Posts Tagged ‘Congress Party’

Has India Progresses Satisfactorily Since Independence?

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

Has India Progressed Satisfactorily Since Independence?

By

Col (Retd) Bhaskar Sarkar

My cousin brother, aged about 65, a Modi admirer and Congress hater, is of the opinion that India has not made satisfactory progress since independence. I concede that every individual has the right to have and live by his own convictions. I believe that India has made remarkable progress compared other countries which became independent about the same time. The progress has to be seen in the background of its state of development, non availability of financial resources, trauma of a violent partition and the mass migration that followed and a huge illiterate, indisciplined  population fragmented by religion, caste, language and ideology. I would therefore like to lay before my learned audience the progress that I have seen during my working life which began in 1963 and leave it to them to decide whether we as a nation have made adequate progress and which political party made this development possible.

Progress I have Seen

As a young army officer undergoing training in College of Military Engineering, Pune in 1964, we used to ride bicycles to our classes and club. Today, about 20 lakh two wheelers are sold in India every month. 90% households in cities and 60 % in villages have two wheelers. School and college going children use two wheelers.

In 1964, it used to take 10 hours to go by meter gauge train from Siliguri to Banarhat in Dooars, about 200 kms. Now it , takes 3 to 4 hrs. There was no railway bridge over Ganga at Farakka or over Bramhaputra at Guwahati. Since then, meter gauge lines have mostly been converted to broad guage, steam engines have been replaced mostly by indigenously produced electric and diesel engines. Konkan Railways, about 600 km of new railway line across one of the most difficult terrain has been constructed. The railway network has been extended to Srinagar over the Pir Panjal range and into the forests of Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh. Many amazing tunnels and bridges have been built using state of art technology.

In 1964, an illiterate person could become a jawan in the Army. Today matriculation is the minimum qualification. My non matriculate sevadar’s son is an IT professional working with a British company in Bangalore and earning Rs 1 lakh per month and having company car. The daughter of a daily labourer in my friends factory is an MBBS doctor. How many countries can boast of such upward mobility?

We fought the Pakistani Patton tanks in 1965 with World War II vintage Centurion and Sherman tanks whose rounds used to bounce off the Patton armour. By 1971, Indira Gandhi had modernized the Indian Army with Soviet equipment. We defied US, defeated Pakistan and liberated Bangladeh. No new artillery gun or fighter aircraft has been acquired since 1989.

My father could not afford a car in his life time. I bought mine in 1971 when I was 31. A car then cost 20 month’s salary. There were only 3 car makers. Maruti Udyog, the 4th, was started by Sanjay Gandhi in late eighties. Today, there are over a dozen companies selling about 6 million cars a year in India. A car costs 6 to 10 months salary.

Hundreds of dams have been built all over India to harness rivers for irrigation and power generation. The Bhakra Dam and the Indira Gandhi Canal from Fazilka in Punjab to Barmer in Rajasthan have converted many barren districts of Rajasthan into grain bowls. Millions of hectares have been irrigated. How many dams have been started since 1999?

I was Chief Engineer of a Border Roads Project in 1985. Road construction was mostly done manually. Today, road and bridge construction is completely mechanized with pavers, dumpers, bitumen plant, mass concreting etc.

The first computers made their appearance in government offices in 1985. No one knew how to use them. By 2000 almost all offices in public and private sector were using computers and e mails. Today, typewriters are obsolete. All communications and design calculations have been computerised. Indian IT companies and professional dominate the world.

After retirement from army I settled down at Alwar in Rajasthan in 1994. It is a district headquarters. The waiting time for a land line was three years. By 2000, you could get a broad band connection in days. At the time only 10% girls went to school. Today, the number is almost 100%. Agriculture is mostly mechanized. In 1994 the vegetable vendors had not heard of mushroom, baby corn or broccoli. Today these are locally grown and easily available. There wasn’t a single engineering college in the district in 1994. Today there are 4. My part time maid has TV with DTH, two refrigerators and two motor cycles in the family. In  1994, the cycle rikshaw was the main public transport. Today, in addition, we have six seater light commercial vehicles, auto rikshaws and battery operated rickshaws. Everyone from managers to maids have mobile phones.

Who should get Credit for the Progress?

A lot of the progress is individual driven. There is some complacency in the children of the top dogs many of whom rely on the wealth, family business or influence of their parents to get ahead in life. But there is a strong desire among the children of the underdogs to get ahead. It is for the governments to provide the opportunities and level playing fields for everyone to become prosperous.

Congress has been in power at the Centre from 1947 to 1999 when BJP under Mr. Vajpayee came to power and again from 2004 to 2014 when Modiji came to power. The short stints of coalitions governments under Mr. VP Singh, Mr. Chandra Sekhar, Mr. Raj Narain, Mr. Deve Gowda and Mr. Gujral could do little. Thus the progress made by India and Indians has been due to the vision and policies of Congress leaders like Pandit Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Rajeev Gandhi, Narsimha Rao and Sonia Gandhi. Mr. Vajpayee also made a great contribution with his development of national highways and the Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojna.

Modiji talks of “Make in India”. Pandit Jawarlal Nehru started “Make in India” even before Modiji was born. Modi talks of doubling farmer’s income. The “Green Revolution” which enabled India to transform from a grain importing nation to a grain exporting country was started by Lal Bahadur Shastri and actually doubled farm incomes.

Indira Gandhi persuaded Sikkim to join India and liberated Bangladesh in spite of US opposition and its 7th Fleet. Compare it with the “Surgical strikes by the Indian Army” which BJP leaders and the pro BJP media never tire of chest thumping and talking about.

Mr. Modi talks of acting against hoarders and black marketers. Mrs. Gandhi launched action against hoarders and black marketers and nationalized banks to prevent public money being used by hoarders and black marketers in the 70s. Now under BJP industrial houses have been allowed to open banks so that they can use public money for private business. Mrs. Sonia Gandhi legislated RTI so that corruption can be exposed while BJP governments of Maharashtra and Rajasthan have brought in gag orders to prevent exposure of corruption. The Law Ministry is working overtime to dilute RTI. Modiji has not appointed Lok Pal to prevent BJP corruption from being exposed. Now NIMO threatens the existence of NAMO.

Congress launched Indira Awas Yojna much before Modi launched PM Awas Yojna. Modiji talks of digital India. It was Rajeev Gandhi who brought in Sam Pitroda and launched the IT revolution and broad band communication network which we take for granted today. It was Manmohan Singh who launched the economic liberalization.

Amul was the start of large scale milk and milk product production that pushed India to be world’s second largest milk producer. It was launched during Congress rule in Gujarat. BJP has stopped sale of unproductive cows. This will damage the dairy industry.

GST was conceived by Congress but launched by Mr. Modi. Aadhar was launched by Congress and usurped by BJP. India’s longest road bridge and longest tunnel were started by Congress but inaugurated by Mr. Modi. Narmada Sagar Dam was started by Congress and credit usurped by Modiji.

How many young men and women know about Congress’s contribution to India’s development? Congress does not know how to project their achievements. Mr. Modi and BJP are experts at taking credits for other’s achievements and make small achievements seem earth shaking.

GDP as Yardstick of Progress

A lot of people measure progress in terms of GDP growth. I find it illogical. In calculation of GDP, producing 25 ltrs of milk costing Rs 40 per ltr is equal to consuming one bottle of whiskey costing Rs 1000. How can the two be equal? This method has been adopted by economists of the Western Economies to maximise the contribution of Capital and technology over which the Western Powers and their multinational companies have a strangle hold. The GDP method encourages conspicuous consumption and seeks to maximise corporate profit. It also makes developing countries borrow from IMF and lose economic sovereignty. Measurement of progress by measuring human development index will focus our progress to employment, food security, healthcare, education and preserving the environment.

Conclusion

Has India progressed? It is for my learned readers to decide. My grand children cannot even imagine what India was in the 1950s or 1960s. I wish they are keen to know the truth. Unfortunately, not many young people have time or desire to know to know the true story of India’s partition and progress.

Our leaders are humans. They make mistakes. Hitler attacked Soviet Union and led Germany to defeat. Japan attacked Pearl Harbour, forced the US to join World War II and surrendered after Hirosima and Nagasaki. President Kennedy got US into Vietnam and President Bush into Iraq and Afghanistan with disastrous consequences for the US. The list is endless.

Political corruption is universal and not a special trait of the Congress. President Lula of Brazil is in jail. President Zuma of South Africa and Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Nawaz Shareif have been forced to resign and could end up in jail. Ex President Clinton gets $750,000 and PM Blair a smaller sum for a lecture which is a cover for lobbying. The list is endless. NIMO is the first major scam to come to light during BJP Raj. We have to wait till BJP is out of power to know about corruption among their ranks. So please be fair in your judgement.

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.