We have grown up, reading about all the good things about Jawaharlal Nehru. Every 14th November, we offered our tributes to him, year after year! Why Nehru’s birthday is celebrated as Children’s Day across India? Was it because little innocent children referred him as Chacha Nehru? What historians falsely portrayed him as ‘spending his entire life for the welfare of children across India’ has well served its purpose.
Jawaharlal Nehru became the 1st Prime Minister of independent India. Thanks to whole-hearted support and endorsement by Mahatma Gandhi! Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel became the Deputy Prime Minister.
Here are 5 biggest blunders that Nehru made during his prime ministership. We, the citizens, are still bearing the brunt of his mistakes
1. Kashmir Issue
Jawaharlal Nehru kept Sardar Patel away from the Kashmir issue. He made N Gopalaswamy Iyengar a minister without portfolio, to handle Kashmir. Patel did not know about this. Iyengar reported to Nehru directly. Because Nehru wanted all of his ministers to report to him, listen to him, and say ‘yes’ to whatever he said.
Jinnah from Pakistan constantly interfered on the Kashmir issue. Mountbatten advised Nehru to refer the Kashmir problem to the UN. Sardar Patel opposed the move of taking Kashmir to UN as it was purely an internal matter and no foreign body like the UN should interfere. Sardar Patel met Maharaja Hari Singh and even obtained his signature that the matter may not be referred to UN. The maharaja’s only concern was Sheikh Abdullah, who wanted the king to quit the valley. Abdullah’s protest with a group of Kashmiri Muslims led to his arrest and confinement in jail. Nehru wanted Sheikh Abdullah to be freed and to be installed as prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir. Ultimately, Nehru referred the Kashmir issue to the UN, following Mountbatten’s advice and ignoring Sardar Patel’s repeat counsel and requests.
And since then the Kashmir issue has not yet been resolved. A number of problems cropped up including mass killing and exodus of Kashmiri Pandits, terrorism, unrest, and the list goes on.
2. India Not Securing Permanent Membership in the UN
Nehru took India as a socialistic nation, in the path of USSR. Patel was firmly capitalistic and Mahatma wanted more rural development. Either of the latter paths could have been beneficial for India. With Nehru’s lopsided projects – going for big industries and dams without any rural development, meant people were forced to move to cities, without having enough infrastructure. Thus, cities were ruined by overpopulation and villages were neglected. We tried to jump to an industrial era without even fixing the agriculture and paid a heavy price. Nehru’s failed economic ideas held Indian economy as a prisoner until 1991. While the rest of Asia – Korea, Singapore, Thailand Taiwan, Japan and China were waving past us in Capitalistic wagons (China since 1976), we were still in abject poverty riding Nehru’s socialistic bullock cart. Until the Rockefeller’s foundation helped us with “green revolution” we were just begging for food from other countries.
3. 1962 Indo-China War Debacle
And worst of Nehru’s works were related to China war of 1962. He was totally unpragmatic. While Nehru’s cronies have virtually silenced his failures in China war, the rest of the world made us into a mocking stock. As Nevile Maxwell put it: hopelessly ill-prepared Indian Army that provoked China on orders emanating from Delhi … paid the price for its misadventure in men, money and national humiliation
Nehru’s empty rhetoric of “India-China Bhai Bhai” ignored the rise of China as a confident military power and he was trying to defend the indefensible McMahon line (what we assume as our border with China). In fact, none of the Indian leaders or army generals has ever been to the northeast corner of Kashmir that we just have it in maps for no real reason. Had we taken a less confrontational approach, we could have avoided the war and made the China-Pakistan relationship less strong.
4. Regional Division in Terms of Linguistics
During Nehru’s regime, Potti Sreeramulu, a revolutionary, went on a hunger strike demanding the formation of an Indian state for the Telugu-speaking population of Madras Presidency. Sardar Patel and Rajendra Prasad warned Nehru not to give in to Sreeramulu’s demands on the basis of language. They said that division in terms of linguistics would only create confusion and hatred with/for other linguistic groups. Besides, they advised him to opt for alternative solutions.
5. Creator of India’s Economic Troubles
Nehru propagated and implemented socialism and went against the capital systems, which led to an economic crisis in the 1960s. Exports were diminished and the public sector was strengthened. This led to rising inflation, shrinking exports, constrained agricultural growth with an annual average growth rate of 4%, which was lower compared to least developed countries across the world.