Young World

Letters of knowledge

In 1961: Nehru and Indira - in the pursuit of knowledge.  

Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, was a man of letters. His book, Glimpses of World History shows the depth of his knowledge and passion for world history. Letters from a Father to His Daughter, a compilation of letters that was published as a book, is a simple account of how the world evolved — “Beginnings of the World”. The first letter, Book of Nature explains how life began in the universe. Nehru goes on to speak about languages, civilisation, trade and other concepts in letters he wrote from Allahabad to his daughter Indira during her stay in Mussorie in the summer of 1928.

New horizons

Four decades later in 1973, Indira wrote, “These letters... aroused a feeling of concern for people and interest in the world around. They taught one to treat nature as a book. I spent absorbing hours studying stones and plants, the lives of insects and at night, the stars.”

When the book was to be published in 1929, Nehru said in the foreword that with these letters he hoped that children would begin to think of the world as “a large family of nations”. Indira was 10 years old around the time of receiving these letters.

Days before turning 13, on October 26 1930, her father began to send her more detailed letters. With these letters, he wanted her to have an all-round understanding of the world, and not just restrict her knowledge and comprehension of history to one or two countries. These letters — totalling 196, which Nehru was to send over the next four years, were written from prison. The last of his letters in this series was written in August 1933. A year later these letters running into over 1,000 pages were compiled in a book and published as Glimpses of World History.

In a postscript to the book written in 1938 at the request of his publisher, Nehru draws to attention the intensification of international conflicts and tensions from the intrusion of the Italian army in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) to the Japanese invasion of China.

In the concluding paragraph, he notes, “Each year has brought its full crop of disaster; what of 1939 on whose threshold we stand? What will it bring to us and the world?”

World War II began in September 1939...

“ I am afraid I can only tell you very little in these letters of mine. But that little, i hope, will interest you and make you think of the world as a whole, and of other peoples in it as our brothers and sisters.”

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2020 5:45:38 PM |

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