Skip to main content

Attacked for China policy, Nehru never shied away from 'responsibility' towards Tibet

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*

On the 131st birth anniversary of India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, which fell on November 14, large number of people paid him rich tributes. However, some notorious IT cell members did their dirty work engaging in character assassination. Their attempt to degrade Nehru, which they have been doing for quite some time, has not succeeded. In fact, Nehru has become more popular and immortal than those who hate him would have thought of.
Nehru was a pivotal figure of India's freedom movement, an icon, and definitely much more broad minded and futuristic than most of his contemporaries. None is suggesting that he did not have shortcomings or that he alone won us freedom, though his sacrifice for India’s independence is unmatched. He was in British India’s jails for more than nine years.
However, his role Prime Minister needs to be seen in a particular context. Many times movement leaders fail miserably when they take the seat of governance. World over, many of the leading figures and his contemporaries of anti-colonial struggle became superheroes in their country, but concentrated power in their hand. Unlike Nehru, they became institutions by themselves. However, Nehru created multiple institutions to strengthen democracy.
Most of the freedom movement leaders passed away in less than a decade of India achieving independence. Gandhiji was killed by Nathuram Godse in January 1948. Sardar Patel died in December 1950, and Baba Saheb Ambedkar in 1956. Subhash Chandra Bose was also not there to guide the nation. So the nation pinned all hope on Nehru, who was immensely popular, and yet, with all his humility, remained democratic.
Nehru was no demagogue like many who are seeking to compete with him. He was a thorough democrat. He would sit through Parliament to listen to major debates. An informative piece in the “Indian Express” by P Raman on the period from August 16, 1961 to December 12, 1962 said, "He made 32 statements and interventions in Parliament on China. He spoke over 1.04 lakh words on the India-China border dispute, running into well over 200 printed pages."
The article quotes from Nehru's statement in Parliament, “I want freedom of action. I say, first of all, that nothing can happen without this House being informed. Secondly, we should agree that nothing should be done which, in the slightest degree, sullies the honour of India. For the rest, I want a free hand” (Lok Sabha, August 14, 1962).
Let us put this question in the context of the Galwan valley issue and the Chinese incursion in India. How many times the current regime spoke about it in Parliament? Most of the information is not shared under the pretext of confidentiality. How many times did the Prime Minister speak and call Parliament to discuss the issue in detail?
Nehru has been attacked for mishandling the China policy. Right-wing trolls and IT cell disinformation campaigners blame him for the Chinese debacle. No doubt, Nehru was betrayed by China. But it is also a fact that Nehru's Tibet policy was consistent. He never got away from it. One just needs to refer to his his interviews with international press for this. In fact, he never shied away from his responsibility towards Tibet.
Nehru adhered to his commitment to the refuge given to Tibetan friends, including their spiritual leader Dalai Lama, till the very end. He never changed his stand. He persistently spoke of peace. No doubt, our forces were not well-equipped that time. But one must remember: Nehru's focus was mostly on building India economically. He never compromised on that.
One just needs to compare it with today's leadership, which suffers from a myopic vision. Despite the fact that it knew how China would respond, Narendra Modi continued to trust China and went overboard to please the Chinese leadership. After the Chinese incursion our Prime Minister never said anything about China. There is not a single mention by him in any of his public utterances or on the border while visiting the troops.
Nehru wanted good relations with neighbours. Despite partition on religion lines, he never suffered from religious hatred
If this had happened with Pakistan, Modi and the brave IT cell campaigners would have virtually threatened war, warning, India would 'eliminate' the country from the earth. The Prime Minister did not even never care to greet the Dalai Lama, even when the world greeted him for his enormous contribution to world peace and harmony. Though the government does know the importance of Tibet and Buddhism, its silence on the Dalai Lama reminds one of how has the current regime looks at the issue.
Nehru wanted good relations with neighbours. Despite partition on religion lines, he never suffered from religious hatred. He tried to cultivate good relations with the Pakistani leadership. Volumes of Nehru's speeches and letters are now out. Surely, they will shed more light on the personality of the man who can be called the builder of modern India.
The two men who shaped our life and destinies in modern India are Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru. They were political rivals, yet they complimented each other ideologically. Both had scientific temperament, respect for democracy and state socialism. Nehru had immense love for Buddha and Buddhism, while Dr Ambedkar did the greatest service to India by reviving Buddhism in its place of birth.
Nehru could have become a dictator. He remained loyal to democratic norms and values. He always traveled to the border areas, but one never saw him in an army fatigue. A leader of his popularity could have easily created personalised institutions. But he loved criticism. Opponents mocked at him and his Anglican ways. But none could challenge him on commitment to his ideology and knowledge.
Nehru saw Jay Prakash Narayan and Ram Manohar Lohia to be future prime ministers. He wanted Dr Ambedkar to be the President of India – an offer rejected by Dr Ambedkar, as he did not want to confine himself to being a ceremonial head.
Today's generation needs to question those who vilify Nehru. Ask a simple question as to why they hate him, and one would get the answer. They use Nehru's hat, tie and smoking, or lighting a cigarette for Edwina Mountbatten, or even hugging Vijay Laxmi Pandit, who was his sister, in order to campaign against him. These photographs are used to portray Nehru as a debauch and dirty.
Unfortunately, they don't think beyond their extremely limited intellectualism. Personal lives of celebrities and public figures do attract attention. But that cannot be the basis of judging someone. Just using the photographs without knowing the context is dangerous. Indeed, one does not expect from the poor IT cell rumour mongers to speak for women’s rights, or the spouses who have been left unattended.
Nehru is not above criticism. But this criticism is coming from those who don’t want to ask any question as to why their leader has never addressed a single press conference. Nehru never used media to vilify his opponents. Even if Nehru was not a political leader or Prime Minister, he would have been a great literary figure. One would any day love to read his books, articles and listen to his speeches. What a remarkable man he was!
Whatever the opponents say, Nehru's footprints will always be felt, particularly at a time when our democratic institutions, which he built, are under fire. Indeed, his idea of inclusive India alone can save us and protect our democracy from the current fascist onslaught.
---
*Human rights defender

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

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".

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.

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

Cyrus Mistry, PM Modi’s brother: What do these accidents have in common? Merc!

By Rosamma Thomas*  In September 2022, in an accident at Palghar near Mumbai, Cyrus Mistry, former chairman of the Tata Group, died in a road accident . On December 28, 2022, a road accident in Mysore left one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s brothers injured. What is common in these accidents? The car that crashed into the divider on the road, in both these cases, was manufactured by “prestigious” German manufacturer Mercedes Benz. One former dealer of Mercedes Benz cars in India has been raising issues of the threat to the lives of those riding these cars for many years now. Cama Motors, among the oldest dealers of foreign cars, having started business in pre-independence India, noted over 10 years ago that Mercedes Benz was indulging in corrupt practices . The cars are currently priced between Rs 41 lakh and Rs 2.92 crore in India; few people realize that the pride of owning a Merc comes at considerable risk to life. Cama Motors carefully documented several of the flaws on a websi

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

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