Remembering Nehru in an Era of his Demonization

Remembering Nehru in an Era of his Demonization

Recently, President Pranab Mukherjee compared the oratory skill of PM Modi with that of Pdt. Nehru and Mrs. Gandhi. But this seems to be a farfetched comparison since Pdt. Nehru was a visionary and his speeches were also full of political wisdom and a world view of the nation. Nehru was a fond lover of children and emerged as an affectionate "Chacha Nehru" in the annals of Indian politics. Despite repeated attempts of his demonization, he stands erect as a statesman, a nationalist, an internationalist and a visionary who saw the dream of making Indian republic truly socialist and secular.

 

Remembering Nehru in an Era of his Demonization

The contribution of Pdt. Jawahar Lal Nehru has been under severe criticism ever since the BJP came to power with full majority in 2014. Had it been a healthy criticism of which there was no dearth even in the past, it would not be necessary to recall his contribution. But since there is an ongoing campaign to demonize Nehru and no adequately informed reply has been given, it is necessary to bring to the fore what would have been the loss of the nation without Nehru.

The Hindutva Brigade started with lampooning Gandhiji and idolizing Godse but very soon they realized that what they thought as a politically correct move could misfire. The RSS and its allies are against reservation in jobs and admissions as was very obvious in anti-Mandal movement which was being driven by the cadres of RSS but they realized its catastrophic effects in Bihar Assembly polls and soon after they adopted Ambedkar and started idolizing him more than BSP or the Dalits. The next target was Nehru who is a part of the family which is leading the opposition and it is very convenient for BJP to attack Congress on personal grounds as their economic policies of pro capitalism is no different than that of Congress. Hence the attack on Pdt. Nehru who is known in history as the first Prime Minister of India who led the country from 15th August ,1947 to 27th May, 1963 – a period of nearly sixteen years.

This was a difficult time when everybody in the world including the British who unwillingly left India was expecting that it would disintegrate into smaller factions and  anarchy would spread. Pakistan and China were hostile while other nations of the world were watching with disbelief and amazement how India could withstand a massive violent partition. But India did stand up and in Nehru’s own life time was leading nearly one hundred and five countries of the world through the Non-Aligned Movement. One may accept all the gossips about the illicit relationship between Nehru and Lady Mountbatten, his fashionable dresses and life style and his political differences with Mahatma Gandhi but it would be worth its while to have a brief look at some of his major contributions to the Indian Politics and economy.

It is true that his father, Motilal Nehru (1861–1931), served twice as President of the Indian National Congress during the Independence Struggle but Jawahar Lal Nehru built his own space in congress through his own struggles. He collected funds for the civil rights campaigners led by Gandhiji in 1913.Later, he campaigned against the indentured labour and other such discriminations faced by Indians in the British colonies. H also spoke out against the censorship acts passed by the British government in India. Nehru emerged from the war years as a leader whose political views were considered radical. Nehru closely worked with Subhash Chandra Bose in developing good relations with governments of free countries all over the world. However, the two split in the late 1930s, when Bose agreed to seek the help of fascists in driving the British out of India. At the same time, Nehru had supported the Republicans who were fighting against Francisco Franco’s forces in the Spanish Civil War. In January 1947, Nehru said that independent India would not accept the Divine Right of Kings, and in May 1947, he declared that any princely state which refused to join the Constituent Assembly would be treated as an enemy state. Nehru implemented policies based on import substitution industrialisation and advocated a mixed economy where the government controlled public sector would coexist with the private sector.

He believed that the establishment of basic and heavy industry was fundamental  to the development and modernization of the Indian economy. GDP and GNP grew 3.9 and 4.0 per cent annually between 1950–51 and 1964 65. It was a radical break from the British colonial period. Under Nehru’s leadership, the government attempted to develop India quickly by embarking on radical reforms in agriculture and going for rapid heavy industrialization. It was only in the first five year plan that the outlay for education was 7% of the GDP, one percent more than the recommended percentage in the National Policy for Education, 1986.

The establishment of agricultural universities, modeled after land grant colleges in the United States, contributed to the development of the economy to a considerable extent.

The biggest contribution of Jawahar Lal Nehru was in the sphere of foreign policy which today seems to be in a bad shape. Nehru’s foreign policies were characterized by two major ideological aspects. First, he wanted India to have an identity that would be independent of any form of overt commitment to either power bloc, the USA or the Soviet. Secondly, he had an unshaken faith in goodwill and honesty in matters of international affairs. The first policy led ultimately to the founding of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM). His second faith was terribly shaken by the Chinese attack of 1962, openly disobeying all the clauses of the Panchsheel or five-point agreement of 1954 between New Delhi and Beijing. This breach of faith was a major psychological shock for Nehru, and was partially the reason for his death.

Recently, President Pranab Mukherjee compared the oratory skill of PM Modi with that of Pdt. Nehru and Indira Gandhi. But this seems to be a far fetched comparison since Pdt. Nehru was a visionary and his speeches were also full of political wisdom and a world view of the nation. Nehru was a fond lover of children and emerged as an affectionate “Chacha Nehru” in the annals of Indian politics. Despite repeated attempts of his demonization, he stands erect as a statesman, a nationalist, an internationalist and a visionary who saw the dream of making Indian republic truly socialist and secular.

Contributed by: Dr. HS Chandalia

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