ByÂ Sneha Roychoudhury:
“At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance”
And thus was declared our nation independent, establishing the largest democracy (one looked upon with cynicism by the international community) and the foreground for intense political power-play and years of democratic manoeuvring. Pundit Nehru’s clarion call to the nation, in the wee hours of 15th August 1947, set into motion the wheels of a gigantic machinery, one we have come to recognise as the Indian political forum, one which is a marriage of the aware and the unaware, the shrewd and the naive, the enlightened and the orthodox, it is a kaleidoscope of a variety of political ideology, woven craftily into the country’s very own fabric. And etched on the edifices that stand tall amongst all the organised pandemonium of India’s eventful post-colonial history are some names, some statesmen who gave the nation its shape, gave its stance a posture and its ideals a dynamic approach.
Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru
He had conceived an India in his dreams, a nation he wished to watch rise, wished to nurse and nurture with the values and ideals of his imagination. He was a dreamer, and at times he blundered, but most times he was a visionary, for he had conceived an India in his dreams. Every time the page dedicated to this man, in our highly held (and a little worn with use) history books, comes up, one is torn between admiration and aversion. For me Nehru was a man with far-sight, and though all his techniques could not be directed to that effect, his earnestness towards the country was fairly reflected in his very vocal opinions and clear perspective.
There is always a seat in the foyers of history for a man who changes trends in Indian politics. And to lead a coalition into victory against the “blue bloods” of Indian nation-building can be no less than a mighty feat, achieved with much prowess and efficiency. This man extended his hands to make a change towards a better tomorrow that looked and hoped for international stability and better relations with our hostile neighbours. A man of vision in his own right, Desai was a man who knew the better for the massive nation he was leading.
Sardar Vallabhai Patel
With great power comes great responsibility. Who could be held as a better example in the case than the man who spearheaded some of the most important stands of India on a national and international level? Sardar Patel has been a strong driving force behind the Indian State in more ways than one. His manoeuvring and diplomacy with regard to the Instrument of Accession has defined our country’s political and territorial identities. The man who preferred to remain out of the political “lime-light”, was the mind and the will behind India’s zeal to rise above its devils of regional divide and hatred.
P.V. Narasimha Rao
The “Father of Indian economic reforms”, as he was known, Narasimha Rao was a man who believed and endorsed change in the declining economic sector of India. In amongst the growing angst of the Indian decline as an economy, this man led India into a radical and dynamic shift of policies- one that moved rather away from the then prevailing norms. With Manmohan Singh’s insight in the North Block of the Secretariat, Rao attempted to design for India a much more effective economy than it had had in years. The leadership required for such major steps to be taken carves him in the stones of India’s memory.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Every once in a while, there emerges a tide in the wave of history that brings with it the wake of greatness, glory and a silent recognition of someone who brings positive change in every which way possible. To India, this man was such. Being elected to the Parliament for some ten odd times, this man rose from rank to rank and chaired the Prime Minister’s office for a rather successful term indeed. A rough start marked the beginning of what became a strong and stabilising rule in India, giving it the much needed direction at that time.
Veterans have an aura about them. They are power-holders with a certain prestige that only years of pioneering and experience can deliver. This is such a man. The current President of India has to his credit a lifetime of dedication and service to this country’s roller-coaster ride of a political past. Having held various port folios for the Government and then been named the President proves that the man, one of the masses, belongs in the league of the surviving and trusted politicians of Indian socio-political spectrum.
They say that only the dead have seen the end of war. But, when we see this man and read of his struggle, we’re not sure how true that is. He has seen the end of a war. He has in fact seen the end of quite a few wars, he has travelled from one field of battle to another, undaunted, unflinching, letting the spirit of his soul enlighten the darkest of times in the state and the land he called his own. Ideologically driven, Basu lead West Bengal, under the adapted doctrines of Marxism for twenty-three years and whether for better or for worse, was an integral part and an entwined name in the Indian framework.
“Let me say… that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.”– Che Guevara
How can words possibly describe a man with such love in his heart, an unmatched dedication and loyalty guiding him and inspiring him to stand up for what he believed was the best for his nation? To have risen above an established norm in a nation seething with pain and anguish, to have questioned and have steered for a difference, sets this man apart and renders him eminent on a scale and pedestal, deifying all his contribution- for men like this help the masses realise a zeal they had not believed existed.
E M Sankaran Namboodiripad
The first ever political leader to have led a communist party to power, in a popular election, in India, EMS Namboodiripad has been a stalwart in the politics of Kerala for a very long time in public memory. A pioneer in the field of promoting education among all classes of society, and hence taking a step in the direction of his Marxist ideologies, some of his policies became bench-marks for various parts of India in the years to come.
In the end, I would like to say that such lists are always inevitably subjective, and our political views all being personal opinions can hardly ever be the same as another. Please feel free to add to my list.Â I wish to leave my reader with some very precious lines, a lesson we all must learn from the lives of these men, men who have fought and held their own in the darkest of times.
“In the world’s broad field of battle
In the bivouac of life
Be not like dumb driven cattle
Be a hero in the fight.”
– H. W. Longfelow.