In January last year, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi was addressing a rally at Erode, Tamil Nadu. There he made a statement that makes me recall India’s first prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru. The Gandhi scion said that instead of deploying the Army, Navy and Airforce at the Indo-China borders, the state should use India’s farmers, labourers and workers to safeguard the border. The Gandhi scion seems to be inspired by Jawahar Lal Nehru, as the first prime minister too did not believe in the importance of army and wished to disband it. By god’s grace Nehru could not succeed in his nefarious anti-India agenda. In this anti-national plan, the man who walked shoulder to shoulder with Nehru was the defence minister VK Krishna Menon, who contributed in paralysing not only the defence capabilities but also the foreign policy.
JL Nehru and his peace policies that harmed India
The scenario post World War 2 was quite different from how the world existed before and how we see it today. Following the horrors of the second world war, Nehru deliberately ignored the modernisation of Indian armed forces, believing in his firm theory that no nation will use war to solve international differences. Nehru lived in his own elite cocoon and thought his political theory to be supreme. However, that was far from reality and Nehru only got a reality check in 1962, when due to his shortcomings and ignorance, India had to face embarrassment at the hands of China.
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When Nehru aimed at disbanding the Army
“Rubbish! Total Rubbish! We don’t need a defence plan. Our policy is ahimsa (non-violence). We foresee no military threat. Scrap the army! The police are good enough to meet our security needs.’ These are the lines of JL Nehru while he blew his top when Lt General Sir Robert Lockhart, the first commander in chief of India took a strategic plan regarding India’s defence policies. These shocking revelations were made in the biography of Major General AA”Jick” Rudra of the Indian Army by Major General DK “Monty” Palit. The book further claims that Nehru did not even care to look at the documents. Jick believes in the book that it was the Kashmir war that saved the Indian Army elsewise India would have been a Japan, without being a vassal state of the US, and the repercussions are hard to imagine.
The embarrassing defeat of 1962 and the ‘fund-cut’
India lost the Indo-China war of 1962,and that is a well-known fact. However, what is not known to the general public is that an ill-equipped Indian Army faced the Chinese PLA and fought bravely in the uncomfortable terrain. However, bravery doesn’t win you wars until it is complemented by logistical support and modern-day equipment.
Nehru, who found no use of the Army, wanted to disband it, must be seen as responsible for the conflict and the defeat, not only at the diplomatic stage but also at the military front. Nehru following his illusional theory of ‘ahimsa and peace’ trimmed down the defence budget, and sadly, it was at that point of time when Chinese aggression was on the rise.
In the Union Budget 1959, Nehru slashed the defence budget by Rs 25 crores. This severely impacted the supplies and logistical support to the forces. And three years later the catastrophic India-China war took place where the Indian forces were caught off-guard and several thousand kilometres of Indian landmass was captured by China.
Nehru pushed the appointment of CDS as he feared coup
JL Nehru was an insecure man, a reason why kept people away from power circles. The insecurity to lose his chair prevented Nehru from appointing CDS. Nehru has not made mistakes, rather he has committed blunders. One of the most glaring ones was the lack of a CDS, who would have looked over at all the three forces and coordination would have been better. Nehru’ decision to avoid the pose stemmed up from the fear of an army coup. This further motivated him to tame the forces. All that Nehru did is that he discarded national security over petty politics and paranoia.
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VK Krishna Menon- The man who inflicted the utmost damage
VK Krishna Menon- Nehru’s close confidant, the most powerful man in Nehru’s cabinet is responsible for damaging the two most important pillars of the nation- Armed Forces and Foreign Policy. The man is not well remembered as his contemporaries and this has acted as veil to his sins.
VK Krishna Menon can be referred to as the worst defence minister of India, probably a neta India never needed. It was the Nehru-Menon duo that prevented India from bloc politics, thus preventing India to gain benefits from the two major blocks- the US and the USSR as per its national interests. India remained struggling with the over-hyped unnecessary Non-Alignment Movement.
Then, Menon embarrassed his master with his Jeep Scandal in 1947, where he delivered substandard jeeps to the Army. Also, he had signed a deal of huge Rs 80 Lakhs for the purchase of 200 Army jeeps but the company delivered only 155 jeeps. Often referred to as ‘Nehru’s Evil Genius’ and ‘India’s Rasputin’ had a left leaning and blew the trumpets of NAM. Menon is to be credited for taking India backwards in the aspect of nuclear capabilities. Despite Nehru’s ambiguous views on nuclear weapons and Homi Bhabha’s support for developing India’s Nuclear Capabilities, Menon’s influence in India’s political establishment can be credited as a failure in nuclear policy and which took India backwards.
Nehru has committed many blunders; be it rejecting the permanent UN seat or offers of Nepal and Baluchistan to join India. However, the most damage was inflicted upon India and its image due to the policies Nehru had for the defence forces, which were highly influenced by Menon.
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