Advantage Modi-Series-VIII 25 Nov 2014
The world said ‘this was a man’
Jawaharlal Nehru’s great achievement was to hold the ship of state firm amid the turbulent waters of the Partition process
The first great achievement of Nehru after Independence, therefore, was to hold the ship of state firm amid the turbulent waters of the Partition process, despite predictions of the prophets of doom, including Winston Churchill, who said that after the British left India, would Balkanise and break up into a dozen units. The second great task was, after centuries of foreign rule, for India to get itself a new Constitution. Himself an impeccable parliamentarian, Nehru not only took a keen interest in the framing of the Constitution but also attended Parliament for long hours, answered questions and in particular spoke on foreign relations, a portfolio he had kept with himself.
Knitting these separate units into a single State was a massive task, the main credit for which goes to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The non-violent integration of so many feudal states into a democracy was surely unprecedented in world history. Although Nehru left this area mainly to Patel, he closely monitored the whole process. Nehru was deeply committed to the development of science and what he called the scientific temper, an attitude devoid of superstition and blind faith. For this purpose he had the foresight to set up the Indian Institutes of Technology in major cities around the country.
A major triumph consisted in his leadership of what came to be known as the Non-Aligned Movement, along with President Nasser of Egypt, President Tito of Yogoslavia and Archbishop makarios of Cyprus. President Sukarno of Indonesia was also involved, although his actions were often erratic. The whole episode caused Nehru immense shock and embarrassment. He was obliged to sack his favourite Krishna Menon. The failure of the whole Panchsheel approach to China was something that shattered Nehru’s psyche. He never really recovered from this setback and passed away within less than two years thereafter.
The people of India held Nehru in special affection which is reflected in his last will and testament, where he says: “If any people choose to think of me, then I should like them to say this was a man who, with all his mind and heart, loved India and the Indian people. And they, in turn were indulgent to him and gave him of their love most abundantly and extravagantly.”
A Tribute to Nehru on his 125th Birth Anniversary
Dr. Karan Singh-TOI-14 Nov 2014