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Mainstream, VOL L, No 45, October 27, 2012

After Fifty Years

Editorial

Wednesday 31 October 2012, by SC

Fifty years have passed since the troops of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), under the directive of Chairman Mao Zedong and his colleagues in the Chinese Communist Party (CPP) leadership in Beijing, crossed our frontier in the north-east in massive numbers to “teach Jawaharlal Nehru a lesson” and delivered a heavy blow on not just India and its Union Government but peace and harmony in our region and the world at large.

The country was doubtless traumatised as the Nehru administration, not expecting such an assault, was found thoroughly unprepared to meet the extraordinary threat. Defence Minister V.K. Krishna Menon was forced to resign for the military debacle and Nehru visibly shaken and considerably weakened. But to his credit and due to the painstaking campaign by progressive forces our policy of non-alignment was not jettisoned. Thus China’s ulterior motive of dislodging Nehru and effecting a Rightward shift in India’s policy-orientation (also to spite the Soviets backing Nehru) failed miserably.

Where do we stand today after fifty years? Our stature has doubtless grown in the world arena. Our defence is more secure (as witnessed in the battles we fought against Pakistan in 1965 and 1971) despite the persisting border conflict with China and the endless Chinese pinpricks since the late fifties of the last century that have yet to cease. Even today China’s official English organ goes on attacking Nehru for the 1962 war. But Beijing also knows that 2012 is not 1962 and New Delhi is no push-over.

The world has, of course, undergone a sea-change since 1962. The Soviet Union, a bulwark of global peace, no longer exists and peoples across continents have severely suffered due to the depredations of the sole superpower. But the possibilities of 1962 being repeated are, by all accounts, remote even though it would be foolhardy to lower our guard at any point in time.

Yet our internal strength is not what it was fifty years ago when, despite setbacks in the military field, we as a nation unitedly rose in the hour of peril. Besides mounting disparities among our people, far more than what these were in 1962, we have enfeebled ourselves due to rampant corruption and criminalisation of the society in particular. After a series of scams now it is as clear as daylight that mega-scale corruption is not confined to the Congress-led ruling coalition—the Opposition, primarily the BJP, is also afflicted with the malaise in large measure, l’affaire Gadkari having brought out that undeniable truth in bold relief.

Unless we weed out the scourges whose burden we still have to bear—from poverty, inequality, corruption (that is growing exponentially), societal violence (like attacks on women) to all kinds of fissi-parous trends (including communalism, casteism, regionalism)—we cannot hope to save, leave aside strengthen, our independence in the long term.

October 25 S.C.

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