Nehru: A Political Biography

Nehru: A Political Biography

Nehru: A Political Biography

Nehru: A Political Biography

Excerpt

Time moves swiftly in contemporary Asia. At the turn of the century Western Powers held sway almost without challenge. Since then new ideas and forces have come to the surface, inducing change among the ancient peoples of the area. The result has been the still-unfinished Asian Revolution, worthy of study not only for its human interest but also because it has shattered the traditional relations between Asia and the West. The present work is, in part, an attempt to view that revolution in its Indian setting. The story is many-sided and complex. Many persons played a notable role. But only one, Jawaharlal Nehru, links the years of promise and fulfilment, of nationalist agitation and national construction. Indeed, the life of Nehru is admirably suited to serve as the binding thread in an account of recent Indian history and politics. Hence, I have employed the technique of biography to shed light on political events, ideas, and movements. At the same time I have used the Indian revolution as the background for a study of Nehru the man and the statesman. The book is, then, both a biographical history and a political biography. The approach is chronological and topical, covering the period from the 1880's to the summer of 1958 and ranging widely over the panorama of Indian politics.

A biography of a living statesman can never be entirely satisfactory. Some of the source materials are not available, some major themes in the plot remain incomplete, and one's judgements do not have the benefit of perspective. Yet there are compensations: the opportunity to talk at leisure with men who have lived through and have helped to shape the events analysed in this book, especially important because Indians, for the most part, are reluctant to write memoirs; the opportunity to capture the spirit of a society in motion and of the man about whom one is writing; and the possibility of breaking new ground.

If this book provides some clues to the tortuous course of recent Indian history and politics it will have served one major purpose. If it succeeds, at least in small measure, in making Nehru more intelligible to his admirers and critics alike, it will have served another. If it provides some insight into the role of the outstanding . . .

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