At the time of India’s independence in 1947, India had 4 main leaders. Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajaji. Nehru was the youngest of them.
Nehru and Gandhi (the youth, charisma and health of Nehru were his primary plus points).
From left: Nehru, Rajaji, Patel
Sardar Patel and Nehru names were nominated for the post of Prime Minister. Obviously, the overwhelming majority was in favour of Sardar Patel.
Since Gandhiji did not seek a share of political power for himself, it was a challenge to Mahatma Gandhi as well. Finally Gandhi asked Patel to withdraw his name and chose Jawaharlal Nehru as first Prime Minister of Independent India.
The official history has always downplayed the grave injustice that was done to the ‘Iron Man of India’ – Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
When Dr Rajendra Prasad heard of Sardar Patel’s withdrawal of nomination, he was disappointed and remarked that Gandhi had once again sacrificed his trusted lieutenant in favour of the ‘glamorous Nehru’.
Later Mahatma Gandhi passed away on January 1948, Nathuram Godse was the person who assassinated Gandhi by firing three bullets into his chest.
I heard most of them saying, if any Indian leader should have gotten the bullets on January 1948, it should have been Nehru and not the Mahatma.
Yes, this statement made everyone to sit calm and think for some time. Just imagine, if Nehru were not selected as India’s first PM or Nehru was shot dead instead of Gandhi, How would India be like Today?
The ideal scenario for India would have been a Patel-Rajaji partnership as Prime Minister and President respectively. They were strong men of action and this would have been the India had they ruled long enough.
Ideal scenario without Nehru:
- Elimination of Kashmir debacle: Kashmir is still a big flashpoint mainly because of the mishandling by Nehru. Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. Patel had already managed the much bigger problem of Hyderabad (in 1947 Hyderabad was a far bigger threat to India than Kashmir) and he might have possibly done better. With Rajaji to provide strength, Patel would have been incredibly powerful. Nehru failed to take proper decision and included UN, instead of stopping war. Nehru supposed to know that UN will turn out to be another bureaucratic institution with mere hollow words and no action. Nehru promised the UN that a plebiscite will be held in which Kashmiris can vote and decide their future. It was one of the major blunders committed in independent India due to which we are still struggling. 1947 was the time to build our nation, not to fight a war.
Indian army victoriously taking over Hyderabad, brilliantly managed by Patel.
Indian army in Kashmir during 1948 war with Pakistan
- Elimination of the war with China 1962(Sino-Indian war): Both Patel and Rajaji served Nehru as Home Ministers (in succession) and both warned Nehru of China’s activities in Tibet & dangers it posed to India. Nehru did not give much importance to build military force. Had it been Patel-Rajaji, India would have built a strong military deterrent to prevent China from attacking us. Suppose if India had been strong and prepared in 1962, China would not have attacked us. The people of India (esp. the people of Arunachal Pradesh in North East) will never forget & perhaps never forgive those responsible for the China – India War of 1962, the war was a complete disaster for India and its defeat is mourned to this day by nationalists.
- A nuclear power and a world power: India would have been a part of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) a long time back. Yes, it is true that if Nehru had wanted, India would have already gained its position in NSG in 1960s. Nuclear Suppliers Group was formed in 1968 and it consisted of all the countries that had conducted their nuclear test successfully till then. China conducted its test in 1964 while India conducted its test in 1974. But in 1950s, America had once offered India a nuclear device for testing and so India had a golden opportunity to become the first country with nuclear weapons in Asia and ultimately gain its position in NSG. But the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru declined the offer.
- A capitalistic middle income nation: Both Patel and Rajaji were strong capitalists and favoured the industry. That means India’s economic reforms would have started in 1940s and not in 1990s. We waited too long following failed ideas of Nehru. Under the Nehru’s socialist structure, growth stagnated at around 3.5%. At the same time capitalist economies like South Korea, another country, which attained independence at about the same time, grew by 10% and Taiwan, also under the same circumstances, grew at 12%. India is categorised as a developing economy still today after almost 70 long years post Independence.
Indira in Pokharan 1974 after India’s first nuclear test.
- No political dynasty dominance from Nehru Family: The long term family politics from Nehru family dominated India’s politics from many years. Nehru family brought us Emergency, Sikh terrorism, Sri Lankan crisis and Rahul Gandhi!? India faced very crucial time during this period.
- It doesn’t mean that he was a man of failure; he had a charm that even his opponents reluctantly gave in. His charm was one reason that saved India from a direct war with USA. Nehru built an aura around him and that helped India’s image abroad. He was wise, had good ideas but he failed to execute it and failed to take major decisions and couldn’t handle situation in proper way.
There were many positive changes that also happened to India in his time but those were least focused when compare to his failure in major incidents and important decisions, which changed India’s structure, economy, development, political strength, peaceful environment completely.