As India celebrates Children's Day today to mark Jawaharlal Nehru's birth anniversary, Walter Crocker's book Nehru, A Contemporary's Estimate reveals some little known and engaging facets of Nehru's life.
Part I: In history, Nehru is to be compared with Napoleon
Crocker, an Australian diplomat, observed Nehru closely during his tenure in India and first published this book in 1966. Till recently out of print, the book, now republished by Random House India, provides some fascinating insights into the man whose legacy continues to be hotly debated in India.
Nehru began with the advantage of the best formal education possible; and just as he improved on his physical capital so too throughout his life he improved on his intellectual capital, by the study of books and of men.
In particular his years in jail were put to use for a rigorous and systematic course of reading and writing; in particular he used them for developing his sense of history.
An Indian official who for some years was permanent head of a department of which Nehru was the minister used to say that he never ceased to be astonished at how Nehru managed to do real thinking -- probing analytical thinking.
Nehru's mind, he would add, was extremely quick. He was struck, too, with Nehru's power of concentration, with his memory, and with his natural orderliness. As a result his mind could be brought into instant and effective play, like a gun always loaded.
Excerpted from Nehru, A Contemporary's Estimate by Walter Crocker, Random House India, with the publisher's permission. Price Rs 250
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Image: Nehru with Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, India's second President. Photographs: Aditya Arya Archive Kulwant Roy Collection
Also read: The blunder of the Pandit
Available: Books on Nehru at Rediff Books!