The independent London newspaper

Was Nehru a great man? Certainly not

25 August, 2017

• ON the 70th anniversary of Indian independence and partition of the subcontinent, the career of its first prime minister who initiated democratic institutions and political ideology as leader and founding member of the Congress Party has been commemorated through the press and media.

Was Pandit Nehru a great man? Certainly not. While his alleged goal was non-alignment, he veered towards the Soviet Union and its communist system of government during the early phase of the Cold War.

He supported Russian colonialism in its subjugation of eastern and central Europe, continuing the suppression of the Hungarian revolution.

The economic policies he adopted were those of authoritarian centralised planning, the monolithic, bureaucratic mechanism of corporatism and the socialist, state-controlled industrial management through Soviet collectivism and government monopoly.

This socialist mantra is now discredited. It was unworkable in India, as elsewhere, the economy undergoing stagnation. Nehru’s political philosophy seems outmoded now, so long after his death in 1964.

A commonly held fallacy about the liquidation of our imperial presence in India in 1947 is that Britain was obliged to withdraw as a consequence of having fought World War II, which had exhausted its coffers.

Our gold and currency reserves were depleted. We had incurred a massive overseas deficit with the termination of American lend-lease. This country could only have maintained such hegemony as it still possessed if the US had been prepared to underwrite it.

It should be remembered that the support Roosevelt extended to Britain was based solely on the common people’s struggle in opposition to a remorseless tyranny that gave way to the aristocratic, imperial constitution represented by Churchill.

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