No country is run perfectly with a flawless mechanism. Tiny-big screw ups happen, but since it is a COUNTRY we are talking about, mistakes leave dents significant enough to change the course of history. Following are certain worst mistakes that have left permanent scars on India.
1. The Kashmir blunder that resulted in ever-lasting good-for-nothing diplomatic talks
During the time of independence, princely states of India had the choice of either siding with Dominion of India or Dominion of Pakistan. The rulers of Kashmir and Hyderabad wanted to survive independently. However, the ruler of Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh couldn’t come to a clear decision soon and kept wondering over whether he should side with Pakistan or India.
In October of 1947, Kashmir came under attack by who India believed were Pakistani raiders, and who Pakistan claimed were freedom fighters. The attack compelled Hari Singh to seek India for help. And India wouldn’t help until Maharaja accepted and signed the Instrument Of Accession. It was the friendship shared between Jawaharlal Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah that made Hari Singh hesitant for signing the instrument. And Nehru’s blind trust on Abdullah didn’t fare well for the country.
The situation on the war front was that India had managed to recapture about 3/4th of the state. It is said that Nehru had asked the army to not advance further on the advice of Sheikh Abdullah, who he had made the Prime Minister of Kashmir. In 1953, Sheikh was charged with conspiring against India by aiding Pakistan in annexing J&K thereby, giving birth to communal disharmony.
Indian Army did pretty well in clearing out danger from the state but, just when they were on the verge of gaining full control over the state, they came to a halt and waited for the high command’s direction. Jawaharlal Nehru brought the issue under the international spotlight by raising it in the UN, where the Kashmir’s fate was to be decided by a direct vote. The solution provided by the UN was- “Issue would be resolved by democratic means of plebiscite once the Pakistan withdrew its troops from captured territory”.
The result? Pakistan never removed its army, and so till date, Indian army too stays there. Three major wars of 1945, 1965 and 1999 have taken place, frequent ceasefire violations occur, a lot of fancy peace talks over tea happen, but the beauty of Kashmir stays tainted because of the series of screw ups. And Kashmiris, they are sandwiched.
- Kashmir was given a special status by putting it under Article 370 of the constitution. India made a mistake by not insisting on its accession to Dominion of India.
- Too much trust over Sheikh Abdullah proved futile.
- They halted the operation right on the verge of fully recapturing the state, something that ideally never happens.
- They made the issue international.
2. The Tashkent Agreement issue, abiding by which India gave up Haji Pir pass to Pakistan and invited strong repercussions
After the Indo-Pak war of 1965, the US and the Soviet Union used diplomatic tools to prevent more conflicts arising between India and Pakistan. The Soviet Union hosted ceasefire negotiations in Tashkent (1966). The agreement required India to give up the Haji Pir pass to Pakistan, which she had captured fighting severe odds. And it was a disaster which brought back nothing in favour of India but an undertaking by Pakistan to forgo war, something which Pakistan evidently failed to follow.
Wondering why was it a mistake?Well, as per an article published in Indian Defence Review:
- The pass connects the states of Poonch and Uri in J&K, and reduces the distance between the two sectors by 15 km, but the alternate distance makes it a 200km long route.
- Pak uses the pass to aid infiltration of terrorists on Indian soil.
3. The 1962 Sino-India War that brought to attention India’s inability to correctly measure China’s aggression
India lacked the experience and the equipment, yet the soldiers marched ahead on the directions of Jawaharlal Nehru. The harsh mountain conditions 14,000 feet above sea level weren’t helping any better, and eventually, India faced a staggering defeat against the Chinese troops. Nehru faced harsh criticism for having failed at judging the scenario and for promoting pacifist relations with China. Moreover, the defeat brought out in open India’s need to strengthen its forces. The loss of soldiers was unsurprisingly and rightly, taken very strongly by India, and so, India’s inability to correctly anticipate China’s aggression continues to be one of the costliest blunders ever.
4. The Emergency that gave India her worst phase since her independence. During this 21-month ordeal, India’s power to voice out was cut off.
During the period between 1973 and 75, there was a major political unrest brewing in the country against the Indira Gandhi government. Jayprakash Narain, also known as “the Gandhi of independent India” had initiated the cries for “Total revolution”, urging students and public at large, to non-violently protest everyday. There was also nationwide strike announced by the railway employees union. But what inched Gandhi closer to imposing The Emergency was Allahabad High Court verdict that declared her responsible for having engaged in fraudulent electoral practices.
Fearing threat to national security, the then-president declared The Emergency, which was a 21-month ordeal for the innocent Indians. The impacts were harrowing. The fundamental rights of the citizens were withdrawn, mass sterilization campaigns were being carried out in the name of family planning, those in the opposition were arrested and tortured, and a lot more atrocities happened. And so, the phase was marked as one of the darkest of the Independent India.
5. Kandahar Hijack that cracked upon our inability to face the challenges of international terrorism
The ill-fated Indian Airlines Flight 814 was en route from Kathmandu to Delhi when it was hijacked. The day was Friday, 24 December 1999, a day that made way to a 7-day ordeal for the hostages. The motive of the hijackers was the release of three militants in the exchange of the hostages, a demand that our helpless Indian government agreed to.
Now while the freedom of hostages was of prime importance and we are glad it happened, the way it happened has left the tag of a feeble nation on the country’s image, a country which wasn’t prepared to get its way against the terrorists. The three militants that were released then have since been shown to be involved in other major terrorist actions such as- the 9/11, the kidnap and murder of Daniel Pearl and Mumbai terror attacks.
Committing mistakes is a part of human nature. However, when these leader-humans commit mistakes, it not only costs a lot in monetary terms but, also in terms of human lives. What’s more, it leaves the country’s image in certain ways, tainted forever.