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8 December, 2019 01:14:23 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 9 December, 2019 11:01:13 AM


Whose path is Modi following?

India had also territorial dispute with Bangladesh over some enclaves. But it was peacefully settled
Abdul Gaffar choudhury
Whose path is Modi following?

It seems India has now entered into a territorial dispute with a third country in the subcontinent. Nepal claims Kalapani is their territory.

India in its new map has shown Kalapani as their territory. Nepal strongly protested this and said that unless India corrected their map they will not go to Delhi to meet the Indian authority. After independence, India first got involved in territorial dispute with Pakistan. Both India and Pakistan invaded Kashmir, and occupied it with India getting the larger part. In their new map India shows Kashmir as an integrated part of it. Pakistan protested vehemently against it.
For a long time India and China have been involved in a territorial dispute on McMahon Line, their Himalayan border. China refused to accept McMahon Line as the real border between the two countries. They said that this border was determined by the old British Raj and not acceptable to them. This border dispute brought the two countries into fierce battle when Nehru was the Prime Minister of India. China in its surprise attack captured many Himalayan territories, then willingly retreated keeping some under their occupation. There were regular border skirmishes till a few years ago. China even claimed some Indian border states mostly in mountain areas as part of their land. These disputes remain unsettled. India has shown this mountainous states as their part, China vehemently protested it showing those as their part of land. Though India and China are now in peaceful coexistence and having political and economic cooperation, the dispute on the mountain states still remains unsettled like sleeping volcanoes.

India had also territorial dispute with Bangladesh over some enclaves. But it was peacefully settled by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's initiative and India's helpful agreement. But the dispute over Teesta River yet remains unsettled. Both past Manmohan government and the present Modi government came forward to settle it, but could not come to a mutual agreement. Some political observers blame Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal for this deadlock. Recently Sheikh Hasina met Mamata in Kolkata as she went to witness a cricket match there. There was cordial discussion between the two and there is some hope that this Teesta dispute will also be settled peacefully very soon. The claim of Bangladesh over a part of Indian Ocean was also settled by international court order in favour of Bangladesh. If there is full territorial settlement between Bangladesh and India, still India remains in dispute with three other countries- China, Pakistan and Nepal, which may hamper economic and social unity among Asian countries.

Some Indian journalists blame India for these territorial disputes. They said, that the dispute between India and China is not unnatural. Both countries are big and powerful and they have a natural tendency to expand their dominance over the entire Asia. So a competition arises between them that they cannot avert. But India could have settled the border disputes long ago with a reasonable attitude. Some historians point out that the McMahon Line in the Himalayas is not a proper line between India and China. It was drawn by the British Raj, when these areas were under their occupation and the borderline was drawn to safeguard the British interest and empire. Even Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, refused to make a deal over this border. He showed obstinacy and went to war instead of peaceful negotiation. The Kashmir dispute was also partly created by Nehru. His forefathers were Kashmiri Brahmins. They came to Delhi during the Mughal emperor Farrukhsiyar. I do not know whether this is true or not, but when the following account was revealed it was not contradicted.

During the reign of Mughal emperor Farrukhsiyar, one of Jawaharlal Nehru's forefather was a poor Brahmin living in Kashmir. The poor Brahmin came to Delhi asking for some help from the court. Farrukhsiyar liked him very much as he was a learned man and asked him to join his Darbar. The emperor ordered a house to be built for him near a canal in Delhi. People at that time called it Nahar. The Kashmiri Brahmin occupied the house there and people began to call him Nehri— the resident of the Nahar. From this name came the family surname of the Brahmin, Nehru. Nehru felt proud as a Kashmiri Brahmin and people said that he could not think of separating Kashmir from India. That is why he even broke his promise to his friend Sheikh Abduallah and occupied Kashmir militarily, leading to a prolonged war spanning almost half a century between India and Pakistan, which is still continuing. If there was no Kashmir dispute, India and Pakistan could come closer and the whole subcontinent could have benefitted from that friendship and cooperation. Though Nehru was called ambassador of peace, he created a dispute whose flame has engulfed the whole subcontinent.

The dispute with China primarily began between Nehru and Zhou En-lai, the-then Prime Minister of China. In late 50s China and India were great friends. The crack started not with border dispute but clash of personalities between the two leaders. In the famous Bandung conference they met and with President Sukarno of Indonesia and declared Pañcasīla, a great peace formula upon which they agreed to maintain peace and cooperation between Asian countries. But there were signs in the Bandung conference that both Nehru and Zhou were ambitious to lead Asia and were aware that they would be competitors for leadership in the continent in future.

After Nehru, his daughter Indira almost entirely followed his foreign policy. Indira also could not leave the expansionist idea. During her time she did not try to settle the Kashmir issue or dispute with China but gradually took away the special status of Kashmir. Though she released Sheikh Abdullah from prison after Bangladesh war she did not allow Kashmiris to decide on their future. She relaxed the military occupation, but the occupation continued. After Indira, Rajiv Gandhi was not a match with Nehru or Indira in personality. He also became ambitious for Asian leadership and started to interfere in neighbour's internal politics especially in Srilanka. It was the Tamil rebels who killed him to take revenge for his military intervention in Srilanka. The Congress Prime Minister after Rajiv, Narasimha Rao, virtually a man of no courage and personality did not take any step to prevent the destruction of Babri mosque by Hindu communalists. He said that prevention of the destruction of the mosque was the duty of the state government not the central government. Thus he avoided his responsibility.

After Nehru and Indira, Narendra Modi is the only powerful, popular and courageous Prime minister in India, who could solve all the disputes with the neighbouring countries and take the Indian people with him to agree with his settlements. But he took a dangerous ultra-nationalist path like Trump of America. Both the leaders are not doing anything to ensure peace and prosperity of Asia and America. But their policy will ignite many sleeping volcanoes in both the continents. Trump divided the American nation and Modi's divisive policy has already divided India. His foreign policy could not make India powerful and peaceful, but a dangerous trumpet of war is sounding in the borders of Kashmir. Nepal has also become hostile to Delhi. Only Bangladesh remains a great friend of the Modi government. But there is also competition—who will win the friendship of Bangladesh ultimately, Delhi or Beijing? Modi has come to power with great pomp and glory but he may leave the throne of Delhi empty handed, like Aurangzeb, who created a vast empire ignoring the warning of his father Emperor Shah Jahan, but his policy became the root cause for the downfall of the mighty Mughal Empire. Under Modi India may appear as a great power, but does he know what will happen to India by his policy when he leaves? Does he want to be an Aurangzeb reborn?

London, Thursday 05 December, 2019




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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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