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Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's Legacy Is Something That Will Haunt India for Long and Its Not Concerning China and Kashmir

Updated on March 11, 2019
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A senior air warrior, graduate from the Staff College and a PG in military studies. He is qualified to write on war and allied matters.

The beginning

Nehru became the prime minister of India after British rule lapsed on 15 August 1947. He was one of the leaders who led the freedom movement against the British but it is a debatable point whether the British left India because of the agitation of the Congress party or the realization that they could not control India without the British Indian army many of who followed Subhas Bose and joined the India Legion with Hitler and the Indian National army with General Tojo. With the loyalty of the army suspect, the British threw in the towel and one can say by default the Congress came to power and Gandhi anointed Jawaharlal Nehru as prime minister of India.

This was the time for Nehru to consolidate the power of the Indian nation and build on the framework of the Raj- that had made Indian the omnipotent power in Asia with Japan defeated and China in the throes of civil war.

But Nehru, as brought out by Leonard Mosley in his book "The last days of the British Raj" had an obsession to become the prime minister of India. The only way he could do that was by sidelining Mohammed Ali Jinnah and agreeing for the division of India. This is the first blunder of Nehru; the partition of India.

Subsequently, Nehru, who had spent decades leading peaceful marches and satyagraha against the British had very little comprehension of the world of power politics. He considered imperialism to be the first danger to the world not realizing that the age of colonialism and resultant empires was over.

In his zeal, he neglected the cardinal principle of military power as a part of power politics and tried to befriend China and even gifted Tibet as apart of his policy to be friendly with China. He was outsmarted by Mao and as is well known his policy led to Tibet being lost as a buffer state and vast areas of India went under Chinese control.

He blundered on Kashmir as well and agreed for a cease-fire as he had no stomach for a long military campaign. This led to almost 35% of Kashmir being captured by Pakistan.

Nehru's other blunders

Nehru's blunders on Tibet and Kashmir have been well documented but as he had no strategic vision of world dominance he threw away some priceless offers and followed a policy which can only be termed a " philosopher's view of the world." Nehru was not in the genre of Mao or Churchill and more in the class of a philosopher like Bertrand Russel. As such he was unsuited to head the Indian state and by imposing his philosophy which laid stress on imperialism, he frittered a glorious opportunity to make India great power.

Even with frosty relations with China, Nehru was still batting for Red China's entry into the security council. This is hard to reconcile as China had limited Indian influence in Tibet and occupied the entire Aksai China- an area of 30,000 square miles. Facts have also been revealed that way back in 1950 the US had offered to sponsor India's seat in the security council but Nehru turned it down as he said he did not want it at the expense of China.

In 1962 with China having given a bashing to India Nehru was advised by the then US president John Kennedy to go nuclear. For some reason, Nehru who was a broken man after the defeat with China and the puncturing of his image as a "great leader" of the third world did not respond. He thus put India 3 decades behind China in the nuclear arms department.

There is much hue and cry about the port of Gwadar in Baluchistan. China has built a corridor as part of its belt and road scheme. It has given China a window on the Arabian Sea. The port and Chinese presence is a threat to India. Gwadar which was under the rule of the Emir of Oman was offered to India for 1 million dollars and Nehru refused. This was in 1957 and brought out the fact that Nehru had no strategic vision. Many people talk that India could not have held on to the Port of Gwadar as it was far away but soldiers and writers forget that the British and the USA still control distant islands in the Indian Ocean and other places and they are none the worse for it. The clue is military might which for Nehru was anathema and he paid dearly for it. Subsequently, Pakistan purchased the port and it is now the lynchpin of Pakistan efforts in Baluchistan.

Nehru also did something which very few Indians know about. He gifted the Kabaw valley to Burma. This valley was part of the Indian state of Manipur and all one can say is that Nehru seriously compromised his duty to the Indian nation by this act. No nation "gifts" any territory and yet Nehru handed over the Kabaw valley and India got nothing in return.

Last Word

Much water has flown down the Ganga and what has happened cannot be rectified. Unfortunately, there is no solution in sight and the policy of Nehru and followed by his successors militates against trying to dominate the world. Maybe this has something to do with the Hindu mind which is conditioned by 900 years of Muslim and 200 years of English rule.

Nehru did a lot of good as well but his glaring blunders should not be overlooked.


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