LV on Indira

This woman, was the most respectable electoral choice India has ever made for PM. Just compare her to PM Modi who cannot hold a candle to her charisma, intellect and pedigree. Indian democracy has gone backward in 30 years, Modi cannot even express forget defend himself because he can’t speak English. ?

Vidhi asked me to contextualise my thoughts in addition to hers. I would hazard that Indira was India’s best PM; she basically destroyed Pakistan.

If it had been Nehru or Shastri or even Modi instead of Indira there would have been an East Pakistan Wing. It took Indira’s grit and steel to shatter India’s more persistent enemy once and for all.

Ps: I just finished the video and I found it thrilling. Indira reminds me of Benazir but an even grander more formidable figure; a living Mother India.

I love the way Indira, as Durga, dispatched the arrogant white male journalist.

“It’s a question of whether I want to be PM.”

“Unlike Britain, which is a tiny country India is not.”

“The future of India is for us to decide.”

Her pithy response at the end, “because I am not guilty.”

The poncy journalist thought he would be taking Indira to task but instead she smashed him and his pretensions to smithereens!!

33 thoughts on “LV on Indira”

  1. Haha , IG’s “pedigree” was that she was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru. I will support Modi purely for the reason of breaking dynastic politics in India. Dynastic politics – i.e. ability and wisdom to run a country resides in some family – is inherently anti-democratic and anyone interested in democracy should reject dynastic politics lock, stock and barrel. Every citizen of the country or an important political party should have a hope that by his efforts he or she can reach highest levels of the governance of the country. Even though I don’t want to be sound too party-ish man, it is a disgusting spectacle when the leaders and managers of a great party like Congress bend before a dynasty – sycophancy is the death knell of good governance. In contrast, Modi came up four square in democratically defeating his rivals within his party and at national level at a steady pace . Even though one can violently disagree with the policies or personality of Modi , his elevation is a triumph for Indian democracy. I am sure when Modi leaves his office, it will also be democratic and peaceful .
    What matters is not just the ‘brilliance’ or “pedigree” or the cleverness of the individual , what matters is whether he or she came up though means fair, transparent, just and democratic.

    1. Anyway, performance wise he is doing better than her in democraic governance and MUCH better on the economy. Of course, not yet a huge win in Foreign policy to match her performance in 1971, but should we deduct points from her for winning against weaker opposition (Pakistan 1971)? And for lacking the foresight to press her advantage? (though I hasten to add that my personal opinion is that no other Indian leader would have done better.. Hindsight is 20 20, but in the flush of that victory it was not easy to see that Pakistan had actually become more secure, and no less prone to jihad.. And I agree with major Amin that Durga might well have dealt with Pakistan in the 1980s.. It is very possible that we were saved by her Sikh bodyguards..)

        1. The whole justification for the 1971 War was the “liberation” of Bangladesh. If India had then annexed the former East Pakistan, it would have made it obvious that the real motivation was not “liberation” of any kind but the destruction of Pakistan. It could be possible to argue that the wish to destroy Pakistan played some role in India’s actions even if it was not a conscious motivation. (Of course we West Pakistanis didn’t really need much help destroying United Pakistan, but India provided the final blow).

          Plus, I think Sheikh Mujib wanted to rule an independent country and not become just another Bengali politician in a larger Bengal state within India.

          1. Kabir, I have studied the 1971 war. Mukti Bahini recieved massive Indian help and didn’t have a prayer of a chance of success without it. Mukti Bahini was about to be wiped out when the Indian military launched an Israeli type blitzkrieg against Pakistan. This was a clear Indian aggression against Pakistan unlike 1947 (Pakistani and Pashtun aggression against Kashmir), 1965 and 1999. The world almost blew up in a nuclear holocaust.

            It would take twenty pages to explain my thoughts on the 1971 war. But then there are many good books you can read on this subject.

          2. AnAn,

            I don’t really want to read any books on the 1971 War. It is a very painful part of Pakistan’s past (still), though now an independent Bangladesh has existed longer than United Pakistan existed. But there is a book by an American historian about how the Nixon Administration basically took Pakistan’s side despite knowing full well what the (West) Pakistanis were doing in East Pakistan. At that time, the US needed Pakistan to facilitate the opening to China. It’s called “The Blood Telegram”. I haven’t read it. I can’t bring myself to.


            My own thoughts on the whole disaster (the loss of East Pakistan) are best summed up by Faiz Sahab’s poem “Dhaka Say Wapsi Par” (On Returning from Dhaka), which you can hear sung by Nayarra Noor here (hopefully you understand Urdu). It’s also commonly referred to as “Hum kay therey ajnabi” though Faiz Sahab gave it the title “Dhaka Say Wapsi Par”.


          3. East Pakistan is a very sad chapter; I regret it’s loss but then I regret many things in South Asian history.

        2. Zachary, would you like for me to write an article on this?

          Indiraji could see that Bangladesh was about to go through an economic depression worse than the Great Depression of the early 1930s with mass starvation and that Bangladeshi institutions were extremely weak. She didn’t want Indian taxpayers, Indian businesses and Indian civil servants nation building Bangladesh. I am not happy that Indiraji thought this way. This said, every state in India except for West Bengal wanted no part of the herculean task of nation building dirt poor and disfunctional Bangladesh.

          India was extremely poor 1947-1985 because of big government socialist policies under the English and under Nehru/Indira . . . whose minds were colonized by the English. Nehru/Indira continued English policies of post modernism and socialism. Because of this India didn’t have remotely the economic capacity that India has now and many Indians felt couldn’t afford to nation build Bangladesh.

          1. Also, the Bangladeshis were never fighting to join India. They were fighting against Pakistan. There is a big difference in those two things.

          2. India annexing Bangladesh would have been a disaster, let’s face it. They complain enough of the immigration into India between 1971-1990. You would have had a large Indian Muslim sub-state with it’s own nationalist agenda [eventually, it was bound to happen]. Plus India itself was poor and [in overall terms] rather weak… taking on a rather big additional laggard would have done nobody any good. The advantages would have been ports and manpower; but it’s easy to look back on it now and say that — at the time, it was a place much more impoverished and less educated than India.

            Besides, there just isn’t the same dangerous rhetoric or necessity between India and Bangladesh that there is between India and Pakistan. Even if Bangladesh surges ahead of India in per capita income, economy, education, infrastructure etc., will Indians really view it as a “challenge” or “rival”, the way they do with Pakistan? I can’t see it. Country is just too small, there isn’t enough “cultural friction” [few Indians as a % will argue about claims on Bengali heritage or even care], and I think in the next 10-15 years [once the current “Hindu resurgence” dies down and proves a failure] even religious friction that exists in muted tones will have hit the high tide mark. So what’s left? Basically cricket rivalry/hatred.

          3. Butul Miah should write for BP (seriously). This site needs a Bangladeshi perspective. Otherwise we become way too India-Pakistan focused. We now have a Sri Lankan. So why not a Bangladeshi?

          4. He is welcome too-

            The Indo-Pak conceptions of nationhood define the existential identity of South Asia..

          5. South Asia is a lot bigger than just India and Pakistan. But of course as the countries with the two largest populations we tend to dominate the narrative.

            It makes for a bit of a boring blog (frankly). It would be interesting to hear about internal Bangladeshi politics between Hasina Wajid and Khalida Zia (for example) or what Bangladeshis think about Pakistan nearly 50 years post-liberation. These are just two examples off the top of my head.

            It would also be interesting to get Nepali perspectives or even Afghan perspectives (though I think Afghanistan is stretching the boundaries of what is considered “South Asia”).

            Otherwise, you could rename this forum “Indo-Pak Pundits” or something.

          6. I hate the term “AfPak”. I don’t want Pakistan to be lumped in with Afghanistan. I’d rather be lumped in with India (though that has its own problems).

            I think even the Obama Administration stopped using “AfPak” cause they realized it made little sense and it upset the Pakistanis.

      1. The people who live in the places they rule aren’t typically as fond for some reason ☺.

  2. Also, don’t forget that Mrs. G. suspended the Constitution and imposed the Emergency for almost 2 years.

    Lord Voldemort has at least so far not suspended the Constitution though I hate Hindutva and all that it stands for.

    Mrs. G and Benazir were both certainly charismatic leaders of their respective countries but we cannot forget that they got where they got because they were their fathers’ daughters and anointed heirs. Pandit Nehru only had the one child (I think), but I am forever intrigued why Z.A. Bhutto picked Benazir to rule as opposed to Murtaza or Shah Nawaz.

    I love a good dynasty too, but just throwing this out there 🙂

    1. Indira and Benazir made the dynasties; there have been many Indo-Pak PMs. See the difficult Bilawal and Rahul are having.

      Without a doubt Indira was India’s best PM; she neutralised and basically destroyed Pakistan.

      1. Certainly Bilawal and Rahul are nothing compared to their ancestors. Bilawal is an embarrassment half the time.

        Indira did neutralize Pakistan but she also suspended democracy and basically made herself dictator for two years. Where does that fit into your calculus?

  3. Indira Gandhi (IG) trained and supported the LTTE. Her main reason; SL was aligning west, the US in particular under JR Jayawardene (JRJ). IG wanted to destabilize SL and have a beachhead, hoping the Tamil would be malleable puppets.

    IG misread the Tamils (or the Sinhalese). They may want Indian help, but dislike India as an entity. The current PM (Ranil Wickramasinghe (RW)) is a US/UK puppet and wants to build a bridge or ferry from TalaiMannar to Rameshwaran. Most SL Tamils (as well as Sinhalese) are opposed to this, visualizing and inundation of SL by India.

    Anyway IG’s policies resulted in
    a) a 30 year civil war in SL
    b) assassination of her son by the very group whom she trained and supported.

  4. sbarrkum, it breaks my heart. But I can’t disagree with anything you wrote. 🙁

    Meant to include Indira’s mistakes in Sri Lanka in the next post. There are over a hundred other objections I have to Indiraji too.

    Indiraji had many good qualities too. Everyone (other than Muhammed pbuh, Buddha, Jesus, Abraham, Elijah, Elisha etc.) is a mix of good and bad.

    1. Nothing is permanent and nothing is perfect.

      Buddhism is widely known throughout the world as a religion of peace and kindness. It is less known as a religion of gender-equality. And, in fact, many Buddhists throughout the world are taught that women, because of their characteristic karmic dispositions, are incapable of awakening or of becoming a buddha, at least without first being reborn as men. Furthermore, relatively few women have gone down in Asian history as teachers, yogis and thinkers; the great Indian scholar-monks were all exactly that, monks, and the ordination and transmission lineages tracked in East Asia list one man after another. The Theravada tradition managed completely to have misplaced its order of fully ordained nuns, and the Tibetan never had one, leaving a decidedly lopsided Sangha throughout much of Asia, and very limited opportunities for women to receive the support and respect that nourishes the highest aspirations of the Buddhist Sangha.

  5. I dont think there is any evidence of Indira trying to launch a new attack on Pakistan. Mr Omar. Indian intervention in east bengal was very well caculated with the soviets guarding our backs. Without the soviet help, western countries would sure have brought democracy to us like they are doing in syria and Iraq. In fact many generals in India wanted to continue the war on pakistan in 71, she overruled them.
    Was she capable of doing something like that, yes. There is no evidence that she would though. She didnt press on victory of 71 to bring permanent concessions from pakistan though. As for comparison with nehru, yes, she was far better than nehru, nehru lost a war to china, also gave up on bid for UNSC seat in favor of china, apparently he thought that would help seal friendship with chinese, but the arrogance he displayed rubbed the chinese in a very bad way and they didnt forget.
    Shastri in 65 wanted to press on for war in pakistan for victory, but the Army chief was giving him false information on ammunition apparently, (either he himself wasnt sure of the numbers or he didnt like a more full scale war).

    The way to rate politicians is difficult but yes, victory in war should count very high given the security situation of the times. Economic misery can be undone, but defeat and dismemberment of pakistan cannot be undone so easily now. Defeats are to be avoided at all costs, that is why peace is what most rational actors(who dont really have much power) would pursue, exception of course is pakistan. I would also rate pv narsimha rao far above others, as a PM , you dont get to decide what you shall face, so you need to be judged at what you are dealing with.

    In My view Nehru is glorified too much , he had only one good thing, Hindu code bill, something that would have happened anyway in time. Too much is made about keeping country together, as someone said, except maybe 2,3 countries, most other post colonial states survived intact.

  6. Zachary Latif, that is one interesting video. Explains many things. Some thoughts:
    —yes emergency rule probably lowered crime ceteris paribus . . . a very good thing
    —emergency rule also brought law and order to the country and ended strikes . . . good things
    —obviously I disagree with limitations on freedom of speech and press. Why was that necessary?
    —England’s, Nehru’s and Indira’s socialist economic polices were the reason India’s economy was in shambles in the 1970s.
    —The 1973 oil shock hit the entire global economy hard, but India’s extraordinary poverty reduced India’s ability to cope with it. This is one of the main reason for the 1975 emergency
    —Indira appears to accuse the US and Europe of supporting the political parties that ruled India 1977-1980 and the RSS. It is true that the later have always and continue to support better relations with the US and Europe. But they do so out of patriotism and love of country.
    —I think Indira did a lot of harm by implying that the US and Europe of supported her opposition and the RSS. This damaged India’s national interests.

    A question for all, how has the Indian accept morphed from the time of Jinnah to Nehru to Indira to now?

  7. Kabir, could write a series of articles on Afghanistan and invite some Afghans to comment. I don’t think you would enjoy their comments. 😉

    If you are not an uber fan of Hindutva comments, how will you handle Afghan comments?

    Why are Afghans not South Asians? They were also a part of British India along with Sikhim, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Maldives, Nizam, Kashmir.

    Much of “British India” was ruled by princely states and were not nationals of the Crown.

    1. I don’t know enough about Afghanistan nor do I know many Afghans.

      I have decided to stick to Music and Literature which are the subjects I have a degree in. Geopolitics is not my field. In any case, I blog at my personal blog where I have complete control of who comments and I can delete any comments that rub me the wrong way (Hindutva or anti-Pakistan). Not that an article on the Indian novel should give rise to any Hindutva comments in any case. But if it does, those go away.

      I think Afghanistan is in a border zone. If “South Asia” means SAARC, than they are in. If “South Asia” means the Indian Subcontinent, then they are out. Even half of Pakistan is technically on the Iranian Plateau and not actually part of the Indian Subcontinent. But Pakistan as a whole is South Asian.

      Afghanistan was never part of British India. That’s why the Durand Line exists. British India stopped at Peshawar.

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