The kindest description of Jawaharlal Nehru’s politics is that he was ambitious, but also a dupe. His thinking was imbued with all the half-baked prejudices of an interwar Europe in disarray and wracked by self-doubt, after the devastation of the First World War, which he managed only to half-digest. Nehru’s two principal chimeras were the virtue of pursuing a peaceful path of goodwill and dialogue towards all and scepticism about the role of markets in an economy.
Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy cast a baneful shadow of unrealism over the sentiments and ideas of Nehru despite any contrary policies in practice, imposed by hard circumstance. Some of his resulting serious errors of judgment are not merely apparent with the benefit of hindsight, but were pointed out to him before he embarked on foolhardy policies, with disastrous consequences. He suffered the ineffable sense of superiority of the Anglicised Indian over their fellow countrymen, deemed provincial by them. Nehru mistook dinner table etiquette for the rigours of hardnosed policy and capitulationism for sagacity.
Nehru’s overweening sense of superiority on foreign policy was unjustified, as his hostility towards the warnings of Vallabhai Patel and the MEA’s formidable Sumal Sinha confirm. Patel died too early to prevent Nehru’s stupidity over China, but he certainly warned of the dangers he had read into its political posture and utterances. Sumal Sinha had considerable experience of revolutionary China and knew the communists well and first warned Nehru of China’s impending invasion of Tibet in 1949-1950 and subsequently the attack against India in 1962. But to no avail. Sumal Sinha has pompously berated and unceremoniously banished to a foreign posting by Nehru, only recalled after India’s disastrous encounter with China, with a brief to countersign all policy documents on China – too late, Sinha had lamented. Nehru’s foreign policies were utterly misconceived, betraying a juvenile grasp of reality and woeful ignorance of history, coloured by an arrogant conviction he knew best.
Patel had somewhat better luck over Kashmir, but Nehru managed to ensure it would remain a huge thorn on India’s side for the indefinite future. Instead of capitalising on military triumph and pressing home India’s hard won battlefield advantage he hobbled India with his UN misadventure, whining to it and being smartly impaled by an unfriendly West. He also failed to compel the integration of Kashmir into the Indian Union and created in its place a Constitutional arrangement that would become the bedrock of separatism. This political setback turned into utter calamity for India with the unconstitutional overthrow of Farooq Abdullah’s government in 1984 and subsequent rigging of elections in Kashmir to advance the fortunes of the Congress mafia in it. And all in the aid of securing his family’s divine right to rule. The two decades since have demonstrated that nothing has changed. The regal presumptuousness of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty persists and an appalling conviction prevails that it is better an India in ruins than the family dislodged and having to give up its hereditary lien to rule.
The more lasting imbroglio that Jawaharlal Nehru set in motion was the incoherent mix between private and public enterprise for the Indian economy. He espoused all the anti-market nostrums that had taken hold in the wake of the collapse of the world economy, considered a major factor in the rise of fascism and the Second World War it provoked. In his defence it might be acknowledged that these views were adopted by Keynesians and prominent economists who joined international organisations after WWII. But he did not listen to dissenting counsel, again being the only profound thinker in Asia and knowing best, although one suspects that his worthy tomes were ghost written.
Nehru was also enamoured by the rapid growth rates achieved by the USSR in the late 1920s and 1930s through a series of five-year plans. Acolytes like P.C. Mahalanobis, convinced him a high level of public intervention was the best option as well. The Stalinist Five-Year plans are now known to have been hugely costly in human terms and achieved through utmost brutality to reduce consumption that increased and wasted capital investment. In addition, India sought to imitate Frances’ experience of dirigisme, but it was mightily bungled after an initial economic surge. The Indian State lacked the capacity to implement ambitious plans, which were fundamentally incompatible with a mixed economy. Planning of the Indian economy was reduced to the wasteful insanity of Byzantine bureaucratic regulation that became an end in itself regardless of cost and outcome.
There is a notion about that Nehru espoused modernity and it was India’s good fortune that he restrained its purportedly natural tendency towards religious obscurantism. This was Nehru’s perception of most of Hinduism and its past, but not a contention he would have dared pose at Islam. Congress party insiders confess he preferred to socialise with Muslim courtiers and warmed to the abridged Mughal courtesies of his Kashmiri advisers. The Kashmiri elite’s penchant for mouthing banal Urdu couplets and ersatz regal gestures is not likely to save their community from effective erasure from history. They became refugees in their own country, among their own shameless co-religionists, prone to much talk and little action. Like the entire population of Constantinople, which was biologically extinguished in 1453 (enslaved or murdered en masse) after its conquest by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, the writing is also on the wall for Kashmiri Pandits.
It is true that Nehru encouraged Homi Bhaba and Vikram Sarabhai to research atomic energy, but its need to assure India’s energy future was compelling in any case. The significance of attaining mastery over nuclear fission required no great foresight after America’s unilateral use of the ultimate weapon to secure a quick victory over Japan to prevent Soviet entry into the war with it. Perhaps the successful IITs he established may not have been sponsored by another prime minister, but they were merely a sane policy. But the wider economic and political legacy Nehru left behind has meant that they are one of history’s great transfers of intellectual capital from a poor to a rich country, i.e. from India to the US. In every other dimension the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty has failed India, with little of the urgently needed education of the rural masses, abysmal public health provision and the repudiation of any notion of urban planning that has made most cities a nightmare to live in. City planning has been totally subverted by rank corruption, with every two-bit politician vying desperately for the Urban Housing and Urban development portfolio in regional government.
Yet the greatest crime the Nehru-Gandhis have committed against the Indian people is to have signally failed to unite the nation, to create a steadfast citizenry. Sardar Patel’s stunning achievement establishing the political unity of India never got the credit it deserved and was not followed up with serious State policies to consolidate the nation. By contrast, many reverent tomes have been written on the violent German and Italian unification of the nineteenth century. Indians achieved independence and self-respect after more than 1000 years of servitude and enslavement, but little was attempted after Indian independence to give its citizens a sense of identity, belonging and pride in them. In its place, India’s elite hysterically eschews its own past and contemptuously repudiates the horrific sufferings of their ancestors.
Instead the basis was laid for the Gandhian catastrophe of appeasement politics for electoral gain and open door policies legitimated for imperialist Christian evangelism, sacrificing, in the process, the northeast of India in entirety. The unconstitutional overthrow of the Government of Kerala was carried out in 1959, giving a foretaste of the shape of things to come, which were dictatorial rule and the politics of division to perpetuate it. Nehru’s subversion of Kerala’s communists occurred in cahoots with Muslim extremists and Syrian Christian and Nair landlords, opposed to land reform. Nehru had showed his disdain for Indian democracy, if it dared question his divinely ordained ascendancy. Like the colonialists, who had handed power to him, misuse of sectarian divisions in Indian society was to become the default setting for rule by the family.
The Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and the many nefarious regional variants that followed it, managed to institutionalise the politics of division on the basis of caste, language and religion in the Indian polity. Every nascent social fissure and fracture became a basis for truculent political mobilisation by outright criminals, across the length and breadth country. Its corollary was the denunciation of every vestige of national unity as Hindu majoritarianism, communalism and sedition by a poisoned stiletto called secularism! Even the colonial British had not dreamed of the potential of exploiting caste and religious divisions on the magnitude since achieved. Much of it is totally fictitious and the fabrications are a facade for grand larceny by a criminal political class and their many hangers-on in the media and Indian academia. In the past decade it has been raised to an art form that recalls the worst aspects of the scale of plunder by Nadir Shah and the sophistication of Wall Street and the City of London financial gangsters.
Virtually all memories and record of Indian culture and history were assiduously re-configured by a base class of sarkari professional academicians, who sport imported badges of supposed honour, with bold titles affirming foreign loyalties to Marx, socialism, etc. Distortion and deceit were their hallmark of their criminal enterprise. They propagated the most blatant lies about an allegedly innate Hindu propensity towards violent, racially-motivated discrimination, to the delight of India’s imperial detractors and their Christian evangelist surrogates. Even the recent definitive disclosures of the monumental crimes of Maoism fail to diminish the tenderness these vile creatures feel towards a regime like neo fascist contemporary China that bears all its classic textbook hallmarks. But the regime pays their bills on visits at five star hotels in their imperial capital and business class travel of course. Many have been amply rewarded and ended up in American Universities that offer US$ 200,000 annual salaries to such Leftist traitors.
When it is not loyalty to some putatively Leftist regime abroad, usually criminal in fact, their begging bowls are held aloft for any crumbs from the American CIA, routed through prominent Foundations known to be their fronts. In exchange, they become coolies for the global evangelical church and Jihadi tormentors of Hindus. One seeks to impose enslavement, the other is determined to subvert and subjugate India through religious conversion. The evangelists seem to be striving to turn India into another version of the Philippines, which American defence planners regard as a very large brothel for the Rest and Recreation of their soldiery, while they commit genocide in the region. These vile creatures spare nothing in India’s past and everything in its scriptures and history is decried. In their ‘paid intellectual endeavour’ Hinduism is, ultimately, a reprehensible conduit for racialist caste violence that justifies its erasure. The destruction of the Indian State itself, a subtext that Christian imperial powers seek, is also justified on the grounds of some spurious upliftment of the downtrodden.
The whole idea of Indian national unity has become an enemy for the perpetuation of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. They are cultivating every sectarian sentiment and division in India, from Telangana and Tamil Nadu to UP and Arunachal Pradesh. The grim lust for power of Islam and Christianity is also being wielded as weapons of choice against Hindus. The legislative programme of the Indian parliament has become hostage to an outrageous intention to criminalise all Hindus, by passing a so-called Communal Violence Bill. Its provisions would do justice to the harshest interpretation of the Shariah on the place of unbelievers in society. The wider legal apparatus of the Indian State has also been corrupted beyond redemption in the pursuit of an unashamed political agenda to defame and decapitate political rivals.
In a final blow of unthinkably damaging proportions, the sanctity of vital national security institutions of the Indian State has also been cast to the winds for paltry political gain by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. In fact, there is now ample evidence that this dynasty has become the nominee of imperial powers, seeking to take indirect control over India’s destiny, efforts at which commenced immediately after 1947. Such is the venal greed of the foreign descendants of the Nehru-Gandhi clan they are prepared to be docile junior partners of the world’s most vicious Christian empire, in order to retain their own unholy hold on power and continue looting. But there are powerful signs that Indians are not buying their lies and succumbing to their conspiracies any longer. They are not prepared to help foreigners seize control of their country yet again, with the family remaining in harness like the nominal rulers of so many banana republics elsewhere.
It is this mandate from heaven, masquerading as democracy that Narendra Modi is challenging. For decades now, Indian democracy has had more to do with the fate of Jawaharlal Nehru’s descendants, a distasteful regal dispensation. It has not been a genuinely open pluralism, in which knowledgeable voters choose explicit goals. The menu on offer has been opaque caprice, misrepresented as high moral purpose, usually the welfare of the poor, in terms that Marie Antoinette might have found excessive.
The vacuous resort to the slogans of secularism and communalism is evidently past its sell-by date, with fewer and fewer takers for their befuddlement. The increasingly savvy Indian voter, sensitised to the refined deceptions of life in urban settings, is escaping self-defeating parochialism. Cynically exploited hitherto, the voter has realised that Narendra Modi can deliver and has delivered the actual goals they thought they had been voting for. Piquantly, Narendra Modi is truly one of them, from a background as humble as could be imagined. Many privileged Indians are also happy to let him redeem them, by helping him empower their many other fellow countrymen denied for so long.
Dr. Gautam Sen taught international political economy at the London School of Economics and Political Science for over two decades.