Chapter 25. Nation At War (*) (*) In the wake of Pakistani aggression in August 1965.
1. CALL OF A NEW ERA
Self-respect, nation's life-breath - Superiority of 'man' over 'machine' - Myth exploded - Nation's heroic mettle - Guideline for national policies-Destroying the real war potential - Akhand Bharat, only solution - UNO in true colours -Rule of international friendship - Kashmir, a closed chapter - Welcome bigger war.
THE recent war with Pakistan has as if electrified the entire length and breadth of our land and inspired the hearts and minds of millions of our countrymen with a new purpose and a new confidence as nothing else had done during the last eighteen years after the quitting of the British.
Self-Respect, Nation's Life-Breath
Ever since the Britishers quit this land we had been subject to growing depredations and inroads by Pakistan on the one hand and China on the other. Times without number we had to gulp down insult and humiliations at their hands. And, especially the ignominious defeat that we suffered at the hands of the Chinese in 1962 was corroding the people's morale. Serious doubts and apprehensions had begun to creep into people's mind whether our country was capable at all of protecting its integrity and sovereignty from the onslaughts of the aggressor. People's hearts were wrung with agony to see our great nation thus becoming an object of pity and ridicule in the eyes of the world.
No wonder the present experience of being able to deal a crushing blow to the aggressor; to be victorious and be able even to launch a successful counter-offensive has breathed new life into the drooping spirits of the nation. The nation's pulse has been quickened by an unprecedented upsurge of patriotic pride and self-respect. Verily this is the first and the foremost lesson that the war has taught us. The spirit of national honour and self-respect -swabhimana - is the life-breath of nation's freedom - swatantrya. That is the source from which we can tap the inexhaustible potentialities of our nation. The all-round resurgence that we witness today is because we have decided to stand up in vindication of the freedom and honour of our sacred motherland. It has touched the inmost chord of our national being and brought forth the human element of this land in its pristine glory.
Potent Men vs. Patton Tanks
It has once again given glowing evidence for the irresistible valour and virility of the children born and bred in the bosom of our great motherland. The way our jawans crushed scores of Patton Tanks, considered invincible, as so many empty match-boxes
Let us pay our grateful homage to all those noble martyrs in all ranks of our great army who by their valour and self-sacrifice have brought this great day for our country. Let not
and reduced the much-vaunted armoured divisions of the enemy to a shambles has made many, even its Western masters, sit up and ponder. They have set up an 'experts committee' to go into the causes of the debacle that their arms (and their prestige too!) suffered. But they have ignored the simple fact that in the final analysis, it is the 'man' and not the 'machine' that counts. Our superior 'man' has proved to be far superior to the superior ‘machine’ of the enemy. I for one never had any doubt about the supreme quality of our men. How can they be otherwise, being the children of those chaste and death-defying women who chose to immolate themselves willingly in the flames of jowhar rather than allow the enemies to touch them?
A Myth Exploded
Not only is physical heroism but in skill and strategy as well, our army has displayed its traditional excellence and made shortwork of all the aggressive designs of the enemy. Many were surprised to see our armies crossing the cease-fire line and the so-called international border and marching into the territory under enemy's control in Lahore and other sectors. They expected that our armies would fight a defensive war remaining within our own borders. But no one who knows the first principles of war strategy will allow one's own territory to be turned into a theatre of war and invite devastation. The battle for the freedom and integrity of the country has always to be fought deep inside the aggressor's camp. That is the essence of a successful war strategy. Truly has it been said, "Offence is the best form of defence". Our armies could bring laurels of victory to our country and cover themselves with undying glory solely because they have followed this time-honoured dictum.
Our jawans have in these few days smashed the myth assiduously built up by the British, and believed by the world and by many of our own countrymen, that we are a meek and weak lot who have always been at the mercy of any and every freebooter who chose to trample upon us. It was this myth that made even Gandhiji remark,"An average Hindu is a coward and an average Muslim is a bully." However, facts are otherwise. The bully is invariable a coward at heart. It is only when he finds the circumstances safe that he indulges in savage brutalities. To a Hindu, however, the ideal is Vajradapi kathorani, mruduni kusumadapi. He is softer than a petal in promoting brotherliness and amicable friendship, but can become harder than a diamond when the other person turns down his hand of fraternity and prepares to strike him. In fact, no society, which could give birth to a Rama, a Krishna, a Pratap, a Shivaji and a Ranjit Singh could be considered as anything but virile and valiant. A distorted presentation of our national history depicting all such great national heroes as either mythological or as only local chieftains and naming only some sections of our people as martial races had so far misrepresented the true heroic ring of our national character. Our valiant jawans have given the lie direct to that mischievous propaganda and proved that every son of the soil inherits the blood of those peerless ancestors. They have projected before the world the real mighty image of Bharat Mata with Her millions of arms raised to strike down evil forces on the face of the earth.
this moment be one of sorrow over their death. Those who have fought and sacrificed their lives on battlefield are bound to reach the highest state of bliss hereafter. Why then should anyone feel sorry for such a glorious martyrdom? On the contrary, their sacred memory should be a constant inspiration for all of us to imbibe their spirit of supreme self-sacrifice and burning resolve in the cause of safeguarding the freedom of our holy motherland.
The Unsung Saga
The way even the common man in those border areas has reacted to the enemy's challenge is no less inspiring. The people there stuck to their places. The story of heroic young men working untiringly day and night as a second line of defence, of hundreds of truck drivers in complete disregard of danger to their lives rushing right up to the front the necessary articles to our jawans, their endless toil, suffering and even death - 'unsung, unwept and unhonoured' - is a saga that can adorn the finest leaf of any war literature. About them, an army officer feelingly remarked, "We, the army men, have at least the consolation that if we die our names will shine as martyrs and the Government will give pensions to our families. But these civilians standing shoulder to shoulder with us and facing the enemy bullets have none of these prospects. Verily their spirit of self-sacrifice has excelled ours."
Leadership in New Shape
The reason why our Government could key the pitch of nation's morale to such inspiring heights is because of the healthy change that has come over their policies vis-à-vis the aggressor, from one of surrender to one of self-respect. The entire nation is filled with pride and joy at their grit and manliness. Our Prime Minister's firm stand, in the face of various pressures from UNO and other powerful countries, not to compromise our national freedom and honour, and his resolute reply to the Chinese 'three-day ultimatum' that we will not be cowed down by such threats but will fight with all our might, has steeled the nation's heart.
National Self-Interest, the Guideline
The second lesson that has been brought home to us is that in order to protect our national freedom and honour the one supreme guideline for all our national policies, internal as well as external, should be enlightened national self-interest. The present experience has proved to the hilt that no other factor - neither high-sounding slogans nor the 'goodwill' of world bodies nor even the 'friendship' of other countries - will come to our rescue and that we alone will be called upon to bear the full brunt in protecting our freedom. All our policies hereafter must be recast in that new light.
Let us consider our relations with Pakistan from this angle. Now, our Government has agreed to a cease-fire in anticipation of an honourable and lasting settlement with that intractably hostile neighbour. The firmness of our Government in staying on the line our valiant forces have reached with so much sacrifice is indeed reassuring. The line of actual
control should be confirmed as the line of cease-fire. That is how the UNO itself had decided the cease-fire line when Pakistan had aggressed into Kashmir in 1947. We should unequivocally tell the UNO to apply the same yardstick as it had applied then. The question of withdrawing even an inch from our present positions simply does not arise.
However, I feel our army should have been allowed to press forward in its victorious march and capture Lahore, Rawalpindi, Karachi and liberate the whole of Kashmir by the time U Thant came to Delhi and before agreeing to cease-fire. Then our position would have been immensely stronger and matters would have straightened out as they ought to have been. Our national prestige also would have shot up much higher.
Clarity in Objectives
During the present struggle, we often find our policy-makers at the centre declaring that our purpose is only to destroy the 'war-potential' of the enemy and not to occupy his territory. Today, doubtless, our armies have given a smashing blow to Pakistan's war-machine. The enemy tanks, jets and radars have been pounded. But Pakistan is bound to make up its losses and rearm itself. For, 'war-potential', as meaning the store of arms and ammunition, is a thing that can be rebuilt any number of times.
The 'war-potential' of Germany, for example, was completely destroyed during the First World War. But within a mere couple of decades Germany again built up its terrible war-machine and plunged the world in the Second World War.
In the present case, Pakistan's war-potential is entirely a gift from countries like America and England, which find in Pakistan a willing pawn in their overall global military strategy. We are already reading in papers that arms and ammunition are being rushed to Pakistan from Turkey, Iran and such other countries, which are obviously acting only as indirect channels for the flow of American arms to that country. The destruction of Paksitan's war-potential would, in the circumstances, mean destroying the combined war-potential of America and England. The impracticability of such a proposition is quite obvious.
Strike at the Root
Further, the policy of 'destroying the war-potential' ignores a basic fact of human nature. A person does not indulge in violence or aggression merely because he is armed but because he is driven by an evil propensity. And as long as that evil propensity persists, he is bound to arm himself again and again and prove a menace to the welfare of others. The history of aggressive nations the world over only bears out this truth.
Now, how is the evil propensity to be eliminated? We often hear our present-day leaders saying that we have no quarrel with 'evil men' as such, but with only their 'evil mentality'. But, 'evil mentality' is not something, which is tangible, which can be caught hold of and destroyed. The evil propensities invariably manifest themselves in the form of an evil person or group of such persons. And it becomes inevitable that in order to eradicate evil
we should do away with its supports, i.e., those evil men. If separation of evil nature from man was possible, Sri Rama would have destroyed only the evil propensity in Ravana - for whose other virtues he had the highest regard - all allowed him to live a good life! And again, there would have been no need for Sri Krishna to kill Kamsa or make the Pandavas slay the Kauravas. But that did not happen.
As the story goes, when Rama was cutting off the heads of the ten-headed Ravana and breaking up his bows one after another, i.e., his "war-potential", he would grow another head and take up another bow and resume fighting as before. It was only when Rama struck at Ravana's heart-the seat of his evil nature - that the Rakshasa was laid low and his dreaded evil reign came to an end. The story is a reminder of the hard fact of this world that it is inevitable to annihilate the support - the evil persons - if we have to do away with evil.
Redeem Pledge of Complete Independence
However, this does not mean that we are coveting other's land. For, 'Pakistan' is surely not a foreign land to us. 'Pakistan' is only a recent creation of political machinations. Since times immemorial, those areas have formed integral parts of our motherland. It was on the banks of the sacred Ravi at Lahore that Congress, under the Presidentship of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, pledged itself to achieve complete independence of the country. How then can the hoisting of our flag in Lahore and other parts of Pakistan be interpreted as coveting others’ land? In fact, our fight for independence can be deemed to have come to a successful close only when we liberate all those areas now under enemy occupation.
Immediately we say this, there are many who feel aghast and exclaim, "What will happen to the Muslims residing there?" but they forget that this is not a religious war between Hindus and Muslims. Ayub Khan is, in fact, tyrannising over his own co-religionists, especially in NWFP, Baluchistan and East Bengal, and has reduced them to second-class citizens. The people of NWFP and their leader Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan have always been with Bharat. They were forced to join Pakistan much against their will. The Bengali Muslims in East Bengal, groaning under the heels of Punjabi Muslims who dominate the entire State machinery in Pakistan, are already in revolt.
Reunification of those parts with Bharat would therefore be a welcome development and an act of liberation for them. They may well be Muslims by religion but they can live happily as honourable citizens just as the other Muslims here who are enjoying all the rights and privileges due to a citizens, in the single, democratic and unified Bharat. History bears testimony to the fact that Bharat, the cradle-land of religious generosity, has always welcomed and assured all religious groups a free, honourable and secure life. Even in the Vijaynagar and Maratha empires, which rose to defend our national freedom from Muslim onslaughts, Muslims were stationed in some of the highest positions of trust and responsibility.
UNO in True Colours
While pursuing our national objectives, the one deceptive pitfall that we have to avoid is attaching undue importance to what the so-called world bodies will say. All such 'world bodies' and 'world opinions' stand thoroughly exposed in their true colours today. The UNO and the Commonwealth have proved to be blatantly partial towards Pakistan. They have only repeated the ignoble role they played in 1948 of equating the aggressor with the aggressed. That the UNO is only an arena of power politics for the big powers has been proved once again. The UNO, which did not so much as open its lips when Pakistan sent its armed saboteurs inside Kashmir in thousands or even when it marched its armies across the international boundary into Bharat in Chhamb-Jaurian sector, suddenly become conscious of 'danger to world peace' when our armies, as a defence-measure, marched into Lahore sector in Pakistan! There is no doubt that if, by chance, Pakistan had succeeded in its aggressive designs, the UNO or the other powers which are now
shouting in the name of world peace, would have then coolly slept over the whole affair. Probably, America and England had even fondly hoped that their stooge Pakistan would have an easy walkover and within a matter of days capture Delhi itself.
Even in future, Pakistan may well attempt to send infiltrators and UNO cannot be expected to behave better than heretofore. No sane man, much less the policy-makers of our country, can repose an iota of trust in UNO, which has proved itself so utterly unworthy of the august name it bears. The total disregard for truth and justice - nay, the active connivance with the aggressor - which this body has exhibited is unbecoming in the extreme. Having shut its eyes to the glaring fact of the eighteen-year-old aggression by Pakistan, the UNO has verily forfeited its right to speak in the name of peace and justice.
The Rule of Friendship
The policy of America in trying to bolster up a barbarous theocratic military dictatorship as against the biggest secular democracy and the most peace-loving country in the world is deplorable in the extreme. The way our Western 'friends' in general have behaved towards us and even Russia which has so far kept mum and not condemned Pakistan as an aggressor, has only proved that it is because we had remained weak all these years we stand friendless in the world today. For, the weak are always a liability and a burden and not an asset to their friends. Naturally, the strong do not desire the friendship of the weak except to exploit the latter. Once we become powerful and decide to pursue all policies so as to suit our enlightened national self-interest backed by a strong-willed five-hundredmillion-strong nation, then all those nations which are now siding with Pakistan in the hope of keeping down Bharat with its help and establishing their influence in both the weak countries, will in their own interest be forced to align themselves with Bharat.
Proving the Fact
Even now the will and nerve that we displayed a little in sticking to the path of national interest has set the doubting Thomases and the imperialistic intriguers in the world to think afresh over the Kashmir issue. For our part, so far as the constitutional requirements are concerned, Kashmir's integration with Bharat was complete and final when the
Maharaja of Kashmir signed the Instrument of Accession and the National Conference, the people's representative body there, fully endorsed it. The argument is often advanced that we did not care for the same constitutional propriety of the ruler's approval while integrating Hyderabad and Junagarh with Bharat. Though it is a fact that the Muslim Nawabs of these States were opposed to merger in Bharat, the people there were wholly in favour of it. They were, in fact, in revolt against the rulers. But, in the case of Kashmir, as already noted, not only the Maharaja but the entire people through their representative body had unequivocally declared their wish to join Bharat. So, viewed from whatever aspect, Kashmir's integration with Bharat is irrevocable and no longer negotiable.
We should therefore firmly tell the mediating powers that the only question that remains is the vacation by Pakistan of its aggression from parts of Kashmir, which it had illegally and forcibly occupied in 1947. We should not enter into any other discussions, not even seeking an assurance from the UNO that there will not be any further aggression by Pakistan. In the past all such assurances have been found to be meaningless. Even in the present, the UNO has, in spite of all its solemn assurances, failed to check the armed infiltrators or the regular army of Pakistan from entering Kashmir. And if for implementing its assurance in future the stationing of foreign troops is implied, then there cannot be anything more disgraceful for a great country like ours than to allow foreign troops to be stationed on our soil for the protection of our boundaries. To exhibit any sign of slackening of will at this hour and allow once again the foreign powers to play their dirty game of power politics would seriously affect the splendid morale of our people and undo all the beneficial effects that have accrued to us by the limitless suffering and self-sacrifice of our jawans on the battlefield. We should not lose on the diplomatic front what we have gained on the military front.
In this connection, I feel our Prime Minister ought not to have consented to go to Tashkent for talks, because Russia, by calling Bharat and Pakistan together, has put the aggressor and the victim of aggression on the same footing. After all, what is there to talk? With Pakistan continuing in its bellicose mood and trying to impose a solution by force, what useful purpose can be served by talking to them? Until and unless Pakistan accepts the fact that Kashmir is an integral part of Bharat, nothing can come out of such talks. Or if something does come out it will only be adverse to our interests.
Settle Once for All
The danger of a fresh attack by Pakistan is still there. It is now busy trying to turn the present cease-fire into a camouflage and augment its forces. It has known, though at a heavy price, our weapons, military strategy, our strength and our weaknesses. It is bound to take a lesson from the present experience, make up all its deficiencies and prepare itself for a more powerful and better planned attack. War-mongering nations have always utilised the recess after a war to prepare for a much bigger further war. In fact Pakistan is already fast replenishing its losses in arms. It is continuing in its aggressive posture and violating the cease-fire line with impunity. It has occupied hundreds of square miles of our territory after the cease-fire. Killing of our people, lifting our cattle, cutting of crops, sniping and shelling are going on unabated. This is a situation insulting to us in the
extreme. It is intolerable. It should not be allowed to hang on like this for long. There should be some finality about it. The issue should be decided once for all.
Welcome Bigger War
Let us not be unnecessarily alarmed about the evil combination of China and Pakistan. We can most certainly bring to knees both the aggressors. Our army is in excellent fighting trim. Their morale is splendid. Indeed it would have been highly desirable if China had followed up its ultimatum and invaded our country. That would have given our fighting forces a golden opportunity to make China lick the dust and to wash off the stigma of defeat and dishonour attached to our name in our last encounter with China. The world would then have witnessed the supreme heights of our Bharatiya heroism, for what fun is there in merely fighting a petty power like Pakistan?
On the international front too, such a grim and all-out struggle with China would have had extremely beneficial effects. Russia, in its own interest, would never take a chance of allowing so big a country as Bharat to go under the control of China. This consideration would have goaded Russia to assist Bharat, directly or indirectly, to resist China's aggression. America, too would have been forced to reconsider its policy vis-a-vis Bharat and Pakistan. For obvious reasons, it would not have risked, by itself helping Pakistan, which had gone over to China's camp completely, the possibility of China emerging supreme and unchallenged on the Asian scene. It would have probably come to the conclusion that after all, Bharat, the biggest member in the comity of democracies, could be a greater support in the long run to it than Pakistan, which is only a puffed-up military dictatorship. That would have also afforded it an opportunity to set right the wrong foreign policy it had pursued so far. The lesson of the present war that a dummy country like Pakistan, however well armed, cannot browbeat a big and virile nation as Bharat, would have acted as a major factor in reshaping its policies. The strong and freedom-loving Bharat would thus have become the meeting ground for the two nuclear giants for a joint front against China-the one common menace to entire humanity-which would have been a most desirable development in the interests of world peace.
Such a total war, unlike the present limited one, would have involved every one of our countrymen in active participation in an all-out war effort and that would have been a great chastener of the national mind. The long spell of slavery and submissive living under the British has bred many a vice of indolence, selfishness, parochialism, etc., in us. All these vices and weaknesses would have been completely burnt in the fire of a long-drawn war and the pure gold of a united and heroic nationhood would have emerged ever more resplendent. It is therefore that a bigger and total war is welcome in spite of the temporary hardship it may entail us. In fact, we should heartily pray for such a war, though we are traditionally instinctive lovers of peace and not war-mongers; for that is the price we have to pay for peace with freedom and honour and the sooner we pay the price the better.
2. MEETING THE CHALLENGE
Self-reliance, backbone of freedom; Atom Bomb - Challenge of the belly - Break spell of money - Price of foreign dependence - England's example - Building nation's morale - Government's responsibility - Path of assimilating doubtful elements - Present war, a great chastener -Upsurges and lasting integration - Hindu Nationalism, acme of all 'isms'.
LOOKED at from any angle, the present situation is both a challenge and an opportunity to our people. The major challenge that we are called upon to face is in achieving self-sufficiency in all vital sectors of our national life.
Backbone of Freedom - Self-Reliance
The great fact of national life that self-reliance - swavalambana - forms the backbone of a free and prosperous nation has never been so forcefully brought home to us as at present. And the first and foremost sphere where we have to achieve self-dependence is defence. For this we must build up our own war-potential and free ourselves from dependence on foreign aid. The Government should appeal to all the industrialists, scientists and technicians and with their co-operation manufacture, at the earliest, weapons superior to those available to the enemies. The possession of atom bomb by Communist China has made it imperative for us to manufacture the same. That alone will ensure confidence in the minds of the people and the armed forces about our ability to achieve ultimate victory. No doctrinaire or academic inhibitions should be allowed to come in the way.
Every Labourer and Scientist
Further, all of us - peasants, workers, industrialists and those in all other walks of life - have to make a determined effort to increase production of all essential commodities and free the country from the present abject dependence on other countries even for our daily bread. Every factory and field must come up with record production. We simply cannot brook scarcity or deficiency in vital goods.
And especially to the scientists war affords a great challenge. Many of the most notable inventions have been made by scientists under the serious stress and strain of war. Necessity, it is said, is the mother of invention. Radar was devised by Britain and the atom was split during the Second World War. Our scientists are no less a match in intelligence and originality to the greatest of any other country. Let them now accept the challenge of the times and bring forth such discoveries and inventions, the mere intimation of which will unnerve the enemies and which, at the same time, can be converted into instruments of national prosperity in times of peace.
Challenge of the Belly
Then there is the food sector, which calls for our paramount and urgent attention. As all know our country is faced with the growing problem of food scarcity. Agitations and demonstrations demanding adequate and prompt supply of food-grains have become almost the order of the day. Often, the agitations take a violent turn. It is true that agitation has today become the accepted mode of giving vent to people's grievances. If people sit quiet and suffer mutely, Government too sleeps and becomes callous to the people's suffering. Sense does not dawn upon our Government in time to avert unseemly agitations. The glaring instance of Kolhapur is before us. There were food agitations in that town. Hungry mobs indulged in looting and rioting. It is said that if food-grains had reached Kolhapur a week earlier the riots would not have taken place. It was only after rioting and looting that food-grains were rushed there.
But from the point of view of finding a lasting solution, will mere agitations help? Production and distribution are the two aspects of the food problem. To some extent, the agitations may force the Government to concentrate on the second aspect, i.e., distribution. But has it made anyone sit up and think about the basic problem of production and try to find out lasting solution for that?
Break Suicidal Spell of Money
For example, we find that millions of acres of our fertile land have gone under cash-crops. Take the case of U.P. and Bihar. Substantial parts of that rich wheat and rice producing tract have now gone under sugar-cane. The result is that U.P., which used to export wheat, cannot now subsist without importing it from Punjab or somewhere else. In Maharashtra, there is a race for growing grapes, mostly for preparing wine out of it. In Andhra, a separate department for tobacco development is set up to encourage tobacco growing. Groundnut is another such cash crop. We must cry a halt to this trend and reclaim those lands for growing food-grains. If we are to import, we may as well import, for instance, sugar in place of wheat. If imports stop in the case of an emergency as the present one, at the most sugar imports may be stopped. We do not die for want of sugar, but we will certainly die for want of wheat and rice. Today, we know how our leaders are running about for import of American wheat under PL 480. They feel that without the loan-it is loan, not aid-we will not be able to survive.
Now, why do people go in for cash crops? That is because we have given undue importance to money in our day-to-day life. Money is only a medium of exchange and an instrument. Unfortunately, that instrument has been allowed to become our master. If this money-oriented outlook dominates our life, how can we ever expect the villages to produce food-grains sufficient to feed themselves and also the city-dwellers? And without food-grains how can we survive? Surely we cannot eat money and exist!
The idea that self-sufficiency in food is a 'must' for our national defence should be instilled in the minds of our farmers all over the land. They should be made to feel it a sacred call of national duty to grow food-grains sufficient to feed our population. And then only if they choose, they can grow other cash-crops. The Government and the people
must devise all such measures whereby our country will become self-dependent in this foremost need.
Price of Foreign Dependence
As days go by, the urgent need for self-reliance is becoming more and more painfully clear to us. The decision of the Government to continue to release liberal supplies of canal water to Pakistan, when for want of water crops on our side are withering, and also to continue payment of crores of rupees at a time when every pie is to be conserved for our defence, is a striking instance in point. It is obvious that we have succumbed to the pressure of World Bank on whose obligation we depend for monetary aid. The saying, 'Beggars are not choosers' - and so are debtors! - has come true to a letter in our case. This is the price we are paying for not having taken care to make our economy self-reliant all these years. The habit of begging for food, for money and for everything over the last eighteen years has verily sapped our spirit of self-effort and manliness and reduced us to abject servility. Here was the chance for our leaders to resist all outside pressures and refuse to pay a single pie or release a single drop of water to Pakistan which would only go to feed its aggressive appetite. The so-called commitment under the Canal Waters Treaty had stood automatically cancelled immediately Pakistan invaded our country. In fact, our leaders ought to have demanded full compensation from Pakistan for all our losses caused by its wanton aggression and payment of all the dues it owes us under various agreements over the last eighteen years since Partition. Though such a firm stand might have entailed immediate hardship to us, it would have steeled the nation with a new resolve to make our economy self-sustaining hereafter.
Let us realise that there are no short-cuts for preserving national freedom and honour. Every nation has to plod the hard path of self-reliance and self-sacrifice to reach that goal.
A Moral to Remember
There is a small story with a moral. A bird had built a nest in a field. When the crop was ready for harvest the landlord came there and asked his sons to send word for his relatives to come and help them in harvesting. The infants in the nest heard the landlord's instructions and were alarmed. They reported the same to their mother in the evening and urged that they leave the nest at once. But the mother bird put them at ease saying that there was no hurry. A couple of days passed but nobody turned up to harvest. The landlord again came to the fields and told his sons to send word to his servants to do the job. When the little ones reported this to the mother she again told them not to worry. Again, for the third time, the landlord came to the fields and told his sons, "Now it seems no one else is willing to help us. We shall ourselves attend to this work tomorrow." When this remark was reported to the mother bird then she said, "Well, now it is time for us to depart from here. Till today the landlord was depending upon others to do his work and therefore there was no chance of the work being started. Now that he himself has decided to come in person the work will surely start from tomorrow."
The story has a lesson as much for nations as for individuals. And we need to remind ourselves of this at this juncture, more than at any other time.
A Shining Example
Our people need to be trained in this practical aspect of patriotism. It is not enough if
we merely wish well of the country. We have to understand how best to express our aspirations of national welfare in practice and act accordingly.
There is the glowing example of England, of how they gave practical shape to their inborn spirit of patriotism when the situation demanded. When the First World War broke out, it became difficult for England to import food-stuffs from countries like Bharat. Ships carrying food-stuffs were being torpedoed by Germany. England was then faced with the challenge of the belly, which threatened to undo all their plans of war. They chalked out a master plan for bringing under plough every bit of cultivable land. They assessed the nature and quantity of crops that could be produced, and applied themselves vigorously and systematically on the food front for one year, with the result that they achieved self-sufficiency in food at least to the extent of meeting their barest needs and thus successfully met one of the major challenges of the war. England, with a low percentage of cultivable land, achieved this miracle. In contrast, how vast and fertile is our country! Our country is in fact known for its fertility of soil. And still, we are unable to achieve self-dependence in this vital sector. To meet this challenge, it requires rousing and applying our national will in constructive channels.
Building Nation's Morale
And that brings us to the all-important question of maintaining the nation's morale at the highest pitch. For the immediate and long-range plans for achieving self-sufficiency and self-reliance in defence, in food, in industrial production, etc., entirely depend for their success on the preparedness of each one of our countrymen to offer his 'blood, sweat and tears' over a long number of years. The intense rousing of national consciousness can alone open up the perennial springs of such a spontaneous and joyful spirit of self-sacrifice among the people. Therefore it is of utmost moment that every sphere of our national endeavour exercises vigilance so as to keep up the splendid national morale in evidence today.
The business community has a vital role to play in this regard. During war, commodities go scarce, demands grow and there is a tendency to make bigger profits. Especially in areas directly hit by the enemy, in the face of destruction of life and property, anti-social and unscrupulous traders get a chance to hold the people to ransom. In 1962, under the shadow of Chinese aggression, when people began to flee Tejpur and cross Brahmaputura, even the riksha-pullers and the boatmen charged as much as Rs. 50 to Rs. 100 for carrying a 'single person! Similar things have happened in Jamnagar recently. Instead of rushing to the rescue of our brethren in mortal peril, to exploit their difficulty
and squeeze them further is nothing short of trading in human misery, nothing short of cannibalism. Raising of prices of essential commodities is no less reprehensible.
The business community should beware of this tendency and see that such a vital sector does not become a menace to people's morale in these crucial times.
Let every village and town maintain its all-round morale and not exhibit the slightest sign of laxity. No incident should take place anywhere that will tell upon the morale of our men on the war front. Strict watch and control over elements bent upon disturbing internal peace and order and sabotaging the war efforts should be exercised. There is no reason to allow ourselves to fall into complacent relaxation. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. All activities regarding civil defence as well as alertness and watchfulness about anti-social and anti-national elements must continue in full swing so as not to give any chance to fifth-columnists aided by infiltrators to jeopardise the country`s security from within.
In this regard, the Government has a special responsibility. Not only should they be extremely alert and determined to deal with all such subversive elements with an iron hand, but should also publicise the stern measures they have taken whenever such incidents take place.
The shooting down by Pakistan of the civilian plane carrying Sri Balawant Rai Mehta, the Chief Minster of Gujarat, and killing him is an instance in point. Grave doubts have arisen in the people`s mind whether Pakistani agents inside our borders had given the clue to the enemy in advance over the transmitter, The people also know for certain that such transmitters are working all over the country. Even to this day, the government has not allayed the anxiety of the people whether the enemy agents involved in such incidents have been caught and punished. In the absence of any authoritative information, people are bound to entertain serious doubts regarding the efficacy of our security arrangements to deal with internal enemies. That would seriously shake people`s confidence in the Government which would be a grave tragedy in the present times. If the Government has tracked down the culprits it should inform the people so that they will feel assured of the competency of our internal security arrangements and their fervour to co-operate with the Government will be reinforced.
Not Money but Nation First
In whatever the Government does; it should unfailingly keep in mind the supreme consideration of making the people nation oriented in every one of their activities. The Government’s offer of a cash award of five hundred rupees to anyone who apprehends a Pakistani paratrooper betrays a singular lack of imagination to appreciate the impulses that move in such critical times. Instead of the money-oriented appeal, they ought to have
appealed to the patriotic instinct of the people and called upon them to track down the deceitful foe who was out to sabotage our nation from within. If money is the only appeal, then, Pakistan’s award of one thousand rupees for an ally of the saboteur may well nullify our Government’s appeal and make a traitor out of him. In fact, the enemy paratroopers carried huge sums of money to purchase our people as partners in their nefarious designs. Money-oriented appeal may, by making our people conscious of money in place of nation, therefore, have quite the opposite effect to the one our Government intends.
Path of Assimilation
As the present occasion has shown, it was the intense rousing of national consciousness and prowess that has held in check, and to some extent even neutralised, the powerful Pakistani elements spread all over the land. In the past they have given the country a lot of trouble. Till now, the riots that have been breaking out now and then, the violence indulged in and even in the recent crisis, the suspicious conduct of some of them, do make us say that they have so far refused to be assimilated in the main current of national life.
In this regard it would be useful for the Muslims here to emulate the example of their co-religionists in countries like Iran, Turkey etc. When Islam spread from Arabia to those neighbouring countries, the local people there adopted the Islamic creed but retained their culture and language and way of life. In Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim country, the children begin their learning with lessons about Rama and Sita. It is only here that the local Muslims disowned their ancestors, their languages, customs and all such elements of national heritage. And it is this oblivion of their ancestry that has led to the partition of the country.
The change is visible in them today may well be the product of the situation – in which Bharat has displayed its valour and fortitude – and proved to the world how soundly it can thrash the mischief-mongers. However, let us hope the change is due to sincere change of heart on their part and that in course of time, they will realise that they too were once Hindus, that it is their duty to be loyal to this land, to serve it honestly, to share the joys and sufferings of their compatriots and to respect the traditions of this land. On our part, we should remain vigilant and strong-willed so that all such wavering elements will find it in their own interest to merge in the mainstream of nationalism.
The Great Chastener
The supreme need of exercising alertness in keeping aglow the national consciousness and morale can best be illustrated by the problem of forging enduring national solidarity. Today, no doubt, we see our national mind cast in a splendid mood of united effort and self-sacrifice. Till yesterday selfishness, party bickering, scramble for power and internal strife were rending our national life to shreds. The spirit of separatism was rearing its ugly head under a hundred and one pretexts. Now all that is getting consumed by the sacred flames of the sacrificial pyre of our valiant jawans. The inspiring sight of our
jawans drawn from all corners of the country, right from Kerala and Madras to Punjab and Bengal, standing shoulder to shoulder on the battlefield, sharing their joys and sorrows together, fighting and dying together for the defence of our country, has projected the image of a single indivisible motherland – the great Bharat Mata. The immortal springs of our innate national unity have now been once again opened up and the whole country with all its variety, so bewildering to those who cannot grasp our peculiar web of life, has stood united as one colossal corporate personality – Virat Purusha.
Upsurges and Lasting Integration
But can we be sure that all this will endure and that the fissiparous tendencies and vices that were eating into the vitals of our body-politic have now become permanently a thing of the past?
Our experience after the Chinese invasion in October 1962 has lesson for us in this regard. In the wake of that aggression, our people rose as one man and displayed unparalleled unity of our purpose and action. But, after the Chinese declared unilateral cease-fire and withdrew, how long did that national spirit last! A single instance will suffice to show how short-lived it was. Recently (January 1965), a movement was launched in Madras inspired by hatred against one of our own languages, Hindi, and infatuation for a foreign tongue, English. Crores worth of national property was destroyed. A prominent leader of the English-loving section even declared that hereafter it was impossible for the people in the North and the South to live together and that vivisection of the country into North and South was the only way out. Where then had all the speeches and pledges of national oneness administered to the people hardly a couple of years ago in the wake of Chinese invasion disappeared?
Already in the present emergency, we are hearing voices indicating a relapse into old habits. The Punjabi Suba controversy which had erupted by the ‘ultimatum’ of fasting and self-immolation by Sant Fateh Singh had subsided for the time being by his withdrawing the same in the wake of Pakistani aggression. But immediately the ceasefire was announced, the old quarrel has been revived once again and Punjab, still wet with the blood of martyrs in the cause of motherland, is already plunging headlong into internecine strife.
A Sad Experience
Even our leading personalities do not seem to have learnt the lessons and imbibed the right attitudes. I have had a very sad experience in this regard, even in the present context. Soon after Pakistan launched the aggression our Prime Minister invited the leaders of various political parties and also me for consultations. In that meeting, one of the leaders was repeatedly saying, “Your army”, “Your army”. Every time he used that term I suggested to him to say “Our army”. But when he persisted I cut him short saying, “What are you speaking? Do you know what your words would imply?” this sharp reminder put him on the alert and he corrected himself thereafter. I must confess that I
The sooner we realise this fundamental fact of national life, the better it is for us. The real and abiding source of inspiration can only be found in the spirit of unalloyed
was taken aback at the entire tone and tenor of the participating members. There appeared to be no unifying thought or purpose except a vague idea of repelling the aggressor. They all appeared to have come there as representatives of groups and even mutually opposed camps!
In fact, this tendency to relapse into old ruts has been one of our serious undoings in past history. Our society is like Kumbhakarna, who used to wake up for a while, have a nice grub and then doze off into deep slumber once again! Our sense of relaxation and complacency after a victory, and relapsing into old feuds and dissensions, would give the enemy the chance to strike again in a bigger way and defeat us. One of the chief causes of our defeat in the 1857 War of Independence was that the initial successes that our freedom fighters registered made them complacent. Except the few top leaders like Nana Saheb, Tatya Tope, etc., the local leaders and the rank and file of the revolution relaxed and did not press their positions of advantage to complete victory. The result was, the English got breathing time to get over the first shock of the uprising and mobilise their forces for giving a crushing blow to the freedom forces.
National consciousness and national solidarity have therefore to be rooted in something deeper and more positive than in the mere upsurge of feelings at the moment of enemy aggression. Where then shall we search for the taproots of such an enduring national solidarity and devotion?
All 'Isms' at Their Noblest!
During the present crisis, various appeals have been made by our leaders in order to invoke the spirit of sacrifice and suffering and united effort to throw out the aggressor. Appeal has been made in the name of democracy, secularism and socialism. The spirit of democracy at its best, which confers the right of freedom of speech, thought and action on the individual, is nowhere more fully recognised and practised than in the age-old Hindu tradition. If by secularism is meant that the State should not be tagged to any particular creed and that all faiths should be equally respected, then this again would be another name for Hindu tradition. In fact, Hindu tradition goes far beyond the Western concept of mere tolerance; it respects all faiths as equally sacred. If by socialism is meant removal of economic inequality, then here again it is the Hindu thought and practice that stand as the unfailing guarantee for social and economic justice. Manu has declared that a man's right to property is limited to the amount of food he needs for the day. He who seeks to hoard more is a thief and must be punished.
All told, these various concepts can all be conveyed to our people and in a much better manner - in terms of Hindu tradition and nationalism which is already in their blood since ages. And therein lies the real source of inspiration, which can rouse all the traditional virtues of self-sacrifice and heroism in our people and make them offer gladly and spontaneously whatever is expected of them in the present national trial.
nationalism. The feeling of burning love for Bharat Mata, the great and sacred mother of us all, the intense consciousness of our being a single and indivisible brotherhood as the children of that common mother, and pride in our glorious national past, in our unique cultural heritage and aspiration to see our Bharat Mata reseated in her pristine glory and honour in the comity of nations, can alone act as a constant and powerful incentive capable of taking up in its sweep the greatest as well as the humblest of the land and bring out the best in them. That alone shall bring into full play invincible potency of our people so amply demonstrated in the present crisis and make them realise the inspiring vision of an invincible united Bharat Mata holding in one hand Kamala, the power to bless the good, and in the other the Vajra, the power to strike down evil, the embodiment of Brahma-teja and Kshatra-teja.