The Miracle of the Nehru Years

A clown from Singapore has asked Rahul Gandhi what he thinks is an intelligent question.

Why was the growth rate during the rule of the Nehru family abysmal?

First, Nehru, Indira or Rajiv did not rule India like Singapore was ruled. India was not a municipal town. Second, they were all elected by the people of India through adult franchise, exactly like the Hindu Fuehrer has now been elected. Had the people thought that they had been failures they would not have been elected again and again (in the case of Nehru and Indira).

The Indian economy did not grow at a faster rate because India was abysmally poor and it was difficult to accumulate capital. China did because it was a homogeneous state and it had a Communist rule. Even then the GDP growth during Nehru’s period is nothing to be sniffed at. He had to balance between growth and freedom and considering the complexities of India, Nehru did more than a decent job.

The clowns who criticize Nehru do not have any clue as to the situation obtaining then. India was unique and it had no other model to follow. What was achieved was a miracle and without much violence or loss of life. One has only to compare India with China to realize this. I too was of the view that India should have followed the Chinese model, but now I know better.

This is what Francine R Frankel Says in her brilliant book,”India’s political Economy 1947-1974

“Under the first three five-year plans, the economic development
approach could not be separated from the strategy of peaceful social
transformation. In the rural sector, the Planning Commission proposed
to establish village cooperatives and panchayats (councils) as the major
instruments of agricultural development, to involve the majority of the
small peasantry in labor-intensive development schemes and community
action projects. At the same time, the new development agencies were
constituted on principles of universal membership and adult suffrage,
which were intended to make them into major vehicles for democratic
social transformation. Over time, they had the revolutionary potential of
redefining the participant village community to include all families, re-
gardless of caste and economic standing; and of shifting the balance of
economic and political power away from the landed upper castes toward
the low-status peasant majority. It was only after the new institutions
took root, providing the poor with the rudiments of economic and social
services, and creating the skilled popular leadership necessary to trans-
form superior numbers into cohesive electoral blocs, that the conditions
for democratic social change were expected to emerge.

The Congress party was not assigned an important role in providing
impetus to this process. Rather, as the links of dependence binding the
peasantry to the dominant landed castes grew weaker and the capacity of
the rural poor for political organization improved, it was anticipated that
they would generate their own leadership to challenge the hegemony of
the local notables dominating the Congress electoral machines. Under
the system of local democracy, the Congress might adapt to the new
political realities or it might be swept away.”

This was exactly what had happened in the later years. This was purely a miracle without any parallel in the world. This happened only because Nehru was a pristine democrat and a passionate lover of India and its diversity.

The Crucial point is this. Nehru did not use the Congress Party as the Vanguard like the Communists did. He was too strong a democrat to take that step. We must all thank him for it. Let me mince no words. India was very fortunate that Nehru was at the helm when India won independence.

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