Nehru by Mayank Chhaya
I was three when Jawaharlal Nehru died. He was 75. Growing up in the state of Gandhi it was hard to adjust one’s eyes and notice others bathed in his glare.
Nehru’s image was more visual than anything else. He was a figure in all sharply laundered white clothes against which a fresh rose generally stood out near his breast pocket.
I remember that as a child I used to think that Nehru was born with the now famous topi. It was as if he had a topi for hair. On his 125th birth anniversary today, white and red remain the defining colors of the man as evident in the illustration above. Of course, there is also much greater substance attached to the name than just the rose.
One has read Nehru intermittently, particularly his ‘Discovery of India’. The book was written by him during the ninth term of his imprisonment as part of the imperial British policy to lock up the grandees of India’s freedom movement. As he mentions at the beginning of the book, it was already more than 20 months since Nehru and others were brought to the Ahmadnagar Fort prison in 1942. The date when he begins to pen down the book is supposed to be April 13 1944.
I remember the following passage well.
On his 125th anniversary, it might be useful for today’s intellectually fractured generation to read books such as this one if only to rein in knee-jerk cussedness that characterizes the discourse on the Internet.