The fourth lecture in the Democracy Dialogues series organised by New Socialist Initiative would be delivered by eminent scholar Prof Aditya Mukherjee, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU who is also editor of the ‘Sage Series in Modern Indian History’
Jawaharlal Nehru and the Current Challenge to the Idea of India
Sunday, November 15, 2020
6 PM IST
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Meeting ID : 82459804291
Passcode : 911285
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In this talk I will look at how Jawaharlal Nehru tried to implement the vision of our national liberation struggle, which was reflected in our Constitution. Critical elements of this vision were the creation of a sovereign, secular, inclusive, democratic and pro-poor state. There was a consensus among the entire Nationalist spectrum, from the Left to the Right on all these elements. While there was a consensus on the “pro-poor” aspect, from the early nationalists to Gandhiji to socialists and communists, there was no consensus on the idea of socialism, though a large and growing section was moving towards that objective. (The communalists and other loyalists who claimed to represent sectional interests, naturally did not share any aspect of this vision).
I will seek to outline how Nehru undertook the stupendous and in many respects historically unique task of creating a modern democratic nation state in a plural society, left deeply divided through the active collusion of the colonial state; of promoting modern industrialization within the parameters of democracy and sovereignty in a backward and colonially structured economy; of finding the balance between growth and equity in an impoverished, famine-ridden country; of empowering the people and yet expecting them to tighten their belt for the sake of the nation as a whole; of promoting the highest level of scientific education, a field left barren by colonialism; in short, of un-structuring colonialism and bringing in rapid economic development but doing it consensually, without the use of force, keeping what has been called the “Nehruvian consensus” intact in the critical formative years of the nation. I will also briefly discuss Nehru, who was deeply influenced by Marxism, tried to creatively move towards the socialist objective without compromising on the non-negotiable principle of democracy; though with limited success because of a variety of reasons.
I shall end with reminding ourselves that, in these days of trying to erase Nehru’s memory altogether or to remember him in an unrecognisable demonised image created though false propaganda, much can be learnt from the legacy left behind by Nehru’s ideas and practice by those who wish to struggle to meet the current challenges to all the pillars of the Idea of India.
Sun, 15 Nov at 06:00 GMT+05:30