Once a hero….. Now an outcast


Birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru. A man beyond descriptions,yet one with infinite descriptions. One of the founding fathers of world’s largest democracy,Architect of modern India,a great patriot,thinker,writer,one of the country’s most inspiring and loved leaders,a role model for every aspiring patriot and above all one of the foremost statesmen of twentieth century.Yet his birth anniversary today is marked by a remarkable inactivity and the leader is quickly becoming a forgotten hero in his motherland. Why? Why such a snubbing of this great patriot? The answer lies in more than his own fallen reputation.

In this post information revolution, post-liberal era where scrutiny,criticism and to use an extreme term dissection of the life and contribution of every public person is a norm,it is normal to have a fall of reputation but in the case of Nehru,the issue also lies with the deeds or rather misdeeds of his family.

Nehru’s family,years after his demise went on to become the first family of the congress party and reduced the organisation and its leadership into a bunch of yes-men and in some worse cases sychophants who could never gather themselves to question the actions or inactions of the family. The hetrogenous and democratic congress party was turned into a family business. To further this, the contributions of the members of the family was stressed much at the cost of other leaders whose immeasurable and invaluable contributions were sidelined. So much of the founding fathers like Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Rajaji, Bose, Tagore, azad and many more were sent to oblivion. Under successive congress regimes,most of the roads, schemes and institutions were named after the members of the ‘First family’ and others forgotten.

Then came the information revolution. With internet, the past was dug up again and there was this massive rejection of this nepotic and dynastical tendency amongst the new aspirational post-liberalisation generation. They identified more with the forgotten heroes and saw the family as a symbol of and reason for all the things wrong with the indian system. And naturally Nehru was not exempted. He was portrayed as the founder of the dynasty who was the sole reason for it,the person who snubbed other fellow freedom fighters and a narrow minded politician though all of this was far away from truth. In turn,the over celebration of Nehru turned out to be a demon for himself with cries belittling him and for taking away those honours were raging.

And sensing a political opportunity, the opposition especially the BJP jumped in to cash in politically from this anti dynasty movement turning it to an anti congress movement and especially anti-nehru movement given his great legacy that stood as a challenge to them.

Consider this tweet by BJP national spokesperson Sidharth Nath Singh on October 31,the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel and the death anniversary of Indira Gandhi

This is a testimonial to the tendencies explained above. There might be political difference between Mr Singh and Indira Gandhi but still she was a leader of the country and has made her own contributions along with the shortcomings. The more important thing is that comparing her with Patel doesn’t glorify the latter but degrades both. This is because Patel comes from that generation of leaders for whom public service was beyond being candid about one’s own achievements and importance. So it will be wise if we refrain from differentiating between national heroes on partisan lines as such as patriots like them were untouched by partisanship of today’s life.

A letter written by sardar Patel to Nehru exemplifies their spirit of unity and contradicts the Nehru v/s Patel debate of the day:

“My services will be at your disposal,  I hope for the rest of my life, and you will have unquestioned loyalty and devotion from me in the cause for which no man in India has sacrificed as much as you have done.  Our combination is unbreakable and therein lies our strength.”

And I hope it settles that matter.

So all these factors took a toll on Nehru too and despite not being succeeded by a family member he was branded a dynast and was unduly criticised at many fronts. It is not that Nehru is beyond criticism but just that criticism should not amount to belittling his contributions to the nation. This is applicable to other founding fathers of the nation too. Nehru had his merits and demerits and they are worth a debate but what is not acceptable is the character assassination that is carried out.

It is absolutely normal that political parties want to ply these heroes for their own advantage.But we should understand that Jawaharlal Nehru and other founding fathers of this great nation was moved and instigated by great motives and were of great sense of selflessness. They were patriots and not partisans and had great sense of statesmanship. It will be towards national interest to respect their contributions and not to pit them against each other while during their lifetimes they appreciated each other’s contributions and sacrifices for making this great nation free and taking it to further heights.

Let us celebrate their contributions as deserved as from those celebrations our future generations shall get to know about these great men and inspire them to serve the country.

Most importantly, let us not create partisans out of patriots. Happy children’s day.

Post script:

This happened after I finished the draft. The prime minister has applauded the contributions of Nehru at a rally today amidst political differences and even an election campaign. It is a highly appreciable and a worth-emulating show of statesmanship from the prime minister and it shall be very well in order if both his own partymen and their opponents and leaders are able to follow on.



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