NEW DELHI, May 20 (PTI): Former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru was a “generous” person who chose democracy over dictatorship and prevented Indians from “hating each other”, said celebrated author Vikram Seth.
Speaking here at Taj Mahal Hotel to mark the 30th anniversary of his literary masterpiece, “A Suitable Boy”, Seth on Friday was all praises for the country’s first PM who he said for all his flaws was important as he prevented India from the “systemic clash of religious hatred”, especially post the Partition in 1947.
“Nehru, for all his flaws, was a generous person who believed in democracy. He was so popular. He could have easily become a dictator, but he didn’t. He was also so important because he prevented us from hating each other.
“In a country like India, which is a rich civilization, even post the partition Nehru prevented us from the systemic clash of religious hatred,” said the award-winning author.
Steering clear of Nehru’s role regarding the India-China War in 1962 or his handling of Kashmir, which the 70-year-old author admitted were “complicated” issues, Seth said Nehru, including his successors Lal Bahadur Shastri and even Indira Gandhi – kept Indians from hating each other on the basis of who they love, what they eat and whom they worship.
He even termed Indians hating each other on the above grounds as “unpatriotic” and “un-Hindu”, which would only result in dividing the strength of the nation.
“Nehru, even Shastri and Indira Gandhi too, kept us from one Indian being taught to hate another Indian on the basis of who they love, what they should eat or drink, which god they pray to…I consider this illogical. I consider this unpatriotic because you are dividing the strength of your nation. This is Un-Hindu,” he remarked.
Further, the acclaimed poet-author also eulogised Nehru for being a true blue federalist and cited his fortnight letters to chief ministers during his tenure as the PM.
“He was a federalist. His letters to the chief ministers span a decade, where every fortnight he wrote to the CMs. It wasn’t as if he was trying to dictate things, he would explain,” he added.
The event, attended by the who’s who of the Delhi literary and performing arts circle, also saw Seth releasing publishing house Speaking Tiger’s special edition, a three-volume box set, of the classic novel – first published in 1993.
His other books – novels and poetry – include bestselling “The Golden Gate”, “An Equal Music”, “All You Who Sleep Tonight” and “Beastly Tales from Here and There”