Friday, February 13, 2015

The Kashmir Problem for India can be Traced to JL Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru was India's first Prime Minister. He was the chosen heir, as Gandhi chose him over Patel and other stalwarts. For Gandhi he was more than a son, as records show that Gandhi neglected his own children as he lavished love and affection on Nehru. But this choice of Gandhi was to have far reaching repercussions as the chosen son was inapt with little knowledge of power politics.  He also was schooled in the old mould of a socialist and knew little of market economics. He also was unable to gauge the fissiparous trends and undercurrents of language and caste in India.  
In defence of Nehru it can be said that he was an idealist and as such a man with a superior intellect, but such men do not make good leaders. Nehru was also dictated by his personal whims and fancies and one of them was his domination by the women he loved. This is a very harsh remark but his entire Kashmir policy was perhaps hatched in the bedroom of Lord Mountbatten, the Governor General of India at that time.
The Kashmir Problem
Nehru left 2 intractable political problems that bedevil the India state now, namely the problem of Kashmir and the border dispute with China. In both these Nehru from a superior position squandered the advantage and allowed the problem to be created.
Taking Kashmir, he delayed the Indian intervention there after many weeks till the Maharajah had signed the instrument of accession. The situation at that time was so bad that it was not clear, whether Srinagar airfield had fallen to the Pakistani assisted invaders or not, when the first platoon of troops were airlifted by a DC3 to Srinagar. All this took place on the advice of the Governor General.
Blunders on Kashmir
He continued his blunders and allowed the issue to be internationalized by taking the case to the UNO and Security Council at a time when the Indian army was well on way to liberate the entire state. It stunned all, when he agreed to a cease fire when the tide was in favor of the Indian army. In addition he made a promise of a plebiscite in Kashmir that is now like an anchor around the neck of the present leadership. Again Nehru accepted the advice of Lord Mountbatten, whose wife had a soft corner for Nehru and could influence him.
Other Bloomers
Nehru thus left a perpetual problem, that cannot be solved for a century or even more as Pakistan is hell bent on revenge for creation of Bangladesh and the Muslim Valley is not integrated with the rest of the country. This business of integration rests on 2 important concessions by Nehru to the Muslims. He amended the constitution by incorporating article 370. This gave special rights to the Kashmir people and forbade integration by debarring Indian from other parts of the country to buy land or property in the valley. He also accepted Muslim Personal law as   sacrosanct and allowed obnoxious customs like triple divorce and multiple marriages to flourish. In contrast he amended Hindu personal law and brought it in line with modern thought of monogamist marriages.
Last Word
Nehru and his apologists can offer no explanation why he carried out these steps that alienated Kashmir from India. Now many conjecture that his relationship with the wife of the Governor General may have had a hand in his decisions. In effect he lost Kashmir to India.