Economy under the Nehru-Gandys

Rahul GandhiRahul Gandhi
Snapshot
  • Why the average Indian was growing more than 1 per cent poorer than the average East Asian every year during the 40 years of Nehru family rule.

The economist who stumped Rahul Gandhi in Singapore, answers the question that Gandhi could not reply to: “Why is it that, in the years that your family ruled India, our per capita income was growing less than the world average? And yet, in the years since your family relinquished the prime ministership, India’s per capita income has grown substantially faster than the world average?”

On Thursday 8 March, I had just spent five hours teaching students at the Asia-Pacific campus of ESSEC, the leading French business school, about the economies of Asia. At my daughter Meghna’s suggestion, I joined her at Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s talk at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Having heard Rahul Gandhi claim credit for everything good that India had achieved, the obvious question emerged:

“Why is it that, in the years that your family ruled India, our per capita income was growing less than the world average? And yet, in the years since your family relinquished the prime ministership, India’s per capita income has grown substantially faster than the world average?”

Rahul Gandhi fumbled, cleared his throat, and eventually mumbled, “What is your hypothesis?” I told him that it wasn’t for me to give my hypothesis (although it was in my book Asia Reborn) but for him to answer the question. I then explained that India was among the poorest countries in the world at Independence. Our life expectancy at birth was 32 years, well below the African average of 38.

Being among the poorest countries on earth, we should have grown much faster than the world average, in order to catch up with the world’s average income. Yet, during the period that we were ruled by his family, we grew much less than the world average. (This implies, of course, that the average Indian was becoming poorer over this period than the average human being on earth — about as damning an indictment of his family’s performance as is possible).

After clearing his throat, and taking a long sip of water, Rahul Gandhi still failed to answer the factual query. Instead, he asked whether I agreed that India is a success today. I said, “Yes of course. But since your family relinquished the prime ministership, not before.” Eventually he asked me to tell him whether he had any role in India’s politics from 2004 until today — which is neither here nor there. That was the sum total of his “answer”.

The Congress party’s heavy artillery was quickly turned upon me. A morphed video was circulated, editing out Rahul Gandhi’s failure to answer, instead splicing it with the next “questioner’s” obsequious remarks in praise of the Nehru family, and how the man desperately wanted “my India back”. The doctored video (which made it seem as if my question was followed immediately by the obsequious one, with Gandhi then acting like a magnanimous umpire) was posted on Twitter by the Congress party and the “Office of RG”.

This quickly went viral, and Sanjay Jha, Tharoorians and sundry other Congress trolls launched a concerted attack on me. A greenhorn Singapore-based professor of mass communications (with an undergraduate degree in agricultural technology!) launched a character assassination of me (on thecitizen.in) and questioned the very premise of looking at per capita income — dismissing it as a “neo-liberal” construct, the classic Marxist dismissal of rational economic analysis. I learnt about his defamatory article only on Sunday evening.

But even the viral Congress video only came to my attention some three hours after the event. To my surprise, I also found that shorter videos of the actual interaction had begun circulating. The following day (just before lunch time in Singapore), I got a surprise phone call from Arnab Goswami, asking for a live interview on Republic TV, which I immediately gave. That too seems to have gone viral, and I spent all of Friday speaking to numerous TV channels back home in India (ending a little after midnight Singapore time).

As a result, my side of the story is now known to many of my fellow-Indian citizens, although the formidable Lutyens establishment has managed to bury the factual issues under a mountain of obfuscation.

I’m glad therefore to have this opportunity to respond at somewhat greater length. The reason I asked the question should be clear: Rahul has zero administrative experience; and, given his dismal attendance record in Parliament during 2004-14, precious little real political experience. Lineage is his only claim to leadership, indeed to being in politics at all. Hence, it is worth examining the record of his family’s leadership of India.

My students had just read Robert Fogel’s classic paper, The Impact of the Asian Miracle on the Theory of Economic Growth, which incidentally constitutes a damning indictment of the Nehru family record, although the author is kind in his analysis. Fogel’s main data source is Maddison’s magisterial work on economic history over the millennium, with a detailed focus on the 20th century.

Maddison shows unambiguously that, between 1950 and 1973, India’s per capita income was crawling upward at just 1.4 per cent annually, while the world was galloping ahead at 2.93 per cent annually. Every year, the average Indian (already desperately poor to begin with) was seeing her income decline by 1.5 percentage points relative to the average human being on earth.

Africa as a whole was doing better, growing its per capita income 2.07 per cent annually between 1950 and 1973. Even Mao’s China was doing much better — growing its per capita income 2.86 per cent annually, only marginally below the global average, despite the depredations of the famine of the early 1960s and the destructive Cultural Revolution thereafter.

The rest of Asia (already a bit wealthier than India at the start) was out-performing the world, growing per capita income 3.56 per cent annually. Thus, the average Indian was becoming 2.16 per cent poorer than the average non-China Asian (and 1.46 per cent poorer than the average Chinese citizen) every year from 1950 to 1973.

In any normal democracy, the single family that ruled throughout this period (apart from a brief 19-month interregnum), and delivered this catastrophic result, would be thrown out by its people. To be fair, the people appeared to have had enough by the following year — as Morarji Desai’s NavNirman movement toppled the Gujarat government, and Jayaprakash Narayan’s call for Sampoorna Kranti gained traction, spreading from Bihar and Gujarat across north India.

Scroll.in has published a Congress-inspired article, using much material from the Congress Twitter feed — and very selectively-culled quotes from my book — to attempt to debunk my question. One of their quotes from my book says: “not only did real GDP grow 9 per cent in FY1975-76 (the fastest growth for any year until that time), but India also had a current account surplus, the trains and planes ran on time, and the cities were notably cleaner”.

But, in keeping with the selective amnesia that afflicts the Congress, they leave out the next few sentences from my book: “Growth did run out of momentum in FY1976-77, and India’s electorate chose freedom over bread in March 1977. But one of the best-kept secrets of India’s economic trajectory is that the next two years — during Morarji Desai’s premiership — saw India’s real GDP grow 7.5 and 5.5 per cent in successive years, the fastest two- year growth rate achieved by India until that time.”

Morarji bhai was able to achieve the fastest two-year economic growth between 1950 and 1980 despite having restored civil liberties. He and H M Patel (his savvy finance minister) modestly de-regulated the economy, and outperformed Indira Gandhi’s Emergency-aided growth rate of 5.1 per cent from the previous two years.

Maddison shows that India’s per capita income accelerated to 2.6 per cent annual growth in the 1973-90 period, only marginally below the global average pace for this period but far below the pace of China (4.8 per cent), South Korea (6.8 per cent), Taiwan (5.3 per cent), Thailand (5.3 per cent), and even Pakistan (3.1 per cent). In fact, Pakistan’s per capita income grew 0.3 percentage points faster than India’s in 1950-73, and 0.7 percentage points faster than India’s in 1973-90. Not only did India’s per capita income grow slower than the world average during the years of Nehru-family rule (1950-89), but the average Indian became steadily poorer than the average Pakistani over the period.

India’s per capita income under-performed the 15 economies Maddison labelled “Resurgent Asia” (including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh within that group) in both periods: in 1950-73, India’s per capita income was growing 1.1 percentage points slower than the average for Resurgent Asia, and India grew 1.3 percentage points slower than those economies in 1973-90.

The average Indian was growing more than 1 per cent poorer than the average East Asian during the entire period of Nehru family rule. The consequence was that India’s share of world GDP at the end of Nehru family rule (November 1989) was 3.1 per cent — slightly lower than India’s share of world GDP at the end of British rule (4.2 per cent).

Maddison estimates that India accounted for 32.9 per cent of world GDP in the year of Christ’s birth, 28.9 per cent in 1000CE (just ahead of China at 22.7 per cent), and still accounted for 24.4 per cent in 1700 (ahead of China’s 22.3 per cent share). During the following decade, Britain imposed a blanket ban on all imports of cloth from India (more than half a century before the onset of the textile-driven Industrial Revolution).

India’s share of world GDP declined to 16 per cent in 1820 — falling behind China for the first time in history (in fact falling to half China’s 32.9 per cent share of world GDP that year). By 1913, India’s share had fallen to 7.6 per cent and China’s to 8.9 per cent — and India plummeted to 4.2 per cent in 1950 (China to 4.5 per cent). The decline in India’s share of world GDP between 1700 and 1950 was by far the most dramatic relative decline in the annals of global economic history.

Sadly, while Mao’s China inched up to 4.6 per cent of world GDP by 1973, the Nehru family’s India saw its share fall to 3.1 per cent by 1973 — barely retaining that dismal share until 1989. Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms enabled China’s share of world GDP (in PPP terms) to jump to 11.5 per cent by 1998, and India too finally began its climb out of the doldrums, reaching 5 per cent of world GDP that year, and climbing sharply in each successive decade.Fogel has India’s per capita income growing 4 per cent annually in the 1995-2000 period (over 1 per cent above the global average), and 5.4 per cent annually in the 2000-05 period. The past 12 years have seen about 6 per cent annual growth in per capita income by my estimate.

The economic reforms of P V Narasimha Rao in 1991 had been truly transformative. (These scenes are beautifully evoked in Vinay Sitapati, Half Lion: How P.V. Narasimha Rao Transformed India). The entire panoply of industrial licensing that had shackled Indian industry was swept aside on one dramatic day (24 July 1991) by Rao himself, as he was his own industry minister. The rupee was gradually liberalised, tariff and quantitative barriers steadily declined and the external sector responded with aplomb.

Rao was a Congressman of course — but the Nehru-Gandhi family had nothing to do with his reforms. He kept the socialist Sonia at a safe distance, and she loathed him so much that she ensured he was ignored even in death: when Narasimha Rao died in December 2004, his mortal remains were dramatically debarred from entering the Congress headquarters at 24 Akbar Road. He was not Congress royalty!

Congress’ thinkers make much of the fact that India’s per capita income began growing faster than the world average in 1980. This is no great revelation: it is discussed in my book Asia Reborn and a previous book, India as a New Global Leader, I co-authored with Brahma Chellaney and Parag Khanna.

The $5 billion IMF loan Indira Gandhi took in 1980 helped. But just as Akbar was the inheritor of Sher Shah’s administrative reforms, Indira Gandhi was the beneficiary of Morarji Desai’s mild de-regulation. And the mild out-performance of 1975-76 and the 1980s failed to make up for the huge under-performance of India’s per capita income growth between 1950 and 1975.

1980 wasn’t the first time Indira Gandhi was able to rest on the laurels of a predecessor’s reforms. Rahul Gandhi insisted last week that the Green Revolution is part of his family’s contribution to the nation. Francine Frankel, my teacher at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote a seminal book on the political economy of the Green Revolution, which required a drastic overhaul of the failed agricultural policies of Jawaharlal Nehru. That policy overhaul was initiated by prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastriji in 1965 from his newly constituted Prime Minister’s Office headed by L K Jha.

When the Congress has brought in any genuinely positive overhaul or reform of policy, it has invariably been a non-member of the Nehru family who has initiated it. Rajiv Gandhi was a slight exception: relatively new to politics (only having plunged in upon brother Sanjay Gandhi’s death in mid-1980), he was not as committed to the socialist and re-distributional shibboleths of Indira, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.

His first year was a breath of fresh air for the economy, including for information technology — and Rahul travels with Sam Pitroda to remind us of his father’s telecom reforms. Once Rajiv Gandhi and V P Singh parted ways in April 1987, however, Rajiv quickly closed ranks around the Congress old guard and returned to his family shibboleths. I recall that in 1994 (nearly a decade after Rajiv’s “reforms”) there were a meagre seven million telephones in the whole of India (This number sticks in my mind, as I was the macroeconomic speaker representing Wharton Econometrics at a conference on India’s telecoms future in New York in June 1994). The cellular revolution didn’t occur until prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee intervened in 2001 to untangle the messy web of unviable licensing fees.

Rajiv Gandhi’s Punjab and Assam accords (aimed at undoing his mother’s toxic legacy) were similarly soon in tatters as well — and it was left to the wily Rao to fully implement them. (The Assam accord was later steadily undone by Congress state governments of the Sonia era).

During Manmohan Singh’s premiership, there were very few economic reforms, because Sonia Gandhi and her (unconstitutional) National Advisory Council (NAC) acted as a re-distributive pressure group pushing such initiatives as mass waivers of farm loans, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act or NREGA (without any focus on the quality of projects implemented or the leakage to political intermediaries), a generous award to government staffers from the Sixth Pay Commission and the fiscally-destructive Food Security Bill. The UIDAI (Aadhaar) Bill was Manmohan Singh’s sole economic reform, implemented in the face of stiff opposition from 10 Janpath and home minister P Chidambaram.

Similarly, the civil nuclear deal with the US in 2005 was a political triumph for Manmohan Singh almost solely. At the start, he was the only member of Congress who supported it, but he eventually obliged Sonia Gandhi to go along (by threatening to resign for several days), got it passed by both houses, and then managed to get it approved by the Nuclear Suppliers Group despite relentless Chinese opposition.

But on broader macroeconomic policy, Manmohan Singh’s government inherited a current account surplus and the lowest-ever interest rates in independent India (because Vajpayee’s National Democratic Alliance had lowered inflation sharply). Profligate policies pushed by the NAC caused the current account deficit to shoot up to 6 per cent of GDP by 2009 (a negative swing of 8 percentage points of GDP) and inflation stayed in double digits almost right through the United Progressive Alliance 2 term. This meant that India had negative real rates across the yield curve, and a perpetually weak currency — including two crises (depreciations of more than 15 per cent within a few months) in 2011 and 2013.

Looking at the trajectory of India’s economic performance over time, one of the key differences between the Nehru-family era and the post-1991 era is that the latter has had no full-blown balance of payments crisis (which, for emerging economies are usually accompanied by recessions). India had such crises in 1958, 1966, 1979 and 1991 (the last surely a consequence of Rajiv Gandhi’s profligacy in the second half of the 1980s). Decadal growth rates were invariably dragged down by such crisis years in which the economy shrank. The 1991 crisis was slightly better because real GDP still managed to eke about 1 per cent growth that year.

But India came perilously close to a full-blown crisis in 2011 and, especially, 2013 — when there were hints that then finance minister Chidambaram was about to hand out full banking licences to several large industrial houses. The perilous moments of the “taper tantrum” seem a distant memory now, but India was on the macroeconomic precipice then — despite the fact that Sonia Gandhi (with the itinerant Rahul occasionally by her side) merely had the NAC as a pressure group and mouthpiece. A demographic dividend is too precious a one-time gift to waste on another balance of payments crisis, which will become inevitable if Congress royalty reoccupies Race Course Road after a 30-year hiatus.

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Nehru-Modi: A Comparison Of Scientific Legacies

https://swarajyamag.com/ideas/nehru-modi-a-comparison-of-scientific-legacy

Recently, a Pakistani writer lauded the late Jawaharlal Nehru in an article for keeping India ‘secular’ and ‘scientific’. Had Narendra Modi, instead of Nehru, been the first prime minister of India, the country would have become the land of crackpot science, alleges Pervez Hoodbhoy, who teaches physics in Lahore and Islamabad. And the article has gone viral, especially with the so-called secular brigade in India.

The article first takes up the issue of attacks on Nehru made in some internet circles. These are obscene attacks with bizarre conspiracy theories. Then, Hoodbhoy goes on to say that Nehru is being systematically eliminated from Indian school curricula under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rule. Here, he equates Nehru with Mohammed Ali Jinnah, and General Zia-ul-Haq’s fanatical reign with that of the present Modi government. While Hoodbhoy is totally uncritical, and where needed, strategically silent about the secular credentials of Jinnah, with respect to Nehru, he spells out how contemporary Pakistan perceived him. And, even then, Nehru’s India does not pass his scrutiny. But, it is only better than Modi’s India:

Of course, here in Pakistan we never for a moment believed Nehru when he declared India’s intent to become a pluralistic, liberal, syncretic state whose strength would lie in diversity. For us, all these were just fine words justifying Hindu majoritarianism under the cloak of democracy. Only now that the BJP controls India with a viciously communal agenda have some Pakistanis realised what loss of secularism – even imperfect secularism – actually means.

Then he goes for the jugular. Where would India be had Modi, not Nehru, been India’s prime minister in 1947:

Instead of being noted for its exceptional space programme (Mangalyaan!) and brilliant string theorists (Ashoke Sen!), India would have become a garbage dump for every kind of crackpot science. Medical research would have concentrated on medicines made from cow urine and cow dung, the celibacy of peacocks would be under intense scrutiny, astrology would be taught in place of astronomy, and instead of teaching actual mathematics there would be Vedic mathematics. As in Pakistan, Darwinian evolution would be considered heretical and destructive of religious faith.

At the outset, it looks right. However, a fact check into the way scientific establishment actually evolved in India tells us a different story. One cannot deny here the fact that there are loose cannons and loud mouths in Modi’s cabinet who suffer from comprehensive inability to understand science as well as the real heritage of India. But in a way, they too, are a result of Nehruvian India.

In reality, Nehru, despite his outwardly professed admiration for ‘scientific temper’ was unscientific at two levels. He himself practised many of that in his private life which he deplored in his public discourse.

Letters to his Sister, edited by Krishna Hutheesing, is a collection of letters Nehru had written to his sister. In this collection, the letter numbered 74 was written on 29 August 1944 by Nehru to his daughter Indira to make a “proper horoscope” of his grandson (Rajiv) by “a competent person”.

Then, the private secretary to the prime minister sent a note to the editor of Astrological Magazine, Bengaluru. It stated: “the Prime Minister has asked me to write to you that, so far as he knows, the time of his birth was 11.30 p.m. on November (sic), 1889”.

Durga Das was a freedom fighter and a journalist. His book, India From Curzon To Nehru and After comes with a foreword by Dr Zakir Hussain, former president of India. In this, Das narrates how before the Chinese aggression, Nehru allowed Gulzari Lal Nanda to persuade himself to show his horoscope to an astrologer, who warned Nehru of an imminent Chinese attack. Nehru flew into a rage. Das writes:

Not many weeks after the Chinese launched their aggression, Nehru was in a mood to listen to astrologer. But the pundit’s words were hardly comforting. Nehru’s life span was over, he pronounced. Only puja (ritual worship) could prolong it. What followed was shrouded in the utmost secrecy.

Every evening after the rituals, Brahmin priests came to the prime minister’s residence and placed an auspicious tilak mark on his forehead.

In other words, Nehru started the hypocrisy that we see today rampant in India –speaking about ‘scientific temper’ and ‘rationalism’ outside and going to astrologers and tantriks in private.

Nehru’s supporters also claim repeatedly that the phrase ‘scientific term’ was formulated by him. Hoodbhoy also repeats the same and calls it “a quintessential Nehruvian notion formulated during his years in prison”. But it was a term coined by Bertrand Russell in as early as 1922. As biographer of Nehru, Sankar Ghose, points out, it was Russell’s influence on Nehru that made him think this way:

In Europe Jawaharlal read books by Bertrand Russell and others. Russell’s rationalism left an enduring impression on him. He felt that a study of books like those of Russell could help greatly in spreading the scientific and rational temper and in subduing religion which otherwise ‘will kill the country’. Rational and scientific temper and a non-dogmatic approach was necessary even for the spread of Western industrialization without which poverty could not be eradicated.

Jawaharlal Nehru, A Biography, Allied Publishers, 1993

At another level, Nehru was having an unscientific admiration for the achievements of the Marxist states. He followed the socialist method of planning and implemented a caricature of Stalinist five-year plans. His approach to science actually alienated scientists and people, and created centralised islands of technological expertise.

The immensity of tragedy will be realised if we consider the fact that Nehru started with so many personalities in science that would have made any nation in Asia envious. Even after Acharya J C Bose’s passing away, we had eminent scientists like K S Krishnan, C V Raman, Sathyen Bose, Meghnad Saha, G N Ramachandran, Alladi Ramakrishnan and so on. However, as the Nehruvian era developed we see that many of the scientists became more and more disillusioned and institutions in India turned more state-dependent. Political connections of the scientists rather than their achievements in science decided their national role.

C V Raman, the famous physicist, emphasised the necessity to reach out to the individual and keep out the government ‘state-ism’ of the Soviet kind.

Uma Parameswaran, a critical biographer of the physicist, explains Raman’s critique of Nehru:

Soon the national laboratories became what the Indian Institute of Science had been before Raman shook it up – a place where sinecure scientists did little by way of innovation or discovery. This riled Raman no end. He held Nehru responsible. He felt Nehru had allowed Indian science to be hijacked by self-serving people who were given control of policy making. … Raman faulted Nehru for not having the knowledge, the intuition, what you will, to find the right people for the advancement of Indian science.

While both Raman and Saha had their own rivalry they both independently came to the conclusion that Nehru was not good for Indian science institution building.While both Raman and Saha had their own rivalry they both independently came to the conclusion that Nehru was not good for Indian science institution building.

Physicist Meghnad Saha had a leftist orientation. In fact, he was an early mentor of Nehru when it came to science. Nevertheless, Saha was also a great institution-builder. When he wanted to build the science infrastructure for the nation there were obstacles created by the pre-Independence bureaucracy in the then Calcutta University senate. When Saha sought Nehru’s help, the latter contacted Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee. It was through the staunch support of Dr Mookerjee that those obstacles were removed. Later, Saha would be so disappointed with Nehru government with respect to its record ‘between 1947 and 1951 on education, industrialisation, health, river valley development, and planning,’ that he himself decided to become a candidate for parliamentary election.

Dr Mookerjee laying the foundation for India’s first nuclear institution. Dr Saha is standing nearby.Dr Mookerjee laying the foundation for India’s first nuclear institution. Dr Saha is standing nearby.

Nehru, in 1950, had created problems for Saha’s institute, foundation stone of which was laid by Dr Mookerjee. It was opened by Joliot-Curie, who was with French Atomic Commission and also a member of Communist Party. It was Dr Mookerjee, who despite the personal Left leaning of Saha, supported the institute. Robert S Anderson, an authority on the history of Indian nuclear technology, writes:

The draft constitution was debated early in 1951 in the university Senate, where Saha was supported again by Syama Prasad Mookerjee and by S N Bannerjee, the vice-chancellor. Mookerjee had, in 1941, persuaded the Senate to accept the Tata Trust seed grant for Saha’s cyclotron and laid the foundation for his institute in 1948. The Senate opposed the construction of a semi-autonomous institution within the grounds of the Science College of the university, land which it had fought hard for, but Mookerjee helped Saha overcome this opposition although they each supported opposing political parties. The university wanted full control of the land, governance, and admissions/employment in the institute, asserting the right of the city and West Bengal against the central government. Mookerjee’s constitutional compromise between local and national forces allowed the institute to begin functioning as an all-India institution in July 1951.

Robert S Anderson, ‘Nucleus And Nation: Scientists, International Networks And Power In India’, P.137

So, here one can see the difference in approach between Pandit Nehru and Dr Mookerjee. Dr Mookerjee, who was the founder of the party to which the present Prime Minister Narendra Modi belongs, could raise above partisan politics and assist in building institutions to promote science. If only one could say the same thing about Jawaharlal Nehru. Unfortunately, the experiences of two of the greatest physicists of his times, Raman and Saha, prevent us from saying that.

Even J B S Haldane, polymath biologist, who was Marxist in his ideological leanings, was disenchanted by the dominance of bureaucracy and politicians in the scientific establishment in India during Nehru’s time, and criticised it:

The old caste system had this merit, that the richest merchant or Zamindar could not buy the status of Brahmin for his son, even if the son was learned and pious. Whatever the defects of that system – and I think that they were and are grievous – it was not subservient to wealth. The new caste system which the university administrative authorities, with the connivance of many government officials, are trying with some success to impose upon India, has no such excuse. I hope that steps may be taken to break it before it exercises the same paralytic effect on India as the old one did in the past. … In India today, the unworthy successors of Durvasa and Vishvamitra actually invite governors, vice-chancellors, and the like, to address them. This may be a relic of British rule. If so, it is a regrettable one.

‘What Ails Indian Science’

However, what Nehru achieved was that the ‘scientific temper’ soon devolved into party line propaganda. It was sneaked into Indian Constitution during the Emergency. And, at the same time the ‘Method of Science Experiment‘ which was supposed to spread ‘scientific temper’ showed more interest in parading Lenin and Karl Marx as examples of ‘scientific temper’ rather than discuss Indic systems of knowledge and their engagement with science.

So, can one imagine a method of science experiment panel that does not mention natural selection, Karl Popper or Thomas Kuhn but shows Marx and Lenin? In North Korea or Maoist China, one may say. But lo and behold – it was done in democratic India all in the name of ‘scientific temper’. At the same time, it should be noted that there were people, who were interested in studying the engagement of science with Indic knowledge systems – like J B S Haldane and G N Ramachandran. However, they were individual islands. Institutional support was given to Nehruvian party line of scientific temper as something non-Indian and Marxist.

While individual Indian scientists (below) have significantly contributed to positive interaction of science and Indian culture, Nehruvian establishment promoted only pro-Marxist propaganda as ‘scientific temper’.While individual Indian scientists (below) have significantly contributed to positive interaction of science and Indian culture, Nehruvian establishment promoted only pro-Marxist propaganda as ‘scientific temper’.

It was this alienation along with peddling of pseudo-scientific visions of grandiose by charlatan phenomena which include serials like ‘ancient aliens’ that makes people talk nonsense like Vedic airplanes. The primary cause for this, namely cultural illiteracy and national alienation from science is essentially the creation of Nehruvian system.

As against this, let us see how Modi continues the legacy of Dr Mookerjee. His Solar Alliance is an eco-technological alliance against the uni-world dominance and is against the anti-science climate change denial brigade, which has gained power under the present US President. This Solar Alliance by Modi is more scientific and more socially relevant and holistic than the farce called Non-Aligned Movement created by Nehru, which soon became ‘I love USSR’ club. Or look at the way Modi is using technology to unite people across borders. The SAARC satellite he gave to the South Asian nations is a techno-diplomatic positive approach that unites humanity across borders through applied science.

So, ask not how India would have been had Modi been India’s first prime minister. If the actions of Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee is any indicator along with what Modi does, then the answer is not very flattering for Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

Quotations on Nehru

“Nehru had no idea of economics. He talked of Socialism, but he did not know how to define it. He talked of social justice, but I told him he could have this only when there was an increase in production. He did not grasp that.” —Chester Bowles, then US Ambassador to India.

“…from talks with Jawaharlal [Nehru] fired with emotional zeal but often confused and unconvinced,.. that he [Patel] , instead of Nehru, would be younger of the 2, India would have followed a very different path & would be in better economic shape than it is today.” — JRD Tata

“You know, I never go to Nehru to seek advice or guidance. I take a decision & just present it to him as a fait accompli. Nehru’s mind is too complex to wrestle w the intricacies of a problem. Those who go to him for advice rarely get a lead, that only serves to delay.. matters. Nehru does not understand economics, & is lead by the nose by ‘professors’ & ‘experts’ who pander to his whims & fancies. I do not know where we are going. The country needs a man like Patel.” —Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, Nehru’s close friend and confidant

“I am the last Englishman to rule India!” —Nehru “…in my likes and dislikes I was perhaps more an Englishman than an Indian. I looked upon the world from an Englishman’s standpoint.” —Nehru

“Nehru is a friend of the English people. Indeed, he is more English than Indian in his thought & make-up. He is often more at home w Englishmen than w his own country. He wants Englishmen to go but Angreziat to stay.” —Mahatma Gandhi

“Nehru was completely out of touch with the Indian life even of his time, except with the life of the self-segregating Anglicised set of upper India who lived in the so-called Civil Lines.” —Nirad Chaudhuri, ‘Autobiography of an Unknown Indian, Part-II’

“…several ministers who used to squat on the floor and eat off brass plates or plantain leaves in their homes were now trying to ape Western ways. They contended that Nehru considered only Westernised people modern…” —Durga Das, ‘India from Curzon to Nehru & After’

“Things went so wrong [in India-China War] that had they not happened it would have been difficult to believe them.” —S Gopal, Nehru’s official biographer

“It seemed to me that Nehru should be the new President (of Congress hence PM). I acted according to my best judgement but the way things have shaped since then has made me to realise that this was perhaps the greatest blunder of my political life” —Abul Kalam Azad

“I am afraid Nehru is responsible for the prolongation of the [J&K] problem through his willingness to compromise at every stage. Had Vallabhbhai [Patel] been the man to handle the Kashmir question, he would have settled it long ago. ” – NV Gadgil, Minister in the Nehru Cabinet

“Jawaharlal Nehru in his Discovery of India acknowledges the contribution of the early missionaries, especially the Baptists of Serampore, concerning the shift from the dominating influence of both Sanskrit and Persian.”

https://www.encyclopedia.com/international/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/christian-impact-india-history