It is understandable that nations like to revere their “founding fathers”, but a mature nation must from time to time remind itself that those icons were merely human. India´s first tryst with destiny, its Prime Minister Pandit Nehru, like most icons, had, not only his share of successes but also more than his fair share of monumental blunders. A careful reading of our history and our own government records (many of which still remain classified) is all that it takes for an exposé.
When Kashmir acceded to India in october 1947, there was no mention or promises on the word “plebiscite” by India. Inspite of the Indian troops (under Gen. Cariappa) making considerable advances in pushing back the invading Pakistani tribesmen, Nehru pre-maturely took the “Kashmir issue” to the UN. At the time, the army under Gen. Cariappa was quite confident of clearing Kashmir “in toto”. Yet the orders from the PM´s office were to “cease fire midnight 31st December/1st January 1948-49.” A disappointed Gen. Cariappa later asked Nehru the reasons for the ceasefire. “You see, U.N. Security Council felt that if we go any further it may precipitate a war. So, in response to their request we agreed to a ceasefire,” Nehru said. But he shamelessly added, “Quite frankly, looking back, we should have given you ten-fifteen days more. Things would have been different then.” Mildly put, Nehru un-necessarily jumped the gun, paused the complete eviction of the invading tribesmen and invited upon India a “plebiscite” from the UN that was not promised during the accession. For the first time, the word “plebiscite”, only a rhetoric till then, transforms to become a possible legal binding of sorts on India, after the said UN commision resolution. Since then we have one part under India and another part in Pakistan, with both countries squabbling over the territory like a piece of meat unstabilising the entire sub-continent. Neverthless, India can be thankful to its stars, that luckily for it, the UN resolution mandates various “conditional and sequential” steps to be fulfilled before the question of any plebiscite comes up and among these the primary one being the withdrawal of the Pakistani forces (unlikely). As a Kashmiri Pandit himself, with his unfounded idealism on Kashmir coupled with his political naiveté, the region of Kashmir is left now, a hot-spot for militant jihadi groups rivaling to make it a retrogressive religious state.
To make matters further worse, Nehru did a very poor job at the time, of both, concealing his disdain for the United States and over-celebrating his affinity for the Soviet Union, provoking the US to consider negotiating with Pakistan for a geo-political advantage. His naiveté on China, was monumental, even trying to palliate the Chinese occupation of Aksai Chin in the Parliament. Nehru brazenly stated that “Not a blade of grass grows in Aksai Chin”, then a Kashimiri territory hotly disputed by India and China !!!. Disturbed and angered at Nehru´s naiveté the parliamentarian Mahavir Tyagi pointed to the Prime Minister’s bald head saying “Nothing grows here, should it be cut off or given away to somebody else ?”
Nehru’s legacy of monocracy brought about in 1962 India’s humiliation at the hands of the Chinese. Jean-Paul Garnier, the French ambassador to India from 1961-65 put it, “Nehru exerted his authority and did not like it to be discussed”, while Diwan Chaman Lall, an Indian politician and diplomat of Nehruvian times summarises, “[Nehru] was the biggest dictator of the world himself. There is no doubt about it. But nevertheless…he tried to behave in a manner in which he would be acceptable to the people.” Therefore, one must in my opinion, constantly review Nehru´s contributions together with an awareness of his Kashmir fiasco, at the least, to keep Nehru grounded more “a man” than a cult. In all honesty, a cult of Nehru today in India, does no Indian a penny´s good except perhaps the political fortunes of a beleaguered Congress and its corrupt coffers.