Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Country My Life Review

I have finished reading My Country My Life by L.K.Advani. It was one great book that I read in the recent time.

In the book, he explained his life and the political situation of India. Most of the information is new, and it is little difficult to find the same elsewhere. He discussed many issues from 1947 to 2005, from Partition of India to his Pakistan Yatra.

Partition of India : He explained the effects of Partition of India, and all the problems that India faced because of that. However, he did not explain anything about the reasons or background behind the partition of India. While researching that, I learned many new things. Unfortunately in India, we don't have freedom to tell that publicly. By the way, the plea of Nathruam Godse during the trial on the charges of killing Gandhi was banned in India. (I don't know whether it is still banned or not). Two books about Nehru are banned. We can find many interesting things, if we do further research on the same.

Bhartiya Jana Sangh and Dr.Shyama Prasad Mookerjee : He explained the formation of Bharatiya Jana Sangh. But, he did not explain much about Dr.Shyama Prasad Mookerjee. After reading about him, I understood his greatness. Since 1952 till now, Leaders of BJS (and present BJP) had the same vision, and they are following same kind of path. I don't see that much difference between Dr.Shayama Prasad Mookerjee and Vajpayee.

Emergency : He gave so much information about Emergency, what all happened during the emergency, and he explained all the changes in the Constitution during that time. After reading that, I realized why Emergency is called as the Darkest Period in India's History. (On a side note, after the emergency, Congress(I) lost badly everywhere. But, in Andhra Pradesh, it won 41 out of 42 seats.)

Morarji's Government : This is where he started explaining the real politics (For example, One person offers special favor to another person in the opposition. Once there is split in the opposition, the first person withdraws the favor). He explained many politics done by many people and why Morarji's government failed.

Formation of BJP and it's First elections : After the collapse of Morarji's government, and the politics in that, Bharatiya Jana Sangh came out of Janatha Party, and formed Bharatiya Janatha Party. In 1984, When Indira Gandhi was killed, BJP Contested in 224 constituencies and it won only 2 seats, one in Andhra Pradesh, another one in Gujarat (It won 90 in 1977). Because of sympathy, Congress won with a great triumph. (On a side note, In Andhra Pradesh it got only 6 seats out of 42, quite contrary to what happened in 1977. TDP got 30 seats and became the Chief Opposition Party in it's inauguration to the Loksabha.) By the second elections, it became very strong by securing more than 80 seats.

Ayodhya Movement and Ratha Yatra : He explained Ayodhya in 50 pages with complete information from Nehru's age till now. He gave so much information about Ayodhya, which a comman man does not know. If anyone thinks that, all parties except BJP are secular, then they must read this chapter. This chapter explained and gave examples of the communal behavior of the so-called secular parties. To know whether BJP is secular or communal, there are examples in the entire book. (Yes. BJP is more secular than any other party.)

P.V.Narasimha Rao : I explained about P.V.N.Rao more in my previous article. Advani praised P.V.Narasimha Rao as the best Prime Minister after Lal Bahadur Sastry. One mistake in the book was, he thought P.V.N.Rao won with great majority because of malpractices in the election. (P.V.Narasimha Rao won in Nandyala with more than 5.5 Lakh votes, and it is still a record.) The fact was, N.T.Rama Rao, then leader of Telugu Desam party, did not put any contestant against him, because he was the first Prime Minister from Andhra Pradesh (and South India). Because of that, he had opposition only from minor parties and independents. That's why he could win with such a huge margin.

Review of the Working of the Indian Constitution : Vajpayee formed a committee to review the constitution for better development. He explained most of the review comments. Vajpayee government implemented many. Because of the procedure of taking acceptance from Parliament, Vajpayee could not implement everything. The most powerful act, Right to Information Act (RTI) was proposed in that. Vajpayee implemented the basic version of the same, and Manmohan Singh enhanced it, and made RTI. This is one good chapter for understanding the constitution and policies. After reading that, I understood, from where Dr.Jayaprakash Narayana started getting the ideas. ;) (On a serious note, Dr.JP had many of these ideas even before, and he discussed few of those with Rajiv Gandhi.)

K.R.Narayanan : Advani says, then President K.R.Narayanan was very biased. Till Shankar Dayal Sharma, the president used to invite the largest party to form the government and then prove the majority. But, K.R.Narayanan refused to do that, and only after furnishing the letters of support from the parties in NDA, he invited to form the government. In many occasions, he acted with bias towards Congress party. But, Advani did not give many incidents about K.R.Narayanan and his biased nature. My understanding for not giving those reasons was, the incidents require in-depth understanding to decide what needs to be done. Without that, one may think that, K.R.Narayanan did correct, where as it is not the case. Advani might not wanted to fill many pages in explaining the issues in Bihar and at some random place to prove the biased nature of K.R.Narayanan.

Relationship with Pakistan : He explained the relationship between India and Pakistan in the tenure of different Prime Ministers. His interaction with Britain's High Commissioner became true in BJP's rule. He explained about Kashmir issue in detail. Jawaharlal Nehru made Sardar Vallabhai Patel as the Home Minister and asked to merge all the provinces except Kashmir to Indian Union. Nehru had taken the ownership of Kashmir, and he collapsed it, and we are still facing the problem with it. Had it been given to Sardar Patel then itself, we would not have faced any issue with Kashmir now. BJP could not revoke the special status to Kashmir, because few parties in NDA did not support that idea.

Pakistan Yatra : In 2005, Advani went to Pakistan. After visiting Jinnah's Mausoleum, he gave speech about Jinnah, and it became most controversial. Media published it as, Advani said, Jinnah is secular, and it did not publish the context. It created many problems for him from all the political parties. RSS criticized him for praising Jinnah. Other pseudo secular parties criticized him for praising Jinnah to get Muslim votes. Advani had to resign from President post after all those. Advani explained the context in his book. Jinnah was in Congress and he was a secular initially. Then, later on he moved to Muslim League and started fighting for separate country for Muslims. In the speech in Pakistan Assembly, Jinnah explained about Secular and Democracy. Advani explained all those incidents. But, our great media took only two words, Jinnah, and Secular, and started criticizing him.

The above topics are only few, and there are many more issues that Advani dealt in his book. He dedicated special chapters to Vajpayee, and Deendayal Upadhyaya, and wrote about them.

I expected to have more information about NDA's rule, and the changes they brought to India. I wanted to have information everything which is even remotely related to Advani in this book. But, without all these, the book has more than 950 pages. If he includes everything, it will be of multiple volumes. He included only the relevant information which one cannot find elsewhere easily.

After researching more about politics, I became a big fan of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. I have been a fan of Vajpayee since 1996. But, after learning about his policies, and the development that he had done to India, I became a big fan of him. Let's hope that L.K.Advani performs better than Vajpayee.


  1. Hey Satish

    It is always good to read a friend's review. And especially for a book which i will never read. Thanks a lot for it! I really appreciate it!

    First things first, Many including me respect Vajpayee. NDA's term during govt. was good for the country overall.
    This book (by your review), as i see it looks more like a history lesson of Indian politics than Mr. Advani's autobiography. But again it is his book and he can write whatever he feels like.

    But still i have to comment on BJP's secularity. Advani and many others were there when Babri Masjid was being demolished. There are videos showing him at the scene. And BJP has openly associated itself with those religious fundamentalists (RSS).

    BJP has repeatedly used religious fundamentalism in its politics and it is a fact. This does not mean that other parties are secular but BJP has taken it many steps further.

    Lastly, lets look at it from BJP's standpoint. Govt in 70s,80s was failing. There was corruption everywhere. They had to do something, so they used religious fundamentalism, got into power and then did some good things, and those good things must be appreciated.
    But they also divided the country. I have listened to speeches made by Advani, Modi etc and some of them are no way secular. (I am not talking about the Jinnah one)
    And as a result, today we have Indian Mujahideen.

    My point being that BJP can say that all that was done for a greater good but its price is too much to pay.
    Those are my thoughts and you may choose to disagree.
    I admit that there is a lot to learn for me but frankly i cant see me respecting advani.

  2. Hi Arvind,
    Thanks for your comments.

    This book is more like history, and not like auto-biography of Advani. It was like, he wrote his auto-biography in 50 pages, and for each page of his autobiography, he added 20 pages of history at that time.

    I am not saying that BJP is secular. What I said was, BJP is more secular than any other party. Even this statement is not exactly correct. There are parties like loksatta, Paritran, which are more secular than BJP. What I meant was, among all the major parties BJP is more secular.

    Regarding Babri Masjid, many of the BJP leaders were at the time of demolition. L.K.Advani described the events on 6th Dec 1992 in many pages in his book. He or any BJP leader never said that, they were not present. But, I don't think they were behind the demolition. If they were behind the demolition, then why did not P.V.Narasimha Rao take any action against them? Of course, he arrested Advani and other leaders for few days, and dismissed Kalyan singh government in U.P. But, arresting for few days may not be a proper punishment for demolition. I don't know the facts like who are the main people behind the demolition. One famous journalist said, "L.K.Advani would not have liked demolition. Because, if it is not demolished, by using Babri Masjid, he could have done more politics." Another fact is, Rajiv Gandhi started the issue of Babri Masjid, and L.K.Advani used it and got popularity by that. If Rajiv Gandhi had not started this, BJP would not have got this issue. He explained about the entire history of the issue in 50 pages.

    I don't know the real facts behind Babri Masjid, and Godhra incident. I have not seen/heard any real proof that L.K.Advani/Modi were behind those. Till I get some proof that they have done/not done it, I cannot comment on that.

    I do not disagree that BJP is hindutva party. But, their hindu policies are less significant, and it does not make too much difference to many people.
    1. Masjid Vs Temple in Ayodhya - This is sentiment issue. Frankly speaking, a poor man in a remote village is never going to be effected irrespective of whether a Masjid is there or a Temple is there in Ayodhya. Of course, the sentiment is always there.
    2. Murali Manohar Joshi was accused of introducing few hindu scriptures in school text books. When I was in high school, in most of the classes, I read muslim culture, and never hindu culture. I read more about muslim leaders than hindu leaders. If they introduce muslim culture, it is called as secular. But, if somebody else introduces hindu culture, it is called religious, and it is bad. I don't approve this kind of attitude.
    3. Rama Sethu. I don't like destroying Rama Sethu more because of scientific reasons. Scientists warned that, if they destroy that, and allow ships to travel, chances for Tsunami would increase. For that purpose, I don't like destroying rama sethu.

    With the above kind of policies, I don't think a normal person is going to be effected significantly. However, if somebody is the reason behind riots/demolition or any kind of violent activity, then they should be arrested immediately, and government should take action against them.

    If we see the policies of other political parties,
    1. Introduced reservations to Muslims. They claim it as secular.
    2. Literally harassed few media heads for doing something legal. They used acts specific to certain castes to harass. They say it is in the name of secular.
    3. They are literally donating thousands of crores (in the form of land/house/loans/travel allowances) to few sections (based on caste and religion) of people. Again in the name of secularism.

    There are many things like the above. But, these policies are directly effecting me and many others. In these policies, upper caste hindus are never beneficiaries.

    If I see all the secular/religious policies, because of BJP, people are less effected, and by other parties, people are more effected. Other parties are creating more problems in the name of secular than BJP's Hindutva philosophy.

    I am writing all these with the knowledge I have in Politics in Andhra Pradesh, and to certain extent in India. I am not aware of the policies in other BJP ruling states.

    If you think BJP has done more harm than other parties, please provide me what all it had done in the name of religion. I may change my view point.

    Till then, I stand on what I said, BJP is more secular than any other major party.

  3. "BJP is more secular than any other party."

    Well, when there are words like "more", i can not argue at all because it is relative. No matter how many cases that i write against BJP, there are equally more against congress as well. So, i will not debate on this point.

    Yes, it is your right to ask for proofs of advani or BJP's association with babri masjid. Recently advani was acquitted from this case and the decision was that his role was peripheral only.

    But there are some facts:
    (1) Babri Masjid was destroyed by kar sevaks.
    (2) Kar sevaks come from VHP.
    (3) BJP was associating with VHP at that time.
    (4) BJP under the leadership of Advani launched the ram janmambhoomi movement. (You can read more about it online). This movement culminated it demolition of masjid.
    (5) Demolition happened during the rath yatra.

    Couple of links (and you can question their credibility to which i have no answer)


    Read the section: rise of advani.

    Now, surely there is no incriminating evidence because we know that whosoever comes up with an evidence will be killed.

    But, if you look at it rationally, do you believe that advani/bjp had no role in the demolition.

    The way i see it:
    Congress was responsible for the caste based politics that we see today. They created caste based division over and over again. BJP is responsible for religion based politics. And it was hindutva that got them to power.

  4. I will change my stand on proofs little bit. I don't need exact proofs. I need what most of the people (Not political parties) believe.

    Even if I believe that, Babri masjid was demolished because of Advani or BJP, and Godhra incident happened just because of Modi, still, I don't think I will change my stand.

    The reason is mainly because of the impact that made to the country. Those two events made significant impact to the country. After that, I don't see anything major on communal lines. But, for other parties, even in this year also, I have seen many signficant bad things done.

    Regarding the division based on communal lines, I would like to consider only the things that they have done while in power. If they are not in power, and if they could do some illegal activity, then I would say, it is the responsibility of the government at that time. (Yes, BJP was in power in both the states at the time of demolition of Babri Masjid/Godhra Incident).

    Since Indira Gandhi time, Congress has divided the country (atleast Andhra Pradesh) in all the possible ways (like caste, religion, and locality etc.,), and caste is just one out of many. They are doing things to divide the people in all possible ways. Because of these divisions, violence is happening between different communities (community can be of same caste, religion, or locality, or anything else based on which they divided). If the situation continues, soon, India would be in very bad situation.

    Unless government aborts the entire caste/religion/locality, the violence will not stop. Some form or other type of violence will always be there. The government should slowly abort the entire discrimination on caste/religion/locality. Congress has repeatedly came up with many policies, changes in the constitution to favour certain categories, and increased the discrimination. I don't think BJP has done that. Even if it had done, it would be less than 1/20th of what Congress did. Even if L.K.Advani becomes Prime Minister, I don't think he is going to bring any policy which discriminates. He obviously will not favor other categories that everyone is favoring. At the same time, he cannot give any favours to hindus or categories that he likes, because it is too difficult for him. Of course, if there are communal violence in the country because of him, then I don't have answer for that.

    I feel Congress is doing more harm than any other political party, and BJP is doing less than any other major political party. Yes. This is relative. It is very difficult to debate on this point, because it never ends. Atleast, I would like to know what all points are there against BJP. With your points, I may stop supporting BJP and L.K.Advani, but, I am never going to support Congress. It had done enough bad things, and I don't prefer anything other than closing down the party. If you read about Congress closely, it had the exactly same specific policies which it had in Gandhi's time.

    For example, 50 years back, if a party was saying "India is a poor country". If the party ruled India for 50 years, and still saying the same thing, it means it did not develop India from economic point of view. Apply the same thing on caste/religion/locality, and divisive politics.

    I liked your article On Godse, Gandhi, and Hindutva. I realized that, we need hundreds of Godse's to stop dividing the country. India is in the same or worse situation now. We need many more Godse's to stop all the discrimination in the entire India. That's why whoever is doing less harm, I am favouring them.

  5. I can agree to your point on you not supporting Congress. It is the opposite for me. I can never support BJP since i believe that they are communal.
    I totally agree that Congress in 70s, and 80s pushed India down but i trust this current Congress govt.

    It may be very soon to judge the current govt. but i admire Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram. I appreciated Sonia Gandhi's move to not become the PM. It is possible that Manmohan Singh may not be as good in leadership as he is in economics, but i trust that he will make all decisions good for the country. (Nuclear deal is an example - although it was eventually done through a notes scandal which makes it sad)

    You are right to day that most of the caste based division has happened during Congress and it has to stop.

    Yes, we need more Godse, but there is no single Gandhi at the moment, there are many and we can not go killing anybody.
    The sad part is that no political party opposes these reservations because if they oppose, they will loose votes.
    The only way i see is to get in power, make such decisions and loose the next election. Some party has to do this sacrifice. I do not see either Congress or BJP doing so.

    Since writing a comment on your post today morning, i have been reading a lot on this and one good link that i want to share is this:

    This site has got articles from Hindu intellectuals who define what hindutva is, what dharma is and many other things. All the books are uploaded to be read for free. I read some chapters on the book on Hindu temples, and it was quite good.

  6. I agree that, Manmohan singh and Chidambaram are better than most of the leaders in Congress. But, Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram did not have any control in most of the things. It is known fact that Sonia Gandhi controlled the entire UPA, except very core economic principles, which a comman man cannot understand. UPA introduced OBC reservations in national educational institutions, which is in backward direction. Of course, Arjun Singh was the culprit. 70,000 crore rupees of farmers loan was waived. They could have done much more with that money for farmers. I don't think Manmohan singh and Chidambaram personally liked that. But, they did not have any other option. They could not control anything. If they were given control over those, India would have been in much better position.

    If I compare Manmohan Singh with Vajpayee, Vajpayee had opposition from other alliance parties in coming up with good policies. But, I don't think he had any significant opposition from BJP. Where as in the case of Manmohan Singh, most of the things are directly controlled by Congress, and he had to do what Congress ordered him to do. (Of course all the economic policies were opposed by Left parties, and not by Congress.) Eventhough, I admire Manmohan Singh, still I don't want to vote for him, because, even if he becomes PM again, he does not have that much control (except in the policies which no one can understand.)

    Most of the examples that I gave are for the present Congress government in Andhra Pradesh. They have introduced the reservations for muslims. They have raised issues for further categorization in castes, and it is causing violence in those communities. They have brought policies where people in one part of Andhra (Coastal and Rayalaseema) should work only in that parts, and not in the other part (Telangana). I can list so many about this Congress government. Sonia Gandhi and other major congress leaders praise the present Congress government as one of the best governments. But, if the same government continues for another 5 years, Andhra Pradesh will go bankrupt, and the state would be worse than any other state in India. Of course, at the national level, this is not this much worse. But, if all the states face this problem, then entire India will face this problem. That's why I am so much against Congress party.