The Quintessential Nehru
Raman, A. S., Contemporary Review
THE Indians remember Nehru only twice a year, on May 27, the anniversary of his death, and November 14--his birthday. For the rest of the year they don't spare a thought for him. But on these two occasions the entire nation pays him homage extravagantly. The scenario and the script are the same year after year: a gush of radical rhetoric, a flamboyant but empty ritual, effusive rededication to broken promises and unkept pledges, and hypocritical reassertion of faith in his already repudiated concepts of socialism, secularism and social accountability. In other words, the 'Theatre of the Absurd' enacted on the debris of his legacy, desecrated by the very party -- the Congress -- which over the years he assiduously developed into a vibrant, value-based and self-renewing national organisation geared up to the challenges of post-Independence polity. The party had shown signs of decay even in his life-time. Finally, it died with him, though his successor, Lal Bahadur Shastri, tried to resuscitate it.
Jawaharlal Nehru stood for certain graces and norms without which he believed democracy would be an expensive, self-negating extravaganza which a poor country such as India could hardly afford. He had a complex rather than a composite personality. He was an endearing enigma. He could feel comfortable in the company of a US president as well as a Malayalee fisherman in the remotest village of Kerala. The opposites blended in him so harmoniously that he could relate gracefully to any genuine expression of the human spirit. He had the rationalism of the West and the romanticism of the East, the radicalism of the left and the refinement of the right, the empiricism of the scientific temper and the empathy of the creative mind, the ebullience of youth and the elegance of age, the modernism of the present and the mysticism of the past, the agonies of a revolutionary and the ecstasies of a humanist, the passion of a nationalist and the poise of an internationalist, the hauteur of a blue-blooded aristocrat and the humility of a man of the masses, and, above all, the instincts of a man of affairs and the insights of a man of letters. In fact there were many Nehrus not just one: the thinker, the writer, the Gandhian, the Marxist, the revolutionary, the atheist, the darling of the masses, the envy of the elite, the autocrat, the humanist, the conformist with leanings towards Buddhism, the Hindu swayed by the mystique of the Ganga, the doting father and the trusting and transparent internationalist. An ardent admirer and, at the same time, a severe critic of Nehru, Walter Crocker who, as Australian High Commissioner, had a …
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Publication information: Article title: The Quintessential Nehru. Contributors: Raman, A. S. - Author. Magazine title: Contemporary Review. Volume: 265. Issue: 1544 Publication date: September 1994. Page number: 138+. © 1999 Contemporary Review Company Ltd. COPYRIGHT 1994 Gale Group.
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