A new book serves as a revisionist exploration of India's first and longest-serving prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and investigates the overlooked role of his contemporaries and opponents in shaping his political vision.
"Nehru: The Debates that Defined India" is co-authored by Tripurdaman Singh and Adeel Hussain. Slated to release on Thursday, it claims to re-examine the "ideological contests through which the Nehruvian consensus - and modern India - was forged".
"Looking at Nehru's debates with his contemporaries gives us an incisive glimpse of the man and his ideas. As the questions that Nehru and his contemporaries debated have now been reopened as political fault-lines in contemporary discourse, we thought it important to return to origins of these political and ideological conflicts," the authors told PTI.
Going beyond the imposed labels of contemporary discourse, the book illuminates "four encounters" that Nehru had with contemporaries from across the political spectrum - Muhammad Iqbal, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Sardar Patel and Syama Prasad Mookerjee - that are "critical to understanding his ideas, and his long afterlife and impress on the present".
"The shape these debates took represent critical junctures in Indian history that determined which way the pendulum of events would swing," they added.
From being elected as Congress president in 1929 till his death in 1964, Nehru remained a towering figure in Indian politics, a man who left an indelible stamp on the history of South Asia.
According to publisher HarperCollins India, the intellectually combative Nehru whom the readers would meet in this book voicing ideological disagreements, forging political alliances, moulding political opinion, offering visions of the future and staking out the political field was a key figure in the debates that defined India.
"Nehru may no longer be alive to answer his critics today, but there was a time when he pitted himself vigorously against his opponents in the marketplace of ideas, debating the most profound questions in South Asian history and decisively influencing political events," it said in a statement.
While Singh is the author of "Imperial Sovereignty and Local Politics" (2019) and much-acclaimed "Sixteen Stormy Days: The Story of the First Amendment to the Constitution of India" (2020), Hussain's next book "Law and Muslim Political Thought in Late Colonial North India" will release in 2022.
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