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
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.”
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.
I have always had an affinity towards Jawaharlal Nehru.
Maybe, it was because I spent about 15 years of my life in JNU where his name featured in my address or maybe, and I give this one more weight, it is because both my parents have always spoken highly of him and introduced him to me as a man who was immensely intelligent, extremely educated and unbelievably popular but at the same undeniably humble till the very end.
Image Credits: Life magazine
Much blame is directed at Nehru for pushing India towards a socialist economic policy. How much blame is justifiable, and who can claim to cast the first stone? What was the economic policy of Jana Sangh during 1950’s and 60s?
Nehru went to Trinity College, Cambridge in October 1907 and graduated with an honours degree in natural science in 1910. In his Autobiography, he gives some clues on the early influences on him
Out of the filth floating about freedom fighters the current regime deems as ‘anti-national’ on the skin of the Internet sewers, a good 80% is easily disproved by either common sense or a quick search on the internet. However, there is of course ‘intellectual propaganda’, where even those who do not get their history lessons from Whatsapp tend to believe in. These often prey on vague subjects, such as ancestry, or trying to pin the blame of a catastrophic event on a single person. This will, hopefully, be the beginning of a historical FAQs section, where common misconceptions about Nehru’s (and possibly other cabinet members) dealing with the country are addressed. These are questions adapted from legitimately asked queries on sites such as Quora or Twitter, with any sources being referred at the end of each piece.