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Why Is This Hate Nehru Campaign?

Prof Pradeep Mathur

By Pradeep Mathur*

They never saw, never heard and never read him. And most certainly they know nothing about his contribution to our freedom struggle and the making of modern India. Yet they leave no opportunity to run down Jawaharlal Nehru. And they are as vehement in their criticism as they are ignorant in their understanding of our political history. 

First, I thought these Nehru critics are in the typical habit of talking about the issues they do not understand. Then I felt it is natural for the apolitical youth, now vocal in the euphoria of our economic resurgence, to blame his ancestors for the fact that India is not America. Then political adversaries are always critical and Nehru was a politician. But now I realize that the tendency to vilify Nehru and undermine his contribution is perhaps not so simple to understand. 

True the present generation does not have the same emotional attachment for the leaders of freedom struggle which the previous generation(s) had However, why single out Nehru for all the ills that present-day India suffers from. Why blame him for all the things that have gone wrong while the fact is that things would have been much worst had there been no Nehru to take charge of the country after our independence. 

Nehru lost much of his appeal and the God-like image after the Chinese attacked our north-eastern borders and humiliated us in the border war. Nehru died a disillusioned man one and a half years later. But neither during those 18 months nor after his demise even his worst critics attacked him the way he is being attacked now — more than four-five decades after his death. With most of his friends and contemporaries gone Nehru is now defenceless in his death. And there is nobody to tell these Nehru critics that you are absolutely wrong. 

The generation which felt the pain of Chinese betrayal and humiliation did not abuse Nehru. They neither questioned his patriotism nor his political wisdom. His economic development model was often criticized as being too heavily tilted in favour of industrialization but none questioned his commitment to making India a self-reliant country. If the economy of the country is on sound footing now it is largely because of its sound infra-structure the basis of which was laid by Nehru in the teeth of opposition from many people who could not see beyond their nose.

One can say that none could dare castigate Nehru as his daughter, a very forceful personality in her own right, was at the helm of affairs. But then we did not see this sort of Nehru bashing when she went out of power in 1977. In fact, many people remembered him as a true democrat who would have never gone for a measure like the emergency. Though dead for more than a decade at the time of the emergency Nehru was remembered as a man who respected institutions and institutional culture. 

During his lifetime and till Mrs Indira Gandhi’s return to power Nehru’s worst critics were the socialists of Lohia variety. They felt Nehru belonged to India while they were from Bharat and there was a big class barrier that separated them. Yet, they were never paranoid in their criticism of Nehru and most certainly they were not abusive as the present-day Nehru bashers are. 

Even if someone feels very strongly, though ignorantly, that Nehru was solely responsible for our troubles with Pakistan and China one need not be so obsessed with Nehru for the simple reason that our relations with the two countries are on road to improvement now. No, the real reason of Nehru bashing is not the “concessions” he made to Pakistan on Kashmir or to China on Tibet – something the Nehru critics would like us to believe.

So, why this anger against Nehru?  Who are these Nehru critics and why of all persons do they pick up Nehru to vent their anger?

 In my view, Nehru bashers do not come from a single ideological stream. They are a motley crowd. However, their way of thinking and source of inspiration is the same.

They are young and not so young people who do jobs in retailing, banks, BPOs and financial marketing. They are management executives who run or manage small and medium scale businesses and are engaged in cutthroat competition to make money by hook or crook. They are people benefiting from the construction boom who are committed to the doctrine that the solution of the country’s housing problem is by selling dreams and not residential units to the lower middle class and middle-class people They are people from airlines, hotels and hospitality industries. 

The interesting thing is that none of these persons knows anything about Nehru. Their knowledge of India’s history—recent or medieval– is of the level of Munnabhai. Yet they are neither ashamed of their ignorance nor have any desire to shed it.

Why are they after Nehru?

To give them company there are others .—pseudo-intellectuals in academia, media and middle classes. Since it is difficult to comprehend the changing scenario, to attack a defenceless Nehru comes easy to them. 

Then there is compulsive minority (read Muslim) haters both in and outside Sangh Parivar who seriously need some lessons in India’s history.

 Why are they paranoid about Nehru?

There is one thing in common in all of them. They hate self-restraint, institutional discipline, rule of law and transparency. They are impatient to succeed and worship the “Sub chalta hai” creed. 

The Nehru bashers belong to a new post-1990 generation of Indian society which is a product of the new age of globalised market economy. Money is their only God and money-making businesses, fair or foul, are the way to reach their God. They are the product of a market culture sans ethics. Management education has given them skills and efficiency but no social perspective. For short term success, they can break all behavioural norms—personal, social and professional. Harshad Mehta can be their model and Guru their favourite movie. Any comparison with Shylock does not offend them. 

Why is this hostility against Nehru? 

Though Nehru died when most of them were not born yet they know that Nehru had said that the State must have a controlling hand on business.—economic progress is not the same thing as corporate loot— when you plan big construction like highways, flyovers, multiplexes and malls you should also think of the poor of the country who need a roof over their heads—economic strides should not be made by breaking institutionalized working and procedural norms and the state machinery is there to control malpractices and not to support business in its questionable dealings. 

It is the tremendous moral strength that Nehru gave to India’s small but determined middle-class minority to stand for what is right and correct that this new class of ruthless economic predators hates. Nehru was a symbol for all modern-minded, decent and conscientious Indians who want the country to develop on the right lines in keeping with our ethos and the idealism generated in the wake of our freedom struggle. Such people have been in public life, bureaucracy, judiciary, police, education, media and social work. Despite the best efforts of “environment managing corporate bosses “many of them are still not corrupt. 

Though considerably weakened such people are still putting resistance to insensitive corporate loot of this country. And for this Nehru is responsible and is to “blame”. An attack on Nehru weakens this resistance and leaves the door open for these money hounds. Hence plan, promote, support and sustain hate Nehru campaign.

*Prof. Pradeep Mathur is a veteran journalist and a retired professor from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of indiatomorrow.com.  India Tomorrow does not take any responsibility or liability for the same.)

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