There were two heroes during my school days – we wrote essays about them, we spoke about them in our speeches and generally thought of them as role models – Bapu and Chacha Nehru.
Our first Prime Minister, Pandit Nehru, who passed away 50 years back on this day. He was a beloved leader during the Independence struggle and a beloved leader as PM and remains a beloved leader. Sure, hindsight is 20-20 and everyone may poke holes in his policies today, but there is one thing that no one will ever doubt – his love for India.
Pandit Nehru loved this country and every action he took was in the best interests of our country, there is just no debate on that. Yes, there can be wishful thinking about what-if scenarios – what if Subhas Chandra Bose had lived and become the first PM, what if Sardar Patel had become the PM etc etc etc. Probably India would have been better off or probably worse off, we don’t know. The fact is, Panditji was the best man on 15th Aug 1947, to be the first PM of Independent India.
His legacy and contributions seem diminished because of what his daughter, grandsons and great grand children did and are (not) doing. Hey, he didn’t make Indira the PM, he would have been just as appalled with Sanjay Gandhi’s antics, he would have been devastated if the Sikh massacre had happened when he was alive and he would have been heartbroken about the Assam and Gujarat riots. Panditji was genuinely a great man who was compassionate and cared deeply about the citizens of his country and believed in peace and harmony. He learnt to work with people who exasperated him, he gave respect where due and was an amazing ambassador for India in the world.
Sure he made mistakes and why not ? Everyone makes mistakes, even Bapu and even Mother Teresa made mistakes ! But his intentions were good and he brought grace, charm and statesmanship to the PM’s chair. I am a fan of his contemporary Subhas Chandra Bose, but I am equally a fan of his.
Today was Narendra Modi’s first day in office as the 15th PM and at the risk of irritating the “Indira” Congress folks, am sure Panditji is smiling and blessing Modi, and his heavenly tweet would be “Now begins India’s tryst with destiny again, to become a strong and vibrant nation that leads the world. Acche din le aao, Narendra bhai.” Pandit Nehru was truly egalitarian and a democrat…. he would have been so proud to see the swearing in ceremony yesterday, to see the young ministers take charge and a tea seller taking oath as the PM. Democracy won, and the foundation that he laid for it stays strong. What a great legacy he left behind. You doubt it ? Look at our neighbours 😦
Thanks to Panditji that our PM Narendra Modi or you and I can choose to say what we think is right and disagree and debate Pandit Nehru without fear – it’s Pandit Nehru’s gift of democracy to India, it’s his founding vision. Jai Hind and thank you Chacha Nehru.