November 14, 2021 - 2:39 pm

A Day To Remember

Jawaharlal Nehru, a social democrat with an accommodative and liberal worldview, a modern architect, had a multi-faceted personality. He inherited a dividend nation with multiple wounds; some contemporary like the partition and some civilizational like caste. He tried to heal them to best of his capacity. His vision was welded in modernity influenced by the West but he did not push it down the throats of millions of Indians. He built a strong foundation of democracy and ensured that India remained open to global influences and ensured that principles of on which India's nascent democracy rested were treated well.

                               The five principal pillars of Nehru' legacy to India - nation-building, Democratic institution building, Secularism, Democratic Socialist economics and a Novel foreign policy (Non-alignment, Panchsheel) still form the cardinal values of India. He wanted to build a Socialist society-equitable, egalitarian, just, humane with democratic and civil libertarian polity. Under his leadership, India had an independent foreign policy. He believed that independence depended on economic strength of a country. The motto of unity in diversity was a good example of his ideology.

                               Nehruvian Era was criticized as a period of weak leadership and slow progress but this was due to Nehru's style of consensus building rather than a confrontational approach. Nehru policy has been derided as effeminate and weak in contrast to Sardar Patel. It is the most erroneous comparison. However, some sections criticize Nehru's policies for being responsible for India's strategic failure as well as domestic problems like the Kashmir dispute. It is essential to understand the contribution of Nehru in the right context and its relevance today.

                               The fears of growing intolerance, communalism and inequality which may disrupt social harmony, debates in Indian Intelligentsia about the erosion of democratic values, freedom of speech and autonomy of public institutions; the emergence of a new era of the cold war between the US and China marks the relevance of Nehruvian ideology even today. Nehru should be remembered for what India is today in terms of robust democratic institutions left. On his birthday, a small attempt to summarize what a legacy he left for posterity.