We spent three days in Amritsar in Punjab last week.
The Golden Temple by night was a glorious sight. Volunteers took care of the temple and its ceremonies with much love and devotion. They made all visitors, Sikh or otherwise, feel welcome.
We visited it again the next morning. It shone in the pale winter sunlight, radiating peace and purity.
The massacre of Sikhs and Punjabis, the bravest of Indians, by the British is one of the many horrifying chapters in Indian history.
We visited the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial where the massacre took place on 13th April, 1919. On that fateful day in 1919, a group of people had gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh near the Golden Temple to protest the arrest of two leaders. There were also thousands of pilgrims who were there to celebrate the Baisakhi festival.
Reginald Dyer, a British general, ordered his soldiers to fire on the crowd. The bullets were fired towards the narrow passages through which people were trying to escape. More than 1000 innocent people died, about 120 of them jumping into a well in panic. The bullet marks are still visible on the walls of surrounding buildings.
The exhibits at the Jallianwala Bagh museum and the stories they tell about what Indians were subjected to by the British makes one wonder: ‘How did it come to this?’
The British entered India as traders in the 1700s. Soon they got involved in our politics and turned our country into a colony. The rest is history.
And what have we learnt from this? Not much, going by what’s in the newspapers. Some excerpts from a recent article:
- Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s invitation to China to set up special economic zones and industrial parks in India…
- Haryana is going all out to woo Chinese companies to buy farmland…
- Chinese investors have also visited Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu looking for probable sites.
- Chinese investors are being offered land for ‘purchase’ and they will have the right to re-sell the land.
- …policy of protecting national borders certainly needs a review considering that the Chinese are being allowed to purchase land within the country. But will Beijing ever allow Indian companies to buy such huge tracts of farmland in China?
My question is: Why do we have to sell the land to the Chinese? Shouldn’t it be leased for a limited number of years, if at all?
But then, there is this too, quoting from the same article.
Indian companies were buying land in Africa, Asia and South America. Of the 848 land grab deals concluded globally since 2008, 80 involve Indian companies that have invested in 65 deals to grow food grains, sugarcane, oilseeds, tea and flowers. And as a news report computed, India has already bought land abroad nine times the size of Delhi.
How are the countries in Africa, Asia and S. America okay with this?
The US National Academy of Science calls it ‘a new form of colonialism’, while mainline economists term it as a model of economic growth.
Which one is it?