Monday, 5 September 2016

On Dr Radhakrishnan's Birth Anniversary: Interesting Anecdotes

On Dr Radhakrishnan's Birth Anniversary :
Interesting Anecdotes

Although Hindus have been honouring gurus/teachers by celebrating ‘Guru Purnima’ for centuries, in the “secular” Nehru era, rather than reinforcing that tradition, we came up with “Teacher’s Day”, on the birth anniversary (5 September) of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888–1975), our ex-President, who was a teacher and a great scholar. It’s fine: honouring gurus twice in a year. Gurus richly deserve it.

Anecdote - I
Related to 1962 India-China War

President Dr Radhakrishnan was so aghast at the Indian military debacle in the 1962 India-China War that when someone told him of a rumour that Lieutenant-General BM Kaul, the then Head of the Eastern Command had been taken prisoner by the Chinese, he commented:
It is, unfortunately, untrue.

Wrote S Gopal, son of Dr Radhakrishnan, and Nehru's official biographer, on 1962 India-China War:
Things went so wrong that had they not happened it would have been difficult to believe them.

Anecdote - II
Dr Radhakrishnan & Nehru

This is from S. Nijalingappa’s autobiography ‘My Life and Politics’:

“Another such instance I remember was when Dr. S. Radhakrishnan was president of India...I used to call on him whenever I was in Delhi...In his talks with me, as I believe with others too, he was very frank and open. One day, when I went to him he said, ‘Nijalingappa, today I put my foot down. Do you know why?’ He then continued, ‘Pandit Nehru comes to me and wants me to make his sister, Vijay Lakshmi Pandit, vice-president of India. I had to tell him, “You are the prime minister of India, your daughter is the president of Indian National Congress and you want your sister to be vice-president. What would people say? I cannot have it.” I put my foot down and sent him away.’

“I think Nehru had promised his sister the post and when she could not get it, she was very angry with her brother. She complained to me about it when she came to my house for breakfast, and said that her brother did not keep his promise. I did not tell her what Dr S. Radhakrishnan had told me.”

Incidentally, this is what a piece by GS Ujjanappa states in The Time of India of 12 June 2013 about Nijalingappa:
“The grand old man of Chitradurga [Nijalingappa] was known for his Gandhian ideology and had an unblemished innings of more than six decades in politics. While most ministers take months together to vacate their official residences and continue to enjoy the benefits even after demitting office, Nijalingappa was a class apart. The veteran Congressman politely declined the offer of free government accommodation in Bangalore after his wife passed away in 1989, and moved to his house in Chitradurga. He had built the house in 1932 from his earnings as a practicing lawyer.”

Anecdote - III
Dr Radhakrishnan & Netaji Subhas Bose

Subhas Bose had NOT died in that reported plane crash in Taipei on 18 August 1945.

Subhas was perhaps sent to Yakutsk prison (world’s coldest and harshest prison camp) by Stalin. There were many camps, known as Gulags, each with 500-1000 prisoners of war or political dissidents living with minimal facilities, in Yakutsk by the river Lena in Siberia. Most of the captives couldn’t survive the harsh weather and primitive living conditions, and died building new shafts for coal mines, roads, dams, and so on, for which they were deployed in that coldest city on earth.

There is also a startling report—unconfirmed—that India's the then ambassador to Russia, Dr S Radhakrishnan, was permitted to see Netaji Subhas from a distance in an undisclosed location in the Soviet Union. The details are not known.

In his book, ‘Back from Dead’, Anuj Dhar mentions that reportedly “the Ambassador was then taken to one of the labour camps in Siberia and he saw Bose from a distance of 10 metres. On his return, the Ambassador filed a report to the Prime Minister.” As per the book, many witnesses before Khosla Commission charged that Radhakrishnan and his predecessor Vijaylakshmi Pandit [Nehru’s sister] knew something about Bose’s presence in the USSR.

Dr Satyanarain Sinha was a member of the Constituent Assembly of India. He was a Congress MP elected to the Lok Sabha in 1952, 1957, 1962 and 1967. He had been the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs. Sinha had an adventurous life. He had sailed for Europe in 1930, and studied medicine in Vienna. Reportedly, he had also once stayed at Sorrento near Naples with Maxim Gorky. He was fluent in several foreign languages, including German and Russian. He was a staff captain in the Soviet Army for two years during 1932-34; and also served as an interpreter for six months in Siberia where he befriended many Russian and German spies. He had joined Mussolini’s forces, and fought on the side of the Italians in the battle of 1935-36 in Ethiopia against the Allies. He returned to India in 1936. After 1947, on behalf of the Indian government, he worked as an informal secret agent, and travelled to Germany, Italy, France and Yugoslavia. He joined IFS (Indian Foreign Service) in 1950, and served as First Secretary in the Indian legation in Berne, Switzerland. He resigned from IFS after 2 years and became an MP.

Dr Satyanarain Sinha had also worked as an interpreter to Dr Radhakrishnan at Geneva. Dr Radhakrishnan was later ambassador to the USSR. Sinha had claimed that he had raised the issue of Netaji Bose with Dr Radhakrishnan. Said Sinha:
He (Radhakrishnan) warned me that I should not meddle in these things. I asked him why. Then he said ‘you will be spoiling your career, you will not be anywhere’.

Incidentally, Dr Radhakrishnan was proposed by Nehru as India’s first Vice President—a post that did not exist then as per the Constitution—upon his return from Russia. He remained Vice President for 10 years beginning 1952, and then President for 5 years.

Dr Radhakrishnan also became the first Bharat Ratna awardee in 1954. He deserved the award, but should he have got it ahead of the freedom fighters like Netaji Subhas Bose, Sardar Patel, Dr BR Ambedkar, Dr Rajendra Prasad, although he was not a freedom fighter.
The above are extracts from the book
"Foundations of Misery : Blunders of the Nehruvian Era"
Pages: 472; Words : 1,43,000

The book covers, among many other things, the following:
1)  History of Kashmir from the 6th century BCE to the times of Nehruvian Blunders on J&K.
2)  History of Tibet-China relations since the 7th century CE, and how Nehru allowed erasure of Tibet as a nation.
3)  India–Tibet/China Boundary History,
     1962 India–China War, and Nehru’s Himalayan Misadventure.
4)  Integration of Princely States; and how left to Nehru, Hyderabad would have been another Kashmir or Pakistan.
5)  History of Sinhala and Tamils of Sri Lanka; and Nehru’s neglect of the problems of Srilankan Tamils.
6)  Nehru: Foreign to Foreign Policy.
7)  Nehru & Netaji Subhas Mystery.
8)  Avoidable Internal Security Problems.
9)  India’s Self-Inflicted Poverty thanks to Nehruvian Poverty-Perpetuating & Misery-Multiplying Socialism.
10) Mental & Cultural Slavery thanks to Nehruvian Ways.
11) Feudal Dynastic Democracy thanks to Nehru.

* * * * *
Rajnikant Puranik
September 5, 2016
Friday, 29 July 2016

Nehru's 97+ Major Blunders

Study the past, if you would divine the future.

“...[then] it seemed to me that Jawaharlal should be the new President [of Congress in 1946—and hence the first Prime Minister] ...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... My second mistake was that when I decided not to stand myself, I did not support Sardar Patel.”
—Abul Kalam Azad, ‘India Wins Freedom’

“He [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. So you need a leader who understands economic issues and will invigorate your economy.”
—Chester Bowles

"Malcolm Muggeridge, after seeing Nehru shortly before his death, characterized him as 'a man of echoes and mimicry, the last viceroy rather than the first leader of a liberated India',  and regretted that Nehru was much too British in his approach to have been able to bring about significant or radical changes in India."
— Sankar Ghose in ‘Jawaharlal Nehru, a Biography’

“It is completely impracticable for the Chinese Government to think of anything in the nature of invasion of India. Therefore I rule it out...”
—Jawaharlal Nehru

“We were getting out of touch with reality in the modern world and we were living in an artificial atmosphere of our creation...”
—Jawaharlal Nehru

But for a series of major blunders by Nehru across the spectrum—it would not be an exaggeration to say that he blundered comprehensively—India would have been on a rapidly ascending path to becoming a shining, prosperous, first-world country by the end of his term, and would surely have become so by early 1980s—provided, of course, Nehru’s dynasty had not followed him to power. Sadly, Nehru era laid the foundations of India’s poverty and misery, condemning it to be forever a developing, third-rate, third-world country. By chronicling those blunders, THIS BOOK HIGHLIGHTS THE FACTS BEHIND THE FACADE.

Blunders is used in this book as a general term to also include failures, neglect, wrong policies, bad decisions, despicable or disgraceful acts, usurping undeserved posts, etc.

It is not the intention of this book to be critical of Nehru, but historical facts, that have often been distorted or glossed over or suppressed must be known widely, lest the mistakes be repeated, and so that India has a brighter future.

THIS REVISED AND ENLARGED EDITION retitled "Nehru's 97+ Major Blunders" comprises (a)122 Major Blunders compared to 97 of the first Digital Edition of July 2016, although the (slightly modified) original title (97+ instead of 97) is retained; (b)over twice the matter, and number of words; (c)and exhaustive citations and complete bibliography. 

My Other Book
(NOT a substitute for the book above.)
"Foundations of Misery :
The Nehruvian Era
Pages: 472; Words: 1,43,000

Click here for Hardback/Paperback Edition at Atlantic.
“This great doctrine [Panchsheel signed by Nehru] was born in sin, because it was enunciated to put the seal of our approval upon the destruction of an ancient nation [Tibet] which was associated with us spiritually and culturally... It was a nation which wanted to live its own life and it sought to have been allowed to live its own life...”
—Acharya Kriplani

“I hope I am not leaving you as cannon fodder for the Chinese. God bless you all.”
—India’s army chief KS Thimayya
in his farewell speech in 1961

“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

“Poor countries are poor because those who have power make choices that create poverty.” Such countries develop “extractive” institutions that “keep poor countries poor”.
—Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson in
‘Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty’
(Nehru laid foundations of EXTRACTIVE INSTITUTIONS that have been the root of India remaining a poor, third-rate third-world nation.)

“A young man who isn't a socialist hasn't got a heart; an old man who is a socialist hasn't got a head.”
—David Lloyd George

The term "Hindu rate of growth" is highly inappropriate and unfair, besides being derogatory. The low rate of growth was thanks to Nehruvian policies. Therefore the appropriate term should have been the "Nehruvian rate of growth" or the “Socialistic rate of growth”.

Foundations of Misery goes into the details of the background, history and particulars of the Integration of the Indian StatesKashmir: BCE to 1950sTibet: Erasing a NationHimalayan Misadventure (India-China War); The Sinhala & the Tamils (On Sri-Lankan Tamil Problem); India’s Self-Inflicted PovertySocialism, Babudom & CorruptionBeing Foreign to Foreign Policy (Disastrous Policies on External Affairs); Ill-informed Internal PoliciesMental & Cultural SlaveryDistortion of History & Cultural HeritageDynacracy (Dynastic Democracy), and so on.

The book attempts to unravel the mystery and the truth in-depth on why India remains a poor, pathetic, third-rate, third-world country. How's it that India got so left behind? What was it that India did, or did not do, after independence, that everything is so abysmal and pathetic. Why an overwhelming majority of millions of Indians continue to be condemned to a life of unmitigated misery. 

What are the foundations of this misery?

And why all this unmitigated misery despite the overwhelming advantage of India as a nation with first-rate people,  plentiful natural resources, grand civilisational heritage, rich culture and languages, unmatched ethical and spiritual traditions, and relatively much better position in all fields—infrastructure, trained manpower, bureaucracy, army—at the time of independence compared to many east-Asian nations who have since overtaken us. 

Why did India fail to leverage such rich assets of a gifted country?

Incidents, information and revelations that would shock common readers and would make them exclaim: 'Oh God, was this so? I didn't know!' Not that the facts or revelations are new, only they are not commonly known.

There are significant differences between my this book and my other book 'Nehru's 97 Major Blunders'. Each serves a different purpose, and one is NOT a substitute, or a summary, for the other. 'Nehru's 97 Major Blunders' has a much wider coverage on blunders, but does not go into the details and history like this book does.

For other books by the Author, and for their details, and “from where to procure”, please check:

* * * * *
Rajnikant Puranik
July 29, 2016
Updated: June 2018
Thursday, 14 April 2016

Ambedkar and Nehru

Ambedkar & Nehru
Extracts from the Book:
Foundations of Misery

Blunders of the Nehruvian Era

"Foundations of Misery : Blunders of the Nehruvian Era"

Pages: 472; Words: 1,43,000

The book covers, among many other things, the following:
1)  History of Kashmir from the 6th century BCE to the times of Nehruvian Blunders on J&K.
2)  History of Tibet-China relations since the 7th century CE, and how Nehru allowed erasure of Tibet as a nation.
3)  Indo–Tibet/China Boundary History, 1962 India–China War, and Nehru’s Himalayan Misadventure.
4)  Integration of Princely States; and how left to Nehru, Hyderabad would have been another Kashmir or Pakistan.
5)  History of Sinhala and Tamils of Sri Lanka; and Nehru’s neglect of the problems of Srilankan Tamils.
6)  Nehru: Foreign to Foreign Policy.
7)  Nehru & Netaji Subhas Mystery.
8)  Avoidable Internal Security Problems.
9)  India’s Self-Inflicted Poverty thanks to Nehruvian Poverty-Perpetuating & Misery-Multiplying Socialism.
10)  Mental & Cultural Slavery thanks to Nehruvian Ways.
11)  Feudal Dynastic Democracy thanks to Nehru.
12)  Summary of 57 Major Nehruvian Blunders.

Book Extracts related to Dr Ambedkar

Kashmir : Article 370

Dr BR Ambedkar was opposed to Article 370 for Kashmir.

Nehru had sent Abdullah to Dr Ambedkar to explain to him the position and to draft an appropriate Article for the Constitution.

Ambedkar had remarked: “Mr Abdullah, you want that India should defend Kashmir, India should develop Kashmir and Kashmiris should have equal rights as the citizens of India, but you don’t want India and any citizen of India to have any rights in Kashmir. I am the Law minister of India. I cannot betray the interest of my country.”

About Article 370, Sardar Patel had confided to his secretary, V Shankar, “Jawaharlal royega [Nehru will regret this].”

J&K Mess

Reference to the UN [on Kashmir] was something Sardar Patel, Dr Ambedkar and others were against, however, Nehru again went ahead with it publicly in his radio broadcast on 2 November 1947. Incidentally, plebiscite was held in Junagadh also, but it was conducted by India itself on 20 February 1948, managed by an ICS officer, CB Nagarkar—as arranged by Sardar Patel.


Ambedkar disagreed with the Tibet policy of India and felt that “there is no room for Panchsheel in politics”. He said that “if Mr Mao had any faith in the Panchsheel, he certainly would treat the Buddhist in his own country in a very different way.”

Panchsheel was only a “give away” with no reciprocal “take”. Through Panchsheel  India literally gave Tibet to China on a platter, without negotiating anything in return either for Tibet or for India. Panchsheel is actually a most eloquent example of the naivety of the Indian diplomacy and a shining example of what an international agreement should not be!

Acharya Kripalani had this to comment on Panchsheel: “This great doctrine was born in sin, because it was enunciated to put the seal of our approval upon the destruction of an ancient nation which was associated with us spiritually and culturally...It was a nation which wanted to live its own life and it sought to have been allowed to live its own life...”

UNSC Seat, Foreign Policy

Commented Ambedkar: "The government’s foreign policy has failed to make India stronger. Why should not India get a permanent seat in the UN Security Council? Why has the prime minister not tried for it?"

When UNO was formed, China was ROC—Republic of China—headed by Chiang Kai-shek. In 1949, Communists took over China and founded People's Republic of China (PRC ) under Mao. Chiang Kai-shek and his ROC were driven away to Formosa—now called Taiwan. ROC continued to be a member of the UN till 1971, and not PRC, as US and allies refused to recognise it. They did not wish to have another communist country as a member of the UNSC.

Reportedly, both the US and the USSR were willing to accommodate India as a Permanent Member of the UNSC in 1955, perhaps in lieu of Taiwan, or as a sixth member, after amending the UN charter. This Nehru refused! Nehru wanted the seat to be given to PRC, as Nehru did not want China to be marginalised! Even though not asked by China, India, of its own accord, had been vigorously advocating PRC for the Permanent Membership of the UNSC in lieu of Taiwan.

Reads a Business Line article “UN reforms—a fading mirage?” of 16 September 2009: “Ironically, around 1955, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was offered the disputed Chinese Permanent Security Council seat by the US to keep out the People’s Republic of China, and he also was sounded out by the USSR Prime Minister, Nikolai Bulganin, to allow China to take this seat while giving India a sixth permanent seat in the Security Council. Nehru rejected this offer in deference to China. History may have been different if  this offer had been subjected to serious negotiations. Through the decades since, we have been  struggling for this seat.”

It was almost as if Nehru, for reasons one cannot fathom, totally ignored India’s own strategic interests!

Writes Arun Shourie in ‘Are we deceiving ourselves again?’: “...The Communists seize power [in China]. Panditji [Nehru] is the first to ensure that India recognizes the new Government. He also urges countries like U.K. to hasten recognition. Although, it is Chiang Kai-shek who has supported India’s struggle for independence...Panditji immediately begins championing the cause of the new Government [of China]. He urges the British, the Americans, in fact everyone he can reach, that the Nationalist Government [of Chiang Kai-shek] must be made to vacate its seat in the United Nations, and that seat—which means necessarily the seat both in the General Assembly and the Security Council—must be given over to the Communist Government...”

Ambedkar criticised Nehru’s foreign policy for trying to “solve the problems of other countries and not [exerting] to solve the problems of our own country!”

Belated Bharat Ratnas

Bose was awarded Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1992, which was later withdrawn on a legal technicality, in response to a Supreme Court directive: Government was asked to submit conclusive evidence of Netaji's death—which it could not—on a PIL as to how the award could be posthumous. However, the intriguing point is how come they thought of the award to Netaji only in 1992—even though the amendment to give awards posthumously was made in 1955 itself?

Like for Bose, Bharat Ratna was awarded even to Sardar Patel in 1991 and to Dr Ambedkar in 1990! And, that too because there were non-Dynasty governments since December 1989—VP Singh, then Chandra Shekhar, followed by Narsimha Rao.

Incidentally, Dr BR Ambedkar was declared as “The Greatest Indian after Gandhi” in the Outlook–CNN-IBN–History18 TV Channel–BBC Poll, the results of which were announced on 15 August 2012. Yet, he was given Bharat Ratna only in 1990. In the Poll, while Ambedkar topped with 19,91,734 votes, Nehru, at the bottom at number 10, got just 9,921 votes!

To name a few more,  Radhakrishnan was awarded Bharat Ratna in 1954, Rajaji in 1954, Nehru in 1955—when he was himself the PM, Govind Ballabh Pant in1957, BC Roy in 1961, Zakir Hussain in 1963, Indira Gandhi in 1971—when she was herself the PM, VV Giri in 1975, Kamaraj in 1976, Vinoba Bhave in 1983, MGR in 1988, and Rajiv Gandhi in 1991! But, Sardar Patel, Subhas Chandra Bose and Dr Ambedkar, being not as great as these worthies (!!), got it later! The Dynasty did not like them!! It has been that personal in our feudal democracy. Of course, the only unjust thing that the Dynasty did was to have left out poor Sanjay Gandhi!

There were those who were more deserving to the many who got. For example, why not to Verghese Kurien of the Amul fame? Narayan Murthy has rightly remarked: “If our country does not stand up and salute Dr Kurien with a Bharat Ratna, then I don’t know who deserves it more.”

That great man from Assam, Gopinath Bordoloi, despite his achievements—far more than most of the Indian leaders, with the added uniqueness that like Sardar Patel, who was instrumental in expanding the Indian territory by about 40% by accession of the Indian Princely States, Bordoloi helped expand India’s geographical boundary to Assam and the Northeast—was not awarded Bharat Ratna by the successive Congress Governments starting from Nehru, while many, not as deserving, got that award. He had opposed Nehru—and for good reason. It was only when a non-Congress government came to power that Bordoloi, a veteran Congressman, was awarded the Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1999. That was thanks to Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Non-dynasty greats can wait, may even die, there is no hurry. Posthumously, Ambedkar got it in 1990, Sardar Patel in 1991, Netaji Subhas Bose in 1992 and Bordoloi in 1999, when all the four of them should have been the first to get it in 1954 when the award was introduced. But, dynasty-scions, great or otherwise, can’t be made to wait: two allowed themselves to be awarded Bharat Ratna when they were themselves in power—Nehru in 1955 and Indira Gandhi in 1971—while Rajiv Gandhi was awarded the same soon after his death in 1991!! When sounded for Bharat Ratna, Maulana Azad declined and told Nehru it was totally improper for those deciding on the awards to pin the medal on themselves! Azad got it posthumously. There ought to be a provision to withdraw the awards given if it is later found that those awarded did not really deserve it.

Disgraceful Behaviour of Nehru

In an article, A Case For Bhim Rajya, the author S Anand describes a shocking incident. It appeared in the Outlook issue of 20 August 2012—a special issue on BR Ambedkar, after being declared “The Greatest Indian After Gandhi” in the poll conducted in 2012 by the Outlook along with the CNN-IBN and History18 TV Channels with BBC. It reads:

“Let us begin at the end, with one of the worst humiliations in Ambedkar’s life, less than three months before his death. On September 14, 1956, exactly a month before he embraced Buddhism with half-a-million followers in Nagpur, he wrote a heart-breaking letter to prime minister Nehru from his 26, Alipore Road residence in Delhi. Enclosing two copies of the comprehensive Table of Contents of his mnemonic opus, The Buddha and His Dhamma, Ambedkar suppressed pride and sought Nehru’s help in the publication of a book he had worked on for five years: ‘The cost of printing is very heavy and will come to about Rs 20,000. This is beyond my capacity, and I am, therefore, canvassing help from all quarters. I wonder if the Government of India could purchase 500 copies for distribution among the various libraries and among the many scholars whom it is inviting during the course of this year for the celebration of Buddha’s 2,500 years’ anniversary. Ambedkar had perhaps gotten used to exclusion by then. The greatest exponent of Buddhism after Asoka had ruthlessly been kept out of this Buddha Jayanti committee presided over by S. Radhakrishnan, then vice president...Worse, when Nehru replied to Ambedkar the next day, he said that the sum set aside for publications related to Buddha Jayanti had been exhausted, and that he should approach Radhakrishnan, chairman of the commemorative committee. Nehru also offered some business advice, gratuitously: ‘I might suggest that your books might be on sale in Delhi and elsewhere at the time of Buddha Jayanti celebrations when many people may come from abroad. It might find a good sale then.’ Radhakrishnan is said to have informed Ambedkar on phone about his inability to help him.

This is the vinaya that the prime minister and vice-president of the day extended to the former law minister and chairperson of the drafting committee of the Constitution. It was suggested with impertinence that Ambedkar could set up a stall, hawk copies and recover costs...”

It is a shocking lack of grace and courtesy. Couldn’t they have spared a few thousand for Ambedkar’s great works—when the Government could spend lacs on all kind of sundry and selected and collected works of Nehru and Gandhi. The Government  had also refused to publish the collected or selected works of two other great leaders: Sardar Patel and Subhas Bose.

The Ambedkar memorial in the capital is in bad shape. Writes Neha Bhatt in an article, A Fall Into Sear And Yellow Leaf, in the Outlook magazine of 20 August 2012: “The untended grounds of 26, Alipur Road, in New Delhi’s upscale Civil Lines neighbourhood, give a telling foretaste of the overall neglect of the building. It’s hard to believe that this is the Dr Ambedkar National Memorial, where the man spent his twilight years and breathed his last. The visitor’s book here reveals more than the walls themselves—scribbled in by the few visitors it receives, some all the way from Maharashtra, Haryana, Gujarat, are urgent requests, not only for a ‘better’ memorial, but for basic amenities like fans, lights and some ventilation.”

Academics : Nehru vs. Ambedkar

Nehru’s academic achievements  were rather modest. He was a graduate and had passed the bar exams.
Writes MJ Akbar in Nehru: The Making of India: “Eventually  when he [Jawaharlal] passed in the second half of the second class, Motilal was relieved enough to celebrate lavishly...Motilal was acutely terrified that his son might fail, so even such moderate results were cause for celebrations... Motilal had set his heart on sending his son to the Indian Civil Service...He called the ICS the ‘greatest of services in the world’...But the weak Second [class of Jawaharlal Nehru] at the end of Cambridge persuaded Motilal that his son was unlikely to get through the tough ICS examinations...His [Jawaharlal’s] expenditure in 1911 was £800, enough to pay for three years of an ordinary student’s existence...”

Contrast this with Ambedkar who often skipped meals or ate frugally to save money when he was studying in London. In Dr.Ambedkar: Life and Mission, Dhananjay Keer mentions that  Ambedkar subsisted in London on mere £8 a month! That amounts to £96 a year. Compare this with £800 a year of Nehru, which excluded expenses for several other requirements that were separately arranged by Nehru’s father. Writes Dhananjay Keer: “After this the second round of reading began at his residence. About ten at night the fire in the stomach seemed to suppress the fire in the head and made Ambedkar wriggle. He was mad with hunger. An Indian acquaintance of his had made him a present of a bundle of thin crisp Indian wafers called papad. He secured a thin tin plate to fry those crisp wafers. A cup of tea and four pieces of papad would partly appease the intensity of his hunger...”

With all those handicaps Ambedkar graduated in Political Science and Economics from Bombay University in 1912. On scholarship from the Maharaja of Baroda, he went to New York in 1913 and earned the degrees of Master of Arts in 1915, followed by Doctorate in Philosophy in 1916 from the Columbia University. Thereafter, he went to London, where he joined the Grays Inn for Law and the London School of Economics (LSE) for Economics. He earned his second doctorate—Doctor of Science—from LSE. He also became a barrister.

While Nehru scraped through graduation, Sardar Patel had topped in his exams in London. Subhas Bose was a brilliant student at Cambridge who had also cleared ICS exam. Dr Rajendra Prasad was a great scholar who always topped in his class—his examiner had once written a comment on his answer sheet: “examinee is better than examiner”.

Writes Perry Anderson, a British historian and political essayist, and Professor of History and Sociology at UCLA:
Nehru had enjoyed the higher education Gandhi didn’t have, and an intellectual development not arrested by intense religious belief. But these advantages yielded less than might be thought. He seems to have learned very little at Cambridge, scraping a mediocre degree in natural sciences that left no trace thereafter, did poorly in his bar exams, and was not much of a success when he returned to practise law in his father’s footsteps. The contrast with Subhas Chandra Bose, a brilliant student of philosophy at Cambridge, who was the first native to pass the exams into the elite ranks of the Indian civil service and then decline entry to it on patriotic grounds, is striking. But an indifferent beginning is no obstacle to subsequent flowering, and in due course Nehru became a competent orator and prolific writer. What he never acquired, however, was a modicum of literary taste or mental discipline. His most ambitious work, The Discovery of India, which appeared in 1946, is a steam bath of Schw√§rmerei [sentimental enthusiasm]. It would be unfair to compare Nehru to Ambedkar, the leader of the Untouchables, intellectually head and shoulders above most of the Congress leaders, owing in part to far more serious training at the LSE and Columbia. To read Ambedkar is to enter a different world. “The Discovery of India”—not to speak of its predecessor, “The Unity of India”—illustrates not just Nehru’s lack of formal scholarship and addiction to romantic myth, but something deeper, not so much an intellectual as a psychological limitation: a capacity for self-deception with far-reaching political consequences.”

In fact, if one goes through the writings of Ambedkar, one finds them to be works of vast, in-depth study, powerful analysis, and brilliant and perceptive understanding of issues; quite unlike the fluffy romanticism, airy views and superficial treatment of Nehru, and his attempt at show off. Ambedkar’s views on religions, castes, Islam, Buddhism, Pakistan, Kashmir, China, foreign policy and so on are worth reading.

You find Nehru devoting several chapters to socialism and Marxism in his book, Glimpses of World History, without dealing with the reported pathetic state of affairs in Russia. His treatment is more romantic than critical. He talks of Marxism, but there is no contrasting coverage on Adam Smith and others, or on the most robust economy of the time—that of the US. There is little attempt in his books to critically assess and evaluate competing options. He talks of state controls and its benefits in his chapter on Marxism, never once questioning that the state itself could be mafia-like, and the biggest exploiter. It is presumed that the state would be a nice, just, empathetic, kind do-gooder, full of compassion. Further, he does not touch upon things like entrepreneurship, individual initiative, and such other critical factors. In the absence of a holistic coverage on the vital aspects that affect economy, his treatment appears no more than just a superficial story. Nehru fancied himself to be a student of history, international relations and foreign policy—actually, a master of these subjects, going by the books he wrote and the way he pontificated—but sadly, he ignored lessons from history, as the results of his policies proved.

Naming Universities

Why JNU—Jawaharlal Nehru University? Nehru’s academic achievements  were rather modest. He was a graduate and had passed the bar exams. Writes MJ Akbar in Nehru: The Making of India: “Eventually  when he [Jawaharlal] passed in the second half of the second class, Motilal was relieved enough to celebrate lavishly...Motilal was acutely terrified that his son might fail, so even such moderate results were cause for celebrations...”

Why IGNOU—Indira Gandhi National Open University? She was not even a graduate! You see poor boys and girls in the most backward regions of India doing graduation and post-graduation under trying circumstances, and here you have a person, with all the financial and family support, and even expenses for education abroad, not doing even graduation.

Then, why name these important, national universities after such persons? Why not name them after Ambedkar who earned a double doctorate from abroad despite heavy odds and extremely meagre resources? Or, after other great academics or scientists like say CV Raman, the Nobel Laureate, or SN Bose, or JC Bose, or Panini. Or, after other national leaders like Dr Rajendra Prasad, Dr Radhakrishnan, Subhas Bose, Rajaji, Sardar Patel who were also great academics. Dr Rajendra Prasad was a brilliant student throughout his academic career, who acquired doctorate in law; Dr Radhakrishnan was a distinguished scholar and a doctor in philosophy; Subhas Chandra Bose was among the top scorers in ICS; and Sardar Patel had topped the Barrister-at-Law examination in London.

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Rajnikant Puranik
April 14, 2016