Throwing Out Nehru
As India turns 70, and he does too, historian Dr Zareer Masani asks why the legacy of its first prime minister, Nehru, is under attack from new forces of Hindu nationalism.
Historian Dr Zareer Masani's father, pictured above, began as a close confidante of India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, but ended up leading opposition to him in the 1950s and '60s. Now, as India turns 70, Zareer asks why present-day Hindu nationalists are so keen to eradicate the legacies of the country's founding father and even to airbrush his name from school textbooks.
Nehru was the most charismatic leader of India's nationalist movement against the Raj and the founder of a political dynasty that survives to this day. But there are huge changes sweeping India, and they're also sweeping away Nehru's socialist and secularist legacies. Zareer asks: was the Nehru era a half-century of wasted economic opportunities and false starts, or did he lay lasting foundations for Indian democracy, science and technology? Are his critics throwing out the baby with the bathwater?
Zareer wrote a biography of Nehru's daughter Indira. His analysis of the Nehru legacy is laced with personal anecdote and insight and interviews with prominent Indian cultural and political figures. He talks to senior politicians and pundits, as well as to academics and students at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, about the shifting reputation of a man whose name still dominates the Indian skyline. He finds that attitudes to Nehru and his legacy are key to understanding the direction of Indian politics and culture today.
Producer: Tom Alban.