I know Nehru’s legacy as a person, patriot, freedom fighter, and Prime Minister has been examined to death. By both his admirers and arch-critics. In the Indian landscape of the history-political books, the Nehru-as-God books severely outnumber those that critically examine him. The “critical editions” are mostly not subject to review. For example, a book like Genesis and Growth of Nehruism still remains in cold storage, inaccessible in print, and generally ignored. For all purposes, criticism of Nehru remains confined to stray, forgotten articles, or preserved in a few excellent blogs. Which is really ironical because in his time, Nehru was subject to scathing, and repeated attacks both within and outside the Congress party. What then explains the fact that every new book on Nehru (written by Indian
hagiographers historians) shows him in nothing less than halogen light?
To answer that question, we need to acknowledge that we rarely have books in India that give an “outsider’s” perspective on Nehru. But first, it is necessary to define “outsider” here to set the context accurately. An outsider is somebody who has the benefit of hindsight (though not necessarily), might have interacted with Nehru, has not actually participated in the freedom movement, and most importantly, views Nehru and other leaders as human beings who were allowed to have their weak and dark sides.
Michael Edwardes provides this outsider-perspective in his excellent Nehru, a Political Biography. Check that Amazon.com link. You need to scroll down to locate Michael Edwardes. I had to order a used copy of the book.
The book is a must-read for all the aforementioned reasons. But the more important reason is it tells the true story of the freedom struggle, an utterly different narrative than that propagated by the textbooks written at the behest of the Congress party.
Over the course of several days, I shall present a serialized account of this book.
Postscript: To those readers wondering why I asked if the real story of the Indian freedom struggle been told, this post and those that follow it, is partly the answer.