Archive for October, 2016

The USAIN BOLT of 1936 …

Posted on October 31, 2016. Filed under: Sports |

The year was 1936.

Amidst the rise of the Nazi party and a growing feeling of Aryan supremacy, the greatest sport event on earth was held in Berlin. That was when the world witnessed the birth of a legend. .Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals despite facing extensive discrimination due to the    color of his skin..

Yhat isn’t the only good to come out of that dark Olympics. There is also the camaraderie shared by Owens and a German athlete, Luz Long. Luz was Owens’ competitor in the long jump but gave him tips on how to do better.

Indeed Jesse had fouled his first two attempts for the qualifying and as he stood worried before attempting his last jump to qualify for the competition, Long walked up to him and told him that he could qualify in his sleep. He asked him to place a kerchief a foot before the jump board and jump from there.

Jesse  Owens did just that and went on to win the gold. Luz won the silver and nothing could stop Luz from hugging and congratulating his friend in full view of the public and the thousands of Nazi sympathizers.

(Picture credits:

Luz later fought in WW2 and was killed, but not before writing his swan song, addressed to Owens. In his letter, you can feel his love for his comrade and the pangs of separation from his family.

This was one of the greatest moments in Olympic history – the forging of a beautiful friendship between two great athletes who were wonderful human beings.

Full transcript of the letter, courtesy the wonderful Letters of Note (emphasis added).

I am here, Jesse, where it seems there is only the dry sand and the wet blood. I do not fear so much for myself, my friend Jesse, I fear for my woman who is home, and my young son Karl, who has never really known his father.

My heart tells me, if I be honest with you, that this is the last letter I shall ever write. If it is so, I ask you something. It is a something so very important to me. It is you go to Germany when this war done, someday find my Karl, and tell him about his father.Tell him, Jesse, what times were like when we not separated by war. I am saying— tell him how things can be between men on this earth.

If you do this something for me, this thing that I need the most to know will be done, I do something for you, now. I tell you something I know you want to hear. And it is true.

That hour in Berlin when I first spoke to you, when you had your knee upon the ground, I knew that you were in prayer.

Then I not know how I know. Now I do. I know it is never by chance that we come together. I come to you that hour in 1936 for purpose more than der Berliner Olympiade.

And you, I believe, will read this letter, while it should not be possible to reach you ever, for purpose more even than our friendship.

I believe this shall come about because I think now that God will make it come about. This is what I have to tell you, Jesse.

I think I might believe in God.

And I pray to him that, even while it should not be possible for this to reach you ever, these words I write will still be read by you.

Your brother,


After the War Owens kept his promise, tracked down Karl, and was the best man at the wedding of the son of the man who wasn’t afraid to embrace him despite fear of persecution.

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The General Thimaya Story …

Posted on October 28, 2016. Filed under: From a Services Career |

How Nehru and Menon conspired against Army Chief Thimayya Hindustan Times. Updated: Feb 2016 ..

Lt General Kodendera Subayya Thimayya, Chief of the Army Staff was elevated to the substantive rank of a General. Jawaharlal Nehru, Defence Minister VK Krishna Menon and Majithia Deputy Defence Minister are seen in this file photo with General Thimayya at the function.
The Indian army experienced its worst ever defeat during the Indo-China conflict of 1962. This excerpt from Shiv Kunal Verma’s thoroughly researched book shows how Nehru and Krishna Menon conspired to discredit General Thimayya, setting in motion a chain of events that contributed to India’s rout in the Himalayas.
The political manoeuvring by Gandhi in 1938 to sideline Subhas Chandra Bose in the presidential race of the Congress Party virtually handed Nehru the prime ministership of independent India. With Bose’s exit and Sardar Patel’s death in 1950, there was no one who could provide the necessary inspiration for the reconstruction of an army (that had so far served British interests) into an integrated military instrument that could identify potential threats and tackle them militarily.
Nehru, unlike Bose and Patel, veered away from building military power. Although, when cornered, he was not averse to using it – as in the case of Kashmir in 1947/48 and then Goa in 1961 – for the most part, he talked disarmament, non-alignment and Panchsheel.
In a speech delivered at the Kerala Provisional Conference in 1928, Nehru had spelt out his international assessments: ‘No danger threatens India from any direction; and even if there is any danger we shall cope with it.’
No surprise then that when the first  Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, General Sir Rob Lockhart, went to Nehru with a formal defense paper that needed a policy directive from the prime minister, Nehru had exclaimed: ‘Rubbish! Total rubbish! We don’t need a defence policy. Our policy is ahimsa (non-violence). We foresee no military threats. As far as I am concerned you can scrap the army — the police are good enough to meet our security needs
It’s a different matter that Nehru had to eat his words by the end of October 1947 itself when the tribal hordes invaded Kashmir.
 Nehru was never comfortable with the armed forces – his political indoctrination had instilled in him a desire to downgrade India’s officer cadre rather than tap their leadership potential and assimilate them into the machinery of government.
This in turn created a vacuum in the decision-making chain, into which the civil servants stepped. taking important military decisions that they were not equipped to handle. At a personal level, Nehru was not impressed with most senior officers and found them shallow, posturing caricatures, generally aping the British in their mannerisms and who had taken no interest in the freedom movement.
To make matters worse, Nehru, along with other politicians, began to develop a deep-seated paranoia about the army. Many other countries that had become independent after World War II fell prey to military coups (the most pertinent example being Pakistan).
As he drove from South Block to Teen Murti, Thimayya was acutely aware of the prime minister’s deep distrust of the military. Even before he took over from General S. M. Shrinagesh, Thimayya had made no bones about the fact that he was deeply distressed by the continuous neglect of the army.
Publicly Nehru was seen to be fond of Timmy; however, behind his back, the prime minister adopted tactics that clearly indicated that he viewed Thimayya as a rival who could challenge his position as the undisputed head of the Indian Union.
Given the general’s track record in World War II – Thimayya had been the first and only Indian officer to command a fighting brigade in the Arakan where he had been awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) …. and with the role played by him in the Jammu and Kashmir Operations, Nehru knew he could not browbeat him.
Timmy was universally respected. The announcement of his impending appointment had led to an editorial comment in the Times of India: ‘A thrill has just passed through the Army. The signal has gone out that Timmy is on.’ In the meantime, just twenty days before Thimayya took charge of the army, Nehru had replaced the defence minister, Kailash Nath Katju, with Vengalil Krishnan Krishna Menon.
 .Fast forwaed ...
Nehru was waiting for Thimayya and for the first time, the normally reticent Timmy exchanged angry words with the prime minister. He told Nehru that his arbitrary decision of making NEFA (North East Frontier Agency now called Arunachal Pradesh) the responsibility of the army, made public in Parliament, was preposterous and completely against Indian interests.
Thimayya felt that Nehru had completely compromised the army.
Without providing the additional resources required, handing over the borders to the army was a meaningless gesture; this would allow the Chinese the opportunity to claim that the Indians were the aggressors, for they always went to great pains to describe their own troops as border guards. Thimayya asked Nehru to find a way out of the mess in the next couple of weeks…
Nehru and Krishna Menon knew that the prime minister was in serious trouble. He had got away with the admission in Parliament earlier in the day only because the triple whammy— ongoing clashes on the border, the construction of National Highway G219 across the Aksai Chin and the Khenzemane and Longju incidents—had come as a shock to the members of the House.
Thimayya wanted Nehru to undo the mistake; but should the prime minister formally withdraw his statement about deploying the army and revert to the previous arrangement, he would be committing political hara-kiri. The threat of Thimayya taking over the reins of government, at least in Nehru’s mind, was very real.
 Politics is full of subterfuge, and survival…
Not only did the Nehru-Menon team now have to survive, they had to neutralize Thimayya. Three days later, Krishna Menon sent for Thimayya in ‘a highly agitated state of mind’ and vented his anger at the chief for having approached the prime minister directly, suggesting instead that the matter should have been resolved at his level. Threatening Thimayya of ‘possible political repercussions if the matter became public’ Krishna Menon ended the meeting. A seething Thimayya… promptly sent in his resignation letter.
The letter, which was received by Teen Murti on the afternoon of 31 August, was put up to Nehru who promptly sent for Thimayya in the afternoon. … After a long conversation in which the prime minister persuaded the army chief to withdraw his resignation letter in the larger interest of the nation, especially since the problem with the Chinese had flared up, the matter of the resignation was deemed closed.
However, after Thimayya’s departure, news of his resignation was deliberately leaked to the media while the subsequent rescinding of the letter was held back. … Thimayya resignation made banner headlines the next morning. …
On 2 September 1959, the prime minister once again rose in Parliament to make a statement. He told the Lok Sabha that he had persuaded the chief to withdraw his resignation.
He then went on to speak about the supremacy of the civilian authority over the military and then, had surprisingly, proceeded to castigate Thimayya, saying the issues that led to his resignation were ‘rather trivial and of no consequence’, and that they arose ‘from temperamental differences’. He then chided the chief and reproached him for ‘wanting to quit in the midst of the Sino-Indian border crisis’.
Even today, the contents of Thimayya’s resignation letter remain a highly guarded secret. Instead, vague stories about Thimayya’s resignation were routinely floated where it was said that Timmy had resigned out of pique because of the manner in which Krishna Menon treated him. On careful scrutiny, that doesn’t hold water.
The much adored prime minister, who could do no wrong in the eyes of the public, had betrayed General Thimayya. Trapped in this bad situation, the chief had no option but to quietly endure the humiliation and get on with the job of trying to prepare the army to face the Chinese…
The prime minister’s attitude towards Thimayya was damaging to the chief as well as the army. General Thimayya was a seasoned, disciplined soldier who would hardly have made issues over trifles. After the resignation drama Thimayya was seen as an alarmist and a defeatist.
Having thus weakened the office of the army chief, Nehru now ensured that ‘Bijji’ Kaul’s Star continued to Rise.
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Further Degradati0n of Armed Forces …

Posted on October 26, 2016. Filed under: From a Services Career |

Hindustan Times, New Delhi, Oct 24, 2016


(Rahul Singh, son of Khushwant Singh and grandson of Sir Sobha Singh, is a writer and journalist. Educated in St Stephens, Delhi University and Kings College, Cambridge, he began his career as the youngest ever Assistant Editor with the Times of India.)

The government has downgraded the status of military officers compared to their civilian counterparts, a new defense ministry letter accessed by HT has revealed.

A civilian principal director, who was equivalent to a brigadier, has been equated to a two-star general, a director-ranked officer to a brigadier and a joint director to a colonel, triggering widespread resentment in military circles.

Until now, a colonel was equivalent to a director and a lieutenant colonel to a joint director.

The letter, dated October 18, talks about rank “equivalence” between defence officers and “armed forces headquarters civil service officers”. It says issues regarding rank equation were examined in detail.

“By this equation, a captain is equivalent to a civilian Group B section officer. This isn’t mischief, but mischief-plus by bureaucrats,” said an army officer on condition of anonymity.

The letter, signed by a joint secretary, says the government has referred to administrative orders issued by the army, navy and air force during 2003-08. Several serving officers HT spoke to said the orders mentioned in the letter were only for internal cadre management.

“They have deliberately misinterpreted the orders. It’s an attempt to reverse clearly established protocols established by successive pay panel reports and court rulings,” said another officer, who did not wish to be named. He said the diktat was also against the spirit of recommendations made by a GoM headed by Pranab Mukherjee after the 6th Pay Commission report.

The letter states the rank equation laid down in it is to be followed in assigning duties/functional responsibilities and for all purposes such as channel of reporting, detailing of officers for training courses, providing stenographic assistance etc. HT is in possession of the letter.

A defence ministry official said he was aware of the communication but not all the details, adding that the letter says some points have been reiterated.

The letter says in the recent past some directorates have sent communications questioning the established rank equations by relying on incorrect information.

The letter No A/24577/CAO/CP Cell further states, “A common presumption in these communications is a pay determined rank equation which is erroneous as a different pay and rank structure exists for the the armed forces.” The letter has the Defense Minister’s approval.

The letter has stoked a controversy at a time when the armed forces and the ministry have divergent views on the 7th Pay Commission report and the OROP.

“The October 18 letter has downgraded the status of defence officers to a level lower than even Group B service officers. We have been stabbed in the back,” said a senior officer.

The civil-military rift will further widen if the issue is not resolved, said sources. “For the morale of soldiers, victory in this internal battle is very important,” the sources added.

Commments as received –

From the time India got Independence, Armed Forces Officers had always been given a little edge in comparative status equivalence over All India Services and other Gp A services.

However, after blatantly refusing NFU to Armed Forces,  and having giving it to all including CAPF, the final nail in the status of defense persons hammered in by the bureaucracy under the present political dispensation and issued vide MoD letter No A/24577/CAO/CP Cell dated 18 Oct 2016.

The Govt has issued instructions downgrading the status of Defense officers to levels even lower than Gp B services officers.

Kindly read the last line carefully which states that the order is being issued with the explicit approval of RM.

While with the NFU issue & 7 CPC recommendations , the Govt had created some doubt about Armed Forces Officers’ status, but with this order the Govt has finally made it unambiguously clear that Defense Forces Officers are even below Gp B services officers.

The AFHQ civilian cadre was raised as Gp B service in 1968 to provide secretarial assistance to Armed Forces HQ.

As per AFHQ Civil Services Rules, 1st and 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission Reports, and Reports of various Pay Commissions, they are supposed to man only lower and middle level bureaucratic posts and are not mandated to discharge executive functions.

But now they will not only be occupying much higher executive posts but also lording over Armed Forces Officers. 

Lt Colonels had been historically equated with AFHQ promotee Directors and Colonels with Principal Directors. This equation was downgraded by previous Govt to equate Lt Cols with Jt Directors and Colonels with Directors, as Army HQ had been posting its officers on these lower designations for compulsions of internal cadre management.

This Govt has now further downgraded the Defense Officers status to levels by equating Lt Cols with Dy Directors, Colonels with Jt Directors, Brigs with Directors and Maj Generals with Principal Directors.

Dy Director is the first designation when a Gp B promotee civilian babu gets promoted to Gp A service, which has now been made equivalent to Lt Colonel who has minimum 13 years of Gp A service under his belt.

For more than half of the uniformed Officers Lt Colonel is the last rank in their career, but it has now been made equivalent to first or lowest Gp A designation applicable to civilian babus. 

This way a Captain of Indian Army has been sought to be equated with civilian Gp B Section Officer (SO)/ PS and Lt with civilian Assistant SO / PA.

Further, selection grade Colonels have now been equated with promotee Jt Directors who have just 5 years of Gp A service, and Brigs with promotee Directors. 

With this the Govt has made it amply clear as to why Armed Forces are being degraded even below CAPF Cadre in VII CPC recommendations, as CAPF Subordinate Officers too have similar entry level in Gp B. 

All this equivalence has been established by accounting years of Gp B service in respect of civilian babus against the Armed Forces Gp A service.

And all this has been done by throwing aside various parameters for establishing equivalence like Warrant of Precedence, Pay Scales, Years of service in particular class/grade and various Judgements by Courts of Law,

Reports of various Pay Commissions and Report of Gp of Ministers headed by Shri Pranab Mukherjee which was constituted vide PMO Note dated 27 Sep 2008. 


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History of WWII in Headlines …

Posted on October 25, 2016. Filed under: Books |

“Japan invaded China from Manchuria!”

“What? USSR and Germany signed a non-aggression pact?!?!”

“Oh no! Germany and the USSR invaded Poland”

“UK and France finally declared war on Germany, now Germany will learn its lesson!”

“Why aren’t the UK and France doing anything?”

“Now Germany and Italy invaded France, this will be a really long conflict!”

“Wow, France surrendered, that was really fast!”

“I guess the UK is going to call it quits soon too”

“Why isn’t the UK calling it quits?”

“Oh my god, Germany invaded USSR and is heading towards Moscow!”

“Japan attacked USA, I wonder if the US is going to declare war on Germany?”

“Germany declared war on the US???”

“Germany is slowing down in the USSR!”

“US invaded North Africa” 

“Japan is slowing down in Asia”

“Germany and Japan are losing ground!”

“Italy surrendered!”

“USSR is really beating back Germany!”

“US and UK invaded France!”

“Germany’s allies are abandoning her”

“Japan is hemorrhaging ships, planes, and territories!”

“Hitler killed himself and the USSR occupies Berlin, VE Day!!”

“Wow that was a big bomb they dropped on Japan, I wonder what that was??”

“Another bomb? VJ day!!”

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REALITY of Indus Water Treaty …

Posted on October 18, 2016. Filed under: Indian Thought, Uncategorized |

By Sarabjit Grewal  …………    “No armies with bombs and shellfire could devastate a land so thoroughly as Pakistan could be devastated by the simple expedient of India’s permanently shutting off the source of waters that keep the fields and people of Pakistan green.” David Lilienthal.

The ‘Aqua Bomb’ is truly India’s most powerful weapon against Pakistan. As the upper riparian state, India can control the flow of the seven rivers that flow into the Indus Basin. And yet, in the last 69 years, only once has it exercised this great power – and not very well.

On 1 April, 1948, with India and Pakistan battling for control of Jammu & Kashmir, engineers in Indian Punjab shut off the water  from the Ferozepur headworks to the Depalpur Canal and Lahore . Around 8 per cent of the cultivable command area in Pakistan was impacted during the critical kharif sowing season. The city of Lahore was deprived of the main sources of municipal water, and the supply of electricity from the Mandi hydroelectric scheme was also cut off. Water rationing was introduced in Pakistan’s second largest city.                                


When India had its foot on Pakistan’s parched throat, when a little more pressure would have forced Islamabad to behave, and when Indian soldiers were fighting – and dying – to liberate Indian territory, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru committed his first Himalayan Blunder by relaxing India’s choke hold on Pakistan.

Later, it was to be under his leadership that India inked the Indus Water Treaty (IWT), giving away 82 per cent of the total water to Pakistan. Niranjan D. Gulhati, India’s chief negotiator, exemplified India’s muddled thinking: “We had to keep in view the interests of the other side: they must live; we must live. They must have water; we must have water.”
In his book Indus Waters Treaty: An Exercise in International Media, Gulhati narrates Nehru’s reaction to the stoppage of the waters: “Officially, the provincial government had acted without the federal government’s prior approval, and were to elicit little sympathy from some sections of the Indian central government. In fact, Nehru is thought to have castigated the East Punjab government and their engineers, in September 1949, for having taken matters into their own hands.”
Engineers in Indian Punjab had a valid reason for stopping the water to Pakistani Punjab. While the borders of India and Pakistan were demarcated haphazardly by British officials , the distribution of water resources was not discussed at all. Therefore, as a stopgap measure, India and Pakistan signed the Standstill Agreement on December 20, 1947, which maintained the status quo till March 31, 1948.
In the absence of any formal agreement, according to the engineers, had East Punjab had not closed the water temporarily, it might have led to West Punjab acquiring legal rights to the canal waters in that area. In effect, East Punjab was concerned about allowing a precedent to arise that would prove detrimental to it at a later stage.
On 24 April, 1948 Pakistani Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan asked for the “immediate restoration of the water supply”. Nehru replied on 30 April that he had instructed East Punjab to restore supplies to Lahore and Dipalpur. He also agreed to the Pakistani proposal for a conference to settle the dispute.
Delhi Agreement: Pakistan wriggles out  With Lahore screaming for water, Pakistan signed the May 1948 Delhi Agreement, which restored the water supply – but at a cost. Firstly, Pakistan was to pay for the transport of water through India. Secondly, India was to be allowed gradually to diminish this supply to Pakistan. India’s contention was that colonial rulers had built the irrigation system in West Punjab but neglected East Punjab completely. Such a state of neglect could not continue after independence, and therefore it would need to draw some water that flowed into West Punjab.
The ink had barely dried on the Delhi Agreement when Pakistan started to dig a channel from the River Sutlej in order to circumvent the Ferozepur headworks. It justified its decision to dig as a precautionary measure against India closing down the water supply in the future. India warned that it would take retaliatory action, and dig a channel further upstream of Pakistan’s channel.
Pakistan said the Delhi Agreement had been signed under duress, and gave notice of its expiry, in a note to the Indian government on 23 August, 1950. With both countries embarking upon competing – and conflicting – river diversion projects, Nehru wrote to Liaquat Ali Khan, proposing a joint declaration that their countries would not go to war over any dispute between them.
And typical of how Nehru had always acted – and would do so over and over again to the detriment of India’s interests – he proposed that both countries would seek peaceful means to resolve their differences, including third party intervention in the form of mediation, agencies especially set up to resolve the matter, or an international body recognised by both countries. This was like free money for Pakistan – Liaquat Ali Khan agreed.
Enter the World Bank. While India favored a water sharing tribunal with an equal number of experts from each side, Pakistan kept demanding foreign mediation, preferably the International Court of Justice. It was even prepared to take the dispute before the UN Security Council. However, it was the World Bank – in reality an American bank – that waded into the dispute.
 While Pakistan was happy with the outcome, there were many in India who doubted the World Bank’s intentions. One of these sceptics was President Rajendra Prasad. However, Prasad was softened up by Nehru’s nephew B.K. Nehru who was the Indian Executive Director of the World Bank. In early 1952, he allayed the President’s fears of falling into a debt trap by telling him that “international debts were never meant to be repaid”.
The World Bank also hinted that funding for the Bhakra-Nangal project, which was to usher in India’s Green Revolution, depended on the successful settlement of river disputes. A country on the brink of war would hardly be regarded by the World Bank’s bond investors to be a good investment opportunity, the bank’s representative pointed out.
The pressure worked. India agreed to World Bank mediation, surrendering all its advantages as the upper riparian state. Incredibly, Nehru refused to link the Indus river dispute to the settlement of the Kashmir issue. In a letter to the World Bank, the Prime Minister made it clear: “The canal waters dispute between India and Pakistan has nothing to do with the Kashmir issue; it started with and has been confined to the irrigation systems of East and West Punjab.”
The Pakistanis couldn’t believe their luck. Liaquat Ali concurred with this opinion, stating that the parties should “refrain from using the negotiations in one dispute to delay progress in solving any other”. How convenient.
Generous to a fault. After nearly three years of negotiations, in 1953 India and Pakistan presented their respective proposals. Again, typical of Nehru’s misplaced magnanimity, India was more generous than Pakistan was towards India. India was willing to give Pakistan 76 per cent of all the waters of the three eastern rivers, whereas Pakistan was allocating a meagre 13 per cent to India. Even the Indian claim to 7 per cent of the western rivers was drawn from the River Chenab flowing through Indian controlled Jammu and Kashmir.
 Keeping in view how much each side was willing to yield, and sensing Nehru’s soft side, the World Bank Plan allocated 82 per cent to Pakistan and a mere 18 per cent to India. Nehru gave the thumbs up to the plan.
The Indian negotiators believed there was enough water within the entire Indus Basin to meet India’s requirements. Nehru stated: “We are convinced that there is more than enough water in the Indus Basin to satisfy the needs of both India and Pakistan, provided it is properly exploited.”
China on his mind. There was another critical factor that contributed to the undue haste with which Nehru gifted the Indus Basin to Pakistan. In the early 1950s, China had began its incursions, first into Tibet, and then into the Indian border regions themselves. For years, Nehru had dismissed the Chinese threat, sidelining and even rebuking loyal army officers who pointed out the fallacy of his China policy. He had even declined a permanent seat in the Security Council, saying that it belonged to Beijing. With Chinese troops making provocative incursions across the McMahon Line, Nehru realized he now had more than the Pakistani boundary to defend. He believed he could buy peace with water.
Pakistan’s mindset. The treaty provides a peek into the Pakistani way of thinking. For Pakistan, anything that involves India is the unfinished business of Partition, which was essentially the Islamist vision to establish a beachhead from where it could launch jihad or “holy war” on India. Islamabad’s constant cribbing is in keeping with that mindset. From Pakistan’s perspective allocation of “only” 82 per cent of water as against 90 per cent of irrigated land violated the principle of “appreciable harm”, writes Moin Ansari in the book India’s Aqua Bomb.
Western involvement. For many Indians it’s a mystery why the West rushes to Pakistan’s defence every time it gets into trouble. Well, it’s not such a mystery. Pakistan was midwifed by Britain and the United States as a bulwark against Russia. There was no way they would have allowed it to fail.
In all its wars against India, Pakistan was rescued by its patrons in the West before it was destroyed as an entity by India. The IWT was backed by the governments of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, the US, West Germany and the World Bank itself. It is clear the Anglo nations did not want their future satellite to fail or be absorbed by India.
Pakistan is today the Ivy League of terror but the West isn’t ditching its baby yet. The Anglo countries continue to describe the IWT as the “treaty that has survived four wars”. These are the same words the leftist media and Lutyens crowd use, urging India not to abrogate the treaty.
The IWT should have been abrogated in 1965 when Pakistan launched a war in Kashmir. But many liberal Indians continue to believe India is Pakistan’s older brother and reckon that being generous towards Pakistan will buy peace. Well, that theory has been proved wrong hundreds of times – most lately in Uri – by Pakistan. At any rate, after Uri, the treaty is past its use by date.
If India walks out of the treaty, Pakistan is in big trouble. Even with the plentiful waters of the Indus Basin, it remains a semi-arid country where drought has parched many parts. Its water table is falling rapidly. Pakistani Punjab, which has the largest canal density in the world, is getting waterlogged. Its vast reservoirs – that were built to offset the loss of the three eastern rivers to India – are silting up. India, which never quite stopped building dams and hydro-power projects in Kashmir in keeping with the spirit and letter of the IWT, is ideally placed to divert water to its own parched cities.
The impact of the Aqua Bomb will indeed be greater than being imagined now. India should use it wisely to make Pakistan wind up its terror industry and give up its anti-India policy.
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Acciaroli – Where 1/5 of the Population is Hundred Plus …

Posted on October 17, 2016. Filed under: Guide Posts, Light plus Weighty |

The Place Where People Live Long!

There is a small hamlet in south west Italy where more than 10% of the people are aged over 100, and 20% of this number live to be 110. This extraordinary statistic completely dwarfs the number of American, British or Australian centenarians, which stands at around 1 per 5,000 of the population.

It’s for this reason that a study has just been conducted to find out why the beautiful village of Acciaroli is the place with the oldest residents in the world. The results are out, and the news is staggering. When Dr. Alan Maisel of the University of California first decided to study the area he was chiefly interested because the people didn’t seem to lead such healthy lifestyles.

He said: “We would notice these people were walking around. Some would be smoking, some would be pretty fat as well, and it just seemed beyond the usual health benefits of just the Mediterranean diet.”

The amazing thing about Acciaroli is that the local people here live a happy life and don’t pay much attention to their health. Not only do they smoke a lot, they also eat greasy, fried fish, drink coffee all day and wine in the evening.

They do not spend their time on exercise regimes. They neither jog nor do yoga. Yet, they do not suffer from the typical chronic diseases that most western elderly people are prone too – illnesses like heart disease, obesity and Alzheimer’s. Dr. Maisel and his team were also surprised that they saw no one over 80 who had cataracts,.

The 6-month study of the area by Sapineza University and San Diego School of Medicine found that the local inhabitants of Acciaroli have amazingly good blood circulation for their age. After analyzing the blood samples taken from just over 80 elderly people, the researchers realized that each of them had unbelievably low levels of a hormone known as adrenomedullin, which helps to widen blood vessels.

When people age, their bodies usually produce more adrenomedullin, which contracts the blood vessels. This leads to circulatory problems and a whole host of debilitating health issues. Yet, the levels of adrenomedullin in these retired locals are at the same level as those of healthy people in their 20s and 30s.

According to the published results, the scientists found adrenomedullin “in a much reduced quantity in the subjects studied and seems to act as a powerful protecting factor, helping the optimal development of microcirculation.” 

Here are 6 possible candidates for the secret of Acciaroli’s residents’ longevity. Each of these lifestyle choices seem to do something important when it comes to preserving our health and helping us live longer, and each of them are typical of the people of Acciaroli.

1. The residents of Acciaroli generally eat local food, including locally caught sardines and anchovies. The anchovies are eaten in virtually every meal, which is interesting because this fish is full of antioxidants, which reduce cholesterol and inflammation. Many of them keep rabbits and chickens, which they kill for meat. Furthermore, the olive oil, wine, fruit and vegetables are all locally grown. The lack of imported foods mean they consume very fresh food, uninfected with pesticides.

2. Locally grown rosemary is also used constantly here, they even add it to their olive oil. Rosemary is considered to be useful in improving brain function, and the particular varieties grown here are being tested too. It could be that the dozen separate compounds found in this rosemary are especially healthy.

3. The people of Acciaroli are incredibly active, though they don’t exercise for the sake of it. Because the region is hilly, they are simply forced to drag themselves up and down, around and around, day after day. Yet, you’ll never see them joining a gym.

4. Acciaroli is a quiet little town, far removed from much of the hustle and bustle that typifies modern living. Thus, the people here are relaxed. They enjoy sitting in cafes, where they talk politics, read the newspapers, drink coffee and take it easy. Every day is like a lazy Sunday afternoon here. ‘it’s a stress free life. There’s a joie de vivre.’ This is important because stress destroys our immune system and eats away at our brain cells.

5. Weather & environment There is plenty of warm sunshine in Acciaroli, helping the locals get their fair share of vitamin D. It’s weather like this that keeps them outdoors and active too. Furthermore, since there is no real industry around here, the air is unpolluted and clean. There is something marvelous about the air that wafts along the town with the cool sea breeze that smells of immortality.

6. Dr. Maisel believes that the elderly people in Acciaroli spend more time enjoying each other’s bedroom embraces than any average couple. He says: “Sexual activity among the elderly appears to be rampant. Maybe living long has something to do with that.” Could this be the secret Having a joy for life, being in love with someone and spending time with them is such a revivifying feeling!

The hamlet is 85 miles south of Naples and was famously visited by Mediterranean-diet-aficionado, American nutritionist Ancel Keys in 1950.
He was so taken with the area that he remained here with his wife. 

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The Surgical Strike and …?

Posted on October 15, 2016. Filed under: From a Services Career |

Mohan Guruswamy 

The dictionary describes a surgical strike as an attack (usually without prior warning) intended to deal only with a specific target.
In other words it is an attack that is intended to seize or inflict serious damage on or destroy an objective.  It is a swift and targeted attack with the aim of minimum collateral damage to the nearby areas and civilians.
The neutralization of targets with surgical strikes also prevents escalation to a full-blown war. Surgical strike attacks can be carried out via air strikes, air dropping special operations teams or by swift ground operations by sending in commandos or even regular troops.
Sir Basil Liddell Hart described a surgical strike as being akin to a single arrow shot by Paris at Achilles’ heel, which was the only vulnerable spot.
In modern times a surgical strike is a single action that decapitates or significantly reduces the enemy’s capability. The 1967 Israeli surprise air attack that destroyed most of the Egyptian air force on the ground was a surgical strike.
At another place on the spectrum was the slaying of Osama bin Laden by US SEALs in a helicopter borne attack. 
The June 2006 US attack that killed Abu Musab-el- Zarqawi was by a single F-16C dropping two 500 lb guided bombs on a safe house in the village of Hibhib near Baqubah in Iraq’s Diyala province on very specific information; and the single Hellfire missile launched by a CIA drone that killed Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the 5000 fighters strong Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)  in August 2009 were classic surgical strikes to decapitate enemy leadership to demoralize his forces.
Surgical strikes are also undertaken on larger scale. The bombing of Baghdad in the initial stages of the first Gulf War, Operation Shock and Awe, was a well coordinated set of surgical strikes on government offices and military and communication installations to cripple the Baathist regime. It clearly had a very specific objective and succeeded.
 On the other hand the carpet-bombing of Dresden that set that historic city on fire was clearly not a surgical strike.
A successful surgical strike has a devastating effect. By these measures what happened post Uri doesn’t qualify. Instead the Pakistan backed terrorists struck back three days later at Baramulla. The Pakistan Army too has resorted to firing at several places.
 Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi of Pakistani Punjab and Syed Salahuddin (Mohammed Yusuf Shah of Sohibug in Kashmir) still sleep soundly and safely every night with their many wives. They still give press conferences. To pin them to a place and time is not very difficult.
I have always advocated raising the ante with Pakistan by undertaking deep strikes at terrorist leadership centres to make their activity costly. 
It is not required that we send men across to do this job. The IAF and even the Indian Navy have missiles of great precision. The fear always cited by many military men is that Pakistan will react with strikes of their own. For a start we have no terrorist targets in India. We have plenty of military targets for them to pick to strike back if they want to hit back. But any such counter attack is a disproportionate response and then it is for us to decide on with how much and where to respond. This has been gamed many times. 
Escalation only leads to Pakistan’s military annihilation. Nuclear war will result in their complete wasting. However irrational they may seem, rationality always prevails.
I have no doubt that the Indian Army sent forces across the LoC and hit several places where terrorist foot soldiers were gathered. They have done this several times in the past without any accompanying fanfare. 
As a matter of fact the decision to do this was delegated to the Corps level. It was the government’s policy. I have no doubt that this time too they drew blood and took no prisoners as has been happening for several years now. 
By misusing a nomenclature to describe the action to be something bigger and major is sheer political charlatanism. Maybe it was Ajit Doval’s vivid imagination formed after several years as an undercover agent in Pakistan, as his many hagiographers claim?
 If they had gone in and took out Salahuddin or brought him back it would have qualified to be called a surgical strike.
If Ram Madhav then said it was a surgical strike and an achievement of the Modi government we would all loudly applaud it. 
But why the DGMO described it as that when it is not that is something I am unable to fathom? I have known several DGMO’s and they were all distinguished soldiers with great integrity and very precise in their speech. A DGMO has always got to be that. The job demands that they are clinically accurate in making an assessment and surgically precise in determining an action. I have no doubt that this DGMO too is of that lineage. But sometimes they have to act out a script. 
Calling what happened as surgical strikes is clearly political. How a bunch of cross border raids became surgical strikes is a story waiting to be told?
That it was political is now apparent. RSS volunteers have taken to putting up banners in election bound UP with quotes made by the Army Chief and Narendra Modi’s picture in the foreground gives away the game. Having not being able to bring about a nationwide development and economic miracle as allegedly happened in Gujarat, the BJP/RSS are with their backs to the wall. Their claims of economic growth are now perceived by most to be hollow. 
It is not rocket science to figure out that economic growth cannot take place without investment. The Tax/Investment ratio is dwindling. Power demand is falling off. And most importantly no jobs are being created. The PM is clearly bluffing when he claims 3 crore Mudra loans have created 3 crore new jobs. If that is so, the let us give a hundred crore Mudra loans and the nation can be deemed to have turned the corner. 
To compound his misery food inflation is still in double digits and is now at 11.42%.
Consequently their 31% is also dwindling. So they need a new Modi miracle. So a new false image is being created. Like some sort of an avatar of Indira Gandhi or Saladin the Great, who can enthuse the masses? 
Lets see. As Faiz wrote in another context: hum dekhenge, lazim hain ki hum bhi dekhenge!”


AND this is from a friend –
An Army installation gets attacked by a terrorist squad and this is what happens —
The Home Minister (how is the Home Ministry involved) – chairs a meeting (its like a Gram Panchayat) of NSA, DsG BSF & CRPF and the DGMO. Now is this the job of the HM to tackle Pakistan and with this Guest List?
People who matter were missing from this meeting viz the three Service Chiefs. What were they discussing – when the operation was still going on and there are ZERO inputs about anything?Curiously the Defense Minister is missing from the whole scene. Monhan Parrikar – tweets “on the way to Kashmir”. So he is going to add to the tamasha!.
The Army Chief heads for Kashmir. Is it the Chiefs job to fight platoon Battles? There is the Army Commander of Northern Command, The 15 Corps Commander , The 19 Inf Div Commander and the 12 Brigade Commander in whose area this has happened. ……….. The Chief should be in the War room with the DGMO – but both have gone to act as Firefighters instead of doing the job they should be doing!!!!!
Four terrorists throw this country out of gear. This is our capability or this is what we have been reduced to – A LAUGHING STOCK! The Pakis & the World are rolling in laughter —  after seeing the recent reactions of the French & other countries and now us.!
This just goes to show how disjointed and uncoordinated our Govt is to handle any situation. What on earth would happen in a WAR scenerio?
Our reaction which the world sees  is – lets light some candles, have bandhs in Courts & other organisations, spew all sorts of venom in front of the press, make your headlines & go & have a nice lunch & afternoon siesta. …………. Wake up fresh in the evening to join another forum to spit venom, a good nights sleep & tomorrow is a new day……
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EIGHTEEN FIFTY SEVEN – Abridged Work of Hamid Hussein …

Posted on October 14, 2016. Filed under: Books |


War of Independence, Uprising, Rebellion, Mutiny or Whatever!

This is history to show how character and behavior of men count – that a Baluch had more respect for Robert Sanderman and a Sindhi for John Jacob than for any native ruler or leader.

While we all have our biases, every effort should be made to understand historical events in the context of the time period. We must not re-write history with new lenses i.e religious, national or what ever.  Every nation has a ‘national narrative’ which has a purpose of trying to use it for unity of conglomerate and disparate groups. Always this national narrative is heavy on rhetoric and light on facts. There is a road in Peshawar named after Ajab Khan Afridi, who was not a freedom fighter but a rifle thief who had abducted a girl – a low and vile act by all tribal standards.

The problem is that with the exception of a handful of Ghakkars, not even two dozen Punjabi Muslims or Pathans of present day Pakistan fought against the British in 1857. The other part is whether Pakistanis will celebrate Hindu rebel leaders and whether Indians will celebrate Muslim rebel leaders.

How Hodson through the Syed brothers of the wife of Bahadur Shah Zafar treacherously killed the sons of the Mughal and presented the Emperor with their heads. “Hayata did well” said Nicholson and granted the Wah Gardens to him and his family .

Later his grand son Sikandar Hayat became CM of Punjab and betrayed the Quaid e Azam.  The problem is that India and Pakistan will always disagree.

Pakistanis will not have the courage to teach their children that the last rebel stand against the British was by a former government lawyer, a Hindu named Ram Narayan at a place named Islam Nagar while Indians will not have the courage to teach that a Muslim woman who was the former dancing girl and later Queen Hazrat Mahal was far superior to any man.

Her own debauch husband, Wajid Ali Shah, when told about his exile was weeping,  pleading, baring his head to the appalled and embarrassed Colonel Outram.

In contrast, in November 1857 when a shell hit the palace gate, the garrison panicked and soldiers fled but the indomitable Hazrat Mahal remained staunch and shamed her chiefs by taunting them to cut her head before running away and on one occasion, sent a pair of women’s trousers to a faint-hearted chief with a note stating that better he should put them on and retire to his proper place — a harem.  She spent 50,000 sterling pounds of her own money to build a wall around the city.

She had rare leadership qualities and gained the confidence of both Hindus and Muslims.  She was able to prevent the division between two communities due to the activities of religious zealots like Maulvi Massih-us-Zaman and Babar Ali. In this effort, she was helped by Maulvi Ahmadullah Shah, who not only worked for cooperation between Hindus and Muslims but between Shias and Sunnis of Lucknow.  She was able to rally the soldiers, landed nobility and city population to her cause.  In middle of 1859, when the rebel cause seemed doomed, Hazarat Mahal and her two staunch Hindu allies, Beni Mado and Hanumant Singh refused to surrender to the British.

No one in India is willing to tell their children that the famous Rani of Jhansi (Lakshmi Bai) only trusted five hundred Kabuli Pathans of her army.  They remained loyal to the end and escorted her after her defeat at Jhansi.

General Observations

1857 is an important landmark in the history of Indian sub continent. Several different factors were at play long before the rebellion but the sudden outburst of violence and its rapid spread gave the movement a transient unity of purpose despite the stark differences and diversity of India.

Various individuals and different groups joined the rebellion for different reasons. In 1857, different regions of India not only differed in geography and composition of inhabitants but also in terms of local customs, relationship between different communities and political loyalty.. Eighteenth and nineteenth century was an era of dramatic change in India.  Old guards were crumbling and new reaIities emerging. Gradual decline of old central authority and emergence of a new alien power of East India Company had resulted in resurgence and emergence of religious, caste, ethnic, clan and family feuds in many localities..

General perceptions of anger, hatred, betrayal and cruelty influenced the people who wrote about the rebellion either immediately or long after.  The same event was seen with  different perspective giving it different interpretations.

It will be futile to explain the complex events of 1857 on the basis of one single concept or theory. Benjamin Disraeli stated, ‘The rise and fall of empires is not an affair of greased cartridges’.

A non-judgmental, non-biased approach to the subject will give one a better appreciation of the scenario.  ‘The main duty of a historian is not composition of eulogy or invective but interpretation of complex processes and conflicting ideas in the most objective way’.

Writings on 1857

Most of the early writings about rebellion were by British who were involved in the historical process. The soldier saw it as the epic of his bravery and valor, the missionary saw the rebellion as a conflict between ‘truth and error’ and ‘displeasure of God on the British’ while others saw it as a conspiracy either by Muslims or Hindus or both together. The veterans of these campaigns against the rebels saw themselves as heroes.

The writings by the military participants of the conflict are a good source for those who are interested in the military aspect but have limited value in comprehensive analysis. There was no serious analysis of rebel leadership. After all if the brave and self-righteous British were fighting for a just cause, then the rebels were only a bunch of murderous mobs led by blood thirsty, debauch and corrupt leaders.

Sir George William Forrest wrote the history of the Indian mutiny.  He was the director of records of Government of India.  His father was Lt. (Later Captain) George Forrest who won Victoria Cross defending the magazine in Delhi.  It is quite natural to expect how he would have viewed the events. His father’s exploits and valor were to influence his narrative.

Several officers who participated in the battles wrote their memoirs. Major Norman, Colonel Baird Smith and Colonel Keith Young narrated the events at Delhi. Captain R.P. Anderson and W. Forbes-Mitchell wrote about siege of Lucknow.

The civilian British administrators who wrote their version of the events included Edwards (Badaun), Greathed (Delhi), Robertson (Saharanpur), Taylor (Patna), Gubbins (Lucknow) and Shearer (Cawnpur).  All these narratives are good in documenting the events of the respective areas.

There are no significant authentic original accounts of the rebellion by the natives.  The diaries kept by Mirza Moinuddin Hassan Khan, Munshi Jivanlal and Chunilal give some account of happenings inside Delhi while diary of Nanakchand give some glimpse of events in Cawnpore through native eyes.

It will be naive to expect that these natives looking for reward and not to implicate themselves after the British victory would write anything good about the rebels. Moinuddin was a sub-inspector of police in the suburb of Delhi at the time of rebellion. He fled to Persia and returned after two years.  He came as he was sure that he would not be punished as he had saved the life of Theophilus Metcalfe.  At the request of Metcalfe, he wrote his experiences of the rebellion but gave the manuscript to Metcalfe on the condition that it should be published after his death.

The apologetic work by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan went at length explaining the benefits of English rule and portraying rebels as a murderous mob and stating that there was no participation by the noble class.  The life of Syed Ahmad and his thought process was based on his experience.  As a child he had sat in the lap of Major General David Ochterlony, the British resident in Delhi and played with the gold buttons of his uniform.  Syed had accepted the permanent status of power of British in India and any attempt to subvert it was seen as a challenge to a legitimate authority.  In addition to that, Syed admired Syed Ahmad Saheed, a reformer who died fighting the Sikhs.  His Afghan comrades betrayed him. Syed had held Afghans in contempt.

In Rohilkhand (including Bijnor and Bareilley), the descendants of Afghans were in the forefront of the rebellion.  Syed’s work is a rare example of a thorough account of the events in Bijnor and Moradabad as he was the witness and an active participant in the events.  He was in Bijnor at the time of rebellion.

In early part of twentieth century, India was experiencing the emergence of nationalist ideas. In Bengal a violent campaign against the British was in progress. The English educated Bengali intelligentsia which was freshly infected by the European nationalist ideas at the early part of twentieth century went to other extreme and tried to portray the rebellion as a grand show of national struggle by a hypothetical Indian nation against alien rule. In this backdrop, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar published his work on rebellion in 1909. It was titled ‘History of the War of Independence’.

A recent addition is A.H. Amin’s ‘The Sepoy Rebellion’. It contradicts the  rhetorical statements of many later Muslim writers who tried to portray 1857 as a grand show of Muslim martial spirit.

Background to the Contest

The company’s native army had performed very well for over a century winning large part of India for the company and bringing stability. Company’s army was not a static entity but a self-sustained living cosmos which was itself undergoing a significant change.  The usual ripples accompanied with these changes were also occurring whether someone was noticing it or not at that time.

Overall, there had been a gradual change in the Company’s army.  The native army which conquered India for the John Company was composed of autonomous regiments. The British officers posted in these regiments were for life.  They saw themselves as ‘fathers’ of the native sepoys.  The ‘commanders could reward or punish their sepoys with almost complete impunity’.

By 1840s, there were significant changes. The young officers of the company started to distance themselves from the native sepoys.  One factor was the arrival of increasing numbers of European women. Earlier British officers lived with native concubines and even married native women.

Most British officers were well versed with native languages, knew the cultures of their regiments and mixed with native officers and sepoys.  Now the younger generation of officers, both bachelor and married developed their own little white worlds, increasing the gulf between them and their native sepoys.  ‘The men were badly treated, sworn at, and called “niggers” and “pigs”.

The annexation of new territories needed new administrators and several military officers were posted to civilian jobs.  Officers coveted these civilian jobs as they brought more money, fame, honor and a break from monotonous garrison life.

In early 1850s, Colonel Frederick McKesson was civil commissioner of Peshawar while Lieutenant Harry Lumsden was serving as deputy commissioner and Captain James an assistant commissioner.  Similarly many officers like Nixon in Bhurutpur and McPherson in Gwalior were serving at civilian posts.

 Old and infirm officers were left behind to command the regiments.  The centralization and reform decreased the authority of officers of the regiment as the list of regulations kept proliferating. Any measure of extra money for sepoys going on far away campaigns advocated by military officers were fought furiously by company bosses in Calcutta. 

In July 1856, general enlistment order was proclaimed which stated that sepoy would serve anywhere if ordered.  This meant that a Hindu might have to cross the dreaded ‘Black Waters’ at the cost of losing his caste.

In early 1857, rumors were rife among native sepoys in many cantonments. The sepoys of 2nd Bengal Native Infantry (BNI) told their Colonel that there were unmistakable signs that the company was bent on destroying the religion of the natives.  They pointed to contamination of salt, ghee and sugar of its sepoys with the bones of pigs and cows.  Hindu soldiers interpreted the reddish color of the salt from the dye of the sack as cow’s blood.

.Surely, the setbacks of company’s army in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century would have affected the perception of native participants of these battles.  The overall impact about half a century later on a new generation of native soldiers, mostly illiterate and with no means of information or communications with other parts of the country would have a limited impact.

Even the more recent campaigns against the Sikhs were viewed in the light of overall victory of British arms and sepoys were not in a position to do a critical analysis of the setbacks in individual battles.

More important is the fact that the scenes which they witnessed after the start of rebellion had a more pronounced effect on the sepoys.  Murder of British officers, refuge of civil and military officers in entrenchments and general breakdown of law and order in affected areas would be a more powerful signal to the wavering native troops that the company’s rule was about to end.

Having said that, it is also true that at least there was a dent in the aura of invincibility of British arms with defeat in First Afghan War and setbacks against Sikhs.  More important than the military setbacks in Afghanistan was the psychological trauma of sepoys.   Subedar Hidayat Ali, a third generation of loyal sepoys wrote in 1858 to his British superiors about the troubles of sepoys during Afghanistan campaign. Hindu sepoys were fearful of losing their caste. Their colleagues refused to smoke or dine with them as they were considered out castes.

Although in latter part of the rebellion there was general disaffection in most regiments of Bengal army but in the early part of the rebellion, the regiments which started the mutiny in their stations had a particular historical background and specific immediate causes of unrest.

Tales of Units, Officers and Troops

The 3rd Cavalry which started the rebellion in Meerut had run into problems in September 1855 when stationed at Bolarum near Hyderabad. During Muharram, Colonel Mackenzie had issued a cantonment order  prohibiting noisy procession at midnight.

After realizing that it was Muharram, the order was cancelled. The procession in which several cavalrymen participated proceeded along the route and in front of Colonel Mackenzie’s house there was a heated conversation between the Colonel and some participants of the procession.

Later, there was an attempt on Colonel Mackenzie’s life.  Some cavalrymen later told Colonel Carpenter that they were loyal to the government but their religion had been insulted.  In an inquiry all native commissioned officers of 3rd Cavalry were with two exceptions dismissed.

The 2nd Native Cavalry stationed at Cawnpur had an interesting history.  It was raised in 1787 and had fought bravely in various campaigns.  In 1840, two companies of the regiment fled when confronted by a small body of Afghan horsemen.  The exact cause was never established.  One possibility is the origin of troopers of the regiment which were mainly Afghans of Qandahar origin who had settled in Lucknow and they may not have wanted to confront their ethnic kin though separated by a time span of sixty years.

The outraged commander disbanded the whole regiment and all European officers were transferred to 11th Native Cavalry. In 1850, one of the old officers captured the Sikh standard in Multan.  Impressed by this feat of bravery, the Company restored the old number of 2nd Cavalry.

Nana Sahib’s commander of the guard, Jawala Prasad worked on the disgruntled Risaldar Teeka Singh and won him over and his house in the lines became the center for all disaffected sowars.

The 56th BNI at Banda was involved in operations against Santals in 1855-56.  The operations against Santals were different than earlier campaigns against many local armies.  This was a scorched earth policy in which sepoys  burned villages and hanged Santals. It was more a counter-insurgency operation rather than the romantic headlong charges on enemy forces. This gave the sepoys their first encounter in suppressing civilian population on a large scale.

The wife of Captain William Halliday of 56th BNI had a Bible printed in Urdu and Nagri and distributed it among the sepoys convincing them that the British were there to convert them to Christianity.

10th Native Infantry stationed in Fatehgarh which rebelled had officers like Major William Lindsay who had spent most of his career as a staff officer with little interaction with his sepoys.  It was commanded by a mediocre sixty years old Lt. Colonel George Smith who had served most of his life in 47th BNI and had taken charge of 10th at Fatehgurh. He had seen his last action in the battlefield about thirty-eight years ago.  The sepoys did not know him.  His second-in-command was fifty one year old Captain Robert Munro who had managed to serve in the Indian army for thirty years without ever fighting a battle.

The 10th BNI also had a peculiar experience. This regiment had served in Burma travelling in ship.  Brahmins called the sea, ‘Black Water’ and believed that they will lose their caste by crossing the sea. The regiment had agreed when their officers had promised rewards but which never came.

Locals jeered the regiment as Christian Regiment.  The local scene was spiced by the affair of a pensioned nawab with the wife of an ensign – Reginald Byrne. The ensign when seeing his wife with the nawab, had kicked him out of the door.

The 19th and 34th  Bengal Native Infantry were at Lucknow at the time of annexation of Oudh. It was quite natural that sepoys were affected by the general discontent which was aroused with the annexation.  In February 1857 both these regiments were in Barrakpur.  When 19th  BNI came to know about the new cartridges, they refused to use them. The Colonel confronted them angrily with artillery and cavalry on the parade ground but then accepted their demand to withdraw the artillery and cancel the next morning parade.

On March 29, Mangal Pandey of 34th  BNI (the regiment was thoroughly disaffected due to the zealous Christian preaching by its commandant Colonel Wheeler) shot at two Britishers but when General John Hearsey (an officer of the old school) came himself thundering on the parade ground alone, Mangal turned his musket to himself and wounded himself in the chest.

Two days later, when 19th BNI was being disbanded, the sepoys were weeping in front of Hearsey and begging him for mercy.

Lt. Colonel George Smith who was not popular among the officers and men commanded the 3rd Cavalry which rebelled at Meerut.  When the condemned sepoys were marched off to jail, they threw their boots at Lt. Colonel Smith.

Quite a contrast to how the disbanded sepoys behaved with General Hearsey. Several regimental officers who had spent long years with their sepoys trusted them fully.

Colonel Thomas Pierce of 6th  Light Cavalry stationed at Nasirabad sent his eight-month pregnant wife to sleep in the quarters of native officers families.  His sowars had a bloody skirmish with the rebellious 15th Bengal Native Infantry. Later they switched sides but did not harm their officers. Colonel Wart had vowed that if his regiment mutinies it would walk over his body as he would never leave it.

47th BNI at Mirzapur remained loyal as it was commanded by wise old Colonel David Pott greatly respected by his men. Colonel George Sherer of 73rd BNI stationed at Jalpaiguri was of the view that disarming native regiments was counterproductive.  He never even carried any personal weapon with him while with his troops.

31st BNI at Saugor remained staunchly loyal under their own native officers as they chased and defeated the mutinous of 42nd BNI and captured their colors and arms.

The Ist and 3rd Cavalry and 2nd Infantry were stationed in Aurangabad. These regiments were composed mainly of Muslims.  In late June 1857, when the troops came to know that they might be part of the force of General Woodburn to advance on Delhi, there was disaffection among the Ist Cavalry.  The prompt arrival of Woodburn, the disarming of the few mutineers and the escape of one troop stabilized the situation.

The troops remained loyal to British and 3rd Cavalry under Captain Orr fought well against Holkar’s troops.  Many native officers like Risaldar Major Bhawani Singh of Ist Cavalry, Jemadar Khoda Buksh of 56th BNI remained loyal even when their regiments mutinied.

Sebedar Ram Bukhsh begged to be allowed to join the garrison at the entrenchment of Cawnpur but was not allowed.  He tried to carry the regimental record in a cart to safety but was looted by a band of peasants.

53rd and 56th BNI at Cawnpur were steadfast. They were repeatedly taunted, abused and threatened by the rebel troopers of Ist Cavalry and even then only part of these regiments joined the rebels. In fact several sepoys of 53rd assembled on parade ground with their arms to help British officers to quell the mutiny but by now General Wheeler was not sure of himself and ordered artillery fire on the sepoys thereby assuring their desertion.

Similarly, in Benaras when native regiments were being disarmed, Ludhiana Regiment (consisting of Sikhs) mistakenly thought that they were also being disarmed and rebelled.

After the uprising at Meerut, the situation for the British became very difficult.  In fact, the very instrument of disarming native regiments to prevent rebellion became the immediate cause of mutiny by native soldiers.

Anecdotes of the Contest

The attempts at disarming and dismounting of native regiments caused panic and panic quickly escalated to revolt.  Whenever disarming was attempted, the sepoys thought they had lost the confidence of the British and European troops will mow them down without any qualms.

The British officers and men fought with determination and passion as if they were defending their own homeland.   This is the reason that even today, it is considered a glorious chapter of British military history.  In the latter part of rebel operations, as the atrocities on women and children by the rebels became known, revenge became the force multiplier.

In many battles of the rebellion, ‘interior impulses, largely vindictive, made the British fight with demonic energy and contempt for the odds which were often stacked against them’.

The British won the day due to the presence of dare-devil young officers who led from the front.  In several instances brave officers were able to weld the wavering sepoys together and prevent mutiny.

One such officer was Captain Edmund Vibart of 2nd Native Cavalry.  In May 1857, he was passing through Fatehgurh to Naini Tal.  When the riot in prison started, the sepoy guard just watched.  Captain Vibart was hit on his face by a brick. The enraged, bleeding Vibart ordered the sepoys to charge on the prison.

The sepoys fired, killing several prisoners and chased the remaining back into their cells.  One gallant officer by his action was able to rally wavering sepoys who did not even belong to his regiment.

In Delhi, it was the tenacity of Richard Baird-Smith which prevented the timid General Wilson to retreat from the ridge.  Officers like, Nicholson, Hodson and Collin Cambell saved the day for the British.

It is very difficult to assess and analyze why in one place the sepoy rebelled while in another place they remained staunchly loyal. What factors influenced him in the critical hour of making that decision of dishonor to his oath and colors. One cannot generalize the motives of all sepoys.

The colonel of 47th BNI devised an ingenious plan telling his men to loan their pay to locals at high interest rates. The sepoys wanted no part of any anarchy as they would lose the high returns.

Maharajah Jaiyji Rao Scindia of Gwalior sided with the British and financed his contingent which consisted of sepoys who were recruited on the pattern of Bengal Army. The sepoys mutinied on June 14 but never marched to Delhi.

While A.H. Amin attributes this to clever propaganda by the Maharajah  but the more important factor was the fact that the Maharajah continued to pay their salaries, so they had a more reason to stay at Gwalior.

In the early part of the rebellion, most of the rebel sepoys and their leaders fought bravely and with tenacity.  As the sieges prolonged, the inner conflicts emerged and initial euphoria dissipated and the sepoys began to waver.

In Delhi, due to the laxity of discipline and reluctance of many sepoys to fight, Bakht Khan issued an order that no man who left in the morning to fight could return within the walls until 4 p.m.  He also decreed that no man would qualify for the day’s pay until he had done battle with British. Several sepoys quietly left for their homes.

17th BNI at Azamgarh, plundered the treasury.  When they reached Faizabad, they were relieved of their loot by the rebels from Jaunpur and Benaras.  The out of control rebels were a bigger threat than the British.

The rapid deterioration of discipline among sepoys dismayed many.  In Oudh, Subedar Teeka Singh of 2nd Cavalry became general while Jemadar Durga Singh of 53rd BNI became colonel.  His angry Muslim troopers accused him of amassing private wealth and summarily arrested the newly promoted General Teeka Singh.

Most rebellions in garrisons were local affairs prompted by local causes or excitement generated by the news of successes of rebels in other areas.  Even in any single regiment, there was no unanimous decision of sepoys to mutiny.

Many sepoys did not condone the behavior of rebel comrades but were caught in the eye of the storm.

The ringleaders of the rebellion aware of this clear and present danger executed officers and their families as a first act to make sure that there was no going back.  This act assured that all sepoys who may not be agreeing with the plans of the rebels would now throw their lot as after the murder of the officers it was clear to everyone that there will be no pardon or mercy.

In several places British officers were shot or cut to pieces on parade grounds or in their homes.

In Jhansi, 12th BNI and 14th Irregular Cavalry was stationed.  On June 5, 1857, only one company of 12th led by one native sergeant marched to Star Fort and became rebellious.  The remaining four companies of 12th and 14th Cavalry remained loyal and on parade professed their loyalty and were angry at the conduct of the rebellious company.

It was after the murder of commander of the troops, Captain Dunlop that the remaining sepoys joined the rebels.  Other officers like Ensign Taylor, Lt. Turnbull and Sergeant Major Newton were killed in the early part of the rebellion. The remaining garrison along with women and children was put to the sword on the orders of the Risaldar.

Similarly the detachment of 12th BNI at Naogaon commanded by Major Kirk, volunteered to serve against the rebels. A portion of them rebelled after the news of murder of the whole garrison of Jhansi arrived in Naogaon..

Wheeler’s statement that, ‘it was above all the “Enfield” Rifle which was the real victor of 1857’ ks not wholly correct.  The effectiveness of Enfield played a significant role in some but not all battles of the mutiny like the battle of Trimu Ghat on July 12 and also in the battle of Fatehgurh.

No native troops loyal to British and irregular cavalry were issued Enfield.  Havelock left about three thousand Enfield rifles in Allahabad as his soldiers were not accustomed to these rifles.  In addition, in the early models of Enfield, bullets jammed so tightly the armourers were needed to bore them out. The high numbers on back sights were taken to indicate velocity instead of range.  The result was an elevation that made fire ineffective.

In many fiercely fought battles like the ones for capture of Delhi, and many strongholds of Lucknow (Kaisarbagh, Sikandarbagh and Shah Najaf) were frontal charges. Bayonets and close range fighting played a more significant role in these battles. Small fortifications in the cities, blocked streets and loophole walls and houses were taken from rebels by close fighting.

At the onset of the rebellion at least one garrison showed some organization and discipline but it quickly dissipated.  Mutiny, confusion, looting, murder and further confusion were a sequence which was tragically repeated in almost all areas with few exceptions.

Not even in a single location was there any single unified and organized effort by rebels to plan their actions. In Delhi, the troops, princes, courtiers and commanders-in-chief were all collecting funds from the people independently od one another.

Only in areas, where a strong leader was able to exert influence did an organized effort emerge but that was also transient. There were too many mutually exclusive and some times hostile to one another forces which were at play in the rebel camp to allow for any large scale centralized effort against the more organized British forces.

                Social Aspects were both Cause and Result of the Uprising                                 

Overall, the rebellion did not have a clearly defined course and it differed markedly from region to region.  Various overlapping factors were at play at the same time thus making the task of a well organized analysis difficult.

The India of 1857 was not one single country in the modern sense but a collection of distinct areas inhabited by disparate groups. The rebellion was limited to certain areas and even in those a large segment of the population remained loyal.

The rebellion was essentially by the previously dominant classes in the North-Western Provinces (North Western provinces consisted of eight divisions — Meerut, Delhi, Agra, Rohailkhand, Jhansi, Jabalpur, Allahabad and Benares.

Not to be confused with North West Frontier Province which was separated from Punjab in 1901 including both Hindus and Muslims. There is no doubt that a large number of people of India had grievances against the company government.  In the early part of rebellion, many preferred to wait and watch rather than throw their lot with one side or another.

They expected an aggressive and overwhelming response from the company army.  The fact that ‘the government had been caught off balance with its military resources stretched to breaking point resulted in a slow or no response thus encouraging many to side with the rebels thinking that the company rule is coming to an end.

This explains the second wave of mutinies in Lucknow, Cawnpur and Azamgurh, which occurred almost one month later than the Meerut uprising.

Several legislative measures of the company challenging centuries old traditions caused many apprehensions.  Suttee (burning of widows on the pyres of their husbands) was abolished in 1829.

James Ramsay, the 10th Earl of Dalhousie became Governor-General of India in 1847 and embarked on ambitious administrative reforms which would shake the foundations of centuries old customs of the ancient land.  The thirty five years old workaholic Dalhousie reformed almost every aspect of the Company’s rule in India.  

Several measures taken by the British in annexed areas raised caste and religious feelings.  These measures roused the suspicions of Hindus and Muslims alike.  New legislative measures in 1856, allowing Hindu widows to re-marry raised Hindu suspicions.

Enacting of laws allowing converts to inherit property caused doubts in both Hindu and Muslim minds.  In early nineteenth century there was also increasing missionary activity in India which was seen as an organized attempt of an alien group to let the natives stray away from their religions.

British attempts to discourage early marriages and joint messing of convicts in jails and compulsory shaving were seen as intrusion into the traditional ways and an attempt of proselytizing.  In 1855, Mr. Edmond issued a circular letter from Calcutta stating that in railway trains no caste distinction will be made in the seating arrangements.

Even in the military, sepoys resented the efforts of officers with missionary zeal. These religious activities of Lt. Colonel G.S. Wheeler of 34th  BNI in Barrackpur and Major Mackenzie in Bolarum were directly responsible for the disaffection among the sepoys.  The famous Mangal Pandey who fired at his officers on March 29 was from 34th BNI.

In 1837, Persian was abolished as a language of the court thus making a large number of Muslims unemployed in Bengal.  English magistrates replaced Muslims who were attached to courts as Qazis, Muftis.  In Bengal, even under Muslim rulers, Hindus were employed as revenue officers.  Hindus going ahead in education retained the jobs in newly anglicized revenue system.  In early part of nineteenth century, the law barring appointment of any Indian to a post carrying an annual salary of 500 sterling pounds effectively curtailed any future prospects of a native under new government.

It should be remembered that east India Company was a commercial entity with the primary objective of increasing its revenue.  Social and political fallout from their decisions and long-term negative effects were a low priority on the minds of the agents of the company.

The annexation of Oudh in 1856 was the single act which thoroughly alienated almost all classes of that region, including rulers of native states, landed aristocracy, courtiers, sepoys and peasants.

In north western provinces, British adopted the policy of resuming the Jagirs after the death of the holder and not to the descendants.  Instead, they gave the heirs fixed pension.  From 1847 to 1856, the company in this way acquired Nagpur, Jhansi, Satara and Sambalpur.  In Bengal and northern India, landholders became fearful of their future under British.  Similarly, the revenue free land holders in Bengal and North-Western Provinces came under scrutiny as the company wanted to increase its revenue base.

In North Western Provinces a large number of resumptions of revenue-free lands occurred between 1850 and 1856, causing a surge of anti-government sentiment.  In contrast, in Sindh, Sir Charles Napier made the landlords the aristocrats of the land thus attaching their interest with the British, hence no unrest in Sindh during 1857.  

Talukdar (owners of large groups of villages) were powerful feudal barons and a recognized institution of nineteenth century Central India.  They have been the intermediaries between the rulers and village proprietors for centuries.

The land policies of British in North Western province removed the intermediary Talukdars.  In Rohilkhand (This division consisted of Bareilly, Badaun, Bijnor, Moradabad and Shahjahanpur), many landed elites were Muslims.  The new revenue policy disposed off many of them. This powerful lot of landed aristocracy became hostile to British and British would pay with blood for this near fatal mistake.

The new set of village landowners though removed from the rapaciousness of the talukdars had their own grievances.  The mix of specific complaints about revenue and taxes, cumbersome and lengthy new British judicial system and sharing of general anxieties of the public at large resulted in such an equation that the potential beneficiaries of new British policies ended up rallying around the old guard of the landed elite.

British courts gave legal protection to the money lenders (Mahajans) who were able to acquire landed interests which were confiscated.  This was one of the reasons that everywhere, the rebels burned government revenue records, account books of money lenders and destroyed their property.   In contrast to Delhi, where soldiers were in the forefront of resistance, in Lucknow it was the levies of talukdars rather than regular sepoys who gave the British a tough fight.

In 1852, an act was passed for scrutiny of rent-free tenures.  The tribunal called Inam Commission aggressively went after rent-free tenures.  From 1852-57, in Southern Marhatta country alone about 35 thousand estates were called for and in 21 thousand  cases sentences of confiscation were pronounced.

In Bengal similar measures brought extra income of 5,000,000 sterling pounds per year while in Bombay it was 370,000 sterling pounds per year.  After the annexation of Oudh in 1856, a vigorous settlement policy was pursued which resulted in enormous social upheaval.

In Cawnpur area, boats between Calcutta and Cawnpur transported most of goods.  These boats were owned and operated by Hindus living in the vicinity of Sati Chowra Ghat.  Their fortunes had been declining with the arrival of British as British-owned steamers, railways and Grand Trunk Road were taking away all their business.

The middle of nineteenth century saw the end of the era of military adventurers, most of who were Muslims from northern India.  After the Mahratta and Pindari wars, although good numbers of soldiers were enlisted in the Company army but still a large number became unemployed. In 1854, the number of these angry out of job soldiers was estimated to be 100,000 in Rohailkhand and surrounding areas.

When Wajid Ali Shah was deposed in February 1856, the 200,000 strong royal army was dispersed.  Apart from soldiers, many others who depended on the army such as 12,000 armorers became jobless.

Later government ordered talukdars to dismiss their armed retainers thus resulting in swelling of number of unemployed sodiery who gradually drifted to large cities. These disgruntled ex-soldiers were now scattered all over Oudh.

Adding insult to injury, British dropped any pretense of respect for the previous ruling class. In 1803, Shah Alam was a British pensioner with eleven and a half lakh rupees and ruling powers limited to only the Red Fort area.  This was a fact but for illiterate natives, the King in Delhi still represented a mythical past of glory.  Senior officers of East India Company omitted all normal courtesies to the King.  In 1844, nazar to King was abolished. In fact, in 1851, Bahadur Shah Zafar was receiving 833 rupees per month in lieu of his nazars.

In 1820s, Heber wrote about the possibility of Muslims rising against the British but the reasons he argued were political and not religious.  One of the reasons which he mentioned was ‘the conduct of Lord Hastings to the old emperor of Delhi’.

The jewels of family of raja of Nagpur were sold in an auction in Calcutta.  After annexation of Oudh, the Chief Commissioner used Umbrella Palace as stable for his horses.  Similar measures at local levels in dealings with local elites caused resentment.

The role of Hindus and Muslims and their relationship with each other was also a complex phenomenon and varied from region to region.  Hindus mostly led the civil risings in Oudh, Bihar, Gorakhpur and Central India. Many leaders of the uprising such as Nana Sahib, Tantya Topi and Rani of Jhansi were Hindus.  After the rebellion was suppressed, land from Hindus was confiscated in large scale in Meerut, Jhansi, Etawa, Jabalpur which were the centres of Hindu dissatisfaction.  In Patna and Bijnor, Muslims helped British to regain the control.  In Rohailkhand, Fatehpur and Bulandshahar, the sites of Muslim discontent, confiscations were predominantly Muslim.

Nawabs of Karnal, Muradabad, Dacca and Rampur and Nizam of Hyderabad remained loyal to British.  Some confiscated land was awarded to the loyal subjects, both Hindu and Muslim and remainder auctioned off. The relationships between Hindus and Muslims during the rebellion were complex and depended on the local scene and the conduct of the local rebel leaders.  In Rohailkhand, the rebels were almost exclusively Muslims.

In Bijnor their leader was Nawab of Najibabad, Muhammad Khan and in Bareilly Khan Bahadur Khan).  The rebels raised the green flag and used religious symbols.  When the rebels robbed rich Hindu merchants and bankers, the cleavage lines between two communities widened.

The worsening law and order situation in the area with bands of marauding gangs of Gujars, Maiwatis, Jats, Chauhans and Banjaras creating havoc culminating in a sanguine battle between Hindus and Muslims at Haldaur on September 18.

In Malawa, Firuz Shah headed the rebellion. The religious zeal attracted many Muslim tribes but alienated Hindus. In Cawnpur, the leadership by Nana Sahib roused the suspicion of influential Muslims.  Initially, he arrested Nunne Nawab, an influential Muslim noble of Lucknow who had settled in Cawnpur.  Later, under pressure, Nunne Nawab was not only released but made commander of a section of the force with artillery pieces.  

A crisis situation occurred when two Muslim butchers convicted of killing a cow died from bleeding when their hands were amputated.

The sowars of 2nd Cavalry along with a large Muslim crowd confronted Nana and threatened to displace him. The showdown between Hindus and Muslims was averted by an apology from Nana and hectic efforts by his Muslim counsel, Azeemullah.

Ironically, the last rebel stand against British was by a former government lawyer, a Hindu chief Ramnarayan at a place named Islamnagar.

The British rule in Punjab and Frontier had effectively ended the anarchy in Punjab and north western borders of India.  The populace in general especially Muslims saw British rule as benign and peaceful. That is why, Muslims of these areas sided with British in 1857.

Sikhs, Pathans and Muslims from Punjab rushed to fight side by side with the British.  The famous march of Guides from Mardan to Delhi is now legendary. William Hodson commanded a regiment of irregular horse of 300 Punjabi and Pathan troopers who were known as ‘Plungers’.   

In areas, where the general population sentiment was not hostile to the British, the regiments which rebelled did not succeed in harming the British.  This was the case in Ferozpur, Ambala, Layyah, Mianwali and Peshawar.

Ironically, the revolt of 1857 which is seen as the first organized attempt against colonial hegemony, ‘established the Punjab as the bastion of colonialism and strengthened the base of an authoritarian structure’.  The results were far reaching as ‘political institutions in the Punjab lagged behind their counterparts in the rest of the sub continent.


They can be divided into ‘patriot’ and ‘opportunist’.  Each individual local leader had his or her particular reasons for joining the revolt and this was equally applicable to various groups who sided with the rebels.‘

The sepoys fighting for fear of castes, the chiefs for their kingdoms, the landlords for their estates, the mass for fear of conversion and agrarian grievances, and the Muslims for restoration of their old sway – the common enemy were the English and their loyalists.

Several tribal communities  – Gujar, Jats, Palwars, Bhogtas, Maiwatis, joined simply due to the opportunity for plunder in a situation of a general breakdown of law and order.  India of 1857 was not a nation state in the modern sense but a collection of various groups with autonomous local chiefs.

Rebellion provided ambitious men an opportunity to act on their dreams of grandeur.  Many rebel leaders invoked the name of old Mughal king of Delhi, but ‘that was a pseudo legalistic ploy more than loyalty.

It is clear from several writings of both British and Indians that even the rebel sepoys in Delhi actually in contact with the king did not show any respect and talked to him rudely.  They probably knew the worth of the opium addicted state of a dying era.

Petty leaders set themselves up as Rajas and even Kings.  In Banawar, Qalandar Khan set himself as raja while Kadam Singh of Prachitgarh proclaimed himself king.  Umrao Singh declared himself a raja after getting hold of one village of Manakpur while Fatua of Buddhakheri proclaimed himself king of the Gujars.  Rao Bhopal Singh at the head of his Chauhan followers declared a Rajput government but was surprised and executed.  Others like rajas of Kutra and Mainpuri, Apa Sahib, Shahamal and his grandson Lujjram (Jat) of Baraut,  Narpat Singh (Rajput) of Akulpur enjoyed their short lived power and fame for a few months.

Most local chiefs who sided with the rebels were in the vicinity of Delhi.  Abdur Rahman of Jhajjar, Hassan Ali Khan of Dojana, Nahar Singh of Ballabgarh, Tularam of Rewari, Walidad Khan of Malagarh and Ahmad Ali Khan of Farrukhnagar are a few names.

The Rajput chiefs of Jaipur, Bikaner and Alwar were not interested in re-surrecting the decaying Mughal rule.  The political rivals of local chiefs who sided with British decided to take a chance and sided with the rebels.  The Maharajah of Jodhpur, Takht Singh sided with the British offering his troops.  His rival Thakur Kushal Singh worked on Jodhpur Legion which deserted to the mutineers.

Mohammad Hassan took control of Gorakhpur rallying the disgruntled landed elite although he had no mutinous troops.  He was the former governor of Gorakhpur and had lost his position after the annexation of Oudh.   Similarly, the Chief of Nargund, Baba Sahib in Southern Marhatta country, who was denied the right of adoption declared war in May 1858 when the British were re-asserting themselves after initial setbacks.  It was mainly civil uprising as no mutinous troops were involved in the conflict. 

In Rohailkhand, Mahmud Khan of Najibabad waited till all areas including Bareilly, Moradabad, Mandawar had rebelled and almost all British officers were killed or had fled to safety.  Seeing the changed wind, many locals gathered around Mahmud Khan as he seemed to be poised to take control of the area.  When Mahmud arrived in Bijnor on June 7, he had about 200-250 Pathan musketeers with him.

There is no detailed account of the exploits of several local leaders of the rebellion like Mehdi Hassan of Sultanpur, Fazal Azim of Rae Bareli, Banda Hussain an aide. of Mehdi Hassan, Rao Sahib, Maulavi Sarfaraz Ali of Gorakhpur, Maulvi Sikander Shah of Faizabad, Ghaus Mohammad Khan of Sikandra Rao and Kunwar Singh.

Tantya Topi had no military experience, but learned the art of war in the field.  Tantya was six years older than Nana Sahib and was his playmate.  He arranged for the defense of Bithur, the toughest challenge to Havelock’s force.  He repelled Windham’s assault on Cawnpur.  He later made unsuccessful attempt to relieve the siege of Jhansi.  Even after the setbacks, he was one of the few who recognized the opponent’s weakness.  This resulted in a fast moving guerrilla warfare in Nagpur and Gwalior in the summer of 1858.  

Unfortunately, this ‘display of tactical brilliance was too late to influence the outcome of a war which had already been decided by British victories at Delhi and Oudh’. He was betrayed by Raja of Nawar (Raja rebelled against British but when the pendulum swung in their favor, he betrayed Tantya to re-habilitate himself but was hanged.

Nana Sahib was born as Govind Dhondu Pant and was the adopted son of Peshwa Baji Rao.  When Baji Rao died in 1851,  the company according to an earlier ruling of not recognizing the adopted sons of a deceased ruler stopped Baji Rao’s pension.  Nana Sahib was deprived of not only his pension but also hollow titles, his seal and yearly allocation of even blank cartridges for his guards. Next few years saw Nana sending petitions to the Company for resumption of his pension while entertaining British officers at his palace in Bithur without any success.  

The ideas of Azimullah Khan to attempt to recover his throne and predictions of his guru, Dassa Bawa that one day he will be victorious and his own dreams of grandeur may have effected him to take a bold course of siding with the rebels.

Azimullah Khan was another figure who appeared on the scene of the rebellion and had a very interesting background. During the famine of 1837, as a starving boy along with his mother, he was given shelter at the mission at Cawnpur.  He attended the free school and became fluent in English and French. After working with several Englishmen, he was hired as translator by Brigadier John Scott. After the death of Baji Rao, he was in the court of Nana Sahib.  When Nana chose Azimullah to go to England to plead his case, a search started for an experienced guide to accompany him. An educated Rohailkhand noble Muhammad Ali Khan had visited England in the employ of King of Nepal.

Muhammd Ali had no love for the British.  He was a bright young man and passed the Calcutta Civil Service examinations with flying colors.  Being a native, he was hired as a foreman where his arrogant superior insulted and humiliated him.  He resigned the service in 1851 and ended up accompanying King of Nepal on a three month tour of England.

In England, the intelligent Azimullah dressed in western outfit impressed many luminaries of the time.  He met John Stuart Mill and the wife of Prime Minister’s cousin who was Usher to the Queen – Lucie Gordon. He met Dickens, Carlyle, Macaulay, Tennyson and Thackersay and had seen the Queen. He was probably the only Indian of his time who with intelligence and opportunity visited the land of his masters and was able to evaluate British.

The awe of the British which was maintained in India was shaken.  The splendid city of London was actually smothered with industrial smoke.  He was unable to convince the authorities to resume his master’s pension but on his journey back, he stopped in Constantinople and visited the battlefield of Crimea and brought with him a French printing press.  

Although his mission failed but he had come back with a more dangerous idea. He presented  a more ambitious agenda for Nana, telling him ‘why worry about his measly stipend when he might annihilate the English and recover his throne?’

Lakhshami Bai, the Rani of Jhansi’s role is somewhat controversial.  Although she along with several local chiefs had grievances against British, it has not been proven that she had any role in the mutiny of 12th BNI and 13th Irregular cavalry stationed at Jhansi on June 5th.

She had to pay ransom to the rebels before they left Jhansi. In fact on June 12 and 14, she wrote letters to Erskine, the commissioner of Sagar division assuring him that she would hold Jhansi on behalf of the British.  Erskine in a formal letter authorized her to collect the revenue. She led her troops against the Dewan of Orchha, an old rival.

This suggests that in the early part of the rebellion when she was quite vulnerable to both British and rival chieftain’s attacks, she favored siding with the British but later the ambiguous British diplomacy which declined her protestations of loyalty, that she decided to fight the British.

She personally commanded the defense of Jhansi working with the defenders who consisted of mutineers, levies and mercenaries. She not only showed her superior administrative and military skills but also personal bravery in combat.  She fully trusted the five hundred Kabuli Pathans of her army, who escorted her after her defeat at Jhansi.  She earned the respect and praise of even her enemies when she died on the battlefield at Gwalior.

In Bareilly, the garrison rebelled on May 31, 1857.  After the routine of initial confusion, disorder, looting and killing, Khan Bahadar Khan was proclaimed leader.  He was the grandson of a revered Rohilla chief.  Interestingly, the army in and around Bareilly was the largest, about 57 regiments with gunners and sappers.  Despite that there does not seem to be any cooperation among the military and civil leadership of the rebellion and thus there was NO advantage of having such a force.   There were tensions between the civil leader Khan Bahadar and military leader Bakht Khan. Bakht Khan was smart and had taken control of the Bareilly treasury. He calculated his odds and with the treasury and the strength of a brigade under his command, he had a better chance at Delhi.

Once in Delhi, with both  money and men,  the confidant Bakht Khan approached Bahadur Shah Zafar and asked him  to appoint him commander-in-chief – which the king obliged. Unfortunately, in Delhi, he found his nemesis.  The commander of Nimach rebels, Muhammad Ghaus Khan became his bitter rival thus preventing a unified stand of the rebels.


1857 was the watershed in the history of the sub-continent.  It was a confusing catalogue of events to decipher them is an impossibility. On one hand, the rebels were destroying everything attached to the British rule like bungalows, telegraph, official records while on the other the rebel troops fought in their red uniforms under their regimental colours, kept their muster roll update and wore the medals awarded by the British.

In one instance at Cawnpur, Havelock encountered a rebel unit whose band was playing Auld Lang Syne. The immediate effect after the rebellion was the change of the colonial thought process.  Prior to 1857, ‘The British viewed India as a social laboratory for transformation in the former’s image — a social revolution which would change backward India into a modern society. The blend of ‘nationalism and evangelism’ of the British had convinced them that it was God’s will which they were fulfilling.

The great revolt was a  rude awakening for the British.  British officials saw the revolt as a consequence of upsetting of the social status quo of India by British policies.  In the British mind, the native Indian population was divided into two groups.  The groups which ignited the revolt (Brahmins and Muslims of Oudh) were seen as cunning and untrustworthy and were punished. The groups (Sikhs, Muslims of Punjab and Frontier, Princely states) which sided with British were considered loyal and appropriately rewarded.

 It is clear now that if the loyal natives had not helped John Lawrence in Punjab, Edwards and Davidson in Hyderabad, Gubbins in Benaras, Robert Ellis in Nagpur and Osborne in Rewa, the Indian history would be different.

Jack Nicholson

We end as we began with Jack Nicholson who planned and lead the Storming of Delhi.  Famously dismissive of the incompetence of his superiors and lying on his death bed, he said re Colonel (later General Sir) Wilson’s timidity , “Thank God I have yet the strength to shoot him – if necessary”.

One famous story recounted by Charles Allen in Soldier Sahibs is of a night during the Rebellion when Nicholson strode into the British mess tent at Jullunder, coughed to attract the attention and said, “I am sorry, gentlemen, to have kept you waiting for your dinner, but I have been hanging your cooks, who were going to poison you!” 

The  most significant people in his life were his fellow Punjab administrators, Sir Henry Lawrence and Hervert Edwardes. At Bannu, Nicholson would ride one hundred and twenty miles on weekends to spend time with Edwardes and his wife. He died on 23 September 1857 in Delhi, due wounds  in the taking of the city nine days previously. He was 34.


1 Chauduri, Sashi B.  Civil Rebellion in Indian Mutinies- 1857-1859 (Calcutta: The World Press Pvt. Ltd, 1957),  p. 17   2 Chauduri, Sashi B. English Historical Writings on The Indian Mutiny 1857-1859 (Calcutta: The World Press Private Ltd., 1979),  p. 133 3 Chauduri, Sashi.  English Historical Writings, p. 2 4Chaudhuri, Sashi. Civil Rebellion,  p. 66 5Malik, Hafeez and Dembo, Morris.  Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan’s History of the Bijnor Rebellion (East Lansing, Michigan:  Asian Studies Center, 1972), viii 6Ward, Andrew. Our Bones Are Scatterred (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1996),  p. 70 7Watson, Bruce.  The Great Indian Mutiny:  Colin Campbell and the campaign at Lucknow (New York: PRAEGER, 1991), p. 27 8Watson, Bruce. The Great Indian Mutiny,  p. 27-28 9James, Lawrence.  Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India  (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1997),  p. 235-36 10Amin, Agha H.  The Sepoy Rebellion of 1857-59: Reinterpreted (Lahore: Strategicus and Tacticus, 1998),  p. 107-8 11Gupta, Surendranath. Eighteen Fifty-Seven (Delhi: Publications Division, Ministry of Information, Government of India, Second Imprint 1977), p. 14)   12Amin, Agha.  The Sepoy Rebellion,  p. 26  13Ward, Andrew. Our Bones,  p. 68-69  14Ward, Andrew. Our Bones,  p. 207 15Ward, Andrew. Our Bones,  p. 89 16Amin, Agha. The Sepoy Rebellion,  p. 40  17James, Lawrence. Raj,  p. 242  18Emma Ewart Letters cited in Ward, Andrew. Our Bones Are Scatterred,  p. 138 19Collier, Richard. The Great Indian Mutiny, p. 155 20Haythornthwaite, Philip J. The Colonial Wars Source Book (London: Caxton Editions, 2000), p. 105  21Malleson G.B. Kaye’s and Malleson’s History of the Indian Mutiny of 1857-8 (Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1971 (Reprint), vol. V, p. 8-9 22Amin, Agha.  The Sepoy Rebellion, p. 49 23James, Lawrence.  Raj,  p. 256 24James, Lawrence. Raj,  p. 244 25Amin, Agha H. The Sepoy Rebellion, p. 76 26Collier, Richard.  The Great Indian Mutiny, p. 193-94 27Collier, Richard.  The Great Indian Mutiny,  p. 130 28Malleson.  Kaye and Malleson, vol. IV,  p. 122-23 29Ward, Andrew. Our Bones, p. 273  30Amin, Agha H. The Sepoy Rebellion,  p. 104  31Amin, Agha H.  The Sepoy Rebellion,  p. 104 32Amin, Agha H.  The Sepoy Rebellion,  p. 110 33Collier, Richard.  The Great Indian Mutiny,  p. 168   34Sen, Surendranath.  Eighteen Fifty-Seven, p. 102  35Amin, Agha.  The Sepoy Rebellion,  p. 125-131 36James, Lawrence. Raj,  p. 245 37Malleson. Kaye and Malleson, p. 233-35 38Malleson. Kaye and Malleson,  p. 21-22  39Ward, Andrew. Our Bones Are Scatterred,  p. 103-4 40Heber, Reginald. Narrative of a Journey Through the Upper Provinces of India, Vol. 1, Second edition. (London, 1828),  p.139 41Lawrence, James.  Raj, p. 234 42Heber, Reginald. Narrative of a Journey, p.393   43Hardy, Peter.  The Muslims of British India  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972), p.6644Chaudhuri, Sashi. Civil Rebellion,

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INDUS Water Treaty …

Posted on October 14, 2016. Filed under: From a Services Career, Uncategorized |

The Often-forgotten India-Pakistan-China Water War by K.P. Nayar in The Telegraph 
 China is quietly signalling India that any abrogation of the Indus Waters Treaty to punish its all-weather friend Pakistan will have consequences for this country as well.  Beijing’s view is that once the treaty is abrogated, it will be under no obligation to allow water from the Indus or Sutlej rivers to flow into India.
 Indus, the largest of the six rivers covered by the 1960 treaty, originates in China, has eight per cent of the Indus river basin of 1.12 million square kilometres that runs through India and Pakistan as well. The fountainhead of this river basin lies in China.
If China decides to divert water from the Indus river in the absence of any international treaty governing the management of this precious resource, India will be deprived of 36 per cent of the river’s entire flow.
Add to that Pakistan’s share of 63 per cent entitlement and the nightmare consequence of abrogating the treaty would be a devastated wasteland in the sub-continent spread far and wide across 3,200 kilometres covered by the river’s flow from the Tibetan plateau to Karachi where the Indus discharges its water into the Arabian Sea.
Any Chinese action to pay back India for punishing Pakistan by using water as a weapon has the further potential to dry up 27 of this river’s tributaries, many of which sustain India’s agrarian and commercial life line. Countless canals from which cities and towns draw water for daily use would dry up, causing urban and semi-urban distress.

 The Sutlej originates in Tibet in what Indians know as Rakshas Tal, a huge lake which the Chinese call La’áng Cuò. It enters India through the border post of Shipki La and flows into Himachal Pradesh, also eventually emptying itself into the Arabian Sea off Karachi city.

 If China decides to shut off water from Tibet that feeds the Sutlej river, huge swathes of north India would be plunged into darkness and deprived of power: water from this river flows into the Bhakra dam, the Karcham Wangtoo hydro-electric project and the Nathpa Jhakri dam which together generate at least 3,600 megawatts of electricity which lights up large parts of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and Delhi..Since China is not a party to the Indus Water Treaty – of which the World Bank is the guardian in a manner of speaking – Beijing has not initiated any formal diplomatic moves in response to the ongoing debate in India, including comments by the external affairs ministry raising question marks about the treaty’s continued implementation.

 No demarches, no note verbale, no formal discussions backed up by any aide memoire.
 Instead a subtle message is being transmitted through Indian visitors to China who have access to decision-makers there, comments at think-tanks which are sworn to confidentiality, cocktail conversations by Chinese diplomats in capitals like New Delhi and Washington in addition to the UN in New York during the ongoing General Assembly season.
 Such a modus operandi, now practiced by both India and China, has become commonplace since relations with China nosedived in the second year of Narendra Modi’s prime ministership. Both sides now invoke third parties to convey messages to each other in the absence of mutual trust between official interlocutors.
 This writer was at two separate events recently where a top-level Indian official, at one programe, and a high-level Chinese official, at another, conveyed messages to each other through third parties.


This is a far cry from the 1990s when a Chinese ambassador would drop by and have a frank, unrecorded talk with the joint secretary in the external affairs ministry in charge of China, in this instance Shiv Shankar Menon, whose feel for China as someone who grew up there is legendary.


A Chinese water war against India to dissuade New Delhi from denying water to Pakistan with devastating consequences will not be easy, however for India, Pakistan or China. Stopping water supplies to Pakistan after any abrogation of the Indus Water Treaty would flood extensive areas of Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab.

 Similarly, China faces a huge risk of inundation of large areas of Tibet if it stops the Indus river or the Sutlej from flowing into India. But the Chinese have long experience of diverting rivers bigger than either of the China-origin ones covered by the Indus Water Treaty.


These risks may have prevented all concerned in the last 59 years from scrapping the treaty whatever may have been the temptation to do so. I ndia runs the risk of alienating the World Bank if it abrogates the treaty.
 It is not well known that the US, the UK, Canada, (then) West Germany, Australia and New Zealand underwrote the facilitation of the treaty by contributing $1 billion (at 1959 rates) and virtually bribed Pakistan by giving it $315 million to enter into negotiations with India.
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When a Soldier comes Home …

Posted on October 12, 2016. Filed under: Searching for Success, Uncategorized |


He finds it hard to listen to his son whine about being bored.To keep a straight face when people complain about potholes ….

To be tolerant of people who complain about the hassle of getting ready for work … …

 To be understanding when a co-worker complains about a bad night’s sleep .. ..
To be silent when people pray to God for a new car …..
To control his panic when his wife tells him he needs to drive slower . ..
To be compassionate when a businessman expresses a fear of flying …..
To keep from laughing when anxious parents say they’re afraid to send their kids off to summer camp . ..
To  keep from ridiculing someone who complains about hot weather ….
To control his frustration when a colleague gripes about his coffee being cold….
To remain calm when his daughter complains about having to walk the dog.
To be civil to people who complain about their jobs.
 To just walk away when someone says they only get two weeks of vacation a year.
To be forgiving when someone says how hard it is to have a new baby in the house.
The only thing harder than being a Soldier..  Is loving one!
No one has been able to explain  why young men and women serve in the Military for 20 years, risking their lives protecting freedom, and only get 50% of their pay on retirement.
While Politicians hold their political positions, in the safe confines of the capital, protected by these same men and women, and receive full-pay retirement after serving one term.
It just does not make any sense.
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