Showing posts with label Jawaharlal Nehru. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jawaharlal Nehru. Show all posts

Thursday, June 15, 2023

The Formation of India’s First Government

The Formation of India's First Government
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it [the battle ground], far above our poor power to add or detract. … It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us … that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” — Abraham Lincoln, “The Gettysburg Address”, November 19,1863.

For the masses of India, it was a long-awaited culmination for a hundred-year struggle. It should have been a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” that should have been formed. Instead, what was formed was a government of compromise or a series of compromises for power. As Munshi (1967:48) noted “In 1946-47, the Interim Government, formed at the Centre, of Congress and League representatives, was a ghastly failure.” He adds “[L]ooking back over the years … if the decision had been otherwise, the whole country would have been at the mercy of the Muslim League.” The bloodbath unleashed by the League on the ‘Direct Action Day’ on August 16, 1946, bear testimony to this.  

According to some analysts the INA trials of (Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army) which were held between November 1945 and May 1946 and the [Royal] Indian Naval Mutiny between February 18 and 25 1946 convinced the British that they could no longer hold on to power in India. The British ‘Cabinet Mission’ plan of June 1946 set a target date of June 1948 for what it called the ‘transfer of power’ to the Indian leadership. Appointed to execute the ‘plan’, Lord Mountbatten, however advanced the date to August 1947. His unseemly haste to score a personal achievement led to disastrous consequences, with about two million lives lost.  

As a first step for the ‘transfer’, the British formed an ‘Interim Government’, which was in fact, inclusion of a Cabinet of Indian leaders in the Viceroy’s Executive Council. A group of ministers headed by Jawaharlal Nehru [as Vice President of the Executive Council] was sworn in on September 2, 1946. Jawaharlal Nehru became the Vice President by virtue of his being the President of the Congress party. 

The ‘Constituent Assembly’ too was a British creation following the implementation of the ‘Cabinet Mission Plan’. However, the body was not constituted on the principle of universal adult franchise but indirectly elected from the provincial assemblies. Could a body constituted by the imperial power (which therefore it had the right to abolish it) has the moral authority to draft a ‘Constitution’ for governance of the liberated nation? Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (the Chairman of the Drafting Committee) acknowledged the moral dilemma and the weakness inherent in the Constituent Assembly to write the Constitution. (Deb, 1949: 1644-67)

Indian Constituent Assembly

Turning back to the formation of the ‘Interim Government’, by June 1946, when the ‘Cabinet Mission Plan’ was announced, it was clear that the president of the ‘Indian National Congress’ would be anointed the head of the government. Abul Kalam Azad who was the Congress president did not seek re-election (as he originally intended) but stood down in favour of Jawaharlal Nehru. (Azad, 1960:167). There were two contenders, one was Vallabhbhai Patel and the other J. B. Kriplani, who later became president in the same year. M. K. Gandhi made it clear that the president should be elected unanimously and favoured Jawaharlal Nehru. As he did on several earlier occasions (twice when Subhas Chandra Bose and once when Vallabhbhai Patel were the favoured candidates), he contrived to nullify the election and have ‘his man’ elected! Having headed the ‘Interim Government’, since September 1946, it was but natural for Jawaharlal Nehru to be ‘anointed’ the first prime minister of independent India in August 1947. He thus continued to be the unelected prime minister for another five years till the first general elections were held in 1952.

In the interim, between 1946 and 1952, the unelected ‘Constituent Assembly’ functioned as the parliament and carried out amendments to a ‘Constitution’ it wrote! The Constituent Assembly submitted the Constitution to the president on November 26, 1949 which was adopted on January 26, 1950. The first amendment was enacted on June 18, 1951, i.e., within eighteen months of its adoption! Curiously the very first amendment of the nascent democracy aimed at curbing freedom of speech and stalling judicial scrutiny of legislations.


Azad, Abul Kalam. (1960). “India Wins Freedom”. Longmans, Green & Co. London.

"Constituent Assembly Debates". Vol. IX, 17 September 1949.

Munshi, K. M., (1967). “Pilgrimage to Freedom”. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Bombay.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Story Of The Liberation Of Hyderabad

On this day in 1948, Hyderabad was liberated and integrated with the Indian Union. Here is a brief account of the liberation excerpted from ‘Twisting Facts To Suit Theories’ And Other Selections From Voxindica (2016. Authors Press. New Delhi), pp. 309–318    

The erstwhile Hyderabad state is in the heart of India bridging the north and the south. Surrounded as it was on all sides by Indian territory, it was a landlocked state with no access to the sea. What were then known as the Central Provinces lay to its north, Bombay to the west and the Madras Presidency to the south and east. It was predominantly a Hindu state with Hindus comprising 85% of the population. However, under the Nizam’s rule the bulk of civil service, police and armed forces were almost monopolized by Muslims. In the 132-member state legislative assembly constituted in 1946, the Muslims had ten more seats than the Hindus, to ensure the Muslims a majority and ipso facto a veto power over all matters.

Rejecting the June 1947 British partition plan, the Nizam demanded the status of an independent domain and membership of the British Commonwealth. He did not send any representatives to the Constituent Assembly. We are unable to ascertain whether the Nizam was able to gauze the mood of the people aright, with winds of independence and democracy sweeping across the landscape. But he was constrained by two factors. One was that the bulk of his administration (civil, military and police) were made up of Muslims who feared they might lose their elite position in a democratic set up. The second was Kasim Razvi’s Muslim communal organization, the Ittehadul-Muslimeen (MIM): 

“The Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen was a Muslim communal organization. Its leader was one Kasim Razvi who combined fanaticism with charlatanry. He had organized a shock brigade called the Razakars. The organization aimed at creating a theocratic and totalitarian State. Militarist demonstrations were part of their routine.”12 

The accession and integration of Hyderabad was complicated by another factor, which the Nizam and his advisers exploited to almost scuttle the process: 

“Sardar and V. P. Menon were dealing with the situation through me [K. M. Munshi, the Agent General of the Government of India in Hyderabad] to secure the accession of the State on the same terms as the accession of other States. Lord Mountbatten, the Governor General, carried on negotiations with the Nizam’s Prime Minister, Laik Ali, supported by Sir Walter Monckton, and was prepared to concede substantial autonomy to Hyderabad if the Nizam only signed a document to come into the Union. [...] Jawaharlal Nehru was averse to the line followed by Sardar.”13 

The Nizam warned of communal trouble and even bloodshed in Hyderabad, in the event of his state’s accession to the Indian Union. As negotiations between a delegation sent by the Nizam14 and the Indian government were going on, the state was clandestinely preparing to take on the Union. It had placed an order for arms and ammunition worth three million pounds sterling with Czechoslovakia. It had also been in contact with Pakistan for a possible accession. 

Earlier, the Nizam’s British legal adviser Walter Monckton (a friend of Mountbatten, whose services he secured for the Nizam) was in touch with British Conservative party leaders like Samuel Hoare to negotiate separate Commonwealth membership for Hyderabad. This was even before the process of transfer of power by the British and the dissolution of Paramountcy began. Monckton was mediating with the Portuguese for the acquisition of port facilities in Goa and laying a railway line to the port. He advised the Nizam to have an association (which could be annulled at any time) and not accession (which was of a permanent nature) with India. This was probably the reason why the Nizam was willing to arrive at an agreement with the Indian government for his state’s association but would not sign the ‘Instrument of Accession’. He had sent his own draft of the agreement which the government of India was not willing to entertain. 

It was the avowed policy of the government of India that there would be no variation in the terms and conditions offered by it to the princely states. The rulers had to sign the ‘Standstill Agreement’15 and the ‘Instrument of Accession’16 without variation and at the same time. Despite this, as time was running out and to avoid a possible communal conflagration in the state, the Indian government agreed to sign an ‘Agreement’ (it was called ‘Heads of Agreement’) with Hyderabad that combines the gist of the ‘Standstill Agreement’, incorporating in it important matters like ‘defence’ and ‘external affairs’ (from the ‘Instrument of Accession’) along with a collateral letter from the Nizam. The drafts were passed back and forth between Delhi and Hyderabad amended each time to accord additional concessions demanded by the Nizam’s negotiating committee. The Nizam’s Executive Council deliberated on the last draft for three days and decided to accept it. But the Nizam postponed signing it again and again. In hindsight one might wonder whether the Nizam postponed it long enough for the MIM to mobilise enough crowds to blockade the members of the negotiating committee—which was to leave for Delhi to submit the ‘Agreement’ for countersigning and ratification. 

In the early hours of October 27 a mob consisting of twenty five to thirty thousand cadres of the MIM surrounded the residences of Nawab of Chhatari, President of the Executive Council, Nawab Ali Yawar Jung, Sir Walter Monckton, which were all in the same locality. Its objective was to prevent the negotiating committee members to leave for Delhi for concluding the agreement. The Nizam reconvened the Executive Council meeting. It was here his character appeared dubious. While on the one hand condemning MIM for threatening the negotiating committee members and physically blocking their departure to Delhi, he invited MIM leader Kasim Razvi to the meeting! Razvi wanted the Nizam to reject the negotiated agreement and insist on the Indian government signing the original draft provided by the Nizam. He was sure the Indian government would not resort to any precipitate action as its army was tied up in Kashmir. Indian troops were moved to Kashmir to repel the (Pakistani) tribal invasion that began on October 23. 

As negotiations with the Indian government meandered on, Kasim Razvi and his MIM were firming their grip on the Nizam. The Nawab of Chhatari resigned as the President of the Nizam’s Executive Council. At Razvi’s instance the Nizam appointed Mir Laik Ali a prominent businessman and a former representative of Pakistan in the UNO as its President. At the same time the negotiating committee too was reconstituted. While Nawab Moin Nawaz Jung and Pingle Venkatarama Reddy were retained, significantly Abdur Rahim a hard-core, fanatical member of the MIM was included as the third member. The reconstitution of the Executive Council and the negotiating committee with MIM fanatics brought about a dramatic change in the Nizam’s approach to whole issue. In a fresh letter sent to the government of India the Nizam threatened that if negations broke down this time, he would immediately conclude an agreement with Pakistan. The Nizam, it appeared, was all along planning his moves in consultation with Pakistan. 

The Nizam finally signed the two documents, the ‘Standstill Agreement’ (or the renamed ‘Heads of Agreement’) and the collateral letter on November 29, 1947. The ‘Standstill Agreement’ was valid for one year, as agreed upon earlier. Indian leaders in Delhi had divergent views on the agreement. Nehru thought that at last peace was bought in the south. Mountbatten thought that he bought time to soften the Nizam and would be able to persuade him to sign the ‘Instrument of Accession’ eventually. Sardar with his uncanny vision was doubtful. He was right. Declassified secret documents relating to the liberation of Hyderabad bear this out. The Nizam had said that the signing of the agreement was just to ‘mark time.’ He was prepared to have a European Prime Minister, if it would help him avoid accession to India and get him membership of the Commonwealth. Intelligence reports of the time confirm secret gun running between Pakistan and India with planes carrying illegal arms landing in Bidar and Warangal.17 

The administration in Hyderabad was waiting for the Indian army to be withdrawn and recoup its strength. Almost immediately after signing the agreement, which it had no intention of honouring, it started needling the Indian government. It issued two ordinances, one for banning export of precious metals from Hyderabad to India and the other rendering Indian currency invalid in Hyderabad. It appointed a Public Relations Officer in Karachi and advanced a loan of 20 Crore to the government of Pakistan without consulting the Indian government. It did its best (or worst) to make the functioning of K. M. Munshi (Government of India’s Agent General in Hyderabad), very difficult. His movements were restricted, so much so, he became a virtual prisoner in his own residence in Hyderabad. 

While the government of India was lulled by a false sense of achievement, the MIM in Hyderabad was up to its treasonable activities. Razvi began inciting Muslims and abusing Hindus in his rabble rousing speeches. The objective of the Razakars was to terrorise the Hindu population. Munshi kept filing reports and the government of India was waiting and watching. Neighbouring states like Bombay and the Madras Presidency were complaining about the attacks on their borders by the Razakars. In one such incident, the Madras-Bombay mail was waylaid in the Gangapur railway station in the Hyderbad state. Hooligans armed with daggers, hockey-sticks and lathis attacked the train from both sides, while policemen on the platform looked on. While the mob attacked the train, armed Razakars stood by on the platform. In the incident two men travelling in the train were killed, eleven seriously injured and thirteen were reported missing. The law and order situation in many parts of the state deteriorated. In Jalna, Aurangabad, Parbhani and Nanded districts looting, arson, murders, rapes and molestation of women were reported, in which surprisingly, police personnel joined the Razakars. In despair, Hindus sought shelter outside the state. J. V. Joshi a member of the Nizam’s Executive Council felt compelled to resign his position. In his resignation, he detailed the deteriorating law and order situation: 

“A complete reign of terror prevails in Parbhani and Nanded districts. I have seen in Loha a scene of devastation which brought tears to my eyes—Brahmins were killed and their eyes were taken out. Women had been raped; houses had been burnt down in large numbers. The most disconcerting news which reached us was that the Razakars had allied themselves with the Communists. In 1943 the Nizam had banned the Communist Party throughout the State. This ban was now lifted. Moreover, we came to know that the Communists were being supplied with arms.18 (Italics added.) 

So much for the nationalism, patriotism and law–abiding nature of the communists! As the Government in Hyderabad continued to violate the ‘Agreement’, Mountbatten and Nehru continued to hope things would sort themselves out on their own. They gave more time and more concessions to appease an administration, which was quite apparently controlled by the MIM. Mountbatten was to retire on June 21 and would leave India for ever. He wanted a prize trophy to take home. Nehru indulged him. Patel willy-nilly went along, probably marking time till his departure. Another—futile—‘Heads of Agreement’ (with obviously more concessions, beyond which, even the pliant Nehru could not stretch) was broached, discussed, debated, and tossed back and forth between Hyderabad and Delhi. 

The view in Hyderabad, no doubt formulated by the MIM, was that no matter what the provocation, the Indian government would not dare send its troops into Hyderabad as it would anger the entire Muslim community in the country. A section of the political establishment in the government in Delhi was apprehensive of possible repercussions and hence wanted to avoid decisive action. In the third week of August, Laik Ali complained to the government of India about ‘flagrant violations’ of the ‘Standstill Agreement’. Even before receiving a reply, the Nizam administration addressed a letter to the president of the UNO. 

In the meantime the law and order situation deteriorated further. After careful consideration of the pros and cons, much against the wishes of Jawaharlal Nehru, the Home Ministry decided to move Indian troops to Hyderabad. The operation to liberate Hyderabad was codenamed ‘Operation Polo’. It was led by Maj. Gen. J. N. Chaudhuri. On September 13, the army marched into Hyderabad along two axes: Sholapur–Hyderabad and Bezawada–Hyderabad. There was some resistance on the first two days but it petered out after that. The Hyderabad army surrendered on September 17. According to Menon, the casualties on the Indian side were few but on the other side: 

“[..] owing to scrappy operations and lack of discipline, the Irregulars and the Razakars suffered comparatively more casualties. The number of dead was a little over 800. It is unfortunate that so many should have died in this action, though the number is insignificant when weighed against the killings, rape and loot inflicted by the Razakars on the Hindus of the State.”19 (Italics added.) 

Menon, as befits a former bureaucrat, gave a staid, straight forward account of the happenings leading to partition and the integration of states, without frills and embellishments. As it was a personal narrative there was perhaps a slight accent on ‘I’ but he steered clear of either eulogizing or criticizing the principal players, including Mountbatten. Therefore, there is no reason to doubt the casualty figures mentioned by him. Why bloated figures of huge numbers of casualties of the Razakars and the Muslims, propagated by Pakistani sources should be accepted in India as eternal truth and etched in popular perception is a mystery. 

Maj. Gen. Chaudhuri was appointed the Lt. Governor of Hyderabad on September 18. On September 23, the Nizam cabled the UNSC, withdrawing his earlier complaint. The integration of the state into the national mainstream took another three years. There is a footnote to the Hyderabad story told by K. M. Munshi: 

“If Jawaharlal had his way, Nizam’s Hyderabad would have remained unintegrated and would have become a second Pakistan in the ‘belly’ of India, an intensely hostile State separating the North and the South—although after the success of the police action Jawaharlal Nehru was the first to go to Hyderabad to receive an ovation as the liberator of Hyderabad. [...] As the Hyderabad situation was inexorably moving towards a climax, due to the intransigence of the Nizam and his advisers, Sardar considered it advisable to let the Nizam’s Government know clearly that the patience of the Government of India was fast getting exhausted. Accordingly a communication to that effect was sent from the States Ministry by V. P. Menon. [...] When Jawaharlal Nehru came to hear of this, he was extremely upset. A day before our army was scheduled to march into Hyderabad he called a special meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet [...] flew into a rage and upbraided Sardar [...] He concluded his outburst with the remark that in future he would himself attend to all matters relating to Hyderabad. [...] The meeting [however] dispersed without transacting any business.”20 


N. B.: End note numbers are as in original. 

12 Menon, V. P. (1955). “The Story Of The Integration Of The Indian States”. Longmans Green & Co. London. p. 221. 

13 Munshi, K. M. (1967). “Indian Constitutional Documents: Volume 1. Pilgrimage to Freedom” Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. p. 169. 

14 Nawab of Chhatari, President of the Executive Council, Nawab Ali Yawar Jung, Sir Walter Monckton, K.C., Abdur Rahim and Pingle Venkatarama Reddy. 

15 It is an agreement that assures continuance of any ‘existing agreements and administrative arrangements in the matters of common concern’ existing between the Indian state and the British government. It specifies eighteen administrative areas in the Schedule attached to the agreement. It also signifies the end of Paramountcy of the British government. 

16 It is an agreement signed by the ruler of the princely state and the dominion of India subjecting the princely state to the Government of India Act 1935. The Instrument of Accession binds the state to the jurisdiction of the Union government for making laws in the areas of Defence, External Affairs, Communications and some ancillary matters. 

17 Joseph, Josy. (2013). “Gandhi is an old fool and his character is doubtful, Nizam said”. The Times of India. August 1, 2013. See 

18 Menon, 1955. Cited supra. p. 252-253. 

19 Menon, 1955. Cited supra. p. 256. 

20 Munshi, 1967. Cited supra. p. 170

Friday, December 14, 2018

Undermining Democratic Institutions: Fact And Fiction

Ever since Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014, the charge of “undermining institutions” has been a constant refrain in what is popularly but not factually known as the mainstream media. He has been accused of “undermining” every known institution from the Indian Council of Historical Research to the Reserve Bank of India. The raucous babble reached its crescendo after Urjit Patel (a Modi appointee) announced his resignation for personal reasons as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. The crescendo reached even a higher pitch after Shaktikanta Das a former IAS official was appointed as RBI Governor to replace Patel. Notwithstanding the fact that he served as the Revenue Secretary, the Economic Affairs Secretary and as a member of the Fifteenth Finance Commission, it was his educational qualifications that became the bone of contention.

It must be remembered that when Modi assumed charge as prime minister he left most of the ‘steel frame’ that he inherited in place except for a few minor changes. It is against this backdrop, it may be instructive to look back and review who “undermined institutions” the most. Jawaharlal Nehru ruled for nearly eighteen years since he became the interim prime minster in 1946 till his death in 1964. His daughter Indira ruled the nation for sixteen years, from 1966 to 1977 and from 1980 till her death in 1984. Her son Rajiv ruled the nation between 1984 and 1989. His wife Sonia ruled by proxy between 2004 and 2014. Political chicanery of that magnitude – which amounts to nothing less than undermining the highest political office in the land – would not have been possible in any other democracy in the world.

Deception, Disinformation and Psychological Operations have been originally employed by intelligence agencies but politicians caught on to them fast. The Congress party has for long invested in an ecosystem of academic institutions and the media. They come in handy to discredit and disarm political rivals by deception, disinformation and psychological operations. Coming back to the issue of “undermining institutions”, here is a non-exhaustive list of examples of how institutions were undermined or worse sabotaged to suit political whims and fancies under various Congress leaders.

Jawaharlal Nehru

Let us begin with the reign of Jawaharlal Nehru who has been hailed as an epitome of democratic values.

Curtailing freedom of expression India’s best and brightest minds toiled for about three years to craft the longest written Constitution of the world. It was adopted on January 26, 1950. Even before the ink on the original Constitution dried, Nehru proposed the first amendment. The Americans amended their Constitution about thirty times in two hundred and forty years while we enacted a hundred and one amendments in seventy years. Whereas the American first amendment strengthened freedom of expression, Nehru’s first amendment, enacted on June 18, 1951 curtailed freedom of expression.

Curtailing powers of the judiciary The Indian first amendment did more. It created the Ninth Schedule which barred judicial scrutiny of legislations included in it.

Downgrading the Finance Ministry Enamoured as he was of the Soviet system of governance, he created the Planning Commission an extra-Constitutional body, which in a way reduced the importance of the Finance Ministry.

Dismissing state governments When Nehru used the Art. 356 of the Indian Constitution to dismiss the Kerala state government in 1959, he set a dubious precedent.

Undermining the Cabinet and Parliament Nehru took many decisions which have had long-lasting adverse effects without consulting the parliament or his own cabinet, thus undermining the institutions. The decisions include

Calling a ceasefire in Jammu & Kashmir in October 1947 when the Indian army was winning the war. The effect of this ill-advised decision was to lose a third of the state and altering international borders with India’s neighbours. Had India retained PoK, we would have retained Gilgit-Baltistan too. We would have had a border with Afghanistan. His decision to refer the issue to the UNO was equally inexplicable.

Dilly-dallying on Junagadh and Hyderabad against the wishes of the Cabinet. But for Patel’s timely action, these states would now have been part of Pakistan.

Concealing intelligence reports about the construction of a mountain road network in Aksai Chin by the Chinese.

Withdrawing unilaterally the extra-territorial rights in Tibet which India inherited from the British.

Sacrificing Tibet by accepting the Chinese claim that Tibet was a part of it.

[The last two ill-advised decisions removed a buffer state between India and China.]

Refusing to accept United Nations Security Council seat when it was offered on a platter to India but instead demanding that it be granted to China.

Refusing accession of Kalat and Nepal At the time of partition, a few neighbouring States wished to accede to India. These include Nepal and the Kingdom of Kalat which forms a large part of modern Baluchistan. Nehru rejected them. Oman which owned the port of Gwadar on the southwest coast of Baluchistan offered to sell it to India. Again for reasons best known to him Nehru rejected the offer.

The worst undermining of all was refusing to look after the needs of the Indian armed forces in terms of manpower recruitment and training and equipment.

Inducting dynastic succession. Nehru made his sister Vijayalakshmi ambassador to the United Nations and the USSR. His daughter Indira was unofficially Nehru’s personal assistant through his years as the prime minister. This made her privy to government documents despite the Official Secrets Act. Later he made his daughter the president of AICC.

Awarding himself the Bharat Ratna The award is recommended by the prime minister. But Nehru was the first recipient of the award in the year of its institution. Nehru’s apologists argue that Rajendra Prasad did it off his own bat to signal truce between them but nothing prevented Nehru from refusing to accept it. 

Indira Gandhi

Revocation of Privy Purses to the former Maharajas. It was a sovereign guarantee given to them by the Constituent Assembly. Her action amounted to undermining the authority of the parliament.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s she had had several judicial reverses. They include the Bank Nationalization case, the Privy Purses case and the Fundamental Rights case. Unlike her father who simply amended the Constitution in response to adverse judicial verdicts, she went a step ahead and undermined the judiciary itself. Within hours after the verdict in the Fundamental Rights case was delivered in 1973, she superseded several judges and appointed a pliant judge as the CJI.

Refusing to heed the judicial verdict about her parliament seat.

Declaring the (internal) Emergency which undermined democracy itself. Technically the (external) Emergency declared in 1962 after the Chinese invasion was still in force. Neither her father nor she saw it necessary to repeal it! Fundamental rights including the right to life suspended.

Dismissing state governments and Governors at will.

Her refusal to accept a split in the Congress party and her lust for power led to the 1969 Gujarat riots which lasted – six months – and resulted in the death of about 5000 people. The 1983 Nellie massacre in which 3000 Muslims were killed occurred in Indira’s reign. By the by, more than 90% of communal riots in India occurred during the reigns of Jawaharlal, Indira and Rajiv.

Making her son Snjay a supra-Constitutional authority. Chief Ministers danced to his tunes.

Her propping up Bhindranwale to undermine the Akalis and her war on the Golden temple.

Awarding herself the Bharat Ratna This time the fig leaf of Rajendra Prasad was not there.

An action that has long-lasting adverse effects was handing over the universities and other intellectual institutions to the left-illiberal elite as a quid pro quo for political support.

Rajiv Gandhi

His reign began with the Sikh genocide, in which between 8000 and 10000 Sikhs were killed. The genocide was a blot on democracy, and the biggest undermining of the institution of democracy.

Sacking his Finance Minister to alter the import policy (for importing PTA and other chemicals used in the manufacture of polyester fibre). This was to favour Dhirubhai Ambani. The policy declaration was a replica (or was it a template) of the 2G spectrum auction.

His grandfather sought to control freedom of expression through his first amendment. His mother used carrots and sticks to reign in the media. He sought to control the media through an amendment to the Posts and Telegraphs Act, but had to drop it due to widespread criticism.

He sacked his Foreign Secretary, A. P. Venkateswaran in a press conference

Sonia Maino (the de facto PM)

Creation of the institution of ‘UPA Chairperson’. It was an extra-Constitutional authority.

Creation of the extra-Constitutional NAC which was a supra-Cabinet superintending the work of the prime minister’s Cabinet.

Commissioning social “activists” like Teesta Setalvad to draft legislation (the impugned Communal Violence Bill) and school text books.

Now let us see the other argument about an IAS officer being appointed as the Governor of RBI. The following RBI Governors were from the IAS: B. Rama Rau, K. G Ambegaonkar, H. V. R. Iyengar, L. K. Jha, S. Jagannathan, R. N. Malhotra, S. Venkateswaran and Y. V. Reddy.

Finally, let us look at the argument that only economists should head economic institutions. In the years between 1970–1973; 1976–1983; 1985–1987; 1990–1997; 2000–2013 and 2017–2018 Americans won the Nobel Prize for economics. India’s Amartya Sen won it in 1998 giving us bragging rights! While the Americans won the maximum number of economics Nobel prizes or shared them with others, the American economy has had its ups and downs. The American economy saw recession in the years 1969-70; 1973-75; 1980-82; the early 1990s; the early 2000s and the worst in 2007-8. The 2008 collapse wiped out life’s savings of many Americans including Indian expatriates, making millions paupers overnight. So much for economists!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Some Republic Day Thoughts

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.