Monday, November 18, 2013

What would India have been …

Narendra Modi is reported to have said that “India would have been a different and better country had Patel been the first Prime Minister in place of Nehru”.
The occasion, celebrating Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s 138 birth anniversary, may have induced the Chief Minister of Gujarat to delve into unrealized past possibilities. I am not going to try to rain on that parade. But, this looking into the past to construct scenarios sits very uncomfortably in my mind and I can explain why by constructing another one here.
Yes, there have been many million investigations, by the highest in the land like the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court and sundry others, on who assassinated John F. Kennedy about 50 years ago in Dallas. Yet, there have been no definitive answers, including even the number of rifle shots heard. We do know the suspect list is an international Who’s Who, ranging from CIA, KGB, the mafia, FBI and so on. I will leave all of that to the people whose curiosity is stoked by such weighty matters. My scenario and the wonder it may cause will linger on the lighter side.
Just suppose, in the manner of constructing a scenario, that in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the accompanying perception (as wrong as it may be) that Khrushchev blinked across the table from Kennedy, the former was assassinated, and till date there are controversies surrounding who really the assassin was, who, if anyone, was the mastermind. In what way, then, would world affairs have changed?
I do not know, but the ONLY valid scenario I can construct is this. Aristotle Onassis would not have married Khrushchev’s widow. Can you do better? I think not.
Well, that is how all these “what if …” pronouncements should be treated, be it by Modi or anyone else, be it at the 138th birth anniversary celebrations of Patel or any other occasion.
Raghuram Ekambaram

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