NEW DELHI: India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru supported a Uniform Civil Code for the sake of a secular society, eminent historian Romila Thapar said today.
She was addressing a symposium on 'Nehru and Today's India' organised by the University of Cambridge here.
"He couldn't go the whole hog because again there was severe opposition to him and he could not do one thing which I suspect he might have liked to do - to have a uniform code bill for all Indians irrespective of religion," she said.
On Hindu Code Bill, Prof Thapar said that contrary to perception that Nehru brought the Bill to modernise Hinduism, it was for "the recognition that if you want to have a secular society you have got to have secular civil laws that are uniformly applicable."
She added that on the issue of economic planning, he doesn't get enough credit because the way his policy was carried out may have "misfired".
"I always think that maybe one of the reasons we have survived relatively untouched as an economic whole is because he laid the foundations for a basic economic programme," she said.
Referring to the liberalisation of Indian economy of the '90s, she said, "In 1991 there was the whole issue of opposing it and turning it around but I don't know whether it was a good or bad thing."
In an interesting take on what might have been Nehru's attitude towards social media she said, "He would have said 'those who wish to do it can indulge in it. I will stick to writing letters'."
The other panelists on the discussion included Prof Rudrangshu Mukherjee, British author Patrick French, Prof Gyan Prakash and Prof Christopher Bayly.