This is reference to the article “The commanding heights of Nehru” by Ramachandra Guha (Nov.13). When Nehru was in high esteem, the Communist Party of India came to power in Kerala. The Congress’s strength eroded steadily even when he was the Prime Minister. His cabinet colleagues were forced to quit on charges of corruption. Though Indira Gandhi was in public life he did not name her as his political heir. That Mrs Gandhi rose to become a powerful leader is history.
On the sad state of affairs in the Congress today, it is because of the leaderships intolerance of second rung leaders, in turn their mutual distrust and self interests.
A. Subbalakshmi, Bangalore
It was interesting to read Mr. Guha’s article. It is true that people born after the 1980s think Nehru to be some sort of a conservative leader. But unfortunate thought this perception may be, he has to be recognised as one of the most dynamic leaders to rule the country and guide the Third World. Nehru commanded more respect than his country’s share in world politics. Contrary to popular belief, he must be recognised as the champion of the cause of the public sector. Most of his economic policies are the model in lesser developed countries. He never misused his popularity in India to strengthen his party. Instead he focused on strengthening the country. Today, what we take for granted — a working democracy, secularism and the supremacy of judiciary — is the contribution of leaders like Nehru. Unfortunately remembering Nehru either ends up excessive praise or excessive criticism from different sections. But let us remember him as a great visionary leader of India.
Suresh Nandigam, Hanuman Junction, A.P.
Jawaharlal Nehru was perhaps the greatest statesman of independent India. His commitment to secularism in particular was unquestionable. One can easily understand the pressure he might have faced to declare India as a Hindu state after Pakistan declared itself as Islamic Republic during those communally charged days. His contribution to make India be counted in the world arena was outstanding. He rightly deserves to be compared with the great Mandela. His evaluation will, however, not be fair and objective in case we choose to ignore his disastrous handling of the conflict with China. This is the silver jubilee year of our humiliating defeat in that war. Perhaps it was a war that could have been averted or handled better.
Satya Veer Singh, Faridabad
Mr. Guha has cleared quite a number of misconceptions about the first Prime Minister. I have always felt that Nehru has never been given full credit for any of his great deeds that includes the freedom struggle. Despite his aristocratic background, he remained wedded to the cause of the masses. One should not forget that he spent more than 10 years of his life in prison during freedom struggle.
His ideas on the economy, foreign policy and socialism are still very relevant. It is sad that the Congress party which swears by Nehru has totally forgotten the Nehruvian model. The descendants of Nehru are far removed from his ideals and there lies the irony.
J. Anantha Padmanabhan, Srirangam
It has puzzled many, why Nehru, an ardent democrat and defender of individual freedom, chose the Soviet model of planned, state-led development instead of the entrepreneur-driven economic model of the West. It appears that his deep distrust of colonialism made him wary of mercantilism and its predatory culture of concentration of wealth in a few hands. The point is he did what he thought was best for the nation in those troubled times. At the same time, historians should resist making comparisons between Gandhi and Nehru, two leaders with different worldviews and philosophies of life. Gandhi’s death gave Nehru a free hand to implement his political vision. Would Gandhi, had he lived a little longer, have approved the centralised model which was antithetical to the his decentralised village-led growth model?
V.N. Mukundarajan, Thiruvananthapuram
The Nehru legacy ended with the death of that remarkable Indian, Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru. I do not think any Indian accepts the Gandhis from Indira Gandhi through Rajiv Gandhi, Sanjay Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi as true Nehru descendents. None of these possesses even a faint tint of Nehru of whom Michael Gorbachev said, “This amazing man, his noble bearing, keen eyes and disarming smile, made a deep impression on me”. Every one of them has systematically destroyed the “sagacity and moral depth of Nehru’s political vision”
Col. C.V. Venugopalan (retd.), Palakkad
Keywords: Nehru legacy