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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bits of Real Nehru

November 14th was the 120th birthday of the man who casts a long shadow on Bharat even to this day. It may take another 60 years to clear the cobwebs hiding in the shadow along with the myth that was created around Jawaharlal Nehru during his prime ministership, and especially, since. We usual get the sycophants, such as S. Gopal, take on Nehru. Mohandas Gandhi was probably stung by that same sycophancy when he, being a non-democratic leader he was, choose to impose Nehru on the yet to be independent nation.

Swapan Dasgupta reminds us of the real Nehru, as written by his contemporary, Walter Crocker, the Australian High Commissioner in the 60s.

Even as Sri Crocker talks of Nehru who had little care for children, as opposed to that carefully crafted Chacha image by his sycophants, since Nehru's death, he talks about the various prejudices of Nehru, to put it mildly, which ended having huge lasting social, economic, and foreign policy implications.

Less publicised was the strong impression that his enlightenment was often offset by blind hates. Among Nehru’s ‘prejudices’ Crocker records were ‘‘maharajas, Portugal, moneylenders, certain American ways, Hinduism, the whites in Africa...’’ ...

Nehru, it was said, ‘‘could be emphatic on a basis of insufficient knowledge’’. He may have begun with a caricatured hatred of moneylenders but it soon extended into distaste for the entire private sector. Like the fellow travellers of Stalin, he juxtaposed science with what he considered religious mumbo-jumbo and came to view everything Hindu with utmost wariness...

From such parodies were the three pillars of the Nehruvian order, secularism, non-alignment and socialism, crafted.
I am constantly amazed at how Nehru's sycophants cover up his hatred for the people of Bharat - vast majority of whom are Hindus and extremely religious. How exactly does that make Nehru a great prime minister and how does that make our so-called founding fathers great, as Ramachandra Guha argues in his recent book. It seems to me the greatness of these leaders, especially the usually quoted ones, is more a myth then reality. The greatness belonged to the ordinary people who stuck to democracy and their way of life, despite having leaders who were ignorant, incompetent, and, unsurprisingly, hateful of those ordinary people.