Dr. Duggaraju Srinivasa Rao
The poster designed and released recently by Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR), to commemorate 75th Independence Day celebrations, omitting the photograph of the first Prime Minister of independent India has raked up a needless controversy despite the ICHR clarification that “it is one of many posters designed by it and Jawaharlal Nehru photograph do appear in other posters”.
The political reactions to that poster is understandable but the chorus coming out from the seasoned columnists all coming in the same tone is not surprising as their leanings are well known. This time around when lot of discussion is happening on the Nehruvian socialism, secularism, Kashmir, economy and their seven decades consequences the columnists are compelled to write in defense of Nehru.
Till the social media took over the debate on Nehru his policies and his family rule the fans of Panditji had a field day in placing him on a high pedestal which no one was allowed to touch. Even a miniscule criticism was not tolerated, criticism was dubbed as motivated and the critics were pounced up on by those fanatic fan group of Nehru. For them Jawaharlal Nehru is a king and they believed the dictum that ‘King can do no wrong’.
But one simple poster, whatever may be the intention of the ICHR in omitting the photo of Nehru, has given the chance for to judge him in a fair way. Both praise and criticism are coming out in the media. Had the fair assessment of the personality and policies are allowed by the Nehru dynasty and its fans, when it was ruling, the criticism wouldn’t have reached this level. Those academicians who received huge funds from the Nehru dynasty while they are in power are equally guilty of protecting Nehru from criticism thus suppressing the fair study. These academic ‘gangs’ posed themselves as the custodian of Nehru legacy. It was a sort of quid pro which survived till Congress party’s influence shrunk at the national level.
One columnist, who is a former editor of a national daily, called the omission of Nehru photo in the poster as ‘political partisanship of more strident kind’. For him Nehru is a greatest democrat of India despite the first prime minister’s blatant misuse of constitutional provision of Art. 356 in dismissing the world’s first democratically elected communist government in Kerala, the state from which the columnist hail from. He selectively forgets the first constitutional amendment Nehru brought with in the first year of Indian republic to suppress the freedom of speech. This eulogizing of Jawaharlal Nehru beyond what he had actually achieved by him. No doubt Nehru was a freedom fighter and ‘sishya’ of Gandhi. His foreign education and his physical glamour coupled with the blessings of Mahatma Gandhi gave Jawaharlal Nehru a chance to be the first PM of India. Had Sardar Patel got the chance, many Indians feel, India would have been in much better position. That debate of Nehru Vs. Patel: Who would have been best PM is still inconclusive.
One Hyderabad based you tube weekly commentator who releases ‘Midweek Matters’ also took to task the ICHR poster omission of Nehru. He tried to blunt the campaign on alleged Nehru, Patel enmity by quoting Patel’s article written in 1949 on the occasion of first PM’s completion of 60 years, where Patel wrote all positively about his colleague. Despite all those writings and the commentator’s effort to project positives of Nehru-Patel relationship it is known fact they differed on many issues though they choose not to go out publicly as their common goal then was independence and integration of the country. Had Patel lived beyond 1950 one is sure that Patel would have become critic of Nehru and his policies like Rajaji, Jayaprakash Narayana did. The you tube presentor gave lot of leverage for Nehru and spared no words in denouncing present dispensation under Modi, though his better half is in the cabinet of Modi.
A lady columnist, known critic of Modi since his Gujarat CM days, writing in another national newspaper, has grudgingly accepted the failures of Nehru as she knows that public are better informed now and would not tolerated her praise on Nehru and uncalled criticism of Modi. She agreed on two things, one being Nehru’s inheritors needless elevation of their ‘founder’ to the exclusion of other freedom fighters. Naming everything after Nehru made India a “one man show” is what that lady columnist commented. Nehru’s secularism and socialism are flawed, she accepted finally.
All most all of them spoke about Nehru being the builder of high quality institutions in the country and that was true. The five IITs are show cased for Nehru’s scientific vision. But unfortunately one ignores Nehru’s failure in formulating policy or preparing the governemnts and industry in utilizing the IIT products within the country. IITs which received heavy investment and subsidy from the public money became more human resource supply centers for the Americans. Same is the case with medical institutions which came up during Nehru time. Most of the doctors who got training in India at the expense of government are now serving other countries and not at home. This tradition of driving away the Indian talent in search of better opportunity in the name of ‘social justice’ is Nehru’s contribution to India.
Nehru is known to accept criticism. His famous word “Don’t spare me Sankar” to the cartoonist is an indication of that.No doubt Nehru needs to be respected to what he has done for the country and it should be acknowledged. But it doesn’t mean that he can’t be criticized for his fallacies. Nehru was never allowed to be judged by the sycophants both in politics and academic fields. They have their own vested interests in protecting and propagating the positivity of Nehru while shutting their eyes and mouth for his negatives. This absence of fair study of Nehru’s personality and his policies resulted in people now lambasting him for all the ills the country is suffering from. What is appearing in the social media is not totally true just as what those columnists wrote is also not fair assessment of Nehru. Both the admirers and critics should stop to be ‘blind’ to the reality.
(Author is retired professor and occasional contributor for dailies and magazines on politics and environmental issues. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author. He can be reached at email@example.com)