Amaresh Misra dares Congress on Nehru Seminar

Congress Party's much awaited seminar on Jawahar Lal Nehru begins today. It comes at a time when Congress is locked in a tussle with ruling BJP over the legacy of leaders of India’s freedom movement like Mahatma Gandhi,  Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Pt Nehru.

Intended to highlight ‘Nehru’s world view and his legacy', the event however seems to miss the point. 

Nehru is associated with socialism, secularism, nationalism, and anti-Imperialism. Moreover, in the agrarian arena, Nehru began land reforms to break large landholdings, and formed peasant co-operatives, to make petty landholding, productive. How much of these efforts actually succeeded--and to what degree--is a matter of debate. But the debate does not shift the focus away from major Nehruvian initiatives that gave a solid foundation to India's post-Independence growth as a modern nation. 

Nehru was not anti-capitalist--he was anti-monopoly capital. He did not follow a socialist but a `socialistic' path--there is a major difference between the two--rather than full blown socialism; the latter implies a `socialist type' model. 

Nehru followed a path of `mixed economy', where welfare of the poor, state investment in agriculture and heavy industry,  and limited capitalism, was the norm; as with every other model, there were flip sides to this too, the chief being Nehru's failure to introduce radical land reforms, create rural demand and a full-fledged rural market on a national scale that would have pulled down the walls of narrow feudalism in economy, society and culture, leading to modernity in the countryside as well, 

Nehru was unable to generate `capital from below'--a truly `national' capital, which could have industrialized India in the true sense of the word. Industrialization immediately after Independence would have transformed India, eliminated poverty--here peasant communities, `capitalism from below', middle class entrepreneurship and the State would have entered into a partnership that might have reined in domestic monopoly capital and would have either eliminated India's fatal dependence on foreign aid and FDI, or channelized the two towards productive, rather than consumerist-speculative, channels. 

Instead, Nehru tolerated the existence of pre-Independence feudal and comprador capitalist forces who had collaborated with British Imperialism and who betrayed 1857, India's first Independence war. These same forces, and their legitimate-illegitimate sons--the lumpen bourgeoisie, the crony capitalists, neo-feudals in the countryside--eventually conspired with International monopoly capital and Imperialist forces to overthrow the Nehruvian model in 1991. 

Since 1991, Congress, Nehru's own party, effected a regime change, in India's foreign and domestic policy, on America's direction. Nehru had always opposed American interference in Indian affairs, had build bridges with Soviet Union, and had led the highly successful Third-World, non-aligned camp during the cold war. 

Nehru also supported Palestine against Israel, refusing to recognize the latter; Indira Gandhi, Nehru's daughter and legatee, came in direct confrontation with America over Bangladesh. America advocated Pakistan's position in the Bangladesh war. Nixon abused Congress, India and Indira Gandhi openly. 

In 1991, Congress began a process that not only recognized Israel but paved the way for penetration of Mossad in India. Congress' departure from the Nehruvian model led to the right wing shift in Indian politics; that in turn led to Babari Masjid demolition; and eventually propelled Hindu Nationalism--the anti-thesis to Nehruvian ideology--and Narendra Modi--to decisive mandate and power.  

Superstructure follows structure--right wing, anti-Nehruvian shift in Indian economics led to right wing shift in Indian politics. To top it all, Israel and America, the two forces Congress courted in the 1990s, and did not shoo away in the 2000s, ultimately helped BJP-RSS to hand Congress its worst ever defeat in the 2014 elections. Situation is so grave that the Hindu-Muslim and other divides that started tearing India apart since the 1990s after the introduction of the neo-liberal model, are threatening to usurp Indian sovereignty.       

Honest assessment of Nehru’s legacy entails Congress attacking the neo-liberal model of growth. 

Honest assessment of Nehru’s legacy entails Congress espousing a new, Centre-Left thesis that critically overhauls the Nehruvian model and update it to the needs of India in the 21st century.

But two main themes of the seminar  ‘Inclusive democracy and people’s empowerment', and  'Nehru’s world view and democratic global order for the 21st century', appear more as routine topics with a NGO-apolitical twist. 

If Narendra Modi can be accused of de-politicizing Mahatama Gandhi, reducing the great anti-Imperialist politician, the master of maneuver, to an apolitical cleanliness drive, then Rahul Gandhi can be accused of depoliticizng Nehru by talking about `spreading love', ignoring the socio-economic-political neo-liberal base of hate politics, which Congress since 1991--and latter during Manmohan Singh's reign under the direct supervision of Sonia Gandhi--promoted to the hilt! 

To reiterate, Congress' seminar on Nehru is nowhere close to Nehruvian concerns and ideas regarding communalism, anti-Imperialism (especially in foreign policy), anti-Zionism, monopoly capitalism, and a self-reliant, nationalist pattern of growth, in which state and people play a vital role.    

Congress leader Anand Sharma is the secretary general of the conference while senior leader Mani Shankar Aiyar is the Rapporteur General and another leader Mukul Wasnik is the Secretary--Aiyar holds an elitist view of Nehru; Anand Sharma is a liberalizer; and Mukul Wasnik is totally apolitical. They cannot be trusted with anything to do with Nehru. 

The world leaders who have been invited include former Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai, former Ghana president John Kufour, former Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bashadur Deuba, Queen mother of Bhutan Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, former Nepal Prime Minister Madhav K Nepal, Pakistan Human Rights activist Asma Jahangir and many others.

Distinguished persons participating are veteran South African freedom fighter Ahmed Kathrada; Nabil Shaath, Chief Negotiator of Palestine; Amr Moussa of the Arab League; Luis Ayala, Secretary General Socialist International and Sunil Khilnani among others.

Leadership delegations of 11 political parties including African National Congress, Communist Party of China, Awami League of Bangladesh, Nepali Congress, Communist party of Vietnam and UMNO of Malaysia have confirmed participation.

The conference "will conclude with a commemorative declaration which will capture the essence of the deliberations and convey a message of global import"!!!

Beyond rhetoric, is Congress going to declare that the American-Israel lobby poses a threat to Indian sovereignty? That forces like Ambani and Adani are going to loot the Indian State and Indian resources? That US has created ISIS and is spreading mayhem? And that only a political alliance of middle classes, working classes, peasantry, Adivasis against crony capitalism and corporate looters can save India from communalism and foreign intervention?  

Amaresh Misra is currently the Editor-in-Chief, Medhaj News