Thoughts on Indian Governance

Subroto Roy believes the great optimism about the Indian Republic that he had felt as a 7-year old boy upon meeting Jawaharlal Nehru at Colombo Airport on Oct 13 1962 (the first days of the surprise Communist Chinese attack on India), has now dissipated, and apart from Nehru’s immediate successor (Lal Bahadur Shastri) all Indian Prime Ministers since then have been gravely, perhaps catastrophically, disappointing.

Subroto Roy thinks President Obama’s informed lawyerly academic approach to the Afghanistan decision, whether or not it has its intended good consequences, has a positive demonstration effect for other capital cities, e.g. New Delhi, where public policy decisions are too often made to appease special interest groups inside a cloud of meaningless rhetoric.

Subroto Roy says of India and China in summary discussion at Edward Hugh’s Wall: “Well, both have massive and energetic populations, each with relatively little capital per head; raising the capital per head with new production and exchange processes leads to growth. (But the nominal economies are weak, public finances are absymal and paper money is out of control.)”

Subroto Roy recalls again Pericles of Athens: “Here each individual is interested not only in his own affairs but in the affairs of the state as well; even those who are mostly occupied with their own business are extremely well-informed on general politics- this is a peculiarity of ours:we do not say that a man who takes no inter…est in politics is a man who minds his own business;we say that he has no business here at all.”


2 Responses to “Thoughts on Indian Governance”

  1. Mahendra Singh Says:

    About three decades back, I had read in my 8th standard history textbook that China had attacked India on 20 October 1962. I haven’t forgotten that date since then, for 20 October also happens to be my birthday. I was therefore wondering why Dr Roy describes 13 October 1962 as “first days of the surprise Communist Chinese attack on India.” I checked the wiki and there too the date of attack is mentioned as 20 October, 1962, although the border skirmishes had been going on for many years.

    The optimism Dr Roy felt at age 7 was probably shared by a large chunk of the country’s population, perhaps still on its honeymoon with independence and Nehru. My father was 27 then (1962) and he always tells me that he, like most young men of those days, was absolutely mesmerised by Nehru. He and his friends never missed an opportunity to hear him speak.

    Mahendra Singh

  2. drsubrotoroy Says:

    I thank Mr Mahendra Singh for his comment. The Colombo airport photo is dated 13 Oct 1962 as that is the date recorded for the visit in the Nehru centenary volume that Rajiv Gandhi gave me at our first meeting on 18 Sep 1990. Going by memory, I used it as the initial date of the PRC attack based on what is recorded in BN Mullick’s memoirs (which also recorded as I recall that VK Krishna Menon, Defence Minister, insisted on going abroad to the UN at the time). I would probably not have found any contradiction in Ambassador Galbraith’s memoirs either though I have not looked again at it now. Lastly, my father who was with the Indian High Commission in Colombo, recalls Nehru’s visit was abbreviated drastically and he returned home as more news of the attack reached (though he had embarked on the scheduled official visit knowing the news, according to Mullick’s memoir). To repeat, I am going by memory at the moment, and would have to check the Mullick book again.

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