Ramachandra Guha’s brilliant article (Nov. 12) was very welcome. The “commanding heights” of Nehru was made abundantly clear to me in the late 1970s when, as a young man, I was on a flight from Algiers to Paris. Seated next to me was a middle-aged professor from Congo, I believe. I was animated about the sad state of affairs in my home country. He listened to me patiently and said with great equanimity: Nehru gave India its institutions, its structure, its universities. Some elements of these existed before but he strung all together and made them functioning. You have no idea what it is like to live in a country where there is no institution. The flight was short and we soon parted. The real lesson for me was he gave me a context to think.
Amitava Sarkar, Kolkata
Mr. Guha has brought out beautifully how Nelson Mandela and Gorbachev were inspired by Nehru.
Even Lee Kuan Yew, the great leader of Singapore, seems to hold Nehru in high esteem as can be seen in his autobiography. Another anecdote one can recall is when Nehru visited the United States with his daughter Indira. A reporter asked Nehru, “Will she succeed you?” He was taken aback but replied with contempt, “Ours is a Democracy.”
V.V. Subbiah, Chennai
Mr. Guha has showered bountiful encomiums on the first Prime Minister, which he richly deserves. Politicians of yore were selfless to the hilt, ensured probity in public life and had the propensity for ensuring the progress of the country and the well-being of the multitude. Contemporary politicians indulge in communal and caste politics to feather their own nests and to create vote banks.
H.P. Murali, Bangalore
The article gave a dispassionate feel, contrary to Nehru baiting and eulogising by various sections in contemporary India. The legacy of Nehru as a human being, as a statesman and as a politician without myopia is what has to be understood before critiquing him for all the economic and political ills that is infinite in India of today.
What is unfortunate is that his democratic credentials have been usurped by a coterie of the Gandhi-Nehru clan that seems to be keen on self-aggrandisement and benevolence towards its corporate benefactors. His economic policies may have been skewed and proved to be counterproductive in cases, but that does not make him a felon. His legacy is that he could, after the disastrous upheaval of Partition, keep the country intact. If we jettison the ideals of visionary men like Nehru and Mandela, it will be at our peril.
Anilkumar Kurup, Manama, Bahrain
Nehru’s vision and contribution to change India as an industrially developed nation and his foresight to infuse a scientific temper and develop R&D centres in all parts of the country have been largely instrumental in the advancement of our space science programme and for the giant public sector undertakings. Our IITs stand testimony to his vision in the educational field.
Thank you, Mr. Guha.
S. Nallasivan, Tirunelveli
There is no doubt to say that there was no contemporary so well versed in international political affairs and relations as Nehru. His efforts during the Asian Regional Conference of March 1947 in Delhi to bring Asian leaders on to a single platform and focus on “Asia for Asians” explains his true vision for his country and Asia. It is the Nehruvian charm and vision which laid the very foundation of independent India.
Havish Madduri, Vijayawada
It is a sad truth that an increasing proportion of our youth has developed misleading notions about Nehru. There is far more to India that goes beyond the scope of Gandhiji and it is important to enlighten our youth on the ideals Nehru and his contemporaries stood for. It is time we took more meaningful measures like introducing his works in school courses rather than just marking his birth anniversary as Children’s Day.
Siddharth Krishnamurthy, Secunderabad
Keywords: Nehruvian legacy