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Discovery of Nehru - II - Mid-day

Farzana Versey ()
13 November 1996

Title : Discovery of Nehru - II
Author : Farzana Versey
Publication : Mid-day
Date : November 13, 1996

On Nehru's birth anniversary tomorrow, the idea is not to
take away from the majesty of the individual, but to
bring into focus the dilemmas that face human beings who
are forced to be what they are not.

As he could not give them the loin cloth ethnicity that
would give them something to talk about, 1 suspect he
used the buzz word 'industrialisation' to make the Brit-
ish feel that they had done a good job of tutoring the
natives! He had no agenda for industrialisation (except
socialism!) and he was mighty afraid of the spectre he
had created and also envious of those who could do so.
Therefore, while Gandhi, who had no interest in the
subject, happily partook of the hospitality of the Bir-
las, the angel of industrialisation stayed away.

It couldn't have been probity. It was contempt for the
Marwari community who had the money and the business
acumen to take India towards the unholy grail.

It may be difficult to digest the image of Nehru as a
communalist, but in a larger sense he was. In that he
was aware of where he came from and from where others
did. The doyen of the Parsi community, J R D Tata, had
an uneasy relationship with him. If Nehru knew his
Mozart, had been to Cambridge and used his silverware
with a flourish, so rind most Parsis. They built an
empire, believed in philanthropy and did not think it
necessary to hide their westernised thinking. Nehru did
not like that.

The final blow came when Firoze Gandhi, no mean parlia-
mentarian himself, swept his daughter off her feet. The
father never forgave that. Had he not strictly forbidden
Indira during her childhood from reading fairytales?

With Muslims, there was talk of his 'Islamic flavour' and
political amity, but when it came to brasstacks, things
were different. In 1937, he rejected Jinnah's proposal
for a Congress-Muslim League coalition saying that there
were only two parties in India - the Congress and the
British. Many believe this was when Pakistan was born.

Another example of his parochialism is evident in his
sending his widowed sister Vijayalakshmi's suitor, Syed
Hussein, off on an ambassadorial assignment, thus putting
an end to the romance. But on the poor man's death

Nehru, the public romantic, did not forget to build a
mausoleum in his memory. To be fair, he did look after
Sheikh Abdullah's family when the latter was in prison,
which made the sheikh weep uncontrollably on the platform
where the dead Nehru lay.

Millions may have followed his funeral procession and his
popularity in fife may been unprecedented, but it is also

true that security guards hid behind the bushes in his
house and the kitchens of his prospective hosts were
examined before he could taste a morsel. His populism
put him at risk.

Later in life, he was besotted with "the old Hindu idea
that there is a divine essence in the world". His will
stated that his ashes be strewn over the Ganges. It may
not have been a religious gesture, but two days before
his death he had written about the "concept of dharma".

History judge people in many ways. One is to judge them
by their last words. In which case Nehru saw to it that
if the divine essence went out of the grasp of his fami-
ly, divine wrath would turn on the country. The archi-
tect laid the foundation in the form of a magic carpet.
He could pull the rug from under our feet anytime he

Did Nehru, then, also believe in voodoo tricks?

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