The work seeks to answer questions that have haunted Indians: why did India not carry the war into Pakistan, as in '65? Why did we take the issue to the United Nations? Why was no serious effort made to clear Pakistani forces from the western areas of Poonch and Mirpur? Why did India accept a ceasefire when she clearly had military superiority? When Pandit Nehru, in his 'tryst with destiny' speech said "we have almost attained independence", he didn't elaborate how incomplete that independence was and how costly it would prove in the long run.
The armed forces were still led by British officers and the vital defence committee of the Indian cabinet was presided over by Mountbatten, a British naval officer. Understandably enough, their loyalty was to their British sovereign and affected the manner in which they discharged their duties and carried out—or in some cases failed to carry out—orders of the government in whose pay they happened to be. By manoeuvring himself at the head of the defence committee, Mountbatten was able to influence India's policy and, where necessary, undermine it.
During the Junagadh crisis, the service chiefs addressed a joint letter to the Indian defence minister declaring their inability to participate in the operations should an Indo-Pak conflict ensue. India reacted sharply to this invasion of political domain by the armed forces and the letter was withdrawn.
In the initial stages of the conflict, counselled by the supreme commander for India and Pakistan, Field Marshal Auchinlek, 'Indian' commander-in-chief Gen Lockhart refrained from sending supplies requested by Maharaja Hari Singh. He also withheld from the government intelligence received from his "Pakistani" counterparts about impending infiltration by "tribesmen".
The process of decision-making was soon taken over by Whitehall, which had come to the conclusion that on greater strategic considerations "a tilt towards Pakistan" was necessary. Mountbatten was required to act as mediator between India and Pakistan and when these attempts failed he, acting in collusion with Lockhart, sought to thwart India's plans to take the war to Pakistan's border with J&K.
The book examines the dubious role played by two persons—Mountbatten and Philip Noel-Baker, secretary of state in the Commonwealth Relations Office. At this point, Britain needed Pakistan more than India for what were perceived to be British oil and strategic interests in the Gulf region.
Thus UK policy—somewhat even-handed in the first month of the Kashmir troubles—began to take a strong pro-Pakistan turn with Noel-Baker exceeding his brief and managing to get a UN Security Council resolution and obtain a ceasefire on the basis of inducting Pak troops into J&K. Gen Bucher, who had succeeded Lockhart as C-in-C, was similarly engaged in a collusive exercise with his Pakistani counterpart. After Mountbatten's departure, the task of conveying British advice to Bucher fell on the British High Commissioner in Delhi.
The book has drawn heavily on British archives to conclude that the British general and diplomats coordinated their moves "to ensure that any India advance stopped well short of the Pakistani border". An interesting case was the attack by an iaf craft on a Pakistani Dakota air-dropping supplies to Gilgit. The officiating air chief justified this action saying he had ordered any unidentified aircraft flying over J&K to be shot down. Under "advice" from the British High Commissioner, Air Chief Elmhirst was persuaded to ignore the Pakistani air-drops.
It was only after the departure of senior British military officers that any meaningful contingency planning could take place. But by then Kashmir had become an intractable problem. In '48 the Americans had seen the legitimacy of Kashmir's accession to India. It was only with the Cold War that the US began to woo Pakistan.
Could India have fared better had it not accepted Mountbatten as governor-general and, like Pakistan, picked a senior Congress leader to that post? Could India have done away with the services of British officers? The answer to the first question is yes. To the second, perhaps. Bucher et al brought little benefit to us and many handicaps. The goi writ didn't run fully in some sensitive matters. Perhaps India was much too dependent on the UK for military hardware but even that could have been obtained at a price. Whatever be the case, Kashmir became a festering sore thanks to these men. One can only hope we learn from our mistakes and trust no strangers in matters of national security.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT