Wednesday, November 26, 2014

India – Pakistan war 1947 (Historical blunder 1)

When India and Pakistan were given independence in August 1947, the British Government gave the choice to the Princely States, existing then in the Indian sub-continent, to join either India or Pakistan. With the efforts of Sardar Vallabhai Patel, the then Home Minister, who was also known as the ‘Iron Man of India’, 566 Princely states (excepting 3 states) chose India.

Maharaja Hari Singh
Maharaj Hari Singh
At that time, Jammu & Kashmir State was ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh (Father of Dr Karan Singh, a well known leader presently).  The state, with a majority of Muslims, was ruled by a Hindu King. The state consisted of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladak.  While the Kashmir Valley had a majority Muslim population, the people in Jammu and Ladak were mainly Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists.  As he was under pressure from both India and Pakistan to accede to their Governments, he postponed his decision.

Pakistan invading India

Meanwhile, in October 1947, Pakistan organised a clandestine invasion of the State by a force of Pathan tribesmen, ex-servicemen and soldiers ‘on leave’. They broke out in Pooch in Southwest of Kashmir.  The Pakistan army gave them full support and back-up as  they wanted to capture Kashmir within a week.  Maharaja’s army could not withstand this sudden invasion.

Kashmir accedes to India

In the afternoon of 26th October 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh (photo) offered to accede to India and this was accepted by the then Governor General Lord Mountbatten on the following day.  Within a few hours, the Indian Army was sent to Kashmir valley to drive out invading tribal people and Pakistan army men.

Indian Army fighting back Pakistan

At that time, the Indian Army was under the control of the British officers and they had some technical problems in entering Kashmir to fight against the Pakistan army.  The Indian Army under the leadership of Major S K Singh (who later became the Governor of J & K State entered Kashmir Theatre.  In spite of bad weather, they managed to airlift the army men in 800 Dakota sorties from Delhi to Srinagar within a short time. `Lord Mountbatten recorded: “In my long experience of war, I have not come across another such massive airlift carried out so successfully.”

Sudden orders to cease fire

The Indian Army was highly successful in chasing out the invaders.  Had they continued for another week or a little more, they would have flushed them out completely. Meanwhile, the Indian Army got the orders to cease fire and to halt the advance to Muzaffarabad. The British Commander, Russell was surprised by the orders. He felt they were losing a golden opportunity. He was of the view that the Indian forces should advance to   Muzaffarabad and seal the border by securing the two bridges at Kohala and Domel. Sealing the entry points into Kashmir, he opined, would also relieve the pressure on the besieged forces in Poonch.

The then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru took up the matter with the UN Security Council and under Resolution 47 of UN, ordered Pakistan to withdraw the troops for a free and fair ‘plebiscite’ in Jammu & Kashmir region.  Although Pakistan did not withdraw their troops from the J & K Region, the cease fire came into force from 1st Jan 1949.  

Was India’s  move an historical blunder?

Because of this, Pakistan occupied nearly 35% of the J & K Region ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh, who acceded to India. This portion is still known as ‘Pakistan occupied Kashmir’ and the problems continues till date.

According to the Army officers and the political leaders of that day, taking up Kashmir issue to UN by Pandit Nehru was a great ‘historical blunder’.  If the Indian Army  had continued the war for another week without declaring a unilateral cease fire, the Indian army would have flushed all the invaders out of the Indian territory and Kashmir would not have become a grave issue today.  The Indian Army site even records the event like this(

Quote: Before the remaining areas occupied by Pakistan could be liberated by Indian troops, a cease fire came into effect on 1 January 1949. After bitter fighting lasting 14 months, UN mediation brought about an uneasy truce. Unquote.

Since the majority of the Kashmiri people at that time were more keen on joining India, ‘plebiscite’ immediately after the flushing out invaders would have permanently resolved the Kashmir issue.  Instead the then Indian Government took this issue to UN for intervention, which complicated the problem further and it  remains unresolved till date.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Narendra Modi – Statesman cum Rock Star in Australia

The recent visit of the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to Australia and other countries to participate in the G20 Summit has raised eyebrows of many international leaders. His speeches at the G20 Summit and the Australian Parliament has promoted the image of India among the world leaders.  After Obama, Modi was the much sought after leader for individual meetings by many leaders.

The visit of an Indian Prime Minister to Australia after 28 years has raised hopes among the Indian Australian community. Six hundred volunteers, mainly youth, worked for nearly two months non-stop to arrange the big event in Sydney, where Modi spoke.  More than 21,000 people attended the meeting, addressed by Modi in the evening of the 17th of November, 2014.  A special train named 'Modi Express' was run between Melbourne and Sydney to enable people to attend the Modi speech. Besides, a large number of native Australians too attended the event. Gujarati Muslims, dressed in traditional attire, were also present at the event. 

The following day, Modi had addressed 500 top  business leaders at  Melbourne. This event was organised by the Australia India Business Council. Accompanied by cricket legends like Kapil Dev, Gavaskar, and VVS Lakshman, he unveiled the ICC World Cup 2015 Trophy in the presence of the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott at the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCG). 

During his visit to Australia, Modi generated the 'Modi Fever' among all including the media, in the entire country.  He presented to them a new vision of India that combines nationalism with modernity.  When Modi spoke, the world leaders listened to him.

The local media described Modi’s visit as a grand success. It is opined that even Obama’s visit did not create such an impact.  More than a political leader, he proved himself to a 'rock star', attracting the attention of everybody. 

On behalf of Primepoint blog, K. Srinivasan interviewed Prof. Murali Dharan, an Indian Australian, living in Sydney for more than 30 years. The interview was conducted through email. 

Prof. Murali is a senior Management Professor and also the Chair of the Education Industry Chapter of Australia India Business Council, which had organised Modi’s Melbourne meet with top business leaders.  

Q: This is the first time after 28 years that an Indian Prime Minister has visited Australia.  What is the feeling about this among the Indians there?

A:  All the Indians in Australia, both young and  old, awaited the Indian PM in
Australia for 28 years and  all were excited when he arrived. PM Modi is a man with a mission. He showed great leadership, friendship, common-touch and a great sense of humour, to capture the hearts and  minds of the Indians and the Australians in Australia. Every paper carried the news about him on the front page. Several of them described his visit as 'sensational', 'rock-star performance' etc. It is not just a mass popularity. Many  economic and business professionals too believe that he has struck the right agreements and partnerships to deliver great trade, business and other mutual benefits for people of India and Australia.

Q: There were many international leaders during that time.  What did the Australian Government and the people there feel about the visit of the Indian PM.  How did they view Modi?

A:  Modi is seen as a  special leader, since he represents  the largest democracy, the third largest economy  and  the emerging superpower.  Due to his charisma and  friendliness  with the Australian PM, Tony Abbott,  the Australian PM addressed Modi several times, using his first name, Narendra. The positive vibes between these leaders were reflected during their joint participation in the G20 sessions, joint sitting of the Parliament and the Melbourne Cricket Ground with cricketers.

Modi is seen as a great leader with a 'Can-Do' attitude, who can transform India, cut down bureaucracy and improve conditions. For instance, Modi announced that all Australians would get the Visa-On-Arrival, thus cutting down a major hurdle for many Australians wanting to visit India.

Modi also signed 5 major treaties, including a joint military and security cooperation treaty with Australia. This is a critical step in regional security, which could be aimed at containing China.

Q:  As a management professor, do you feel that this visit of the Indian PM will help improve the relations and trade between the two countries.  How does India stand to gain?

A: India should gain substantially from this visit, most definitely in the business, trade and investments by Indians. Several Indian business leaders accompanied Modi and engaged with their Australian counterparts. Indian students, arts and culture will stand to benefit immensely, with Modi promising to open an Indian Cultural Centre in Sydney by February, 2015. People to people engagements will increase considerably. Australian minerals, especially coal, gas, and uranium will provide the fuel to fire the engine of India's economy for several decades, delivering energy security for India. There is no doubt that skilled Indian youth will deliver services in all sectors of Australia for years to come. This is a win-win situation for both the countries.

Q: How do you rate Modi as a communicator, when compared to other international leaders?

A: He can be described as a practical Indian leader with the common touch but with the image of a rock-star abroad! A great communicator as he changes the pitch of his voice to the audience, he proved himself a great statesman in the Australian Parliament, while coming across as a common man when speaking to the Indian diaspora. He spoke about the day-to-day problems (peppered with lot of humour) and told how he intended to resolve them. As he stood with the Australian leaders, he was a visionary leader of 1.2 billion people!

Q: Can you describe your experience and feeling about Modi visit, in a single sentence?

A: Moment of great pride and transformation for India.

Please watch this rendering of the national anthem of India, Jana Gana Mana by 20,000 people at the Olympic Arena in Sydney. This was filmed by me with a small camera!

Prof. Murali Dharan can be reached at 

By K. Srinivasan Edited by Susan Koshy

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