Nehru’s Debates

Nehru: The Debates that Defined India by Tripurdaman Singh and Adeel Hussain, and published in  New Delhi by Fourth Estate, is reviewed for JCA by Sharmila Narayana.

As the reviewer observes, “No other leader in Indian politics continues to be discussed and debated as much as former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, despite it being almost 60 years since his passing…”. This book is also controversial and debated.

In this book, Singh and Hussain examne “the intellectual engagement that Nehru had with his detractors…”. It focuses on: “the poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal on Muslim solidarity and the role of religion in public life; the founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah on Hindu-Muslim relations; Sardar Patel, his colleague and member of Congress, on foreign policy; and finally Syama Prasad Mookerjee, a minister in Nehru’s cabinet and President of Hindu Mahasabha, on civil liberties and the First Amendment to the Constitution.”

Narayana says that Nehru “takes its readers on a walk through the portals of Indian politics between 1930 and the early 1950s, examining the crucial role that Nehru, with his scientific temperament and secular credentials, played in shaping it.”

It reveals Nehru’s “intellectual acumen and intolerance towards all kinds of religious bigotry…. The book is all the more relevant today, in an environment that spews hatred and has become a breeding ground for religious intolerance. Nehru will continue to stand tall in the ever-shifting sands of Indian politics, no matter how hard the current political regime might try to erase his legacy.

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