The Relevance of Nehru’s legacy [ GS Paper II ]

NOTE → The views in this Article are personal and belong to Mr. Shashi Tharoor [Third-term Member of Parliament (Congress Party) representing Thiruvananthapuram.

CONTEXT : The date 14 November 1889 marks the birth anniversary of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. Today, looking back on his 132nd birthday of PT. JAWAHARLAL NEHRU.

A/C Mr. Tharoor, In the 1940s, Clearly 4 men had the vision of free India :

  1.   Gandhi

  2.   Nehru

  3.   Patel 

  4.  Ambedkar

 The much needed strategy and tactics for the struggle against British rule was provided by- Gandhiji, Nehru, Ambedkar and Sardar Patel.

  •  Gandhi had moral righteousness and Integrity.

  •  Jawaharlal Nehru had political passion.

  •  Sardar Patel unified as well as tried to integrate the nation.

  •  Ambedkar helped in working out a legal document laying the foundations of an enduring democracy.

CONTRIBUTIONS :

Gandhi taught the virtues of truth, non-violence, and peace at a time when the world was disintegrating into fascism, violence, and war.

While the nation was rocked from bloodshed and communal massacre, Ambedkar delivered the values of constitutionalism and the rule of law.

Patel led the nation to a vision of unity and common purpose, when there were threats about national unity 

 The humane and non-sectarian vision of Nehru, inspired and brought the glory of India While mobs were marching into the streets for taking revenge,

Mr. Tharoor further says, Gandhi and Nehru stood out among the four. Despite differences over both tactics and philosophy, these two men proved a challenging combination.

 Gandhiji helped and guided Nehru to reach the zenith of politics and Nehru equally proved to be an inspirational campaigner as President of the Indian National Congress, with his speeches and tireless travelling.

Keeper of the flame

When Mahatma Gandhiji was assassinated in 1948, just five months after Independence, Nehru, the country’s first Prime Minister kept the national flame burning.

 After Gandhi’s death, Nehru spent a lifetime involved in the democratic values codified by Ambedkar, tried to instill the habits of democracy among the masses.

Nehru had :

  •  a disrespect for dictators

  •  a respect for parliamentary procedures

  •  an abiding faith in the constitutional system

Mr. Tharoor further keeps glorifying Nehru by saying that Nehru’s stature was so great that the country he led seemed inconceivable without him. 

A/c him, nehru was : 

  •  Incorruptible

  •  Visionary

  •  Ecumenical 

  •  A politician above politics 

Welles Hangen,a leading American journalist, published a book , a year before his death entitled as- After Nehru, Who? 

Nehru himself, as a man with an open and questioning mind, would have allowed his practical thinking to evolve with the times, even while remaining anchored to his core beliefs.

The pillars of his imprint

In my 2003 biography, Nehru: The Invention of India, I sought to examine this great figure of 20th-century nationalism from the vantage point of the beginning of the 21st. 

At the same time, I sought to analyse critically the four principal pillars of Nehru’s legacy to India — 

  •  Democratic institution-building

  •  Staunch pan-Indian secularism

  •  Socialist economics at home

  •  foreign policy of non-alignment 

A deference to the system

  • As Prime Minister, Nehru carefully nurtured the country’s infant democratic institutions. 

  • He wrote regular letters to the Chief Ministers of the States, and explained his policies and took feedbacks. 

  • Took opposition into consideration even if when it is in minority.

  •  He was cautious not to interfere with the judicial system.

  • He started the practice of offering a daily darshan at home for an hour each morning to anyone coming in off the street without an appointment.

  • It was Nehru who ingrained democratic traits in our country. 

Nehru left a precious legacy of freedom as he had :-

  • Respect for Parliament

  •  Regard for the judicial independence

  • Courtesy to those of different political convictions 

  • Commitment to free elections 

  • Deference to institutions over those of individuals

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