On Your Marks
The blotches on the pages of our history
- The jeep scandal in 1948 that began independent India's tryst with corruption. V.K. Krishna Menon, the then Indian high commissioner to UK, ignored norms to sign a Rs 80 lakh contract for the purchase of army jeeps
- Nehru refused a permanent seat in the UN that the US and Soviet Union offered to India in 1955, for he believed the seat belonged to China. Ironically, Beijing blocks India's entry to the Security Council today.
- The dismissal of the first elected Communist government in Kerala in 1959, following a popular, Cong-backed ‘liberation struggle’
- Nehru's ‘forward policy’ of putting up posts on Sino-Indian border which provoked the Chinese and led to the 1962 conflict
- The dispute over sharing the water of rivers Ravi, Beas and Sutlej between Punjab and Haryana. Or the one between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu on Cauvery.
- Remember Capt Rustom Nagarwala, attached to raw, who mimicked Indira Gandhi's voice over the phone in 1971, asking an sbi employee to hand over Rs 60 lakh to a Bangladeshi? He succeeded, but was arrested.
- Travel restrictions, imposed ironically after Bangladesh became independent in 1971.
- Sycophancy hit a new low after mgr’s win in the 1972 Dindigul byelection. Dregs of soda left in a bottle from which he drank, were poured into a drum of water and redistributed as holy water.
- Declaration of Emergency, from June 25, 1975, to March 21, 1977, in the world's largest democracy, a chapter we wish didn't exist in our history books
- Sanjay Gandhi's forced sterilisation programme in 1976, the stigma of which still haunts government health drives, like the anti-polio campaign
- Sunil Gavaskar's snail-paced unbeaten knock (36 runs off 174 balls) in the inaugural match of the first World Cup in 1975 between England and India, which we lost
- The Bhopal gas tragedy on December 3, 1984, probably the world's deadliest industrial accident and a continuing blot
- Bhindranwale and the idea of Khalistan, which all but dismembered India in the 1980s
- Operation Bluestar of 1984. We are still dealing with the hatred and acrimony it unleashed.
- Nadendla Bhaskar Rao's palace coup in N.T. Rama Rao's absence in August 1984.
He was ousted by the latter a month later.
- Indira Gandhi's assassination by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984 and the anti-Sikh riots that followed
- Luddite Communists smashing computers and campaigning against non-Communist governments' modernisation during the 1980s
- The Rs 64-crore Bofors scam that broke in 1987. We have spent even more
since trying to indict the accused, all in vain.
- India's military intervention in Sri Lanka in 1987, leading to the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991, at Sriperumbudur
- Bizarre display of sycophancy when Jayalalitha was Tamil Nadu CM (1991-96). These included wearing grass skirts, rolling around a temple, walking on fire, even enacting one's cremation, all to ensure her long life.
- The Babri Masjid demolition on December 6, 1992, and the Mumbai riots and blasts that followed. Other communal pogroms like the Gujarat riots are still a blot on our secular democracy.
- Prohibition drives that failed, like N.T. Rama Rao's 1994 measure. The ban was lifted in 1997. Haryana CM Bansi Lal also imposed one in 1996.
- The ugly side-effects of the IT boom in Bangalore in the 1990s and 2000s: haphazard urbanisation, increased crime and suicide rates
- The fake stamp paper scam in which Abdul Karim Telgi and co amassed Rs 30,000 crore in the 1990s
- Jayalalitha's pompous and vulgar act of turning Chennai into a wedding venue for her foster son V.N. Sudhakaran in 1995
- The CPI(M) politburo refusing to give Jyoti Basu the go-ahead to become PM in 1996 despite him being a consensus candidate
- Legislators of the UP assembly hurling mikes and chairs at the speaker in October 1997. Such unruly acts have since been repeated on several occasions.
- The hijacking of Indian Airlines IC-814 in December 1999. The aircraft was flown to Kandahar. The passengers were freed, but only after Jaswant Singh escorted three released militants.
- The match-fixing scam of 2000 that resulted in a ban on Mohammed Azharuddin, till then India's cricket captain, and tarnished the gentleman's game
- Former BJP president Bangaru Laxman accepting Rs 1 lakh in 2001 from journalists
posing as middlemen of a defence equipment firm
- The 2001 coffin scam in which money was made on the coffins meant to bring back dead soldiers from Kargil
- The spat between the Ambani brothers Mukesh and Anil and their corporations in 2004 revealed how India's businesses are run more like fiefdoms
- Letting forest brigand Veerappan remained at large—poaching elephants and
smuggling sandalwood. He remained in business for two decades till he was killed by
the police in 2004.
- The theft of Rabindranath Tagore's Nobel in 2004 from a museum in Vishwa
Bharati in Shantiniketan
- Giving exalted titles to Tamil leaders: Puratchi Thalaivi (revolutionary leader) for Jayalalitha, Kalaignar (artist) for Karunanidhi, Anja Nenjan (braveheart) for M.K. Azhagiri
- Servile hoardings, newspaper supplements and ads issued to celebrate birthdays of leaders
- The Singur-Nano controversy of 2006 epitomised the flawed process of acquiring land for industrialisation
- The hounding out of Taslima Nasreen from West Bengal in 2007, after violent protests by Muslims
- Health minister Anbumani Ramadoss acting as moral policeman and asking Rajnikanth, Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan not to smoke in reel and real lives in 2008
- The 10,000-crore Satyam scam in 2008 which revealed the dark underbelly
of India's sunshine IT sector
- The fidayeen strike on Mumbai on November 26, 2008, which left the entire
nation in shock. In the last decade there have been several attacks across the country, which has made citizens insecure.
- MPs' votes being sold for cash during a trust vote on the nuclear deal in 2008 and the display of cash in Parliament
- Sri Rama Sena activists attacking women at Mangalore pub, Amnesia, in January 2009
- Varun Gandhi's call to chop off hands of Muslims last year during a pre-election rally
- Powerful and rich businessmen getting into politics, like the Reddy brothers of Bellary who nearly brought down the BJP government in Karnataka in 2009
- Mayawati's statue- and memorial-building spree that has left the state poorer by nearly Rs 6,000 crore
- The compromising of our judiciary, as typified by Karnataka chief justice P.K. Dinakaran's accumulation of assets disproportionate to his income
- The 2009 sale of spectrum for a song by Union minister A. Raja and his telecom ministry, causing a loss of over Rs 50,000 crore
- The sight of an 86-year-old governor being canoodled by three women. N.D. Tiwari's personal peccadilloes last December were telecast by a local channel.
- A former PM (H.D. Deve Gowda) mouthing "bloody bastard" on camera
- Strawberry idlis, paneer dosa, chocolate rosogollas, and other such hybridisations
- Scams and the share market. Read Harshad Mehta, Ketan Parekh....
- IPL, good for cricketers, not for cricket. Or for Indo-Pak ties.
- Paid-for news, where the news-ad boundary gets steadily blurred
- Liberal handing out of deemed university status during upa 1, and a retraction of 44 of them in 2010
- The defacement of Delhi for good with overhead metro lines, all in the hurry to meet Commonwealth Games deadlines
- Inefficient delivery systems for subsidised food, cooking fuel or health services to the poor, leaving 50 per cent of our population malnourished and hungry
- Neglect of agriculture in the last two decades that has led to near stagnation in the productivity of most crops
- Setting up of hundreds of tax-free trade zones without thinking out land acquisition and resettlement issues
- Curtailing entrepreneurship and industry in the 1960s and ’70s, and swinging
to the other extreme in the post-liberalisation era