Major General Mrinal Suman
History is most unforgiving. As historical mistakes cannot be undone, they have complex cascading effect on a nation's future. Here are seven historical blunders that have changed the course of independent India's history and cast a dark shadow over its future. These costly mistakes will continue to haunt India for generations. They have been recounted here in a chronological order with a view to highlight the inadequacies of India's decision-making apparatus and the leadership's incompetence to act with vision.
There can be no better example of shooting one's own foot than India's clumsy handling of the Kashmir issue. It is a saga of naivety, blinkered vision and inept leadership.
Hari Singh was the reigning monarch of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1947. He was vacillating when tribal marauders invaded Kashmir in October 1947, duly backed by the Pakistan army. Unable to counter them, Hari Singh appealed to India for assistance and agreed to accede to India. Indian forces blunted the invasion and re-conquered vast areas.
First, India erred by not insisting on unequivocal accession of the state to the Dominion of India and granted special status to it through Article 380 of the Constitution. Secondly, when on the verge of evicting all invaders and recapturing the complete state, India halted operations on 1 January 1949 and appealed to the Security Council. It is the only case in known history wherein a country, when on the threshold of complete victory, has voluntarily forsaken it in the misplaced hope of winning admiration of the world community. Thirdly and most shockingly, the Indian leadership made a highly unconstitutional offer of plebiscite in the UN.
Forty percent area of the state continues to be under Pakistan's control, providing it a strategic land route to China through the Karakoram ranges. As a fall out of the unresolved dispute, India and Pakistan have fought numerous wars and skirmishes with no solution in sight. Worse, the local politicians are holding India to ransom by playing the Pak card. Kashmir issue is a self-created cancerous furuncle that defies all medications and continues to bleed the country.
Image: A Kashmiri boy walks through a graveyard in Srinagar, India. Photograph copyright Associated Press. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.