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When India’s most democratic Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru behaved like a school master with Krishna Menon

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BY ANIL K. RAJVANSHI

(This write up is the second part of the series ‘My take on Jawaharlal Nehru’ )

The behavior of Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru was in complete contrast to that of Vallabh Bhai Patel, the then deputy Prime Minister of India. Patel was a nuts and bolts man, with feet on the ground and believed in the dictum of “God is in details.”

Nehru, on the other hand, was never a stickler to details. He was a thinker and left the details to his subordinates. In fact he left too much to his subordinates so that his ideas were not implemented as he would have wished.

My uncle Dr. Atma Ram who was the Director General of CSIR during late 1960s narrated to me an incident about Nehru’s distaste for details.

Dr. Meghnad Saha the very famous Indian astrophysicist was entrusted the task by Nehru to make the first Science and Technology (S&T) plan of India. He was given a residence in a magnificent bungalow in Shimla and few months to prepare the plan. Dr. Saha took with him Dr. Atma Ram, his onetime student at Allahabad University, as his assistant. Dr. Atma Ram told me that Nehru came for just 15 minutes and okayed the plan without even looking at it properly. Either he trusted Meghnad Saha completely or S&T was not very much in his vision field at that time! Dr. Atma Ram told me that both he and Saha felt that their 2-3 months were wasted.

Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel on the contrary was a great administrator. Shri. B. B. Vohra, a member of the first Indian Administrative Services (IAS) batch once told me an anecdote about the administrative skills of then deputy Prime Minister.

Before Indian Administrative Services (IAS) came in existence, India was ruled by officers of Imperial Civil Services (ICS). Patel wanted one uniform IAS for the whole country whereas all the regional leaders wanted separate administrative services for their states. To resolve this issue Patel called a meeting of all State Chief Ministers (CMs) in Delhi to come to a consensus on this thorny issue. Patel started the meeting at 9 a.m. and told the CMs that it will end at 5 p.m

During the meeting one after another all the CMs spoke about the need of having separate administrative services which will be state based only. Patel sat quietly listening to the CMs speeches. At 5 p.m. sharp Patel rose and told the group that the meeting had been very productive and that he had learnt a lot regarding their problems and their views, and the consensus was that we should have only one IAS! He told his staff to write the minutes of the meeting accordingly and put this as the resolution passed! There was a pin drop silence in the room and not a single CM had the guts or the courage to go against Patel. This was the Iron Man of India!

Patel and Nehru never saw eye to eye on most matters and Gandhi ji was constantly worried about their differences. Yet Patel was magnanimous and big hearted. My father told me of an incident about this trait of Patel. A very close associate of Patel (who was a good friend of my father) told him that at Patel’s death bed he and other followers told him that they will become orphans after he was gone since they would have lost their only leader. Patel told his followers that after him Nehru will be their leader and they should follow him. He told them that though he had differences with Nehru but now he was their leader. I wonder whether Nehru would have shown such magnanimity.

Chacha Nehru’

Nehru really liked children. He was rightly called “Chacha Nehru” (Uncle Nehru). Sunder Lal told me about one incident regarding his love for children. Nehru had invited all the newly elected MPs of his party for a dinner at his house. The dinner was held in the lawns of Teen Murti house. During dinner, Nehru saw that some street urchins had climbed the boundary wall and were looking at the guests who were having dinner. So he took his plate and went to the wall and gave it to a young boy. Immediately all the MPs also gave their dinner plates to the urchins!

Nehru nevertheless was a vain person and very susceptible to flattery. My father told me that one very mediocre writer from Allahabad decided to translate Nehru’s Discovery of India into Sanskrit and wanted to have discussions with Nehru regarding it. Nehru gave him unlimited access to his house so he could go in and out of Teen Murti house wherever he wanted. Besides he gave him lots of his personal time.

Nehru’s uncle Dr. Atal was a very close friend of my father. They were both in Lucknow jail together during the freedom movement. Dr. Atal was a good friend of Chairman Mao and Chou-en-lai and hence was sent by Nehru as his emissary to China just before China war of 1962. Any time Dr. Atal introduced my father to Nehru he would say “Jawahar meet my friend Jagdish”. Nehru never liked being addressed as Jawahar and would flinch at this introduction.

Another instance of Nehru’s vanity and temper was shown in a film entitled “A day in the life of Prime Minister” which was shot by BBC in early 1960. I saw this movie when I was a student in the US in 1970s. The documentary showed Prime Minister Nehru’s day from morning (breakfast) to late night dinner. The BBC team had picked January 26, India’s Republic Day for shooting.

In one of the scenes Pandit Nehru was shown sitting in the front row watching the Republic Day parade with some foreign dignitary and Krishna Menon – the then defense minister of India. It was quite a sunny morning so Pandit Nehru was holding a folded newspaper to shade his eyes. The scene showed Krishna Menon as per his nature continuously chatting with the guest. Nehru got quite irritated and said “Menon can’t you stop talking for a bit”. After this rebuke Krishna Menon kept quiet for a few minutes but again started chatting animatedly. By this time Nehru lost his cool and he whacked Krishna Menon on his shoulder with the folded newspaper and told him to shut up! I could not believe that the most democratic Prime Minister of India would behave like a school master with the Defense minister of India! I believe this movie was never shown in India.

Similarly Sunder Lal ji told me of an incident that Nehru had this habit of threatening MPs that he would resign if they did not agree with him. I guess sometimes after 1962 China war he again threatened that he will resign. The young MPs said please do so. Nehru was really taken aback as he never expected such an answer from his MPs. I guess he was living in his own world.

Sunder Lal also thought that Gandhiji’s act of making Vinoba Bhave as the first individual satyagrahi instead of Nehru was meant to bring Nehru down in size and reduce his vanity and ego.

Even with all these shortcomings I think he was a great prime minister who had certain vision for India. Naturally he was a prisoner of his time so that the vision was colored by those times and events. Now in hindsight some consider it flawed. Nevertheless he had a vision for the country, was a great patriot and was honest. Such qualities unfortunately have not been seen in prime ministers of recent past.

This article is a part of two article series ‘My take on Jawaharlal Nehru’ by Anil Rajvanshi. The author is the Director and Hon. Secretary Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute (NARI). He could be reached at  anilrajvanshi@gmail.com)
 

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of NewsGram.

 

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Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel : Remembering Iron Man of India on his death anniversary

Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's life was an inspiration. Here are few facts and memories about him on his death anniversary

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Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Iron Man of India (Wikimedia)
  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel played a vital role in Indian freedom movement and persuaded the princely states to accede to independent India.

  • PM Modi and others paid tributes to Sardar Patel on death anniversary. “We remember the great Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Patel on his Punya Tithi. Every Indian is indebted to Sardar Patel for his monumental service to our nation,” PM tweeted.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, popularly known as Sardar Patel, played a major role in Indian freedom movement. The credit of persuading the princely states to accede to Republic of India goes to him. For his contribution towards national integration, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel earned the title of ‘Iron Man of India’. In 2014, the government declared his birthday, October 31, as Rashtriya Ekta Diwas (National Unity Day).

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
Pandit Nehru and Sardar Patel with Mahatama Gandhi (Wikimedia

Facts about Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was born on October 31, 1875, in Gujarat. He studied law in London, he aced the Barrister -at- Law examination there. Sardar Patel practiced law in India and then became one of the most successful lawyers in the country.
  • Sardar Patel was married to Jhaverba and had a daughter Maniben and son Dahyabhai. His wife died of cancer when their children were just 5 and 3 years old. Sardar Patel with his family’s support raised the children.
  • Sardar Patel was offered a job for the British government on multiple occasions, but turned them all down.
  • During Congress elections in 1946, thirteen out of sixteen states chose Sardar Patel as their president, who was the more popular candidate and would have eventually become the first Prime Minister of independent India. But upon Gandhi’s request, he stepped down as a candidate and endorsed Jawaharlal Nehru instead.
  • Sardar Patel worked extensively against alcohol consumption, untouchability, caste discrimination and for women emancipation in Gujarat and outside.
  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1991.

Sardar Patel Statue of Unity

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
Proposed Sardar Patel statue (Statue of unity)

Sardar Patel Statue of Unity is tribute to great man of India, it will also boost tourism. The Statue of Unity is an iconic 182 meter tall landmark statue dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Post completion in 2018, the Statue of Unity will be the world’s tallest statue. A monument of this stature is supposed to act as a catalyst to accelerate growth of the Narmada District, benefitting the resident population at large. The vision behind Sardar Patel Statue of Unity is to develop the place as a source of inspiration for ages to come.

In today’s world we can seek inspiration from Iron Man of India whose ideology was “India first”, Sardar Patel undoubtedly will be the source of inspiration for ages to come.

– by Shaurya Ritwik, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik

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Dalai Lama says that India and China have great potential

The spiritual leader feels that both the countries are doing compassionate works

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Dalai Lama talks about India and China
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai says that India and China can work together. VOA

New Delhi, Nov 19

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Sunday said India and China have “great potential” and they could work together at a “practical level”.

“I think, a great potential… India and China combined are doing more compassionate work… At a practical level also. Imagine two billion people working together,” he told reporters here after inaugurating Smile Foundation’s initiative, The World of Children.

The spiritual leader, who has lived in India in self-imposed exile since 1959, said neither country had the “ability to destroy the other”.

“Whether you like it or not, you have to live side by side,” he said.

Underlining the ancient spiritual connection between the two countries, he said Chinese Buddhist Hsuan Tsang visited Nalanda (now in Bihar) and brought Nalanda Buddhist traditions to China.

“All thinkers of Nalanda are Indian. So Nalanda’s tradition is India’s tradition,” he said.

The Nalanda traditions had turned Tibetans, who were warriors, into more compassionate, peaceful and non-violent nation, he said.

“So sometimes in Delhi, teasing my Indian friend, (I say) if Tibet still remained in the previous way of life, like Mongols, Chinese invasion may not have taken place,” the Dalai Lama said in a lighter vein.

He said nobody in the world wanted violence but it was happening “because our minds are dominated by destructive emotions due to short-sightedness”.

“Nobody wants problems. Yet, many problems are our own creation.”

The Dalai Lama said the existing modern education was oriented to material values. India can take lead in improving the education system by combining modern education with ancient knowledge, he said. (IANS)

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Donald Trump Planning to meet Putin during his Asia tour

Donald Trump's first trip to Asia is the longest international tour.

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US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump. wikimedia commns
  • US President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he expected to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during his Asia tour.

“I think it’s expected we’ll meet with Putin, yeah. We want Putin’s help on North Korea, and we’ll be meeting with a lot of different leaders,” Donald Trump told reporters on Air Force One before landing at the Yokota Air Base in Japan, Efe reported.

Putin is scheduled to participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, which Trump will also attend as part of his long Asia tour.

The North Korean nuclear threat is expected to dominate Donald Trump’s meetings in Japan and the next two stages of his tour, South Korea and China, where he will have a highly anticipated sit-down with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The remainder of the tour will be more focused on economic issues, with Trump scheduled to take part in the APEC meeting in Da Nang and then in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and the East Asia Summit in the Philippines.

Donald Trump’s first trip to Asia is the longest international tour by a US head of state since the one then-President George H.W. Bush embarked on in 1992.

Bush became ill at the end of that trip, famously vomiting on the Japanese prime minister’s lap at a formal dinner before fainting.(IANS)