Great men make great mistakes!

The first prime minister of India, Mr Jawahar lal Nehru, the author of the two famous books- ‘Discovery of India’ (as if it was lost!) and the ‘Glimpses of world history’, was a well known international personality and a very close aide of the Mr M. K. Gandhi aka “Mahatma Gandhi” . In fact, so much was Mahatma’s benign faith on him that on both occasions of congress working committee presidency elections in 1939, with Subhash Bose as the leading candidate and in 1946, at the time of Vallabh Bhai Patel’s ascension as the prime ministerial candidate of free India, he readily favored his own cronies from a well -knit clique of his toadies in the congress.

Sardar_patel_(cropped)
Studio/31.10.49,A22b Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel photograph on October 31, 1949, his 74th birthday.

The night of 15 August 1947 was the fateful night;  when the future of this independent nation would be decided by the Gandhi favored prime minister Jawahar lal, the socialist rather than the pro-west Vallabh Bhai. In retrospection, one could see the ideological blind spots of Nehru viz a viz China and Russia. His penchant for nepotism is well documented and well classified in the annals of the Brooks-Henderson report, whose only privy is probably Sir Neville Maxwell. Then again, there is a temperamental man who could be rude and inconsiderate even to the most important members of his cabinet. His disagreements with Sardar on various issues ranging from Kashmir to Chinese incursions are now open for scrutiny in lieu of the letters written to him by Patel as warnings of the repercussions of his highly idiosyncratic and romantic approach towards world politics.

How much we owe our problems to his love affair with Lady Mountbatten is not discussed in Indian circle of “eminent historians” or the congress cronies aka the Nehruvian bards. Like most of the mortal men, he had a soft spot for beautiful women, possibly,  a trait he shared with Mahatma Gandhi as well. The stories were aplenty in the gossip circles and the obscure press reports of his relations[1,2]. Then, after all these things we celebrate his birthday as the ‘children’s day’; which in my opinion should be called ‘lover’s day’ and devoted to all types of mushy activities and affairs.

Edwina’s daughter Pamela Mountbatten admitted in an interview that her mother might have catalyzed her father’s efforts towards convincing Nehru to refer the Kashmir issue to the UN. The British-designed ‘Instrument of Accession’was blundered with by Mountbatten and Nehru when it was time for the critical decision, referred the issue to the UN and promised a plebiscite, the people’s vote.

–  Sanskriti Pandey

Coming back to the crown of thorns over India’s head – Kashmir, its historically known that Jawaharlal Nehru was a close friend of Sheikh Abdulla, who launched “Quit Kashmir” in 1946 and was  jailed by the Maharaja of Kashmir for dissent. Nehru wanted to intervene in the issue and when he entered into the state he was stopped by Maharaja’s troops. Nehru took it as an insult and never forgave Hari Singh. Who at that time was aware of the Nehru-Abdulla alliance and therefore hesitated to sign Instrument of ascension in India’s favor.  Later on Nehru pressurized the Maharaja to appoint Sheikh Abdullah as Prime Minister of State. The same friendship turned sour in 1953 when Sheikh was charged with conspiring against India, helping Pakistan to annex J&K and inciting communal disharmony and arrested. When Indian Army was ready to recapture the area taken by Pakistani invaders,  Sheikh Abdulla suggested Nehru not to advance further. Nehru didn’t allowed to attack further and logged the case in U.N.O and to this day we deal with the area known as POK (Pakistan Occupied  Kashmir); thereby making it an international issue.

The solution provided by UN Commission was “Issue would be resolved by democratic means of plebiscite once the Pakistan withdrew its troops from captured territory”. India declared ceasefire on 1st January and Pakistan never removed its forces from captured land.

The Nehruvian apologists also argue that it was he, who initiated the construction of IITs and IIMs. Well, point is well noted. But tell me, my friend, how much have these institutions contributed to the development of India as a nation and how much have these contributed to the intellectual stockpile of the west. To this day we ask for technology transfers and “Make in India”. We are not exporting technology or ranking high on innovation. If the purpose of IITs and IIMs was to mass produce highly knowledgeable clerks of technology, then its quite understandable.

The economic vision of Nehru for the poor third world country was also flawed in its conception and implementation. The basic challenge for a poor country such as India was to increase its stock of productive capital as and access to the modern technology. This was in line with what many other nationalist leaders believed in the decades preceding independence like Subhash Bose and Sardar Patel. Then, the fact that domestic savings rate regulate the speed of wealth or capital accumulation.  The subsidies or entitlements given to that end, in the Nehruvian plans, to lift India out of poverty are conspicuously missing.

The Russian economic historian Alexander Gerschenkron had argued in his theory of economic backwardness that countries that had not yet industrialized did not have to wait for the right conditions to appear.  He said that institutional innovation was the way forward for those who were late into the game: Germany had used investment banks to push its initial industrialization.

– Niranjan Rajadhyaksha

Following the Russian model, the Nehruvian plans had a similar logic of using the state as an entrepreneur as well as providing capital to private industry through special development banks in the absence of deep financial markets. A more technically correct explanation would be that Nehru wanted the state to dominate the production of capital goods and intermediate goods so that the Indian economy has enough strategic depth to withstand any future attacks on its political autonomy. But it was eventually the shortage of food in the late 1960s that forced India to compromise on its foreign policy in return for wheat shipments.

Strangely, despite the reservations on foreign trading companies, Nehru still allowed the British companies like Brooke-Bond and Uni-lever among others to operate in India after independence and manage their cash flow to British reserves. This paradoxical behavior is not understandable and creates a strange suspicion of him working in cohorts with the previous masters to maintain their presence via the same companies that sucked India dry. His daughter Indira carried forward the same legacy but with a few additions of her own. It was she who converted the Indian National Congress into a family business. She first brought in her son Sanjay and, after his death, his brother Rajiv as head of Congress and head of Government.

Then comes the question of overpopulation we face today. Speaking to the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East in 1948, for example, Nehru noted that he was

all in favor of the population being checked, but I think there is a great misapprehension when so much stress is laid on this aspect… We are overpopulated, if you like, because our productive capacity is low.  If we increase our production, agricultural and other, if this population is put to work for production, then we are not overpopulated.

This type of thinking maybe good for a largely agrarian society, but is quite out of sync with the industrialization and human development index efforts. Thus, throughout the Nehru era, from 1947 until the Prime Minister’s death in 1964, India attempted to balance “underproduction” and “overpopulation.” Just to see the demographics, from 1991 to 2001, the Indian Muslim population grew by 29.3%, in the period 2001-2011, it grew by 24.4% – a fall, therefore, of almost 5 percentage points. The Sachar Committee Report, taking this falling growth rate into account, has estimated that the Muslim proportion will stabilize at between 17% and 21% of the Indian population by 2100. From the 2011 Census are accurate, Hindus grew at an average annual rate of 1.4% between 2001 and 2011 and the  Muslims, by 2.2%.

In 1947, Hindus constituted over 20% in Pakistan and 36% in Bangladesh. Now, they are less than 1% in Pakistan and about 8% in Bangladesh, thanks to Pakistan’s ’71 war crimes and ethnic cleansing. While in India, the Muslim population has risen from about 10% in 1947 to about ~23% today.(This is such an example of Indian Intolerance!)

With over a billion people, India is still struggling to eliminate poverty and then comes Manmohan Singh with a strange statement that muslims have the first right to the capital  and economic assets of India. While they enjoy their muslim personal law – which by the way no western country gives them or they ever demand- and they keep steady on their high birth rate and the access to modern medical facilities. Isn’t it also their duty to rein in the birth rate so as to halt the population explosion? Maybe not…then it would be intolerance and encroachment upon their right to make babies as the will of Allah and not the intercourse itself. The law should be same for everyone and impartial in its approach. The appeasement policy of the British to keep India divided is still in practice by the Congress, who is conning India since 1947, or maybe before that.

The so called great men are well aware of their status and power and hence are expected to act with great concern and sense of responsibility. The fate of nation is in their hands sometimes and if they stumble the nation crumbles; if they stand firm with well thought out and impersonal decisions that benefit the masses in the long run, then the roots of the nation run deeper and it stands firm. The story of Nehru is a classic example, where a well read and Cambridge educated leader, who had written two books on history, left behind a tale of strange decisions and blunders for generations to suffer. Had he learned his lessons well and not written the books to impress the west, he would be in the position to be counted as the man who forged a strong nation that arose from the ashes a thousand years of slavery and centuries of colonialism.

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