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Nehru

ON Jawaharlal Nehru’s 125th birth anniversary, politicians are fighting over his legacy (Cover Story, December 12). It is childish to say the least. Most of these so-called leaders might have seen or heard Nehru from archival records. Some of us who were alive in his lifetime still remember his charisma. If today India has a presence in the world, it is because of Nehru. The Mars Orbiter Mission that Indians are so proud of or the permanent representation in the U.N. that India aspires to is possible because of this man. No amount of criticism can hurt Nehru or lessen his achievements. It would be like throwing mud at the moon.

V. Jaya Rao

Mallapur Nacharam, Telangana

FRONTLINE’S special issue on Nehru’s legacy is worth preserving. The article “Letters for a nation” deserves special mention. The letters that Nehru wrote to his Chief Ministers speak of his extraordinary commitment to and concern for the nation. Frontline has presented readers young and old with a real insight into Nehru’s personality.

Balasubramaniam Pavani

Secunderabad, Telangana

THE compilation of Nehru’s letters to his Chief Ministers was really good. From them, one gets an indication of his interest in the welfare of society and in democracy. Just as Gandhi once said “My life is my message”, Nehru’s letters may be said to be his message.

A.J. Rangarajan

Chennai

I WOULD like to congratulate Frontline for publishing a critical appraisal of Nehru. He was one among the few tall leaders who were the builders of modern India, and the foundations he laid for a solid democracy, an independent judiciary and a secular society are still relevant. It is because of his vision that India has national laboratories under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, which paved way for the country’s industrial and scientific developments, including in the areas of space and nuclear research. However, his foreign policy had flaws.

N.C. Sreedharan

Kannur, Kerala

BY no stretch of the imagination has Nehru’s legacy lost its relevance today. He had a vision for the economy, society, the democratic system, etc. He was a champion of India’s anti-colonial struggle. Nehru also realised the importance of scientific infrastructure and science education for a country beginning its nation-building process. The rare black-and-white photographs in the Cover Story package, especially the one that captured the moment when Nehru announced the death of Gandhi to a crowd, are worthy of mention.

Jayan P.A.

Kochi, Kerala

THE issue was a marvellous tribute to Nehru. His multifaceted personality was put forth in a systematic way. Although some photographs have appeared earlier, this is the first time one had an opportunity to see them in one issue.

If today’s political leaders had risen above inter-party differences and united on this occasion, they could have made it a memorable one. By behaving in an immature way, they have done a disservice to the cause of a leader who stood like a rock. Thank you for this special issue.

B. Jambulingam

Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu

CONGRATULATIONS on bringing out a valuable edition. One rarely comes across political personalities who formulate their own policies and usher in eras stamped with their own vision and ideology. Nehru’s uniqueness was that he not only dominated the national scene but also left his imprint on the international scene. He was aware of the need for compromises and cooperation in international politics. In 1950, under his guidance, India played a part in bringing peace to Korea and later Sudan and the Congo. He viewed the Indian struggle for freedom in the context of the world and lent moral support to those fighting fascism and imperialism in Asia, Africa and Europe.

S.M. Kompella

Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh

THE Cover Story was a well-done piece of research into the Nehruvian vision, which made possible India’s robust institutions, its firm civil-military hierarchy and its rule of law. Nehru’s avowed politics of universal franchise, a free press, an independent judiciary, respect for institutions and foreign policy were far ahead of any of his peers, and India has benefited from his view of science as the natural tool of progress. Rabindranath Tagore called Nehru a person “greater than his deeds and truer than his surroundings”, while Gandhi referred to him as “India’s jawahar [precious stone]”.

Krishna Hatote-Pachegonker

Aurangabad, Maharashtra

NEHRU, during his 17-year rule, made India a welfare state based on the ideals of secularism, democracy and socialism and tried to promote scientific temperament in society. He felt that the only way to remove poverty and raise people’s standard of living was to step up production with the help of modern science and technology. It was with this end in view that the Five Year Plans were launched. He started all the basic programmes that helped India prosper. But the rulers who came after him did not focus on achieving rapid industrial development. His efforts to spread the concept of non-alignment and to unite the Third World nations against the two power blocs in the world was bold.

Y. Abimanyu

Nakrekal, Telangana

NEHRU matters even now because he left behind a vibrant democracy unlike other leaders in this part of the world. It was his conviction that democracy was the right path for India, which today is the world’s largest democracy. A proof of this democratic tradition in India is the flawless way elections take place and the smooth transition of power.

On the language issue, Nehru assured Parliament that English would continue to be the official language as long as non-Hindi speaking States desired it. Sadly, the NDA government seems to think otherwise and Hindi seems to be the lingua franca preferred by the BJP and its leaders to the discomfiture of vast sections of the non-Hindi-speaking population.

The statesman C. Rajagopalachari observed: “India is not like other smaller countries where there is a single language and a single faith. We have multiplicity of languages and faiths….” One hopes that India’s present leaders remember this.

H.N. Ramakrishna

Bangalore

THE special issue is a fitting tribute to Nehru. With its rare photographs and excellent articles, this issue will add to my collection of special issues published by Frontline over the years.

While people may hold divergent views on Nehru, no one can deny his pivotal role in the freedom movement along with leaders such as Gandhi, Vallabhbhai Patel and Maulana Azad. It was unfortunate that the Sonia Gandhi-led Congress party failed to invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to its commemoration function.

S. Balakrishnan

Jamshedpur, Jharkhand

IT is unfortunate that the Congress, which seems to have taken ownership of Nehru, did not invite Modi for the function it hosted on the occasion of Nehru’s 125th birth anniversary though it had invited many international political leaders. It is all the more absurd when one considers that such behaviour goes against Nehru’s principles. The Congress should have been more large-hearted.

Bal Govind

Noida, Uttar Pradesh

THE attempt by the BJP to appropriate the legacies of Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel can only be termed as complete hypocrisy. Both of them were Gandhi’s trusted lieutenants, and the trust and mutual affection between the two leaders is a part of India’s history. The way the present government is seeking to whittle down national icons such as Gandhi and Nehru is nothing but an insidious attempt to lower their stature. The move to do away with observances of their birth and death anniversaries will only lower the image of the government, which is seeking to rewrite history.

The moot question is: Had it not been for Patel’s Gujarat moorings, would the BJP have planned to build a grand statue for him and celebrate his birth anniversary as National Unity Day?

J. Anantha Padmanabhan

Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu

THE political war being waged in the country brings to mind the valuable thoughts of B.R. Ambedkar, the architect of the Constitution, who expressed apprehensions about the misconduct of politicians and the grave danger it posed to a young democracy. Present-day politicians feel no shame in moving to other parties for the sake of power and perks. Voters prefer development policies to divisive sentiments. Ambedkar added that after Independence, we had greater responsibilities and that if things went wrong, we would have nobody to blame except ourselves. But in today’s politics, the blame game is the order of the day.

P. Senthil Saravana Durai

Vazhavallan, Tuticorin district, Tamil Nadu

COMMENTATORS have a knack of using hyperbolic statements while describing Nehru’s ideas. It is facile to keep on praising his socialist and internationalist ideals while refusing to take a comprehensive and critical view of them. His socialist model of economy, though viable at the time of Independence, cost India its growth. Sluggish economic development and public sector inefficiency became its defining features and the1991 economic crisis was its fallout.

I wonder what motivated him to internationalise the Kashmir issue without a Cabinet discussion. His complacency in dealing with China is yet another example of his failures.

Anoop Suri

New Delhi

WE were taught in school that Nehru was a “freedom fighter”. What did Nehru actually do that can be termed as fighting for freedom? If he was such a great freedom fighter, why was he not sent to the Andamans where real fighters were sent? The tragedy is that real freedom fighters did not become India’s leaders and those who became leaders protected their lives under the fig leaf of non-violence. Nehru qualifies as the worst first CEO of any major independent country, foisted on us by the British who wanted a dreamer in charge.

T.R. Ramaswami

Mumbai

Sterilisation deaths

THE death of 13 young women after laparoscopic sterilisation in Bilaspur district of Chhattisgarh is shocking (“Anatomy of a tragedy”, December 12). This was a man-made tragedy, marked by the carelessness and indifference of various functionaries. Express-speed surgeries, discharge of patients on the same day of the operation and use of substandard medicines are symptoms of capitalism. The lives of poor and marginalised women are not valued. The episode has had a huge negative impact on the nation’s family welfare programmes and resulted in a trust deficit with respect to government medical care. According to some lay estimates, permanent sterilisation of young women leads to one extra generation in the span of 50 to 60 years. One can see grandmothers in their forties.

The National Population Policy (2000) clearly speaks of informed choice. But what is happening is what is referred to as a cafeteria approach, where people are not shown the menu card. Although India is a signatory to the resolutions of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development which advocated a target-free approach, this is followed in the breach.

Araveeti Rama Yogaiah

Hyderabad

THE death of 13 women at a government-organised medical camp exposes the pathetic state of medical camps conducted across the country in the name of free service to the underprivileged and to tribal people. It is baffling that the State Health Minister pinned the blame on a doctor and suspended him instead of taking responsibility for the fiasco. One wonders whether the suspension of one doctor is enough when the horror is beyond comprehension.

K.R. Srinivasan

Secunderabad, Telangana

IT is obvious that while helping the Chhattisgarh government meet its sterilisation targets, the award-winning doctor who carried out the tubectomies was vying for a place in the record books or for a Padma award for conducting the maximum number of sterilisations in the shortest time.

The tragedy is heartbreaking. This is not the first time that the rural poor and tribal people have had to pay with their lives while undergoing family planning operations. The only way to save them would be to ban such mass sterilisation camps.

K.P. Rajan

Mumbai

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