This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by bharat raghu. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

In Defence Of Nehru

More from bharat raghu

Since the advent of Modi Sarkar, several deliberate attempts have been made to either defame and discredit Nehru or totally ignore his contribution as first PM of Independent India. Well, they may try as much as they like, but it is almost impossible to remove the memory of the tallest politician of Independent India from people’s minds!! So I would like to focus my attention in this blog on exactly what philosophy Nehru stood for and where India would have been today if not for Nehru. So let us begin our journey .

Nehru’s Socialism 

Nehru was a proud Socialist and belonged to the Left Wing of the INC along with others like Subhas Chandra Bose. He was deeply disturbed by the huge inequalities in India between the rich and the poor and very strongly advocated for the state uplifting millions out of poverty. The Russian Revolution had deeply inspired many young leaders of the the early 20th century like Bhagat Singh, MN Roy, Bose, etc. and Nehru was no exception. He was enamoured by the Russian Revolution and the Soviet experiment of working class power. During his visits to the Soviet Union, he could see how a young nation and a young idea was born, challenging the old order of Imperialism which had only brought the bloody carnage of the World Wars, Colonialism of the Asias and Africas and misery to the working classes of Europe. Hence, Nehru, like others, was convinced that only a strong state led by the popular mandate of the people based on a Socialist planned economic model could lift millions out of poverty, bring social welfare to the people, usher in education and healthcare for all and break the chains of the old feudal society.

Jawaharlal Nehru was an avowed supporter of socialism. In his presidential address to the Lahore Congress in December 1929, Nehru affirmed that he was ‘a socialist and republican…’, making him the enfant terrible of Indian politics. His interest in Marxism and planned economic development was stirred by the Brussels Congress and his four-day visit to Moscow in 1927. In 1933, Nehru wrote a series of articles titled ‘Whither India?’, in which he explained why he believed in socialism and argued that capitalism had outlived its day. The crisis of 1936 had a profound impact upon Nehru; he decided to subordinate ideological considerations to his overriding loyalty to Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership and to the Congress party as the chief instrument of the anti-imperalist struggle. In truth, Nehru could not easily give up any of the three basic tenets of his political creed – secularism, democracy, and socialism.

You can refer to more of Nehru’s view on Socialism here.

Hence, post Independence, Nehru supervised the five year plans and started the construction of India’s massive public sector enterprise like HAL, SAIL, BHEL, ONGC, etc. He also built modern dams such as Bhakra Nangal, Hirakund, etc. which he termed as the “Temples of Modern India”. Next comes Nehru’s emphasis on higher education by building world class institutes like IITs , IIMs, AIIMS, etc. He made public education and healthcare as his priority by hugely investing in government hospitals and schools. Next in the list is the emphasis on space research and defence research with ISRO, DRDO, and Bhabha Atomic Research Center .

All these points mentioned above prove that Nehru had a vision of a modern Socialist Nation for India on the lines of Soviet Union .

Nehru’s Secularism

Nehru’s views on Secularism largely contributed to shaping today’s India. Nehru always believed that the Church and state should be separate. Religion was a private matter and shouldn’t be influencing government’s functioning . Of course, religious freedoms should be protected under the Constitution. But religion should not frame a country’s economic or foreign or social policy. Nehru knew very well that given the deep religious differences which were subdued in Indian Subcontinent during the British rule due to the fervour for Independence amongst all sections, would reignite again post independence between the Hindus and the Muslims, who were the largest minority. Partition had reaffirmed Nehru’s beliefs that the only way this great country could move forward was by Secularism. India would be a secular state like UK or USA and not a theocratic state like Pakistan or Saudi Arabia and if there is one person who is largely responsible for the largely peaceful coexistence between all communities in India (barring the riots like in 1992 or 2002, thanks to the BJP-RSS ‘s politics), it is Nehru.

Nehru’s Foreign Policy

Nehru piloted the Non Aligned Movement, which was the centre piece of Nehruvian foreign policy, along with Nasser of Egypt and Tito of Yugoslavia. It was the time of the Cold War and we had US on one side and USSR on the other. India knew that it needed to adopt a diplomatic approach and built a new fraternity of friendly newly Independent nations like India, Egypt , Yugoslavia, etc. Nehru had approached US just after becoming PM to garner support for Indian industry, but was disappointed as US did not see India in the scheme of foreign policy yet and was suspicious of Nehru. Hence Nehru turned next to the Soviet Union and was welcomed like a brother. Russians have been the primary support base for India and continue to remain so through thick and thin of political changes. Soviets helped build up India’s public sector, space and defence industry.

Apart from NAM, Nehru maintained a friendly diplomatic relationship with China and other neighbours like Nepal, Sri Lanka, etc. The Panchsheel and Hindi-Cheeni Bhai bhai slogan is famous. The border dispute which happened between India and China was because the McMahon line was never clearly discussed and it led to some misunderstandings. Also, the issue of Tibet and The Dalai Lama created a tension between both the countries. Not to understate the Cold War era where there was also an ongoing rivalry between the Communist countries USSR and China, with USSR backing India and China supporting Pakistan. Hence, these factors led China to transgress Indian borders and humiliate India. It can be said to be the lowest point in Nehru’s foreign policy. But thereafter, there has been an unsaid understanding between India and China on not to meddle in each other’s internal affairs.

Many people in the BJP today blame Nehru for Kashmir’s unsolved dispute and ongoing terrorism in Kashmir. This is blatantly false. The Kashmir crisis arose because Hari Singh, the Hindu King of Kashmir, was ruling over a Muslim majority. As per partition norms, the Muslim majority areas were to go with Pakistan in East and West. Hence, Kashmir was a highly potential target to move to Pakistan. It is because of the indecisiveness of Hari Singh till the end whether to be independent or join free India or free Pakistan that the Kashmir issue could not be solved. Also,  Sheikh Abdullah the popular leader of Kashmiri masses was in favour of India and had friendly relations with Nehru. At the very end, Hari Singh decided to join India, when Pakistani intruders attacked Kashmir and took away some territories. India pushed the intruders back but as India and Pakistan were members of the UN, the UN mediated for a possible resolution on Kashmir by ensuring a immediate ceasefire, hence creating Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and India Occupied Kashmir. Nehru had promised a plebiscite or Referendum to Kashmiri people in future, but successive governments have stuck to the status quo and not conducted a referendum.

Also, Pakistan’s belligerent policy has kept Kashmir on the fire and despite several attempts of dialogue, the issue has not been able to be resolved. Hence, to blame Nehru or Patel for Kashmir is not right and it was due to Partition that this issue sprung up, which was again a legacy of the British ‘Divide and Rule’ policy in India, which Nehru, Gandhi, and Congress fought hard to repair.

To summarise the above aspects, India today is a modern secular, democratic, socialist, republic due to Nehru’s large contribution as the first PM of free India. India is the fastest growing economy and has removed crores and crores of its people out of poverty and not failed as a state like many other newly independent colonies due to Nehru’s liberal, inclusive politics. Let us hope his legacy continues to inspire youth to contribute to create a truly liberal, secular, socialist India.

You must be to comment.
  1. vaishnodevi

    Great article! But the author misses boat on Kashmir issue:
    1. Kashmir war lasted 14 months – 3 times longer than all other wars since put together! Claims of “immediate ceasefire” are misleading and false.
    2. India approached UN in January 1948 while continued to pursue war. Ceasefire was not enforced for a full year until January 1, 1949.
    3. Nehru never promised plebiscite to be held in “future”. He himself had plenty of time in his 17 year reign if he really did so. Plebiscite required complete control over the kingdom which Nehru never had.
    4. UNSC Resolution 47 asked Pakistan vacate PoK, Gilgit and Baltistan so that India could hold Plebiscite. Contrary to author’s suggestion that India and Pakistan were abiding by UN mandates, Pakistan refused to comply.
    5. If Pakistan vacated as required by UN in April 1948, Nehru would happily hold the Plebiscite and India would win hands down. Reference to Nehru’s promise of Plebiscite without reference to context is mischievously perpetuated not just by Pakistan, Kashmiri Separatists but also BJP!
    6. Indeed Hari Singh delayed signing accession. But it was Sardar Patel who told Hari Singh to take his time. As late as September 13, 1947 Patel wrote to Defense Minister Baldev Singh that he would have no problem if Kingdom of JK merged with Pakistan.

More from bharat raghu

Similar Posts

By Khabar Lahariya

By Khabar Lahariya

By Khabar Lahariya

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

        As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Find out more about the campaign here.

        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

        She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

        Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
        campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below