Nehru’s India : Essays on the Maker of a Nation is a collection of essays on the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, by a series of eminent personalities who have had personal experience of the great man, or knowledge of some rarely known aspect. The book is an excellent resource for all of us, and a short reminder of what a tremendous contribution he made to the nation, and that Modern India owes a debt of gratitude to this great personality.
It brings out a series of rarely known aspects of the former Prime Minister and Freedom Fighter, and introduces us to him as a human being, a real person – not just a character or historical figure on the book pages. That is the strongest part of this book : its personal approach, and its success is creating a realistic image in our minds. The string of facts is suitably intermixed with personal quirks, or other characteristics that all come together to create a real person in our minds, the closest at least I have ever some to Pandit Nehru in my readings.
The best part of the book is it successfully steers clear of controversy, while strongly rebutting the various incorrect notions that are now beginning to get aired in Social Media, leading to a flawed understanding of this great man’s contribution to our national cause. The various thought-provoking articles paint a picture of a nation and the contribution of this hero to the cause of setting up the new fledgling nation in very friendly non offensive ways that are beyond reproach, based as they are on fact.
The book starts with an examination of the 4 pillars of Nehruvian thought : Democracy, Socialism, Non-Alignment, Secularism in a well-presented longish essay that establishes their relevance, and their reasons. Another essay does a searching examination of the Hindtutv angle and its relationship with Pandit Nehru, painting a moving picture of a young to-be-born nation, and the forces arraigned in it, as well as the various international angles & repercussions. This is the frontispiece of the book, as it makets us understand what the environment was like then, and why and how things transpired the way they did. The reminiscence of a Pakistani and his praise for Nehru, with the evocative statement as to how it was due to him India found its path, bring the chapter to a fitting closure…
Another fabulous chapter forms the essay on the early Industrial , Economic, Human, Social, Educational parameters of development – challenging basis facts the impression gaining ground of that era, and laying verifiable facts and sequence of events in front of the reader, proving how there was no option in front of Nehru but to do what he did, including the Public Sector – bringing in support of this various facts, including the Bombay Plan wherein Industrialists themselves asked for state investment in the economic development of the nation.
His contribution – hitherto unknown to most of us – in education and social development is presented in a masterly fashion, as for example in two essays which bring out the land reforms, which had a seminal impact on the development of Rural India. Perhaps the most powerful aspect, brought to the fore in one part of one essay, is the effort to get results in the various plans, and the implementation problems he encountered – something none of us give any credence to, or even accept. The book brings out more than a few ground-breaking initiatives Panditji took as he wrestled with the twin problems of ensuring development as well as getting plans Implemented; none of these plans we are aware of – all of which were targeted at Rural India .
It does bring out some of the errors – none of which are known, by the way. The nuanced analysis of the China issue, for example, and how and why it came about deserves a read… by all of us. You will find it scattered throughout various essays, but together – it gives very balanced view of exactly what might have transpired, and fuels the desire to know more of what happened. As also his personality traits, like his tendency to trust – which had massive positives; but could also hurt at times.
This overall effort of collecting these essays into one book thus serves a great purpose, and a much needed one – that of reminding all of us just how truly lucky we are to have had a great man, and a great thinker as the first leader of the nation. But more than all of this, it brings to the fore the reality that above all, Panditji was a realist, and an eminently practical individual as well as a practical leader. The way he negotiated the pitfalls, and the way he set about implementation proves that. Firm when needed, and soft when needed. Such a man we have not seen since, sadly.
All in all, this is a masterpiece of a work on the great man, one that deserves a read by all Indians. Reading it will enable you to question several wrongly held notions, as well as bring you face to face with the great man – Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, one of the greatest Indians to be born ever. It brings you to face a man who was at home with scientists as well as with rural folk, a man of incredible knowledge, deep expertise in a variety of domains, as well as a man given to total humility and simplicity. Never since his passing has India had a leader with such a tremendously wide spectrum of interests and competencies, knowledge and capabilities…