H C Singh

Shashi Tharoor on Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru who was PM of Interim Government of British India under Lord Mountbatten become, logically, the first PM of Independent India on 15th August 1947. In this connection, Tharoor’s comments on British policy and also Nehru’s historic speech are worthy of praise and are reproduce below:

 “If the structures of British rule tended toward the creation of a united India for the convenience of the rulers, its animating spirit was aimed at fostering division to achieve the same ends. This seeming paradox (but in fact entirely logical construct) of imperial policy culminated in the tragic Partition of India upon independence—so that August 15, 1947, was a birth that was also an abortion.”

 “But despite the mourning in many nationalist hearts at the amputation that came with freedom, despite the refusal of Mahatma Gandhi to celebrate an independence he saw primarily as a betrayal, despite the flames of communal hatred and rioting that lit the midnight sky as the new country was born, there was reason for pride, and hope. India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, put it in words that still stir the soul:

 “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.”

 After 15th August 1947 address to the nation, Jawaharlal Nehru’s long career as PM extending to 17 years was not cent per cent praise worthy. There were many short comings. Shashi Tharoor has written so much on Nehru which is, significant, requires equally detailed comments. Being son of Moti Lal Nehru and educated in England, like Mahatma Gandhi, 29 year old Jawaharlal Nehru became in 1918 the youngest member of congress working Committee. Soon Gandhi chose him as his protégé. During independence movement Nehru spent 18 years in British jail. Thus in 1946 Jawaharlal “became Gandhi’s nominee” for Prime Ministership in interim Government of India. Being Mahatma Gandhi’s heir no leader of equal statue in Congress opposed him.

 Nehru’s first test of competence as PM was his inaction and failure to delete the line, added while accepting Instrument of Accession of Kashmir to India, mischievously by Mountbatten (possibly on the instructions from British Government). Nehru as PM of a Sovereign Country should have deleted this clause. Second blunder of Nehru on Kashmir was, that, too, under Mountbatten pressure or influence, to agree to cease fire when whole of Kashmir could be captured by Indian Army in just a fortnight more – Mountbatten had met Jinnaha in Lahore and had consented without consulting PM or Indian cabinet to refer Kashmir question to UN and thereafter to hold plebiscite. Had there been strong and determined PM like Sardar Patel, so much bungling on Kashmir would not have been there. Infact there would have been no Kashmir Problem at all, which has cost India lives of thousands of valiant soldiers and also lives of innocent Kashmiri citizens besides thousands of crores of rupees.

 Nehru’s other significant failure related to 1962 War by China when Nehru left for Sri Lanka saying I have ordered my Army to “throw Chinese out”. Defeat at the hands of China was so shocking that in a couple of years Nehru died in 1964. Unfortunately though Shashi Tharoor has written so much on Pandit Nehru in his book he has failed to comment on the vital issue of Kashmir and Nehru’s failure one after another to assert India’s views against British Governor General of India, Mountbatten.

 About Nehru’s all embracing nationalism and secularism Tharoor says: “Under Nehru, the Congress remained more a nationalist movement than a political party, embracing every ideological tendency, every religion, class or caste interest within it.” That is why so long as Nehru was PM despite his shortcomings, congress continued to be the only, virtually unchallenged, political party.

 Nehru’s socialist pattern of economics led to what is called ‘Inspector Raj’, whether the inspector is if Police, of Rationing Deptt, of Income tax. Though there was no ministerial corruption but state central of Industry led to increase in corruption and poverty. There were no avenues for the young educated aspirants. Shashi Tharoor rightly remarks “State directed industry simply did not have the absorptive capacity to soak up rural surplus labour.”

 Accordingly the best act of Narsimha Rao with Dr Man Mohan Sigh as Finance Minister was to abandon Nehru socialism and allow so called capitalism which led to rise in private industry, trade and all round improved India’s economy. It opened avenues of employment for poor villagers as well as educated and highly educated youngmen who had suffered under Nehru’s Socialism. Nehru’s socialism combined worst features of capitalism and socialism, so it was bound to be abandoned.

 It is surprising that Shashi Tharoor has neglected many political leaders. For instance there is no mention of Sardar Patel who was Minister of States, consolidated and unified India by incorporating 500 or so Princely States. Sardar Patel ordered the British C – in – C of India, who was reluctant, to send Indian Army to Kashmir when invaders from Pakistan had reached outskirts of Srinagar. There is only one small para on Lal Bahadur Shastri, who won a war against Pakistan and died of Heart Failure in Tashkent. There is no mention of other prominent leaders like Dr Rajendra Parsad, first President of India, Jaiparkash Narain, a selfless Gandhian. Even there is no mention of Atal Bihari Vajpayee who was Prime Minister of India and longest serving. Member Parliament, Shashi Tharoor has written a lot about Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi even mentioned about Rajiv Gandhi and Deve Gowda. These neglects and omissions as outlined above are noteworthy in such an important book on INDIA.

December 16, 2009 - Posted by | Achievers, Biography, India, Indian History, Political Commentary, Politics, Religion, Shashi Tharoor, World, World History | , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Sashi Tharoor has said each and every word in his book like a brilliant politition and patriot as he is concerned for india.each and every word told for nehruji are unquestionable and shows the variety of knowledge of the auther.i will not say that he has not given importance to other significant landmarks of indian polity because in a book as much was written,is enough….hats off to u dr.Tharoor.

    Comment by hitesh bhatt | March 20, 2010 | Reply

  2. If I had a penny for each time I came here… Amazing article.

    Comment by Melvin Hamilton | May 31, 2010 | Reply


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