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History is not His-Story



By Hugh & Colleen Gantzer

This year’s Republic Day Parade was outstanding in every way. In particular, it celebrated the role of Indian women and the enormous diversity of India. The fact that the French President had agreed to be our Chief Guest even though he was the third choice after USA and UK shows India’s growing clout in international affairs. The fact that we are also a significant market for the industries of France played an important part in the French President’s decision!

We do, however, find it extremely irksome when we hear ill-informed netas claiming that all of India’s progress has been only when the present dispensation came to power. Here are a few facts that need to be reiterated.  It was during the Congress Government that       Women got the right to vote.

  1. The image of India as a Third World Country was breached when UNESCO held its first meeting in India. Nehru had Vigyan Bhavan built for this specific purpose.
  2. He also had the Ashoka Hotel constructed to house the delegates.
  3. The Bhakra Nangal Dam was Nehru’s achievement.
  4. Nehru was the first head of an Asian nation to appoint a Minister of Tourism & Civil Aviation. He chose the scholarly and urbane Dr Karan Singh as the first Minister.
  5. The Green Revolution which transformed India from a food-dependent nation was achieved during a Congress Government.
  6. Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi personally oversaw the Festivals of India which transformed the image of our country from a land of snake-charmers and dancing girls to a nation with an enormously rich cultural heritage.
  7. Rajiv Gandhi personally made the rounds of government offices in New Delhi and impounded manual typewriters forcing Civil Servants to use their newly installed computers.
  8. Rajiv Gandhi’s friend Sam Pitroda was responsible for introducing the system of direct dialing which catapulted India into the modern tele-communication age.
  9. The Indian Space Research Organisation was established during a Congress government.
  10. Goa, and the Portuguese colonies of Daman and Diu, Pondicherry and the French colonies became part of India during Congress rule.
  11. Bangladesh was liberated when Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister.
  12. His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his followers found refuge in India and thereby made up for Nehru’s dismissal of Aksai Chin as a place where not a blade of grass grows.
  13. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was the first woman to be elected President of the United Nations General Assembly.
  14. In 1961 the Non-Aligned Movement was established with Nehru as one of the 5 powerful leaders. NAM consists of 120 countries, 17 states as observers and 10 observer organisations. It played a critical role in the transition of colonies into independent countries.
  15. Amul, the world’s most successful milk cooperative was established in Gujarat during Congress rule.
  16. The Department of Atomic Energy launched us into the Nuclear Age in 1954 under a Congress government.
  17. India’s Cultural Diversity superbly displayed on Republic Day, draws its strength from the linguistic states founded on 1 November, 1956, under a Congress Government.
  18. Our Constitution was written and adapted under a Congress Government.
  19. Our wars with Pakistan were fought and won under Congress Governments.
  20. The Republic Day Parades were conceived by Prime Minister Nehru.

There is much more to say on this subject but we are constrained by word limit. We have written this article because we feel there is a growing tendency among ill-informed politicians and their followers to denigrate past achievement. This is both churlish and childish.  Every generation in every civilisation stands on the shoulders of giants. If you wish to diminish your predecessors, you are lowering your own esteem. Non-achievers suffer from the jealous crab syndrome. If they see one of their colleagues rising to the top of the basket, they pull him down. The human version of such creatures never give credit to their predecessors. They try to inflate the image of the weak and unsuccessful people who have gone before them in the hope that the failures are discovered, then their own status will be enhanced.

Finally, we are not the bhakts of any person or political party. The term bhakt often implies a fawning subservience. We find that disgusting.  History cannot be altered because it has already happened. History is truth. It is not HIS-story!

(Hugh & Colleen Gantzer hold the National Lifetime Achievement Award for Tourism among other National and International awards. Their credits include over 52 halfhour documentaries on national TV under their joint names, 26 published books in 6 genres, and over 1,500 first-person articles, about every Indian state, UT and 34 other countries. Hugh was a Commander in the Indian Navy and the Judge Advocate, Southern Naval Command. Colleen is the only travel writer who was a member of the Travel Agents Association of India.) (The opinions and thoughts expressed here reflect only the authors’ views!).