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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Jawaharlal Nehru

Rajiv, Jawaharlal & Indira

Jawaharlal Nehru divides Indians. 

Many Indians believe that India is on a path of enlightened progress because it has stayed steadfast in adhering to Nehru’s political ideals.

On the other hand, an equal number believe that he is responsible for all that is wrong with India – right from the gangrenous Kashmir problem to the long years of fettered economic  growth.

Those who would prefer India to be a Hindu theocracy hold him responsible for being the founder of pseudo secularism – Muslim appeasement in the name of secularism.

Most political ideas and ideologies don’t last beyond half-a-century, and Nehru’s haven’t either. His economic vision was largely statist and a product of his times. It couldn’t have envisaged the steady trot of the Indian economy since 1991 enabled by economic liberalisation.

Yet, Nehru understood India’s place in the comity of nations better than his contemporaries did. His emphasis on economic self-reliance, science and technology, higher education, and a unique interpretation of secularism where the state treated all religions equally, has given India the social capital that will enable it to grow into a major power in the near future.

prolific writer himself, Nehru remains a subject of innumerable biographies. One of the best is MJ Akbar’s Nehru The Making of India. When the world is beginning to recognise India’s inherent strengths and its inevitable rise, an honest, non-partisan assessment of India’s first prime minister is necessary. 

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