Courtesy Reuters

Reconsiderations: Jawaharlal Nehru: Of Pride and Principle

The high respect, almost adulation, in which Nehru was long held in India had dwindled sharply by the time he died, and immediately after his death criticism of his record grew in his own country almost into denigration. That tone was reversed with his daughter's accession to the prime ministership, and now there is purposeful emphasis in India on all that was best in Nehru, with a panoply of institutional commemorations of his name.

Nonetheless, it seems probable that Nehru will ultimately suffer more than most from that negative swing of reappraisal which sets in after the death of a figure of historical stature who has been widely respected in his lifetime. So much of his reputation was the projection of his charisma that when he was alive it was not easy for those in contact with him to separate policies from personality so as to weigh the former in isolation. The affection he aroused in those who knew him and the emotional response to his personality blurred judgment, elevating respect into admiration, softening disapproval into disappointment, condemnation into compassionate understanding. With that charismatic magnification withdrawn, immediately Nehru's stature appeared shrunken. Still another jarring reappraisal may be expected when the end of the continuing "Nehru Raj" in Delhi (26 years, broken only by the brief regency of Lal Bahadur Shastri) removes the present sharp political stimuli to unquestioning veneration.

The tenth anniversary of Nehru's death, this May, provides a vantage point from which to look back at his accomplishments as a practitioner of international relations and as a servant of India's interests in that area. The attempt begins with one solid advantage-the fact that Nehru's policies were India's, and vice versa. During his 17-year term as prime minister and minister of external affairs, foreign policy, in its conceptualization, articulation and execution, was his private monopoly. The complicating factors of institutional checks and balances can in this case be practically disregarded: Nehru dominated the cabinet when he did not ignore it; he was

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