The Nehruvian era of errors

'Blunders' is used in the book as a general term to include failures, wrong policies and bad decisions.

Published: 25th February 2017 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th February 2017 02:33 PM   |  A+A-

Jawaharlal Nehru with Mahatma Gandhi

Express News Service

The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” Idols have feet of clay. The origins of this expression lie in the Bible (Daniel 3.3). In the King James version, “His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.” The idol’s feet weren’t completely made out of clay, they possessed iron too. 


Jawaharlal Nehru was Independent India’s first Prime Minister. There is a tendency to idolise him, blow his importance up disproportionately and relatively denigrate roles of others.

A case in point is a book published in 1958 by Alexander Campbell, titled The Heart of India. It was downright patronising, but the only reason it remains banned in India is because of uncharitable references to Nehru. Conversely, there are also harsh critiques of Jawaharlal Nehru’s policies and his legacy too. Nehru was PM from 1947 to 1964, a long span. The heady post-Independence hubris led to an eventual nemesis. 

Nehru’s 97 Major Blunders
By: Rajnikant Puranik
Publisher: Pustak Mahal
Price: `350;  Pages: 223


In 1964, he wasn’t the individual he was in 1947. On balance, with the assets and liabilities, was Independent India better off with him as PM? What would some other PM have done? Is Nehru being criticised for foreign policy miscalculations, handling of Kashmir or economic policies? The answer shouldn’t be in black or white, but in shades of grey.


As the title of this book makes abundantly clear, this is a dyed-in-black volume. It lists 97 of Nehru’s major blunders. I thought of adding three more, and making it a round figure of 100. Ten more blunders are listed in something like an addendum, but are not included in the numbering.  

These blunders are classified under distinct heads—Pre-Independence, Integration of Princely States, External Security, Foreign Policy, Internal Security, Economy, Misgovernance, Educational and Cultural Mismanagement, Hubris and Dynastic Democracy.  


The facts are not new. All these blunders are known.  And none of the blunders is discussed in great detail, at best, a page or two. I have read good (and bad) books on Nehru, irrespective of whether the authors liked or disliked him. 


But I haven’t yet seen such a ready reckoner of Nehruvian blunders. Let me give you a quote, from ‘Debilitating Babudom’, as a sample of what you can expect. “The Nehruvian era laid the foundations of Indian babudom that is authoritarian, arrogant, callous, unfair, heartless, ill-mannered, indifferent, incompetent, inefficient, ineffective, nepotistic, sloppy, sluggish, self-seeking and shamelessly corrupt. Bureaucracy is now Kleptocracy….We now have babudom that indeed have very low IQ—low Integrity Quotient.” 


The Preface explains how the word “blunder” has been defined. “Blunders is used in this book as a general term to also include failures, neglect, wrong policies, bad decisions, despicable and disgraceful acts, usurping undeserved posts, etc.”

Stay up to date on all the latest Books news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp