Also, we need to judge a PM not merely from a community perspective. True, we KPs have suffered because of his shortsighted policy with regard to Kashmir, but his contribution to the country - both in the Constituent Assembly debates and for strongly favouring the adult franchise when the literacy rate was just 10 % to the abolition of the Zamindari system despite strong opposition from few Congressmen who were close to landowning class- stand out as his key achievements.
Who but Nehru could think of encouraging research in space technology and nuclear energy? From setting up higher institutions to Akademies devoted to art and culture, from establishing Mountaineering Institute to Film Institute- Nehru's footprint was overwhelmingly large and overarching.
That in a span of just fifteen years, he could achieve so much is a tribute to his vision and interests across the fields.
While he was justified in investing heavily in public sector undertaking but his indifferent attitude to the private sector did the country more harm than any good. And in hindsight we can say he ought to have paid greater attention to school education and healthcare sector. And if course defence security though he managed to keep civilian supremacy that our neighbours are finding difficult to process.
The issue of the national language was one of the most contentious and passionately debated ones by members of the Constituent Assembly. By a single vote, the Constituent Assembly declared Hindi as the official language with a proviso that English would continue for the next fifteen years till 1965.
However, it was the farsightedness of Nehru that, as early as 1959 he had given an assurance in Parliament that English would continue to be in use as long as non-Hindi speaking people wanted- thus allaying the fears of non-Hindi speaking areas, particularly Tamilnadu.
To me more than Kashmir, what stands out in Nehru's leadership is his inability to appreciate the Hindu revivalism that had begun almost 100 years earlier with the arrival of Aurobindo, M.N.Roy, Swami Vivekanand etc. He thought that modern progress and scientific temper would over a time mute the religious inclination of the people, or at least desist from public display - something we are currently witnessing- though it at times takes an ugly form.
But his contribution to giving Indians an 'Idea of India'- defining for us who we are as a nation ( something Pakistan is still struggling with ?), giving confidence that we are capable of managing this multi-religious, multi-linguistic country in a democratic manner - is indeed immense. He gave us pride as citizens - something that Churchill thought we were incapable of managing our affairs.
Ashok Ogra, Formerly, Director Door Dharshan
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.