By: Ajay Shukla
Today a dream has ceased to materialise, a song has quietened and a flame has been doused forever. This was such a dream which had no place for fear and hunger. This was a song which had the fragrance of a rose and resonance of Gita. This was the flame which glowed all night facing the vagaries of darkness and lit out paths for us and one morning merged away. Today the Motherland is saddened for losing her most beloved son. Humanity is saddened to have lost its shepherd. Peace is disturbed on losing its patron. And the common man has lost his vision. Drawn are the curtains as the star performer has bid his final adieu from the World stage his podium.”
These are the words of the Founder President of BJP and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, while tendering his eulogy to the Supreme Leader and the First Prime Minister of the Nation, Pandit Jawahar lal Nehru, during the convocation of the Special Memorial Session of the Parliament. Maybe that’s why the reflection of the peculiar Nehruvian principles had been widely visible, whether it was Atal’s foreign policy or his style of functioning as a Prime Minister. In these times of the epidemic, Nehruvian principles being vital to wipe the scars off the hearts and minds of the common man and to ease their sufferings, are needed everywhere.
During the era of Independence, Indian economy was in dire straits. People could hardly manage a square meal a day and the per capita income was Rs. 274 but gold was Rs.88.62 per 10 grams and today per capita income is Rs. 1.41 lakhs but gold is all time high at Rs. 50,700/- per 10 grams. This is the situation when there is a huge cleft in Indian’s incomes. In respect to per capita income our nation has fallen below the one of the poorest Bangladesh and on the other hand the incomes of the business magnates, presumed to be confidant of the Government, have risen boundlessly making two of them the richest men in Asia. Maximum rise has been reported by Gautam Adani, who according to the report of Bloomberg Billionaires Index, has trounced billionaires Allan Musk and Jeff Bejos during the Covid epidemic. It is but natural to remember the First Prime Minister of the country Nehru when a few capitalist are minting money while the Nation’s GDP is falling and the common man is losing his job and his income is dwindling down. 27th May was Nehru’s death anniversary and the completion of seven years of Modi’s Rule. It’s time to learn from Nehru’s life.
When Nehru shouldered the governance of the country, it was plagued with many epidemics and internal and external inimical forces and then, it was a grave challenge to lead the Nation while securing its borders and dignity and protecting the citizens. The country was engulfed with plague. Polio, malaria, Chicken Pox and many other diseases were proving fatal. Chicken Pox claimed the lives of 1.48 lakh people in 1951 while the population was only 36.10 crores, in such hard times, the foresighted Nehru took revolutionary measures to save the population from these fatal diseases and he stressed on augmenting the public health systems robustic and made provisions for the same in the Five Year Plans. He instead of privatizing the health system made it a Government responsibility and took the responsibility to eradicate diseases like leprosy, diphtheria, typhoid, whooping cough, pneumonia, meningitis, rabies etc. and he started the vaccination programmes at the national level. Despite a weak and floundering budget he managed to raise the infrastructure. He created in a span of 15 years he created 81 premier institutions from a mere 15. He saved precious lives by creating institutions like PGI and AIIMS. He gave equal importance to education as he accorded to health. For production of vaccines, he developed PSU’s and Research Centre’s, which are coming to rescue in the fight against Covid-19, today.
Nehru knew that without world-class educational and research institutes, development of the country could not be secured. He toured the famed American institutes and gave us IITs. Poor and dismal performance in commerce, for lack of management skills, made him created IIMs. He believed that without science, man cannot win the war of progression and in advance of this belief he created CSIR Laboratory, which has aided in creation of vaccine like “Covaxin” in India itself. To develop the natural resources for mankind he developed Botanical Gardens and Biological Institutions. He established pharmaceutical plants producing life-saving drugs to oxygen, which proved their worth in saving lives in this epidemic. Nehru forded his way demolishing the wall of irrational credos. He established autonomous sectors for Aeronautical Space to Nuclear Science research. He laid down heavy industries and dams like Bhakra as State enterprises, to ensure that people are not deprived of their feed and livelihood, which industrialized agriculture. He created Corporations like HAL and Ordnance to boost defense sector and LIC to provide social security to people. He extended the railways coverage for comfortable journeys. He developed organizations for developing air and sea travel and provided skilled manpower for the same. Nehru promulgated legislations and reformed the banking sector to secure the common man from the corporate and the capitalists and ensured provident funds and pensions and welfare regulations for the employees.
Nehru never wavered whether it was when he left his legal practice to struggle for Independence or when he was passing through penury after the death of his farther. He pawned jewellery for the treatment of his mother and his wife, which is evident from a letter written to his family friend and industrialist Jamnalal Bajaj, where he had mentioned of selling of the jewellery to run his household as well as letter to Gandhi where he had requested for arrangement of some funds. He could never remain free as he was repeatedly arrested for one speech or the other that he made seeking Independence. He never gave in despite 9 long years in jail and numerous cases and poverty. He, even before Independence made plans for the betterment of the country and created an atmosphere for Independence and post independence, he utilized the infrastructure for the citizens and not for himself and because of this dedication to the Nation he drew a token salary of Rs. 1/- and resided in his own house. He motivated the citizens by donating all his property to the nation to build a strong, healthy, educated and a modern India. He never stemmed his criticism and always took the voice of opposition as teachings. He was a proponent of freedom both at public and personal level. He always encouraged absolute democracy, the result of which was that any leader of his party could speak against him either in Parliament or at any public platform and which led to creation of a visionary aura in the Nation.
Today the country is passing through tough and difficult times and if the present dispensation could learn from his ideas and his works, then maybe we can build a greater and a strong country. The impulse to understand and ease the pains of the common people should always be visible in the ruling dispensation.
The writer is the Chief Editor of ITV Network. The views expressed are his personal.