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Posts Tagged ‘history’

No War is Holy!

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on December 1, 2013

War is either just or unjust. It is never holy. There is no “holy war”. Jihad is the internal struggle with obstacles between oneself and God. It is unfortunate that words lose their intended meaning over time. Goes to show that history is nothing but interpretation and convenience. It is not necessarily the truth.

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Alternate View: The Great Game behind India’s Partition

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on October 27, 2012

Partition of India, the biggest migration witnessed by the world, one of the worst ethnic manslaughters on the face of the earth has unfortunately not received the emphasis it deserves in the annals of historic literature. Somewhere between the trauma of the Second World War, the Jewish genocide and the Atomic Bomb, the world forgot the millions who lost their lives thanks to agreements reached by England educated politicians in their cozy rooms.Indians then were not important enough to be noticed. Unlike now, we did not control the software industry then.My father was part of this utterly uncalled for dislocation. While on his way from Pakistan to India, he witnessed uncountable hate crimes and even saw his uncle burnt alive by a mob from the other side.

In classrooms, debate panels and cocktail get-togethers in many a Indian households, ill informed people share their “accurate” views that are as unbiased as Fox News itself! While religion is considered the primary force that drove this division, people also lay a lot of the blame on leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi and Jinnah. Some even believe that Jinnah wanted Pakistan to be created so that he could fulfil his ambition of becoming a Prime Minister. Others blame Nehru for not letting Jinnah become the Prime Minister of United India. One aspect that is rarely cited or discussed or even known is the British role in the partition. Did Britain have anything to gain from it? Lets take it a step further. Did the U.S have a role to play in the partition? Maybe.

The Shadow of the Great Game: The Untold Story of India’s Partition is a wonderful book written by Narendra Singh Sarila, who at the time of the partition, served as ADC to Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India. He was also the Maharaja of Sarila, a small kingdom in the heart of India. I was fortunate to have been presented this book by his wife, the Queen of Sarila herself. Narendra Singh bases his reasearch on East India Company communication that in recent years has been declassified by the British government. It is interesting to find evidence that points towards British and American collusion in effecting the partition of India.

To strengthen British and US domination in Asia, the English asked Indian leaders if after independence they would allow the British and the Americans to establish military bases in India. Indian leaders including Mahatma Gandhi flatly refused this proposal. They would not compromise India’s sovereignty and also wanted to set an example of Non Alignment in the world. This snub did not go down too well with the British. They then look toward Jinnah and asked him that if they facilitated the partition of India, would Jinnah allow UK and US to use the newly created Pakistan to position strategic military bases there. Jinnah was only too keen to accept. Not only would this help him gain a new country to rule, but American an British presence would safeguard Pakistan’s interests against India. The British and the Americans couldn’t be happier. The location of the proposed land for the Muslims was strategically perfect to influence the politics of Central Asia and most importantly tackle the new enemy, the USSR. Hence, despite opposition from supporters of United India, the English hastily got the two parties to agree to a partition.

The result: displacement of millions of people, ethnic genocide at a scale unimaginable, creation of two mortal enemy states, one blood, two countries. Not that it mattered to the English or the Americans. They had just won over a new ally in Pakistan and had established an invaluably strategic presence in Asia.

I am a great admirer of English and American political thought and wit. Their well thought out, selfishly motivated execution of the Partition does not seem too implausible to me. Does it to you?

Posted in Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Remembering Greatness…

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on October 2, 2012

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

2nd October 1869 – forever

Posted in Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Joke of the Day :)

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 30, 2012

I absolutely love it when a post I read gives rise to a train of thought. Some posts trigger dormant memories that bring tremendous delight to the reader. When posts present your mind with a “connect the dots” exercise, you know its time to press the “Like” button. You may end up with something completely irrelevant to the post that seeded the thought process. But the fact that it put you on a journey is beautiful in itself. I experience this emotion everyday. And this is one of greatest blessings of being a blogger.

Today, I was viewing this wonderful post by Nikolay Kotev when I was reminded of this joke. Enjoy!

A World War II Royal Air Force pilot is reminiscing before school children about his days in the air force.

“In 1942,” he says, “the situation was really tough. The Germans had a very strong air force. I remember, ” he continues, “one day I was protecting the bombers and suddenly, out of the clouds, these fokkers appeared.

(At this point, several of the children giggle.)

“I looked up, and right above me was one of them. I aimed at him and shot him down. They were swarming. I immediately realized that there was another fokker behind me.”

At this instant the girls in the auditorium start to giggle and boys start to laugh. The teacher stands up and says, “I think I should point out that ‘Fokker’ was the name of the German-Dutch aircraft company.”

“That’s true,” says the pilot, “but these fokkers were flying Messerschmitts.”

😀 😆 😀

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

Hampi: Of a Great Empire and a Foolish King who really pissed off his enemies…

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 25, 2012

…and pissed them off so much that three kingdoms, that were mortal enemies, joined hands to raze the Vijayanagar Empire to ground.

Hampi, blessed with an out of this world and mesmerizing landscape, is surrounded by the ruins of the Vijayanagar Empire. The Empire in the Deccan Plateau spanned over three centuries (14th century AD to 17th century AD) and was ruled by four dynasties. At its peak, the empire was the seat of excellence in administration, governance, commerce,technology, literature and culture. This zenith was reached under the reign of King Krishna Deva Raya who ruled in the first half of the sixteenth century. Excavations around Hampi speak of the power and wealth of the empire. But peaceful existence could never be taken for granted. The first two centuries of the empire saw the Kings adopt an aggressive strategy to keep its enemies at bay. Military excursions against neighbors were frequent, and this ensured an efficient army of hardened warriors.

Towards the middle of the 16th century, the Empire found itself surrounded by three hostile dynasties. The Muslim Sultanates of Ahmednagar (Nizam Shahi), Golconda (Qutb Shahi) and Bijapur ( Adil Shahi) bordered Vijayanagar and were a constant threat. Surrounded by Muslim enemies, the strategy for survival was altered, “Divide and Live” became the new mantra.  In 1542, Aliya Rama Raya ascended to the throne of Vijayanagar. During his rule, the Muslim Sultanates were constantly involved in fighting each other and requested Rama Raya on more than one occasion to act as a mediator. Rama Raya exploited this role to not only aggravate misunderstandings between the Sultanates, but also to expand his own territory. Rama Raya constantly changed sides  between the Sultanates. He was foolishly flirting with danger. And he paid for it.

In 1565 the unthinkable happened. The Muslim Sultanates that were mortal enemies, awakened to the connivance of Rama Raya and joined hands to bring down the Vijayanagar Empire. The Battle of Talikota resulted in a rout of Vijayanagar.

What followed was a victorious army along with dwellers falling upon the great city. With axes, crowbars, fire and sword the victorious armies went about the task of bringing to rubble the city of Vijayanagara which never recovered from the onslaught.”

According to another source,

“After three days, Muslim troops entered the city. There was no one to stop them. They looted, plundered and destroyed the city. Men, women and children were killed without any mercy. Shops, temples and houses were burnt and the sacred Hindu idols were destroyed. This destructive episode continued for six months relentlessly. The havoc was complete. The scenes showed the magnitude of hatred Muslims had for Hindus.”

Alas, one of the greatest Hindu Empires of India was thus reduced to rubble. Hampi, a UN World Heritage site is a must visit for anyone traveling to India. The beauty of its landscape is stunning, and the ruins echo the sounds of a once supreme Empire.

 

 

 

Posted in Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A Beautiful Short Story: The Appointment in Samarra

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 23, 2012

This story appeared as an epigraph for the novel, “Appointment in Samarra” by John O’Hara. It is W. Somerset Maugham’s retelling of an old story. First, here’s an interesting historical fact about the meaning of Samarra. Medieval Islamic writers believed that the name “Samarra” is derived from the Arabic phrase “Sarra man ra’a”, which translates to “A joy for all who see”. Later when the city declined the name changed to “Sa’a man ra’a”, which translates to “A sadness for all who see”. Eventually the two names merged to its current form Samarra. (credit : Wikipedia)

The Appointment in Samarra

“A merchant in Baghdad sends his servant to the marketplace for provisions. Shortly, the servant comes home white and trembling and tells him that in the marketplace he was jostled by a woman, whom he recognized as Death, and she made a threatening gesture. Borrowing the merchant’s horse, he flees at top speed to Samarra, a distance of about 75 miles, where he believes Death will not find him. The merchant then goes to the marketplace and finds Death, and asks why she made the threatening gesture. She replies, “That was not a threatening gesture, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”

A beautiful tale from a magical and mystical land. Alas, what have we done to Mesopotamia!

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

 
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