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Nehru favoured state control over resources: Irfan Habib

Professor Irfan Habib delivering a lecture to markthe 125th birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru inNew Delhi on Saturday. Photo: S. Subramanium

Professor Irfan Habib delivering a lecture to markthe 125th birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru inNew Delhi on Saturday. Photo: S. Subramanium  

Working on the premise that Jawharlal Nehru’s world-view “provides the bedrock upon which alone this nation can sustain itself,” the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust on Saturday launched a lecture series that seeks to reconstruct and recover his “idea of India” while critiquing it.

Delivering the first lecture in the series christened, “The Indian Modern & Nehru,” eminent historian Irfan Habib flagged the key interventions made by the country’s first Prime Minister during the freedom struggle to lay the foundations of independent India.

In particular, Prof. Habib dwelt at length on Nehru’s celebration of reason and advocacy of a welfare state; two interventions that ran contrary to what Gandhi had spelt out in his book Hind Swaraj. “Gandhi spoke of self-help and minimal state but Nehru felt that people wanted a supportive state and advocated public sector control of mineral resources, railways, industry,...’’ Nehru also advocated ‘land to the tiller,’ something which Gandhi was opposed to, Prof. Habib added.

Pointing out that Gandhi chose Nehru as his political heir despite these differences, Prof. Habib said 1947 saw their two streams of thought unite like never before. “Both wanted communal slaughter to stop. And, they wanted Muslims to remain in India even after Partition as should Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan. Very few Congress leaders agreed with them.”

Challenging allegations that State control over resources was a personal agenda of Nehru, the historian pointed out that public sector control over mineral resources, key infrastructure and industry were mentioned in the Karachi Resolution and was part of the official Congress policy from the early 1930s.

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 2:58:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/nehru-favoured-state-control-over-resources-irfan-habib/article6625734.ece

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