New Delhi, November 14 (NDTV): Several Congress leaders on Sunday paid rich tributes to Jawaharlal Nehru on his birth anniversary, with the party hailing the country’s first prime minister as a visionary who laid the foundations of modern India.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi offered floral tributes at Shanti Vana in New Delhi, while several party leaders paid glowing tributes on social media to the Congress stalwart.
Born in 1889, the Congress stalwart remains the country’s longest serving prime minister.
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi posted a quote of Jawaharlal Nehru — “What we need is a generation of peace” — and said remembering India’s first prime minister who greatly valued truth, unity and peace.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also paid a tribute to Nehru and hailed the contribution of farmers, soldiers and labourers while remembering India’s first prime minister.
The party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala hailed Jawaharlal Nehru’s contribution and said he played a major role in making India a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic.
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal paid a tribute to Jawaharlal Nehru, saying, “We are the children of our Republic he cherished and nourished. He built institutions of the future. He celebrated diversity that is our strength.”
“We should worry that what he stood for is slowly being demolished!” he said.
The Congress, on its official Twitter handle, paid rich tributes to Jawaharlal Nehru.
Here’s a tribute to one of India’s brightest jewels, Bharat Ratna Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.#RememberingNehrupic.twitter.com/u2cOVYlhnN
— Congress (@INCIndia) November 14, 2021
“A hero of our freedom movement, a visionary who laid the foundations of modern India, a nationalist who stood fearlessly to protect India’s interests, an inspirational human who transformed the thought of generations, Pandit Nehru was a true son of Bharat Mata,” the party said.
Mohan Guruswamy on what Nehru meant for India after independence
I still can vividly recall the day Nehru died and the moment I learnt about it. He had a stroke that morning at 6.25 am. He lost consciousness almost immediately. He died without regaining consciousness, and according to a member of his household, his death was due to “an internal heamorrhage, a paralytic stroke, and a heart attack.” He had returned the previous day from Mussourie, “hale and hearty” but Nehru was clearly ailing. Parliament, then in session, and the nation were told about his death at 2.05 pm.
I was in Poona studying German at the Goethe Institute, and after class was cycling into town to meet a friend. As I passed a government building I saw a flag flying at half-mast. I asked and when told a great fear descended over me.
Like many other young Indians I too was unwilling to contemplate India without Nehru, despite having read many speculations about who next? The most widely read book on the subject was by the American journalist Welles Hangen “After Nehru Who?” Hangen speculated on a list of personalities and wrote: “Many people in India who concede that Nehru can now be replaced have told me that only he could have held the country together in the early days after the partition of British India.”
Clearly to many Nehru had outlived his purpose, particularly after the disastrous India-China War of 1962. Not knowing what was in store next sent me scurrying back to my hostel, where a radio set was reporting the mourning as only AIR and Melville de Mello could.
We began discussing the succession, even though Gulzarilal Nanda was appointed the interim PM, few took him seriously as a successor. By late in the night our fears took over. One refrain was that the military would take over. Another was that either the Communists or the CIA would set off a coup. None of this happened. Nehru had built a modern and democratic India to last.
India was fortunate to have his leadership in the formative years of the Republic. We took the road less travelled and it made all the difference. Recall Robert Frost who wrote:
“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
We could have done better but we could have done worse like many other countries in our situation did. The India conceptualised by Nehru and the founding fathers still endures.
Nehru was a man with a towering intellect and a long vision. No one who has read Discovery of India will think otherwise. He tried to forge a new all-inclusive nationality for us.
I have often tried to explain this notion in simple terms. This is to make the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai or the Taj Mahal in Agra or the Golden Temple in Amritsar equally our heritage. Every invasion or migratory wave, every musical instrument and kind of music, and every literary form and style that flourished in India was equally ours. The raga and ghazal were ours just as Bhimsen Joshi and Bismillah Khan were our very own.
Nehru made mistakes. When big people make mistakes they are often monumental. He misunderstood the nature of the dispute with China. He tied the economy in the ropes of central planning which only helped spawn very many millionaire tycoons.
But he had a bigger vision. He contemplated the new India to be guided by reason and infused with the scientific temper. Instead we are now increasingly a people driven by dogma and blind faith. Religion and blind faith are our biggest fault lines and the cause of much social friction and breakdown of orderly public behaviour and order.
In recent years, the assault on Nehru’s memory has become vicious. It is led by small men, men who don’t know history and who confuse Taxila with Patna, Indus with Ganges, and Alexander with Selucus; who don’t know science and think the Ganesh was real and not a symbol and who can’t tell between a transplant and plastic surgery; and who cannot distinguish between history and mythology, science and superstition, and fact and fiction. They are now trying to define our identity in narrow and divisive terms, and hence excluding the majority.
Our unique diversity and common perception about ourselves bound by a modern and egalitarian Constitution is now being challenged. India has weathered worse. We are, after all, the people of India, that is Bharat. And we still live in the house that Nehru built.
Please click on the link below to see a video of an American journalist’s interview with Jawaharlal Nehru: