Skip to main content

Vicious assault on Nehru’s memory by small men who "confuse" Taxila with Patna

By Mohan Guruswamy*
In the recent months a vicious man called Narendra Modi and his Sancho Panza, a genuinely disagreeable man called Amit Shah, have been hurling all manner of abuse on the pre-eminent founder of modern India - Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964). To paraphrase Varun Gandhi, these two are not even fit to untie Nehru's shoelaces.
Nehru's death anniversary comes this year four days after the results of the most tumultuous elections we have seen since independence. It will pass unnoticed, for his is a name even his heirs hardly ever recall. Thats why I am posting it now, lest the Congress party and the "dynasty" forget the founder?
Jawaharlal Nehru died on May 27, 1964. A major event such as this inevitably gives rise to “where were you?” questions. Where were you when Kennedy was assassinated? Where were you when Indira Gandhi was killed? Where were you when the World Trade Center was brought down? The shock of the event magnifies the immediate around you and imprints it in your mind. I still can vividly recall the day Nehru died and the moment I learnt about it.
He had a stroke that morning at 6.25 am. He lost consciousness almost immediately. He died without regaining consciousness, and according to a member of his household, his death was due to "an internal hemorrhage, a paralytic stroke, and a heart attack." He had returned the previous day from Mussourie “hale and hearty” but Nehru was clearly ailing. Parliament, then in session, and the nation were told about his death at 2.05 pm.
I still remember that moment vividly. Like I still do the moments when I read in the "Deccan Chronicle" about Kennedy being killed in Dallas, and when I learnt about Indira Gandhi being shot dead from Jaipal Reddy. I was in Poona studying German at the Goethe Institute, and after class was cycling into town to meet a friend. As I passed a government building I saw a flag flying at half-mast. I asked and when told a great fear descended over me.
Like many young Indians I too was unwilling to contemplate India without Nehru, despite having read many speculations about who next? The most widely read book on the subject was by the American journalist Welles Hangen “After Nehru Who?”
Hangen speculated on a list of personalities and wrote: “Many people in India who concede that Nehru can now be replaced have told me that only he could have held the country together in the early days after the partition of British India.”
Clearly to many Nehru had outlived his purpose, particularly after the disastrous India-China War of 1962. Not knowing what was in store next sent me scurrying down back to my hostel, where a radio set was reporting the mourning as only AIR and Melville de Mello could.
We began discussing the succession, even though Gulzarilal Nanda was appointed the interim PM, few took him seriously as a successor. By late in the night our fears took over. One refrain was that the military would take over. Another was that either the Communists or the CIA would set off a coup. None of this happened. Nehru had built a modern and democratic India to last.
India was fortunate to have his leadership in the formative years of the Republic. We took the road less traveled and it made all the difference. Recall Robert Frost who wrote: “I shall be telling this with a sigh/Somewhere ages and ages hence:/Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—/I took the one less traveled by, /And that has made all the difference.”
We could have done better but we could have done worse like many other countries in our situation did. The India conceptualized by Nehru and the founding fathers still endures.
Nehru was a man with a towering intellect and a long vision. No one who has read “Discovery of India” will think otherwise. He tried to forge a new all-inclusive nationality for us. I have often tried to explain this notion in simple terms.
This is to make the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai or the Taj Mahal in Agra or the Golden Temple in Amritsar equally our heritage. Every invasion or migratory wave, every musical instrument and kind of music, and every literary form and style that flourished in India was equally ours. The raga and ghazal were ours just as Bhimsen Joshi and Bismillah Khan were our very own.
Nehru made mistakes. When big people make mistakes they are often monumental. He misunderstood the nature of the dispute with China. He tied the economy in the ropes of central planning which only helped spawn very many millionaire tycoons. But he had a bigger vision. He contemplated the new India to be guided by reason and infused with the scientific temper.
Instead we are now increasingly a people driven by dogma and blind faith. Religion and blind faith are our biggest fault lines and the cause of much social friction and breakdown of orderly public behavior and order.
In recent years, the assault on Nehru’s memory has become vicious. It is led by small men, men who don't know history and who confuse Taxila with Patna, Indus with Ganges, and Alexander with Selucus; who don't know science and think the Ganesh was real and not a symbol and who can't tell between a transplant and plastic surgery; and who cannot distinguish between history and mythology, science and superstition, and fact and fiction. They are now trying to define our identity in narrow and divisive terms, and hence excluding the majority.
Our unique diversity and common perception about ourselves bound by a modern and egalitarian Constitution is now being challenged. India has weathered worse. We are, after all, the people of India, that is Bharat. And we still live in the house that Nehru built.
---
*Well known policy analyst. Contact: mohanguru@gmail.com. Source: Author's Facebook timeline

Comments

TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen