Carrying on from where I had left, I read a couple of more chapters – which dealt about how Sardar Patel went about the arduous task of merging 5oo odd princely states into the Union of India, in particular the accounts of Travancore, Bhopal, Junagadh and yes, Kashmir as well.
The way Ramachandra Guha gives the account of events is simply brilliant. All the while I was reading, I was getting this great feeling of satisfaction that the events I am reading are authentic from a credible source, devoid of any artistic freedom which a Bollywood story-teller might have taken had this been his task. Yes, there were a few “Oh-I-never-knew-this” moments as well and they were bound to be there as all this while I have been relying on media and hear-say for the events that happened then. But no more!
One particular thing I found interesting was that initially Sardar Patel was also content to let Kashmir (governed by a Hindu ruler over Muslim population) go, but when he saw the not-so-friendly stance from Pakistan on Junagadh(Muslim ruler over Hindu population) he realized their hypocrisy and changed his stance.
Another thing which hasn’t found a mention in school textbooks is that one particular place in J&K (Poonch) had a particular kind of animosity against the then Maharaja which translated to anti-India sentiments and was one of the reasons that triggered the 1948 invasion from the North-West. Guha, does acknowledge that Pt. Nehru was kind of filled with regret over taking the issue to the UN but he was very much hurt by seeing power politics governing the affairs of UN.
An innocuous remark from Guha which I found hard to fathom is that he attributed the tilt of UN over Pakistan to their gifted orator, one Sir Zafrullah Khan. How come the Indian side had no great orators on their side then? Does such a trivial thing impact the outcome of such a sensitive issue? Any answers!
To end, a piece of triviaJ:
The only naval defeat ever inflicted by an Asian state on a European power?
Sinking of a Dutch fleet by the State of Travancore in 1741 (Amazing!!)