Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Book Review - MBI Munshi’s ‘The India Doctrine’

By Zoglul Husain

London 25 May 2008. As contemporary history shows, the nations of the third world countries have been striving for the further advancement of national liberation and economic emancipation. Despite this, much of the third world are still suffering heavily from death and destruction under the yokes of subjugation, domination and plunder by imperialistic and regionally hegemonic powers. It is on this general scenario relating to South Asia that MBI Munshi has focused.

Munshi has correctly identified India as a hegemonic and expansionist regional power, and has competently and authoritatively revealed and narrated in depth and in detail, its dark game plans as well as the overt and covert operations in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and other countries in South Asia. He indicates the urgent need for the neighbours of India to resist the big bad bully, whose distorted ethos has been to subjugate and try to annex these neighbours in order to establish what has been termed ‘Akhand Bharat’ or ‘undivided India’, under the suzerainty of a hegemonic regime ruling from Delhi as an emergent sub-superpower. The author makes a special mention that the doctrine has got a boost by the recent US-India nuclear cooperation treaty, followed by US’s recognition of India as a strategic partner. This in a nutshell is the story of ‘The India Doctrine’.

The author has implied, but has not specified, the reason for rejecting the doctrine. It could be said that, if it were based on equality, social justice and emancipation of the people, then there would not be many who would oppose a united South Asia or a united Asia or even finally a united World. However, with the present state of affairs as they are, India’s conspiracy to obliterate the independence and sovereignty of the neighbouring countries in order to devour them, is evil and retrogressive and it needs to be countered both externally, by the mighty resistance of the people concerned, and internally, by India’s rational politicians and the people, who should loudly defend their own ‘panchsheel’ or five principles of peaceful co-existence. These five principles are: mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty; mutual non-aggression; mutual non-interference in each other's internal affairs; equality and mutual benefit; and peaceful co-existence.

The bold appearance of MBI Munshi in the arena of political writers in Bangladesh with his first book is nothing short of a great surprise. Munshi was born in 1972 at Kaliganj, Greater Jessore in Bangladesh, but was brought up in the UK from the age of one till twenty-four. He obtained his Masters in Law from the London School of Economics, qualified as a Barrister from the Lincoln’s Inn in 1996 and was called to the Bar in 1997. Together with this background, and with his father being an FRCS degree qualified doctor at a UK hospital, it is quite unusual that MBI Munshi settled back in Bangladesh in 1996, to pursue a carrier as a practicing lawyer and a lecturer in Law, which he could have done in the UK. A voracious reader, not belonging to any particular organization, he has made a thorough and painstaking research in his study of the subject of his book and he has cited references from a great mass of books and articles. As pointed out by Isha Khan in his book review, a bibliography would enormously help the serious readers, especially the researchers. In this work, MBI Munshi has shown an extraordinary power of assimilation of information gathered from huge masses of reading materials, and also of drawing justified conclusions built on irrefutable arguments. ‘The India Doctrine’ is a great contribution to the political writings about South Asia, particularly about Indian hegemonism in Bangladesh. The book is a very valuable reference material for politicians, sociologists, historians, researchers, military strategists, intelligence operators and the like.

‘The India Doctrine’, edited by MBI Munshi and published by the Bangladesh Research Forum in 2006 and reprinted in 2007, consists of 288 pages. The print by Probe Printers Ltd is impressive. The text however, is not free from typographical errors. The smart book jacket displays a map of South Asia, which combined with the title, immediately focuses one’s mind on issues of territorial, geo-political and geo-strategic considerations. The book contains a preface by eminent scholar Dr M Ataur Rahman, a Professor at the University of Dhaka and President of Bangladesh Political Science Association. The contents of the book are as follows: a 144-page essay titled ‘The India Doctrine’ by MBI Munshi; a short 6-page essay titled ‘Indian move to establish United India through United Bengal’ by Khodeza Begum; two articles titled ‘China-India-US strategic tangle – challenge for Bangladesh’ and ‘Himalayan revolution – testing time for Nepal’ spanning 33-pages by Bangladesh military strategist Brigadier General M. Sakhawat Hussain (retd); five articles on Nepal by eminent writers Nishchal M S Basnyat, Madan Prasad Khanal, Sanjay Upadhya and Dr Shastra Dutta Pant (two articles); and one article on Sri Lanka jointly written by Rohan Gunaratna and Arabinda Acharya. The book has been priced at Taka 350/- in Bangladesh.

The concept of ‘Akhand Bharat’ or ‘Undivided India’ as a doctrine refers to India before its partition and independence in 1947, which ended the colonial rule of the British raj in India. According to experts the concept may extend to territories in ancient Hindu and Buddhist empires or even to reminiscence of mythical anecdotes. The doctrine was enunciated by its ideologue Jawaharlal Nehru in his book: ‘Discovery of India’ (1946). Nehru did not believe in the partition of India, but accepted it as a temporary phase, after which, he believed, India would be reunited. Although the doctrine is not a declared policy of any Indian government so far, Nehru and subsequent governments nevertheless pursued it with utmost vigour. His daughter Indira Gandhi said in a public meeting on November 30, 1970: “India has never reconciled with the existence of Pakistan. Indian leaders always believed that Pakistan should not have been created and that Pakistan nation has no right to exist”. Such a blatant statement makes it clear to all. The Hindu fundamentalist BJP, RSS and the like, who were in power for about seven years, are more brazen and they go much further to assert the doctrine.

Munshi narrated in detail how Indian intelligence were involved in the process of independence of Bangladesh right from 1947, cited references on the close interactions of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and many of his followers with Indian intelligence, and highlighted India’s offer of support to the struggle for independence. The author, a supporter of the independence of Bangladesh, could have stressed that it is the unhappiness of East Pakistan that led to the independence, while India wanted to break-up Pakistan with objectives compatible with the ‘India doctrine’. The history of independence was finally decided by the barbaric military crack down of the Pakistan army and the people’s united resistance against it, and India’s role was of course inevitable. The author’s reference to Indian involvement in the movement of Baluchistan has similar backgrounds. At present there are reported outside conspiracies to destroy Pakistan’s nuclear capability and divide Pakistan into three countries. The internal cohesion of Pakistan has been disturbed right from 1947 by the policies of the successive governments. It is because of these that outside conspirators can fish in troubled water. A chapter on these could have enhanced the purview of the book.

Munshi has given a detailed account of Indian conspiracies and operations, both during the independence war and after the war to the present. He cited many references, one of them being the book: ‘RAW and Bangladesh’ written by Mohammed Zainul Abedin. India organized and controlled the independence war, though fought by the Bangladesh ‘Mukti Bahini’ with the support of the people, and in the end the Indian army, it can be said without demeaning their valour and ability that they virtually walked over on a totally prepared ground. But, when the Pakistan army surrendered, it was to the Indian army only, and the ‘Mukti Bahini’ was made a spectator. After independence India continued their operations to try to reduce Bangladesh to a vassal state and finally annex it. But they have not yet succeeded, although they have greatly influenced Bangladesh and they control a section of Bangladeshis. The author has given details of their operations, especially creation of ‘Mujib Bahini’, ‘Rakkhi Bahini’, etc. to eliminate any opposition to Indian hegemony, and accordingly a great number (thirty thousand according to some) of Bangladeshi patriots were massacred.

A section of the book has been dedicated to deal with India’s involvement in organising the armed activities of the minority nationalities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), which have been lulled after the peace treaty. Here again, the Bangladesh government’s policies in CHT could have been brought to question. However, a brief history of CHT has been provided from 1666 to the present.

Khodeza Begum’s article on ‘United Bengal’ exposes, and aptly highlights, the same conspiracies and operations of India as MBI Munshi has dealt with in great detail. Bangladesh military strategist Brigadier General Sakhawat Hussain (retd)’s two articles and the other writer’s articles on Nepal and Sri Lanka have given the book a South India dimension. In one article, Hussain has detailed the geo-strategic considerations of South Asia including the Indian Ocean and the involvement and positions of the internal and external powers. He has finally made some recommendations for Bangladesh; they include a strategic relationship with China, both economic and defence, a dynamic relation with USA and a pro-active engagement with India. In the other article he makes observations and analyses Nepal's movements and the Maoist armed struggle for democracy and against the monarchy and the Indian involvement. The other five articles on Nepal are written from divergent points of view but none from the Maoist angle. The articles, however, give a detailed picture of the political mechanism at work within Nepal. All the articles underline the conspiracies of India, which reduced Nepal to the status of a semi-protectorate. Dr Shastra Dutta Pant, while commenting on the hegemony of India over Nepal, mentioned that ‘Goa, Daman, Dyuk, Hyderabad, Jammu, Kashmir and Sikkim were annexed’ by India, and Bhutan reduced to a protectorate. At present, after the publication of ‘The India Doctrine’, the Maoists have won the election and they are trying to form a coalition government and this would loosen India’s grip on Nepal.

The article on Sri Lanka shows India’s involvement in fomenting and organising sectarian violence between the Tamils and the Singhalese and this has resulted in long ongoing armed fighting. At one point, on the pretence of peace making, India managed to station its army in Sri Lanka. This was an act, which India lived to regret, as it became a boomerang when the Tamils attacked the Indian army causing heavy casualty on them and India was compelled to withdraw, and in the process Rajib Gandhi, the Indian prime minister, got assassinated. But India has continued its hegemonic ways.

It is known that the next edition of the book, which will be published in August, will contain a chapter on Indian conspiracies in Pakistan. It will make the book more interesting with additional valuable information.

The enormity of the work that has gone into the essays of all writers of the book, especially of MBI Munshi, is awe inspiring. It is a great contribution for all readers on the subject. I certainly wish the book a very wide circulation.

Writer: Zoglul Husain

e-mail: zoglul@hotmail.co.uk

(End)


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