The Death of Nehru's India
Ask any 20 year old today about Nehru and he will likely reply, 'Oh, he is the root cause of India's current problems.'
Talk to one of today's strategic pundits, and he will feign personal embarrassment over Nehru's policy of non-alignment during the Cold War.
To allow the 20-somethings and the modern analysts to make a more objective assessment of the man, let us examine some irrefutable facts about Nehru and his life.
Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal's father, was rich as a prince and owed his status and prestige to colonial rulers. He sent Jawaharlal to study in England, wishing that his son inherit his riches, his social position and his connections with the British masters.
Upon returning to India, Jawaharlal decided he did not want to serve the colonial masters, but to be freed from them. That he wanted Indians to enjoy the same democratic freedoms and the political, economic and technological progress as the British did.
It was Nehru who forced Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to demand complete political freedom, not merely dominion status within the British Empire, which was the Congress' demand until 1929.
It is relevant to remember that when Jawaharlal joined the freedom movement, neither he nor anyone else could foresee that India would become free in his lifetime. There was no promise of a personal 'reward' for taking on the British Empire, there was no promise of prime ministership for spending 10 prime years of his life in jail while his wife suffered from tuberculosis and died, nor for missing the growing years of his daughter.
In fact, Gandhi and Nehru led millions others in the freedom movement with the promise of only one thing -- struggle and sacrifice, with no guaranteed results.
Also read: Nehru & the root of India's problems
Nehru delivers his Tryst With Destiny speech at midnight August 14, 1947.
Text: S Raghotham, Photograph: India Abroad Archives