Monday, June 04, 2018

Patel Reversed Junagadh’s Accession To Pakistan And Reintegrated In India

Did you know that Prabhas Patan, where the famous Somnath temple is located would have been in Pakistan had not Sardar Patel acted with dispatch and decisiveness in October-November 1947? Thanks to the history doctored by omission and commission by the left-illiberal historians few people in India today know the story of Junagadh. As everyone knows, the British gave 565 princely states the option to join India or Pakistan in August 1947. Of these two could not have joined India because of their geographical location.

A third, Kalat which constitutes a major part of Balochistan wanted to join India but Nehru’s political myopia prevented that. Jinnah moved swiftly to annex the mineral-rich State. Jammu and Kashmir was not the only state which Pakistan sought to occupy by force. Whereas Pakistan could only partially succeed in its designs on J & K, it fully occupied Kalat. Thus Pakistan which was founded based on religion had a violent streak in its national psyche since its inception although peace lowers on the Indian side delude themselves that the leopard would someday shed its spots.

Some would argue that agreeing to the accession of Kalat to India would have attenuated the arguments for the integration of Hyderabad in India. However, Pakistan advanced the same arguments to annex Junagadh as India could for the accession of Kalat but did not, and did for the accession of Jammu and Kashmir but still lost a third of its territory.     

Of the remaining princely states Sardar Patel seamlessly integrated 560 states into the Indian Union, including a recalcitrant Hyderabad. Nehru who handled Jammu and Kashmir made a dog’s breakfast of it. There was another state, Junagadh which while pretending to join India secretly planned and joined Pakistan on August 15, 1947. Read why its accession would have been disastrous for India and how Sardar Patel reversed its accession to Pakistan and brought it back into India’s fold.

The princely state of Junagadh is at the south-western corner of the Saurashtra peninsula of modern Gujarat. It was an important state of what was known as the Kathiawar group of states in pre-independence India. Junagadh was deep inside and surrounded on three sides by India and on the south and southwest by the Arabian Sea. It has no overland route to Pakistan. The distance between the nearest ports Veraval (Junagadh) and Karachi (Sind, Pakistan) is about 300 miles. Another complicating geographical factor about the state is that throughout its borders either its territories jutted into neighbouring states like fingers or their territories jutted into it. Spread over 3,337 square miles, it had a population of 6.71 lakh according to 1941 census of which 80% were Hindus. Its famous Jain and Hindu temples including the famous Somnath temple attracted pilgrims from all over India.

While giving the impression that the state would accede to India, Junagadh secretly negotiated and on August 15, 1947 declared its accession to Pakistan. This was not acceptable to India for strategic reasons and the possible cascading effect it would have on the delicate negotiations with Hyderabad that were under way. On Pakistan’s right to accept Junagadh’s accession to it, Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan informed Nehru that ‘a ruler had the absolute right to accede without reference to the moral or ethnic aspects of accession’.

In a discussion with Jinnah, Mountbatten read out the full statement of the Pakistan Prime Minister as reported by the Statesman of September 21, 1947:

The correct position is that the Indian Independence Act of 1947 has left all Indian States completely free to join either one Dominion or the other or to enter into treaty relations with either. Legally and constitutionally there can be no question of putting limitations on this right of the States. Muslim League leaders before 15 August and the official spokesman of the Pakistan Government thereafter have publicly declared their agreement with this view; and have since rigorously stood by it. No objection has been raised by Pakistan to any State acceding to the Dominion of India.” (Italics added.) [1]

This was exactly India’s case regarding Jammu and Kashmir then and all along. Jinnah agreed that it was the legal position. Thus there appears to be unanimity on the subject of accession of Princely States in both India and Pakistan. Despite this, Mountbatten suggested that the matter of Junagadh and later, Hyderabad, and Jammu and Kashmir should be referred to the United Nations Organisation. In the case of Junagadh, Sardar Patel vetoed the proposal saying that there was grave danger in being a plaintiff before the UNO. As we will see later, the decision was taken out of Patel’s hands in the case of Jammu and Kashmir with disastrous consequences.

After futile negotiations with the eccentric Nawab of Junagadh and Pakistan, the cabinet decided to move a brigade of the Indian army to the Kathiawar states surrounding Junagadh which have already acceded to India for their protection and to assist their forces. It was designated as the ‘Kathiawar Defence Force’ (KDF).

The landlocked Junagadh state was dependent on the surrounding Kathiawar states for its economy and food grains. But as Junagadh now joined enemy Pakistan, in view of the uncertain political conditions, traders in the adjoining states refused to do business with it, resulting in a virtual economic blockade. There was utter chaos and a hundred thousand Hindus fled from the state. Realising the situation was going out of control, the Nawab took flight to Pakistan taking with him the entire State treasury.

One of the factors that precipitated the crisis was the peculiar situation of two tiny states, the principality of Babariawad and the Sheikdom of Mangrol in relation to Junagadh. In the pre-independence period Junagadh had jurisdiction over Babariawad and a portion of Mangrol. The two tiny states declared independence as soon as the British Paramountcy ended and signed instruments of accession with India. An angered Junagadh sent its troops to occupy Babariawad and Mangrol. India considered this an act of aggression and was forced to move its forces to liberate Babariawad and Mangrol. Mountbatten was informed of the move only after the army was already on the march. It was a move that pre-empted him.

In the meantime, the Kathiawar Congress leaders formed a provisional government (Arzi Hukumat) with Samaldas Gandhi as its President and with its headquarters at Rajkot. After the Nawab’s flight, the forces of Arzi Hukumat began dispersing into various parts of Junagadh. Sir Shah Nawaz, the Dewan of Junagadh opened negotiations with Samaldas Gandhi requesting him to take over the administration and restore law and order in the state. Despite protestations from Pakistan, the state’s request to accede to India was accepted. When Sardar Patel visited Junagadh on November 13 he received a rousing reception. As per earlier promise India conducted a referendum in Junagadh on February 20, 1948. Of the 2,01,457 registered voters 1,90,870 exercised their franchise and all except 91 voted in favour of the state’s accession to India. In a similar referendum conducted in Mangrol and Manavadar, Babariawad, Bantwa and Sardargarh, of the 31, 439 votes cast, only 39 favoured Pakistan. A year later on February 20, 1949 all these states were finally and fully integrated with the Indian Union.

[1] Krishna, Balraj. (2007). India’s Bismarck Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. India Source Books. New Delhi. p. 205.


Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Viagra Is Not Just For Men!

There was a time when the profession of medical representatives (called drug reps in the USA) held an enigmatic charm for those outside looking in. They were considered to be articulate, charming, suave, well-paid and well-informed. As with other (often erroneously) generalized stereotypes, the ‘bohemian’ quality of their lifestyle that was often whispered about was neither more nor less on an average than for any other profession. The opening up of information technology jobs in the middle 1990s, which offered astronomical salaries by the existing standards and international exposure disrupted many existing orders and changed many social paradigms. As the industry attracted articulate and intelligent youngsters, pharma selling jobs lost much of their sheen.    

C. Northcote Parkinson's In-laws and Outlaws (1962) teaches enough tips and tricks to those interested in scaling the corporate ladder, from first entry, right up to the top – without actually working hard. Parkinson warns the reader that his book is not like other self-help books that “urge you to be a little more intelligent; a little more hard working; a little more painstaking.” He wryly observes that if a reader was all that, he would probably not need a book! Jamie Reidy’s Hard Sell: Love & Other Drugs (2005) may be less classy, as it was written by a first-time writer but it teaches enough tips and tricks for drug reps to beat the system, despite the industry’s sophisticated surveillance systems to check on its field sales people.

There were several works on the fascinating profession of pharma sales reps. Sidney Sheldon’s Bloodline (1977) is the story of a giant pharmaceutical company. Sheldon called the company Roffe & Sons, similar to the real life Hoffman-La Roche. The novel has a drug rep character and gives an account of the profession. The plot of Arthur Hailey’s fictional work Strong Medicine (1984) is based on the career of a drug rep who eventually becomes the chairperson of her company. Robin Cook’s Mindbend (1985) puts in perspective the lengths to which pharma companies go to – literally – “bending doctors’ minds” and the role played by drug reps in the manipulation. Douglas Farrago’s Diary of a Drug Rep (2017) gives an interesting and realistic peep into the seamy side of the enigmatic profession in manipulating the medical profession.

Hard Sell: Love & Other Drugs is however a first person account of a drug rep and reads like memoirs. The book is witty and hilarious, especially the Viagra tales! It lists quite a few maneuvers drug reps have tried and capers they pulled to beat the system. For some Indian medical reps there could be a sense of déjà vu in reading the memoirs. But there are quite a few that they could not even imagine.

Jamie Reidy disproves Pfizer’s assumption that former army men are malleable to organizational discipline, which was why the company recruited its drug reps from the army. After a career in the army, Reidy joined Pfizer's paediatric division as a drug rep and then moved on to the urology division that marketed Viagra the breakthrough drug for erectile dysfunction. Many would be surprised to know that the drug is not just for men! Reidy’s first inhibition when he sought to detail the drug to a lady doctor – as he explained how it worked in women – and how he she reacted makes for hilarious reading.

Reidy was with Pfizer for five years from 1995 to 2000 and then spent another five in Eli Lilly's oncology division. Eli Lilly sacked him after he published Hard Sell: Love & Other Drugs in 2005. Naturally! What he revealed was enough for pharma companies to see the need to scrutinize the work of their drug reps and probably sack half of them! He explained how he did his ‘best’ to beat the system: from bulging expense accounts to buy dinners for self and friends to scooting work and filing false reports. In any case, Reidy must have found that cancer was more macabre and less interesting than erectile dysfunction.

The book has been adapted into a major motion picture starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway. The success of the book and the motion picture set Reidy on a new course, as a writer.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


About 380 of the best and brightest minds assembled for nearly 3 years to discuss, debate and arrive at a consensus to draft for 'India that is Bharat' the longest written constitution in the world.

The draft was approved by the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949 and it was officially adopted on January 26, 1950.

However every time the rulers found a part of it inconvenient, they went about amending it with gay abandon.

The first amendment was enacted on June 18, 1951 that is within 18 months of adoption of the original document.

The modus for carrying out a Constitutional amendment was introduction of the amendment bill; first reading, second reading and third reading after which each clause was discussed, debated and voted. At least three fourths of the members of the house were to be present and two thirds of them should vote for it.

Fortunately for the first amendment, there was only one house then (the Constituent Assembly), as otherwise the process would have had to be repeated in the second house.

It was then sent to the states for approval by at least 50% of the them and Presidential approval.

Taking into consideration the entire process, the first amendment must have been introduced at least three to six months before its enactment in June 1951. This means it was introduced just twelve months after the adoption of the Constitution drafted by the best and brightest minds in the country.

What was the first amendment which was piloted by Jawaharlal Nehru himself? It was to place ‘reasonable’ restrictions on the freedom of speech. Thus was born Art. 19 (2).

It was all the precedence needed. After that, every time a Congress government felt inconvenienced by a provision in the Constitution or a court order, it went ahead and amended the Constitution.

In the last 70 years more than a 120 amendment bills were introduced and about 100 of them were actually enacted, most of them by the Congress governments. So what if Anantkumar Hegde proposed or envisaged some changes.

The Constitution is not etched in stone. It is a dynamic document (like the Manu Smriti) and can be changed or amended according to the needs of the time.


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Why did the original Constitution exclude the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ in the preamble?

The Constituent Assembly debated at length on the inclusion of the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ in the preamble. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, the Chairman of the Drafting Committee explained why it would not be in the interest of democracy to tie the nation for eternity to concepts which seemed attractive at the time.

The Indian Constituent Assembly comprising 389 of the best and brightest minds worked for three years to produce the longest written Constitution in the world. The wise men of the Constituent Assembly debated the inclusion of the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ at length and decided to leave them out of the Preamble. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, the Chairman of the Drafting Committee opined that inclusion of these terms in the Preamble would limit the scope of democracy.

Ambedkar felt that the democratic system of governance with its stress on equality for all citizens would ipso facto ensure equal religious rights. He was of the opinion that the inclusion of the word ‘socialist’ would deprive the people of a possibly better system of governance than socialism at a future time. Here was what he had said:

“What should be the policy of the State, how the Society should be organised in its social and economic side are matters which must be decided by the people themselves according to time and circumstances. It cannot be laid down in the Constitution itself, because that is destroying democracy altogether. If you state in the Constitution that the social organisation of the State shall take a particular form, you are, in my judgement, taking away the liberty of the people to decide what should be the social organisation in which they wish to live. It is perfectly possible today, for the majority people to hold that the socialist organisation of society is better than the capitalist organisation of society. But it would be perfectly possible for thinking people to devise some other form of social organisation which might be better than the socialist organisation of today or of tomorrow. I do not see therefore why the Constitution should tie down the people to live in a particular form and not leave it to the people themselves to decide it for themselves.”(Italics added.) *

It appears Ambedkar was prescient about the possibility of leaders or political parties using Constitution-tinkering as a political tool to usurp power. Here was what he had said in his speech:

“In the first place, the Constitution, as I stated in my opening speech in support of the motion I made before the House, is merely a mechanism for the purpose of regulating the work of the various organs of the State. It is not a mechanism whereby particular members or particular parties are installed in office.” (Ibid. Italics added.)

The Constituent Assembly thereafter rejected a motion to include the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ in the Preamble. However, Ambedkar’s prediction about political leaders using amendments to the Constitution as political tools did not have long to wait. In less than eighteen months after the Constitution was adopted on November 26 1949, Jawaharlal Nehru enacted the first amendment inserting Article 19 (2) to curtail the fundamental right of freedom of speech. There were other amendments but it was his daughter Indira Gandhi, who made wholesale changes to the Constitution during the 1975-77 Emergency, she imposed on the nation. Her 42nd amendment act included the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ in the Preamble. Enacted in 1976, the one amendment rewrote more than 50 articles and Schedules! With the entire opposition in jail, she did not have to bother with the nuisance of debate and discussion of the clauses.

Thus, there are three different meanings to the word ‘secular’. The first was the original European connotation in which it meant separation the Church and the State. Then there is the connotation as envisaged by the Constituent Assembly and as defined by Ambedkar, which meant equality of all religions. The third connotation is the political tool, which the Congress party and more specifically Indira Gandhi and her successors put to good use for garnering minority votes. In essence, the use of secularism as a political tool involves appeasing minority vote banks to queer electoral arithmetic for electoral gains. It has different connotations in different political contexts. It has one meaning in Hindu majority states and quite a different meaning in other states where Hindus are in a minority. By the by Indira Gandhi’s famous Constitutional amendment which inserted the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ in the preamble is yet to be applied in Jammu and Kashmir. The Hindu religious bodies alone are state controlled and their incomes appropriated by state governments. The Right to Education Act (RTE) 2009 enjoins public and private educational institutions to provide free education to students to the extent of 25% of their strength. However, the RTE act is not applicable to educational institutions run by minorities.


* Debate on November 15, 1948: “Constituent Assembly Of India - Volume VII”. Accessible from

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Diwali Ban: SC, A Willy-Nilly Victim Of “Secular” Anti-Hindu Machinations?

The Hindus of Delhi will not celebrate Diwali this year, at least not with the usual fervour associated with the festival of lights and crackers, thanks to an ill-conceived judgement by the Supreme Court. 

The ban was ordered on November 11, 2016 in response to a petition filed by three children stating that bursting of crackers on a single night – that is on the Diwali night – increased the suspended particulate matter in the air threefold and that “residents and children [were] feeling breathless and vulnerable to asthmatic attacks” in the air following the bursting of crackers on Diwali. Obviously agreeing with the petitioners, the Supreme Court “observed that the direct and immediate cause of the spike in air pollution during this time is because of burning ofcrackers for Deepavali.

In trying to understand the Hon’ble Court’s judgement it is necessary to understand

1.  Whether there is a causal relationship between bursting of crackers on a single night – that is on the Diwali night – and increase in particulate matter in the air

2. Whether there is a causal relationship between increase in particulate matter in the air and respiratory diseases as is being made out to be

In order to answer our first question, let us turn to Inside Story -China's pollution dilemma originally published on the Al Jazeera website on December 23, 2015. It features a panel discussion on the problem of air pollution in China. A report by Adrian Brown preceded the panel discussion moderated by Kamahl Santamaria. The panelists were Einar Tangen, (Political and economic affairs analyst advising the Chinese government), Steve Tsang (Senior fellow at the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham, UK) and Tamara Savelyeva (Professor at the Hong Kong Institute of Education). 

Here is the gist of the panel discussion:

Air pollution contributes to 17% of all deaths in China; 90% of cities failed to meet national air quality standards. Air pollution accounted for 1.6 million deaths in a single year. This means 4400 people die every day. The levels of air pollution are seven times the maximum exposure recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The government is forced to close schools, colleges and factories in order to protect people from pollution on the days on which there is a “spike in the particulate matter in the air”.

In the words of Einar Tangen, “China polluted its way to success!” The major contributing factors of the air pollution were the coal and steel industries. Attempts to transit from coal as the energy producer have been on but it is a difficult trade off in view of the highly labour-intensive nature of the industry. The economic costs of air pollution are already telling on the economy. The nation can be said to have reached its threshold limit.

[By the by the YouTube video is worth watching to understand how panel discussions are conducted on international television. There is no screaming; no talking over each other and the presenter let everyone talk!]

By no stretch of imagination could one ascribe the problem of air pollution in China to firecrackers or Diwali. The problem therefore should lie elsewhere. Here is a snapshot of a news report published in 2015 in Mail Today, according to which there are 110,000 smoke emitting cottage industries in Delhi. 

What causes pollution then? An IIT study report of 2013-14 published in Bloomberg identified industry, vehicular pollution, power plants and cottage industries as the main pollutants.

Now to the second question: several medical experts have appeared in television debates (as they did last year too), to testify that increased air pollution due to bursting of crackers on the one night of Diwali indeed causes respiratory diseases. As experts they are entitled to individual opinions on the subject. As experts in a scientific discipline, they would also agree that voicing opinions in public fora without adequate studies is not exactly a scientific way of voicing opinions. For here is an excerpt from a scientific study on the subject which appeared in Lung India a specialist magazine on the subject of lung diseases (with a formidable line-up of editors) intended not for laymen but for medical specialists in the subject:

An extensive Medline search revealed that a strong evidence of the impact of fireworks on respiratory health is lacking in susceptible as well as healthy individuals with no formal studies on COPD or asthma, other than a few case reports in the latter 

Here are a few noteworthy excerpts from the article which definitely warrant serious scrutiny, especially in view of, not conclusive proof but scientificspeculation” about a few hours on one night of fireworks causing serious health problems:

Fireworks and asthma Few investigators have identified the association between asthma and exposure to fireworks.

Fireworks and COPD We could not find any publications identifying an association between COPD and firework exposure.

An association between repeated exposure to firework emissions and respiratory symptoms has not been definitely identified.

One can argue that typical exposure to such pollutants is limited, as assessed by Singh et al., ranging from a few hours to a few days, depending on the duration of the firework festival, thus probably only causing minimal exposure. Also, fireworks are often let off following sunset when most people would go indoors to sleep after seeing the show, hence limiting exposure time to the ambient air pollutants.

There is limited literature describing the physical characteristics of firework particles themselves including size distribution, number concentrations, modal characteristics as well as particle density

Following a thorough review of the literature available, further studies are necessary to consolidate current evidence and speculation. (Emphasis added.)

Is everyone, the “children”, the activists and the Supreme Court oblivious of the elephant in the room and barking the wrong tree?

Or is there any other ulterior motive for the “activists” which the Hon’ble Supreme Court, to give it the benefit of doubt, did not sense? 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Which is the most shameful incident in Indian political history?

The most shameful chapter in the history of independent India was the genocide of Kashmiri Pandits. Although it has been going on for decades, the events that were triggered on January 19, 1990 led to the mass exodus of nearly half-a-million Kashmiri Hindus. Only a few other events in world history compare in scale and magnitude to the tragedy that befell the unfortunate Pandits. They were warned through posters and loud speakers that they had two choices: either convert to Islam or be prepared to be killed. Their men were brutally tortured and killed and their women were raped and killed. The population of Kashmiri Pandits in Srinagar valley was about 15% when India attained Independence. It came down to a fraction of 1% by 2010. Between 1990 and December 6, 1992, 160 Hindu temples were razed to the ground. The excuse of retaliation for Babri Masjid does not hold good.

Members of an elite community that provided intellectual leadership to the Kashmiri society were suddenly rendered homeless and became refugees in their own country! After the Pandits fled, some 25000 standalone houses belonging to them were burnt down. Others were simply occupied. Some of the Pandits who had the foresight to see what was coming sold away their properties ─ ancestral homes and other precious heirlooms ─ at throw away prices and fled to Jammu and other Indian cities.

What followed (in January 1990) was even worse. The state government led by Farooq Abdullah abdicated its responsibility leaving the victims to the tender mercies of barbaric butchers. Abdullah himself went away to London where he merrily played golf and other ‘adult games’. His behaviour is comparable to that of the Roman emperor, Nero who famously or notoriously ‘fiddled while Rome was burning’!

The central government did nothing to ameliorate the situation; the human rights activists remained uncharacteristically silent; the secular intelligentsia turned a deaf ear and the world ignored the humongous tragedy. The Pandits themselves stoically accepted their fate. There were no protests; no demonstrations; they did not resort to violence or destruction of public property and they did not produce suicide bombers.

They did not have godfathers in the human rights circuits in New York and Washington and the matter was scarcely if ever was raised in the human rights debates in the UNO. Just to give you an idea of how the human rights ‘activists’ treated the issue, the New York based ‘Human Rights Watch’ which produced a 68-page report on the 2002 Gujarat riots (in which 890 Muslims and 294 Hindus were killed) has all of one paragraph comprising about 75 words on the Kashmiri Pandit genocide (which victimized more than half-a-million people), on its website. A famous electronic media journalist, who in her budding years reported from Kashmir, glibly explained that the ethnic strife in Kashmir was the result of ‘social tensions’ between poor working-class Muslims and prosperous, elite Hindus. A clip of her reportage has been doing the rounds on social media for quite some time now.

All that the governments would do was putting up the Pandits in camps outside Jammu and Delhi. Just imagine three generations of a family living in a (eight feet by eight feet) room made up of canvas walls and partitioned by bedsheets! Life in the camps was harsh. They had to live in unfamiliar surroundings in subhuman conditions. There is already an underlay of fear, of persecution, torture, violent death and an uncertain future. They were not used to the harsh hot climates of Jammu and Delhi. All this led them to suffer from a number of physical and mental disorders from diarrhoea and dysentery to skin rashes and phobias and manias. Menopausal age in women dropped from a national average of 55 years to 35 years. It was reported after a survey that in a ‘relief camp’ comprising 300 families there were more than 200 deaths in the five years between 2001 and 2005 while there were only 5 births. How can genocide get worse?

There is a most poignant postscript to the (unending) saga of the misery of the Kashmiri Pandits. It was the death in 2013, of an inmate of a relief camp in Jammu due to starvation. Because the authorities did not provide rations to the camp in time. An incident for which every civilized Indian should hang his head in shame!

This is the reply posted to a question on Quora