By Priyadarshi Dutta
I might be at a loss to enter into a debate with an eminent scholar as Dipak Basu, Professor of International Economics, Nagasaki University. However, I could detect a pro-Russian/pro-Communist bias in his writing ?Russians are our friends? (Organiser issue dt. September 18, 2005) comparable to the anti-Russian bias he has charged Balbir K. Punj for his article ?Double Dealer? (Organiser dt. August 14, 2005). Basu informs that India'srelationship with Soviet Union began in 1918. Then he takes a pole vault to Khrushchev era beginning in 1954. He could have done justice with facts by viewing Stalin, who ruled Soviet Union for nearly three decades till 1953. The answer will not be quite flattering. He concludes USA'santipathy towards India on the basis of President Eisenhower'snon-responsiveness to a letter from Nehru to set up a steel factory in India.
According to a thesis of Bernard C.D. Mello (IIM, Calcutta, 1988) on Foreign Collaboration in Public Sector Steel Industry the Bhilai Steel Plant was almost fully imported from Soviet Union and in its first capacity expansion in the sixties there was hardly any Indian participation. When Bokaro was set up there was considerable indigenisation of capital equipment but Russians retained plant design and engineering portfolio. Thus, Soviet assistance actually stemmed the development of technology by Indian scientists. The Durgapur and Rourkela steel plants were established with support of British consortium of equipment supplier ISCON and West Germany, respectively. There is no reason to suppose ?no USSR, no Steel? or that Soviet Union was moved by a philanthropic spirit in helping India. In fact Russians had campaigned against Rourkela steel plant trying to appeal to India's?socialist conscience? against taking help of ?capitalist monster? West Germany. They wanted India a captive market for their technology.
My senior friend Nissim Moses of India International Strategic Support who is a BIT, Ranchi product and later migrated to Israel says that ?buying off the shelf? is what dwarfed the development of Indian technology. Whether it is Russian steel, Russian MIG or Russian armament ?Socialist? India believed in buying readymade products. In terms of war technology it might mean buying technology of yesterday to fight war of tomorrow. India followed the Soviet model of ?planned economy? and ?big industries?. Thus like Soviet Union we concentrated on heavy industries but neglected consumer goods sector.
Soviet assistance actually stemmed the development of technology by Indian scientists. The Durgapur and Rourkela steel plants were established with support of British consortium of equipment supplier ISCON and West Germany respectively.
Prof Basu has tried to misrepresent the fact that USSR did not occupy the Baltic states viz. Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Romanian province of Moldova (now sovereign Moldavia) and it was a part of Russian Empire in 16th century and half of its population was Russian since then. That way Nazi Germans had more right on Latvia because Germans found Riga in 1201, which became the largest and most beautiful city in the southern Baltic. Latvia was also under Swedish and Polish rule but that does not make it Polish or Swedish. Russia gained Livonia (Baltic States) by the end of the 18th century. In 1945, Russians were 25 per cent in Latvia and 10 per cent in Estonia, in 1991 they were 48 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, (World Book Encyclopedia). Moreover, why was USSR built on the basis of Czarist Empire when Communism claims to be anti-imperialist? In the 16th century Muslims were ruling best parts of India. By Prof. Basu'slogic we must invite Pakistan to rule us.
Prof. Basu'sheart is with Stalin and sympathizes with that mass-murderer for concluding Non-Aggression Pact with Germany. He presents Stalin as optionless. But was also out of non-availability of options that Russia occupied Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia where democratic governments were in place and plundered Romania and Poland. Really, who would not take pity on such a helpless Stalin! It seems Prof. Basu shares the anti-Semitism that became malignant in Stalin in post-war years when he failed to win over Israel for communism. He says Israel had the opportunity to restrict itself to UN mandated territory but went on expanding its territory. Perhaps he suffers from amnesia about 1948 war when all Arab states in consortium attacked the Zionist state to ?wipe out Israel from the face of the globe?. It was Arabs who attacked Israel to finish it off. Jordan took East Jerusalem. Israel responded to defend its existence. Again in 1967, Nasser wanted to strangulate Israel through blockading Gulf of Aqaba, Israel'sonly opening to Red Sea. Israel responded, warning Jordan to keep its hands off. But Jordan was taken in by Nasser'smisinformation that Egypt and Syria were winning the war (Nasser was really under such a misimpression) and attacked Israel. All ended up losing some real estate.
If Prof. Basu is pro-Arab, pro-Communist, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic I wonder what is he doing in Organiser! There is no dearth of forums for him!
(The writer can be contacted at [email protected] 91/A/IInd Floor, Prateek Market, Munirka, New Delhi.)