HomeIndiaNehru had the task of uplifting a struggling India, not focusing on constructing a temple!

Nehru had the task of uplifting a struggling India, not focusing on constructing a temple!

Nehru had the task of uplifting a struggling India, not focusing on constructing a temple!

Prabha Gupta

During a public address in Karnataka on April 28, Prime Minister Narendra Modi remarked that the decision to construct the Ram temple in Ayodhya should have been made promptly after independence. Although he didn’t specify a date, it could be inferred as August 16, 1947. Given Modi’s birthdate of August 17, 1950, he might not have been aware of the nation’s circumstances at that time. However, as the current Prime Minister, it’s crucial for him to understand India’s history, particularly its struggle for independence.

On August 15, 1947, India emerged from colonial rule, offering its 340 million citizens their first taste of freedom. It’s imperative that PM Modi familiarize himself with the landmark “Tryst with Destiny” speech delivered by India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, at midnight on August 15. This speech encapsulated the essence of independence, expressed concerns for the nation, acknowledged challenges, and subtly promised to uplift India despite limited resources.

On August 15, 1947, India broke free from colonial rule, granting its 340 million citizens their inaugural experience of liberty. It is crucial for PM Modi to acquaint himself with the seminal “Tryst with Destiny” speech delivered by India’s inaugural Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, at the stroke of midnight on August 15. This speech not only captured the spirit of independence but also voiced concerns for the nation, recognized obstacles, and hinted at the promise of uplifting India despite constrained resources

Hence, refrain from fixating solely on temples and mosques; instead, prioritize pondering over India and its populace. Nehruji had the imperative task of embracing such ideals and propelling the nation forward by marshaling resources. This is precisely what he did. Emphasizing the unity and integrity of India, Nehru articulated in the ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech that, “Regardless of our religious affiliations, we are all equally progeny of India, endowed with identical rights, privileges, and responsibilities. We must shun communalism and narrow-mindedness, for a nation cannot achieve greatness if its people harbor narrow thoughts or actions.”

The truth is that these principles have been instrumental in India’s greatness, irrespective of the presence or absence of any religious edifice. As the inaugural Prime Minister of India and a towering figure in its struggle for independence, Nehru bore witness to the birth of a free nation. He was a stalwart in the fight for independence, enduring three decades of relentless struggle, imprisonment, and physical hardship. Unlike PM Modi, Nehru did not have the fortune of inheriting an India as it is today. Instead, Nehru inherited a nation ravaged by two centuries of British colonial exploitation, rampant poverty, helplessness, and disease. Hunger was rampant, and education was severely lacking. 

Nehru didn’t have the luxury of indulging in narcissism like PM Modi; he had the monumental task of rejuvenating a nation that had been oppressed for two centuries. In such dire circumstances, diverting attention to the construction of a Ram temple or any religious ceremony would have been a betrayal to millions of Indians. Yet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi now questions why the Nehru-led government didn’t prioritize temple construction. However, Nehru remained indifferent to public opinion; his sole focus was the welfare of his fellow citizens.

Modi, who lamented Nehruji’s failure to construct the temple, ought to have recognized that the India inherited by Nehru had merely 28 medical colleges with minimal seats for a population of 340 million.

Rather than focusing on temple construction, Nehruji remained committed to nation-building. Today, the result is evident with 695 medical colleges and over one lakh MBBS seats in India. According to the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the India inherited by Nehru from the British was plagued by diseases such as malaria, TB, and cholera.

Around 75 million people in India suffered from malaria. Nehru’s efforts led to a significant reduction, with only one lakh cases reported in 1964. Initially, the maternal mortality rate stood at approximately 2000 deaths per 100,000 births, highlighting a dire situation. Additionally, at the time of independence, only 18% of India’s population, which amounted to 340 million, was literate.

Would Nehru have prioritized saving mothers from death and implementing education initiatives, or would he have commenced temple construction post-independence? Modi ji ought to recognize that when the British departed India, they left behind a fractured, impoverished, underdeveloped, and economically fragile nation. Nehru ji opted to steer India, grappling with acute illiteracy, towards educational advancement. In 1950, the Government of India established the Planning Commission to draft a blueprint for the country’s development across various sectors, including education.After this five year plans were prepared and implemented. The main goals of these plans were 1) to achieve universal elementary education, 2) to eradicate illiteracy, 3) to establish vocational and skills training programmes, 4) on technical education, science and environmental education, ethics and the relationship between school and work, and (5) To provide high quality education facilities in every district of the country.

Nehru ji made a pivotal decision to prioritize scientific research in his inaugural five-year plan post-independence. He initiated the establishment of esteemed scientific institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). Merely three years after independence, in 1950, the Indian Institute of Technology was founded, laying the foundation for the establishment of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation).

As a consequence of partition, hundreds of thousands of people perished, and thousands of children were left orphaned. The challenges faced by Nehru were multifaceted; apart from combating illiteracy, he had to address a plethora of issues. By the time of independence in 1947, the entire country had merely 7,400 hospitals, with a bed ratio of only 0.24 per 1,000 population. Additionally, there were only 36 institutes offering engineering education, with capacity for admitting just 2,500 students annually. This meant that in a nation with a population of millions, only a fraction could be trained as engineers each year.

Nehru established a mixed economy with socialist inclinations, revitalizing India at a juncture when many deemed it a lost cause. However, within India, the Swatantra Party, led by Rajagopalachari, staunchly opposed Nehru’s model. Despite the resistance, Nehru persevered tirelessly. He spared neither the ‘Maharajas’ nor the ‘Nawabs’; anyone who impeded India, its citizens, or the Constitution faced Nehru’s unwavering resolve.

As a result, a comprehensive initiative for public works and industrialization ensued, marked by the construction of crucial dams, roads, irrigation canals, thermal and hydroelectric plants, among other infrastructural developments. Key sectors of the economy, including mining, steel, aviation, and heavy industries, remained operational. Efforts were made to maximize employment opportunities, with a particular emphasis on bolstering the agricultural sector.

Should Modi choose to relinquish his hunger for power and dedicate himself to the unity of India, he could draw invaluable lessons from Nehru. Instead of engaging in discourse centered on temples, mosques, the Muslim League, Pakistan, or cemeteries during election rallies, he should prioritize endeavors that serve the welfare of the Indian populace.

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