehru understood the importance of harnessing the rivers of India. Damodar Valley Corporation was set up in 1948 on the model of Tennesse Valley Authority. It has four dams producing hydroelectric power Maithon, Panchet, Tilaiya, Konar 1948-1959. He initiated the Bhakra and Beas projects in Punjab. Bhakra Dam was built in 1963. Pong dam on Beas started in 1961 was completed in 1974. Project Hirakud Dam was constructed in 1957, Tungabhadra dam in Karnatak1953 in 1953. 234 dams were built between 1951 and 1961. The Farakka barrage on the Ganges was started in 1961.

Agriculture

Nehru did not do much to encourage farmers. He concentrated on creating infrastructure to support farming. Hindustan Insecticides was established in 1954, Fertilizer Corporation of India in 1961, Food Corporation of India in 1965, National Seed Corporation in 1963. The benefits were to come later.

Conclusion

India is the second most developed developing country not because of the vision of the Sangh which seeks to take us back to medieval India, but because of the vision of Nehru and his actions to introduce professional education and make India self reliant in manufacturing. He did not coin a slogan. He actually set up manufacturing unit. His Public Sector employed more people than required. Under the Modi Government there are over a few million vacancies in every government department from the judiciary, administrative services, school teachers, college professors, nurses, doctors and so one which the government simply refuses to fill to save the wage bill. Engineers and graduates are applying for jobs of security guards and sweepers. Some have taken to snatching chains, stealing motor cycles and taking to other forms of crime.

BJP and Mr. Modi should also realize that the hundreds of thousands of Indian diaspora who organized functions for him all around the world and cheered for him got there and became prosperous because Nehru started IITs and IIMs from which most of them graduated.

You may want to forget Nehru, I never will. I was not taught to be ungrateful by my parents and Gurus.