Rear Mirror Driving! After 15 prime ministers, what?

By T J S George, in New Indian Express,June 1st, 2020

The Prime Minister who stood out as an authentic author was Jawaharlal Nehru. His ‘The Discovery of India’ and ‘An Autobiography’ are recognised as masterpieces. mirror is put in cars, because it is good to see occasionally what is coming or going behind. TJS George, an outstanding columnist in New Indian express, is doing such an exercise. 

 In his evaluation of 15 Prime Ministers India had, one who stands at the top still is Nehru followed by others. No one of course is perfect, can’t be. But all had some shining traits.

Nehru impacted most?

Some put their stamp on history internationally by their deeds, words and writings. After Nehru they are: Manmohan, Vajpayee’ V P Singh,  Narasimha Rao, Morarji Desai etc. Read and see: why and if you agree. 

Who made the greatest impact for the good of the nation and the whole world? None was perfect, evaluate and suggest how the present PM can do better. History is written by murderous victors in bloody wars. Today the unthinking credulous rush to side with personalities who shine by hook or crook! james kottoor, editor ccv.

Please read below  TJS George

C:\Users\dell\Desktop\6.jpgWhen history bends to the whims of those in power, beware. The British bent it to make them look like benefactors of India. After they left, we have had 15 prime ministers.

 How did they shape history? Some put things down on paper, so we have a fair means of forming opinions about them.Of the half-dozen who wrote books, Manmohan Singh carried the stamp of authority because he was internationally recognised as an economist. 

Atal Bihari Vajpayee and V P Singh wrote literary stuff that appealed to limited groups of readers. P V Narasimha Rao was a linguist and scholar but his books were self-consciously contrived. Morarji Desai was too full of himself to make an impact. 

The Prime Minister who stood out as an authentic author was Jawaharlal Nehru. His ‘The Discovery of India’ and ‘An Autobiography’ are recognised as masterpieces and continue to be read for their literary quality as much as their historical importance. 

That made Nehru the Prime Minister Extraordinaire in the annals of India. Is that why there are attempts now to denigrate him? These are sustained attempts and apparently well planned. It is clear that important segments have emerged in our political society who want to make Nehru look historically unimportant and intellectually suspect. 

Of course Nehru did some blunders — in Kashmir, on the border with China. But his overall record remains strong. Much of the technological advancement that turned India into a modern state grew out of Nehru’s vision. 

He helped establish the network of IITs and the research laboratories under CSIR and DRDO. He ensured liberal funding for Homi Bhabha’s atomic energy projects (knowing that Bhabha’s ambition was to make an atomic bomb; he almost succeeded and paid the price for it with his life.) 

It is the same visionary approach of Nehru’s that made Chandigarh a world landmark. When a capital was needed for the newly created states of Punjab and Haryana, Nehru again thought out of the box. 

The result was celebrity architect Le Corbusier creating a capital complex unlike any other in the world, with a Rock Garden thrown in as bonus. It was as though Nehru wanted to say with Hilaire Belloc: “When I am dead, I hope it will be said that his sins were scarlet, but his books were read.” 

Unfortunately, we have entered an era when books are not read. There is a new audacity that promotes political partisanship with intellectual pretensions. Look at the boldness with which The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library has been renamed Museum of the Prime Ministers of India. 

The psychology behind that name change is transparent. So is the reason. Nehru symbolised secularism and socialist equality. Both are anathema to the present dispensation and, therefore, Nehru has to be deprived of his special status in the minds of people and shown up as one who misled India.  

Efforts to achieve this objective work at the mundane level and at the symbolic level. Anand Bhavan, the legendary Nehru family centre in Allahabad, received a tax notice for Rs 4.35 crore last November although it is a museum-cum-educational centre under the J N Memorial Fund which is tax-exempt. 

At the symbolic level, President Ram Nath Kovind’s first speech in Parliament omitted any reference to the first prime minister of India although he mentioned Deen Dayal Upadhyaya and his contributions to the nation. 

The Prime Minister, for his part, made a two-hour speech in Parliament asserting that democracy developed in India on the foundations established during the Buddha’s time. No mention of the pioneers of the Constituent Assembly who laid the foundations of our democratic republic. 

It is interesting to see how different viewpoints can develop under the same ideological strictness. When Nehru died in 1964, Vajpayee said: “Humanity is sad today, it has lost its devotee. Peace is restless today, its protector is no more.” On a different occasion, his party colleague and the present prime minister said: “Nehru wore a rose on his jacket, but was ignorant of farmers’ woes.” 

With an American capitalist twist, the Wall Street Journal said: “The BJP has not rejected all of Nehru’s ideas — only the good ones such as secularism and the freedom of the press.” 

The bad ones were apparently the “disastrous economic policies” such as socialism and Soviet-style central planning. In the old days, good and bad were defined in ideological terms. Today, everything depends on personalities. If you are with the winner, you have the world at your disposal. If not, you have nothing at your disposal.

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2 Responses

  1. George Nedumparambil says:

    My name sake TJS appear to be a Nehru fan.  I too used to be one.  I remember the days when the school library at Sacred Heart High School, Thevera used to get Span magazine.  This is an American propoganda instrument.  It is printed on high quality paper and used to carry many pictures in colour, something of a rarity in India at that time.  I must have been probably in the 6th standard when I happened to come by a picture  of Nehru and Kennedy together. With permission of librarian I had it cut up and got it framed .  I must have been 12 at that time. I cried when I heard the news that Nehru had died.   By 17 1/2 poverty at home took me to Bombay.  Then it was struggle, some times living as paying guest and sometimes in lodges,not being able to save anything in spite of employment.   Every time I came home on holiday, I used to cry when leaving home.  I used to think what a fate has befallen on me that I had to leave home and struggle out in a strange place.

    Now at 71 and looking back through the rear view mirror, what I see is a lot of missed opportunities.   If the foundation goes wrong, then it is a difficult task to fix it.  Nehru built IIT, Steel Mills, Dams etc. but consciously kept the private sector from evolving. Nehru had to choose betwee three systems: Capitalism, Socialism and Communism.  He went for Socialistic model which is nothing but a softer version of Communism. With this model it was ensured that private enterprise had no real incentive to modernise.  They could sell what they produced due to lack of competition.  Control Raj ensured that it is all but impossible to start anything. Waiting for a scooter (not that I could afford one at that time) was 10 years or more.  The same was true of Ambassor car.  Where did the products of IIT end up ultimately?  Most of them ended up in USA, never to return.   With the benefit of hindsight,  I say that Nehru's economic model was flawed.  His daughter was no better.  She perpetuated her father's policy and even nationalised a very well run airline, Air India.  Look at its condition now.  Left in the hands of Tatas, they would have given Emirates a run for their share of the market.  

    The biggest and most miserable legacy that Nehru  left  behind is the culture  of family based succession policy.  After Nehru, brief intergnum, then Indira, then Rajiv and then Rao (who can be credited with the opening up of India), after that  world renowned expert assuming office, only allow himself to be remote controlled by Rajiv's widow who became president of Congress party.  She did all the trick known to her to prepare her son to carry on the tradition of the family by becoming the PM but failed miserably and he shows no sign of growing up.  So the widow appears to be casting her grandson through Priyanka . His phots have started making rounds in the public domain.  I don't  underestimate this 19 old.  Who knows he could become PM soon like Solomon in the Old Testaments who became king despite of his young age and was wise until his love life undid him.     Whatever, it is a slur on Indian democracy that Congress party is not able to look beyond one family for leadership.

    Modi is a by-product of Nehru's and subsequent Congress PMs from the family's pampering certain minority community and appealing to the conscience of some truly secular minded Hindus that ensured them victory after victory.  Somewhere along the way, the Hindus realised that they were being short changed and gave Congress a miss.  

    Modi hasn't done yet. It is no surprise that reporters, especially those from the Lyutens gang ( I do not know if TSJ belongs to this gang ) not liking him as they no longer accompany him on his foreign tours with free flowing booze and good food on board.  Modi is running ahead of my front view glass. He is of same age as me.  With his disciplined way of living, (something that I lack)  I won't be around to write a rear view on him when the time eventually comes along.  I had no black money.  So I can't complain about DeMon.  If I want to be critical of Modi, he should have realised that DeMon taught him a lesson that nobody likes to pay tax but at the same time all want to live a honest life, something that is not possible under our tax regime which is regressive and forces people to be dishonest. 

  2. Isaac Gomes says:


    TJS George is absolutely right in quoting the Wall Street Journal which said: “The BJP has not rejected all of Nehru’s ideas — only the good ones such as secularism and the freedom of the press.” 

    The present dispensation has one more feather on its hat.  That of maiming the Judiciary which now repeatedely fails to raise its voice for the voiceless and the common citizen in general.  The recent change in the Gujarat HIgh Court Bench is a case in point.  Another precedent is Gogoi's promotion to the Rajya Sabha for passing some landmark judgements in favour of the Centre.

    Dr Manmohan Singh whom Modi used to mock as "Mouni Baba" for hardly speaking, in fact, has done much more that the "Make in India"  or "local vocal"  drum-beating and chest-thumping.  It was during his voiceless regime India's GDP shot up from 3.5% to around 9%. While the whole world reeled under the 2008 recession, India stayed afloat with its head high.  Now it is all bukwas.  The Rs 20 Lac Crore financial package, with hardly any direct benefits reaching the have-nots, is more of building castles in the air than any tangible immediate benefit to boost up the sagging spirit of the Aam Aadmi.

    The current  dispensation is also burning midnight oil to obliterate our country's history and erase the very fact that we were under the Moghul and British Rule, including all their contributions in the fields of architecture, administration and other areas. In the process, it is tinkering with school text books by erasing the country's past history of evolution.





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