I have often wondered if there is a way to confirm whether or not someone was (is) genuinely good for India, or just inconsequential window dressing, or positively harmful. I have a tentative test. The test has to be tested. Exceptions prove the rule, they say. That is, exceptions test the test. So I am looking not just for instances that confirm the hypothesis but also those exceptions that test the soundness of the hypothesis. But first the hypothesis or what can be termed as a wild paranoid conjecture.
Hypothesis: Someone who is genuinely good for India will not be endorsed by those foreign nations and institutions whose interests are at least to some degree at odds with Indian interests.
Conversely, one should be very wary of someone whom foreigners, whose interests are to some degree at odd with India’s interests, praise.
As a test case I will try out Mohandas K Gandhi. I strongly dislike the man. There’s something about him that I cannot quite stomach. I know it puts me in the minority. The man is held up as a demigod, a superhuman, a genuinely great soul, a man of principles, a man who could not do any wrong, a man who everyone should emulate as much as humanly possible. But I think that all things considered he was not good for India.
I also believe that eventually history will judge him more accurately than what the current fashion is. But for now the myth is too embedded in the Indian psyche that he was the man who liberated India. That myth was created well before India’s political independence from the British and every effort has been made by the ruling political class to strengthen it ever since. It makes sense to do so because that is what keeps them in power. There is a transference of virtue (mythical though it may be) from Mohandas K Gandhi to the name Gandhi and then to anyone with the last name Gandhi.
Now I will consider how Gandhi is endorsed by other nations and institutions.
The British in the 1940’s clearly found him acceptable. They found Gandhi to be useful. He kept the natives in check and prevented them from harming British interests. When the British needed something done, all they had to do was go persuade Gandhi. For example, the British needed an army to fight their battles. They asked Gandhi and Gandhi told the Indians to fight for the British.
It was routine. The British told Gandhi what they wanted. Then Gandhi would turn around and order the natives. The natives would immediately fall in line. At times, the natives would require a bit more persuasion. Gandhi would threaten them with violence — albeit directed at himself.
He would threaten to kill himself through starvation. It was a cunning device. Blackadder would approve. Gandhi knew that people don’t like violence. He knew that following his self-assassination, there would be violence by some section of the people. He knew that the larger non-violent people would not want that violence. So he used the potential violence reaction of the small violent section of the population to control the much larger non-violent section of the population.
Violence is the ultimate weapon when it is dressed up in the holy vestments of pious non-violence. Gandhi used the weapon effectively in a role that could be described as that of a great general in the British army which kept the natives under control.
The powers decorate great generals who have served the powers’ interest with dedication, efficiency and effectiveness.
I leave it as an exercise for the interested reader to see the evidence of how highly Gandhi is praised by the British today.
Now let me turn to the US. The US is a great democracy and a great nation. All great nations would like to continue to be great. Rational self-interest dictates that great powers don’t want competition from others, regardless of how friendly the competition is. Undoubtedly the US could genuinely want to see an India which is politically stable (so that US firms can do business in India), not desperately poor (so that the US does not have to worry about sending aid — however little — as it has done at times in the past), moderately economically successful (so that it can continue to produce cheap services for Americans to buy and thus afford to buy American stuff ), has a large army (so that it has to buy military hardware from US weapons manufacturers), etc.
That bit is easy to understand and indeed it is rational for the US to want all the above. But it is not in the US’s interest to see that India is really successful in the sense that India becomes a rival to the US in the great big game of military power and the thirst for global resources such as energy. A moderately economically successful India is good for the US; a very economically successful India with over a billion people would not be good for the US with only 300 million people. And the worst thing would be for India to be economically success AND militarily powerful.
So what’s the US to do? Prop up the terrorist state of Pakistan as the dagger in India’s ribs. Keeping the Pakistani dog at bay (pardon the mixing of metaphors) keeps India distracted to fully engage in economic development. Mind you, keeping India poor does not actually need all that much help from the Pakistanis. India’s government is the greatest enemy of India’s economy. But every bit helps and the terrorist state of Pakistan is a “frontline ally” of the US.
Every now and then, the Pakistanis — inside and outside India — kill a hundred or so Indians in jihadi terrorism. (Is the adjective superfluous?) Aside from the loss of lives, the pain and suffering of ordinary people, and the disruption of daily lives, it causes economic harm. A lot of energies are wasted in security and much of that is entirely pointless and stupid. The leaders don’t suffer at all. They just get more security and the ordinary folks pay for it. And since the leaders don’t suffer the bombs or at the polling booth, they are quite happy with the state of affairs. Every time the Islamic terrorists strike, the Blue Turban makes his boiler-plate inane statements and that is that.
Following every act of Islamic terrorism, there is talk that India will not tolerate another strike against India and the next time this happens, India will retaliate against Pakistan. Talk is cheap. The next attack happens, and the same line is trotted out — India will not tolerate another strike against India . . . It is copy-paste talk, just like I copied and pasted that line from the previous sentence.
The US does not want India to act to neutralize or even neuter the Pakistani dog. The Pakistani dog keeps up a steady incessant barking, and then from time to time, encouraged by some internal compulsion, bites India. India wakes up and is about to deliver a kick to the dog when the US turns up and says, “Don’t kick my dog. He’s a good dog. The dog is helping US against the Taliban and Islamic extremists.”
The US’s claim is unbelievable. The US trained the Taliban, it armed the Islamic extremists through the intermediary Pakistan, and helps Al Qaeda leaders to escape before it bombs their mountain hideouts. It is common knowledge that Pakistan is Terror Central and yet the US give billions in military aid to Pakistan.
The gutless, spineless, cojones-less (pardon my Spanish) leadership of India reacts predictably with their cut-and-paste cheap talk. Then the cycle repeats. This time it was Pune. They call it 13/2. As I had predicted, in a few years, all dates of the calendar will be taken: from 1/1 to 31/12. They will have to add the year as well, so that we can distinguish between 13/2/2010 and 13/2/2012. After that we will have to add the city name, so that we can distinguish between 17/4/2015 Pune from 17/4/2015 Bangalore (or whatever Bangalore’s new new name will be by then.)
Damn, I am drifting from my main topic. Back to Gandhi and the US.
The US find Gandhi useful. It uses Gandhi to lecture India.
“How could you India! How could you ever think of arming yourself! India is the land of Gandhi. India must stand for NON-VIOLENCE!!
“What would Gandhi do? WWGD!! Just ask yourself, WWDGD?
“He would listen to what we say: don’t get nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are OK for us to have. But this is what Gandhi would do — he would say it is fine for the US to have nuclear weapons but not for India. Just like Gandhi said that it is fine for others to massacre Hindus but it is not right for Hindus to retaliate. How can you, you Indians, you proud inheritors of Gandhi’s legacy, how could you do this?
“You are betraying Gandhi’s memory. What a wonderful great man he was, what a great man! And look at you guys — you want all those things that Gandhi did not want. You want wealth. Gandhi said you should live in poverty and in poor villages. You want to retaliate against those who kill you. Gandhi said, to show the other cheek. And when you are done with the other cheek, do drop your pants and you have two more cheeks for your enemy. Don’t you know that Gandhi
parroted repeated what Jesus said about loving your enemies?
“Are you going to betray Gandhi and Jeebus by not loving Pakistan? What about the Wagah Candle Vigilantes? Won’t someone please think of the candle makers? Oh the humanity!!”
Now I got a little carried away there. I was enjoying it too much. In any case, do look up how generous and plentiful the praise is that is heaped upon Gandhi by the representatives of the US government. They constantly say that Gandhi is the man and India should follow his principles — the oh-so-marvelous principles of non-violence. But curiously these same representatives of the US government don’t think that they should follow non-violence. For the US, the policy is this:
First we shoot and then we may ask questions. Someone bombed the US. OK, let’s go bomb Afghanistan. And Afghanistan is reduced to rubble, let’s destroy Iraq and hand it over to the mullahs and see that it regresses to 7th century Arabia.
I am not making this up. Read this:
Washington, Oct 16 (IANS) The US Congress has passed a resolution congratulating the visionary leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, which enhanced the rapidly deepening friendship between the United States and India.
Unanimously passed by the US House of Representatives Thursday, the resolution also acknowledges and commends the Indian leader’s “unique and lasting role in the establishment of the state of India and its democratic institutions, which will be revered for generations to come.”
With American lawmakers describing Gandhi as a “man of all times and places”, Democrat member Eni Faleomavaega introduced the resolution recognising the 140th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi.
“While much has been said about the great works of Gandhi’s life, it is important that we never forget that without Gandhi, the fates of what is now the world’s largest democracy, India, and the oldest democracy, the United States, would likely be far different,” he said
“Though his life was cut tragically short by an assassin’s bullet, his legacy is seen in the over 1.5 billion people who inhabit the free and independent countries of the Indian subcontinent and by our own embrace of the principles of non-violent political action, unity and religious tolerance within the United States,” Faleomavaega said.
This post is long enough. So I will cease and desist, as they say. But let me leave you with this thought. Foreigners have different interests — often starkly divergent interests — from us. It is natural and expected. They have a right to their self-interest just as much as we have a right to ours. We have to recognize that fact and make appropriate allowances for it. I would not expect foreigners to accommodate India’s interests at a cost to their own interests. That is why no body likes to be ruled by foreigners. India did get rid of the British. They were foreigners. Their allegiance was to Britain and rightly so.
There are foreigners in India. Just note whom these foreigners choose to praise among Indian leaders. If too much praise is being heaped on some by foreigners, ask yourself if perhaps these leaders are not in some sense promoting the foreigners’ interests at the expense of Indian interests. If some Indian leader is being maligned too much, ask yourself if perhaps this leader is perhaps too much in India’s interests.
This is a wild conjecture. A paranoid wild conjecture. Not all paranoid wild conjectures are wrong, though. This could be correct.