Friday, January 29, 2016

 SEHIT TURK ASKERI , DOOLLAY TAP, DILIP KUMAR AND THE TOBRUK GUN

My first visit to Deolali was sometime in 1978 as a subaltern, nominated for the Young Officers course at the School of Artillery. While on a 'surreptitious outing' , which all YO's indulge in --- I with a couple of friends noticed a road sign near a cemetery which mentioned something like 'buried here are 11 Turkish soldiers' or words to that effect. My curiosity was piqued, but with gun-drill , ballistics, tactics, course-shootings and exams always on my head, I could not investigate further. Subsequently I made more than a half a dozen trips to Deolali over the next three plus decades, unfortunately, there was never time available. But I never forgot. Next time--next time ; and next time was always carried forward!! This time I was again at Deolali in October 2015 and it was ordained that I visit the cemetery.


In "Pick up your Parrots and Monkeys - The life of a Boy Soldier in India" by William Pennington there is a description of 'Doollali'. British soldiers who wanted to escape the hardship of service in India used to feign madness (Doollaly Tap---sunstroke), and were sent to 'Doollali'. As the war progressed,from a small peacetime garrison of two or three hundred, Devlali and the surrounding area eventually became an enormous Transit Camp holding at its maximum 70,000 men. Deolali also housed the Homeward Bound Trooping Depot (HBTD) for British/European soldiers waiting to embark on the journey home from Bombay, a large Military Hospital and many sanatoriums. Soldiers came from Australia and New Zealand ( as also West- Indian/African soldiers of the empire), only to be quickly on their way again to the deserts of North Africa. Regiments came from England to go always further east to Burma or Malaya.

During WW2 , Axis prisoners of War from the East African Campaign fronts (mostly Italians) were escorted to India to be held in POW Camps at Ahmednagar and Deolali.
Incidentally we YO's were billeted in the old Italian POW barracks, laid out in neat rows having toilets on either end, with barbed wire fencing all around the complex, known as 'Hampden Lines'. Eerily similar to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp I had visited a few years back. It now houses the Army School, Deolali.

Apparently Turkish POWs (including wounded Turk prisoners) were also stationed in Deolali during WW1, sometime between 1915/16, and out of that lot, eleven had died , probably of natural causes or wounds and were interred in the 'Deolali Muslim Cemetery'.
The Ottoman Turks had faced Indian and British soldiers in Kut-al-Amara and Mesopotamia. I learned from the care taker that a Turkish Colonel had come two years back and had got the graves of these ten soldiers repaired as is visible, previously they were plain mounds of earth. Names of only one or two soldiers are known and others are simply numbered (Turkish Martyr 1, Turkish Martyr 2, Turkish Martyr 3 etc). The graves have inscribed on them 'Sehit Turk Askeri' (Turkish Troops) and  'Ruhuna Fatiha' (in the spirit of Al-fatiha).

Coming on to Barnes School, Deolali and Dilip Kumar. The name Barnes School, Deolali conjures up images of a grand building and the famous BST (Barnes School Tower), which was the aiming point of many an Indian and British Gunner whether in shooting, YO's, survey, LGSC or aviation days not to forget the 'Camels Back' annual play at Barnes which many of us have attended (many a time!). Barnes School was established in 1925, primarily a boarding schools for Anglo-Indian boys and girls, mainly belonging to the Anglican Church. Later on with the passage of time, boarders and day-scholars of all castes and creeds were admitted and became alumini of BS with so many joining the Indian Armed Forces.

Yusuf Khan - - Born at Peshawar on December 11, 1922, he was brought to Deolali at age 6. His father Ghulam Sarwar Khan was a successful fruit trader and had 12 children, of which the child at number 3 was named Yusuf Khan. "In more ways than one it is Maharashtra that holds the roots of my life and career. I had my schooling at Barnes School in Deolali, Nashik, as a day scholar. The moderate climate, especially the cool summers attracted my parents to stay in Deolali since my mother was ailing with asthma. Years later, after I became known as actor Dilip Kumar, I revisited Deolali in the course of my search all over Nashik District for an ideal location to film Ganga Jamuna's outdoor scenes''.

Dilip Kumar has another connection with Deolali.
Without going into too many personal details and with all due respect to privacy , when I visited the cemetery (kabristan actually) in Deolali researching some WW1 historical facts, the care taker took me to a secluded corner where there were three neat plainly marked graves with a space between the second and third graves.
Very quietly he told me that the first grave is of Dilip Kumars 'Ammi', the second is of Dilip Kumars 'Abba' and the third one is of Dilips 'bhai'. The care taker told me that as per Dilip Kumars wishes, he desires to be interred alongside his parents (and brother) when he leaves his earthy abode. The empty space is for him as per his wishes.


DAMAGED BRITISH 4.5 INCH GUN USED IN THE SEIGE OF TOBRUK
(NOW IN THE SCHOOL)
BRITISH GUNNERS ATOP A DAMAGED 4.5 INCH GUN
 USED IN THE SEIGE OF TOBRUK
Now the Tobruk Gun story. Many of the old timers will recollect that British 4.5 inch gun with a 'jugad' kind of carriage which was placed near the Commandants Office in the old School HQ building. The carriage looked as if it been modified, welded and put together by the local EME unit. It had a plaque under the barrel--'This British 4.5 Inch Gun Was Used In The Seige Of Tobruk ' or words to that effect. I often wondered about the story behind it. Recently I found this gun among the vintage guns displayed at the S of A during the ROAR 2015. How did it reach the School from Tobruk ?? I did hit upon a picture of a damaged  4.5 inch gun with British gunners atop it after the seige of Tobruk had been lifted. The Axis siege of Tobruk began on 10 April, when the port was attacked by a force under Generalleutnant Erwin Rommel and continued during three relief attempts, Operation Brevity (15–16 May), Operation Battleaxe (15–17 June) and Operation Crusader (18 November – 30 December). 390 Battery (British Artillery) had 4x4.5 inch guns, the only guns of this caliber in that theater.  One of the four guns is now with the School, probably retrieved by the returning 4 Indian Division.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

OF PRESSTITUTES, PAID MEDIA AND OTHER BUYABLE TYPES


OF PRESSTITUTES, PAID MEDIA AND OTHER BUYABLE

TYPES



Well , it has been finally proved what we the ‘mango people’ suspected since long!! Like in any other society , we have two types of media and journalists in this Country. The type who are ethical , know their facts , are not looking for cheap popularity and most of all , ‘cannot be bought’ . These are those 90% which VK Singh refers to. On the other hand we have Ruchir Joshi, Arnab Goswami and Shekhar Gupta who are in the wrong profession (actually if we count them in the ‘other’ 10 % , they may well be in the right profession!!).

I am appalled at the intelligence, ignorance and mediocrity along with a penchant for sensationalism displayed by some of these buyable types who more interested in TRP’s and retaining their jobs, rather than ethical reporting. Over the past few years the Indian media has developed a new bestiary of ways to get paid-for content directly into the media stream without provenance, some of which is directly attributable to the ‘hidden hands’ bankrolling them. I ask these so called defenders of free speech and protectors of democracy - - what are the ethical lines your paid-for content should not cross? The Country wants to know. And it wants to know now. As Shyamali Banerjee mentioned in her column, sometimes the border line between ‘news’ and’ cooked up news’ gets blurred. Herein lies the gist in what distinguishes gutter level reporting and ethical reporting which is the hallmark of a respected journalist and his paper / TV channel.

Recollect what Rajdeep Sardesai, the Editor’s Guild President had said some time back—‘’The Guild was deeply shocked and seriously concerned at the increasing number of reports detailing the pernicious practice of publishing paid news by some newspapers and television channels, especially during the recent elections’. Yes Sir , this type of scurrilous reporting is becoming a habit of late and the anchors and journalists who have made this their bye-line are well known!

Take the recent article published in the TOI, Bangalore edition by Ruchir Joshi. It is quite evident that Shri Ruchir Joshi requires a crash course in history and politics. Even a cub reporter knows that senior military men and those who have served in the military have many a time been among the most respected politicians in various countries— In the United States Of America for example, twelve American presidents were generals : Washington, Jackson, W. Harrison, Taylor, Pierce, A. Johnson, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, B. Harrison, and Eisenhower. Europe , Russia and the United Kingdom too have had their fair share of military men who later chose to join the profession of politics.
Here I have a question for all our media people and journalists . Pray how many of you experts in wielding your pens and presstituting your voices have ever wielded a rifle to defend your motherland??

This again the Country wants to know. My dear friends in the media , be true to yourself and to your profession . If you do not have the aptitude or the knowledge for the same, find another job. Or do you want us, the public, to call Tarun Tejpal and Nira Radia once again??

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. We will remember them.''


 Victoria Cross and other medals awarded to Sub-Maj Aagan Singh Rai, which were auctioned in London recently for £115,000
Victoria Cross and other medals awarded to Sub-Maj Aagan Singh Rai,indian Army, which were auctioned in London recently for £115,000 ----a shame!! 
Neuve-Chapelle Indian Memorial
Pas de Calais, France
TO THE HONOUR OF THE ARMY OF INDIA WHICH FOUGHT IN FRANCE AND BELGIUM, 1914-1918, AND IN PERPETUAL REMEMBRANCE OF THOSE OF THEIR DEAD WHOSE NAMES ARE HERE RECORDED AND WHO HAVE NO KNOWN GRAVE. On October 31, 1914, at Hollebeke, Belgium, Sepoy Khudadad Khan from 129th Duke of Connaught’s Own Baluchis, was in the machine-gun section of his battalion and was working one of the two guns. The British officer in charge of the detachment had been wounded and the other gun was put out of action by a shell. Sepoy Khudadad Khan, although wounded himself, continued working his gun after all the other five men of the detachment had been killed. He was left by the enemy for dead. He later managed to crawl out and rejoin his unit. For his heroic deeds, he was awarded Britain’s highest medal for valour, the Victoria Cross (VC). Sub Khudadad Khan Sub Khudadad Khan

The battles on the Western Front in which the Indian Army took part: La Bassee 1914, Ypres 1914-15, Givenchy 1914, Aubers, Bazentin, Morval, Messines 1914, Gheluvelt, Neuve Chapelle, Loos, Delville Wood, Armentieres 1914, Festubert 1914-15, St Julien, Somme 1916, Flers-Courcelette and Cambrai 1917--- ''They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
A moment of contemplation

Photo:The Mayor lays a wreath on behalf of the people of the city
The Mayor lays a wreath on behalf of the people of the city
Remembering their sacrifice
At midday on Sunday 26 September, a new war memorial, built by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, was unveiled in close proximity to the Chattri Indian Memorial in Patcham. It is designed to pay tribute to some of the one and half million Indian soldiers who fought for the British Empire during the First World War. The new memorial bears the names of 53 Indian soldiers who died in Brighton and were cremated on the site of the Chattri memorial. 
In memory of those Indian Soldiers who who fought and

 died so far away from their Country----


YOU WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN




SOMME WW1-INDIAN SOLDIERS REMEMBERED,THANK YOU 

FRANCE

 Inline image 9





KEREN PASS ERITREA-INDIAN SOLDIERS REMEMBERED, THANK 

YOU ERITREA AND ETHIOPIA

Inline image 6Sikh and Hindu cremation memorial - Keren Eritrea.
Sikh and Hindu cremation memorial - Keren Eritrea.





GAZA CEMETERY -INDIAN SOLDIERS REMEMBERED, THANK 

YOU ISRAEL AND JORDAN
Inline image 5DSC07303  ''WDSC07252                        -                 ''What struck me about the Gaza War cemetary was not the ‘unlikeliness’ of its tranquility, nor the variety of nationalities and faiths buried there (over 3,600 soldiers of different countries, including India, Egypt, Canada, France, Belgium, Russia, Scotland, England, Greece…), but the craftsmanship of Ibrahim Jeradeh, the 72 year old retired gardener and caretaker who tended and nurtured the cemetery for over 50 years before passing the task on to his sons.''----visitors remarks.







 FORLI CEMETERY-INDIAN SOLDIERS REMEMBERED, THANK 

YOU ITALY
  Inline image 4 





NEUVE CHAPPELE INDIAN WAR MEMORIAL
TO THE HONOUR OF THE ARMY OF INDIA WHICH FOUGHT IN FRANCE AND BELGIUM, 1914-1918, AND IN PERPETUAL REMEMBRANCE OF THOSE OF THEIR DEAD WHOSE NAMES ARE HERE RECORDED AND WHO HAVE NO KNOWN GRAVE-THANK YOU FRANCE 





IPKF MEMORIAL - SRI LANKA, THANK YOU SRI LANKA







 DEATH RAIL ,THAILAND-INDIAN SOLDIERS REMEMBERED, THANK 

YOU THAILAND

Inline image 2

ATHUILLE WAR CEMETERY -INDIAN SOLDIERS REMEMBERED, 

THANK YOU ENGLAND

Inline image 1photo




POPPIES IN MEMORY OF THE BRAVE-----And finally , a tribute to a man I never met. I am including  a picture and a letter that I recieved pertaining to Sgt D S Sidhu,  a cousin of my Dad,  whose plane  had been shot down by the Germans on a mine laying mission off the coast of Denmark in 1944. The Stirling bomber ( W7513 )was lost with  the entire crew on board.The plane and crew were never found.His name is on Panel 147 on the Runnymede Memorial in London.
Inline image 11Inline image 1

News

27 June 2012
                                                          News articles by date
                A national Memorial to commemorate the tragic loss of 55,573 young Bomber Command airmen in the Second World War will be unveiled at a ceremony in Green Park, London, at 1200 tomorrow, 28 June 2012.
During the 30-minute ceremony, Her Majesty the Queen will unveil a nine foot high bronze sculpture depicting seven Bomber Command aircrew. A Bomber Command veteran will read an exhortation before the act of remembrance. The ceremony will end with a flypast by five RAF GR4 Tornado bomber aircraft crewed by today’s Royal Air Force. This will be followed by a flypast at 1230 by the RAF BBMF Lancaster Bomber, PA474, which will drop poppies over Green Park as a message of remembrance for the 55,573 Bomber aircrew lost.
And that is how I recieved a poppy petal----------------

Stirling W7513 crew - Sgt. David Church on extreme left, Sgt. Patrick Torre Hunter 2nd left, Sgt. Devinder Singh Sidhu 3rd from left, centre Sgt. Keith Halliburton (the three on the right of Sgt Halliburton most probably are Air/Bmr Sgt Thomas Scarfe , Air/Gnr SgtCharles Henry George Boxalland Air/Gnr Sgt Alexander Clunie Howell

    









Friday, July 4, 2014

Anglo-Indians and India : The Forgotten Connections

Remembering The Anglo-Indians
‘Anglo-Indian Heritage series’ - 
1`  Anglo-Indians Vanishing remnants of a bygone era – Blair Williams (2002); 
2  Haunting India – Margaret Deefholts (2003);
3   Voices on the Verandah  - Anglo Indian Prose and Poetry - Deefholts and Staub (2004); 
4  The Way We Were – Anglo-Indian chronicles  - Deefholts and Deefholts (2006); 
5  The Way We Are – An Anglo-Indian Mossaic - Lumb and Veldhuizen (2008);
6  Unwanted – Esther Mary Lyons (1996); 
7  Women of Anglo-India – Tales and Memoirs – Deefholts and Deefholts (2010); 
8  More Voices on the Verandah – An Anglo-Indian Anthology – Lionel Lumb (2012)
    [linked image]


Yes---India has a diverse culture woven into the fabric of its society and music. The Anglo-Indians have contributed immensely in enriching the Indian diaspora with their contribution to Railways, Customs, Port Commissioners, Merchant Navy, Civil Service, Nursing, Teaching and the Military.  So many books and articles have been written about the  Anglo-Indians , a term   first used by Warren Hastings in the eighteenth century to describe both the British in India and their Indian-born children. In the nineteenth century the British in India still separated themselves from coloured people but accepted fairer (and often wealthier) people of dual heritage as "Anglo-Indian". Darker (and usually poorer) people were given the name "Eurasian". Today (apart from literature still alluding to the British who have lived in India for a long time as "Anglo-Indian" the term rightly signifies a world minority who have settled in Canada, New Zealand, the United States of Americas the United Kingdom and Australia, with some 150,000 still in India and a total of well over 500,000 world-wide.
 1                                    The looser definition of Anglo-Indian (any mixed British-Indian parentage) encompasses the likes of cricketer Nasser Hussain, footballer Michael Chopra and actor Ben Kingsley.There is some confusion whether Cliff  Richard was only born in India or whether he has Indian blood!! Only Cliff can clarify, and he has never spoken of his Indian connection much.
 2                                 In the 1960s thousands of Anglo-Indians who had emigrated to Britain were considering remigration with their British-born children to new countries. The relaxation of the restrictive entry policy and  non-discrimination on the grounds of race, colour or nationality in the selection of migrants, resulted in a noticeable increase in the number of Anglo-lndian settlers to Canada,Australia and New-zealand .There have been many success stories of the Anglo-Indians who emigrated from India to these countries. In 1947 Roland McGready, was an Anglo-Indian in the Great Indian Peninsular Railway. He left for Melbourne in the 1960s. His son, Dr Roland McGready (a biochemist), has a successful academic research consultancy. A daughter, Kathy, toured India with an Australian women's cricket team and is writing its history. Malcolm and Bonita Prior and Peter Savedra opened factories which employ hundreds of people between them. Tony Archer and former boxing champion Peter Prince are in the insurance business. Henry Roach, Colonel Charles Campagnac and Colonel Denzil Alexander (whose family served the maharajas of Jaipur for seven generations) had opened the Independent Oil Company, in Victoria. Kris Noble, who arrived from the United Kingdom, produces satirical television programs for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), such as The Gillies Report. Some have opened restaurants, such as the Gardners and Parkers (Melbourne), the Bretagnes (Sydney), and the deRosarios (Adelaide). 
  
                       
3    The Anglo-Indians have been an indelible part of the Indian ArmyAt every point of critical importance in the development of the British Raj, Anglo-Indians were present. At the Mysore wars, at the Mahratta, Sikh, Afghan and Gurkha wars, Anglo-Indian or countryborn men fought and helped win victories, defending their fathers' interests. The great regiments of the Indian army had among them the Khyber Rifles (founder, Sir Robert Warburton), the Shekwati Brigade (founder, Colonel Henry Forster) and Skinner's Horse (founder, Colonel James Skinner), Hodsons Horse, Probyns Horse, Poonah Horse. Many of these men  were the sons of Anglo-Indian marriages, having among their ancestors Indian or Anglo-Indian women.
4                     From 1791 the Anglo-Indians were debarred from the East India Company's armies and many trained the armies of the Indian princes. The French-descended Bourbons served Bhopal; the Filoses served the Scindia maharajas of Gwalior. It is now acknowledged by biographers (as Anglo-Indians have long believed) that men like William Pitt, Lord Roberts of Kandahar, Lord Liverpool and W. M. Thackeray, who contributed eminently to political life and to literature, were of partly Indian descent.Their contribution in shaping the history of the world has left an un-delible mark. During World War 1 about 8000 Anglo-Indians fought in Mesopotamia, East Africa, and in the European theatre - Eleven Anglo-Indians were awarded Victoria Crosses. Air Vice-Marshal Maurice Barker was India's first Anglo-Indian Air Marshal. At least seven other Anglo-Indians subsequently reached that post, a notable achievement for a small community. A number of others have been decorated for military achievements. Air Marshal Malcolm Wollen is often considered the man who won India's 1971 war fighting alongside Bangladesh.Anglo-Indians made similarly significant contributions to the Indian Navy and Army.

5  In World War II  the Anglo-Indians fought at Dunkirk and flew in the battle of Britain - Guy Gibson of the Dam Busters was one such Anglo-Indian, and they were in North Africa, Malaya and the fall of Singapore.


6   Many  Anglo-Indian officers of the British Indian Army and later of he Indian Army have settled in Australia. The late Lt Gen Henderson Brooks settled in Sydney. Col Finnemore settled in Adelaide. Lt Cmdr Barney Cockburn settled in Melbourne and his sons own a night club there. Col Denzil Alexander and Harold Roach(Artillery), Col Charles Campagnac(3GR and later Rajputana Rifles), Col Dudley Beebey(Signals), Col Dennis Fallon(Probyns Horse), Col Trevor Perry(3 Cav) , all  settled in Melbourne.  Col Trevor Edwards had been in the Army of the Nizam of Hyderabad and too had settled in Australia. Some of the RAF/RIAF and IAF officers who settled in Australia include Douglas Auglier, Desmon.d Phusong, Mickey Blake, Allen Alley. One that I know from childhood memories is  Col Gardner ,erstwhile Commanding Officer 165 Field Regiment, Indian Army.

7             Actress Vivien Leigh, actor Boris Karloff, actor Ben Kingsley, actress Merle Oberon, writer Rudyard Kipling, dancer Juliet Prowse, singer Cliff Richard, singer Engelbert Humperdinck, singer Tony Brent, Ex Beatle Pete Best, track & field star Sebastian Coe, hockey player Leslie Claudius, cricketer Roger Binny, billiards player Wilson Jones, stand up comedian Russell Peters, are all Anglo-Indians. Was Norman Pritchard , the first Indian (Anglo-Indian , to win an Olympic Medal??) 


 8                 T
he Anglo-Indians took India to Olympic hockey glory. From 1928, India won five consecutive Olympic hockey gold medals. In fact, when India faced Australia in the semi-finals of the 1960 Olympics in Rome, it was a unique occasion. The captains who came face to face were both Anglo-Indians - Leslie Claudius and Kevin Carton. 

 Prior to the 19 th century , Britishers born in India were also known as Anglo Indians.

                                     
    9                       Their unmistakable stamp is not only on pure ethnic Indian music , but also Rock, Jazz, Rythm, Blues, Country ,--you name it .Some of the well known singers and popular bands include/included mostly Anglo Indians (only Indian and British blood) and Eurasians (Indian and European blood ie other than British, could be French, Portugese). In the music industry there are Engelbert Humperdinck (born Madras), Peter Sarstedt (Delhi) and Cliff Richard (Lucknow), Pete Best, original drummer for the Beatles, Norah Jones daughter of Ravi Shankar. Coming to Jazz,in India, Jazz was probably first performed regularly in the metropoles Calcutta and Bombay around the late 1920s.The era from the 1930s to the 1950s is often called as the golden age of jazz in India. It began with jazz musicians like Leon Abbey, Crickett Smith, Creighton Thompson, Ken Mac, Roy Butler, Teddy Weatherford (who recorded with Louis Armstrong), and Rudy Jackson who toured India to avoid the racial discrimination they faced in the USA.In the winter of 1935, Leon Abbey, a violinist from Minnesota brought the first 8-piece band to Bombay.
Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara; Gujarati)Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara on Thursday September 5th 1946 on the small spice island of Zanzibar. His parents, Bomi and Jer Bulsara, were both Parsee (Persian). His father, Bomi, was a civil servant, working as a High Court cashier for the British Government. Freddie's sister, Kashmira, was born in 1952. In 1954, at the age of eight, Freddie was shipped to St Peter's English boarding school in Panchgani, about fifty miles outside Bombay. It was there his friends began to call him Freddie, a name the family also adopted.
Freddie Mercury performing in New Haven, CT, November 1978.jpg
The Hutson Sisters, Bombay


Deepak Ram
Steps


Neil Welch
Narmade



Rudresh Mahanthappa
Kinsmen 
Cliff Richard


video
Engelbert Humperdinck

10          Engelbert Humperdinck (born Arnold George Dorsey; 2 May 1936) is a British Indian pop singer, best known for his UK number-one hits "Release Me" and "The Last Waltz", as well as "After the Lovin'" and "A Man Without Love".

Born in Madras, India, Dorsey moved to Leicester, England, as a child with his family, where he took an early interest in music. Initially playing the saxophone in nightclubs, he soon started singing, releasing his first single, "I'll Never Fall in Love Again", in 1958. After struggling with tuberculosis, in the mid-1960s Dorsey returned to his musical career, adopting the stage name "Engelbert Humperdinck" after the German 19th-century composer of operas
Henry Green, Frank Fernand and Hal Green at the Bombay Swing Club debut concert
Henry Green, Frank Fernand and Hal Green at the Bombay Swing Club debut concert




Monday, April 28, 2014

THE ACCIDENTAL PRIME MINISTER AND SANJAYA BARU: BOOK REVIEW BY D S SARAO

THE ACCIDENTAL PRIME MINISTER AND SANJAYA BARU

BOOK REVIEW BY D S SARAO

If you are looking for a ' tell all ' book which has juicy tidbits, harsh judgements and stories about intrigues, state secrets, political conspiracies or a book which specifically identifies scheming politicians and bureaucrats responsible for the lacklustre performance of the UPA 2 with an 'Accidental Prime-Minister' at the helm, then Sajaya Baru's book will definitely not give you that satisfaction.

 Read between the lines and you may be able to make your own deductions as to why  an Oxford and Cambridge educated intellectual, a one time chief economic adviser to the Government of India, a distinguished professional who had held the post of economic affairs secretary in the union finance ministry, a man who had been the governor of the RBI, the deputy chairman of the planning commission and who had built an enviable reputation as an honest, progressive and confident finance minister and then later as the PM of a nation with one of the fastest growing economies of the world, ultimately chose a path of least resistance accepting ‘que sera sera’- what ever will be will be.

Three things become clear once you have gone through the book. Firstly, with no axe to grind, Sanjaya Baru's loyality as the Press Secretary (2004-08) to the Prime minister or as the  'Adviser to the PM' as he would like to be called, comes out clearly. There are no personal attacks on the PM other than the fact that Baru comes out quite critical on the style of functioning of Dr Manmohan which has ultimately caused immense damage to the PMs own standing and credibility. Baru is also no whistle blower and there is nothing  in the book not already known about the 'dirty tricks department', that unholy mix of politicians and bureaucrats which caused the Prime minister to be sidelined from  most decision making itself !! Secondly, as you go through the book, the equally well known IAS vs IFS sniping coupled with the Indian bureaucracies  concern with status, protocol, ego and turf battles rather then in running the country becomes evident. The infighting in the PMO with the never ending power play between the NSA, the principal secretary and the PMs special adviser on internal security also find a mention in chapter 3 of the book. The book is certainly not an expose and need not be confused with any obligation of 'omerta' or any  debt  which Baru owes to the Indian bureaucracy, the PMO or the Congress party, whatever the PMO or his detractors may now say. Thirdly, the crass political ambitions of men with mediocricity and  opportunism as their hall mark (Arjun Singh,  Chidambaram, Mukherjee, Chavan, Shinde,Anthony – to name a few) are again left for the reader to deduce from the factual narrative of events and incidents as they unfold in the book.

 In a country where more than a 100  out of  the 523 Parliament members actually stand accused of crimes and the vast majority of the politicians and bureaucrats have steadfastly and with single mindedness of purpose steered this great nation of a billion careening along the path of destruction, Baru's book only reinforces the common mans perception that the PM was too good a man, too gentle a man, too weak a man who despite the entire country knowing that he was being used by an ambitious, unscrupulous and corrupt cabal, for some unknown reason did not have the gumption to stand up and say -' this much and no more'.

But Baru’s book also fails to answer that question which has plagued the nation for the last five years --- what was the compulsion of Dr Manmohan Singh to accept the post of the PM in the first place, and more importantly, what was the ‘raison d'ĂȘtre’  for the good Doctor to continue as the PM after he had been virtually sidelined from all Governmental decision making processes, foreign affairs, economic policies and did not even have the freedom of choosing his own team or making his own cabinet appointments. Baru himself, by his own admission, was a victim when the PM, during his second term, despite sounding him out to rejoin the PMO again as his media adviser, could not push through Baru’s appointment. 

With each passing day unearthing a myriad of scams( 2G, Coal-gate, Adarsh, Bellary, Hawala, Satyam, Commonwealth Games, Swiss accounts and black money :  the list is endless) and Manmohan Singh’s Government becoming synonymous with bribery, cronyism, kleptocracy, electoral frauds and nepotism ; should the PM have continued in an hostile atmosphere where he was being made the fall guy?? In chapter 8 (Promises to Keep) of his book, Baru very aptly tells us how the gains of UPA 1 and the advantage of India’s unprecedented growth were being frittered away as the PM slowly lost control (gave away?) not only over the fiscal policy but the functioning of the Government machinery itself. Add to this the Governments populist ‘Sat Sutra ‘ programmes --- Bharat Nirman, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewable Mission, National Rural Health Mission, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Mid Day Meal Programme ; all being handled at the central and state level by politicians and bureaucrats out to make a quick buck in the free for all fiscal mela  gleefully implemented first by Mukherjee and then Chidambaram as the finance ministers.

 Recount the incident of the Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi calling the ordinance to amend the Representation of Peoples' Act, 1951 as 'nonsense' hours before the PM was scheduled to meet the American President (chapter 13 : pages 282 /283). A clearly orchestrated event by the Congress party to assuage the public outburst against the Governments bill (whose Government was it anyway??) which had sought to remove constraints on law breakers becoming law makers. For Dr Manmohan Singh of the Congress party, this was another uppercut which he took silently without responding. The nation had waited with baited breath for him to return expecting that now at-least he would assert himself, nothing happened. For a man who had earned the respect of his own countrymen for standing by his convictions and inner conscience to push through the 123 Nuclear Deal (chapter 11), by now it was clear that the time had come for Dr Manmohan to leave but  he chose to stay. Why?  As Baru has mentioned very aptly --- ' when the horse you are riding becomes a Tiger  it is  difficult to dismount'.

     Finally , why did Baru write this book?? As he himself has said, like millions of Indians he too ' feels tragically cheated that he (Dr Manmohan) has allowed himself to become an object of such ridicule in his second term in office, in the process devaluing the office of the prime minister'. Harsh words these, but true none the less. Why did Baru leave the PMO  in 2008? That too at the height of Dr Manmohans popularity and when Singh was King ?? Though not mentioned clearly anywhere in the book, the signs that Baru was not a welcome fixture in the inner clique that was slowly taking over the functioning of the PM and the PMO itself, were already  becoming evident. Or as Baru quotes M S Swaminathans’ response to Indira Gandhis’ querry as to why the former wanted to quit---‘Madam, it is best to leave when every one asks you why rather then when!’.

A  well articulated book which can be easily read in one sitting. Quite educative and with a lot important facts related to mismanagement of the economy, the tepid and reactive foreign policy, the disenchantment of the international community with the country, the PMs attempts, helplessness and lack of will to sort his house in a hostile political atmosphere vitiated by coalition compulsions, tainted ministers at the central and state levels - all  of this cleverly camouflaged by Sanjaya Baru to avoid controversies. Indira was made an accidental PM in 1966 by a scheming group of elder politicians thinking that they will be able to manipulate her at will. She turned out to be the strongest PM the country ever had who had  neatly turned the tables on her manipulators . Dr Manmohan was chosen by Sonia because he had no political ambitions and would never be a threat to the Nehru – Gandhi family while Rahul waited in the wings to become a PM. She was right in her selection. Good men are not necessarily good leaders and conversely, good leaders are not necessarily good men. Posterity remembers Stalin and Hitler as good leaders but not as good men. Dr Manmohan will be remembered only as a good man—perhaps it is better this way.
Tantum History Mos Tribuo Denique Censura (Only History Will Give The Final Judgement)