Nehru Vision and Values:
Jawaharlal Nehru was a nation builder par excellence. He had the perception of a united, integrated, strong and stable India and cherished and nourished the values of liberal democracy, democratic, socialism, secularism, scientific approach and world outlook.
Integration of India:
The first task of the first Prime Minister of India, Nehru was to preserve the newly won Independence and protect the integrity of India from Communal callousness. The battle of post-independence political freedom was fought and won, and the communal problem was nipped in the bud. This unity was reinforced by the integration of princely states with India. In short, “Nehru succeeded in maintaining and strengthening national unity.
Promotion of Parliamentary Democracy:
By fearlessly following an independent foreign policy of Non-alignment, Nehru demonstrated to the world that India was a Sovereign Republic. India Successfully fought the first three general elections in 1952, 1957 and 1962 on this firm electoral basis and made free and fair elections the norm of Indian democracy.
Pillars of Democracy:
Nehru was eminently successful in making parliamentary democracy work well in the largely illiterate, impoverished new nation and gave India seventeen solid years of stability and continuity. In the process Nehru never failed to strengthen the institutional pillars of Indian democracy-Legislature, Executive and Judiciary.
Parliamentary Government means the cabinet system of government based on collective responsibility. Nehru’s cabinet, an admixture of Congress and non-Congress members. True, Nehru’s cabinet was practically a one-man show after the departure of Gandhi and Patel. And yet, the procedures of collective policy making was meticulously maintained, scrupulously followed and firmly established.
New Role of Bureaucracy:
Prime Minister Nehru made the best use of the ICS whose professionalism, efficiency and reputation for thoroughness were beyond dispute. Sardar Patel retained all the Indian members of the ICS with constitutional guarantees and used their services in consolidating independent India. ICS officers acquitted themselves wonderfully well in helping the Partition Counsel headed by Lord Mountbatten managed two way migration of refugees, integration of princely states, linguistic reorganization of states and in shaping and implementing socialistic, social welfare programmes.
Independence of Judiciary:
The Supreme Court emerged as one of the most powerful courts in the world. Though the Indian Judicial system was British in form, it was Indianised in practice. The Judiciary was empowered to strike down unconstitutional, arbitrary and unreasonable laws. Trained as a lawyer, Nehru respected the independence of Judiciary.
Well-versed in Marxism, Maoism, Western Capitalism and Fabian Socialism Nehru was not enamoured with the established economic models of Socialism or capitalism. He wanted to experiment and evolve his own model of mixed economy for planned development. He was convinced that a new nation like India had to tackle poverty, population explosion and inequality on her own soil. So, Nehru decided to build an Independent self-reliant economy with emphasis on rapid industrialization, agricultural self-sufficiency and social welfare with social justice.
Soviet union, Britain and Germany came forward in setting up three new steel plants during the second plan period. Bhakra Nangal was completed. Defence industry was established. The income generated though Five-Year Plans was invested in agriculture, irrigation, electricity generation, huge multipurpose hydroelectric projects “the new temples of India” and a series of heavy industries.
With great foresight Nehru encouraged panchayat and local level planning. Such a planning process allowed the ordinary people to participate in the planning process. “Self-reliance gave India a diverse industrial base by 1964 and a Green Revolution in agriculture soon after.
Social justice was the king pin of social transformation. Along with national integration, political stability and economic planning. Nehru bestowed his prime attention on social change. He wanted to transform the traditional, stratified and static society into a modern, casteless and dynamic society, where there would be no special rights, or privileges or dignities based on birth or caste or creed.
Nehru wanted to change the face of rural India. Improve the quality of life of the villagers and develop the economy of the countryside. He truly laid the foundation of the Social Welfare state in the villages. He set a shinning example to follow and emulate the highly imaginative and innovative programmes like community development, national extension service, panchayat raj, cooperating farming, land reforms etc. Nehru created national awareness about the imperative need for rural revolution and left no stone unturned to enlist people’s participation in the village oriented schemes.
More than schemes, the rural community development programme was indeed a people’s movement. It was a grandiose rural reform scheme with a view to generate growth from the grass roots.
Builder of Infrastructure:
Development of Science and technology has been the sine qua non of modern India. Nehru passionately dedicated himself to the cause of science and technology to solve the socio-economic problems in India. At the time of independence, India was fortunate in her scientific and technological capabilities.
Nehru was the creator of infrastructure of Science and technology. The Nehru Era was endowed with the massive development in such infrastructure. Post independence period witnessed the emergence of national laboratories, development of the atomic energy programme, the space programme, establishment of institutional facility like the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, starting of Indian Institutes of Technology and Regional Engineering colleges, associating eminent scientists like Homi Bhabha, S.S.Bhatnagar, Mahalanobis, to name a few, with the development of scientific research, strengthening defence science under the leadership of the outstanding physicist D.S.Kothari.
He adapted the Indian Civil Service (ICS) changed it to Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and used it as an instrument of development. Through this So- called ‘Steel Frame’ of Indian administration, Nehru ensured throughout the country an efficient, transparent and clean executive and judicial administrative apparatus. The Prevention of Corruption Act (1947) strengthened the anti corruption mechanism. Planning Commission was set up soon after the inauguration of the Constitution. The National Development Council was created to advise the Planning Commission in its tasks and to promote centre state relations and co-operation. Similarly the community Development programme (1952), National Extension Service (1953), and the Panchayt Raj(1959) introduced a vast network of developmental administrative institutions they have made an indelible impact on the rural scene in India.
Nehru was a modernizer as well as a modernist. He penetrated the obscurantist, Chauvinistic and superstitious society, mobilized popular support from it and attempted to modernize India with people’s participation – an incredible deed indeed. He decisively directed popular energy towards the process of nation building and integration. In other words, Nehru sought to modernize the traditional, multiethnic, multi cultural, multi religious and multi linguist state with a view to meet the demands of the modern world.
An ardent administrative reformer, Nehru dealt with structural changes and improvements in the administrative system. Since independence, plethora of Committees and commissions have been constituted at the center and some of seminal recommendations were implemented by Nehru.
Nehru, as Prime Minister-cum-Foreign Affairs Minister, played a pivotal role in international relations. He not only conceived a foreign policy, but also practiced it. He was a dove, not a hawk. More a moderate and moralist than aggressive and his aim was never aggrandizement. The interaction between policy policy priorities and domestic demands factored in shaping Nehru’s foreign policy. Under Nehru, India was no longer a static or status quo power, though he never wanted to extend its military or economic power to international relations.
Nehru was a many- Splendered personality and his policies were multi faceted. As Gandhi was the father of the Nation, Nehru was the Architect of Modern India. Son of Indian Revolution, Nehru was the builder of Independent India. His sway over the masses, his unflinching faith in their innate common sense and capacity for hard work and his eagerness to involve people at every stage of country’s progress helped him to a great extend to build the new nation.
His Vision and Mission:
Nehru had a vision of modern India and mission to realize his dreams nation. He laid the foundation for a Sovereign Republic, raised the pillars of democracy, socialism and secularism and built the super structure of a modern social transformation, rural reconstruction and advancement of science and technology.
Nehru had as many critics as admires. The main counts of criticism of Nehru’s acts of commission and omissions may be summarized as follows. He did not built any socio- political movement or organization for the preservation, propagation and perpetuation and realization of his dream of modern India.
Nehru’s attempt at the golden mean between Marxian Socialism and western capitalism ended in ideological confusion and distorted pragmatism. His reliance on bureaucracy to carry out reforms, development and welfare measures hardly helped to realize his objectives with people’s participation.
Nehru failed to create any new ‘symbols’ around which the masses of India could rally round. Some of his personal failings such as poor judgment of persons, non-adherence to standards of simplicity, ill-tempered reactions to succumbing to pressure etc have been attributed to his failure. Indo-Sino War of 1962 exposed the shallowness of Nehru’s non alignment policy.
It is easy to criticize but difficult to appreciate. All the criticism leveled against Nehru have grains of truth in them. But Nehru was not a super states man. He must be assessed in the back drop of his time and circumstance. It must be realized than no leader of a Nation of such a scale as India can perform and achieve without shortcomings.
Keyword: Nehru, Integration, Architect of India, Indo Sino war- 1962.