Is Modi Becoming a Hindu Emperor Like Chandragupta?
Many people have asked me was what the result of the independence of India in 1947. As is well known, the British were the paramount power for almost 200 years in the sub-continent. In 1947, the British lost India and handed over the Indian state on a platter to the Congress party, led by the pacifist Gandhi and the philosopher Nehru. It was a deadly combination for the future of India. Unfortunately or fortunately, the self-styled Mahatma Gandhi passed away in 1948, leaving Pandit Nehru in charge of the Indian state. As I mentioned, Nehru was more of a philosopher than a global leader. He muffed up his big chance in world history by frittering away all the gains of the Raj.
Indian Power in Asia
The Raj marker a high point of Indian power in Asia. At that time, India was the dominant power. Its rival China was driven by factions and warlords, and it was not the power to contend with. Japan was resurgent for a brief period, but the dropping of two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki led to its destruction.
In 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru inherited a first-class battle-hardened army that was the pride of Asia. This army had made the Imperial Army bite the dust in Southeast Asia. Also, earlier, the British Indian Army (which was its name at that time) was involved in the Boxer Rebellion in China as well as the Opium Wars. This led to Sikhs, who constituted the bulk of the Indian Army, being incorporated in the Shanghai police as well.
Though the British were an alien power, they made India the linchpin of Asia. By 1913, Shimla agreement, the British converted the McMohan Line into a border with Tibet and made that state a protectorate of the Raj. China was made to sign on the dotted line and accept the Mac Mohan line as the Eastern frontier and entire Ladakh was incorporated as part of the British Empire. This was the zenith of the Raj, the foundation for which had been laid by Brigadier Younghusband's expedition, that occupied Lhasa in 1903/04. The Dalai Lama fled to Sinkiang.
This period invites comparison with the Indian Hindu Emperor Chandragupta Maurya. He is the first big name in history who shook the subcontinent. He had come to power by defeating the Greeks who had been left behind after Alexander the Great was stopped by Raja Purushottam Porus in the battle of Hydespes in 326 BC. His successor was Seleucus Nikator, known as the 'victorious.' He had been a general in the army of Alexander and had taken part in the cavalry charge against the elephant corps of Raja Porus.
Chandragupta Maurya established a dynasty that ruled for over 200 years, and his empire encompassed all the areas from Afghanistan to Bihar. It was a period that is considered the golden age of the Hindu empire. Chandragupta Maurya's name is synonymous with bravery, military tactics, and strategy. He was a great warrior. Indians look up to Chandragupta era as one of the golden periods in Indian history. Many Indians have been hoping and waiting when the glorious period will come again.
Congress and Nehru
Once the British left India by default, power passed into the hands of the Congress party. It was the only organized political force in the subcontinent. In hindsight, we can say that both Gandhi and Nehru were outmaneuvered by the English and forced to accept the "two-nation theory." The creation of Pakistan is the first big defeat of both these leaders. Partly it was due to the ambition of Nehru and his colleague Sardar Patel who did not wish to be sidelined and opted to have the Muslim leader Jinnah to have his own country.
Gandhi was shot dead by Nathuram Godse on 30 January 1948, and within a year or so Sardar Patel also passed away, leaving Jawaharlal Nehru as the undisputed ruler of India. This was the bane of India, as Nehru did not have the acumen of Chandragupta, nor had he ever studied the strategy and works or the Indian master Chanakya, who was the advisor to Chandragupta.
Nehru: Leader With Legs of Rubber
Nehru was a man who was brought up on a diet of anti-imperialism and did not realize that imperialism was dead and gone. With this background, he thought he could be friends with China and allowed the Chinese to have a free run in Tibet. He was of the view that the Himalayas were impregnable borders of India, not realizing that modern armies are not thwarted by mountains and snow. One can recollect that even Adolf Hitler, in the winter of 1944, launched the Ardennes offensive and almost pulled it off.
Nehru not only lost out on the China front but he also gifted almost 40% of the state of Kashmir to Pakistan. This was despite the ruler of the state, Raja Hari Singh, having signed the Instrument of Accession of the state to India, as envisaged by the government of India act 1946 passed by the English. How and why this happened is not the subject of this article but suffice to say that Nehru had no vision or strategy to dominate Asia. He lived in a dream world that had no relevance to reality.
Even in the country, he sowed the seeds of fissiparous tendencies by going and talking to liberals and so-called academicians and divided the country into linguistic lines. The seeds of division and sectarianism were sowed by him. He failed to realize that this could lead to big problems for the country. He also got obnoxious articles inserted in the Constitution declaring Kashmir as a separate entity and carried on with the 1873 British inner line permit for the north-eastern states, resulting in seeds of separatism being sown there.
Nehru died in 1964, but his successors in the Congress party carried on with his policies with the result in 2014, the Indian economy had fallen way behind China. India became known in the world, more as the largest importer of arms and thus appeared more like a Paper Tiger.
The Rise of Modi
History, as we all know, is not something static, but a dynamic process for which the graph keeps on going up and down. The period of the Congress party which had followed the high period of the British rule was bound to go away. This started in 2014 when Narendra Modi galvanized the Indian people and stormed to power with an absolute majority in the House of Commons, the Lok Sabha.
This was a shock to many people, and Narendra Modi and the party he led the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power. This was the period which many see as the beginning of the Hindu revival. The significance of this cannot be lost in the pages of history as it was after almost 1000 years that a Hindu regime had come back to power in India. During the last thousand years, the British were the de facto rulers for 200 years and before that Islamic rule had enveloped the whole of India for close to 800 years.
After almost 1000 years, there has been a revival of Hindu nationalism. This is something we have not seen for 1000 years. One is reminded of the fact that the last time this happened was almost 1500 years back when the great Hindu emperors starting from Chandragupta Maurya ruled the subcontinent.
In 2019, another general election was held and Narendra Modi has been voted into power with an even bigger majority. He has now been in power for 5 1/2 years and in this period he has done more than 64 years Congress rule. The problems created by the Congress party have been settled by him one by one.
To start with, he has put an end to the Kashmir problem by abrogating the separatist articles that give Kashmir a separate status. He has also attempted to integrate the north-eastern states with the country. The RSS which is the parent body of the BJP has had a big hand. There is no doubt that Modi has gone about his task with determination and global vision.
It will not be wrong to say that he may well become the Chandragupta of India Modi's policy appears to follow from the epigram of Edwin Markham who wrote: "when you are the anvil bear and when you are the hammer strike."
Modi bid his time for four years before he went about making changes in the Constitution of India. One of the most momentous decisions which he has taken is the abolition of the nefarious practice of "triple talaq" that has now become law. Next in line is the uniform civil code. He has gone about enforcing Hindutva policies which are at variance with the Congress.
The memorial to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru has now been converted into a memorial for all prime ministers. The biggest gain of Modi is raising the status of the Indian Republic in the eyes of the world. He has cultivated relations with nations, including Mongolia and Brazil. He has made the Indian presence effective all over the world. His policy of "make in India" is a cardinal principle, and the Indian government is now firm on manufacturing weapons, aircraft, and tanks in India.
It will take a long time for India to catch up with China. This is because six decades have been lost by India. Modi faces a herculean task ahead and there is no guarantee that he will succeed but one will give him credit that at least he's trying and not afraid to be known as a Hindu.
In case Modi succeeds, there's a good chance that he would be known as the modern Chandraguta who restored Indian pride and Hindu culture. One will have to see how things pan out in the days to come. One last point needs to be mentioned here. Modi and the BJP had promised "Ram Rajya." This means a glorious rule of law for all and proper respect for women. There is something missing, as crimes against women are on the increase. Modi will have to factor this when he sells the dream of "Ram Rajya," or the time when the God Rama ruled.