Ranjit B Rai
With BJP-RSS in power and heavily divided politics with etiquette and history in short supply (Papers are not released), the death anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was privately celebrated by the Family at Rajghat on 21st with loyalists. No Ekta Day ! India’s apolitical Military must accept it is more a political India which may see strains for senior ranks.
But what concerns IDF is Rajiv Gsndhi’s legacy on the Military and that lies in the Bofors Scandal actions and files that stalled modernization which hurts today and the unfortunate foray in to Sri Lanka in OP Pawan 1987-91 when 1400 Olive Green lost their souls.
In the book cited above both are explained in Chapters but Op PAWAN needs study by the Armed Forces with original papers which must be released to learn lessons, as History seems to be Repeating itself as it does, in J &K. Next door Pakistan has become a Rabid Emboldened Nation supported by China’s CPEC for China’s strategic ambitions in the Indian Ocean Region. China feels India’s Net Security Provider excludes China from the Security Structure in IOR and now by a QUAD. Can India get back POK and hurt CPEC …without military action is the question Armed Forces and NSA must have studied.
In Op PAWAN the Government under Rajiv as RM also for his own embarrassment on BOFORS gun scandal which had erupted, asked the Army Chief to solve a militant Insurgency in Sri Lanka at short notice unprepared as explained in another Chapter well aware it was supported by many in Tamil Nadu in India. It was therefore a major political problem for Sri Lanka’s sharp President Jayawardhne.
History shows Armies (Ireland Israel USA in West Asia) can only pressurize a group militarily, not solve a Political Problem. Indian Air Force supported. In Op PAWAN India’s Navy was in the thick with the Army but came out unscathed with one MVc and two VRcs on Army’s recommendation. Shows Army’s magnanimity and appreciation as Navy saved a full battalion.
Russia took Crimea from Ukraine with local support and military action. This may be required for India’s territories under political cloud.
IDF’s analysis is still incomplete on Op PAWAN as papers are denied but two visits to Sri Lanka which has a Memorial for Indian army IDF wonders if the fine Indian Army which is trained to fight adversaries has again been trapped to solve the unrest and the local militancy in Jammu & Kashmir and the attacks from across the border from Pakistan, when it seems it has become a Political Problem, with a two political differing coalition of PDP-BJP.
The jury is out as debate’s rages in the media on the Current Cease Fire diktat by the Home Ministry as RM Sitaraman stated ! In Op Pawan Gen K Sundarji accepted the challenge and Chairman COSC termed it ‘Sunder’s war’ !
So IDF tables the last lines in the chapter of the book on Rajiv Gandhi and few excepts.
In conclusion it is proved that a good man like Rajiv Gandhi does not a good leader make. Only educated, experienced, knowledgeable and capable people can lead. If they are good men too, it is better. But in this chapter, the historian must ask of Rajiv Gandhi; was he Enfant Terrible or the Statesman of Stature as we are led to believe, because that is the way of India, never speak ill of the Nehru family. Historians will have to answer this question, not me.
CHAPTER 12 —THE PERIOD A LA RAJIV GANDHI 1984-89
FIVE YEARS FROM PROMISE TO PARODY — A HOMAGE
“Bad administration can destroy good policy, and good administration, in turn, can never save bad policy.” Adlai Stevenson
“Rajiv had neither a vision of policy nor experience in administration . He was a very good person with handsome looks. He hailed from the Nehru Dynasty.” RR
“Indira Gandhi’s successor was completely bereft of a conceptual understanding of complex emerging realities, left the Congress shorn of all ideological awareness.” Chandan Mitra 1997– on Rajiv as Congress President.
To Rajiv Gandhi Ted Koppel of ABC Nightline in USA on 13 Jun. 1985:
“Forgive me, because this sounds like a rather indelicate question. But how does someone from five years ago having no role in politics [go on ] to suddenly become Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy ? A huge Jump ?
Rajiv Gandhi’s Reply :“Well, we have a fantastic thing called the democratic process”. (Karnataka showed Democracy and IDF worries of the future there),
Bulshit, emotional Indians saw Rajiv on TV, fell for him. They voted in his favour and the Congress party grasped the advantage with both hands. Squabbling Congressmen found in him a perfect scapegoat for leadership. Zail Singh the President of India in his memoir confirms that he aided and abetted the quick anointing of Rajiv in preference to the other two aspirants, Pranab Mukherjee and Narasimha Rao, as a gesture of loyalty to the Nehru family.
Nations have suffered and will continue to suffer failure in progress through poor leadership at the helm of national affairs. In India’s case a sad event; Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s assassination on 31 October 1984 by her own body guards, in her own home (accidentally witnessed by Peter Usinov), led to the sudden ascendancy of her son Rajiv Gandhi to India’s top two political slots – the Prime Minister of India, and the President of the powerful Congress Party. It is questionable in hindsight to judge if he was qualified for the task………………It was the BOFORS scandal that turned out to be his Waterloo.
Rajiv Gandhi, a reluctant political starter was supported by Mani Shankar Aiyar, his classmate of early years, and Arun Singh as mentors in his office. Aiyar also subscribes to this view…….. Rajiv became a glorified choice to all sections of politicians scrambling for power. Therein lay a big trap for young and inexperienced Rajiv. He fell for it.
Rajiv was only 40 when his mother died. He had never run an organisation, an office or a home. He had resided in the comforts of his mother’s home whilst working as an Airline pilot……He was totally devoid of any political or administrative education or experience… , ………………The Congress immediately called for polls.
Rajiv surpassed his grandfather and mother in this achievement with ease……….. in 1987 Rajiv pushed the Indian Armed Forces into Sri Lanka ……No wonder the remaining three years of his term, 1987-89, were full of intrigue, poor fiscal control, and haphazard policies in national and external relations. In 1991 india had no FFE….Op Pawan contributed but Rajiv denied !
The book has relied on the many books,……….. In particular I have relied much on “Rajiv Gandhi – The Years of Power” by Dr Kathleen Healy a Fullbright professor and researcher who spent nine years researching India and Rajiv.
Internally, Punjab, Sri Lanka, Jammu & Kashmir, Assam, the North Eastern States and Tamil Nadu were descending into civil strife while the Congress Party was mired in internal intrigues. Foreign Policy lay rudderless. The bureaucracy was entrenching itself deeper than ever.
As India’s Defence Minister Rajiv allowed a fine Defence establishment to become a bureaucratic jungle through lack of direction and leadership……… No wonder the biography of Nehru by Wolpert and his alluding to that great man’s personal sexual affiliations has angered Indians. As Khushwant Singh has put it, Indians can and love to criticise others but cannot tolerate those who criticise India or Indians.
Rajiv was born on 20 August 1944. …… He was unable to complete his pursuit of a degree at either Trinity College, Cambridge or Imperial College, London, dropping out of both. He trained to fly aeroplanes at Delhi’s Flying Club and became an average pilot in Indian Airlines flying the Indian built Hawker Siddley 748 and later for a while, the Boeing 737 as a co-pilot. … He was born into the Nehru brahminic household. His firebrand father Feroze Gandhi was a Parsee who died in 1960 when Rajiv was only sixteen. Relations between Indira, who was busy acting as the social hostess to her Prime Minister father Jawahar Lal Nehru, and Feroze her husband were not good at the best of times as per Pupul Jayakar, a close confidant of Mrs Gandhi. Rajiv and his brother Sanjay spent time with their father swimming and building mechanical things, but separations between parents were long.
THE JURY IS OUT FOR HISTORIANS TO JUDGE RAJIV’s PERIOD AS THEY WILL OF OTHER PMs AND THINKERS TO JUDGE THE PRESENT ON GOVERNANCE OF THE MILITARY . Shan Na Varuna.