Thursday, January 14, 2010

Nehru & other myths -

  • tags: no_tag

    • R Jagannathan
    R Jagannathan

      The Nehru myth states, inter alia, that modern India was entirely hiscreation (only slightly true), that he was entirely secular and democratic (not always), that the Nehru family is the only one that has the whole of India’s interests at heart (absolutely untrue), that non-alignment was a wonderful thing, and so on.


      No Nehru myth, no dynasty. This is why the Congress cannot put any leader — Sardar Patel, Ambedkar, Jinnah, Rajagopalachari or Rajendra Prasad — on the same pedestal as Nehru despite the fact that they all contributed much to the making of India.

      Besides, Nehru himself was no perennial success icon. His foreign policy blunders culminated in the humiliation of 1962. His economic policies were equally flawed, as Nehru believed in the Soviet model with minor roles for the private sector.

      His daughter initially compounded his economic follies, but after the 1980s she started changing course. It took a bankruptcy in 1991 to finally abandon Nehruvian socialism.

      The reason why Nehru made colossal blunders was simple: he was vain and hence sycophants could take him for a ride.


      In course of time, the Nehru myth has been extended to the whole family, from Indira Gandhi to Rajiv to Sonia and now Rahul and Priyanka.

      Thus, Indira is the social messiah (bank nationalisation, garibi hatao), Rajiv Gandhi is the moderniser and reformer (though Narasimha Rao actually did more in reality), and Rahul the new youth icon and emancipator. You question these myths at your own peril. Tharoor got a rap on the knuckles only for this.

      Without myths there would be no institutions, for myths are the glue that holds disparate elements together. Whether it is a religion or a corporation, myths are essential and beyond reality.

    • Myths work best when you pay lip service to them, but don’t get hemmed in. If Tharoor wants to change Nehruvian ideas, the best way is to lionise Nehruism and then dump his ideas in practice. This is what we have done with Gandhi. So why not Nehru?

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.