Time flows faster when you begin loving things, it offers you. In my case, it goes even faster whenever I get to attend a literary event. But the book launch event of Sunanda K. Datta – Ray’s book Smash & Grab – the annexation of Sikkim was really intellectually satisfactory. The book launch was braced with the power-packed presence of panelists like Sir Mark Tully, Sunanda K. Datta – Ray, Mr.B.G. Verghese, and Dr. Srinath Raghavan with ambassadors of Bhutan in audience.
The book reveals the inside story of how India annexed Sikkim. People were aghast to the facts that India has acted like the expansionist countries in past. The international relations with Pakistan and China pose India as a victim of expansionism. But the book’s revelations gives a new look to India as a state. It can be easily rationalized why the book was banned for 30 long years. Here, writer’s efforts should be duly appreciated to get the book out in the hands of readers.
During this factually charged book launch event, author mentioned that three distinctive stories of annexation took place during the integration process of India. These three princely states were Joonagarh, Sikkim, and Hyderabad. The Nizams of Hyderabad state were eager to go unilaterally in seeking independence apart from India. But, the story of Sikkim is a bit different one and shocking for all history enthusiasts because this state took 28 long years to get annexed to India. This book makes people aware with the aggressive side of India as a nation. The names of the questioners cannot be provided as it was a huge event so I have tried to collect every relevant question during the Q & A session of the event.
1. Why Indian annexation is in grey light when China could have easily walked in if India would not have been there?
Answered by the Author itself, In times, when India added Sikkim in its territory, the army of India was as powerful as the army of Chogyal kingdom. Though, India protected Sikkim but not as the part of longer integration process. However, India played cleverly in bringing Sikkim in. However, it’s not in grey light or black light because there are stories of integration that took place around the globe. And, this is how world evolves and shatters.
2. What is the futuristic scope of Sikkim as an Indian state?
Answered by the author itself, the Sikkim as the part of India is evolving as must as the other parts of this nation. And people of Sikkim do not want to go back to history. Interestingly, all original Sikkim people got a “Sikkim subject” card, which allows them to avoid paying taxes.
3. What is the biggest weakness that India holds as a nation?
Answered By Sir Mark Tully, the biggest mistake of India as a sovereign nation is its mishandling of neighbourhood relations be it in terms of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and China. Most recently, the Indian Prime minister went to Bangladesh to sign a treaty but could not present that in front of Indian parliament. Thus, the step taken forward to make the Indo-Bangladesh relationship amicable, went in vain.
4. Why India is so aggressive on its east front and plays a weakling character in its west sections?
Answered by the Dr. Srinath Raghavan, This is not the case. The east of India has always been friendly towards India and walked towards growth and happiness with mutual trust. On contrary to this, the western nation has been a bit tough for India. Hence, the approach towards western neighbor has been sort of carefully woven foreign policy, which makes India look like weakling.
5. How concurrent Indian foreign policy is shaping the future image of India among its close neighbors such as Nepal, Bhutan, China, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka?
Answered by Dr. Srinath Raghavan, the concurrent foreign policy of India is quite matured. It is bringing everyone together through multiple measures. The impact of such approach can be seen in Indian efforts of keeping peace with Pakistan for multiple times.
6. Did Bhutan speed its process for UN membership post annexation of Sikkim in India?
Answered by the diplomat from Bhutan, this is completely untrue that Bhutan rushed to get the UN membership right after the annexation of Sikkim. In real, Bhutan applied for UN membership in 1970 and it has nothing to do with the annexation of Sikkim in India. Apart from this, the relationship between India and Bhutan has been very warm and mutually beneficial.