Bid to belittle Jawaharlal Nehru through comparisons

Nehru was totally involved with Indian and Western philosophy

The debate on Pandit Nehru on TV channels as well as in the press is so philistine and pathetic that one wonders whether our country has lost the sense of history and intellectual rigour altogether.

There of course are some honourable exceptions like Gopal Gandhi, Inder Malhotra, Vinay Lal, Dileep Padgaonkar, and a few others. We do not have any more argumentative Indians.

Most anchors born after the death of Pandit Nehru have not experienced the energetic charge that used to envelop the atmosphere with his mere presence.

Mobile phones, the Internet and the whole gigantic network of the social media were not even a distant technological dream. And yet, Pandit Nehru’s charisma was palpable all over the country.

The new class, or rather new caste, called ‘NRI’, was yet to emerge. Going abroad (mainly to England in those days) was a matter of great prestige and luck. The elite in India had all their icons or reference points in UK be they cricketers or writers.

America had yet to enter the middle class consciousness. Nehru did not have to go for any gimmicks or image-building to be in the hearts of the people. Neither broom nor Madison Square was required for a carefully-crafted photo-op.

Nehru would be at ease with scientists, English and Hindi writers and poets, intellectuals, statesmen and equally at home with tribal people and farmers or factory workers. All people, irrespective of class, caste, region or religion were enamoured of Panditji.

There were critics of Nehru of course, from pro-capitalist C. Rajgopalachari to hardcore socialist Ram Manohar Lohia.

But even critics and detractors used to be overwhelmed by Nehru’s speeches and warm but towering presence. Even his election speeches never exhorted the people to vote for his party or the candidate.

How could he influence the global leaders from newly independent countries in Africa to established leaders of Europe?

He stood by Arab nationalism and Palestine’s freedom. The whole emerging political leadership of the third world as well as Europe was in the thrall of Pandit Nehru.

His idealism, dedication to the cause of freedom, his courageous confrontation with the decadent and obscurantist ideas, his faith in science and basic goodness and virtuosity of people, his pacifist philosophy and commitment to social justice, his love for nature, his zest for mountaineering and trekking, his love for poetry and philosophy were so transparent that he never had to make them into a cheap event management.

Nehru’s visits to Aurobindo’s Pondicherry and Rabindranath Tagore’s Shanti Niketan, Theosophists’ Adyar and Bharatpur’s forests used to become events because he used to go there.

He was totally involved with Indian and Western philosophy as well as Buddhist texts and Islamic civilisation. That was his secularism. It was respect to human civilisations, which included religion and science. He may not have ranted about secularism or development.

From Bhakra Nangal dam to Bhilai-Rourekela steel plants, from atomic energy to space research organisation, from oil exploration initiatives to ideas of green revolution and from setting up of IITs to IIMs, from statistical institutes to Planning Commission Nehru had a fantastic range of understanding of what development really meant.

Nehru’s dialogue with Satyajit Ray and Bimal Roy and with K.A. Abbas and V. Shantaram and his appreciation of Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor used to inspire the whole film industry.

He did not have to ‘invite’ film artistes to join his campaign and enlarge his ego. It was at his initiative the Film Institute of Pune, the Sahitya Academy and National School of Drama were created which later flourished under the personal attention of Indira Gandhi.

Nehru became a legend in his own life. Detractors tried to belittle him by comparing him with Vallabhbhai Patel or Subhas Chandra Bose.

For Nehru, they were comrades in arms, in spite of the political and ideological differences, he had immense respect and affection for all those who were tirelessly working towards the cause of freedom and building a modern India.

It is so disgusting to see him compared and run down vis-a-vis his fellow satyagrahis and followers of Mahatma Gandhi.

Howsoever tall statues may be built for other great leaders, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru will remain much taller. He was not just the first Prime Minister. He was a world leader and deep-stambha to the human civilisation.

(The author is an acclaimed political commentator)

( Source : dc )
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