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Jawaharlal Nehru: the Clueless Dynast

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Jawaharlal Nehru: the Clueless Dynast

 

As Jawaharlal Nehru’s birthday approaches in a couple of weeks, it is time to re-examine his legacy—a legacy that is for the most part is responsible for the mess that India currently is in. I’ve written about Nehru on occasions on my blog and have received all sorts of feedback. However, it is interesting to note that the arguments against my view of Nehru and his failed economic policies are generic. I will repeat them and my counter-arguments here.

My argument. Economic policies matter. If you have sound economic policies, you get commensurate economic performance. India’s economic performance sucks. It performs dismally in any sort of ranking of human development and economic performance tests. Half the illiterates of the world call India their home. A third of all global poverty is in India. All things considered, India has been a colossal failure so far.

Why has India been a failure? Are Indians collectively stupid? Unlikely.

Did GOD decree it? I asked him and he categorically denied it.

Did nations around the world gang up and rape India for the last 60 years? Not that I know of.

[pullquote]Why is Nehru elevated to the position of a demi-god?[/pullquote]

I am left with the hypothesis that perhaps India’s economic policies sucked chrome off a bumper of a pickup truck parked at 400 yards.

Who makes economic policies? You? I? No, economic policy is made by the so-called leaders and visionaries of this sainted land. And who were the most powerful leaders of this land since its independence from Britain? Nehru and his descendants. He dictated policy—economic, foreign, domestic, you name it. The most charitable way of putting the matter is to say that Nehru was clueless.

He wasn’t just clueless about this or that. Nehru’s cluelessness was all encompassing. He was clueless about foreign policy, military strategy, domestic development — you name it and he is the greatest screw-up that India has ever produced.

Then come the rebuttals which often start with the admission that Nehru was clueless but . . .

. . . but during his time, many others–including a few people one cannot dismiss as being clueless thought that Central planning was beneficial for countries like India. These included Nobel winner Gunnar Myrdal (Asian Drama, an Inquiry into the Poverty of Nations) and Mahalanobis.

The argument above says that it wasn’t the man, it was the circumstances. By that logic, everything is justifiable. Every crime can be explained away as the result of compelling circumstances and hence there can be no accountability.

[pullquote]Nehru’s cluelessness was all encompassing[/pullquote]

Take, for instance, the WorldCom and Enron cases where executives committed theft on unprecedented and unimaginable scale. One could point to the fact that other companies were also doing shady accounting, that the internet boom was going strong, that the economy was very strong, that the GAAP was being followed. All those explanations would also paper over the fact that the crime arose out of the greed of the perpetrator. Given all the circumstances but absent the greed of the executives, the grand theft would not have taken place.

Now back to Nehru: even if one were to grant all the circumstances that you cite above (but only for the sake of argument), the fact remains that central planning was personally very convenient for the Cha-cha.

The children of Imperialism are not weaned on the milk of humility.They are brought up on a heady diet of hubris. Nehru was an imperialist who believed that his destiny was to rule the brown masses and he continually rejected sane advice. Look deeply into any problem that India faces and you will see Nehru’s fingerprints all over it.

Take Kashmir. Who was it who let the matter get out of hand? Nehru with his foolish insistence that the UN be called to mediate the dispute. Talking of the UN, who was it who rejected the proposal that India take a seat in the permanent Security Council? Nehru. There is not enough space here to go into all the horrendous mistakes he committed.

Then there is the argument that says, “Don’t blame Nehru for the screw-up that India is. We, Indians, are to blame.”

Yes, in fact, we are to blame. Indians are basically collectively a bunch of clueless retards. They collectively elect leaders who are clueless retards and these clueless retards choose policies that keep the country of hundreds of millions of people in abject poverty. No argument there. A country deserves the leaders it gets, especially so in a so-called democracy. I agree that Bihar deserves and gets Rabri Devi and Laloo Prasad Yadav although that has changed decisively in recent times. Yet, the ghost of Nehru stubbornly hangs on, refusing to let go.

So if the collective is to blame, why is Nehru elevated to the position of a demi-god? Not just that, anyone associated with his family is elevated as well. With very rare exceptions, everything in India which has a personal name associated with it is named after the Nehru-Gandhi family. The Borivali National Park close to my abode is named “Sanjay Gandhi National Park”. All sorts of educational institutions are named after the members of a family that collectively have fewer educational achievements than yours truly.

Allow me to repeat that: the entire Nehru-Gandhi family — Cha-chaji, Indira, Rajiv, Sonia, Sanjay, Rahul, Priyanka – collectively haver fewer educational qualifications than an average person does. If I am not mistaken, they don’t have one solitary single college degree among the whole lot of them.

Atanu Dey

Dr. Atanu Dey is an economist and author of the book, "Transforming India."