Saturday, October 31, 2009

Some Questions Are Best Buried in the modern India

Prof. Arvind Panagariya writes in the TOI:

  • Singh has done a great service by sensitising us to the importance of a better understanding of India's immediate pre-independence history………
  • …………..the progressively inflexible position of Jinnah, the only way the Congress could have preserved a united India was by accepting his demands in entirety. But in view of his long struggle for independence that included many years spent in jail, his national integration aspirations, and the dream to build a modern democratic India, Nehru could hardly be expected to make such a sacrifice and that too in favour of someone who had not spent a day in jail, was solely focused on the preservation of the interests of a single community, and had little inclination to work cooperatively with the Congress to build a modern India. The experience with the 1946 interim government, administered jointly by the Congress and the Muslim League, confirmed the unworkable nature of their relationship. There came to exist a virtual vertical wall between the departments held by the Congress and the Muslim League from the minister at the top right down to the orderly at the bottom.
  • Prior to the arrival of Lord Mountbatten, the Cabinet Mission of May 1945 represented the only serious attempt by the British towards independence. To woo Jinnah, the Mission proposed an all-India federation with a three-tier governance structure with a weak Centre at the top, weak provinces at the bottom, and strong groupings of provinces in the middle. Three groupings were proposed: Group A with three contiguous Muslim majority provinces, Group B containing six Hindu majority provinces and Group C clubbing the vast Muslim majority Bengal with a much smaller Hindu majority Assam. Each group was to write its own separate constitution with the Centre's jurisdiction limited to defence, foreign affairs and communications. Predictably, the Congress refused to embrace the groupings idea.


  1. I am shocked by poor quality of scholarship of Columbian Professor of Indian Political Economy which he appears to have received under the charity program.
    Panagaria's claim that Jawaharlal Nehru had not spent a day in jail not only shows his ignorance about the historical facts but it also displays his utter nonsense. Nehru spent 350 days in jail in 1934 and he was first arrested in 1921. In 1942 he alos played big role in quit India movement too. Although his contribution to freedom movement may not be comparable with Jinnah, a great secularist and aristocrat but Nehru's (also came from aristocrat family) valuable contribution to Indian freedom movement should not be undermined. Unlike Jinnah, Nehru never returned to England to start his Law practice and then hobnobbed with Winston Churchill & returned to India to support the Separatist Muslim League.

    Nehru was more popular as Chacha Nehru than Jinnah. This is secondary school history in Indian schools I wonder how Panagaria keep getting good grades either by shining the shoes or real merit?

    Besides Nehru, his wife Kamala Nehru was also sent to jail although she was very ill with leprosy. Nehru was allowed to leave jail for 11 days to be on her bedside when she was critically ill. There was rumor that British would let him out, if he had not returned to politics. When Kamala Nehru came know this she conveyed Nehru not to consider the idea at all.

    Panagaria must get grip on the facts before making fool of yourself.

  2. I discovered a factual error in my above comment on Panagaria's view of Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru's wife Kamala Nehru had a severe attack of Pleurisy and not leprosy. Further, he had spent 9 years in jail and not just 350 days. I quote from an article:

    "In the year 1920, Gandhi refashioned the Congress party from an elite organization into an effective political instrument with widespread grassroots and Nehru supported the reforms. Nehru was arrested by the British and imprisoned for the first time in 1921".

    "Over the next 24 years, Nehru spent more than nine years in jail, with the longest of his nine detentions lasting for three years. Nehru occupied much of his prison time with writing. His major works include Glimpses of World History (1934), his Autobiography (1936) and The Discovery of India (1946). Nehru became the General Secretary of the Congress party for a period of two years from 1923-25".

    It appears Panagaria has not read much about India's Freedom Movement let alone doing any serious electronic search on Nehru. In fact, had he read even his father's work on history of freedom movement in Rajasthan in Hindi perhaps he would not have made such blunders. What a shame?