1. 7blundersthatwillalwayshauntIndia No1:TheKashmirMess History is most unforgiving. As historical mistakes cannot be undone, they have complexcascadingeffectonanation'sfuture.Herearesevenhistoricalblunders that have changed the course of independent India's history and cast a dark shadow over its future. These costly mistakes will continue to haunt India for generations.Theyhavebeenrecountedhereinachronologicalorderwithaview to highlight the inadequacies of India's decisionmaking apparatus and the leadership'sincompetencetoactwithvision. There can be no better example of shooting one's own foot than India's clumsy handling of the Kashmir issue. It is a saga of naivety, blinkered vision and inept leadership. HariSinghwasthereigningmonarchofthestateofJammuandKashmirin1947. HewasvacillatingwhentribalmaraudersinvadedKashmirinOctober1947,duly backed by the Pakistan army. Unable to counter them, Hari Singh appealed to India for assistance and agreed to accede to India. Indian forces blunted the invasionandreconqueredvastareas. First, India erred by not insisting on unequivocal accession of the state to the Dominion of India and granted special status to it through Article 380 of the Constitution.Secondly,whenonthevergeofevictingallinvadersandrecapturing the complete state, India halted operations on 1 January 1949 and appealed to theSecurityCouncil.Itistheonlycaseinknownhistorywhereinacountry,when onthethresholdofcompletevictory,hasvoluntarilyforsakenitinthemisplaced hopeofwinningadmirationoftheworldcommunity.Thirdlyandmostshockingly, theIndianleadershipmadeahighlyunconstitutionalofferofplebisciteintheUN. Forty percent area of the state continues to be under Pakistan's control, providingitastrategiclandroutetoChinathroughtheKarakoramranges.Asafall outoftheunresolveddispute,IndiaandPakistanhavefoughtnumerouswarsand skirmisheswithnosolutioninsight.Worse,thelocalpoliticiansareholdingIndia to ransom by playing the Pak card. Kashmir issue is a selfcreated cancerous furunclethatdefiesallmedicationsandcontinuestobleedthecountry.
2. No2:IgnoringChineseThreatsandNeglectingtheMilitary Memories of the year 1962 will always trouble the Indian psyche. A nation of India'ssizehadlulleditselfintobelievingthatitsprotestationsandplatitudesof peaceful coexistence would be reciprocated by the world. It was often stated thatapeacelovingnationlikeIndiadidnotneedmilitaryatall.Thearmedforces were neglected. The political leadership took pride in denigrating the military leadershipandmeddledininternalaffairsoftheservicestopromotesycophancy. Foreignpolicywasinshambles.Theintelligenceapparatuswasrusty. Even though signs of China's aggressive intentions were clearly discernible for yearsinadvance,theIndianleadershipdecidedtokeepitseyesshutinthefond hopethattheproblemwouldresolveitself.WhenChinastruck,thecountrywas caughttotallyunprepared.Troopswererushedtosnowboundareaswithsummer clothing and outdated rifles. Despite numerous sagas of gallantry, the country sufferedterribleembarrassment.Indiawasonitsknees.Withthenationalmorale andprideintatters,Indiawasforcedtoappealtoallnationsformilitaryaid.Inept and incompetent leadership had forced a proud nation to find solace in Lata Mangeshkar'sAeMereWatanKeLogo. No3:TheTashkentAgreementandReturnofHajiPirPass Following the ceasefire after the IndoPak War of 1965, a Russiansponsored agreement was signed between India and Pakistan in Tashkent on 10 January 1966.Undertheagreement,IndiaagreedtoreturnthestrategicHajiPirpassto PakistanwhichithadcapturedinAugust1965againstheavyoddsandatahuge humancost.ThepassconnectsPoonchandUrisectorsinJammuandKashmirand reduces the distance between the two sectors to 15 km whereas the alternate route entails a travel of over 200 km. India got nothing in return except an undertaking by Pakistan to abjure war, an undertaking which meant little as Pakistanneverhadanyintentionofhonouringit. Return of the vital Haji Pir pass was a mistake of monumental proportions for which India is suffering to date. In addition to denying a direct link between PoonchandUrisectors,thepassisbeingeffectivelyusedbyPakistantosponsor infiltration of terrorists into India. Inability to resist Russian pressure was a manifestationofthespinelessIndianforeignpolicyandshortsightedleadership.
3. No4:TheSimlaAgreement WiththefallofDhakaon16December1971,Indiahadscoredadecisivevictory over Pakistan. Over 96,000 Pak soldiers were taken Prisoners of War (PoWs). Later, an agreement was signed between the two countries on 2 July 1972 at Shimla. Both countries agreed to exchange all PoWs, respect the line of control (LOC) in Jammu and Kashmir and refrain from the use of threat or force. Additionally, Bhutto gave a solemn verbal undertaking to accept LOC as the de factoborder. India released all Pak PoWs in good faith. Pakistan, on the other hand, released only 617 Indian PoWs while holding back 54 PoWs who are still languishing in Pakistanijails.TheIndianGovernment hasadmittedthisfactanumberoftimes but has failed to secure their release. India failed to use the leverage of 96,000 Pak PoWs to discipline Pakistan. A rare opportunity was thus wasted. Forget establishingpermanentpeaceinthesubcontinent,Indiafailedtoensurerelease ofallIndianPoWsacriminalomissionbyallaccounts. The naivety of the Indian delegation can be seen from the fact that it allowed PakistantobluffitswaythroughatShimla.TheIndianleadershipwasfooledinto believing Pakistan's sincerity. Unquestionably, Pakistan never intended to abide by its promises, both written and verbal. Fruits of a hardfought victory in the battlefield were frittered away on the negotiating table by the bungling leadership. No.5:TheNuclearMuddle Subsequent to the Chinese Nuclear Test at Lop Nor in 1964, India showed rare courageincarryingoutitsfirstnuclearteston18May1974atPokharan.Outside the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, India was the only nationtoprove itsnuclearcapability.Thewhole countrywasecstaticandevery Indian felt proud of its scientific prowess. But Indians had not contended with their Government's penchant for converting opportunity into adversity and squanderinghardearnedgains. Instead of asserting India's newly acquired status of a nuclear power and demanding recognition, India turned apologetic and tried to convince the world
4. that it had no nuclear ambitions. Strangely, it termed the Pokharan test as a 'peaceful nuclear explosion' a term unheard of till then. The Defense Minister went to the extent of claiming that the Indian nuclear experiment was 'only for mining, oil and gas prospecting, for finding underground sources of water, for diverting rivers, for scientific and technological knowledge.' It was a self deprecatingstance.Displayingacuteinferioritycomplex,Indiadidnotwanttobe countedasamemberoftheexclusivenuclearclub. Criticism and sanctions were expected and must have been factored in before optingforthenucleartest.Whereasafewmoreassertivefollowontestswould haveforcedtheworldtoacceptIndiaasamemberofthenuclearclub,Indiawent into an overdrive to placate the world through a selfimposed moratorium on furthertesting.Itlostoutonalltheadvantagesprovidedtoitbyitsscientists.It suffered sanctions and yet failed to gain recognition as a nuclear power. The countrymissedgoldenopportunitiesduetothetimidityandspinelessnessofits leaders. No6:TheKandaharhijacking The hijacking of an Indian Airlines aircraft to Kandahar by Pakistani terrorists in December1999willcontinuetorileIndia'sselfrespectforlong.Accordingtothe HindustanTimes,Indialostfaceandgotreducedtobeggingforcooperationfrom the very regimes that were actively undermining its internal security. The hijacking revealed how illprepared India was to face up to the challenges of internationalterrorism. The eightday long ordeal ended only after India's National Security Adviser brazenly announced that an agreement had been reached for the release of all thehostagesinexchangeforthreeKashmirimilitantsincludingMaulanaMasood Azhar.Sadly,thePrimeMinisterclaimedcreditforforcingthehijackerstoclimb down on their demands. The worst was yet to follow. India's Foreign Minister decided to accompany the released militants to Kandahar, as if seeing off honouredguests. The government's poor crisismanagement skills and extreme complacency in security mattersallowedthehijackerstotakeofffromAmritsarairportafter39 minuteshaltforrefueling,therebylettingtheproblemgetoutofcontrol.India's muchvaunted decisionmaking apparatus collapsed and was completely paralysed by the audacity of a bunch of motivated fanatics. It was a
5. comprehensive failure of monumental proportions. India's slack and amateurish functioningmadethecountryearnthetagofasoftnationwhichitwillfindvery difficulttoshed. No7:IllegalImmigrationandPassageofIMDTAct Itisastandardpracticeallovertheworldthattheburdenofprovingone'sstatus as a bonafied citizen of a country falls on the accused. It is so for India as well underForeignersAct,1946.PoliticalexpediencyforcedtheGovernmenttomake anexceptionforAssam.Inoneofthemostshortsightedandantinationalmoves, IndiapassedtheIllegalMigrantsDeterminationbyTribunals(IMDT)Actof1984 for Assam. It shifted the onus of proving the illegal status of a suspected immigrant on to the accuser, which was a tall and virtually impossible order. Detectionanddeportationofillegalimmigrantsbecameimpossible. Whenever demands were raised for repealing the Act, the political parties resisted strongly. Illegal immigrants had become the most loyal vote bank of a nationalpoliticalparty.Worse,everyprotestagainsttheActwasdubbedas'anti minority',therebyimpartingcommunalcolortoanissueofnationalsecurity.The government's 'pardon' of all Bangladeshis who had come in before 1985 was anotherunconstitutionalactthataggravatedtheproblem. The Act was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on July 13, 2005, more than 20 years after its enactment. The Apex Court was of the view thatth