Monday, June 29, 2015

The Ledo Road to China from Assam: Engineering Feat of the US Army

The Second World War was watershed in world history. The European and Pacific theaters are well known, but there is a forgotten theater often referred to as the CBI (China-Burma –India) theater that is not so well publicized.
The Japanese occupied Manchuria in 1931. Sporadic fighting was replaced by full scale operations in 1937. Chinese ports were blockaded and China needed another source for supplies. This resulted in the Burma Road being built from Kunming, China to a railhead at Lashio, Burma in 1938.
In 1942 the Japanese invaded Burma and occupied it driving the British-Indian forces out of Burma. The result was that the Burma Road was closed. There was an urgent need for a second road to carry supplies to China during the war. This was how the concept of the Ledo road came about. The Ledo road started from Ledo in Assam India and winded from the tea gardens to the jungles and mountains of northern Burma till it joined up with the Burma Road
The Ledo Road was the handiwork of U.S. Army Engineers and Indian labor from Assam.
The road was an engineering marvel and went over some of the toughest mountains and densest jungles existing anywhere. Add the heavy monsoon for 5 months in a year and one can realize that the Ledo road was no ordinary engineering feat.
The man who commanded the building of the road was General Lewis A. Pick (1890-56) He commented that it was the toughest job ever given to U.S. Army Engineers in wartime.
The construction of the road commenced on 16 December 1942 and continued unabated for 3 years. Finally the Ledo road was declared operational on 20 May 1945. Though completed towards the fag end of the war it still transported an estimated 35,000 tons of supplies to China. The road ran 465 miles from Ledo in Assam ( India) to Mongyu, Burma, near Wanting, China.
Military planners did discuss the utility of the road compared to the air lift from Assam to Burma by elements of the USAF. But its importance was strategic and though not built to original specifications like a two lane highway, it yet served a specific purpose. The road as it was built served as a combat highway and gave succor to a pipe line that ran parallel to it.
The Ledo road and its construction is basically an American effort, but it was never given its due share of importance. This was because of the low priority of the CBI Theater. This sector was declared open in March 3, 1942 and is often referred to as the Forgotten Theater of World War II.
Not many know that at the height of the war America had mobilized   12,300,000 Americans for the war effort. Out of this gigantic figure only 250,000 (two percent) were assigned to the CBI theater. Thus it was inevitable that the CBI did not feature in the minds of the American people back home. But  the 12,000 mile supply line was the longest in the war and also having the least priority
US service men though small in numbers did yeoman service in the CBI Theater. The Ledo road is a testimony to their indomitable courage. These men along with Indian and British troops tied up many Japanese divisions. The USAF also carried out a massive airlift ‘over the hump” to China from Assam. The Ledo road was an adjunct to that supply lift. . Ledo was chosen because it was close to the northern terminus of a rail line which had direct CONNECTION to the  ports of Calcutta and Bombay. Construction of the Ledo Road was completed in early 1945.
The American role was to support China by providing war materials. The United States air forces theFlying Tigers fought the Japanese in the air over China and Burma and Army Air Forces flew suppliesOver the Hump from India to China. US Army Engineers built the Ledo Road to open up the land supply route. It was a supreme engineering achievement.
What about the human and material cost? The total Ledo road fatalities were 1133 out of which 261 were from the engineering regiments. The road cost $148,910 million at that time

Red Indian Wars: The Battle of Little Big Horn (1876), Glorious Red Indian Victory

                               The Protagonists General Custer and Sitting Bull

One battle that has caught the fascination of military historians is the battle of Little Bighorn in 1876 between the Red Indians and the US Army. Both forces were led by formidable opponents. The Red Indian by Sitting Bull, a man who had spent his entire life fighting the US army and General Custer a man who had made a name during the civil war and now aspired to be elected as the US President
On 22 June 1876 General Custer assembled his troops and decided to take the battle to Sitting Bull. His intelligence was poor and he was not aware as to the exact strength of Sitting Bull. In addition he decided to attack at once and not await reinforcements under the command of General Alfred Terry. One reason for this was that Custer wanted to corner all the glory as he wanted to stand for the next election to the US President.

The memorial                                      

The Battle
. General Custer split his force into 3 battalions. He handed command of the two battalions to Captain Fredrick Bentsen and Major Marcus Reno respectively, while he took personal command of the third and main battalion. Along with Custer his brother and nephew were also in his battalion.

The Massacre
As per the plan the battalions commanded by Marcus Reno and Fredrick Bentsen   commenced the attack. They swooped down on the supposed area where Sitting Bull was camped. But the attack achieved precious little as Sitting Bull had dispersed his braves. He now counter attacked and the 2 US Army battalions went into retreat, which soon turned into a flight.
This was the cue and Sitting Bull did not pursue the retreating battalions but collected all his braves in a final charge. Sitting Bull had nearly 4000 braves and with these he attacked the main force led by Custer.
The US soldiers and Custer were taken completely by surprise. The Red Indian braves cut a swathe through the battalion in a massive charge. The braves turned back and re-attacked the splintered battalion and it is on record that every US soldier was killed that day. General Custer, his brother and nephew were also killed. It was a total victory for Sitting bull.

Last Word
The victory of Sitting bull established his credentials as a leader of men in war, but a stung US army responded back with vengeance and much later captured Sitting Bull. For that moment however Sitting Bull proved the Red Indians in war were second to none

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Modi, the Government and OROP: Probably a Devious Plan is Afoot

I remember reading exciting tales of the detective Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr. Watson. Sherlock Holmes as we know is a great detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The stock phrase of Sherlock Holmes, when he  latched on to an important lead, he would whisper quietly  "Watson, the game is afoot".

In a similar vein I have a hunch and a nose as well and the fact that Modi has shown his callous nature by ignoring servicemen in the ages of 70-90. sitting in the hot sun and fasting for OROP can lead to only one conclusion that something sinister is being hatched. The game is again afoot. Now more than ever I am clear that Modi is not going to sanction OROP , even if a 100 ex servicemen die fasting,  as he is now swayed by the men around him like Jaitley and Rajnath Singh, not forgetting the civil service. These men have fed something Modi wants to believe that OROP is " complicated' and its effect on the budget will be catastrophic. So the sanction has not come and never will.

What is likely to happen? Modi is a past master at distracting from the core issue and maybe we can have another dose of his " Man ki Baat". The government is likely to procrastinate for another year or so and then hand over this demand to the pay commission. Now the pay commission staffed only by the civil services without a single representative from the military will tow the Modi and government line and come down with a watered down scheme. This is very likely and the question arises that once the government has decided on this course, is there anything that can be done.?

I am afraid the options are limited and as in old days the services will lump it and the Chiefs of staff will stand with the government and not the soldier. I think the time has come for an agitation against the Army Chief,whose dubious role needs to be highlighted.  I use the  word "dubious",for a man sitting  at the helm of a power structure like the army, what does he fear?. He can resign and put pressure on the government. I see no other way, but  in case he wants to just feather his nest and mumble some jargon on nationalism, then god save the country and the army.

I hope ex-servicemen read this post as the intention is to give them mettle and  resolve. I am clear that till the COAS puts his foot down OROP will never come as we all want it and as approved earlier. In addition to an agitation against the COAS, the turncoats sitting in the Government like General VK Singh must be gheraoed.This is  sad, really sad.

The Land of the Tiger in India : Kanha Game Sanctuary

Kanha is the home of the Tiger. Its certainly worth a visit.
The Tiger is a magnificent animal and even when you see it in the zoo it does inspire awe. In India it is the national animal and   the only place in the world where this beast is in relative abundance. So in case you want to see the tiger in its natural habitat you will have to come to India. One of the best places to see the tiger is at the Kanha National park. This park located in the state of Madhya Pradesh, the heart of India is part of the national plan to help save the tiger.
 Visiting Kanha is not difficult. You can get direct flights from Mumbai and New Delhi to Jabalpur, the nearest airport. From Jabalpur the reserve forest of Kanha is about 4/5 hours drive through mountains and thick jungles. The road is fairly good and you traverse and go through the hills and the forests, one will realize the beauty that India offers.
 Kanha caters to the tourist traffic and a number of resortsAND HOTELS are available to stay. You can choose from the three stars White Chalet Resort and the Kumar resort to the budget hotels like Chandan or the medium priced Mogli resort. There are no five star comforts. The tariffs range from about an Rs 1000($20) to Rs 7000 ($ 140) per day. Foreign tourists are charged about 40% extra.
 Kanha can be visited any time of the year, but it is best to visit in the summer months as the grass is less sparse and green and spotting the tiger is easier. Once you check into aHOTEL OR resort you will have to register for a jungle safari. The safari commences in the morning before sun rise and lasts about 4/5 hours. You can opt for an evening or morning safari.
 The jungle at Kanha is the type immortalized by the likes of Jim Corbett the great tiger hunter. The scent, the ambiance, the sound, the greenery of this place is awesome. There are almost 30,000 spotted deer in Kanha National Park.  These can be seen in large numbers and are the natural prey of the tiger. The park spread over 900 square miles makes spotting the tiger elusive. Hence it is recommended that you stay at least 2/3 days to meet the tiger. The tiger which is the habitat of this park is slightly smaller than the more ferocious Bengal Tiger which resides in the Sunder bans in West Bengal.
 All safari’s have guides who know the forest well.  They will guide you through the forest. In case you are lucky you will be able to see the tiger hunting deer and devouring i. It’s a chilling, yet beautiful sight. The tigers at Kanha are perhaps now used to the safari’s and don’t bother much about them. You may even have a tiger crossing in front of your vehicle. It’s  lovely sight and certainly worth a visit

Maharajah Bhupinder Singh of Patiala: Flamboyant Man and Lover

Maharajah Bhupinder Singh was the ruler of the state of Patiala. He ascended the 'gaddi' throne as a minor before being confirmed as ruler in 1907. The Maharajah ruled for 32 years and lived a flamboyant life. That was the age of Nawabs, rajahs and maharajahs who were pampered by the British, as it was proclaimed by Queen Victoria, that Rajahs and Indian Princes would be allowed to continue in power, so long they accepted Britain as the paramount power. this benefited the state of Patiala and the ruling family there.
The Indian rulers were thus a protected species and instead of looking after the development of the state indulged in pursuits of pleasure and many picked up wives and  mistresses at the drop of a hat. The Maharajah Bhupinder Singh of Patiala was one of them. He was extremely fond of cars and young women. In particular  his love for Rolls Royce cars bordered on the extreme.
The Maharajah was a great lover as well. He had 10 official wives and at least 80 concubines and in the process fathered over 100 children. Bhupinder Singh lived a regal life and it is on record that 60% of the state revenue was spent on him,his palaces, cars and women. He also frequently travelled to Europe where he hobnobbed with the leaders  there and also twice met Hitler.
The Maharajah's wives lived in opulence and his jewels were 3 sister princesses from Himachal. He had married all 3 princesses. The Maharajah was a frequent visitor to Simla and there met an English girl. She fell in love with Bhupinder Singh and eloped with him. It was learnt that she may have been daughter or relation of Lord Kitchener the C in C of the Indian army. An incensed Kitchener promptly banned the Maharajah from entering Simla. The Maharajah took this ban in his stride and shifted to Chail, an adjacent hill station with his English love. he developed Chail and also built the highest cricket ground in the world there. His palace is still in existence and is used as a five starHOTEL BY Himachal tourism. the palace is modelled on  an English castle and is a wonder to behold. the master bedroom suite where the Maharajah  took his mistresses and loves,  gives a feeling of nostalgia
images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRnAxKrTluEJPum3gQ0xkmThe Maharajah in his Rolls
Maharajah Bhupinder Singh lived his life to the hilt. He was perhaps the last of the Maharajah's who made  life so colorful to live

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Raj and Sultana Daku

The Raj is a period in Indian history that can never be forgotten. This was a period when the Sahib’s travelled to the remotest corners of India and opened up the country to progress. There was also a class of people who lived their live as they had lived for hundreds of years. For these people the Raj had no meaning as they pursued the vocation which their ancestors had followed.
India at one time was home to thuggery, when thugs roamed central India and looted travelers by killing them. The Raj put down this menace, but another class of men emerged who were Daku’s (dacoits). They were not all evil and had a code of chivalry that is hard to explain now.
One such Daku is the famous Sultana, a Muslim who terrorized the United Provinces (now known as Utter Pradesh) in the twenties of the last century. He operated in the same region that earlier thugs had operated.
 Sultana Daku was a swashbuckling dacoit who rode a horse named Chetek and had a pet dog named Rai 

Bahadur. He was born into the Bhantu clan of criminals. He was ultimately captured by Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Pearce and was sent to the gallows. Working along with Pearce was the Deputy Superintendent of police named Freddie Young. This young man did not want Sultana to be hanged and he visited Sultana in jail many times and also went to Delhi to petition the higher ups to pardon Sultana. But the pardon never came and Young met Sultana before his hanging and asked for his last wish. Sultana requested Young to adopt his 7 year old son and bring him up as a ‘sahib’. Young agreed and later sent the boy to England for studies.  Freddie young’s grave has been located by an enterprising reporter and is at Bhopal. He had retired as Inspector General Prisons at Bhopal.
The descendents of Sultan Daku were settled by Young at Bhopal and still live there at Belawadu near Obeidullahganj.
Sultana was also a great lover of women and his favorite was Phulkanwarn a dancing girl. Sultan lived the life which he knew. He killed and raped women and above all was a pain for the British Indian police. He was a however loved by the people. This is difficult to explain; maybe he articulated feelings of the people against the Raj. When was Sultan Daku hanged? He was sent to the gallows on 7 July 1924 and on that day he had the famous last meeting with Freddie Young. Over the decades the legend of Sultan Daku has taken on a nationalist hue with songs and ballads extolling the man. People sing of how he looted the trains and treasury of the Raj and distributed to the poor. They sing of his loves and his rides on his horse Chetak as he eluded the police. They sing of his sexual prowess and a verse outlines how an English girl fell for Sultana. He has now become a legend and Bollywood has made a number of films on his life. Sultana Daku brought fact and fiction together

Understanding Kaal Bhairov the Fierce Form of Lord Shiva

Hinduism has a pantheon of Gods. One of the more important Gods is Lord Shiva. This God is also referred to as the creator as well as the destroyer. No Hindu ritual is complete without reference to this God. Shiva has a number of forms attributed to him. One of them is Kaal Bhairava. He is the Lord Shiva in a fierce manifestation. Lord Shiva as Kaal Bhairava represents the seamier side of life. As I have already pointed out, Shiva is the creator as well as the destroyer and in the latter form he is Kaal Bhairava. Not many people know that Shiva as Kaal Bhairava is a part of Buddhist religion as well and occupies a place of importance there. Thus a visit to Sri Lanka and Thailand will reveal that the Buddhist temples there have statues of Shiva as Kaal Bhairava ensconed.In Sri Lanka he is referred to as Bahirwaa. The appeal of Shiva as Kaal Bhairava transcends boundaries of nations and he is the national deity of Nepal.

Appearance of Kaal Bhairava

As per Hindu mythology Kaal Bhairava manifests himself in 8 forms. All these 8 forms have a common thread as far as attire and dress is concerned. In all forms Kaal Bhairava will wear a tiger skin and an apron composed of human bones. Thus many worshipers of Shiva in this form worship him in the midst of graveyards and cremation grounds. Kaal Bhairava also is adorned with ornaments made of snakes, reptiles and serpents. Shiva as Kaal Bhairav is usually depicted with 4 hands and each of his hands carry a noose, a trident and a skull. This makes Kaal Bhairava a unique God, the like of which is not seen in any other religion except Buddhism.

Temples of Kaal Bhairava
The appearance of Kaal Bhairava is again something unique. He sports long teeth and a red tongue. This gives the God a fearful look. The purpose is to convey his worshippers that Shiva also represents the nether world and the world of spirits and ghosts. Thus a particular sect of Hinduism called the Aghora sect worship Kaal Bhairava. This sect indulges in Black magic and black arts and carries out their rituals in the grave yards of Hindus. In early days the Aghora sect was also cannibalistic in nature, though now this is on the wane.
Kaal Bhairava statues in most cases also depict a dog along with him. The dog is the divine vahana or transport for the God who travels on his back. In all temples dedicated to Kaal Bhairava, the deity is ensconced in the centre of the temple and all worshippers have to enter barefoot to pay their obeisance to the god.
Kaal Bhairava has temples dedicated solely to him and they are spread all over India. The temple at Ujjain about 60 km from Indore has a special significance. It is one of the most important temples dedicated to Kaal Bhairava. A strange ritual is carried out in this temple that is the essence of worshipping Kaal Bhairava.

The Ritual of serving liquor

This temple ritual starts with the devotee buying a bottle of wine or hard liquor like rum or whisky and presenting to the deity. The priest will accept the bottle and pour the contents in a shallow plate, which is held to the lips of the deity. It is a wonder to see the liquor slowly vanish from the plate. Believers believe that the liquor is drunk by the God. There is no scientific explanation for it except that it does take place and I have been a witness to it.

The power of Kaal Bhairava
In Hinduism worshipping the God Kaal Bhairava has special significance. He is the benefactor who looks after a believer travelling to distant lands. Most Hindus will offer a garland of cashew nuts to the God before embarking on a voyage. It is also recommended to feed 11 dogs on a Saturday as the dog is the mode of transport of Kaal Bhairava. The great sages and learned Gurus advice feeding the dogs with a typical Indian dish of Halwa and Puri.
Time and eternity is what Kaal Bhairav refers to. The God frowns on idle persons and time wasters. But bear in mind that since Kaal Bhairava is in reality Shiva only, worshipping him bestows all the benefits that Lord Shiva showers on his disciples and worshipers. Thus visiting Ujjain is a must for a Hindu and a tourist as well, to witness the ‘miracle’ of the God consuming hard liquor.

Sir Winston Churchill and Whiskey :Devils Drink or Elixer

Sir Winston Churchill was a great wartime leader. Sometimes his words are worth their weight in gold. He was once asked about his position on whisky.
Here's how he answered:

"If you mean whisky, the devil's brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yes, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children;
If you mean that evil drink that topples men and women from the pinnacles of righteous and gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, shame, despair, helplessness and hopelessness, then, my friend, I am opposed to it with every fibre of my being."
"However, if by whisky you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the elixir of life, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes;
If you mean good cheer, the stimulating sip that puts a little spring in the step of an elderly gentleman on a frosty morning;
If you mean that drink that enables man to magnify his joy, and to forget life's great tragedies and heartbreaks and sorrow;
If you mean that drink the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of pounds each year, that provides tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitifully aged and infirm, to build the finest highways, hospitals, universities, and community colleges in this nation...
Then my friend, I am absolutely, unequivocally in favour of it..!!!
"This is my position, and as always, I refuse to compromise on matters of principle.!!!"
I agree with Sir Winston and like my peg of Chivas Regal. What better than a fair girl in your arms after that.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Few Thoughts on JP: Man Devoid of Ideas

Justice Katju a retired judge of the Supreme Court had called Jai Prakash Narayan, for whom the Union Government is proposing to set up a Memorial at his birthplace, a buffoon.
 Many people furiously attacked him for saying this, and some people asked clarification for him. I agree with Justice Katju and my reasons are dovetailed with his.
India is facing massive problems of poverty, unemployment, healthcare, malnourishment, etc. Did J.P. have any scientific ideas for solving these problems ? All he proclaimed was ' Sampoorna Kranti ' or ' Total Revolution ' which is so vague an expression that it can mean anything to anybody
 People were fed up of Indira Gandhi  by the mid 1970s, as she had deceived them by her slogan of ' Gharibi hatao ', when in fact after her accession to power gharibi continued in India unabated, and even got worse for most Indians. So they were looking for a messiah, a modern Moses who would lead them into a land of milk and sugar. And they found one in J.P.
  Most people in India are like children who can be easily deceived and taken for a ride by a Pied Piper of Hamelin, or a Hitler, who told the German people that they were 'Herrenvolk' or the Master Race, and that the Jews were responsible for all their ills. They are always seeking a 'Sapnon ka Saudagar' ( seller of dreams ).
 Just as Modi sold the dream of 'vikas' in the May 2014 Lok Sabha elections, and Kejriwal sold the dream of ' imaandari ' in the February 2015 Delhi Assembly elections, so also J.P. had sold the dream of ' Total Revolution ' in the 1970s. And the gullible Indian people readily lapped it up.
 What was there in J.P. ? Only vague ideas of Gandhian socialism, devolution of power to the village panchayats ( which Gandhi and Kejriwal also advocated ), and abolition of corruption ( which Kejriwal's mentor, Anna Hazare, another buffoon, also preached ).
 'Gandhian socialism' means nothing, village panchayats are hotbeds of casteism and centres of corruption, and corruption cannot be removed in India for the next 15-20 years, and whoever says to the contrary is either a demagogue or a charlatan
  Like his guru Gandhi, who Katju has described as a British agent , J.P. was also against a violent revolution. But the truth is that a revolution is never peaceful. As Robespierre, the great leader in the French Revolution of 1789 said in the French National Convention "  Citoyen, voulez vous un revolucion sans revolucion ?" ( Citizens, do you want a revolution without a revolution ?" ).
 J.P. was only a Sapnon ka Saudagar, with no scientific ideas to lead forward

A Greek Tale of Lust and Love

Painting of the King showing his wife to Gyges

The Foremost master of logic in Greek history is Plato.  he is credited with innumerable books and treatises.The works of Plato are read all over the world and philosophers look for hidden meanings in his writings. Plato is the author of the famous book "Republic". This tome is read and studied till the present day and is an important part of philosophy.
Plato in his Glaucon, who was the brother of Plato needs to be read. 
book recounts a lovely tale that has intrigued  me to a great extent. I have interpreted it as a realization of a dream of man and sexual conquest. Nobody can deny, that men even the most puritan of them do have lascivious thoughts of women and in this context the tale related by
The legend as related in the book " Republic' runs something like this. There was a lesser vassal called Gyges, who paid allegiance to the King of Lydia. Gyges however was infatuated with the queen, the wife of the king of Lydia. He longed to posses her and wondered how he could ever achieve his aim. The more he saw the queen in court his lust for her increased.
Providence took a hand and one day while he was roaming about in the country side  a earthquake took place. This earthquake had magical effect and a small cave opened. Gyges went inside the cave and saw a large horse made of bronze. This horse was a cover for a tomb of a man and Gyges saw the corpse was wearing a ring. He removed the ring and  wore it. In a moment he was aware that he had astonishing powers and  once he wore the ring he  became invisible.
Gyges probably exulted at this power and wearing it he entered the kings palace and proceeded to the chamber of the queen. As he entered, he saw the queen now nude and he seduced her. Plato does not explain how he seduced her as he was invisible. But in all probability, his invisibilities added to his charm as he made love to the queen.
After this, Gyges moved to the Kings chamber and killed him. The King probably could not see his assailant as he was invisible. After killing the king he went back to the queen and revealed himself and married her and became ruler of Lydia. it's a thrilling tale and I am always a fan of such tales from mythology. There is no factual truth in the tale though the kingdom of Lydia did exist. But I interpret it as a fulfillment of extreme desire for a woman. This can lead to anything. After all the Great Humayun killed the  husband of Noor Jehan and married her. All I can say is that desire for a woman can make a man to go to any extreme.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

One Rank One pension is Stuck; What next?

The man who betrayed his promise to the  common soldier

The COAS who must call the Shots

The ex-serviceman's agitation is stuck as the Government does not seem to be blinking. Despite retired soldiers of the age of 70-80-90 sitting and fasting in the hot sun  as well as signing memorandum with their blood  to the prime minister, the GOI is not bending one bit and there is no announcement on anything concerning OROP. What then next? This would be in the mind of the men agitating as they come up against a wall.

Obviously Modi and the government are playing dirty and have a devious plan up their sleeve. I had long written that OROP will not come and expecting the Modi government to sanction it, looked to me a pipe dream.  unfortunately many servicemen used to a orderly life and not aware of the intricacies of politics,thought otherwise. It was thought that OROP will come by ingratiating themselves with the government and Modi and hence no attempt made to cultivate the opposition and men who matter like the RSS chief  Mohan Bhagwat and also other political leaders. On the contrary to ingratiate and show the government that they had faith in Modi, they even spurned the offer of support of the Congress party. The thinking was that Modi and the BJP will be annoyed and will stop OROP. This was a fallacious thought and doomed from the word go and the leadership of the  servicemen is now left holding the Modi baby and not knowing what to do. The damage done to the movement by this short sighted approach is immense and now OROP will not come, fasting, blood petition or anything.don't matter to Modi and the BJP

What then is the way ahead ? Obviously instead of appealing to the BJP government something else is required. The Indian army is in fact on a very strong wicket and as the best and biggest organised force in the country, something has to be done by the army. in this the COAS , at the moment general Dilbagh Singh is a key player. This man must show some spunk and not say " yes sir, yes sir, Three bags full" as has been the refrain of the army chiefs from the time of Cariappa.

The ex servicemen's association must approach the COAS and demand action from him. It needs to be impressed on him that he must put pressure on the government and if need be he should be ready to resign. OROP will come immediately.

There should be a two pronged strategy to  simultaneously approach the opposition parties led by Rahul Gandhi and the Congress. Not approaching him and murmuring like a sheep that our movement is apolitical is neither here nor there. The fear that Modi and the BJP will be antagonised  is meaningless. Not forgetting getting the RSS on their side. The RSS controls the BJP and in case Mohan Bhagwat is convinced OROP will come like greased lightening.

Other things being OK, the EX Servicemen's association must have large banners in Newspapers to announce how Modi and BJP betrayed the poor soldier. Funds is a problem and donations from the men and NRI's can be tapped. Once a concerted bid is made, I am sure donations will come. To rely on small contributions from ex-servicemen themselves is not going to lead anywhere.

This calls for a concerted action and publicly men who are turncoats like General VK Singh and Rajyavardhan must be exposed. Let the public know they and their ilk  are the Black Sheep , men who have like Faustus sold their souls to the BJP.

The road ahead is hard and there can be no laxity and calls for concerted action, otherwise OROP will remain a pipe dream as millions of soldiers go to the next world. Remember Modi and the BJP are not bothered, so give them a taste of a medicine they understand.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

RSS is a Party supporting Corruption

The Rashtra  Swayan Sevak Sangh is a cultural organisation that had,  one thought a one point agenda to better the nation. I always thought that this is one organisation that had the interests of India in its heart. They claimed that they were  for India that would mirror Ram Rajya , an India where there was no corruption and nepotism. The reference of Ram Rajya was to the idealistic rule during the time of God Ram.
Unfortunately a realisation has dawned that the RSS is an organisation that is exactly the opposite of what it claimed. It is a party that supports corruption in all its manifestations.  This must be a cultural shock to millions, but I am glad the mask has slipped from its face. we now know that all along the RSS was something else in sheep's clothing. How come this realisation has dawned on millions?
The RSS by supporting a foreign minister who is hobnobbing with a known evader of law and hiding in London has exposed itself. Its shocking that it supports Sushma Swaraj and also the Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who also is hobnobbing with Lalit Modi, wheeler dealer and swindler, hiding in a London suburb.
The only sane voice in this entire sordid drama is NK Singh, a BJP member of parliament and former foreign secretary who has condemned the actions of these two ladies. Surprising the man Modi with all his chest thumping against the likes of Robert Vadra is almost a pussycat, not even meowing once.
The RSS has proved that it is a biased organisation . Talking of it being a cultural organisation wanting to cleanse public life is all hog wash.  It is a party that has feet of clay and all it believes is pretence. Its so sad. By supporting Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara  Raje the RSS has allowed the cat to slip out of its bag. I sincerely wish Mohan Bhagwat has the courage and calls a spade a spade. Can he not direct Modi to dismiss the duo? It will be an act of courage if he does so, but if he hides behind cliches, it will prove what I have written earlier. Is he up to being a great nationalist?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Remembering heroes: Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Pujji

Indian History is replete with tales of chivalry and bravery. One such tale is of Mahinder Singh Pujji, a Sikh who joined the Royal Air Force and fought in the Second World war. Mohinder singh was a Sikh and   was  a fighter pilot in the RAF. He flew Spitfires and Hurricanes. His is indeed a romantic tale and needs to be remembered.

 Pujji was born in Simla in 1918 and his father was a high rank government officer. Pujji loved flying and learnt to fly at the Delhi Flying Club in 1936. Later he did his law from Bombay University. However Pujji love was flying. With the outbreak of World war II , Puji along with 24 other pilots volunteered to go to England and fly for the RAF.
Pujji was part of the IAF fighter squadrons and took part in missions over France and Belgium. Only on one occasion he was forced  down by a Messerschmitt 109 and had to crash land on the coast of England. 
With the Japanese advancing in Burma , Mahinder Singh was transferred to the east. Here he fought the Japanese and was awarded the DFC for covering the escape of 3000 allied troops.  Pujji  earlier had also flown in North Africa and had to force land in the desert. He was rescued by a platoon of British soldiers.
Mahinder Singh  after the war was a squadron leader and he left the RAF and became a civil pilot and gliding ace in India. In 1968 he migrated to England and settled there  He died in 2010 at the age of 92. He was the last surviving  Indian and Sikh ace  who fought in World war II for the RAF.  In 2009 the RAF honored him by  inviting him as a chairperson on the opening of  a  section of their museum  which dealt with Indians and other nationalities who fought for the RAF.
Just before he died , Pujji wrote a biography which is available on Amazon tiled "Fighting for the King and Another country". But all in all men like Mahinder Singh Pujji make us proud to be Indians.
Tribute to the warrior. Statue of MS Pujji in the UK

Sunday, June 21, 2015

One Rank One Pension: Where do we Go from Here ?

The ex servicemen have all united and started an agitation for the sanction of a legitimate demand like One Rank One Pension. The demand which is festering for last 40 years took off with vigor only about a decade back. Some cosmetic changes were made by the Congress government under that stooge of the Gandhi family, Manmohan Singh, but the core demand of parity in pensions was left untouched.
The BJP under Narendra Modi  had made sanction of OROP an important poll plank of their election campaign, but it was an insincere promise and perhaps made just to garner votes. Right after the BJP came to power, the portends for sanction of OROP were ominous. The Finance , then the defence Minster Arun Jaitley a man with little horizon, set the ball rolling by asking the Ex servicemen's association to " Tone down their demand". He further said that politicians make promises, but all are not honored.
This was followed by the defence minister stating that nobody gets 100% satisfaction in life   and is never the norm and 80% satisfaction could be achieved. This was his thinking though he changed it a little later, but the fact is that 2 important functionaries were not happy with OROP. To queer the pitch Raj Nath Singh the Home Minister also voiced his opposition to OROP and Modi who was looking for a way out began to lean on these men to back track on OROP. The civil services led by the IAS lobby were in any case opposed to the very concept of OROP and they fed the GOI and Modi with data against OROP. Modi knowing all this was false,  yet acquiesced, because he was looking for a way out.
The ex-servicemens agitation is not having the desired effect as the leaders have decided to keep the movement apolitical. Thus opposition parties who supported the OROP  were turned away. I am aghast at this approach. You cannot win a battle without political support and just appealing and fasting for a demand leads nowhere. I wonder how the ESIS leaders could spurn political support ?
 The Government and Modi are really not concerned . They are a callous lot and  men who are 70-80-90 fasting and sitting in the hot sun is not a matter of concern for them. What then is the next step?
I have a gut feeling that OROP will never come and the reason is simple, the Army general staff have over a period of 6 decades starting with general Cariappa  frittered away their bargaining power by agreeing with the government at every stage. I do not wish to delineate all the privileges which were taken away with the agreement of the general staff, but suffice that the COAS is primarily responsible for this mess.
The general staff have created this mess and approval for OROP may never come ( or a watered down scheme come)  till the general staff cleans up the mess of 6 decades. Its not difficult and requires conviction and courage. But the men sitting and wearing hats and looking stern are really pussycats. Will these pussycats become tigers ? If they do OROP will come , otherwise its " By bye birdie"

The Doolittle Raid: A Saga of Courage

The Doolittle Raid on Japan ; a Saga of Courage

James Doolittle

The Route of the attack
An Audacious Attack on Japan
The Attack on Pearl Harbor
The Second World War saw the rise of the aircraft carrier. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 3 December 1941 the entire American nation was in a state of anguish. President Roosevelt wanted a bombing raid to be carried out on Japan. This was easier said than done as the US Army Air Force had no aircraft to launch an attack on Japan or a base near enough to mount a bombing mission.
The Plan of Francis Low

Credit must go to one man named Francis Low, a submariner who put forward a theory to his superior officer to mount a raid on Japan by taking an aircraft carrier close to the Japanese coast. The proposal through proper channel reached Admiral King who Okayed the proposal. The US admiralty was convinced that this was the only way to strike at Japan immediately. President Roosevelt was also informed. The newly launched aircraft carrier the USS Hornet was zeroed on for this task. This was a 26000 ton aircraft carrier and had been launched in November 1941 a month before the Imperial Navy’s attack on Pearl Harbor.
Charles Doolittle and the USS Hornet
After speedy trials the aircraft carrier sailed through the Panama Canal in early 1941 and entered the Pacific Ocean. The plan envisaged launching the B-25 bomber from the deck of the USS hornet when it had steamed to about 400 NM of the Japanese coast. The aircraft were expected to bomb Japan and continue to China for sanctuary as the Bombers could not land back on the flight deck of the Hornet. It was an audacious plan and required dare devilry of a high order. The man chosen to head this mission was Lt Colonel James Doolittle, who later rose to the rank of general US Army Air Force.
On 20 March the USS Hornet with its complement of B-25 bombers sailed for enemy seas. It was escorted by the carrier USS enterprise. It neared the enemy sea by 17 April, when it was 550 NM from the Japanese cost. The weather was appalling and worse a Japanese fishing boat sighted the Hornet. It immediately radioed information to the imperial naval headquarters in Tokyo. After the war it was learnt that the message was received in garbled form and nothing much could be made about it.
Bombing Mission
This information was not known to the US task force and an immediate decision was taken to launch the strike. With weather also worsening, the decision to strike Japan was voted up.The aircrew were assembled one hour before the mission and briefed about the raid. Many of the aircrew came to know about their mission only at that time. It is on record that not one stepped back from the mission. On 18 April 1942, 16 B-25 took off from the USS Hornet after short intervals to bomb Tokyo. They flew in single file and headed for the Japanese Coast.
The Japanese were surprised and there was only sporadic Anti aircraft fire. Not a single of the B-25 were hit and all dropped their payload bombs on military targets in Tokyo and other places, but the damage was minimal as the bombers were carrying a limited number of 500Lb bombs.
Landing in China
The 16 bombers as per plan continued to China, but bad weather forced almost all of them to crash land on the China coast. The planes were total wrecks. but all crew members escaped. One plane made it to Vladivostok in Russia and the crew and plane were interred there. They were released towards the end of the war.
Four of the crew were captured and killed by the Japanese, but the others escaped to safer areas with the help of partisan Chinese fighters. Unfortunately the Chinese paid a heavy price for helping the crew of the B-25 and almost 250 of them were executed as the Japanese searched for them. Doolittle also escaped and returned back to the USA.
Final Word
The Doolittle raid is a romantic episode and deserves to be remembered, not for any damage inflicted on Japan but for its sheer bravery and courage shown by the airmen.

But it had another effect as Admiral Yamamoto realized that the US carrier fleet had to be neutralized and that precipitated the battle of Midway and the destruction of the Imperial navy’s Carrier fleet.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Evaluating Josef Stalin of Russia: Does he Deserve the Epithet " The Great"?

Can Stalin be deserving of a Higher Status in World History
Stalin with Churchill and Roosevelt

Was Stalin 'Great' ?
The Concept of ‘Great’ and Stalin
In the west it is fashionable to criticize Stalin. Most of the stress is on his executions and vast prison camps that he set up in Russia. But as always there are two sides to a coin and most of the good that Stalin did gets washed away, but in Russia he is a nostalgic figure and Russians from all walks of life, communists to the anti-communists consider Stalin a great Russian leader. The word ‘great’ has a different connotation. Akbar the Moslem ruler who ruled India is also considered great, yet he caused the deaths of innumerable Hindus in wars and battles. In the siege of Chittor, Akbar amassed a force of 60,000 soldiers that besieged a Hindu force of 8000 in Chittor (1567). The Moghul army prevailed and occupied the Chittor in February 1568. After the battle 30,000 Hindus were massacred by Akbar. Heads of his enemies were then displayed on towers erected throughout his empire. Yet he is given the title ‘The Great’.
The Rise of Stalin
Stalin seized power after the demise of Lenin in 1924. He had a one point agenda then to remain in power, but he also wished to take Russia forward. From Medieval times Russia was known as the laggard in Europe as far as development was concerned. Peter the great made the first attempt to modernize Russia when he got foreigners to help build ships in Russia. Stalin also wanted to change the image of Russia. This he did with centralized planning and application of Marxist theory as understood by him. Obviously in such a situation dissent had no place and Stalin was ruthless in suppressing dissent.
Stalin and the economy
Stalin must be given credit for the upward lift of Russian economy and laying the infrastructure of an Industrial environment. During 1928-1940, the Russian economy grew 5 times its original size. He was the man who turned an agrarian country where the farmers just toiled on the land to a global superpower. Stalin must be given credit for formulating the famous 5 year plans for economic development that propelled Russia as a rival to the USA on the global scene.
Stalin and Defeat of Germany
His contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany is glossed over. The fact is the USA and Great Britain would never have won the war, but for Stalin. to deny this is a perversity of history. He was the man who organized the fight against Hitler and the Russians paid a heavy toll in blood with over 20 million deaths. Without Stalin facing the might of the Nazis, the war was already lost by England and USA. The tide turned after the battle of Stalingrad, which is a testimony to the iron will and resolve of Stalin. One act of his that demonstrates his iron will is his famous parade on 23 November 1941. The German war machine had reached just 30 miles from Moscow. Stalin was advised to shift to a secure place east of the Urals. History records that Stalin refused and bolstered the heart of the Russian army with a parade in Red Square where he took the salute of soldiers moving to the front.
Stalin's Red Army systematically decimated the German armies in Eastern Europe as far west as Berlin. At the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, when an American mentioned this achievement, Stalin replied matter-of-factly that Czar Alexander had gotten to Paris. This shows his thinking. He was a man who was out to make Russia the no 1 power in the world. That was the reason he never gave out his true intentions while maintaining an affable exterior when he met western diplomats. Most Russians across Russia have a soft corner for Stalin as they realize what Stalin accomplished. His negative deeds are rarely dwelt upon.
Stalin's Balance Sheet
The USA and the West cannot preach about Stalin and freedom. George Bush and Lyndon Johnson unleashed wars to further a megalomania dream in Vietnam and Iraq. Yes! He was a brutal dictator, but the end result is a historical balance sheet as to the outcome. Nobody can deny the concentration camps and the mass imprisonments of his opponents. In that respect this 5ft 5 inch man has little to answer for these acts. But his pluses have to be weighed against his negative deeds. In case a balance sheet is drawn one can safely say that the pluses outweigh the minus.
Ghost of Stalin Re-emerging in Putin
Stalin did commit excesses as has been brought out by western writers., but he ensured that Russia was a great power that could challenge the USA. In Russia now his ghost is resurrected and many Russians long for the great power status that Stalin gave them.
V Putin realizes the contribution of Stalin and all his efforts are to undo what he perceives as a historical aberration: the breakup of the Soviet Union.
The Balance Sheet
Russia could only be held together by a man of the calibre of Stalin. He was not ‘Great’, but one can say he was almost close to it. The balance sheet as far as Stalin is concerned has more plusses than minus. The great expert on Russia George Kennan acknowledged that Stalin was a great statesman with a comment and a rider "Stalin's greatness as a dissimulator was an integral part of his greatness as a statesman,"

Modi Condones Impropriety and Corruption: Where Sir, is Chest thumping Gone against Nepotism, Impropriety and Corruption ?

Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje have burst the Bubble of the BJP

Two ladies  from different backgrounds and holding positions of power in the BJP have made Narendra Modi the prime minister and the BJP shamefaced. Much as the BJP spokesperson like Dr Patra put on an act of bravado in defending  these 2 ladies the fact is that the BJP is shamed. Day  in and day out we learn that these  two ladies have done the unthinkable. They have hobnobbed with an escaped wheeler dealer who is a wanted man and has to face the indian law for  money laundering and swindling. it is sad that these two women have helped this man get a residential permit in the UK and despite being leaders have no compunction in helping  this man.

The ladies one of who is the foreign minister and the other the chief minister of Rajasthan have been courting a wheeler dealer who is a escaped fugitive and money laundered. The man is Lalit Modi against who the enforcement directorate has issued a look out notice. Yet the Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj  has recommended that the British issue   travel documents to this fugitive from law. This man Lalit Modi is hiding in London.
The second lady Vasundhara Raje , the chief minister of rajasthan has allowed her son to accept  crores for his company  from lalit Modi and she also recommended his case to the British government  to give sanctuary to him.

Its a shame that 2 important leaders of the BJP are hobnobbing with a man who has swindled millions and is an escaped criminal to London. Lalit Modi is wanted in India to reply to the many charges against him.

The BJP has come out in defence of the 2 ladies, but the entire  defence and orchestra in their favor is so sad. It shows that the BJP is a party no different from the Congress and maybe worse. It preaches and does not practice.  I wonder what Modi has to say about all this.  Will he talk about this in his " Man ki Baat" or send some tweets.? probably not as he is not a man who can aspire for greatness, but his behaviour is like a small time politician. Where sir, is your bravado and salvos against corruption and nepotism.? I  and the Indian public cant see it.

I must caution you Sir, that your horoscope has Saturn which is the napoleonic house and we all know what happened to Napoleon, a steep rise and then a precipitous fall.  I pray to god that you see reason and distance yourself from both these ladies. As the prime minister you must ACT. Will you sir, on this issue and also OROP which again you had shouted from rooftops as approved and sanctioned act and show that you mean business.