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Modi says Sardar Patel would have handled Kashmir differently, history says otherwise

Arti Ghargi

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Nehru

Considering the prejudiced approach to understating Kashmir issue and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s role in it, one would tend to believe what Modi said was correct.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dislike of Jawaharlal Nehru is not a secret. Some might say, as the opponent party PM Modi attacking Congress’ roots is quite fair in politics. However, from the nature of the attacks, it is evident that Modi perhaps despises Nehru personally. On February 7, addressing the Lok Sabha amidst the ruckus by the opposition, Modi accused Congress of partition. Modi said, “The country was partitioned, the seeds of poison were sown. You divided the country for electoral and petty gains…people are suffering even today.” Then turning to the issue of Kashmir, he said, “Had Sardar Patel been the Prime Minister of the country, a part of my Kashmir would not have been with Pakistan.”

Considering the prejudiced approach to understating Kashmir issue and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s role in it, one would tend to believe what Modi said was correct. However, going through the pages of history would easily give us a peek into all the political turmoil surrounding Kashmir during the time of independence.

PM Modi’s claim that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as Prime Minister of India would have ensured the entire Kashmir including PoK to be ours; when weighed on the balance of facts, lacks credibility. To understand the roles of both Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel on Kashmir, we first need to understand their thoughts on Kashmir.

Kashmir and Junagadh:

Junagadh, a state on the southwestern end of Gujarat had an overwhelming Hindu population. It was ruled by a Muslim ruler Manabhar Khanji. On August 15, 1947; Nawab of Junagarh acceded to Pakistan. While Jinnah accepted the accession, Patel, on the other hand, considered it not legitimate. Patel feared that if Junagadh accedes to Pakistan, it would lead to communal unrest in surrounding regions of Gujarat. He also felt that by accepting Junagadh which had dominant Hindu population, Pakistan itself is contradicting two nation theory proposed by Jinnah. Not able to reach any definite conclusion, Patel suggested giving Pakistan time to void the accession and hold a plebiscite in Junagadh. Samaldas Gandhi formed a government-in-exile of the people of Junagarh. Later, Patel ordered the annexation of Junagarh’s three principalities. Junagarh, facing financial collapse, invited the Government of India to accept the reins of power.

Sardar Patel

Nawab of Junagadh, Muhammad Mahabat Khanji III

Contrary to Junagadh, Kashmir had a predominantly Muslim population and it was ruled by Hindu King Raja Hari Singh. According to historical documents, Maharaja Hari Singh too was hesitant to accede to India as a majority of the state’s population was Muslim. However, instead of acceding to Pakistan, he signed a Standstill Agreement (preserving status quo) with it. In the meantime, the rumours of Kashmir acceding to India spread through Pakistan, after which Pakistan army marched in to take Kashmir by force. In September 1947, Pashtun tribals backed by Pakistani paramilitary forces invaded Kashmir. Kashmir being ill-equipped on the security front, asked for India’s help. However, Indian constitution did not permit the armed forces to intervene in Kashmir as it did not come under India’s territory. Desperate to save the state, Maharaja acceded Kashmir to India and signed the Instrument of Accession. The rest is History that is reminded to us every day without fail.

Sardar Patel

Hindu King of Kashmir Raja Hari Singh

Sardar Patel and Kashmir:

Many people still think Sardar Patel would have handled the Kashmir issue in a very profound manner than Nehru. But unlike their belief, Sardar Patel had always called the Kashmir issue as ‘a severe headache’. The first ever mention of this is found in Integration of the Indian States, a book written by V P Menon, the former political adviser to Mountbatten in 1956. Lord Mountbatten, while on his Kashmir visit two months before independence told Hari Singh that India would not consider it unfriendly if Kashmir decides to accede to Pakistan. Viceroy though also cared to add, “he had a firm assurance on this from Sardar Patel himself”.

The second mention is found in My Reminiscences of Sardar Patel, written by V Shankar, then political secretary to Patel. Shankar wrote that while Mahatma Gandhi had pinned his hope on Raja Hari Singh to join India, Sardar Patel had no reservations over Kashmir Joining Pakistan.

Sardar Patel

Sardar Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru with Mahatma Gandhi

In his 1991 biography, Patel: A Life, writer and historian Rajamohan Gandhi throws more light on Patel’s stand on Kashmir. He writes, “Vallabhbhai’s lukewarmness about Kashmir had lasted until September 13, 1947. However, Patel’s attitude changed later that same day — when he heard that Pakistan had accepted Junagadh’s plea for accession.”

Sardar Patel Centenary Volume 2 also mentions an excerpt from Patel’s speech in Junagadh. Patel says, “Pakistan attempted to set off Kashmir against Junagadh. When we raised the question of settlement in a democratic way, they (Pakistan) at once told us that they would consider it if we applied that policy to Kashmir. Our reply was that we would agree to Kashmir if they agreed to Hyderabad.”

The instances in History are enough to tell that Sardar Patel initially was not really keen on getting Kashmir in India as opposed to the recent portrayal of his thoughts.

Rajamohan Gandhi further in his book also divulged that Patel was definitely not happy with many of ways India opted to tackle the Kashmir issue, including the plebiscite and approaching United Nations. However, nowhere in the history, it is noted that Patel vehemently opposed Nehru’s decisions on Kashmir or offered any decisive solution for the issue.

Sardar Patel

Sardar Patel in a meeting with King of Kashmir Hari Singh

But it is interesting to look at Patel’s other statements on Kashmir. In a letter to the founder of the Socialist Party of India-Achyut Patwardhan, Patel had indeed said, “I can solve Kashmir in six months. I would send Sikh settlers to the Valley.”  Referring to his unhappiness with the plebiscite he had told R K Patil, member of the first Planning Commission on September 28, 1950, “In Kashmir, we are spending crores, (yet) if there is a plebiscite in the Valley, we are bound to lose.”

While the historical documents and witnesses available are still in ambiguity over how Patel would have tackled Kashmir, it would be no short than misjudgement to say that Patel would have found the definitive solution to Kashmir.

Patel, Nehru and Kashmir from Modi’s lens:

Sardar Patel

Narendra Modi paying obituary to Sardar Patel

Modi’s odious obsession with Nehru is not just a part of whataboutery that every political party plays. But it also pits two greatest leaders and modern India’s architects against each other posthumously. What is the point in scraping a wound rather than doing something to heal it? In the four years since Modi stormed to power in 2014, the number of terrorist attacks in Kashmir has increased. More than 800 instances were reported. While 183 Indian army men lost their lives in these attacks, 65 civilians were also killed. The recent attacks on Sunjwan Army camp and past incidents of attack on Pathankot, Gurdaspur and Uri, bare open Modi’s government’s tall claims of reducing numbers of terror attacks under the Modi government.

So if Nehru has to be blamed for the failure to address the Kashmir problem, Modi’s lackadaisical Kashmir policies have also carved a space for himself on the list.

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RSS conclave: Did Mohan Bhagwat take a sly dig at PM Modi?

Arti Ghargi

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In those 80 minutes of speech, RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat stumped the critiques and supporters an equal number of times.

 

If yesterday’s speech of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat is to be described with a phrase, it has to be a “package of surprises”. After all the antagonism and vilification thrown out at the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh– the ideological fountainhead of the ruling BJP, by (yet to be) united opposition, the RSS presented itself as an all-embracing, truly democratic organization. In those 80 minutes of speech, the sarsanghchalak stumped the critiques and supporters an equal number of times.

“Congress played a big role in the freedom movement and gave India many great personalities,” Mohan Bhagwat said. This comes at a time when Congress has frequently questioned RSS/BJP’s contribution in the freedom movement. On the other hand, the ruling BJP had time and again invoked Congress’ contribution in the last 70 years of independence.

Mohan Bhagwat

Image source: Web

The first speech at the 3-day event titled “Bhavishya ka Bharat-an RSS Perspective” seemed like an attempt by the organization to clear the alleged misconceptions about it from the minds of people. Bhagwat further made a statement on the topic of diversity. “India’s diversity must be respected, celebrated and it should not be a reason for any discord in society,” the RSS chief said. The organization has been time and again accused of causing disharmony in the Indian society by furthering the Hindutva agenda.

Calling the organization democratic, the Sarsanghchalak reiterated that the organization believes in “Yukt Bharat, not mukt” (inclusion not an exclusion). This is the second time that the RSS chief has re-established this. Earlier, at a book launch event in Pune on April 1, RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat had said, “Congress-mukt Bharat is merely a political slogan. It is not the language of RSS.” Underlining the inclusiveness of RSS, Bhagwat had even said that RSS does not believe in such political slogans which talk about excluding anyone.

The comments made by RSS chief have come in the wake of several comments made by the BJP top leadership which often refers to the “Congress-mukt Bharat” including Prime minister Modi himself.

Bhagwat

Mohan Bhagwat on the Day 1 of RSS Conclave

If this is not the clear sign of RSS showing a significant detour from the BJP, then what is? If there’s still room left for any doubt, then one must read what Mohan Bhagwat said further. Talking about what people think about the organization, Bhagwat said that people often tell him that the organization is becoming faceless. “We want to be faceless so that we don’t become arrogant. If tomorrow pictures of Mohan Bhagwat start getting published in newspapers, it will be a matter of concern for Mohan Bhagwat,” said Bhagwat in reply. Out of all the subtle hints that the Sarsanghchalak dropped, this particular statement has to be the highlight. Was it a sly dig at once RSS worker, now PM Narendra Modi? There is hardly any chance that it is not!

In our earlier article titled, ‘Is Mohan Bhagwat drifting away from BJP?’ we elaborated that RSS fears Modi’s omnipresence may also outgrow that of Sangh’s. The RSS insiders also say that the Sangh is not much flattered with the Modi’s autocratic leadership style. Modi’s tenure has already seen the BJP decimating the alliance parties. In the last four years, BJP’s existence has been limited to the Modi-Shah duo. Narendra Modi has become the only face of the party and the government.

RSS

There has also been a significant shift in the party’s attitude which not only it reeks of arrogance but also egomania. Remember, during Atal Kalash Yatra, every front page advertisement in the newspapers and posters had big pictures of Modi and Shah while the picture of late. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was nowhere to be seen. Was the sarsanghchalak’s comment made in this regard? Or else, was it a warning bell for the Modi-Shah duo?

Taking a significant shift from BJP-who has been constantly playing up the Mughal invasion card on the opposition, Bhagwat recalled the teachings of Dr. Hedgewar-the founder of the Sangh. He said, “Dr. Hedgewar (the founding chief of the RSS) always used to say for how long will we blame the Muslim invaders and British for our state. How did it happen that a handful of invaders from thousands of miles away conquered this nation of warriors? He used to say there is some problem with you which you need to correct.”

These statements force more eyeballs to turn as they come in the light of Lok Sabha Elections. The importance of the booth-level RSS worker is tried and tested. Not only in Lok Sabha elections of 20114 but also subsequent assembly elections and even Tripura Assembly Election where the saffron storm took over the red bastion. Thus, RSS which has only grown in size since independence hinting at a shift in its political approach is a major political development in waiting.

Will RSS back Modi again? The chances are very scarce. Is it trying to cozy up with the opposition? Maybe. The opposition’s response to the invitation of Sangh’s event by turning it down says volume. However, the three days RSS event is sure to gather more steam.

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Should student elections be limited to concerned Universities?

Arti Ghargi

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It is not wrong if one may see student elections as the Launchpad for mainstream or national politics- a ticket to have a national exposure.

The recently concluded Delhi University Student Union Elections and Jawaharlal Nehru University Elections were among the topmost news last week. So much so, that the results of DUSU Elections were a top trend on the social media sites like Twitter. #DUSUElection2018 was trending all over the Twitter. For someone who has been part of Universities other than Delhi University or JNU, the amount of coverage and impetus the Student Body elections get, comes with a package of astonishment and a lot of important questions. Why in the first place, the DUSU, and JNU election get so much importance? There are total 819 odd universities in India enrolling lakhs of students. Why is it that we rarely hear about the student elections from any other university? And most importantly, do the student elections from Universities really matter in a national political arena?

Left

Image Source: Web

India has a long history of student movements and indeed a very successful and powerful one. Right from India’s freedom movement in which youth and college-going students took part in large numbers to the most recent Anti-Corruption Movement led by Anna Hazare, the student involvement was something that was at the core of why the movements gained importance. Thus, student politics and student elections remain a point of fascination. There are even people who readily equate the outcomes of DUSU Elections and JNU elections to that of national politics and mood of the nation at large. Whether these arguments hold water or not is a different question altogether.

It is not wrong if one may see student politics as the Launchpad for mainstream or national politics- a ticket to have a national exposure. After all, a leader like Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Delhi Congress President Ajay Maken, Delhi’s former BJP president Satish Upadhyay are among the many national and state-level politicians who began their political career from the student politics and the elections. The student elections are also an opportunity for the existing political parties to reach out to the young voters brimming with enthusiasm. If looked at it from this perspective, it is easy to understand why student elections thus become a matter of prestige for political parties and their student wings.

student

Image Source: Web

For now, let us take the example of DUSU elections that happened this year. The largest central university in the country has more than one lakh students. Out of which 44.5% turned up for elections. It was a clean sweep for BJP and RSS backed student wing ABVP. While ABVP won 3 seats including that of president’s, BAPSA won 1 seat. On the other hand, JNU which has been in controversy for a few years due to various reasons, saw a red storm taking the center stage.

Being the largest central university and the most controversial university in the national capital which is the center-stage for national politics, the student elections tend to reflect the national political culture at the student level. The politics at this level is heated and as much amount is splurged in these elections as in Municipal Corporation elections. The student elections in recent years have been marred by the incidents of violence, poll code violations, and expensive campaigning. Thus, the elections that are a week’s affair suddenly gain national importance.

Left

Image Source: Web

But for those, sitting away from the politically charged Delhi environment, this treatment to student elections is alienated. In country’s economic capital Mumbai, student elections hardly make it to the news headlines, let alone the front page. The elections in Mumbai University which houses more than 5 lakh students and is affiliated to as many as 700 colleges, rarely see the kind of coverage that DU or JNU student elections get.

At a time, when student body elections have become a part and parcel of national politics, the one who stands at the losing end is a student. While the topics as OROP, Triple Talaq, Rohingya Muslims take the center stage in the presidential debate, issues that worry the students in their academic and campus lives are rarely addressed. We also have heard a lot of students complaining about the disturbance in their classes and invasion of privacy in the days of student body elections. The solution is not taking the politics out of institutes. The politics which is deeply entrenched in our system is equally necessary for education institutions to hold the authorities accountable. The need is to decide what should be the degree or level of politicisation being allowed.

For starters, we can keep student elections, an affair limited to the concerned university rather than blowing it up as a reflection of the nation’s mandate at large!

 

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In Uttar Pradesh, government’s Maternity Benefit Scheme is still in the womb

Arti Ghargi

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uttar pradesh

With such a high IMR and high TFR, Uttar Pradesh spends a meager Rs 452 per capita on health.

On the eve of New Year 2017, Prime minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation. Amongst all the other schemes and their benefits, he talked about a scheme that was launched nation-wide for pregnant women in the country. The scheme named Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana aimed to provide a prenatal financial assistance to pregnant women. In his speech, PM Modi said, “This scheme will help reduce the maternal mortality rate, in a big way. This will help ensure nutrition before and after delivery, and improve the health of mother and child.” Prime Minister also cited that under the pilot project, the scheme had already benefitted women in 53 Indian districts who were given assistance of 4000 rupees each.

 Almost two years after the highly-touted project launch, not a single woman from Uttar Pradesh has benefitted from PM’s Matru Vandana Yojana, an RTI has revealed. According to the RTI filed by IANS, not a rupee of government money has been spent on maternity benefit scheme till August 2018 in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP). Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state also has the highest fertility rate among the Indian states.

The RTI further revealed that out of the states whom the funds were allocated under the scheme, Uttar Pradesh received the maximum. Out of total Rs. 2,049 crores in 2017-18 sanctioned and approved by the central government, Uttar Pradesh received the largest share of Rs. 336 crores.

Though, the positive picture states that as many as 34 lakh women across the country out of the 44 lakh enrolled stood as beneficiaries of the scheme, only 184 women enrolled in PM MVY and none of them received the benefit since its inception in January 2017.

Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana:

Image Source: Web

Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) is a Maternity Benefit Programme that is implemented in all the districts of the country in accordance with the provision of the National Food Security Act, 2013. It was launched as a replacement of Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahayog Yojana which was launched in 2010 by the then UPA government. The objective of the scheme was Providing partial compensation for the wage loss in terms of cash incentives so that the women can take adequate rest before and after delivery of the first living child. The cash incentive provided would lead to improved health seeking behavior amongst the Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers. All eligible Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers who have their pregnancy on or after 01.01.2017 for the first child in a family can receive the benefit.

The fertility rate of Uttar Pradesh:

Source: NITI Aayog Website

Uttar Pradesh, out of all the Indian states registers one of the highest fertility rates. A NITI Aayog report published in 2016, the state recorded Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 3.1. This is second highest following Bihar which has TFR of 3.3. The TFR in Uttar Pradesh is way higher than the ideal Fertility Rate suggested by the central government which is 2.4. If we look at the details of TFR district-wise, the picture is even worse. According to the data released by Health ministry in July this year, as many as 11 districts from UP have a fertility rate of 4. Nineteen districts have a total fertility rate of between 3.5 and 4, while 28 have a total fertility rate of between 3 and 3.5.

Infant Mortality Rate of Uttar Pradesh:

 

Image Source: NFHS 2015-16

According to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, UP’s Infant Mortality Rate is now the same as the strife-torn West-African nation of Mauritania (65), worse than another poor, chaotic African country, Burkina Faso (61) and only just better than Afghanistan (66). The state now also has India’s worst under-five mortality rate of 78 deaths per 1,000 live births which are comparable to that of Mozambique (79), an African nation with half of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. This is an 18-point reduction in under-five mortality from 96 per 1,000 live births ten years ago.

However, with such a high IMR and High TFR, Uttar Pradesh spends a meager Rs 452 per capita on health. India’s most populous state spends 70% less than the Indian average on health. It means one in two children in the state is not fully immunized. As well as, the state has India’s second-highest maternal mortality rate i.e. 258 deaths per 100,000 live births.

At a time when UP government spends only Rs. 452 per capita on health, the Yogi government spent Rs 65 crore on the ‘makeup’ of Lucknow to host the mega Uttar Pradesh Investors Summit 2018. The mere lip service and fund allocation will not ensure that maternal benefits will reach the needy. It has to be streamlined in a process with appropriate auditing of the fund allocated and spreading awareness of the same.

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