Delivering a speech in 1884 to the undergraduates of Cambridge on his Indian experiences, Sir John Strachey, a British Civil Service Officer, asserted that “there is not, and there never was an India.” He claimed that for “the men of the Punjab, Bengal, the Northwestern Provinces, and Madras, should ever feel that they belong to one Indian nation, is impossible.” At the eve of the Round Table Conferences, Winston Churchill turned soothsayer declaring that “India will fall back quite rapidly through t
The following is the exact copy of India's past Prime Minister, Pandit Nehru's Will and Testament. The Will, other than giving out the mundane information of who to inherit what, also tells us the testator's reasoning for making out the Will the way it had been made out. This enables us to look into the mind of Nehru and understand him a little better, without always agreeing with him. That is important, although rather late; that insight enables us to understand better why many of the things were done by him the way he had done them. Not everything is above board; for instance there is no mention at all of Netaji's Treasure Chest that the Pandit had swindled. I believe that certain clarifications are called for on this man, an impostor in large measure, for a better understanding of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. One such thing is Nehru's never having undergone the Yajnopaveet ceremony and he had never carried the janeo on his body, neither did he ever deny that he was NOT a qualified Kashmiri Brahmin. Verily, he was perhaps the only Kashmiri who passed off as a Brahmin while having been legally circumcised as a Muslim baby-boy in his infancy and that in the palace of the Nawab of Oudh. Also, Nehru could not read or write Sanskrit, as most Brahmins of his age could do in that era, but surprisingly, he never confirmed such inability in public. Our readers will judge if there was an element of deception in this conduct of his leaving us wondering, how far did indeed his deception go, vis a vis his Hindu subjects! I have dealt with the subject in the AFTERWORD section.
In the summer of 1955, India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru flew over to the Soviet Union for a state visit. The trip, extending to almost a month, still remains the longest visit by an Indian Prime Minister to the region— which consists of Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia. The trip was a landmark visit because it escalated the Soviet-Indian friendship to a new high in that era of cold war-ridden bifurcation of the world order. Reminiscing of this visit in his later years, former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev recollected that “…Jawaharlal Nehru’s visit to Moscow in June 1955 was an unexpected stimulus for me in this respect [understanding democracy]. … This amazing man, his noble bearing, keen eyes and warm and disarming smile, made a deep impression on me.” Jawaharlal’s visit to USSR—then one of the two competing powers of the cold war—was an important step for India as cozying up to the Soviets maintained a subtle balance of power in the subcontinent, for the Americans had cozied up to the Pakistanis. So intimate was the visit, that while riding through Moscow, when people threw roses at Nehru and the thorns pricked his fingers, he remarked—sarcastically—“Look, I’ve shed my blood for Russia.”
(This article was written on 14th November - birth anniversary of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru)
Today being Jawaharlal Nehru’s birth anniversary, I picked up a book entitled A Study of Nehru (edited by Rafiq Zakaria, A Times of India Publication). The book was published in 1959 on the occasion of Nehru’s 70th birthday and the collection contains more than 60 essays on various aspects of Nehru. With an introduction by the then President, Dr Rajendra Prasad, it is not a felicitation volume, rather a many-sided assessment of Nehru’s personality.
A book review of War and Peace in Modern India by Srinath Raghavan
“Power”, Winston Churchill said on the eve of India’s Independence, “has to gone to men of straw”. Military historian Srinath Raghavan’s “War and Peace in Modern India” demolishes Churchill’s arrogant remark and shows in great detail how the British had left behind a gigantic mess. D.F. Karaka famously called Nehru a “lotus eater from Kashmir”. Raghavan’s book fleshes out a layered narrative of who Nehru was and what were his motivations as he shepherded a nascent country.
The light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere. I do not know what to tell you and how to say it. Our beloved leader, Bapu as we called him, the Father of the Nation, is no more. Perhaps I am wrong to say that. Nevertheless, we will never see him again as we have seen him for these many years. We will not run to him for advice and seek solace from him, and that is a terrible blow, not to me only, but to millions and millions in this country. And it is a little difficult to soften the blow by any other advice that I or anyone else can give you.
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) can be seen as an extension of India’s freedom struggle. How?—one may ask. The essence of Gandhian approach during India’s anti-colonial struggle was ‘asymmetry’: to not render upon Caesar the violence Caesar renders upon thee is what one might call ‘Gandhian asymmetry’; or, as the popular understanding goes, to not avenge the fellow who harmed you. However, one mustn’t mechanically equate this adage to foreign policy: ‘we will not reciprocate the violence on the nation-state that is brutally attacking us’ would be a terrible mantra for any nation-state that takes civilization seriously. However, consider the state of the world order at the time when Jawaharlal Nehru became India’s Prime Minister: The Nuclear Arms Race, the realpolitik to maintain the global balance of power, the paranoia between the Communists and the Capitalists manifesting in the ruthlessness and aggression of the two most-powerful and competing camps of the time—USSR and USA. If one were an American or a Soviet citizen be a symmetrical one: to flex one’s muscles in return.