Friday, May 23, 2014

The heirs of Nehru ~ End of the Line? ||Guardian

Rahul Gandhi
Rahul and his mother Sonia Gandhi are vie-president, and president of the Congress Party.
His great grandfather was Jawaharlal Nehru, whose daughter Indira was murdered in 1984.  Her son Raji was also murdered.  His wife Sonia, an Italian, is Rahul's mother.   
The Congress Party - Mohandas Gandhi's party has long been the Nehru party.  Ian Jack understands this unique Anglophone and Anglopile family that has long led India, now interrupted by the Hindu nationalist BJP.  Hindu nationalism is one of the more repulsive and regressive notions in politics today.  But the uneven development of India and the undoubted too-long-in-power sort of corruption of the Congress Party understandable led to this reaction.  

A few months before he died in May 1964, Jawaharlal Nehru gave an interview to the English travel writer Eric Newby, who had embarked on a foolish scheme to sail a raft down the world's most sacred river. Newby tells the story of their encounter in his book, Slowly Down the Ganges. "This was the one [interview] at which our friend, the cockney photographer Donald McCullin, had made his immortal remark to the prime minister. 'Mr Nehru,' he said, bobbing up from behind a sofa from the shelter of which he had been photographing the great man. 'You must find it difficult to control this rough old lot.' The prime minister had not taken kindly to this remark."

Well, of course he hadn't. It was an insult on several levels: to the 450m people who then lived in India, to their heritage and traditions, to the world's largest democracy of which Nehru had been the chief architect, to a popular leader to whom the idea of "control" was offensive. On the other hand, perhaps McCullin divined something about Nehru that has remained true of all his descendants: that he wasn't quite like the people he led, and not just because he lived more comfortably than the great majority of them, or had a better education or a successful politician's gifts and tricks of personality. He was separate in some more fundamental way. A kind of Englishness obviously had something to do with it. A youthful progression through Harrow, Trinity College Cambridge and the Inner Temple made him more English, as the word used to be understood abroad, than a cockney photographer who left his Finsbury Park secondary modern at 15. But there was also an elevation that came from his looks and his bearing; in the iconography of Indian independence, Mahatma Gandhi was the saintand Nehru the prince.

These qualities and the isolating effects of fame left him a lonely figure...

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