Why Delhi? Why Agra?

Ganges is called the bloodline of the North India, yet the 2 capitals of India has been on the banks of Yamuna. Historically capitals were located based on 2 strategic consideration:
1. Securing the state’s economy (agriculture, trade-routes land/sea, mining etc.)
2. Gain tactical advantage by making it easier to dispatch soldiers/couriers, receive reinforcements, making it difficult for invaders to lay a siege or run a campaign
The first cities were in the middle of some of the most fertile land (which paid for military in return of the protection). Cities like London, Paris, Alexandria (Egypt) and Calcutta were ports designed to control the sea route.
Rome was in the middle of peninsula which made it accessible by sea from 3 directions (and call reinforcements). While it’s cold weather and rocky terrain would demoralize any army marching. Carthaginian General Hannibal Barca lost almost half of its troops in the march to Rome. Atilla the Hun did march up to the gates of Rome, but did not lay a siege. However Rome had to heavily invest in the road infrastructure (All roads lead to Rome) to ensure that in spite of being inaccessible the city serves its purpose of securing the economy and ensures mobility of troops.
Only when the empire became weak ( 410 AD, Alaric the I, (Visigoths) and 43 years later, Geiseric King (Vandals) did invade Rome) the capital was shifted to the marshy lagoons of Venice. Venice then continued to rule the Mediterranean till 15th century. The port provided connectivity and ability to control the economy, while the marshes made it impossible to lay a siege. Charlemagne’s army (including the son) was ravaged by the 6 month long siege that they laid on Venice. (not to mention the expense of a combined naval blockage and siege).
Now back to the question, why Delhi and Agra were centers of India? The north India is often called as Ganges Basin highlighting the importance of Ganga in the economy. Like the Nile, the water from this perennial river and the silt from its banks made this as the most fertile lands. No wonder almost all major Indian cities were on its banks. Lahore, with its ability to control the Indus River would have been a better choice. But the distance between Pakistan’s Punjab and Delhi is considerable. Delhi can also not be called center of the 2 river systems as relatively less economic activity happened in Madhya Pradesh. Hence it being the center of Mughal empire is questionable.
Yamuna in comparison is a much smaller river. Also the terrain is quite flat negating the possibility of a tactical advantage. Rivers are natural roads allowing navigation, but again Yamuna was never used as inland waterways.
The terrain provided no advantage. Delhi was ransacked and rebuild 7 times (maybe more). Agra/Fatehpur Sikri was abandoned. Hence the question why is Yamuna river the political capital of India?



Guest post by T.R.Ramaswami
Apropos several loose cannons on the so-called coup in January 2012, there is a precedent going back to 1964. Field Marshal Maneckshaw, who was then the Western Army Commander was given instructions by Gen. Chaudhuri, the then chief, to move with troops into Delhi, in case Nehru died, which he did under protest. Chaudhuri did not back Maneckshaw and Maneckshaw was then shifted to Eastern Command. The explanations were given later. This and the so-called “coup scoop” supposed to have taken place in January 2012 have created enough debate.
Many believe that a coup is impossible in India because you need all the army, navy, air-force and the strategic forces commanders. This is amateurish – the more the accomplices, the greater the chances of leaks. All you need is a brigade (50 companies of 100) armed to the teeth. In an urban jungle planes and tanks and even jeeps are useless against foot soldiers as three top Mumbai policemen realised too late against the terrorists. First, electronically and physically isolate Delhi – telecommunications, TV, radio stations, internet gateway, media offices, airports/ road/railway routes. Coup timed when Parliament has full attendance – forthcoming Presidential elections. Just one company can take all MPs. Recall what five men did in Delhi in 2001 and ten did in Mumbai in 2008.
The remaining seal Rashtrapathi Bhavan, North & South Blocks, Supreme Court, IB & RAW HQs, Delhi Police, BSF/CRPF HQs, foreign diplomats and top corporate honchos. With MPs, babus, IB, etc in custody, all other commanders, police and para-military will be only too happy to join the coup. Initial tipping-point success within 24 hours is essential to bring all on board. Since no Lieutenant-General / Major-General or their equivalents need be initially involved things will look normal. Assuming this plan does not work and the other forces mount a counter attack on Delhi – all VVIP hostages will be shot dead by the coup group before they too perish. Delhi will be rubble. As far as the people are concerned, either way it does not matter! Right? Anyone want to be my 2i/c?



Now we are told that intelligence info is not shared with those who should be in the loop. Where does the root of this problem lie? It lies with the netas who have converted intelligence agencies into a party-cum-personal protection agency. Intelligence officers have to keep a track on opposition netas, engineer defections and even provide the cash for this. Read the book “Khakhi” By Mr. E. Rammohan, a former police chief. That’s why the budgets of the intelligence agencies are a big secret. The quality of intelligence shared also depends on factors like whether the state is ruled by the opposition and also the personal equations of various officers in Delhi and the state if they are from the state cadre. Information is also watered down semantically or sent too late so that the other person looks like a fool. Multiple dotted line reporting structures also add to the confusion. Later the excuse of “systemic failure” is trotted out. But these systems are humanly created.
Even now the Mumbai Police has not learnt from 26/11. There was severe criticism whether the DGP or the Commissioner was responsible. Now we have a DG (Operations) in the DGP’s office and the ATS Chief now has to report to him and the Commissioner Mumbai Police. More confusion. The Government has also pulled the wool over the eyes of the public and the Courts by appointing the DGP who failed on 26/11 as Acting DG. Now there is very little difference and he may continue “acting” till his date of retirement in a few months. Now how long can someone “act” – is this the police or Bollywood? Perhaps the media needs to also look at the various police top officials in the Mumbai Police who have nothing to do. There is a DG Home Guards who also has an ADG under him. They have no other officers and only part time factory workers etc who function as guards. Why a DG and an ADG here?
– T.R.Ramaswami