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Mainstream, VOL XLIX, No 47, November 12, 2011

Nehru’s Words in Present Context

Saturday 12 November 2011


[On November 14 this year falls Jawaharlal Nehru’s one hundred and twentysecond birth anniversary. On this occasion while remembering him, we reproduce the following addresses made by him. We are also reproducing N.C.’s editorial he wrote on the occasion of Nehru’s birth anniversary on November 10, 1985 (it was published in the Mainstream issue of November 16, 1985), three contributions from three eminent personalities made in the publication, Nehru: The Nation Remembers (Tributes from members of the National Committee for the Commemoration of the Jawaharlal Nehru Centenary), and publishing an article on Nehru and neoliberalism, the official mantra of development today.]

The Socialistic Pattern

Yesterday I had the honour to present a resolution before you, which you passed. In it we stated that we wanted it to be clearly understood that we aim at a socialistic pattern of society…..

We talk about planning. As you all know, planning is essential, and without it there would be anarchy in our economic development. About five years ago, planning was not acceptable to many people in high places but today it has come to be recognised as essential even by the man in the street. Our First Five-Year Plan is now about three years old, and we are now thinking about our Second Five-Year Plan. A phrase in this resolution says that the Second Five-Year Plan must keep the national aims of a welfare state and a socialistic economy before it. These can only be achieved by a considerable increase in national income, and our economic policy must, therefore, aim at plenty and equitable distribution. The School Five-Year Plan must keep these objectives in view and should be based on the physical needs of the people. These are really the important and governing words of the resolution and ought to be the controlling factors in drawing up the Second Five-Year Plan. Before going on to other aspects of the question may I say that a welfare state and a socialistic pattern of economy are not synony-mous expressions? It is true that a socialistic economy must provide for a welfare state but it does not necessarily follow that a welfare state must also be based on a socialistic pattern of society. Therefore the two, although they overlap, are yet somewhat different, and we say that we want both. We cannot have a welfare state in India with all the socialism or even communism in the world unless our national income goes up greatly. Socialism or communism might help you to divide your existing wealth, if you like, but in India, there is no existing wealth for you to divide; there is only poverty to divide. It is not a question of distributing the wealth of the few rich men here and there. That is not going to make any difference in our national income. We might adopt that course for the psychological good that might come out of it. But from the practical point of view, there is not much to divide in India because we are a poor country. We must produce wealth, and then divide it equitably. How can we have a welfare state without wealth? Wealth need not mean gold and silver but wealth in goods and services. Our economic policy must therefore aim at plenty. Until very recently economic policies have often been based on scarcity. But the economics of scarcity has no meaning in the world of today.

Now I come to this governing clause which I just referred to with regard to the Second Five-Year Plan, namely, that the Second Five-Year Plan should be based on the physical needs of the people… The conception of planning today is not to think of the money we have and then to divide it up in the various schemes but to measure the physical needs, that is to say, how much of food the people want, how much of clothes they want, how much of housing they want, how much of education they want, how much of health services they want, how much of work and employment they want, and so on. We calculate all these and then decide what everyone in India should have of these things. Once we do that, we can set about increasing production and fulfilling these needs. It is not a simple matter because in calculating the needs of the people, we have to calculate on the basis not only of an increasing population but of increasing needs. I shall give you an instance. Let us take sugar. Our people now consume much more sugar than they used to, with the result that our calculations about sugar production went wrong. Now, why do they eat more sugar? Evidently because they are better off. If a man getting a hundred rupees finds his income increased to a hundred and fifty, he will eat more sugar, buy more cloth, and so on. Therefore, in making calculations, we have to keep in mind that the extra money that goes into circulation because of the higher salaries and wages, affects consumption. So we find out what in five years’ time will be the needs of our people, including even items needed by our Defence services. Then we decide how to produce those things in India. In order to meet a particular variety of needs we have now to put up a factory which will produce the goods that we need five years hence. Thus, planning is a much more complicated process than merely drawing up some schemes and fixing a system of priorities.

Behind all this is another factor—finance. Finance is important but not so important as people think. What is really important is drawing up the physical needs of the people and then working to produce things which will fulfil such needs. If you are producing wealth, it does not matter very much if you have some deficit financing because you are actually putting money back through goods and services. Therefore it does not matter how you manipulate your currency so long as your production is also keeping pace with it. Of course there is the fear of inflation. We must avoid it. But there is no such fear at present in India. On the other hand, there is deflation. Nevertheless, we have to guard against inflation. We have to produce the equivalent of the money pumped in. Sometimes there is a gap between investment and production, when inflation sets in. For example, let us say we put in a hundred crores of rupees in a river valley scheme which takes seven or eight years to build. During the years it is being built we get nothing out of it but expenditure. This can be balanced in cottage industries, in which the gap in time is not large. The additional money that you have put in is not locked up for long. Therefore in planning we have to balance heavy industry, light industry, village industry and cottage industry. We want heavy industry because without it we can never really be an independent country. Light industry too has become essential for us. So has cottage industry. I am putting forward this argument not from the Gandhian ideal, but because it is essential in order to balance heavy industry and to prevent the big gap between the pumping in of money and production.

But production is not all. A man works and produces. If there is no consumption, he stops production. Therefore whether it is a factory or a cottage unit, consumption of what is produced should be taken care of. Mass production inevitably involves mass consumption, which in turn involves many other factors, chiefly the purchasing power of the consumer. Therefore planning must take note of the need to provide more purchasing power by way of wages, salaries and so on. Enough money should be thrown in to provide this purchasing power and to complete the circle of production and consumption. You will then produce more and consume more, and as a result your standard of living will go up.

[An Address to the Indian National Congress, Avadi, Madras, January 22, 1955]

Why India Is Non-aligned

THROUGH the centuries, India has preached and practised toleration and understanding, and has enriched human thought, art and literature, philosophy and religion. Her sons journeyed far and wide, braving the perils of land and sea, not with thoughts of conquest or domination, but as messengers of peace or engaged in the commerce of ideas as well as of her beautiful products. During these millennia of history, India has experienced both good and ill but, throughout her chequered history, she has remembered the message of peace and tolerance. In our own time, this message was proclaimed by our great leader and master, Mahatma Gandhi, who led us to freedom by peaceful and yet effective action on a mass scale. Nine years ago, we won our independence through a bloodless revolution, in conditions of honour and dignity both to ourselves and to the erstwhile rulers of our country. We in India today are children of this revolution and have been conditioned by it. Although your revolution in America took place long ago and the conditions were different here, you will appreciate the revolutionary spirit which we have inherited and which still governs our activities.

Having attained political freedom, we are earnestly desirous of removing the many ills that our country suffers from, of eliminating poverty and raising the standards of our people, and giving them full and equal opportunities of growth and advancement.

India is supposed to be given to contem-plation, and the American people have shown by their history that they possess great energy, dynamism and the passion to march ahead. Something of that contemplative spirit still remains in India. But, at the same time, the new India of today has also developed a certain dynamism and a passionate desire to raise the standards of her people. But with that desire is blended the wish to adhere to the moral and spiritual aspects of life. We are now engaged in a gigantic and exciting task of achieving rapid and large-scale economic development of our country. Such development, in an ancient and underdeveloped country such as India, is only possible with purposive planning. True to our democratic principles and traditions, we seek in free discussion and consultation, as well as in implementation, the enthusiasm and the willing and active co-operation of our people. We completed our first Five-Year Plan eight months ago, and now we have begun, on a more ambitious scale, our second Five-Year Plan, which seeks a planned development in agriculture and industry, town and country, and between factory and small-scale and cottage production.

I speak of India because it is my country, and I have some right to speak for her. But many other countries in Asia tell the same story, for Asia today is resurgent, and these countries, which long lay under foreign yoke, have won back their independence and are fired by a new spirit and strive toward new ideals. To them, as to us, independence is as vital as the breath they take to sustain life, and colonialism in any form, or anywhere, is abhorrent.

The vast strides that technology has made have brought a new age, of which the United States of America is the leader. Today, the whole world is our neighbour and the old divisions of continents and countries matter less and less. Peace and freedom have become indivisible, and the world cannot continue for long partly free and partly subject. In this atomic age, peace has also become a test of human survival. Recently, we have witnessed two tragedies which have powerfully affected men and women all over the world. These are the tragedies in Egypt and Hungary. Our deeply felt sympathies must go out to those who have suffered or are suffering, and all of us must do our utmost to help them and to assist in solving these problems in a peaceful and constructive way. But even these tragedies have one hopeful aspect, for they have demonstrated that the most powerful countries cannot revert to old colonial methods, or impose their domination over weak countries. World opinion has shown that it can organise itself to resist such outrages. Perhaps, as an outcome of these tragedies, freedom will be enlarged and will have a more assured basis.

The preservation of peace forms the central aim of India’s policy. It is in the pursuit of this policy that we have chosen the path of non-alignment in any military or like pact or alliance. Non-alignment does not mean passivity of mind or action, lack of faith or conviction. It does not mean submission to what we consider evil. It is a positive any dynamic approach to such problems that confront us. We believe that each country has not only the right to freedom, but also to decide its own policy and way of life. Only thus can true freedom flourish and a people grow according to their own genius. We believe, therefore, in non-aggression and non-interference by one country in the affairs of another, and the growth of tolerance between them and the capacity for peaceful coexistence. We think that, by the free exchange of ideas and trade and other contacts between nations, each will learn from the other, and truth will prevail. We, therefore, endeavour to maintain friendly relations with all countries—even though we may disagree with them in their policies or structure of government. We think that, by this approach, we can serve not only our country, but also the larger causes of peace and good fellowship in the world.

[A Television and Radio Address, Washington, D.C., December 18, 1956]

The Chinese Aggression

COMRADES, friends and fellow countrymen,

I am speaking to you on the radio after a long interval. I feel, however, that I must speak to you about the grave situation that has arisen on our frontiers because of continuing and unabashed aggression by the Chinese forces. A situation has arisen which calls upon all of us to meet it effectively. We are men and women of peace in this country, conditioned to the ways of peace. We are unused to the necessities of war. Because of this, we endeavoured to follow a policy of peace even when aggression took place on our territory in Ladakh five years ago. We explored avenues for an honourable settlement by peaceful methods. That was our policy all over the world, and we tried to apply it even in our own country. We know the horrors of war in this age today, and we have done our utmost to prevent war from engulfing the world.

But all our efforts have been in vain in so far as our own frontier is concerned, where a powerful and unscrupulous opponent, and not caring for peace or peaceful methods, has continuously threatened us and even carried these threats into action.

The time has therefore come for us to realise fully this menace that threatens the freedom of our people and the independence of our country. I say so, even though I realise that no power can ultimately imperil the freedom we have won at so much sacrifice and cost to our people after long ages of foreign domination. But, to conserve that freedom and integrity of our territory, we must gird up our loins and face this greatest menace that has come to us since we became independent. I have no doubt in my mind that we shall succeed. Everything else is secondary to the freedom of our people and of our motherland and if necessary everything else has to be sacrificed in this great crisis.

I do not propose to give you the long history of continuous aggression by the Chinese during the last five years and how they have tried to justify it by speeches, arguments and the repeated assertion of untruths and a campaign of calumny and vituperation against our country. Perhaps there are not many instances in history where one country, that is India, has gone out of her way to be friendly and co-operative with the Chinese Government and people and to plead their cause in the councils of the world, and then for the Chinese Government to return evil for good and even go to the extent of committing aggression and invade our sacred land. No self-respecting country and certainly not India with her love of freedom can submit to this whatever the consequences may be.

There have been five years of continuous aggression on the Ladakh frontier. Our other frontier at NEFA remained largely free from this aggression. Just when we were discussing ways and means of reducing tension and there was even some chance of the representatives of the two countries meeting to consider this matter, a new fresh aggression took place on the NEFA border. This began on September 8 last. This was a curious way of lessening tension. It is typical of the way the Chinese Government have treated us.

Our border with China in the NEFA region is well known and well established from ages past. It is sometimes called the McMahon Line. This line which separates India from Tibet was the line of the high ridges which divided the watersheds.

This has been acknowledged as the border by history, tradition and treaties long before it was called the McMahon Line. The Chinese have in many ways acknowledged it as the border, even though they have called the McMahon Line illegal. The Chinese laid claim, in their maps, to a large part of the NEFA which has been under our administration for a long time. The present Chinese regime was established about 12 years ago. Before that, the Tibetans did not challenge it. Even the maps that the Chinese produced were acknowledged by them repeatedly to be old and out-of-date maps which had little relevence today.

Yet on this peaceful border where no trouble or fighting had occurred for a long time, they committed aggression and this also in very large numbers and after vast preparations for a major attack.

I am grieved at the setbacks to our troops that have occurred on this frontier and the reverses we have had. They were overwhelmed by vast numbers and by big artillery, mountain guns and heavy mortars which the Chinese forces have brought with them. I should like to pay a tribute to our officers and men who faced these overwhelming numbers with courage. There may be some more reverses in that area. But one thing is certain that the final result of this conflict will be in our favour. It cannot be otherwise when a nation like India fights for her freedom and the integrity of the country. Wehave to meet a powerful and unscrupulous opponent. We have, therefore, to build our strength and power to face this situation adequately and with confidence. The conflict may continue for long. We must prepare ourselves for it mentally and otherwise. We must have faith in ourselves and I am certain that faith and our preparations will triumph. No other result is conceivable. Let there be this faith and fixed determination to free our country from the aggressor.

What then are we to do about it? We must steel our wills and direct the nation’s energy and resources to this one end. We must change our procedures from slow moving methods of peace time to those that produce results quickly. We must build our military strength by all means at our disposal.

But military strength is not by itself enough. It has to be supported fully by the industry of the nation and by increasing our production in every way that is necessary for us. I would appeal to all our workers not to indulge in strikes or in any other act which comes in the way of increasing production.

That production has to be not only in the factory but in the field. No anti-national or anti-social activities can be tolerated when the nation is in peril.

We shall have to carry a heavy burden whatever our vocation may be. The price of freedom will have to be paid in full measure and no price is too great for the freedom of our people and our motherland.

I earnestly trust and I believe that all parties and groups in the country will unite in this great enterprise and put aside their controversies and arguments which have no place today and present a solid united front before all those who seek to endanger our freedom and integrity.

The burden on us is going to be great. We must add greatly to our savings by the purchase of bonds to help finance production and meet the increasing cost of national defence. We must prevent any rise in prices and we must realise that those who seek to profit at a time of national difficulty are anti-national and injure the nation.

We are in the middle of our Third-Five Plan. There can be no question of our giving up this plan or reducing any important element of it. We may adapt it to the new requirements here and there. But essentially the major projects of the plan must be pursued and implemented, because it is in that way that we shall strengthen our country not only in the present crisis but in the years to come.

There are many other things that our people can do and I hope to indicate some of them at a later stage. But the principal thing is for us to devote ourselves to the task of forging the national will to freedom and to work hard to that end. There is no time limit to this. We shall carry the struggle as long as we do not win because we cannot submit to the aggression or to the domination of others.

We must avoid any panic because that is bad at any time and there is no reason for it. We have behind us the strength of a united nation. Let us rejoice because of this and apply it to the major task of today, that of preserving our complete freedom and integrity and the removal of all those who commit aggression on India’s sacred territory. Let us face this crisis not light-heartedly but with seriousness and with a stout heart and with firm faith in the rightness of our struggle and confidence in its outcome. Do not believe in rumours. Do not listen to those who have faint hearts. This is a time of trial and testing for all of us, and we have to steel outselves to the task. Perhaps, we were growing too soft and taking things for granted. But freedom can never be taken for granted. It requires always awareness, strength and austerity.

I invite all of you, to whaever religion or party or group you may belong, to be comrades in this great struggle that has been forced upon us. I have full faith in our people and in the cause and in the future of our country. Perhaps that future requires some such testing and stiffening for us.

We have followed a policy of non-alignment and sought friendship of all nations. I believe in that policy fully and we shall continue to follow it. We are not going to give up our basic principles because of the present difficulty. Even this difficulty will be more effectively met by our continuing that policy.

I wish you well and, whatever may befall us in the future, want you to hold your heads high and have faith and full confidence in the great future that we envisage for our country. Jai Hind.

[A Broadcast to the Nation, October 22, 1962]

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