Tuesday, April 12

All India Poetess Conference

Fifty two Indian poetesses have descended onto Tashkent. Our Indian-operated hotel, the Park Turon, serves a subcontinental lunch-buffet redolent of curry; the poetesses' tourbus is parked outside, they are put up elsewhere but come to the Turon every day for lunch.

Mr. M disappears under a scrum of Aunties. When he re-emerges, cheeks and pockets bulging with candy, his eyes are glazed and he is lobbed from table to table; his nose is tweaked, his cheeks are pecked and many blurry pictures of his restless person are taken.

The poetesses seem to all be, to use that 'cosmopolitan' put-down, regional; that is, they hail from small towns and write in various vernacular languages. They seem to me to have joined the All India Poetess Conference for the same reasons people join organizations like Lions Club or Linked In all the world over: to belong, to be seen to belong, to meet interesting or interested people, to fight boredom, to see if they can learn that or this. The AIPC has organized seminars in Mauritius and in Thailand in the past; this year they are in Tashkent. The attendees fund themselves (a few seem to have small travel grants), so the locations are determined by affordability to the middle-classes of small-town India, as well as relevance to their views of themselves. In that sense, "Babur's homeland" is the near-abroad.

Some bios of the poetesses, from their web-site:

Born on 17-08-1985 at Jabalpur, Completing MBBS from Seth G.S. Medical College Mumbai. Hobbies:reading, writing, music. Several articles published in college magazine. Honorary Member AIPC.

ARTY S. KALE (Maharashtra)
Born on 17-06-1971, B.Sc., Running Computer Training Institute at Nashik. Hobbies: Poetry Writing. Life Member AIPC.

Born on 8-01-1974 at Gandhidham, University Topper in M.A., Ph.D. in Hindi, Lecturer Government College, Daman. Published Poems & Articles & Research Papers, First in State Level Debate & First in Dance, Drama, Saree–Show in University, Running Beauty Parlor, Painting & Boutique.

H. SAVITHRI DEVI (Karnataka)
Born on 16-02-1958 at Bangalore , M.A. 1988. Manager, The Bangalore City Co-Op. Bank Ltd., Interested in Reading, Writing Poems, Photography, Badminton & Listening Music. Honorary Member of AIPC.

Born on 21-04-1963 at Munger. M.A. 1983 Ph.D. 1989, HOD Economics, Sultan Ganj College, Bhagalpur ,Published Several books Akhiri Amanat, Toota Pani Choota, Ek Kiran Aur, Bhool Gai Chidia ...


RAGHUNATHAN T. M. (Our Helper)
Born on 10-06-1951, B.A. , Superintendent in EPFO. Knowing English, Hindi &Malayalam. Interested in Photography , Traveling & Reading (Lives at Kozhikode)

Teachers of the humanities in small-town colleges; a doctor here whose mother was an activist-poetess; a bank-manager there who writes couplets; a heavyweight 'national' poetess who was "nominated" into this group; a number of empty-nesters who write genuinely-sentimental bad poems chaining non-sequiturs. I wander around rescuing Mr. M from too-sweet gulab-jamuns and too-spicy samosas. Someone is reciting from a book:

पशमीने का हो चाहे रेशम का हो
कोई मरता नहीं है कफन के लिए
मेरे घर में अंधेरा कोई गम नहीं
एक दिया चाहिए बस जेहन के लिए

Pashmine ka ho chahe resham ka ho
Koi marta naheen hai kafan ke liye
Mere ghar mein andhera koi gham naheen
Ek diya chahiye bas jehan ke liye

Whether it be pashmina or whether silk
No one dies because they want a grand shroud
My house is dark, but I do not mind
Give me but one earthern-lamp of understanding.

In the middle of the mayhem, Dr. Lari Azad, Founder, is holding court. The Uzbek waiter of the Park Turon had sidled up to me with some questions on Tibetan medicine in Dharamsala. (Uzbekistan is going through a Tibetan medicine -- herbal and spiritual -- craze. We met Uzbeks who have flown to Bangalore, Sikkim and Dharamsala to get Tibetan medicines for ailments ranging from cancer to the evil eye; in fact, Uzbek Air flies twice a week to Amritsar from Tashkent to divert the Dharamsala traffic away from Delhi.) Telling the waiter the parathas are getting cold, Dr. Azad grabs hold of my hands affably. We sit and chat, hand in hand, two men in the middle of a sea of sentimental poetesses.

Dr. Azad was raised in Jajmau, a district town close to Kanpur; he immediately perks up on learning I have studied in Kanpur - "arre ji dekho dekho! it is a small world or what?"

Browsing the AIPC website, I find the following note by Lari Azad on "Decorum", i.e. how he wishes to be treated as Founder:

(To be strictly observed by the Office Bearers & all Members)
1-For AIPC, our Founder is sacrosanct & most venerable.
2-Founder’s presence is must in Inaugural, Felicitation & Valedictory Sessions.
3-Founder & Chairperson will always be received & seen off at Stations by Secretary General & Convener & other Vice Chairs & Deputy Secretaries.
4-Founder & Chair will always be escorted on Dais by both Secretary General & Convener themselves.
5-If a bouquet, garland or memento etc. is presented to Founder & Chair, it must not be less than that of Chief Guest or anyone.
6-Always in any case, at everywhere, Founder’s version will be considered as last verdict.
7-No member should be allowed to ask little things from the Founder or Chair directly.
8-All the Office Bearers should always stand to pay the respect at the entry of Founder & Chair.
9-All the AIPC members must talk & behave decently with all decorum while interecting with the Founder& Chair i.e. with ‘Sir’ & ‘Madam’.
10-All the present Hon’ble Gent Patrons will be given warm welcome & high honor.
11-Don’t make a call directly to Founder. Never call on his Private Cell No. If ever you call, use only 2 office Numbers.

We sit and catch up on our respective lives. They had been to Samarkand by tourbus a few days ago. Dr. Azad wants to know "what there is to see in Bukhara and Khiva?" As the 'guardian' of these poetesses, he fusses over them like a peacock shepherding peahens. He wants to make sure they, as 'sensitive persons', see 'inspirational parts of the world'; but there are also enough diabetics and heart patients in the company to warrant staying close to a hospital. In any case, the trip to Samarkand has knocked the stuffing out of many members. I console him saying if they have seen the Registan, they have seen the most grand sight in all Uzbekistan. Azad seems relieved; they can then proceed with wrapping up the lovefest, and go home. He recites softly:

जो सुख अपने चौबारा
न बलख नि बुखारा

Jo sukh apne chaubara
Na Balkh ni Bukhara.

Than own-shop no place dearer
Not Balkh, nor Bukhara.

Monday, April 11

Death In Tashkent

Lal Bahadur Srivastava 'Shastri' (1904-66) was the 2nd (not counting the 13-day tenure of acting-PM Gulzarilal Nanda) prime minister of India, succeeding 18 years of uncontested premiership by Jawaharlal Nehru.

During Shastri's tenure as PM, the second Indo-Pak war started, and ended, in September 1965 with a UN-mandated ceasefire. From a book on the war:

Considered a dove in foreign affairs, humble, meek, assailed by Ms Vijay Lakshmi Pandit, Nehru's celebrated sister, as a "prisoner of indecision", Lal Bahadur Shastri was the least likely Indian leader to cope with a determined Pakistan's well-organized military bid to take over Kashmir. Yet Ayub Khan took no chances. He tested Shastri's guts through a calculated and controlled Pak offensive in the Runn of Kutch early in the 1965 summer. Shastri bought peace by entering into an agreement with Pakistan over the Runn issue rather than confronting it head on. Pakistan could not think of a more opportune moment to strike and annex Kashmir. President Ayub Khan recognized the opportunity and decided to act.

Taken by surprise, the Indian forces were nearly cut off in Kashmir; but Ayub Khan had mis-assessed his adversary. Pushed to the wall, Shastri, "the little big man" of the war, ordered Indian armored corps to counterattack in the Punjab instead of trying to relieve pressure in Kashmir. Within weeks, Indian tanks were at the outskirts of Lahore, the complexion of the war had changed completely, and Pakistan, reeling under the stab deep into its heartland, was suing for peace. The war ended after 21 days with India left holding some Pakistani territory.

After the declaration of ceasefire, Shastri and Ayub Khan attended a summit in Tashkent stage-managed by the Soviet premier Alexei Kosygin. On 10 January 1966, Shastri and Khan signed the Tashkent Declaration. The next day, Shastri, who had suffered two heart attacks earlier, died supposedly of another, at 1:32 am.

Shastri’s wife and some family members have claimed he was poisoned by the cook of Indian ambassador in Moscow, who was responsible for preparing his meal in Tashkent, in cahoots with the Uzbek butler. Sunil Shastri, then 16, remembers the body had turned blue in the chest, abdomen, and back, when it finally arrived in Delhi.

There were many loose ends. The butler, Akhmed Sattarov, was arrested on the same night, but later absolved of charges. The cook, Mohammed Jan, later emigrated to Pakistan. Shastri's personal doctor, RN Chugh, who had been taken to Tashkent and had been among the first to rush to the Prime Minister's aid, died in a road accident after returning to India; his family died in another.

Shastri is one of the few heads of government to have died in office overseas. Incredibly, no post-mortem was performed.

In 2009, Anuj Dhar, author of CIA's Eye on South Asia and India's answer to the X-Files, asked the Indian Prime Minister's Office (PMO) under a Right to Information plea that Shastri's cause of death be made public. The PMO refused to oblige, claiming this would lead to harming of foreign relations, cause disruption in the country and cause breach of parliamentary privileges. The PMO did reveal that it had in its possession one document related to Shastri's death, but, in a ham-handedness typical of Indian bureaucracy, refused to declassify it.

It has been said that Nehruvian era did not die with Jawaharlal -- it died with Shastri.

The Tashkent declaration restored the status quo ante bellum, evoking much criticism from many quarters, particularly in the Indian armed forces. The Indian army had won many strategic areas in Pakistan, after the loss of many lives, and now had to vacate these positions at the strokes of the Tashkent pens. In the declaration, there was no mention of a no-war pact with Pakistan, nor any need to stop the ongoing proxy war in Kashmir being carried out by the Pakistani army.

Kosygin was keen that the summit be a grand success, enhancing his image in the Afro-Asian world. Embroiled in Vietnam, alternating between showering abuse at Shastri's government for criticizing US policy towards Hanoi, and trying to please both India and Pakistan, US President Lyndon Johnson managed merely to have the US bitterly hated in both countries. By 1966, the US could only watch, from the audience, the drama playing out in Central Asia.

(The Associated Press also quoted an unnamed Soviet official as saying after the India-Pakistan pact was signed, "Now we will take our team to Vietnam and maybe something will come out of it." The Soviets were clearly cocky with what had been engineered by Kosygin.)

The Pakistani President Ayub Khan was adamant in his demand of the lost territories; China was threatening to get involved if the war resulted in strategic territorial gains by India. Only the Indian Premier was hesitant in agreeing to restoration of boundaries immediately, taking into account the sentiments and sacrifices of the army. He was also doubtful, from past experience, about the sincerity of Pakistan in adhering to the terms of the agreement. Kosygin started intensely pressuring Shastri, threatening him with the possibility of UN sanctions, withholding of Russian military supplies, and recognition of Chinese claims to being a party to the conflict. Shastri broke.

Hajipir Pass and Tithwal are two border posts that have always been in the minds of Indian veterans of 1965. India had wrested these posts after taking horrific casualties. Many soldiers wept, and vowed not to leave despite Shastri's acceptance of their return to Pakistan. (Here is the Kishenganga river separating the Indian and Pakistani positions in the Tithwal sector; the Indian position is to the left; the river had had to be forded under intense enemy fire.)

One vivid account of events in Tashkent is given in India, The Critical Years by veteran Indian journalist Kuldip Nayar, who was part of the traveling press corps to Tashkent.

Nayar writes Shastri had had a hectic day, holding talks with Kosygin and his officials, and hadn't been able to sleep very much. "That evening," writes Nayar, "I met by chance his personal physician Dr R.N. Chugh, who accompanied him. I asked him how Shastri was standing the strain. He looked up to the sky and said: 'Everything is in the hands of God'."

Nayar proceeds to recollect the fateful night. Since he was to travel in the official airplane early next morning to Delhi via Kabul, Nayar retired at 11 pm. "I must have been dozing when someone knocked at my door and said: 'Your prime minister is dying.' A Russian lady was waking up all the journalists." A group of journalists then sped to Mr Shastri's dacha from the hotel. On arriving, Kuldip Nayar found a grief-stricken Kosygin standing on the verandah. "He could not speak and only lifted his hands to indicate Shastri was no more." When Nayar went in, he found Dr Chugh being questioned by a group of Soviet doctors through an interpreter. In the next room Shastri's body lay still on his bed. The journalists emptied the flower vases in the room and spread them on the body. Nayar also noticed an overturned thermos-flask on a dressing-table, some 10 feet away from Shastri's bed, and wondered whether the prime minister had struggled to get get water. "His slippers were neatly placed near the bed; it meant that he walked barefoot up to the dressing table in the carpeted room," Nayar writes.

Nayar pieces together the timeline - how Lal Bahadur Shastri reached the dacha around 10pm after a reception, chatted with his personal staff and asked his staff member Ramnath to bring him food "which was prepared in the dacha by the Russians". "In the kitchen there was a Soviet cook helped by two ladies - both from the Russian intelligence department - and they tasted everything, including water, before it was served to Mr Shastri," Nayar writes. As Shastri ate a frugal spinach-and-aloo meal, he received a call from a PA in New Delhi and sought the reaction to the Tashkent agreement on the streets. Then he spoke to his family in New Delhi. He asked his eldest daughter Kusum, how she found the pact. "She replied, 'We have not liked it'," writes Kuldip Nayar. "He asked 'what about her mother?' She too had not liked the declaration, was the reply given." A crestfallen Shastri, according to Nayar, then remarked: "If my own family has not liked it, what will the outsiders say?"

The prime minister's wife did not come on the line to talk to him despite many requests, because she was aghast at what had been conceded (a contention that is disputed by many of his surviving family members.) This upset Shastri greatly. "He began pacing up and down the room... For one who had had two heart attacks earlier, the telephone conversation and the walking must have been a strain," Nayar writes. Around 1.30 am, his personal assistant Sahai, according to Nayar, saw Shastri at his door, asking with difficulty, "Where is the doctor?" The staff went to fetch Dr Chugh, while Indian security men helped Mr Shastri walk back to his room. "If it was a heart attack - myocardiac infarction, and obstruction of blood supply to the heart muscles, as the Soviet doctors said later - this walk," writes Kuldip Nayar, "must have been fatal."

Nayar writes - presumably from an eyewitness account by Sahai - that Shastri began coughing "rockingly", touched his chest and became unconscious. Dr Chugh arrived soon after, felt the prime minister's pulse, gave an injection into the heart, tried mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but to no avail. Some more Soviet doctors arrived. They found Shastri dead. The time of the death was recorded as 1.32 am.

Talk about foul play began as soon as the body arrived in Delhi. Nayar says the prime minister's wife asked him why Mr Shastri's body had turned blue. He told her that when "bodies are embalmed" they turn blue. Mrs Shastri was not convinced. She asked about "certain cuts" on Mr Shastri's body. Nayar told her he hadn't seen any. "Apparently, she and others in the family suspected foul play," Nayar writes.

In 2001, Nayar made a final disclosure on Rediff.com.

Late that night, Ayub Khan came to the dacha. He prayed. He told me, "If this man had lived, there was a possibility of India and Pakistan coming together to live in peace."

India honoured the Tashkent accord. But Pakistan never implemented it.

In five-years' time, hostilities would break out again, culminating in a Pakistani surrender at the Fall of Dhaka.

Here's the Soviet propaganda clip about the Tashkent meeting and declaration. It has no mention of what preceded it, a brutal but short war in which thousands of lives were lost. The clip shows Shastri wandering around the tourist points of Tashkent trying to look interested; it also neglects to mention that in a few hours, the Indian PM would be dead.

Saturday, April 9

The Aryan Peshwa

Between the decline of Tsarist administration in Russian Turkestan (a 1910 report identifies monumental mismanagement), and the formation of the Uzbek SSR in 1924, Tashkent was an ambiguous place, where many of those on periphery plotted or perished. Not only did M.N. Roy (see post below) frequent the Indusky Duma (India House) on Lavmentev Road, the city was also the 'threshing field' of the veterans of the global Indian anti-colonial network, such as Raja Mahendra Pratap (head of the Provisional Government of India in exile), his war minister (M. Basheer), interior minister (Obeidullah Sindhi), and foreign secretary (P. T. Pillai); as well as leftist swadeshis like Abani Mukherjee.

(Goga, the son of Abani Mukherjee, has claimed his father and Netaji Subhas Bose were prisoners in adjacent cells in Siberia; and that Netaji had assumed the name ‘Khilsai Malang’ there; the conspiracy theory, investigated inconclusively by my father's childhood friend Justice Manoj Mukherjee, runs that the Japanese had pushed Netaji into Russian territory across Manchuria in 1945, and that he died in one of Stalin's gulags at the instigation of Nehru and Attlee, neither of whom wanted a 'fascist' takeover of Delhi.)

In 1932, Mahendra Pratap was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, the first 'native' Indian to enter the ranks of nominees. (Annie Besant had preceded him by a year; Mahatma Gandhi would follow in 1937; none of them actually won the prize, and in fact in 1932 the Peace prize was not awarded at all.)

Mahendra Pratap was born in a line of Jat princelings in western Uttar Pradesh in 1886. Adopted into the line of succession of Mursan state (approximately Hathras today), and marrying into the royal family of Jhind, he was seen as a betrayer of his class for his socially progressive views (he made it a point to dine with 'untouchables'), his politics (sent to Calcutta, he hung out with the Bengali revolutionaries like Bipin Chandra Pal rather than the British colonial governing class), as well as his profligacy (he donated the family seat, as well as five villages, towards the establishment of a technical university to address the 'knowledge gap' between Britain and India.)

Fearful of attracting the wrath of the colonial state against all of Mursan, his clan seems to have found a way to get him to leave India. He traveled to Europe, and was befriended immediately by the Bengali revolutionaries in Zurich and Berlin, through them meeting the Kaiser in Germany and Lenin in Russia. In 1915, Mahendra Pratap founded the first Provisional Government of India, in exile in Afghanistan. During WW I, those hoping for a victory of the Central Powers hailed Raja Mahendra Pratap the Aryan Peshwa, waiting in the wings to descend to Delhi from Kabul as soon as circumstances might permit. (Below, the first Provisional Indian Government-In-Exile.)

Here is Mahendra Pratap's account of meeting with Kaiser Wilhelm II:

The Indian Committee with about hundred Indian members was the only Indian representative body at Berlin in those days and Mr. V. Chattopadhyaya, a brother of Madam Sarojini Naidu, was the most active figure of the Indian Committee. He was the man who brought me from Switzerland to Berlin and he was constantly visiting me at the hotel.

It was in February 1915 that I went over the frontier of Switzerland and entered Germany. It is difficult to depict the state of my mind when i jumped into the unknown. What was I doing, how would I fare and what could be the result of this adventure was too early to guess. I took a small room at the Continental Hotel, Berlin. Why a small room? If I could decide that i was already a colleague of the German warriors I would have gladly accepted the Imperial hospitality of the German Reich. But I had not decided. I considered myself still studying the war situation. It was no secret. I had not run away from my country. I had applied for a British passport to study the war situation in Europe. I was still thinking that if things did not go to my satisfaction I could return back to Switzerland, and in such a case I could not conscientiously accept the hospitality of the Germans. I was, therefore, living as economically as possible. The Germans, however, were lavishly entertaining me. Banquet after banquet followed. To my astonishment our views coordinated and I soon found that we were in the same boat.

The day that I was taken to see the Kaiser was the red day of that boisterous life. Even today the picture of that day appears fresh in my memory. I very well remember how the news was brought to me that His Excellency Mr. Zimmerman had brought a car to fetch me to the Imperial residence. I went with him to the Kaiser at the Tiergarten Palace. As soon as our car stopped, a man came up to attend on us. We were shown in. Mr. Zimmerman looked into a looking glass and made his mustaches a bit more straight-up in a right Kaiser fashion. As we entered the big hall I saw a stately figure standing all alone in the middle. As I went forward, followed by Mr. Zimmerman, that figure in the middle of the hall took a couple of steps forward.

He was the Kaiser himself and we cordially shook bands. It was interesting for me to hear from His Majesty's own lips that he was interested in a prophecy which foretold the end of the British Empire in India. Kaiser seemed to know some details of my family. He spoke of my relation with H.H. the Maharaja of Jhind and said that the Sikh States occupied a very strategic position in the middle of the Punjab. When I took leave of the Kaiser after a very friendly conversation of over 20 minutes and I was on the point of leaving the hall, the Kaiser shouted and said, “Give my greetings to the Amir of Afghanistan”. My Indian friends explained to me later that the Kaiser was specially coached for every interview that he granted, and that before my visit to the Kaiser he was already informed about a few facts of my life and my family. In any case it was marvelous that the Kaiser could speak as he did about things Indian.

In 1919, the Aryan Peshwa traveled to Moscow:

I stayed at the palatial building of the former sugar-king. Moulana Barkatullah could establish his head quarters at this place. He was in very good relations with the Russian Foreign Office. When there was scarcity of food in the city, we were right royally feasted. My Indian friends who had started on this journey with me from Berlin could also come and gather here. One evening we received a phone-call from the Soviet Foreign Office. I was told that someone was coming and that I should hand over my pamphlets to the man. This I did. Next morning was the day when I with my friends were to meet Comrade Lenin at the Kremlin. Prof. Vosnesensky took us to the ancient Imperial Palace of Moscow. We passed through the guards. We went upstairs. We entered a big room with a big table at which was sitting the famous Red Leader Comrade Lenin. I being at the head of the party entered first and proceeded towards the figure sitting right before me. To my astonishment the man or the hero stood up suddenly, went to a corner and fetched a small chair and put the chair near his office chair. And as I arrived by his side he asked me to sit down. For a moment I thought in my mind, where to sit, asking myself, should I sit on this small chair brought by Mr. Lenin himself or should I sit on one of the huge easy chairs covered with Morocco leather. I decided to sit on that small chair and sat down, while my friends, Moulana Barkatullah and others, took their seats on richly upholstered chairs.

Comrade Lenin asked me, in what language was he to address me -- English, French, German or Russian? I told him that we should better speak in English. And I presented to him my book on the Religion of Love. To my astonishment he said that he had already read it. Quickly arguing in my mind, I could see that the pamphlets demanded by the Foreign Office a day earlier were meant for Lenin himself. Mr. Lenin said that my book was “Tolstoyism". I presented to him also my plan of having notes repayable not in gold or silver but in more necessary commodities such as wheat, rice, butter, oil, coal, etc. We had quite a long conversation.

Lt. Col FM Bailey, the British spy in Turkestan, has a jaundiced view of Mahendra Pratap in his Mission to Tashkent:

He was, to put it mildly, an eccentric; his chief mania a hatred of the British Government. He once proposed a scheme for the reorganization of the world with the scarcely novel idea of peace based on justice. In this scheme the whole of Asia was to be a self governing country under the name of Buddha.

Heaven forfend indeed. (In any case, Raja Mahendra Pratap's son and heir Prem Pratap was to marry an English girl, Georgina. The marriage did not last, she returned to the UK leaving behind a son and daughter in India.)

Holed up in Kagan near Bukhara, in 1920 FM Bailey found himself in the same hotel as Mahendra Pratap. An interesting encounter followed. Here is Bailey again:

... we went to our room in the hotel. I passed Mahendra Pratap who was sitting on a bench in the garden ... That he was considered a man of importance was evidenced by the continual succession of messages and visitors he received. Several times in the afternoon he received a message brought by Afghan cavalry soldiers in uniform. These men were much smarter and better turned out than the soldiers I subsequently saw on several occasions both at Kabul and at Torkham, the Afghan frontier post on the Khyber.

I wished to have a talk with Mahendra Pratap and intended, when he was alone, to go boldly to him.

As luck would have it, one day Mahendra Pratap himself wandered into Bailey's room, looking for an envelope. Bailey asked if he was the great Indian Prince. Yes, I am, said Raja Pratap. An amicable conversation ensued (at this point Bailey was in disguise as an official in the service of the Soviets.)

He said that the one aim of his life had been to unite Hindus and Mussulmans against the English, and had wished to give all he possessed to found a college where members of these two religions could be taught together for this purpose, but the law prevented him from disposing of his property in this way and depriving his heirs.

He disagreed with the revolutionary policy of Lenin, as he had explained to the Bolshevik leader in several personal interviews; Lenin aimed at the 'Dictatorship of the Proletariat' and the extinction of the upper classes. Mahendra Pratap thought that the system by which an upper class was selfish, worked only for its own advantage, and used the proletariat for its own ends, was wrong. But you must have an intelligent upper class that should work for the benefit of the proletariat and not only for itself. This, I said, sounded to me idealistic, and difficult to work in practice, though many of the upper classes in many countries were actually filled with and carried out these and similar ideas. He said that that might be so, but the movement was slow and much more should be done. The Amir of Bokhara was refusing to see him, pleading illness, and he intended to return to Afghanistan where he expected a fresh war with the British would break out soon. In that event he would try to get the Hindus of India to unite with the Mussulmans in a rebellion which would support the Afghan armies by causing internal trouble in India. If he saw no prospects of this he would go to China to study Buddhism and Confucianism.

... I asked him about British rule in India. Was it really very bad? It was not very bad and most individual officers, among whom he used to have many friends, were honest. More honest on the whole than Indians. 'If you take ten British officials you will find only two or three will take bribes, but among Indians the number would be five or six.'

Traveling multiple times to Japan between the two Wars, Mahendra Pratap was at first feted as a Head of State. Gradually, another Provisional Government of India, one more amenable to Japanese goals, emerged as the Aarzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind under Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, and the star of the Aryan Peshwa waned:

... when war broke out on the 8th of December of [1941], Japan started its own Indian organization. I could not agree with the Japanese plans and I was ordered to sit quiet at our center, on the 6th of March, 1942. Then started my forced quiet life. In 1945 when war came to an end, I thought I would have now complete liberty to leave Japan and do as I thought fit. But it was not to be so. On 14th of September 1945, I was arrested and locked up as a war criminal under the orders of the occupying army. For full five months I was in prison under the American guards. It is a chapter by itself. I was in Japan and yet out of Japan because, I was in American custody.

In February 1946, when I came out of the prison I tried my best to get home in India. It took five months more to get the required permission. During these days, I lived in an uncertainty. The Japanese currency that I had was worthless. Japanese money had lost its value. Inflation was ruling. I was invited, still, by some Japanese friends to lunches and meetings, but thrice I got ill due to bad food. I had to sell some of my things to buy my daily needs. It is true we got some rationed articles very cheap, but my money in hand was not sufficient for even rationed articles. Fruits of my garden were yet to come. Under these circumstances, one day in July 1946, came the news that I was allowed to return home, not as an Indian but as a stateless person, a man without a country.

The lives of the members of the various Indian governments in exile is parodied in this song from Patanga (1949), which shows a Indian National Army officer from Dehradun living it up in Rangoon (which had fallen to the Japanese in March 1942), even as he professes to miss his dear wife back home. 'Wish you were her(e).' Oh dear.