Saturday, 9 August 2014

Nepal visit by NAMO

Please see my blog on Nepal dated 7 Aug.2014. Here are few pictures taken during our visit to Kathmandu & Pokhara.
The above photo is of SHIV LING in Darbar Squire, Kathmandu.

An other Temple in Darbar Squire.. Its made of all wood.
A portion of Swayambhu Nath TempleAdd caption
Most of the temples and houses in Nepal  have extensive wooden carvigs. This is a door made of wood with very intricate designs. Below is upper portion of main gate of a temple
AThe sun rise in Pokhara is worth seeing. The peaks ( Annapurna-III & Machchipychi turns golden with sun rays falling on them.dd caption

Momos ( both veg/not veg) is a popular food item here. Cheap, testey & readily available every where.
Add caption

Friday, 8 August 2014


I have not been a History student  but after my retirement from Government service, my inquisitiveness to know more about our history forced me look for all available material on the subject .I got this opportunity when my second daughter,Dr. Rashmi Singh, after passing her   graduation in history & Masters in International Relations, left  for London to join LSC for her PhD in 2002. After departure of my all the three kids abroad for study/job I started taking stock of  all the books littered in the house. 

Since all the three children were voracious readers, there were good number of books in the house needing proper storage and accountability. This provided me  an opportunity to go through a large number of History books  left by Rashmi.

While reading History books ,I was surprised to learn that almost all the Indian historians had called the RAJPUT period as DARK period. While enough meitrial was available on RAJPUTS,  their kingdoms, valor and so on, hardly much space was provided by any historian.

There could be many reasons for it which need to be explored. The recent book of Mr. Natawar Singh, a former deplomat and a Minister in congress ruled government, does give some food for thought in this direction.

OUT LOOK dated 11 Aug.2014, an Indian periodical, published an article  titled " A Friend And A Gentleman" on Natwar Singh, by  Mani Shankar Aiyar ( another diplomat & a Minister in Congress Govt.). Aiyar narreted an incident, the gist of which is as under:-

" In the immediate wake of Mrs Indira Gandhi becoming  Prime Minister, her one early trip abroad was to Kabul, On her visit she  insisted  to visit .Babar's Tomb which Natawar Singh arranged. Babar was not an Afghan hero. Hence ,the tomb, located on a hill top, was grossly  neglected. Both Indira & Natwar had to toil up the climb on reach the grave.

 She ( Mrs Gandhi)  seemed overwhelmed by the occasion and stood silently before the humble sepulchre for several minutes. Then she heaved a sigh  and murmured " Natwar,I've had my moment with history"..

While there is nothing unusual for the Indian Prime Minister to visit Babar's tomb, one wonders if she had similar sentiments for the brave Rana Sangram Singh (Popularly known as Rana Sanga) of Mewar who bravely fought Babar. And if she ever took time to visit the SAMADHI of Rana Sanga at  Chittorgarh?
The answer to many questions as to why our historians refer to Rajput history as Dark period, lies in such neglects by our own leaders.

Nepal visit by NAMO

INDO-NEPAL RELATIONS: VISIT OF NAMO Indian Prime minister Shri Narendra Modi ( I prefer to call him NAMO as its more catchy & gives a sense of personal touch) visited Kathmandu on 3-4 August 2014. It has been a historical event in context of Indo-Nepal relations. Media & experts in both countries gave an extensive coverage to this visit giving all the positive side of it. What, however, was missed by most, was why it took an Indian PM so long to visit this strategically important neighbor? The last visit was 17 years back by IK Gujral who himself had a sort stint as PM. Nepal always had a fascination for me since 60s.While in Army and later in Special Frontier Force, when I was handling a special operation in Arunachal Pradesh, travel from Delhi to the rail head- Tinsukhia or Dibrugarh in Assam was in it self a mission, These two stations were the take off point for Siang, Lohit and Tirap districts of Arunachal Pradesh. In those days there was only one train ie. Assam Mail running between Delhi to Tinsukhia/Dibrugarh involving almost 3 days. The Broad gauge was only up to Barauni Jn & beyond it was meter gauge. The train between Barauni to Tinsukhia used to run under the command of the Army with the Senior most officer travelling acted as the Train –in-charge. The stations between Barauni till final destination had special attraction of foreign goods smuggled from Nepal. The wanders on stations, carrying imported items like Chinese fountain pens, cut pieces of trouser and shirt cloth etc. would sell their goods to travelers and even take advance orders for any particular item for next trips. During the visit of our daughter and son-in-law in December,2013, we suddenly decided to go on vacation to some new place and Kathmandu propped up as the best option. Our stay in Kathmandu was more than rewarding. We enjoyed every bit of our stay and found people very friendly, hospitable and helpful. We also happened to come across few retired soldiers of Gorkha Rifles Regiments of Indian Army who were too respectful and eager to help. We also spent few days at Pokhara- another fascinating town of Nepal. Why UPA Government at Delhi did not give required importance to Indo-Nepal on its part. can only be called a misplaced diplomatic priority, which NAMO has tried to bring back on line. Nepal is not only a buffer state between India and Tibet (now China) but have many things in common. Since majority population in both countries are Hindus, our historical,religious and cultural sentiments are entwined very deep. Besides,a large number of Nepali nationals are working in India with sizable number in Defense forces. Nepal has huge natural assets as most of the rivers flowing in Nepal from China finally feed our rivers as well. I have already given an account of it in my previous blog on “our most revered river- GANGA.”. On the whole, a master stroke by NAMO. I only hope all the decisions taken during his visit to Nepal are implemented on ground as well and soon. By the way some tips for those who plan to visit Kathmandu in near future- a. Fly from Delhi to Kathmandu on a clear day and try to get window seat on the left side of the air craft. This will give you lovely view of the Himalaya and its many snow clad peaks. On return flight, sit on right side. b. Try stay in Thamel which is central place of Kathmandu town with all the activities through out day & night c. Must try Nepali local beer. Popular brands are “ GORKHA” & “EVEREST” d. If interested in genuine Khukhari, purchase it from the authorized Nepal Khukhari shop in Thamel run by a retired Colonel of Nepal Army. e. If travelling in winter & wish to purchase jackets, coat parkas, wind cheaters etc, better get in Kathmandu. There are shops dealing genuine mountaineering equipments including American North Face brands Lastly, do get a travel guide book on Nepal & browse on inter-net various sites like trip advisor etc for more details.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Showing Red apple to people by Congress

Election for the 16th LS is over & results will be announced tomorrow ie 16th May 2014.

What so ever may be the out come of this election. But it is clear that congress led government had been so far successful in fooling poor people of India. Two  points which clearly emerge  in this respect are crystal clear -

(a) Announcing projects for welfare of poor people but not really following them in real sense has been the trick number one. Take the case of Rural employment scheme, Right to education, Right to food program etc. While lots on propaganda continue to be generated about these schemes, the reality on ground are disemal.

(b) Its policy of divide & rule has been the master stroke which it has followed since independence. While it has neglected the majority community, it has tried to appease the minority Thus intentionally creating a rift between communities. Prime minister Manmohan Singh's remark that " minority has first right on the natural resources of India" has been most damaging. similarly its policy of taxing income of temples while exempting others has also been disappointing. Poor people do wonder why Muslims are given subsidy for Huj why no such benefit  given to poor Hindus? There are many more anomalies which devide the society.
BJP's manifesto to have a common Civil Code is a corrective major in respect.

Hopefully if modi becomes PM and BJP get enough majority, India will change for better & country will get more cohesive & united.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Election for 16th Parliament in India

General Election in India for the 16th Lok Sabha has finally come to an end on 12 May 2014. The result will come out on 16th when the fate of candidates & there parties will be known to the Nation.

This time election was with a difference. Desire of the voters was obviously to get rid of the Congress lead UPA Government. The emergence of Mr Narendra Modi- the 3 time Chief Minister of Gujrat State was the 1st master stroke of the BJP President Raj Nath Singh. This was in spite of strong resistance of the old guards in the party like Advani, MM Joshi,  Sushma Awaraj and others.

The 2nd master stroke of Raj Nath Singh was to get Modi contest from Varanasi. Being from East Uttar Pradesh him self, he is fully conscious of the backwardness of this region. In fact, the region also called as Poorvanchal, has been neglected by the Central govt since India's independence in 1947. The reason for this utter neglect by Congress (which mostly ruled India since 1947), has been the militant nature of people of this area. During independence movement, it was this region which followed Subhash Chandra Bose style of liberation struggle. Remember 1857, the Ist war of independence ( sadly many intellectuals call it mutiny) and the soldier who ignited the rebalion? He was Mangal Pandey from District Balia. Poorvanchal has also been the area of operation of Thakur Kuwar Singh of District Aara,who, with a small army had fought British forces following the guerrilla tactics. till his death.

People of Poorvanchal, who till date, have been deprived of development, now see a ray of hope in Modi.
 Let us hope BJP comes with thumping majority to anable his new Government to carry out desired development of Porvanchal & fulfill the ambitions of  poor people of this area.


Thursday, 9 January 2014

j&k -the true story

For the benefit of our young friends, here is a brief account of the J&K problem between India & Pakistan. It would be seen from the facts that  Pakistan, have been, by presenting distorted historical account, formenting insurgency and terrorism and forcefully occupying area called POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir),tried to change the demography of the valley. While in POK, it has brought in people from Punjab & permanently settled them, it has been trying to get rid of the Hindu population. With the result a large number of Kashmiri Pundits have been forced to vacate the valley & live like refugees in other parts of India.
Since the present demography has become in its favour in the valley, it keeps on harping on having plaebisite.

From the brief description, it is also emply clear why no referendom on any issue can take place in the Valley

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

                                                      NEGLECT OF OUR REVERED RIVERS                                                            
(A thought ignited on the eve of World Water Day, we talk & celebrate every year, But is that enough?)

Recently, while cleaning my book shelves, I came across an old cassette containing songs of the Bollywood film “JIS DESH MAIN GANGA BEHATI HAI”.   As it was a film I had seen during my college days, I sat down to listen to the cassette. The old memories immediately returned, and with them came a flashback of the golden days of hostel life.

The time was 1955 to 1961 and the place was Allahabad. My college was located on the banks of Yamuna river. The confluence of the three great rivers, Ganga, Yamuna and the mythological hidden Sarswati, known as sangam, was  just half a nautical mile from our location.  The college had a dozen of its own cutter boats which were a big hit with all the hostellers, particularly those with an interest in rowing and swimming.  Spending few hours of the day at or in the river was the usual routine of most of the students living in the hostels then.  

Could we drink the river water directly without any hesitation?  That was a question that never even occurred to anyone in those days.  Both the rivers were not only revered as sacred but their water was unquestionably clean, hygienic and perfectly fit for human consumption.

But that was then! In 2012, I happened to pay a short visit to Allahabad, after a period of over 50 years. The beautiful memories of the past were so strong that on reaching Allahabad, I could not resist an urge to go and visit my college and its beautiful river front with the hope of seeing the boats lined up along the banks, carrying the college insignia and furling colorful flags.  But where were the river and the boats?

Sadly they were all gone. The river which had almost touched the parapet of the college premises had now drifted two or three hundred meters away. It was no more the magnificent, over a mile wide, river that I had left in the 1950s, but rather looked like an ordinary stream.  The college boats, I was told, were sold off too as few students were interested in water sports due to the polluted waters. The worst thing one noticed was the heaps of garbage littered all over the river banks.

I had left Allahabad in early 1961, and after completion of the initial training, was commissioned   in the Indian Army in mid June 1963. As luck would have it, my first posting was in an elite Mountain Artillery regiment which at that time was stationed at one of the cantonments in Uttar Pradesh. The regiment had just returned after taking part in the Indo-China war of 1962 and was in the process of recouping & re-organizing.  This period of calm did not last long and its batteries were ordered to urgently move to forward areas on the Indo-Tibet border.  The battery, in which I was posted, was assigned to move to a forward location in the Garhwal region.  (An artillery regiment consists of four batteries, each equipped with four mountain guns). Since this was for the first time that the army was being inducted in the area, every operational and logistic detail had to be worked out from scratch. We prepared ourselves accordingly, and a special train was requisitioned to bring the battery comprising of over 200 men, 100 or so horses and mules, guns, and other arms and equipment to the railhead at the foothill of the Himalayas. That railhead was Rishikesh, at the time a small religious town full of big and small temples that were lined up along the mighty river Ganga.  Thus my association with Ganga was again revived.

 We moved from Rishikesh to our destination on foot, following the track which ran along the river and reached our post in twelve days, covering a distance of about 150 kilometers.  The movement of the battery was difficult and strenuous, as at many places the track had either been washed away due to landslides or was too narrow to negotiate with the horses and mules carrying full loads. During the journey we also had to take into account many other factors such suitable camping sites en route, transport of food & fodder for the men and animals, security considerations, communication and so on. Yet at no stage was the requirement of water ever considered. The reason was simple. The fast flowing rivers, streams and waterfalls along the route provided ample guarantee of clean and potable water.  Unfortunately, can anyone afford to neglect the requirement for water to day if undertaking a similar military move? The answer simply is no! 

Incidentally, that trip was also when I learned that the river Ganga is only  named as such from Dev Prayag about 40 kilometers upstream from Rishikesh where the rivers Bhagirathi and Alaknanda meet.  My long stay in the region also gave me the opportunity to explore almost the entire Indo-Tibet border and its numerous passes leading into Tibet.  The most interesting aspect of these explorations was the realization of the love and respect the local people have for the river Ganga.  This is one reason why so many tributaries are named after the Ganga, including Dhauli ganga, Dharma ganga, Gauri ganga, Hanuman ganga, Rishiganga, Akash ganga, Patal ganga, Garud ganga, Birahi ganga and Ramganga.


The two incidents narrated above were to elucidate the condition of our most revered rivers, the way they were fifty years ago, and their terrible condition today. No doubt that India has made tremendous progress in various fields in the past four or five decades. But it has also maintained a blind eye towards the preservation of the most vital element that is required for the very survival of all living being on this earth: water! 

All along the Ganga and its tributaries, where earlier stainless steel, brass or copper containers to carry holy water were sold to pilgrims, one only finds rows and rows of plastic water bottles of various brands. After all, most of the river water is now not safe to drink.  According to some experts, over 19,659 tons of garbage and other harmful chemical wastes are dumped every year in the Ganga alone.  Uttar Pradesh alone accounts for 55.4% for this dumping, while West Bengal shares 18.8%, thus achieving the first & second positions in this contest for self-destruction.

Worse still, our blind religious faith also contributes significantly to polluting the Ganga. For instance, in Varanasi alone, over 32,000 bodies are cremated at the Ganga’s two cremation ghats every year and use 16,000 tons of wood.  If we take into consideration the number of such cremations in other cities and towns along the river, the amount of wood used and pollution of air and water is astounding.  Why can’t the government and the society work towards banning such damage to the environment and instead ask people to perform such rituals at electric crematoria instead?

The scenario looks even bleaker when we view this issue in terms of international relations and its complications, particularly viz-a viz our neighboring countries. For instance, it is a well know fact that most of the rivers in northern India originate from the Tibetan plateau.  Can there be any guarantee that China will not divert the course of some or all of these rivers to quench the thirst of its own parched northern areas? This should be of particularly serious concern as China has already built a number of dams on rivers flowing into India, including the Brahmputra, the Sutlej and the main Indus streams. Can we imagine the consequences if some of the Ganga’s tributaries that originate in Tibet and pass through Nepal to eventually join the main river are diverted by China to meet its own need?

We know that the holy river Ganga desperately needs fresh water from its tributaries, and rivers from Nepal alone account for 46 per cent of its flow. Their contribution grows to 71 per cent during the lean season. This is an issue that our foreign policy must address urgently and forcefully, particularly when our past experiences on treaties with China have not been encouraging.

Moreover, Asia is a comparatively dry continent, with less than one-tenth of the fresh waters of South America, less than one fourth of North America, one third of Europe and even a little less than Africa. Despite this, Asia is also the world’s largest and most populous continent, with India and China holding the bulk of the human populations.

In many ways, both countries are already drawing on tomorrow’s water to meet today’s needs and at this rate, that day is not far when India at least will be forced to import water from abroad.  This has major consequences for our dreams of becoming a strong, developed nation, as we cannot move forward while we lack the most vital of resources. Not surprisingly, and as many experts predict, there is a good chance that the next war will be fought over the issue of water!

In conclusion, one must emphasize that India’s prime concern today should be to conserve its water resources instead of planning manned missions to the moon.

                                                                                                                                                      By MG Singh