Lessons Modi can Learn from Nehru

India’s new government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi should embrace the spirit and principles of Indian leader Jawaharlal Nehru.


First Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru

As the nation presented the verdict on May 16, it becomes imperative to analyze the larger contours of India’s election. It is remarkable how the nation witnessed this peaceful democratic transition of power.

But what lies underneath is whether with rise of the saffron party, BJP , will the nation witness new contours of ideological parameters of India. One cannot overlook the fact that this year is also the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of Pandit Nehru. Nehru, the stalwart in politics, writings and statesmanship, has several messages from his life for each Indian.

As the thought process rolls up, it’s essential to invoke the ideological churning on the father of liberal Indian democracy Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and how can we benefit from always renewing ourselves in light of new challenges that the nation’s facing.

Nehru was a staunch believer of consensual paradigm. His model of development espoused the ideas of inclusive growth, concern for the environment and less privileged and sacred belief in science and technology.

The new Indian government should keep debating these principles and the opposition must judge the promises proposed in the 2014 BJP manifesto. Unbridled capitalism shall spell peril for Indian ethos of unity juxtaposed with diversity. While gaining a consensus is very challenging in Indian politics, Nehru showed what was possible by his upright approach towards problems of government at a time before and after independence.

Furthermore, Nehru had an uncanny notion of cosmopolitanism towards all minorities. They all could identify with the notion of India as a unified polity with Congress representing the image of an umbrella organization with due space to all. As India reigns on new contours, one has to attempt to revive and renew India’s commitment to the advancement and inclusion of minority voices. Competition is needed but not at the expense of government shirking its responsibility towards their improvement.

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One aspect of Nehru’s uniqueness stems from the fact that he never claimed any finality in describing the idea of India. Defining India and its vast potential was always an ongoing project; an endeavor to be pondered.

India exists in a global world order. It is necessary to keep the Nehruvian idea of having our own independent stand on foreign policy and reinstitute a robust non-aligned foreign policy in which the world can see what India has to offer, not what it can borrow.

As the new Modi government shapes India’s political, social, economic future, it is hoped that Nehru remains an indispensable part of public policy. Nehru needs to revived, deliberated and preserved in light of what he has given to India.

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Amna Mirza, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in Political Studies at a College in University of Delhi. Read other articles by Amna.