*Belittling Nehru’s Legacy will Harm India’s Democracy*

Ram Puniyani

Last few years there is a concerted attempt on the part of the ruling BJP
to ignore and undermine the legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime
Minster of India, the architect of Modern India. In the international meets
his name is deliberately ignored. He does not find a mention in the
National archives Museum on ‘Quit India’ movement. In many school books
chapters on him are being deleted. The Government spokespersons are trying
to attribute all their failures of present government to Nehruvian
policies. At social media level dirty propaganda about his being a man
living in luxury, his ancestors are making rounds. The misinterpretation of
events of history is being used to the hilt to blame him for partition and
Kashmir issue. Mr. Modi went on to say that Nehru did not attend the
funeral of Sardar Patel!

Let’s have a brief recap of the man immortalized in his work of laying the
foundations of modern India in the fields of industries, technology,
agriculture, education and science. He was exposed to the global issues and
became a committed to anti imperialist struggles, stood against racism and
believed in equality of all nations. Coming to India; he came under the
magic spell of Gandhi and went headlong in to participate in freedom
movement. The major highpoints of his contribution is to give the call of
total independence as President of Congress. He adapted simple Khadi
(handspun cloth) in his life style. As a participant of the freedom
struggle he was jailed time and over again, the total period of his being
in jail was 3259 days! He was a prolific reader and writer. His books
‘Autobiography’, ‘Discovery of India’ and ‘Letters of a father…’have become
a permanent part of Indian-world literature.

The question of partition was a very intricate one with British determined
to divide the country, this became easy for them due to the fall out of
Savarkar’s ‘Two Nation theory’ and Jinnah’s adamant demand for ‘separate
Islamic country’, Pakistan. It was Sardar Patel who first realized that
partition is inevitable, while Nehru was to come to this realization months
later. In matters of Kashmir, as Patel pointed out in his speech in
Junagadh, he was willing to let Kashmir go if Hyderabad was merged in
India. It was Sheikh Abdullah’s insistence that Nehru came forward to have
the ‘treaty of accession’ and sent the army to quell the aggression from

As far as Prime minster ship is concerned Gandhi had the mandate of the
nation and he did realize that Nehru has a better grasp of World affairs
and will be a worthy successor to him in matters political. Nehru was a
mass leader, as Sardar Patel in response to a journalists quip; that there
are lot of people who have turned up for meeting; said that the people have
come to see Jawahar not him. His public sector policies are being
criticized today. It was not just his pipe dream to have this sector. The
industrialists, as per Bombay plan (1944) were asking for state assistance
in setting up industries, and needed protection. It was these public sector
heavy industries which provided the base on which other industries could
come up and thrive. Paul Kruggman, the Nobel Laureate, points out that
India achieved in last 30 years, is close to what Britain achieved in last
150 years. This is only because of the solid foundations by the initial
years of the republic.

His policies in education and science are the base due to which today we
are able to compete in the world and India is coming up as a major economy.
Parallel to the policies in industrialization was the focus on science and
education. Today if we compare the state of science and technology with the
countries which also became independent when we became independent, we are
far ahead. While Nehru-Ambedkar due ensured that scientific temper is the
part of Directive principles of our Constitution, Nehru also went on to
actualize it by laying the foundations of institutions like IITs, ISRO,
BARC, CSIR etc. Health care in state sector saw the emergence the enviable
AIIMs. We began with a literacy rate of 14% and the health was reflected in
the longevity of 39 years. We are miles ahead today, though still a long
way to go!

Nehru was firmly committed to pluralism at social level and secularism as a
policy of the state. It is in this direction that in post partition riots
he came out in the open jeep to himself quell the riots. In the wake of
1961 Jabalpur riots, he instituted National Integration Council (NIC). He
could fully win the trust of religious minorities, a far cry from what is
the state of affairs today. His institutions like Planning Commission and
NIC have been put to sleep today. The income differentials are leaping to
sky today with Corporate having a free hand.

Was he faultless? No way. He had his own quota of failures as in the case
of trusting China and the setback in India-China war. His policies of big
dams have its own shortcomings. The question is overall he left a deep and
positive mark on the destiny not only of India but also over the World.

In its pettiness the present government wants to ignore, undermine and
belittle his contributions. Two of his major initiatives Planning
Commission and NIC have been done away with. Nehru is a particular target
of sectarian ideology which is spreading all sorts of falsehoods on his
name. This is abominable situation where in a systematic way his character,
lineage and contributions are being targeted. The present ruling
dispensation did not participate in freedom movement, does not have any
icon worth its name, and so is trying to appropriate some icons like Sardar
Patel. Ideologically they see Nehru as a big obstacle to their narrow goals
so this ugly propaganda and narrow minded attitude towards Nehru.


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