The problem is that his name appears in history books like the locust appear in a plague. No, I don’t mean to be offensive, there is a reason I’m bringing up the locust plague.
Somewhere in the early nineties there was a small locust plague in Delhi. On the roads you couldn’t take a step without crunching a couple of locust under your feet. Merely having a walk on the road used to turn into a creepy, odious nuisance. I was specially facing problem because roads and floors had become very slippery because of the slimy carpet of dead locusts everywhere.
The same has happened with Nehru in many of our history books. You cannot read a single chapter without his name popping up. You have to read one of such books to believe it otherwise you will think that I am exaggerating.
Take for example India after Independence by Bipan Chandra and other assorted historians. They cannot write a single paragraph without bringing up what a great gift Nehru was to the humanity. The authors are so enamored that at one stage they actually admit that words cannot be found to do justice with who Nehru was. These historians have actually written this in the book.
Without evidence I wouldn’t like to blame Nehru or his descendants. Maybe they wanted the historians to turn into cringing sycophants or the historians did the honours themselves to ingratiate the family members, but the point is, the Nehru family has totally infested the official history books. Not only the history books. I’m pretty sure that more than 60% buildings, colleges, institutions, welfare schemes, flyovers and maybe also public lavatories, in India, have been named after Nehru and his descendants.
While major school and university course books were being written and reviewed, there used to be a prevalent expression, “shuddho”. “Shuddho” broadly means purification or refinement. Every course book had to fit into the “shuddho” template. You could not be a successful scholar if you could not follow this “shuddho” template.
So one of the major filtering parameters of this “shuddho” template was to attribute everything good to Nehru and his family members and attribute everything bad that couldn’t be directly traced back to the Nehru family to the so-called “Hindu communal forces”. What about bad things that could be easily traced back to the Nehru family? Play them down as if they were innocuous aberrations.
India after Independence is a textbook case scenario of the “shuddho” template being followed to the hilt. The authors don’t even pretend that they are over-using the word “Nehru” so much that if they were writing web copy the Google SEO algorithm would punish them for keyword spamming.
So this anomaly needs to be rectified. Our history course books need a reverse “shuddho”. I’m not saying remove his name altogether, but let it be used judiciously and all other great people that have been ignored so far must be brought to light so that our students know that it wasn’t just Nehru who was the sole savior of the Indian subcontinent. It was a collective effort of many great leaders who did the job, Nehru being one of them.