By Vijay Darda | 14-11-2015
As the year-long 125th birth anniversary celebrations of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India and rightly called the architect of our modern nation, conclude today, my mind goes back to an event that took place in the mid-fifties. At that time in 1958, Pandit Nehru had come all the way down to Yavatmal for attending two programmes. One programme was for allotment of the land to the landless where lakhs of acres of land were donated under the Bhoodan Movement. Another programme was the inauguration of Amolakchand Mahavidyalaya.
Panditji had come at the invitation of my revered father Shri Jawaharlalji Darda alias ‘Babuji’ for the inauguration of the Amolakchand Mahavidyalaya. For all its size, a mere 40 students at that time, the event did not merit the presence of the prime minister. But then this was also not lost on the great visionary. He underscored the significance of it all. “When someone thinks of setting up a science college in the backward area of the poor landless people, I salute such thinking. And when someone sets up a science college in such a remote area, I can foresee that this shall become the biggest institution of its kind in the region”, Panditji had observed with the kind of foreknowledge that has been vindicated in many spheres of our national endeavour. The inauguration of that college was a historic event in the presence of greats like Acharya Vinoba Bhave, the great Bhoodan leader and Gandhian. It is now one of the biggest colleges affiliated to the Sant Gadge Baba University, Amravati.
There are many institutions in independent India that owe their very foundation to Panditji’s vision. Volumes have been devoted to recount his contribution, and this is neither the time nor the place to discuss their various aspects. But suffice it to point that his greatest contribution has been the inculcation of scientific spirit in our educational system. Our institutes of higher education in technology, medicine and management like IITs, IIMs were all founded during Panditji’s initial years of leadership of the country, and till date they are serving our national interest with distinction. Indeed, we are a knowledge economy at the global level largely because our founding fathers have had the foresight to set up the right educational institutions.
In our current political scenario, we are given to playing up rivalries like Nehru versus Bose or Sardar Patel versus Nehru, and there are attempts even to appropriate the Gandhian ethos or the Ambedkarite ideals. There is no denying the strong individual personas of all our national icons. They would not have made their significant contribution to the national cause without their striking individual abilities. But we would be doing a great injustice to them collectively as well as individually if we were to indulge in the exercise of running down one at the cost of the other. The fact is that all these great men wanted to rid the country of poverty and turn it into a global power. They had tremendous respect and affection for each other, and even their differences were not marked with bitterness or animosity.
It their collective contribution that evolved the idea of India as a multi-ethnic, multi-religion, multi-cultural multi-lingual society which gave real meaning to the phrase unity in diversity. This automatically led to the rejection of any unitarian ideas, and thus over the last six and half decades we built a position for ourselves across the globe. Without doubt, the development of a complex and diverse nation like ours will have to be a work in progress as this cannot be brought to a halt after the attainment of any specific goals. But it is a continuum.
The advent of the BJP-led government under prime minister Narendra Modi has certainly created an impression in some quarters that it is opposed to the Nehruvian idea of India. No one can deny that there would be a critical evaluation of the past, and we have to move on with the correctives, besides, every government that comes to power has the right to bring its own ideas. But the Nehruvian idea of India is not the preserve of the Congress party. The party can be certainly proud of it, but then the idea as such belongs to the country. Its core concept of democracy and to that extent every citizen has a proprietary right over it. Just as every citizen has a vote, he has a right to this idea of India. Indeed, the freedom to enjoy this freedom is at the core of it.
Now that prime minister Modi has spoken about his intolerance for the intolerant, and rightly acknowledged the contribution of Panditji and Dr Manmohan Singh during his address to the British parliamentarians, we can say with some justification that the right atmosphere for nourishing the idea of India has also been created at the apex of the government. There is no dearth of ministers in this government who have been duly impressed by this idea, and who have no hesitation accepting the Nehruvian influence and contribution in the making of modern India.
The beauty of democratic differences lies in the fact that you at once acknowledge the diversities and yet harness the right amount of creative powers on all sides to move ahead on the forward path. In the past as well we have shown that a change in the political colours of the government has not led to any alteration of the national direction. Given the progression of ideas in Panditji’s ideas during his life time, and the fact that he hated a dogmatic approach, we can be sure that he too would have been advocating the same changes that are now being introduced in the shape of reforms.
But then he would never have sacrificed the basic, secular, democratic and liberal character of the society and nor wavered from his “Tryst with Destiny” pledge on the midnight of August 15th,1947 to wipe out every tear from every eye.” We too need to reaffirm that pledge as we remember him on his 126th birth anniversary.