Indian Thought

Children and Parents …

Posted on July 17, 2017. Filed under: Indian Thought, Mars & Venus, Searching for Success |

Kahlil Gibran – “Your children are from you, but they are not yours.”

Perhaps the best dialogues between a Parent and a grown up Child is in the Sidney Poitier movie, ‘Guess who is coming for Dinner’ It covers both sides of the aisle.

Parents who forge strong, close bonds with their children but ‘LET GO’ when they have grown up are to be admired. As in everything every where, Change is the only Constant.

Parent-child relationship is not permanent and control gradually gives way to need for support.We must not let the child feel deprived or lacking in filial support when they were young. Neither should we let them feel stifled when are growing up.

The role of parents is a journey of love and wisdom! Not only in one’s role as parents, but also in life there are many moments that we need to learn to stand firm or to give way.

Very often some wonder why have children at all? Is it to carry on the family’s name, or is it insurance for old age? Actually it is a wonder and a joy one can not exchange for anything in the World!

Never seek perfection nor accept the unacceptable. As in everything a fine balance is needed. We should only ask for the chance to walk with the journey of life in this beautiful world!

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Social Media in Kashmir …

Posted on July 8, 2017. Filed under: Indian Thought, Searching for Success |

“The Hearts and Minds of the People and the Will of his Leaders are far more important Targets for me than toe bodies of his Troops” – Mao ze Dong.

From HT

A few days after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani on July 8 last year, a video surfaced on social media showing Wani and an accomplice tapping their rifles and humming a Kashmiri folk song playing in the background. The lyrics of the song in the video went: “You will miss me, o mother, when I will be buried under the earth…”

That video touched a chord with many in Kashmir where militants enjoy wide public support. “Any Kashmiri will cry, the video touches you,” a 40-year-old woman from old Srinagar said.

Viral videos that capture militants at play and leisure, shocking videos of alleged rights excesses committed by security forces on Kashmiri civilians, the alleged use of instant messaging platforms to mobilise stone pelters and recruit foot soldiers for militants and the frequent gags on internet are bringing a paradigm shift in the narrative of the Valley’s conflict.

The government seems to be losing the online war, with the militants and separatists seemingly always a step ahead. The week-long protest calendar by separatists to mark Wani’s first death anniversary calls for a ‘Kashmir Awareness’ campaign on social media.

“The PDP-BJP government is the most unpopular government Kashmir has seen in the last decade. So even if the government tries to reach out to people through social media, it won’t make much of a difference for its public relations because I think it will face similar kind of criticism on social media to the one it faces on ground,” says Irfan Mehraj, an activist with the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and editor of e-magazine Wande.

Militants are no longer faceless. They wear military fatigues, strap ammunition across their chests and smile at you from forests. Given how successfully Wani struck a chord with people through social media and attracted youngsters, newer militants are trying out the same.

Police sources say although they check and analyse all latest militant videos, they are not dependant on them for gathering information on insurgents who are already profiled by police intelligence. But Kashmir watchers, like senior journalist and former Kashmir bureau chief of Reuters Sheikh Mushtaq, point out that militant videos play a “huge role” in humanising the insurgents to the common population and putting forward their viewpoint. “You see them and get to know them through these videos. They penetrate your computers and mobile phones. This is quite different from the militancy of the 1990s, when there were no such technologies.”

Stone-pelting protesters now shoot videos of clashes and upload them onto social media almost in real time. Many such videos were shared widely after a clash near an encounter site in Kulgam in February. With commentary on how forces were allegedly shooting at protesters and “killing Kashmiris”, the videos captured disturbing visuals from the clashes.

Videos capturing atrocities and human rights violations of Kashmiris have dominated the narrative this year and proved to be a major headache for the administration.

In April, a video emerged of a group of Kashmiri youth heckling CRPF jawans returning from duty on the day of Srinagar by polls on April 9 and resulted in a national outrage. What followed, however, was a torrent of videos showing security forces committing atrocities and human rights excesses on civilians, including using a “human shield” by the army and the targeted shooting of a teenage stone pelter on the day of the by poll.

Army Major Leetul Gogoi tied Kashmiri shawl weaver, Farooq Dar, to the bonnet of a jeep as a ‘human shield’ and drove him around for five hours across 17 villages over 28km on April 9. A video of the act, which surfaced a few days later and was shared by many- including former chief minister Omar Abdullah – had put the spotlight on the now infamous act.

Soon after these videos went viral, the administration on April 17 snapped high-speed mobile internet services and on April 26, banned 22 social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, for a month.

The security establishment tries to keep pace through its cyber cells but the government’s main response is to snap mobile internet services, like it did after Wani was killed. Post-paid mobile internet services were restored in mid-November, while pre-paid services were restored on January 30 this year — making the blackout period the longest in Kashmir till now.

The blackout did not stop youth from mobilising in large number and organising stone pelting protests. The unrest that began after Wani’s death left over 90 people dead last year. The idea that without internet there would be no street protests was also debunked when both broadband and mobile internet services were snapped across Kashmir for the bye polls in Srinagar constituency — eight civilian protesters were gunned down by forces that day.

Senior police officers argue that with the internet, the scale of violence would have been higher.

The suspension of 3G and 4G services in April was to curb the uploading of multimedia content that could provoke violence, while letting users access the basic minimum internet on their phones.

Similarly, the April 26 order by state home secretary RK Goyal to ban 22 sites said the step was taken because the government felt that “continued misuse of social networking sites and instant messaging services is likely to be detrimental to the interests of peace and tranquility in the state”. The social media ban turned out to be a colossal failure.

Most Kashmiri users switched on to Virtual Private Network (VPN) apps to overcome the ban and what came as a real surprise was that the Who’s Who of Kashmir were all leading a busy social media life throughout the ban.

This year, internet services were completely or partially snapped at least seven times in Kashmir. But activists say the administration is clueless about how to control the space, which is being increasingly used for dissent, and hence gags it.

“Kashmiris chose dissent online, because the offline real world democracy wasn’t working. Even then they were pushed to the wall. The ban on social media was the peaking of an authoritarian state that can’t tolerate dissent. The state has lost both the battles offline and online. Now it’s just brutalisation that works in reality and virtually,” says Srinagar-based blogger Muhammad Faysal, who has over 15,000 followers on Twitter.

According to data since 2012 provided by internet, a project by the Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC), Jammu and Kashmir has recorded 35 instances of complete or partial internet shutdowns, the highest among states.
‘Govt talks only of developmental work’

CM Mehbooba Mufti has a verified Twitter account with around 21,000 followers, but is yet to write her first tweet. On the other hand, the leader of opposition, former CM Omar Abdullah, is a Twitter star with 1.88 million followers and a tweet on almost every topic relevant to Kashmiris.

The PDP’s official Twitter handle is mostly focused on promoting the developmental work of the government. Mehbooba’s verified Facebook page is a collection of videos of her public appearances and short press statements.
“The ruling dispensation’s engagement on social media is mostly related to sharing news about development work and success stories. That’s their mandate. They do not go beyond that. If they express anguish over civilian killings or injuries, they will face tough questions by social media users,” said Moazum Mohammad, a journalist with English daily Kashmir Reader.

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Posted on June 30, 2017. Filed under: Indian Thought, Uncategorized |

For lakhs of employees working in government organisations and private entities, the dawn of the new financial year (2017-18) beginning on 1 April marks the changes to personal income tax slabs the government had introduced during the Union Budget

Here are the 12 important income-tax changes that tax payers need to take note of for this financial year:


1) To put more money into the hands of employees, the government has cut tax rate by half to 5 percent from 10 percent for employees in the yearly income group between Rs 2.5 and Rs 5 lakh.

The move is expected to help them save tax of up to Rs 12,500 a year, according to The Economic Times.

A tax saving of Rs 14,806 a year, including surcharge and cess, will be available for income above Rs 1 crore a year. And for people whose taxable income is between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 50 lakh, tax savings amount to Rs 12,900.

2) A simple one page form will be introduced for filing tax returns to tax payers with income up to Rs 5 lakh and excluding any business income. The I-T department will not scrutinize those who are filing their tax returns for the first time in this category.

3) Delay in filing tax return for this financial year (2017-18) will attract a penalty of Rs 5,000, if filed by 31 December, 2018, and the penalty will be higher if filed beyond this date. However, for small tax payers with income up to Rs five lakh, the penalty has been restricted to Rs 1,000.

4) For investment under Rajiv Gandhi Equity Saving Scheme, no deduction will be available from the assessment year 2018-19. The previous UPA government had introduced this tax-saving scheme in the Union Budget for financial year 2012-13 with an aim to encourage first-time investors in the securities market.

5) Long-term holding period for an immovable property has been reduced to two years from three earlier. Hence, the new law coming in place will ensure that an immovable property held over for two years will be taxed at a reduced rate of 20 percent, with various exemptions eligible on reinvestment, the ET report said.

6) Looking to cash in on long term capital gains tax may not be fruitfull as beneficial amaentments would result in lower profits on sales. The goverment has changed the base year for indexation of cost to 1 April, 2001 from 1 April, 1981.

7) Tax exemption on reinvestment of capital gains in notified redeemable bonds will be available for individuals in addition to investment in NHAI and REC bonds.

8) For rental payments in excess of Rs 50,000 a month, individuals will have to deduct a five percent TDS (tax deducted at source). According to tax experts, this move will enable the government to bring people with large rental income into the tax net. This will come into effect from 1 June, 2017.

9) The government has also made Aadhaar compulsory while applying for PAN and filing income tax returns from 1 July. In fact, the Centre in a bid to curb black money from the system has limited cash transactions at Rs two lakh against the originally proposed cap at Rs three lakh.

10) Individuals will not have to pay any tax in case of partial withdrawals from National Pension System (NPS). The proposed changes allows NPS subscribers to withdraw 25 percent of their contribution to the corpus for emergencies before retirement. Remember that withdrawal of 40 percent of the corpus is tax-free on retirement, the NDTVreport says.

11) Apart from the changes to income tax rates, individuals will also have to brace for higher insurance premium starting today on cars, motorcycles and health insurance beginning this financial year, as the regulator IRDAI has given its nod for insurers to revise commission of the agents. The change in premium after modification will be limited to +/- 5 per cent of the existing rates. The increase will be in addition to the enhanced third party motor insurance rates, which too will come into effect beginning this month.

12) For lakhs of customers of India’s largest commercial bank State Bank of India, penalty will be charged starting today, if a minimum balance of Rs 5,000 is not maintained every month. In metropolitan areas, there will be a charge of Rs 100 plus service tax, if the balance falls below 75 percent of the MAB of Rs 5,000. If the shortfall is 50 percent or less of the MAB, then the bank will charge Rs 50 plus service tax.

Looking to quickly calculate your tax, please try it out with our tax calculator below.

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The Indian Agriculture Problem …

Posted on June 19, 2017. Filed under: Indian Thought |

Mohan Guruswamy – India’s Agriculture: Failure of Success

Total food grains production in India reached an all-time high of 251.12 million tonnes (MT) in FY15. Rice and wheat production in the country stood at 102.54 MT and 90.78 MT, respectively. India is among the 15 leading exporters of agricultural products in the world.  The value of which was Rs.1.31 lakh crores in FY15.
Despite its falling share of GDP, agriculture plays a vital role in India’s economy. Over 58 per cent of the rural households depend on agriculture as their principal means of livelihood.
Census 2011 says there are 118.9 million cultivators across the country or 24.6 per cent of the total workforce of over 481 million. In addition there are 144 million persons employed as agricultural laborers.  If we add the number of cultivators and agricultural laborers, it would be around 263 million or 22 percent of the population.
As per estimates by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the share of agriculture and allied sectors (including agriculture, livestock, forestry and fishery) was 16.1 per cent of the Gross Value Added (GVA) during 2014–15 at 2011–12 prices.
 This about sums up what ails our Agriculture- its contribution to the GDP is fast dwindling, now about 13.7 per cent, and it still sustains almost 60 per cent of the population.
With 157.35 million hectares, India holds the world’s second largest agricultural land area. India has about 20 agro-climatic regions, and all 15 major climates in the world exist here.
Consequently it is a large producer of a wide variety of foods. India is the world’s largest producer of spices, pulses, milk, tea, cashew and jute; and the second largest producer of wheat, rice, fruits and vegetables, sugarcane, cotton and oilseeds.
Further, India is 2nd in global production of fruits and vegetables, and is the largest producer of mango and banana. It also has the highest productivity of grapes in the world. Agricultural export constitutes 10 per cent of the country’s exports and is the fourth-largest exported principal commodity.
According to the Agriculture Census, only 58.1 million hectares of land was actually irrigated in India. Of this 38 percent was from surface water and 62 per cent was from groundwater. India has the world’s largest groundwater well equipped irrigation system.
There is a flipside to this great Indian agriculture story.
The Indian subcontinent boasts nearly half the world’s hungry people. Half of all children under five years of age in South Asia are malnourished, which is more than even sub-Saharan Africa.
More than 65 per cent of the farmland consists of marginal and small farms less than one hectare in size. Moreover, because of population growth, the average farm size has been decreasing.  The average size of operational holdings has almost halved since 1970 to 1.05 ha..
Approximately 92 million households or 490 million people are dependent on marginal or small farm holdings as per the 2001 census. This translates into 60 per cent of rural population or 42 per cent of total population.
About 70 per cent of India lives in rural areas and all-weather roads do not connect about 40 per cent of rural habitations. Lack of proper transport facility and inadequate post harvesting methods, food processing and transportation of foodstuffs has meant an annual wastage of Rs. 50,000 crores, out of an out of about Rs.370, 000 crores.
There is a pronounced bias in the government’s procurement policy, with Punjab, Haryana, coastal AP and western UP accounting for the bulk (83.51 per cent) of the procurement. The food subsidy bill has increased from Rs. 24500 crores in 1990-91 to Rs. 1.75 lakh crores in 2001-02 to Rs. 2.31 lakh crores in 2016.
Instead of being the buyer of last resort FCI has become the preferred buyer for the farmers. The government policy has resulted in mountains of food-grains coinciding with starvation deaths. A few regions of concentrated rural prosperity.
The total subsidy provided to agricultural consumers by way of fertilizers and free power has quadrupled from Rs. 73000 crores in 1992-93, to Rs. 3.04 lakh crores now. While the subsidy was launched to reach the lower rung farmers, it has mostly benefited the well-off farmers. Free power has also meant a huge pressure on depleting groundwater resources.
These huge subsidies come at a cost. Thus, public investment in agriculture, in real terms, had witnessed a steady decline from the Sixth Five-Year Plan onwards.
 With the exception of the Tenth Plan, public investment has consistently declined in real terms (at 1999-2000 prices) from Rs.64, 012 crores during the Sixth Plan (1980-85) to Rs 52,107 crores during the Seventh Plan (1985-90), Rs 45,565 crores during the Eighth Plan (1992-97) and about Rs 42,226 crores during Ninth Plan (1997-2002).
Share of agriculture in total Gross Capital Formation (GCF) at 93-94 prices has halved from 15.44 per cent to 7.0 per cent in 2000-01. In 2001-02 almost half of the amount allocated to irrigation was actually spent on power generation. While it makes more economic sense to focus on minor irrigation schemes, major and medium irrigation projects have accounted for more than three fourth of the planned funds.
By 2050, India’s population is expected to reach 1.7 billion, which will then be equivalent to nearly that of China and the US combined.
 A fundamental question then is can India feed 1.7 billion people properly? 
In the four decades starting 1965-66, wheat production in Punjab and Haryana has risen nine-fold, while rice production increased by more than 30 times. These two states and parts of Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh now not only produce enough to feed the country but to leave a significant surplus for export.
Farm outputs in India in recent years have been setting new records. It has gone up from 208 MT in 2005-06 to an estimated 251 MT in 2014-15. Even accounting for population growth during this period, the country would need probably around 225 to 230 MT to feed its people.
There is one huge paradox implicit in this. Record food production is depressing prices. No wonder farmers with marketable surpluses are restive
 India is producing enough food to feed its people, now and in the foreseeable future.   Since food production is no longer the issue, putting economic power into the hands of the vast rural poor becomes the issue.
The first focus should be on separating them from their smallholdings by offering more gainful vocations. With the level of skills prevailing, only the construction sector can immediately absorb the tens of millions that will be released.  Government must step up its expenditures for infrastructure and habitations to create a demand for labor. The land released can be consolidated into larger holdings by easy credit to facilitate accumulation of smaller holdings to create more productive farms.
Finally the entire government machinery geared to controlling food prices to satisfy the urban population should be dismantled. If a farmer has to buy a motorcycle or even a tractor he pays globally comparative prices, so why should he make food available to the modern and industrial sector at the worlds lowest prices?
Why should Bharat have to feed India at its cost?
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1962 War – the Gen Thorat Plan …

Posted on June 17, 2017. Filed under: From a Services Career, Indian Thought, Personalities |

Until 1959 the Defence of NEFA, now Arunachal Pradesh, was the responsibility of the Ministry of External Affairs and its borders were manned by personnel of the Assam Rifles under the Home Ministry.

 In 1957 Lt. Gen. SPP Thorat took over command of the Eastern Command then with its HQ at Lucknow, his area of responsibility stretched to the Eastern end of India’s borders but NEFA was not included until 1959 when Gen Thimayya was having serious differences with the Defense Minister VK Krishna Menon who had the backing of PM Nehru.
After he had visited his command, Thorat was asked by Gen Thimayya to make an Appreciation for Defence of NEFA against an attack by CHINA. Gen Thorat, a thorough bred professional, made his detailed appreciation.
Gen Thorat assessed that there were at least six major ingress routes through passes in NEFA by which large organised enemy forces with heavy equipment and transport could enter India. The terrain favoured the Chinese because the landscape across the border was a plateau and posed no problems for China to bring in troops, guns and heavy equipment and ammunition and supplies needed for the maintenance of a large attacking force.
However once in our territory they would need to make roads and tracks for the maintenance of their forces. And winter would restrict the time available for operations.
In Thorat’s assessment, a minimum of 70 platoons, with 20 more in reserve, were needed for the defence screen positions of Northern NEFA. The Assam Rifles then had only 36 platoons. This amounted to some ten battalions with 12 platoons each tko monitor any  ingress by the Chinese.
The need for additional troops, guns and heavy equipment and transport for the main defence positions on each axis of enemy advance was also listed.
The  in depth defence positions could be a strong defence because the terrain would now favour the defender. These positions were roughly half way between the McMahon Line and the foothills.
Thorat also underscored the urgent need to develop roads and surface infrastructure in the area to support the movement of large bodies of own troops.
Earlier, in 1950-51, a committee led by Deputy Defence Minister Maj. Gen. Himmatsinghji had toured the area extensively and submitted a similar requirement for the development of the surface infrastructure.
The lack of any progress was well known. Both GB Pant, the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and later Union Home Minister and Dr. Sampurnanand, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, had directly complained to Nehru.
In 1959, 4 Division moved to the East after completing the famous Op. Amar Housing Project at Ambala under the ‘dynamic’ leadership of Lt. Gen. BM Kaul who was awarded India’s first PVSM.
7 Brigade under Brig DK (Monty) Palit (VrC 1947-48 War, a horseman, shikari and mountain trekker) walked to Tawang, as there was not even a jeep-able road in the West Kameng Division of NEFA. He chose Se La for a main brigade defence.
By the time the war started, a jeep-able road linking Tezpur to Tawang had come up but beyond that the 30 odd kilometres to the border was still a hard slogging march. A helipad and some logistics areas were also established in the Tawang area. 
On 8 October 1959, the Thorat plan was sent to Army Headquarters where General Thimayya approved it and personally showed i and the requirements to Defence Minister VK Krishna Menon. But Menon dismissed them as alarmist and unnecessary and boasted that he was confident of stopping the Chinese on his own with diplomacy.
Another reason for the rejection of the Army Plan was that Nehru had boasted in Parliament that he would defend every inch of Indian Territory. So how could India defend every inch of her sacred land against the enemy if the army envisaged siting its main defences half way back from the Border?
Thorat retired in May 1961 but was called to Delhi by Nehru after the 1962 debacle. Nehru asked as to why he was not shown the Thorat Plan? But ala Menon he lacked the RealPolitik of a Vallabhai Patel who had warned Nehru of all this way back in 1950.
Lt Gen SPP Thorat, “From Reveille to Retreat”, Allied Publishers, New Delhi, 1986, pp. 189-203, 212-217.
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Corruption is Political Life Blood …

Posted on June 2, 2017. Filed under: Indian Thought, Public Speaking |

Interesting Stuff – By Prameet Kamat – published in Law and Govt May 17  

Corruption funds politics. More specifically, it funds political parties, elections and ideology. So, to understand a party’s ideology, political view point and it’s corruption model, it’s crucial to look at the party’s organization and funding model rather than its personalities.

Let’s look at a simplified model of the economics of a national party. India has about 700 districts and 6 lakh villages. For a political party to have a national foot print, it probably needs about 100,000 local offices, plus a state level and national level organization — offices and people, like any other corporation need funding. Rent + people + consumables per office: 50,000 INR per month.

That’s a fixed bill of INR 300 – 500 crore annually. Add to this cost of LS elections — 400 seats @ 25 cr INR each = 10,000 Cr every five years


And another 2,000 crores every five years for the state election, assembly polls and so on. So about 2,000 crores annually give or take. The number in itself isn’t important. The dimension of it is.

Now, Inflows: Donations to the Party: from well wishers, ideological supporters and common citizens ie through –

  • Administrative corruption (services to common people and small businesses— police, transport, jobs, posts, records, licenses, permits, certificates etc)
  • Unorganized Business Corruption ( Bribes for Liquor vends, LPG gas distribution etc)
  • Local Extortion(Protection money from small shops, petty crimes, prostitution rings etc)
  • State level Organized business corruption (Real estate, Mines, Natural resources, Liquor, Transport)
  • State level Lobbying & Extortion

Corruption, as the man on the street experiences it, is largely what we can call Administrative and Unorganized Business Corruption. Typically, the way it works is that every government official needs to collect “revenue” from the common man for services rendered and pass on a fixed amount every month to his superior. Anything over and above that fixed amount can be kept for personal benefit.

For example, a State Administrative service officer (government salary is at about 75k per month) needs to pay a fixed amount of 1–2 Lakh per month to his superior, who in turn aggregates it and passes it on to his superior, who in turn passes it on higher.

(This simple system is fascinating. So many models can and are tried at an individual level by different government officers to meet different levels of personal ethics and morality — The Robinhood model, The Capitalist model, Honest Rebel model. There is also the aspect of a “department culture” — how does the head of the department set the tone — how does he negotiate his fixed amount with his superior — does he say I’ll get my department to perform giving you street credit but in return I’ll only extract so much from the department? What does he do after that? Pass the message on and keeps the cash? How are “non- economic favors” handled? Does the superior say “do this favor for my friend or family — I will take a lesser amount from you this month?” or does he say — I don’t care, favors or not — you need to deliver this or you are transferred to Mizoram. How does he negotiate the selection of his subordinate officers? Does he maximize inflows or trades off inflow vs performance?)

The rest can be clubbed into Business Corruption. The money you get from large corporations for resources, permissions, infrastructure decisions and so on.

The Money Trail. So this whole money trail ends at the Minister in charge of the department and then on with the CM. What then happens with this gentleman? He needs to deposit it into the Party treasury. How much does he need to pay? Again, a simple view of this negotiation I imagine to be — The party funded 15 crores in the last election and the CM spent say 10 cr personally and hence they agree on say 100 crores a year to the party. You can imagine the dynamics at play here. A “bankable” candidate with his own street level organisation will negotiate a lower party contribution but get lower funding from the party at election time. The party can choose a candidate who offers a higher monthly contribution to the party but needs more funds and street level support from the party at election time.

Clean Corruption? The second more fascinating strategic choice for the CM and the party is Administrative & Unorganized Business Corruption as a percentage % of total inflows. Or in simple words — how much do I take from the common man every month?

This decision determines his popular perception and his electability. With a “clean CM”, the common man experiences better government services, benefits, roads and utilities. Except that the CM is not really clean — he is just choosing to get a higher portion of his funds from Business Corruption. It’s not an easy choice in its execution. The established system of administrative corruption is far easier to milk and manage than negotiating deal specifics with multiple business entities.

The sheer costs of running a political party show us that running a clean, corruption-free government is an impossibility unless they have guaranteed donations every month. Hmm. (When was the last time any party except AAP canvassed you for donations?)

How do parties differ then? How does the government get better under one party and get worse under another? Why does one party build more roads and the other build less? If its just economics, shouldn’t it all be the same?

The answer lies in your corruption strategy. And here is where Mr. Narendra Modi comes in. But to understand this, let’s see how the Congress Party works.

The Congress invented the Corruption Model in India. The Congress party came into power mainly under the leadership of Gandhi and Nehru with a socialist agenda and with the momentum of having had a primary role in the creation of Independent India. They formed the government and ran the country until 1977 and then again intermittently till 2014 making them the ruling party for about 50 of the 70 years as Independent India. If we assume corruption began with the formation of the government and evolved as a way of funding the expenses of running the party and managing election expenses, we can imagine that people with wealth would come into positions of power in the party by donating to the party. We can then see how the model kept evolving morally where the party leadership kept managing and controlling these funds for the good of the party and then ended up controlling power distribution in the party.

The Congress interestingly never had to build a street level election organization and rode on their brand and freedom fighter credentials to win elections. They had the least costs but by virtue of being a monopoly, had the highest fundability leading to a bigger and bigger party war chest. This model steadily built on itself until the late eighties, where first the Janata party and then the BJP started biting at this monopoly and winning elections with low funds but higher street level volunteer-led organisations.

As economic critical mass grew, regional parties started using local issues and identity to win elections and come into power. No party however can even today match the economic might that fifty-year head start gave the Congress. It also explains very easily why even politically inept newbies within the Gandhi family still manage to hold on to that power. The combination of assets, cash and corporate relationships that were held closely by the party leadership and managed by loyal accountants for the party in vague cross-holdings is near impossible to usurp.

Congress election strategy is basically Votes for Cash. The cash-rich Congress has since then stayed with the strategy of trading political seats for cash. I imagine Sonia Gandhi being practical with her choice of candidates- “I don’t understand political context. Who comes in with highest probability of winning elections and with least ask of my party funds?

Effectively, an inorganic acquisition strategy — that simple equation has defined Congress electoral strategy for the last couple of decades. It explains why we see so many power centres in the Congress Party and their love of regional alliances.

BJP strategy The BJP on the other hand initially rode on the Ram Janmabhoomi movement to capture electoral mandate and came to power. They had a few short years at the top but being a relative startup were far more unified in their ideology and their leadership under AB Vajpayee and LK Advani. After coming to power, they inherited some of the corruption systems that the Congress has built and probably started to fund themselves and their partner organisations.

I think Pramod Mahajan was the driving force for collating the thinking on how to harness funds and had started to really transition the party into a commercial entity at a national level.

Something different happened in Gujarat. Narendra Modi came to power as a relative outsider and by sheer luck or genius found himself with the electoral mandate. I don’t know whether this was due to circumstance or innovation, but I imagine he looked at the local funding model in the context of the unrest for the man on the street, and decided to focus exclusively on Corporate or Business Corruption to fund his party and local organisation.

It’s entirely possible that this is by sheer luck as his some of the nation’s largest corporates came from Gujarat and due to its ports and trading activity had a heavy bias in being invested there. Leveraging that into a business relationship seems like the only logical way to relieve the pressure on Administrative and Unorganized corruption. It’s the only way that an newbie outsider CM could harness his government’s administrative resources and ask them to provide a smooth ride for the man on the street and restore his confidence. “No funds required from the government to the party.”

This simple choice allowed the CM to focus on selecting the best candidates for ministerial and senior officer roles. We can take this even further and imagine that the CM says to his ministers and officials, you perform and I’ll take care of you. You don’t need any revenues from your departments. He does this for a year and then another and realizes he is getting political credit and earning him an electoral mandate. His next election then lets him go back to his corporate sponsors and say, okay look, I am cleaning up the administration and creating infrastructure for you. For this, I am going to need a 1,000 crores from you every year – a sort of a retainer model.

For the corporates, this becomes an easy deal — the CM has just offered a bulk discount on the thousands of crores I bleed every year at the hands of his government at his ports and his license and excise offices. This centralized corruption strategy starts to do a couple of things — you start to control the funding, and hence the party and therefore the election strategy, and second, you really start to control the government for performance. You effectively subsidize the common man through the goods and services he consumes from the private sector and the resulting profits. You start to select ministers and leaders for performance rather than “party revenues”. You are less reliant on local leaders for elections, and in effect can run a performance government, creating massive economic opportunity for corporations, which then goes back to reinforce his value propostion to both his stakeholders- the voter on the street and the corporate promoter.

What happens next? The Scale up and the Lock-in.

After ten years of managing this at state level, you then offer the central party leadership a massive fund infusion for the party elections in return for becoming the PM candidate and saying that I will manage the party funds as well, effectively controlling the entire election and candidate strategy. You have just done what the Congress has done for three decades- control the party by controlling the inflows. You win the election by outspending your fiscally conservative competition and with a better strategy. The unified face of the party allows you to control the message and win you a national election.

What happens next? Now you have got to pay your sponsors back. You then deploy the same centralised corruption strategy at a national level. You deploy international strategy as a new growth lever for your corporate sponsors. You push the government into high performance mode on power, roads, railways — generating economic growth for your sponsors and economic and political momentum.

The Counterstrike. Even with all this, you still worry about the next election. For one simple reason. Your main rival still has 5X the resources you have. Theoretically, the Congress could break the bank in the next election and outspend the BJP to dilute the party’s electoral mandate, especially in the regional constituencies.

You do two things — One, you neutralize the Congress with the only way you can neutralize their resources — Black money and Demonetization. You go after their assets stashed abroad over the years. You tighten the screws on taxation and transactions. Even if you don’t reduce their resources, you at least succeed in reducing their liquidity and hence their deployability. Congress vote share is declining in every successive poll since 2014 bar a couple of exceptions. You take a hit too but if you look at the damage you cause your biggest rival, this is a a shin graze.

Two, you then go ahead and remove the cap on anonymous political donations, effectively legalizing the entire transaction between your corporate sponsors and your party treasury.

With these two simple steps, you have just changed the game for political domination in India. And that is what I believe is happening in India today.

What of ideology? What of the manifesto? Well, honestly if you control the economics, you control the medium that can control the message. If you run the government and the corporations, you effectively control nearly everything. You can manage messages locally to suit or modify the narrative.

.Two exceptions remain. The Judiciary and the Internet.

That’s for the next chapter.

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Out Reach by the Supreme Court …

Posted on May 16, 2017. Filed under: Indian Thought |

Aditi Kumaria Hingu

The Republic of India has a federal government, comprising of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches.  This structure is based on the Constitution of India. 

The Constitution framed a system of governance in which the powers conferred by the people are not vested in either a single person or a single institution. Therein came the principle of ‘Separation of Powers’ among the three pillars of democracy – the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary.
The Executive comprises the Prime Minister and his council of ministers (the temporary executives) and the Civil Servants and other officers (the permanent executives). They have the sole responsibility to ensure daily administration of the nation/state. They propose policies, and once approved, ensure that policies are implemented in a timely and effective manner.
The Legislature comprises the Parliament (Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha). It is the policy making body of the country where all bills proposed by the Executive get discussed, debated, amended, approved or rejected.
The Judiciary is the adjudicating body which is independent of the Executive and Legislature. The bills proposed by the Executive and the laws passed by the Legislature are subject to judicial review by the Supreme Court of India. The Judiciary has the power to declare a law null and void if it violates the constitution. 
However it is a matter of national shame that the very Judiciary which is tasked with ensuring that the Constitution is followed is now flouting its principles on a regular basis with impunity.
Three recent judgements made by the Supreme Court of India come to mind –
In November 2016, the SC mandated that the National Anthem must be played in all theatres prior to screening of movies. Neither was the ruling well thought through, nor was it made clear as to how would this be enforced.  Movie-goers were confused whether they should stand up in case the National Anthem is played as part of a movie. Physically disabled members of the audience were assaulted for not standing up when the anthem was played. It took clarifications and notifications from the Ministry of Home Affairs to clear the air on this issue.
The Honourable SC seemed to have forgotten the fact that patriotism cannot be enforced. If at all, it does need to be enforced, who will be the enforcing agency? Should the Indian Police Force, which is under-staffed and over-worked, be asked to let go of their current duties during movie times?
The second judgement was the April 2017 ban on all liquor vending outlets, including Hotels and Restaurants, within 500 metres of National and State Highways. If people drink and drive, accidents will happen. The source and distance of liquor purchase is not a variable that impacts the casualty rate. It will be worthwhile to monitor road accidents for the period of April 2017 – March 2018 and compare it to the same period, a year ago. There is very high probability that there will not any significant reduction in the casualty rate.
However there would be another metric that would have dropped significantly – the rate of employment.  It is estimated that around 1 million jobs will get impacted in the hospitality industry due to this law. Assuming an average family size of 5 members, this law directly hits at the livelihood of 5 million people. Not only is this a silly order, it is also a clear case of judicial overreach since the prohibition of consumption of intoxicating drinks is a directive principle which is under the aegis of the duly elected government.
Lastly and the most dangerous example of judicial overreach has been the SC’s decision to reject the curative petition of the government and uphold its earlier direction of 8th July 2016, wherein registration of FIR against Armed Forces Personnel has been made mandatory for every encounter death. This includes disturbed areas where Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) is in place.
The Army and paramilitary forces are deployed in sensitive areas due to the breakdown of civil machinery. Apart from helping maintain order, they also serve a humanitarian role – hospitals in the Himalayan region, the Goodwill schools in Ladakh, the roads maintained by Border Roads Organisation are just a few examples. Yet, our Honourable judges chose to paint the soldiers with the same brush as they would a common criminal.
No soldier wants to kill his own countrymen. But if there is a threat to the country’s sovereignty, he will risk his all and fight. He will either kill or get killed. Now, with this judgement passed by the SC in its hallowed portals at New Delhi (far away from the harsh realities of Siachen and Sukma), the soldiers have no option but to either let the terrorists escape or get killed themselves.
It is indeed a sad day for the Republic of India when one of the pillars of democracy, the Judiciary, itself becomes an enemy of the nation. Not only does it break the norms established by the Constitution by its acts of judicial overreach, it also harms the country’s freedom of expression, economy and security.
The enormity of the Judiciary’s misplaced zeal becomes even more obvious when one considers the abysmal track record of justice dispensation in India. There are 30 million cases pending in India. Even if one assumes that a case involves only two people, it is tantamount to 60 million people waiting for justice. Despite these millions of people waiting for justice related to criminal and civil matters – murders, rapes, criminal intimidation, property disputes, cheating – the highest court in India, decides to focus its energies on when the national anthem should be sung, where should liquor not be dispensed and how should soldiers fight wars. If this is not a mockery of justice, what is?
(Aditi Kumaria Hingu is a marketing graduate from IIM Calcutta, currently she works in the corporate sector. She comes from an army background.)

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History of NE – Birth of Mizoram Part II …

Posted on May 5, 2017. Filed under: From a Services Career, Indian Thought, Personalities |

Though overwhelmed by the turn of events – perhaps because of the quick intervention of Shankaran Nair from IB – GoI immediately grasped the delirious situation and promptly passed the buck back to Sahay and Chaliha to deal with it as they deemed fit, to take immediate and appropriate actions.

On 2 March 1966, the Government of Assam invoked the ‘Assam Disturbed Areas Act (1955)’ and ‘Armed Forces Special Powers Act (ASPA-1958)’, handing over the ball to Lt Gen Sam Manekshaw, then GOC-in-C Eastern Command at Calcutta, to intervene and sort out Hav Laldenga and his revolution.

When interrogated by the press, Sam made a candid admission that the ‘Army has been caught with its pants down. We have lost complete control in Lushai Hills and would now have to go and use maximum force to capture it back’ !

3rd Mar 66

On 3rd Mar, the MNA led by self-styled Brig (ex Hav of 2 AR) Hruaia plundered the Public Works Department office in Aijal, looting and destroying the entire records of Lushai Hill Tract ‘Sawrkar’ (Government) Office. The violence and strife continued unabated.

A quick tactical appreciation by Sam, in consultation with Brig (later Lt Gen) Jaswant Singh, then Commander 61 Inf Bde then in Silchar, convinced Sam that the battle was lost even before it began. Jaswant estimated that, to go find transport to recall even a few from the 4 Inf Bns under his command hamstrung all over the then vast north east Assam, traverse the impregnable jungles using the only road defended by the enemy (Lion Bde of MNA), fight through the road blocks and ambushes to go and relieve the beleaguered 1 AR garrison in Aijal, 61 Bde would take not less than a month.

Time was of essence, since 1 AR garrison, the only forces opposing Laldenga’s rat revolution, was likely to be overrun in a matter of few days. If Laldenga did his victory march in Aijal, Lushai Hills would be lost for ever. Without hesitation Sam dialled Gen JN Chaudhuri, then COAS, and did a corner kick to put the ball into the apex court in Army HQ.

JNC called for a meeting of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff and asked the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Chief Mshl (now Mshl of IAF) Arjan Singh to use ‘Air Power’ to bailout Lushai Hills. Heli lifting of troops using Mi-4s was the obvious answer. But in earlier attempts Mi-4s (as also Daks and Caribous) had been thwarted by intense ground fire from MNA.

Some ground sanitation was called for. Army had no artillery in that area. Flying armed WW-II propeller driven Havards from flying training academy at Jodhpur to Silachar, to do escort duty as well as ground attack was considered by Op Branch at Air HQ. But this was found to be time consuming to get them operational at Silchar. Since there was hardly any choice available to IAF, the only pragmatic solution that Arjan Singh found was use of Hunters and Toofani jet fighter aircraft locally available in Assam.

The CAS immediately ordered 29 Sqn (Toofanis) to move to Kumbigram and 17 Sqn (Hunters) to move to Jorhat. They were ready for combat missions at both bases by the morning of 5 Mar 66. Perhaps the lessons from 1962 war helped make this quick decision by Arjan and equally quick reactions by the fighter Sqns.

The IAF had no choice but to use a sledge hammer to kill a fly. In the meanwhile, Sam ordered 61 Inf Bde Cdr, Jawant Singh, to move forward toVairengte along with 8 Sikh and 2 Para less a Company to make contact with forward elements of Lion Bde at Chimlang on the northern extreme of Mizoram. Another two Bns (2/11 GR and 3 Bihar) were asked to thin their posts and rush to Vairengte and beyond as soon as possible in support of the meagre force that was led by Jaswant.

Since it was then an Inf Bde, it had no artillery worth mention. Brig R Z Kabraji commanding 311 Inf Bde at Tallimora (near Agartala) was ordered by Sam to thin  troops on Paki border and send part of his forces as reserves for 61 Bde. They were able to move only by 7th Mar, and were hence sent back half way, after MNA was neutralised by the AF and Aijal recaptured.

By nightfall on 3rd, 61 Bde was on the move southwards from Silchar towards the traps laid by the Lion Bde of MNA, with mine fields, road blocks and ambushes. A fate worse than Namka Chu (Dalvi’s 7 Bde in 62 war) awaited them. Unless ‘Airpower’ was brought to bear in Lushai Hills, the war with MNA was lost.

Unlike 1962, the IAF did not hesitate; like a Cobra, they uncoiled and struck.

4th Mar 66

At around 0900 hrs on 4th Mar, waves of suicide squads comprising MNV and MNA made a well-coordinated massed attack on the Aijal garrison. They lost 13 men with more than 150 wounded with no loss of life in the AR garrison, other than 9 wounded. The AR garrison was completely out of ammunition and drinking water. Two Mi-4s of 110 HU from Kumbigram sent with ammunition boxes, medicine chests and water in jerry cans could not land to discharge stores or pick up causalities due to heavy ground fire from MNA.

One single pass high level air drop attempted by a Caribou fell outside the garrison, into the waiting hands of MNA. It completely demoralised the AR garrison and they began preparations for surrender. The MNA had taken over and consolidated all over Lushai Hill Tracts.

Aijal garrison was on the verge of collapsing, but held on perhaps due to the charisma, leadership and encouragement of the DC, TS Gill present in the garrison. He had first been a soldier, and bureaucrat only afterwards.

5 Mar 66

On 5th afternoon, an attempt was once again made to land Mi-4s at Aijal with Toofani fighter escort, as well as a similar exercise by Caribou to airdrop with escort. But both attempts failed simply because of the vast difference in the speed of the fighter jets. They had difficulty in locating Aijal and could not arrive over the target at the precise moment when the Mi-4 or Caribou arrived there.

Due to intense and accurate LMG fire from MNA, both the Mi-4 and Caribou turned back once again with many bullet holes. Though all these attempts by the Air Force raised the morale of the AR garrison, the time had come for direct action by the fighter jets. The trouble was that due to their high speed, they could neither locate the MNA, nor distinguish friends from foe !!

Toofanis operating from Kumbhirgram, and Hunters from Jorhat were used over Champai, Darangoan, Vaphai and Demagiri. The posts were asked to generate yellow smoke to identify them from the air. These operations were meant to keep the MNA at bay and to ease the pressure on the surrounded posts till they could be reinforced by flying in troops by helicopter.

Aijal was the main target and the AF fighter aircraft went into this battle with whole hearted zest and enthusiasm.

6 Mar 66

17 Sqn (Hunters) was based at Jorhat and we carried out strikes at Aijal on 6th Mar 1966. We asked the GLO to inform the AR garrison at Aijal to paint markers to indicate targets’, recalls Fg Offr (later Air Mshl) Tester Master who flew missions in a Hunter. ‘The GLO at Jorhat briefed us that an army unit was surrounded at a high ground by rebels in the middle of Aijal town.

We were briefed that air support/supply by helicopter and Dakota aircraft had been met by small arms fire from the rebels.

The AR garrison was in danger of suffering casualties and needed close air support. The AR Garrison were housed in barracks with thatched roofs, with a clear area around them the size of a football field. It was decided to use rockets and front guns to attack the rebels and provide relief to the surrounded troops (we did not use bombs). The AR was asked to put markings on the ground to indicate the target (location of MNA concentrations). The markings comprised an arrow to show the direction of the target and strips laid diagonally below the arrow to indicate distance. If I remember right, the baseline was 1000 yds and each strip was plus 100 or 200 yds. So if there were two strips below the arrow the target was 1200 or 1400 yds in that direction.

I did two Hi-Lo-Hi strikes on 6th March with rockets and front guns (Hunter Mk 56 252 1:15 and 331 1:20 minutes). We carried out rocket attacks first, followed by strafing of the designated area. In both sorties, our targets were thatched ‘bashas’, which in our cine films were seen to be hit by my wingman and myself. After the attacks, we reconnoitred the main highway leading to Aijal to interdict vehicular movement, but found no such targets.

Viju Joshi, Harry Hardas, then Sqn Ldr MS Bawa were some of the others from 17 Sqn who flew ground attack missions. That month’s log book was signed by Sqn Ldr PP Singh as Flt Cdr and Wg Cdr AS Mohan as CO. Our EO was Flt Lt Nagpal. The Stn Cdr was Gp Capt Kirloskar.

We received messages that our missions were successful and helped relieve the siege of the army units. The sound and fury of jet fighter aircraft orbiting overhead at low level are by themselves frightening enough to those who have never experienced it. And when these aircraft attack with rockets or guns, there is none who is not psychologically scarred.

There were no buildings near the AR garrison, just a village of thatched huts housing and a small market that had grown around the post, which the MNA were using to hide and enfilade the AR garrison. The civil population had fled into the jungles during the previous three days. And because bombs were not used, the air attacks killed or injured only a few (14 MNA / MNV killed).

The fear psychosis of the unexpected air attack, and the fire that engulfed the village (because the village was made of dry bamboo and thatch, both incendiary), these were adequate to completely shatter the morale and discipline of the MNA / MNV and MNF and disperse them helter-skelter.

By the time the air attacks were called off on the evening of 6 Mar, there were hardly any one present in Aijal, neither civil population, nor the MNF/MNA/MNV. They all ran away. The civil war was immediately deflated.

7 Mar 66

Because of the air strikes, 8 Sikhs and 2 Para had an easier passage to quickly reach Aijal. However, they did have to overcome blown bridges, mine fields, and ambushes with sporadic small arms fire from MNA stragglers. In an exceptionally zestful insertion, 2 Para entered Aijal and relieved 1 AR by the afternoon of 7 Mar.

The Mi-4 helicopters then brought in water, food, para-medics and civil administration. On return, they evacuated the causalities and injured to the base hospital in Silchar.

TS Gill moved back to his headquarters and immediately started a disaster management program with vigour. Chaliha continued to spew venomous self-seeking verbiage to the press to gain brownie points, but did not have the courage to visit Aijal, not then.

Governor Vishnu Sahay, an old hand from ‘Babudom’, the civil service, kept his mouth shut and left Chaliha on a loose rein. Indira and Gul Nanda became entangled in their own battle for political survival in Delhi because of the overwhelming threat from Moraji Desai, the piss man.

Lushai Hill Tract now became the baby of the Army, not only to maintain law and order, but to also administer, win hearts and minds to make the Mizos happy once again. Continuing their incredible momentum, Lt Col Mathew Thomas commanding 2 Para moved on southwards and relieved Lunglai on 13 Mar.

The MNF/MNA/MNV with Hav Laldenga moved into the jungles and mingled with the local population with the loot, arms and their deceased minds, starting a zestful insurgency abetted by Paki intelligence (ISI). This story unfortunately does not end here. It was just the beginning of a long drawn out battle in which the Indian army suffered as much, or more than the civil population, while the political kingpins continued triggering dissent and pursuing grandiose personal ambition with the help of ISI.

Aftermath : 1966 – 1987

After the MNF fled into the jungle and started a virulent insurgency, the Army Commander Sam M was left holding the tub and bath water, without the baby. His staff officers in Eastern Command ran about helter-skelter and finally, for want of another example, narrowed down to templating ‘Briggs Plan’, which the British had used to subdue a similar conflict in Malaya, a decade earlier.

Briggs’ Plan, was devised by British General Harold Briggs in 1950 as ‘Director of Operations’ in Malaya, to defeat the Malayan communists operating out of Malayan jungles as a guerrilla army, primarily by cutting them off from their sources of support amongst the local population. Briggs devised a massive forced resettlement of Malayan peasantry, around 5 lk people, removed from their natural habitats. He interned them in guarded military camps called ‘New Villages’.

The only unimaginative change that Sam made, before he moved on to Delhi as the COAS, was to change the name ‘New Villages’ to ‘Progressive Protected Villages (PPVs)’. The man who was put in charge to execute the controversial Briggs’ plan was the newly posted GOC 101 Com Zone (CZ) in Shillong, Maj Gen Sagat Singh, who was under the impression that he had been side-lined perhaps due to his tenacious action at Nathu La.

While Sagat fixed the Chinese at Nathu La pas and fenced off the border, his colleague in the adjacent area in Sikkim abandoned Jalap La pas for ever. In the administrative melee that followed, very strangely, the man who lost Jalap La got away while Sagat’s heroic acts at Nathu La was not viewed in kindly light, perhaps because he was considered a maverick and prone to think and act out of the system box.

In a war that followed, several years later, as GOC 4 Corps, Sagat’s illustrious character traits won India its greatest military victory in a thousand years. That war, as also the insurgency in Lushai Hill Tract required such a man, with ability to think and act out of the box.

In the aftermath of the civil war in Lushai hills, Sam’s desire to execute Briggs plan immediately, was not Sagat’s priority. Instead he went after Hav Laldenga and his MNF/MNA/MNV. Though Sagat was close lipped and held his cards close to his chest, he perhaps felt that Briggs plan was likely to succeed only when the insurgency was controlled, a matter of chicken and eggs perception, which was to be done first !

By the end of 1966, armed reinforcements were sent to the Lushai Hill Tracts (18 Punjab, 9 Bihar, 6, 18 & 19 AR, 4 Bn of CRPF) to maintain law & order under Sagat’s command (101 Com Zone, at Shillong).

Capt Chandrakant (later Maj, VrC) of 4 Guards, recollects; ‘During the raids on MNA hideouts, the documents seized indicated transfer of large funds to MNF from the Methodist Baptist Churches in USA, and routing such funds through the Roman Catholic church in Shillong. The expat missionaries were the conduits for MNF funding and were found abetting and inflaming the MNF aspirations. Most of these foreign missionaries were therefore expelled and replaced with Christian priests from Kerala’.

Chandrakant continued. ‘The MNF/MNA/MNV cadre dispersed in smaller units, merged with the local population and continued to carry out armed attacks against the security forces in the district. The villagers suffered from both sides. The insurgents would kill those resisting their entry into the villages, while the villages suffered reprisals from the security forces in case ambushes had taken place in their vicinity.

However, due to the proactive efforts of the Army to win the hearts and minds of the people of Lushai Hills, they began to turn against the insurgents and often helped the army to locate their hideouts and act as scouts. The tide began to turn against Laldenga’.

To the south, due thick forests in Burma, Laldenga had no direct escape route. Using 61 & 311 Bdes, well placed blockades on every exit route, extensive use of helicopters to reposition his forces, Sagat effectively blocked off the eastern and western escape routes.

A new 57 Mountain Div was raised at Masimpur and a Counter Insurgency / Jungle Warfare School at Vairengte to train Inf Soldiers in the art of fighting counter insurgency battles. Every soldier in Mizoram was trained in this school to reduce the degree of violence and to reduce discomfiture of the innocent population especially during cordon and search operations.

Sagat then started a systematic flushing of MNF/MNA/MNV out of the jungles.. Gradually, they were either caught and jailed, or if they surrendered, sent for rehabilitation programmes instituted by the army and civil administration. Hav Laldenga escaped into East Pakistan along with a few of his cadre.

Sagat then carried out clandestine cross border, deep penetration strikes into East Pak. But Hav Laldenga, under the protection of Paki intelligence, moved first to Mirpur and then to Lalmai Hills, from where he escaped to Chittagong tracts and the jungles in Burma with what was left of MNA.

Briggs’ plan was finally put into effect by Sagat, on the insistence of Sam, with political connivance and approval of Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) which also included opposition parties, plus Planning Commission.

764 villages (95% of population in Lushai Hills) were forcibly grouped together into 18 Progressive Protected Villages (PPVs), in four phases over 4 yrs, in a 30 km belt along the Kolasib-Lunglai road, in an infamous military operation named ‘ Accomplishment’.

The PPVs had barbed wire fencing, ditches and ‘Punjis’ to protect them from MNA attack. All inmates of PPVs were issued Identity cards and had to take an ‘Out Pass’ when leaving the PPVs for personal errands. Anyone caught outside the PPVs without a pas was deemed MNF/MNA and arrested.

The major complaint against the PPVs, discomfiture for the tribal populace who were earlier nomadic, was discontinuity of ‘Jhooming’, burning of jungles to do cursory farming and moving on to other locations when the forests grew back. In reality, the Mizos lived in better conditions in the PPVs, were better fed and clothed, availed modern medical facilities, lived a safe and secure life, all under the auspices of the Army.

Many reports filed by foreign correspondents, after visiting PPVs, bear testimony. This continued till 1970. While insurgency continued at lower levels, the space for political negotiations was created by the Army.

In August 1968, the Government of India offered amnesty to the insurgents, which resulted in the surrender of 1524 MNF members. This was followed by more amnesty offers, which led to benign entry of the MNF into mainstream politics. While armed insurgency was contained, ‘Op Accomplishment’ inflamed the passions and aspirations of the Mizo peoples for autonomy and statehood, but without secessionism, or claims for ‘Azaadi’.

In 1971, because of the efforts of RAW, who negotiated with Laldenga, the GoI agreed to convert Lushai Hill Tracts into a Union Territory, which came into being as ‘Mizoram’ in 1972. Afterwards, in 1986, in pursuance of Rajiv Gandhi’s peacenik policies, RAW once again negotiated a ‘Memorandum of Settlement’, signed by Hav Ladenga, R. D. Pradhan (Home Secretary), and Lalkhama (Chief secretary).

Following the Mizoram Peace Accord, Mizoram was declared a full-fledged state of India in 1987, incredibly with the secessionist, arsonist, Hav Laldenga as its first Chief Minister !!!

Laldenga finally won his war, even had a victory parade in Aijal, with the Army saluting and acknowledging him as ‘King of Mizoram’ !!! However, political defections within MNF toppled him from office in 1988, like Humpty Dumpty.

Hav Laldenga never rose in politics again, perhaps due to lung cancer. He was treated at state expense in New Delhi and New York. While headed for London, he died on 7 Jul 1990. Hav Laldenga, the Kaliyug King of the Mizos, was honoured with the first state funeral in Mizoram, and buried in the centre of Aizawl, the born again Aijal, capital of the 23rd state of Indian Union for which Laldenga had fought tooth and nail.

More than 80% of the Mizos now live in Aijal and one wonders whether Hav Landenga is happy in his grave. On the 50th anniversary of the ‘Rat Revolution’ Mizoram is now one of the most peaceful states in the region, leapfrogging towards prosperity.

Mautam came again in 2006-07. But rats have realised that they cannot create a revolution again. Mautam has now become a tourist event. Rat revolution is perhaps over, for good. Thank God.

The Mizos like my old senior comrade in AF, Joe Lalmingliana and an old GF in Aijal whose name I forgot, they are really very nice people, they deserve better; all the peace, prosperity and happiness they can have !!

Cheers to the Mizos.


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NE History – Birth of Mizoram – Part I …

Posted on April 30, 2017. Filed under: Indian Thought, Uncategorized |

SEVEN DAYS in Mar 1966 – ‘Rat’ Revolution’ in Lushai Hills by Unni Kartha.

‘Mi-Zo-Ram’, now a ‘land of the happy hill people’ became an independent state of the union only in 1987, 40 yrs after Indian independence. It is an exotic locale in the north eastern corner of India, with 90.7% dense forest cover, lots of bamboo, just 52 odd persons per sq km, almost equal man to woman ratio and 97% literacy, all of them reasons why Mizoram is such a happy place.

But that was not how it was in 1840 when Capt Blackwood, a cavalier pirate of sorts, led the 14th NLI Regiment of East India Company through the thick bamboo forest to go after the Kukis (Thahdos), Lusei and others, who were all hell bent on head hunting and eating themselves ‘Su-Shi’, in the raw, and displaying the leering heads of the dead men on a stake outside their cottage.

To give them due credit, the natives of erstwhile Lushai Hills were a persistent war like people and tested the patience of Queen Victoria till she annexed them in 1895 and made them her subjects and predicates, in Wren & Martin, the constitution of ‘Eng-Land’. Reason why they had bit of an attitude in 1947 and wanted to become ‘Lushai-Land’ like ‘Eng-Land’, and not be a part of Indian Union. Their attitude upset quite a few, including Sardar Patel, who wisely left the state of affairs and governance to 259 tribal chiefs, to continue head hunting and eating each other sushi, to keep the Lusei very happy in ‘Hinglish’ Wren & Martin under the ‘Tiranga’, and make them forget their aspiration of an independent ‘Lushai Land’.

After Indian independence, the entire ‘North East’ territory ahead of Siliguri continued to be one single province ‘Assam’, ruled by Congress Chief Ministers (CMs)  Gopinath Bordoloi (1946-50), Bishnu Ram Medhi (1950-57) and then, for thirteen tumultuous years by a Rasputin, Bimala Prasad  Chaliha (1957-70). Elected thrice as CM, Chaliha faced two national emergencies; the Sino-Indian conflict and the Mizo revolution/civil war.  The former had nothing to with him. But the latter was perhaps triggered by his politically savvy, but demographically catastrophic, draconian ‘ Official Language Act 1960’ which hoped to unify the entire North East, compelling all diverse ethnic groups to learn and speak in Assamese. Chaliha, with king size ambition, proactively resisted the popular demand to divide the mammoth, ethnically diverse, geographically difficult to  administer Assam state, into smaller states (with common ethnic and linguistic identity, as it is now), though he was put in charge of various Committees of central Govt of India (GoI) which contemplated such division. Only after his death in 1971 could GoI make any headway to break down the mammoth Assam province. But let me not jump the gun.

During Medhi’s innings as CM in 1954,  an attempt at ethnic cleansing was made by the 259 venerable Mizo chieftains, mainly to make the Christian Lusei and Budhist Chakamas into edible sushi delicacy; head hunting was after all a  favourite ‘time pas’ in that part of the world. The European Presbyterian Missionaries were the first to start crying. Their cry was picked up and repeated very volubly by international press, the Queen of England, President of America, and even the Pope. GoI, Nehru in particular, was heartbroken.

Medhi came under severe pressure to act. As all CM’s do under emergency, usually under ‘Aid To Civil Power Act’, Medhi immediately called for Army intervention. But Maharaj Rajendrasinhji  Jadeja, then Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of Indian Army, declined saying he had inadequate resources and that it was a political problem which Medhi must handle himself on political and administrative level.

So VK Singh was not the first Army Chief to say ‘Bugger Off’, when asked to go and murder fellow Maoist citizens whom the politicians and bureaucrats could not handle within the political machinations of our strange democratic system.

Medhi then turned to the very spirited and dynamic Jairam Das Daulatram,  Governor of Assam, and Kailash Nath Katju, the Union Home Minister under Nehru. They helped by moving two units of Assam Rifles, a para military under Home Ministry, from Shibsagar and Shillong into Lushai Hill Tract, to assist in maintaining law and order by giving everyone in Lushai Hills the ‘Bum-Boo’ !

Medhi made the 259 tribal chieftains redundant and turned to the Deputy Commissioner Lushai Hills, S.N.Barkataki from Assam Civil Service Cadre, and the newly enacted ‘Lushai Hills Act’ to handle administration through elected ‘Autonomous Village Councils’. For a while Mizoram once again became a happy place eating food cooked with ‘Bhut Jolokia’ chillies and not sushi or ‘Tipsy pudding’ with Chakamas’ gonads. Then in 1958, with clockwork precision, the forests in Mizoram went wild with ‘Mautam’.

Mautam, a cyclic ecological phenomenon, occurs precisely every 48 years when the strange bamboo (Melocanna Baccifera) in the jungles of Luhai Hills and neighbourhood, flowers all at the same time. Strangely, this massive flowering of the bamboo incites the pheromone and testosterone levels in jungle rats to multiply so rapidly that there is not enough for them to eat in the jungle. They then run out of the jungle like locust and spread-out all over Lushai Hills to forage food grains, creating famine and plague amongst the Homos, Sapiens, LGBTs as well as those who look and act like Neanderthals in Lushai Hill Tract.

In the Mautam of 1958, the rats perhaps fornicated with more zest because the famine and plague were most severe. The then Governor of Assam, Chandreswar Prasad Sinha, along with Chaliha in tow, moved Assam Rifle and some local armed constabulary, at platoon level, into the far reaches of the jungles, to set up posts with air dropping zones, create a civil-supply-chain for distribution of essential commodities, maintain law and order, and feed the hungry and unhappy people of Lushai Hill Tract. He also got the central Govt to send in the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to create a north to south motor-able road from Silchar to Lunglai, no mean task due to the severity of the jungles and mountains. The road was expected to not only improve communications, but also substantially increase the quantity of supplies that could be sent to Lushai Hills because Silchar was connected to Guhati by rail.

Mr Shankaran Nair, then Dir IB in Delhi (later Sec RAW before he resigned during Morarji’s time as PM), in a secretive operation, recruited and inducted an army of Malyalees, as ‘Political  Officers’ who had a covert role as ‘Special Intelligence Bureau (SIB)’ operatives all over the North East. They were meant to keep their finger on the pulse of the local people, transmit daily intelligence reports for IB HQ in Delhi. Their overt inconspicuous role was supply chain management of air dropped stores and assistants to civil administration!!! Local people were first taught social adjustment trades (carpentry, masonry, electrical applications, or simply as labourers for road construction and as porters for the public logistic distribution system). They were then paid in Indian currency. The currency was used to buy the goods that was air dropped.  It was a cyclic process, a successful non-profit business run by GoI !!!

First into the foray to meet the challenges of air dropping supplies to the beleaguered Mizos was Biju Patnaik and his private airline Kalinga Airways, operating from Guhati and Kumbigram (Silchar), also handling the to-ing and fro-ing of VIPs, para medics, political and administrative teams, all from a small wartime ‘advanced landing ground (ALG)’, (now the Lengpui Airport, 32 km from Aizwal (old Aijal). IAF soon joined in. General Satyawant Mallanna Shrinagesh, ex Chief Of Army Staff (CoAS), who succeeded Sinha as Governor, increased the quantum of solace and the Mautam crisis was more or less brought under control by 1960.

As it happens in every calamity, the locals rose to the occasion too, by forming the ‘Mizo National Famine Front (MNFF)’. The MNFF was a large work force of pioneers, basically to lend a hand with the grass root distribution of the logistic aid that was being air dropped at the dropping zones at Aijal, Champai and Lungle. MNFF was to carry it in small head loads to inaccessible far flung habitats, all over the jungle, …….one hell of a job.

And the man who quickly rose up the chain of command in MNFF was the charismatic, dynamic, 33 year old, demobilised ex Havildar Pu Laldenga, born an Assamese with Mizo ancestry and family ties. His greatest achievement was to integrate the diverse tribes of Lushai Hill Tracts into a single group called Mizos and give an identity to the Lushai Hill Tract as ‘Mizoram’. He was gleefully preferred as a stooge and promoted to the forefront by the state, as well as the local civil administration, due to his military background as well disciplined efficiency and ability to motivate his illiterate and backward people.

As Hav Laldenga’s popularity grew amongst the tribes of the new ‘Mizoram’ across the board, his pockets began to bulge. He began to develop megalomania and king sized ambition, especially when inadvertently supported and abetted by the army’s Eastern Command, as well as  the civil administration run by an ex CoAS in Guwahati. The Indian army, civil administration and the IB created the over ambitious political Frankenstein from one amongst their own cadre.

As it often happens, political mavericks create secessionist movements only when supported by rouge external nation state(s) with motives, money, cross border shelter, arms and training. Hav Laldenga became the darling of then East Pakistan, keen to support dissidents and break away groups in India. Under Paki tutelage in Oct 1961, Laldenga (along with JF Manliana, R Vanlawma, and Rochhinga, comrades from MNFF), dropped ‘Famine’ from the apolitical MNFF and converted it to a right wing fascist ‘Mizo National Front (MNF)’ with explicit secessionist intensions, to go back to the ambitions of creating a kingdom called Mizoram, the same ‘Lushai-Land’ like ‘Eng-Land’, with Hav Laldenga as King (much like Idi Amin in Uganda).

India at that time got embroiled with the Sino Indian war (1962) and lost focus of the MNF and the Mizoram. The Malyalee political officers from SIB, most of them young frustrated bachelor Catholic Christians, were using the expat missionaries as conduits for creating ‘zenanas’ with the prettiest girls in the neighbourhood. Their finger instead of being on the political pulse as Shankaran Nair intended, was elsewhere.  They became ‘sleepers’ on the job. Laldenga was left alone to ferment separatist ideology, piggy backing on the public dissent created by introduction of Assamese as compulsory official language, part of the ping pong policies introduced by CM Chaliha, with full support from ex CoAS Srinagesh and Vishnu Sahai, an ex-ICS Cabinet Secretary, who alternated with ex CoAS Srinagesh every few years as imperious Governors of Assam between 1959-68. GoI had no clue about the political trouble that was brewing in the new found Mizoram despite the bevy of ‘political officers’ of SIB present there.

Laldenga and his minions in MNF went on a recruiting drive to create a private army of mercenaries using demobilised or retired ex-military cadres to form the supervisory chain of command with younger able bodied men as jawans. 2 AR, which had just been disbanded for mutiny, joined Hav Laldenga to the last man. This private army of the MNF was then named Mizo National Army (MNA). After recruitment, the MNA cadre were secretly ferreted out to clandestine training camps in East Pakistan, where they were split, armed and trained to form two infantry Brigades (Bdes), each with four battalions (Bns), much like the Indian army.

The ‘Lion Bde’, with Bns named after Mizo legends (Chawngbawla, Khuangchera, Saizahawla and Taitesena Bns) were given operational responsibility of the northern half of Miizoram. The Dagger Bde (with Joshua, Lalvunga, Vanapa and Zampui Manga Bns) operated in the southern part. By the end of 1965, the MNF had armed themselves with basic infantry weapons; 303 rifles, 9mm Stens, AK-47, LMGs, RPGs, mostly supplied by Pakis, and others stolen from Assam Rifles. They also obtained explosives by raiding the posts of Border Roads Organisation engaged in building the north to south road in the inaccessible parts of Mizoram. Money came from raiding banks in Assam, as also counterfeit notes printed in Pakistan. The Pakis taught MNA how to make improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to booby trap jungle trails, to mine roads and to blow up installations.

To support the operational logistics of the two Bdes in inaccessible terrain, Laldenga called upon his old army of pioneers and irregulars of MNFF and formed them into Mizo National Volunteers (MNV) under command of MNF. By mid-1965 the stage was set for ‘rat revolution’ and civil war in Lushai Hill Tract, now referred to as Mizoram. Happy Lusei were then turned to very unhappy and angry Mizos.

As it happens in insurgency and civil war in remote areas, the MNA too had to feed off the land, depend on the villages for their sustenance (new recruits, money, food, shelter, wine, women and song). Atrocities began initially as pillage, abduction and rape. To cover that up, Laldenga called for ethnic cleansing, targeting the non-Christian minorities (Chakma, Mara, Lai, Tripuri, Hmar, Paite,…….etc). Mizoram went on the boil.

Code named ‘Operation Jericho’, Hav Laldenga’s plan was simple. He hoped the two Bdes of MNA attacking form north and south would quickly capture the treasuries, neutralise the posts manned by Assam Rifles / other local police / militia, takeover police stations and jails, capture armouries, arrest important non-Mizo (‘Vai’) officials and hoist the MNF flag at Aijal on 1 Mar, followed by a victory parade on 2 Mar 1966. He hoped that many from the civil administration would turn sympathisers and make the takeover easy. Hav Laldenga also hoped that if he could keep the MNF flag flying in Aijal for 48 hours, other countries such as Pakis would recognise the Mizo territory as a sovereign state, plead their case in UN, perhaps even invite UN peace keeping forces in the new found ‘Kingdom of Mizoram’.

The AR posts did get some indication that something was amiss when during the night of 27 Feb, Rokima, the brother of the MNF Lieutenant Lalnunmawia was killed in an accidental explosion of an IED, investigated by AR on 28th morning. However, AR could neither connect the IED blast with an impending attack, or the ferocity with which it would come the same night.

28 Feb 1966.

There was no Indian Army tentacle in Mizoram on 28 Feb 1966. The closest, 61 Inf Bde, was located at Silchar. Its forces, 4 understaffed Bns, were strung about on posts all over Nagaland and Manipur tackling other insurgencies. Since Mizoram had been comparatively peaceful, the only defensive forces there were para military; one battalion of No 1 AR, besides unarmed Border Roads Organisation (BRO) road construction parties, tentacles of unarmed / armed local armed constabulary, all of them in defensive garrisons at Kolasib, Aijal, Champai and Lunglai, besides platoon sized in-depth posts elsewhere deeper in the jungle where there were DZs.

On the night of 28 Feb/1 Mar 1966, both Bdes of MNA launched a series of simultaneous well planned attacks on the AR posts at Kolasib, Aijal,  Lungle  and Champai; as well as the constabularies at Demagiri, Chawngte, Hnahlan,  Marpara,  Tuipang,  Tuipuibari,  Vaphai  and Vaseitlang. The Border Security Force (BSF) in embryonic state was just being raised and was not involved in Mizoram, not then. There is no record of employment of CRPF at this stage.

The MNF attack at Lungle began at about 2230 hrs on 28 Feb 66, at the sub-treasury office situated within the defended perimeter of 1 AR post.  500–800 strong MNA attacked the stockade and were soon repulsed leaving two AR personnel and six of MNA dead. Three AR personnel were wounded. The AR camp was then surrounded and the siege lasted three days.

On 1 Mar morning one Mi-4 from 110 Helicopter Unit which tried to attend to 1 AR call for causality evacuation was shot at and had to return empty handed, without landing. No further attempts were made by helicopters to rescue the wounded.

The siege continued with intensive rifle and LMG fire from both sides. 1 AR began to run out of ammo and drinking water, while the MNA seemed to have no such difficulties.

An AF Dak from Kumbigram made a valiant attempt to air drop ammunition and water. It too came under fire and had to abort. On 5 March, the insurgents kidnapped RV Pillai, the Sub-divisional Officer (from SIB). At night on 6 Mar when they ran out of drinking water and ammunition, Lungle post surrendered along with the lightly held garrison of the BRO. By 0700 hrs on 7 Mar, MNF flag was flying over Lungle and the treasury as well as the armoury were in MNA’s hands.

Lungle was a diversion. The main objective of the MNA was Aijal. As sun set on 28th Feb, MNA elements started to infiltrate the township and completely surrounded it by around 2230 hrs. MNA then setup road blocks to prevent vehicular traffic. They began a combing operation looking for important members of the civil administration.  TS Gill, the Deputy Commissioner (DC) at Aijal, an ex-Army officer from the Indian Frontier Administrative Service (IFAS), took shelter in the heavily defended AR garrison. On his way he managed to get hold of L/Nk Shivashankaran Nair and his HF radio set from the BRO post.

1 Mar 66

At around 0200 hrs on 1 Mar, MNA elements attacked the telephone exchange at Aijal and took control, cutting all telephone links to the outside world. An hour later, around 150 MNA combatants, led by Nk Sub Lalnundawta (ex 2 AR, by now a self-styled Colonel), attacked the District Treasury and took control of not only treasure, but the entire armoury. Within the next few hours, the MNA was in control of all the administrative nerve centres, entirely paralysing the civil administration. They also seized all the vehicles in the town. MNA attacked the Aijal AR garrison repeatedly but could not penetrate the outer ring of ‘punjis’ (sharp wooden stakes) and ditches with intensive well sited fire from AR. By daybreak on 1 Mar, Aijal was completely under the control of the MNA and the AR garrison was surrounded and quarantined.

L/Nk Nair opened communication with 61 Bde in Silchar and civil administration at Shillong, Gauhati and Calcutta by 0400 hrs on 1 Mar. TS Gill started dictating situation reports every half an hour with Nair tapping the Morse code key.  This BRO radio link remained the only means of communication with Lushai Hill Tract in the subsequent days. The bad news was conveyed to the PMO, but blacked out from the press.

The records of a fact finding mission, from Govt of Assam, consisting of an all-party group sent to Mizoram three months later states, ‘At about 0130 hrs on 1 Mar, about 150 MNA surrounded the sub-divisional officer of the Public Works Department at Phainuam (near Vairengte) and asked him to get out of the district. They also took over the departmental stores, arms and ammunition of the policemen and all available vehicles. After the civil administration and local police ran off into the jungles, the MNA retreated to Kolasib. Similar incidents were reported from Coinlang and Chawngte. At the same time MNA captured the AR post at Champhai, with help from their sympathisers inside the AR post.

At Kolasib, the MNA took around 250 civil officials, the policemen and BRO road construction pioneers as captives, and kept them without food and water for two days. The women and children were also taken as captives and kept separately in a small building. However, none of the civilian officials and government servants was harmed. The MNF perhaps expected their support in running the administration of the proposed new sovereign state’.

In a brilliant lightening surgical strike, Hav Laldenga had liberated Lushai Hill Tract, and proclaimed independence of Mizoram. Well almost. All that remained as a thorn in his ass was the vigilant and valiant besieged post of 1 AR at Aijal which refused to surrender. It was just a matter of time, before they too ran out of water and ammunition and surrendered.

At 1100 hrs on 1 Mar, Hav Laldenga ceremoniously proclaimed independence, and exhorted all the Mizos to join the revolt against the ‘illegal Indian occupation’ of ‘Mizoram’, land of the Mizo people. Due to sniper fire from the AR post, he had to cancel the victory parade. The declaration of independence was a public relations fiasco since there were only the MNF cadre present along with a few press reporters whom Laldenga had invited. They could not get the news out since all telephone lines had been cut by the MNA. However, jeeps with loud speakers were sent around Aijal to convey the declaration of independence amongst the local population. It panicked them.

2 Mar 66

On 2 Mar, MNA ambushed an offensive patrol of the 1st AR just as they set forth from the garrison and inflicted heavy casualties on them. Around 1100 hrs MNA captured Aijal jail and all prisoners were set free. This led to further looting and arson of Aijal bazar, though the bazar was closed. Because of AR’s refusal to surrender, the planned victory parade by MNF on 2nd Mar was postponed to 10th Mar. Fearing oppression and retribution, the civil population of Aijal began running away into the jungles.

All of 2nd and 3rd Mar loudspeakers were used to broadcast continuous propaganda asking the Aijal garrison to surrender.  However the garrison stood fast and repulsed the MNA sallies to overrun the post.

By now the national press as well as international press had got the wind of the revolution in Lushai Hills. Canards began to fly. Chaliha, the CM in Gauhati, was livid with rage. He went ballistic with his rhetoric. Vishnu Sahay the Governor was equally emotive and joined Chaliha in blaming everyone else other than himself or Chaliha, especially for releasing Laldenga from jail without interrogation of any sort when he was caught returning from East Pak, the previous year. Indira Gandhi, a political novice had been PM for just 35 days with Gulzari Lal Nanda as her Home Minister. There were political and policy paralysis in Delhi, as well as Guhati.

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The Mizoram Story – Unni Kartha …

Posted on March 16, 2017. Filed under: Indian Thought |

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