BUT WHAT WAS THE BASIC CHARACTER and mindset and motivation of these foreigners who were allowed by the Nehru dynasty to acquire such fearsome power?
For the answer, we turn to the next parallel with the Mughal empire. Once more, Mooreland furnishes the answer: “[Alien Muslims] came to Akbar’s Court in search of a career, or at the least a livelihood; if the search was unsuccessful, they withdrew, while success meant the attainment of military rank, administrative functions, and remuneration, sometimes in the form of a cash salary, and sometimes by the grant of the whole or a portion of the revenue yielded by a particular area.”
The unstated element here is the fact that alien Muslims came into India because one of their own — the Mughal — was ruling all of Hindustan. The easiest and shortest route to success was to typically enlist in his army and hope to rise up the ranks. But there were other routes as well.
One of the most popular methods for these alien Muslims to secure a job in the Mughal empire was to find a patron who would introduce him to the sultan. If the sultan liked the candidate, a formal appointment letter was granted. The emphasis is on the word like because there was no test of fitness, and no educational qualification or work experience was sought. No rules were set for increments or promotions, and as Mooreland writes, “ everything was based on whim and loyalty and intrigue.”
Mirza Ghiyas Beg presents the most high-profile example of this rotten system. A migrant from Teheran, Ghiyas Beg — contemptuously known as a donkey-seller — came to India with the help of a merchant named Malik Masud. Masud was also a noble in Akbar’s court and he introduced Ghiyas to the sultan. With a combination of chicanery, seasoned flattery and intrigue, Ghiyas quickly rose to the rank of the divan (treasurer) of Kabul. He was also the father of an extremely beautiful daughter named Mehrunnisa, more popularly known as Nur Jahan. He was also the grandfather of Arjumand Bano alias Mumtaz Mahal. Ghiyas Beg’s children inherited his skills at subterfuge and seedy politicking. Most notably, his son Asaf Khan — Jahangir’s brother-in-law — and Nur Jahan held Jahangir in their thrall by constantly getting him drugged and drunk. When Asaf Khan died, it was revealed that he was the second wealthiest man in the Mughal empire only after the sultan.
This is more or less how the Nehru dynasty ruled. By creating a durbar. All democratic institutions and rules and procedures were meant only to subserve the durbar. From one perspective, the Constitution was amended with almost the same frequency with which Nawab Nehru changed the red rose that he pinned on his pocket because his dynasty found several of its provisions pesky. And those who kowtowed to and supported the dynasty were suitably rewarded. But the durbar culture could not acquire such deep roots, nor could it have such longevity without first transforming a spiritual civilisational state into a socialist quicksand. Creating a durbar culture simultaneously creates a sprawling ecosystem of dalals — brokers, fixers, pimps — who sustain it and cocoon the sultan. About six decades ago, Philip Spratt correctly prophesied the long-term cancerous consequences of the socialist malaise that was injected in the Avadi Session of the Congress party:
The licence-quota Raj is polite-speak for a well-oiled and ruthless system of fixers who paralysed the economy for private profit.
The Congress dynasty had its own equivalents of perfervid courtiers like Ghiyas Beg and Asaf Khan. Three high-profile names immediately come to mind: Jayanti Dharma Teja, Ottavio Quattrochi and Dhirendra Brahmachari.
While Ghiyas Beg married off his daughter and granddaughter to the Mughal royalty, Jayanti Dharma Teja enveloped Sanjay and Rajiv Gandhi’s youth akin to a scheming uncle. He sponsored Sanjay’s apprenticeship at Rolls Royce factory in England and entertained Nawab Nehru’s brood in palatial French chateaus. He gifted their mother exorbitant mink coats from Moscow.
In the previous episode, we have already discussed how “uncle” Quattrochi had a free run of impunity under Rajiv Gandhi’s Prime Ministership. His son, Massimo was childhood buddies with the current “street-fighter” Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi.
Today, not even a trace of the memory of Dhirendra Brahmachari remains. Google hilariously classifies him as a “teacher.” It was Nawab Nehru who invited this charlatan-turned-powerbroker to teach Yoga to Indira Gandhi. For about two decades, Dhirendra Brahmachari became a frightening power centre. He had bypassed the Indian Government by ensnaring the person of the Prime Minister herself. The Shah Commission report uncovered that he had illegally purchased a Maulle-5 aircraft for private use and paid for it in US dollars. But the definition of “private use” is where the story lies. Of the 213 trips that he had logged till the Janata Government seized it, 123 trips were used for practice sessions. The practitioners were Sanjay and Rajiv Gandhi and Dhirendra Brahmachari. At the peak of his clout, he had carved out a sprawling independent “Yoga Republic,” his private Xanadu named Aparana Ashram, in Mantalai, Jammu. Spread over 126 acres, it was a deluxe adda for every vice on earth. Inside, he had his own airstrip, hangar, zoo, apple orchard, rose garden, vegetable garden, a private swimming pool and a seven-storied mansion. Cabinet ministers cringed before him. Bureaucrats courted him. Officials of powerful MNCs kept him in their good books. Weapons dealers were buddies with him. Starting with almost nothing, Dhirendra Brahmachari had built up a vast empire in a comparatively short period, solely owing to his permanent status as a powerful courtier of the Nehru clan. Does this remind you of Asaf Khan?
Which brings us to the third parallel.
To be continued
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