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India Notebook

by Inder Dan Ratnu

Number 12: Winter 2003

The views expressed on this page are Mr. Ratnu's, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The New Terraplane or its publisher, Michael H. Burchett

 

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Current India Notebook

Perspectives on India, Installment 1: "Charans and Churchill"

Installment 2: "Democrat's Pilgrimage," Heart Burning in Pakistan."

Installment 3: "Prevalence of a Poetic Position," "Clinton v. Churchill"

Installment 4: "Jaswant Singh, Extraordinary Statesman of India;""Churchill: Person of the Century"

Installment 5: "'My Own Man' Kissing 'My Own Wife,'" "An Indian's Advice to American Electorate

Installment 6: Farewell to Clinton

Installment 7: Turbaned Man Update; Song of Love

Installment 8: On the Tragedy in America

Installment 9:  The Wrath of Shiva; Teach Freedom!

Number 10:  Musharraf a Die-Hard Liar

Number 11: 

Also:

President to Visit India

Preparations for President's Visit

Diplomatic Issues facing Clinton during visit

Clinton & Chelsea in Jaipur (w/photos)

The Afterglow

Plus:

See Inder's weekly column, Indian Ink, @ Tulevision.com

 

Chaudhary Charan Singh and Churchill  

We in India particularly in Rajasthan province recently celebrated -- with a bit of
fanfare yet in a simple way -- the Birthday centenary year of India's late Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh -a peasant leader of what is politically the most important State of India, having supplied the most Prime Ministers -- 6 out of a total of 11. He was the PM for about 6 months back in 1979, and unlike all others he was the first and for a long time the only "peasant" PM.

By a stroke of luck I have been in contact with a former Federal Minister and a Gandhian Veteran leader nearly 80 years old, Chaudhary Daulat Ram Saran, who happen to be  a former colleague of  the late Chaudhary Charan Singh. He is a very knowledgeable person and a veteran politician of my
State, and the chairman of the Committee that organized the centennial celebrations. Although he never agreed with me on the issue of Churchill being any benefit to India,  in view of my contribution in strengthening the
institution of democracy through my Churchill lectures to students and others, he saw fit to appoint  me a Secretary to his committee.

 I saw this as a great opportunity to expand  my Churchill campaign.  With an imaginative twist I could so easily find a great relationship between Chaudhary Charan Singh's becoming India's PM and Churchill's work during World War II.  The Nehru family -- which includes three former PMs, namely JawaharLal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi (and now Sonia Gandhi-the potential PM) -- has been the top family in the politics of India for the past half a century. If they became PMs this was no credit to anyone since they were almost aristocratic, England educated etc . But when a person like Chaudhary Charan Singh with a very humble peasant background became the PM, it was almost an endorsement of all the exertions in oratory made by Churchill during WW II.

Churchill had asserted it was "democracy" that was at stake during World War II.  Churhcill believed that democracy was the cause of the "common people" of all the lands, and that the common man lifted himself up through the freedoms guaranteed under a
democracy.  India is the greatest democracy on the Earth.  Sir Winston has been proved right in his assertion -- and Charan Singh is the best example of this.

Thus Chaudhary Charan Singh's rise justified all that Winston Churchill had claimed during his thought provoking speeches during the War.  I have on my part found it most stimulative to give an imaginative twist to further my own Churchill campaign agenda. The committee organizes mass rallies and meetings in urban centers as well as in the countryside at villages. I have made it a point to speak at all such occasions about Sir Winston, and my audience SO FAR has endorsed my views (it is quite possible that I may have to face heckling someday by some knowledgeable audience  in view of my
exertions and in view of Sir Winston's record in respect to India's indepedence, but I am prepared for that). 

I have sent all such information to Richard Langworth at the Churchill Center, USA, including the latest photos of such meetings and rallies. I believe this has given an absolutely new dimension to my work, since now besides the Students at schools I am able to speak about Sir Winston to the "common people" of India - peasants and agricultural labourers. This has given me an excellent ground to expand my activities further, and along with the support of my friends and well-wishers worldwide has raised my morale and justification for my cause.

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Copyright 2003 Inder Dan Ratnu.  All rights reserved.

Churchill and a Modern Indian Campaign

"Fundamentalists are present in both minority and majority communities, and must be checked so that they may not weaken this great system of democracy that has been preserved in this world by the sacrifices of the millions of unknown people in
faraway lands"

I have just returned from my Gujarat tour, where I campaigned in favor of what is termed a 'secular' party (Congress Party) candidate in the State Assembly elections.  It was largely a contest between the fundamentalist Hindu forces and secular political forces of the country.  It may be noted that both the Center and the State are controlled by the Party which draws upon Hinduism --  its political roots. It was an effort on my part to fight against heavy odds.  In this contest , fundamentalist forces have won by two-thirds majority; but the candidate for whom I campaigned fortunately won by a wide margin -- one of the biggest among the losers party. He won not because I took it upon myself to work for him but, because of his own good rapport with his electorate and his good work during the past 5 years as a member of the Assembly.  I attended a number of public meetings with him both at semi urban and rural centres -many of which were predominantly Muslim.  It is relevant here to what I spoke during the course of my speeches .It was by and large on the following lines .

"This is the State gave the  'father of the nation' -- Mahatma Gandhi -- to our country. This State has set the direction at times in which the nation is to move.  This is again such a crucial time when we have to decide whether the people of this nation are to march with the fundamentalist forces or the secular forces.  The fundamentalist forces represent the 'extreme' of religious faiths -- and in my opinion, the 'extreme' of anything -- whether nationalism or religion or any other aspect -- is bad.  . 'Extreme' nationalism represented by the Nazis in Germany led to a world war -- the greatest 'destructive' event created by man in the history of mankind . The extremists of Islamic religious forces are bent to take the world towards another worldwide turbulence in our times -- and 'extremists' of any other religion could also lead our own nation and others towards unprecedented turbulence.

'Extremist' forces may well lead to the derailment of democracy in our country in due course, if not right now, just as they did in Germany before the War.  If not for Winston Churchill of Britain, on whom I have written two books and who has been acknowledged as the greatest man of the twentieth century largely for his defense of freedom during the War, perhaps we would not have this process of choosing our rulers through elections and having such  freedom of speech as is evident at this large gathering. In order to defend democracy, it is important to defeat the fundamentalist  forces at the budding stage.  I trust that the candidate for whom I have come here does represent the secular forces and is widely respected by the minorities as well as the majority community.  Fundamentalists are present in both minority and majority communities, and must be checked so that they may not weaken this great system of democracy that has been preserved in this world by the sacrifices of the millions of unknown people in faraway lands. Science and wisdom both dictate that religion is a matter of faith of an individual and not a matter of politics . We all have to live together in this county and on this planet in spite of our differences -- political, religious, linguistic, etc. Better we live with love and tolerance than with hate and violence...."

Then I recite a good poem in Urdu explaining the difference between LOVE and hate. Needless to say, at the end of my oration I was pleased to find my audience enthusiastically applauding .

If any of you Churchillians are interested in seeing me speaking along with the candidate, I shall be glad to send you 2
-3 photos .

 

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Copyright 2003 Inder Dan Ratnu.  All rights reserved.

Page copyright 2003 Michael H. Burchett