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Nehru, the architect of modern India

Nehru, the architect of modern India
Highlights

Nehru\'s patriotism is under scanner. One need not malign or denigrate anyone to portray some other as a great person. Ideological differences among the celebrities shall not be construed as enmity

Nehru's patriotism is under scanner. One need not malign or denigrate anyone to portray some other as a great person. Ideological differences among the celebrities shall not be construed as enmity, hatred and ill-will. Anybody who read Nehru's writings on analysis of the caste system, importance of temples, 'Amazing intellect of Adi Sankara' and 'Enlightened rule of Srikrishnadevaraya' in "Glimpses of World History" and "Discovery of India" and his unbounded faith in Indian culture expressed in his will, would not pass any sweeping remarks

Gandhi Jayanthi (October 2), a national holiday, and his Vardhanthi (January 30) have been rituals – a visit by VVIPs, with all the paraphernalia to the Raj Ghat, paying floral tributes, praying and sermonising his principles. Bars and liquor shops and non-vegetarian restaurants are expected to be closed. Jawaharlal Nehru's Jayanthi and Vardhanthi are merely a formality.

Nehu's patriotism is under scanner. He is branded anti-Hindu, accused of creating the Kashmir problem and many more. Exclusive credit is paid to the Sardar for liberation of Junaghadh and Hyderabad and unification of India by forcing the former rulers to heel on their knees to sign the Instruments of Accession.

If Patel could succeed in avoiding or defying Nehru in all other Princely States, why he could he not do so in Kashmir? The Iron Man should not have surrendered to Nehru's whims and fancies. I hasten to add that I do not have an iota of doubt about the strength, courage, sagacity and strategic wisdom of the Sardar; much less his bona fides and intentions.

A hypothetical statement, often made by high and low: "If Gandhiji were to select Patel as the first Prime Minister of free India, the course of India's history would have been different; for the better.” It is one more in the list of innumerable "Ifs and Buts of History." Religious bigotry is no answer for any type of intolerance. Patel himself sensed it. As Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the Constituent Assembly on Fundamental Rights, Minorities and Tribal and Excluded Areas, he was the architect of the Chapter III of the Constitution, enshrining the Fundamental Rights, which include the Articles dealing with religious rights. It stood the test of time and judicial scrutiny. Nepal was a "HINDU RASTHRA." Pakistan is an Islamic Republic. Where do to they stand now in the comity of Nations?
Anybody who read Nehru's writings on analysis of the caste system, importance of temples, 'Amazing intellect of Adi Sankara' and 'Enlightened rule of Srikrishnadevaraya' in "Glimpses of World History" and "Discovery of India" and his unbounded faith in Indian Culture expressed in his WILL, would not pass any sweeping remarks.

Even by deed, Nehru might not have been religious as conceived by the hardcore. But he was never a blasphemer; nor even an agnostic. On 24th July, 1963, Nehru laid the foundation for the Srisailam Hydro Electric Project, one of the "Modern Temples of my dream." Previous day, he reached Kurnool by a special train from Hyderabad and travelled to Srisailam by road. In the afternoon, after laying the foundation, he visited the Mallikarjuna Swamy (One of the 12 Jyothirlingas) and Bhramarambha Devi (one among the 18 Sakthipeethas) temples, located on the same premises in Sarisailam. Archakas performed special Poojas. Nehru was found enjoying the beauty of the temples. (The matter was reported in Andhra Patrika (July 25, 1963). I have the original with me: Courtesy Ramenine Bhaskarendra Rao, Madanapalle. I am prepared to share the same with those interested.
I would like to quote a couple of incidents in Nehru's life narrated by late Dr Budharaju Radhakrishna, an academic, scholar and writer, in his autobiography "Vinnantha - Kannantha" (As Heard and Seen - Pages: 82 and 83). Encouraged by their Professor, Dr Sarvepalli Gopal, a group of students from Andhra University undertook a tour of Delhi in March 1952. Their first destination was Parliament. The scholarly G V Mavlankar was the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Nehru the Prime Minister, and the opposition was represented by the outstanding parliamentarians and orators like Prof Hiren Mukherjee, Ashok Mehta, S A Dange, Syama Prasad Mukherjee and Ram Manohar Lohia. Meghanatha Saha, astrophysicist, best known for his development of the Saha Equation and an Independent Member, rose and said: "If the Government of India is able provide Rs 4 crores of grant to any organisation or any university, other than mine, without expecting anything and leaving no stone unturned, I will be able to develop our country in nuclear science/atomic energy. The amount is required to purchase Cyclotron and not for organisational set-up or maintenance.” A furious Nehru retorted: "A country that gained independence through non-violence will not tolerate such 'foolish ideas.’" Silence was writ large in the House.

Next item on the agenda. Nehru, expressing his support, read a letter from the UNO, requesting the deputation of Saha to lead an Indian delegation in the preparation of a World Panchangam. An ever smiling Speaker asked, "Where is the Member?" Only a few noticed the 'walkout' by Saha. Assuring the Speaker to secure the presence and consent of the Member, seeking half an hour time, Nehru urged the Speaker to proceed with the next item. Within minutes Nehru and Saha entered the Parliament Hall. Still brim-faced, Saha Said: "It is unbecoming, if a 'fool' represents this great country in the UNO.” A cooled down Nehru said: "I did not call him 'fool'; but his ideas 'foolish'.” According to May's Parliamentary Procedure, 'Fool' is unparliamentary, but not 'foolish'. In case, out of emotion, if a fool like me had uttered such words, is it fair on the part of a great personality like Saha to take it so seriously?" An Ajathasathru Mavalankar said: "This is a request from the Chair." A climbed down Saha said: "Obediently follow your order."

Will we be able to witness repetitions of such episodes in the history of our Parliamentary Democracy? Nehru had utmost respect for the Parliament. He never missed a single day; sat through the proceedings; listened to one and all; reacted promptly ("Vinnantha - Kannantha" (As Heard and Seen - Pages: 82 and 83).

Nehru was known for his quick temper and as well as for humour. He was scheduled to visit the office of the Chief Epigraphist, Archaeological Survey of India, Ooty, at 4 pm, on a particular day; and from there proceed to Race Course to address a public meeting. Dr Dinesh Chandra Sircar was the Chief Epigraphist. Nehru did not turn up till 4.50 pm. Sircar ordered the closure of the office and went home. Nehru came by 5 pm. Choukidar, a Nepali Sepoy, saluted the PM and the accompanying Lt Gen Kumaramangalam and stood firm like a pillar. Finding the absence of the Epigraphist and locked office, in a fit of anger, Nehru broke some glasses with a rod. As per the orders of the Governor, Epigraphist was summoned by the Collector. A repentant Nehru asked Sircar: "What will be the cost for replacement of the glasses?” An unruffled Sircar replied: "I am not a carpenter." Nehru passed on a cheque for Rs 5,000 and urged Sircar to excuse him – a self inflicted punishment. He paid another Rs 116 to the Nepali Sepoy and asked Kumaramangalam to consider his case for increment and out-of-turn promotion for being duty-conscious. Sensing the mood of Sircar, Nehru did not insist on opening the office and went to the public meeting. There he publicly apologised for the 'misdeed' and said "Apart from being late by one-and-a-half hours to the meeting, I am a culprit. I had broken the doors of a government office" and questioned the audience: "Is such a person fit to be Prime Minister? I am thinking of resigning." There was a spontaneous response: "No; No." Nehru did not defend his mistake and on the other hand sought the people's verdict. That is political wisdom.

One need not malign or denigrate anyone to portray some other as a great person. Ideological differences among the celebrities shall not be construed as enmity, hatred and ill will. Nehru was born destined to spend his days in one of the biggest bungalows in contemporary India, 'Anand Bhavan.’ By practising Law, he could have constructed a bigger one. Next to Gandhiji, he was the most dreaded Congressman. An astonished Queen Elizabeth asked Nehru as to how could he find time and material to write such masterpieces as ‘An Autobiography,’ ‘Glimpses of World History’ and ‘Discover of India,’ Nehru quipped: "Your Excellency, I was in your predecessors' jail for more than nine years from 1921 to '45; longest period by any participant in the national movement."

K C Kalkura

(The writer is an advocate and president of Gadicharla
Foundation, Kurnool.
He may be reached at
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