- Pranav Kishore Saxena
Criticizing Jawaharlal Nehru in the recent times has become the new intellectual fad that both the ruling party and youth of India is engaged into; thanking the pioneer, Mr. Rajeev Dixit. From his inefficiency while trying to integrate Jammu and Kashmir into the union in 1947 to his failed diplomacy with Zhou Enlai on the eve of the Sino-Indian War, Nehru has been made the poster child of an ineffective Indian administration.
It wouldn’t be wrong to question or criticize Nehru’s acts or intentions of the near past, after all, Karl Marx once said, “History has no other way of answering old questions than by putting new ones”. Indeed, Nehru must be questioned and criticized. But we must not be oblivious, or rather, ignorant of the developments, both empirical and normative undertaken during Nehru’s governance. From the comparative decrease in poverty to the establishment of the IITs in India, Nehru can be considered the flag bearer of the initial stages of India’s development.
The Nehruvian idea of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) distanced itself from the cold and aggressive USA and the erstwhile USSR; it also distinguished itself from the otherwise ignorant and neutral countries like Switzerland to become a nation that would intent to co-exist peacefully. Although NAM as an ideology has diminished over the past few decades, its essence has always portrayed India as a peaceful country; perhaps why Dr. Shashi Tharoor titled his book ‘Pax Indica’ or ‘Peaceful India’, an attribute of the Indian diplomacy.
Mr. Nehru can be considered one of the few political leaders in the globe who did not convert their newly independent country into a dictatorship, as can be seen in the case of Pakistan and many African countries.
The lack of respect and appreciation for the former national leaders may not just be a question of debate, but also, a question of patriotism. The reason why most of the leaders of the freedom struggle are on the brink of losing their prestige is because the recent political culture promotes leaders who are, and were, the symbols of a particular socio-political movement, like Dr. B.R. Ambedhkar for the dalits and Veer Savarkar for the Hindu Nationalists. The political parties and other organizations use these figures as a medium to gather votes.
Jawaharlal Nehru in one of his letters to the young Indira Gandhi which he titled ‘The Last Letter’ wrote, “It is absurd for us to judge of past people as if they lived now and thought as we do”. Our past cannot be judged with the eyes of today’s critique. The past is long gone and perhaps in those days, the historic acts of today were the only options left with our former leaders. Thus, our history and its makers must be cherished.
Pranav Kishore Saxena is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ‘The True Voice’.