To understand 6th December 1992, we must first understand Pandit Nehru. There are two ways to appraise Jawaharlal Nehru, independent India’s first Prime Minister. First is the Ramachandra Guha way. In an opinion piece published in The Hindu on 13th November 2012, Guha chronicles how as diverse figures as Mandela and Gorbachev got inspiration from Nehru to respectively battle against apartheid in South Africa and herald democracy in Eastern Europe. In Guha’s world, the peaceful end of Cold War in late 1980s can be credited to Pandit Nehru too, although he died some 25 years earlier.
In the second, real world way however, Nehru’s legacy is slightly less romantic. While admirers of Nehru are sill abound, those of “Guha species” are a rare variety. However, both the critics as well as admirers of Nehru agree on one thing – he did envision an idea of India and it continues to impact us till date. So what is the Nehruvian idea of India?
Nehru’s idea for India can be classified in three broad categories:
- Economic Idea for India
- Foreign Policy Idea for India
- Domestic social and political structure for India
Economic Policy: The Fabian socialism that Nehru believed in – anti private enterprise, centrally planned, state controlled economy – finally led us to bankruptcy in 1991. This was also the year when it was junked, ironically under a Congress regime. Every government since, has hammered one more nail in the coffin of Nehru’s economic idea for India.
Foreign Policy: The first blow to Nehruvian delusion was delivered in Nehru’s lifetime itself when India was humiliated by China in 1962. It took another 30 years to deliver the next blow – Israel, which had become a pariah state in the Nehruvian model, was diplomatically engaged in 1991. When the first BJP led government was formed in 1998, the other bricks of this dilapidated edifice began to be pulled down. The United States became a friend of India after being on opposite sides for half a century. When Manmohan Singh government staked its survival on Nuclear Deal with the United Sates in 2008, the Nehruvian foreign policy, of putting vacuous preaching above national self-interest, was finally buried.
Domestic social and political structure: Consider the passage below:
“I found Shah Bano seated on a string bed in the courtyard. She was a bird-like woman with a heavily line face and beautiful green eyes. She seemed confused by the fuss her story had created. She told me that all she had asked for was an increase of Rs. 100 in the Rs. 180 monthly maintenance her husband paid her, and could not understand why this was too much to ask for. She said her husband made thousands a month as a lawyer and could well afford to give her more money. “
This is a first hand account narrated by Tavleen Singh in her recently released book “Durbar”. But what is it about this incident that it affected India so deeply? Briefly – a case came in Supreme Court in 1985, where a lawyer from Indore argued that his wife, Shah Bano, had no right to expect any maintenance from him since he was not bound by Indian secular law but by Shariat, since he was a Muslim. The Supreme Court dismissed his contention. The lawyer and his mullah friends thought this endangered Islam in India. Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India ( and incidentally grand son of Nehru) agreed with the mullahs. He had a brute majority in Parliament so he used it to overturn the Supreme Court judgment in 1986. Yes, that was that and as simple as that.
This then was the commanding height of Nehruvian domestic social structure for India – the concept of secularism that so animates the Nehruputras even today. The same concept of secularism in which exclusivism by a certain religion had led to partition of India just a few decades earlier. And now, a legally elected government in India, though sworn to practice genuine secularism, was practicing the Nehruvian kind of secularism – enforcing exclusivism of the same religious group through Parliamentary bulldozer.
The struggle for a magnificent Ram Temple, befitting the status of Shri Ram , has existed almost since the temple at his birth place was first destroyed by Babur. There was a vital difference though between 1986 and any other year since Indian independence – 1986 was the first time when a vast majority of Indians felt they had perhaps still not gained social freedom. That Nehruvian secularism was actually as brutal,or more, as any of the rulers in the medieval history. There was bound to be a reaction someday or the other. The centuries of self restraint was bound to break one day. What was a more potent symbol to combine all the strands of centuries of build up – than the birth place of the epitome of Indian civilizational heritage?
It would be a mistake to ascribe Dec 6th 1992, as a reaction against anything pertaining to medieval history. As the recent High Court judgment has proved, the case of rebuilding a grand temple at the birth place of Shri Ram was always incontrovertible.
What happened on 6th Dec 1992, was to Nehruvian domestic social structure, what 1991 was to his economic policy. It was the first blow to the model of Nehruvian secularism. This was a day when the ordinary people of India revolted against the pernicious Nehruvian construct. The final leg of the Nehruvian trilogy was part demolished this day. But just like the structure at disputed place, the task of completely demolishing the last standing Nehruvian domestic social and political structures – Nehruputras: dynasts, connected elites and crony socialists – is still not compete. Perhaps it is apt that the task of rebuilding a grand temple of Shri Ram is still not complete either. For in some ways, both these ideas represent a reclaiming of civilizational India from the Nehruputras.