Nehru's Legacy and the Future of India

02 12
"It was he, mainly, who amalgamated and galvanized in India: Democracy, Socialism, Secularism and Nationalism."

Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India was a socialist, an internationalist,
and a defender of civil liberties in an age when most were willing to
compromise on personal freedoms in the service of the state, leading a state
and at the head of a successful nationalist movement with which he was often at
odds. He was a most articulate head of government, an intellectual among mere
statesmen. Mahatma Gandhi had called him “Pure as crystal” identifying as the

“chosen instrument” of God.

The
federal structure of our polity, the system of Parliamentary Democracy, the
Legislative, Judicial and Executive division of State functions, the
professionals, apolitical nature of the Civil Services and Armed Forces, the
introduction of a planned economy with the public sector having an infrastructural
role, the policy for industrialization, development of Science and Technology
and Atomic Energy, the reformation of the agrarian class structures, the
creation of major irrigation and power systems, the emphasis on involving and
developing the youth of the country, creation of Scientific Temper, of
strengthening the cultural traditions and social ethos in the nation – all
these diverse yet closely related aspects of national life received positive
and creative impulses from Panditji. It was he, mainly, who amalgamated and
galvanized in India: Democracy, Socialism, Secularism and Nationalism. He
provided the ideological composite for national reconstruction.

Nehru
had the fine sensitivity of a poet, the pure capability of a scientist, the
fire and passion of revolutionary, the patience and understanding of a teacher,
the zest and enthusiasm of a youth in full flower, the sense of mission of a
martyr, the personal magnetism of a messiah, the compassion and kindness of a
mother, the knowledge and attention to detail of an encyclopedic, and the moral
and ethical strength of a saint. Nehru lived life at a very intense level of
intellectual, emotional and physical commitment. He had that wonderful quality
of natural charisma and tremendous personal charm.

There
is, understandably , a keen desire to appreciate more closely, exactly and
comprehensively, the manifold positive effects of Nehru’s thought and action :
on the status of individual, and on national and global issues and processes.
Simultaneously, there is growing body of expert examination and assessment of
the relevance of Nehru’s perceptions of the future and his strategy for
beneficial change. Nehru’s vision of Socialist Reconstruction of Human Society,
New Frontiers of Science, Economy and Emerging World Order, and Creative
Imagination: Literature and the Arts,
each of these key elements are organically connected with the overall
perception. On

August

14, 1947, speaking in the Constituent Assembly in the emerging
moments of India’s independence, Nehru said : “… We have to labour and to work
… to give reality to our dreams. Those dreams are also for the world, for all
the nations and peoples… Peace has been said to be indivisible; so is freedom,
so is prosperity now… in this One World”

The
core conceptual goal formulated by Nehru, as Prime Minister of India in
August 1947, was expressed at a time
when even three summers had not passed since the cessation of the horrors of
the Second World War and when, in fact, the world was already polarized and
terrorized by conditions of a bitter Cold War, when much of the Third World was
still under colonial domination and the Racist creed of hatred held brutal and
unchallenged sway. During his period as Prime Minister, although Super-Power
rivalry and the Cold War menaced humanity, with peaceful co-existence seeming
an evanescent dream, Nehru voiced his faith in humankind’s future time and
again. His was perhaps, a lone voice at that time but it expressed the
prophetic vision of a prosecutor and pioneer of a higher human civilization
still in the making. Nehru’s “Glimpses of World History” contains super
exposition in this context. “Ideas and economic conditions make revolution”, Nehru
wrote in the Glimpses.

Jawaharlal
Nehru’s ideas of socialistic construction were formed after deep study and
introspection. In essence , his approach was a harmonious , ethical and
non-violent combination of liberal ideas and thought. On 49th
session the Indian National Congress , Lucknow , 1936
again as Congress President ,Nehru declared
“….Socialism is thus for me not merely an economic doctrine… it is a
vital creed which I hold with all my head and heart… I should like Congress to
become a socialist organization and to join hands with other forces in the
world who are working for a new civilization”. These statesmen indicate Nehru’s
ardour for socialism but it is important to appreciate that the intensity with
which Nehru avowed socialism was matched by equal power of conviction about the importance of non-violence and human
rights with the whole of being supported by the Gandhian commitment to ethical
and moral values.

Nehru
was convinced about the virtues of the democratic system which he called “the
best of all the various methods available to us for the governance of human
beings…Democracy gives the individual full opportunity to develop”.
Simultaneously, Nehru stressed the importance of giving political democracy
‘economic content’. His tremendous contribution to the history and development of
modern political thought to spell out and apply the concept of Democratic
Socialism with the parliamentary form of government. The validity and and
perspicaciousness of Nehru’s economic model for growth and international
economic cooperation is also reflected in emerging trends in the world’s
economic order and the internal system of national economies. The role of
science , which is meaningful only in relation to the extent it mitigates
poverty and diseases, and promotes global prosperity , was critical element in
Nehru’s vision of the future .Nehru cautioned also in a speech at a Science
Congress that if Science” gets divorced completely from the realm of morality
and ethics then the power it possesses may be used for evil purposes… if it
ties itself to hatred and violence, then undoubtedly it will bring much peril
to the world”.

Nehru’s
idea of a secular nation state was seemingly validated when the Congress, under
his leadership, swept the provincial elections in 1937 while the separatist Muslim
League failed to form a government in any of the Indian provinces. But these
achievements were seriously compromised
in the after math of the Quit India Movement in 1942. As an agnostic ,
he believed in rationality, secularism and a scientific approach as the true
means of progress in India. He understood that the destruction of religious
superstition by secularism was the only means to a peaceful India. In a country
divided by religious differences , of fundamental nature , Nehru looked at
secularism as a great cementing force of the diverse people of India.
Secularism had to displace the religious outlook if people of India were to
live and grow together in unity and fraternity. Nehru represented the Western
form of secularism very well. He visualized the Arts and Literature play a
crucial role in clarifying sensitizing and heightening social vision the world
over, leading to an enlightened manifestation of the human spirit.