Indira Gandhi, her utterances harmonizing with the sentiments previously expressed by various voices, once enunciated, “Within the realm of humanity reside two distinct cohorts: those who toil diligently in the vineyards of labor, and those who bask in the accolades of acknowledgment.” It becomes evident that this perspective was not formulated in a vacuum, but rather gleaned from intimate experiential encounters, perhaps within her own kinship circle, where instances abound of her familial associates appropriating laurels rightfully belonging to others.
In the annals of India’s historical narrative, Jawaharlal Nehru, alongside his cadre of adulatory chroniclers led by Shashi Tharoor, lays claim to the pivotal inception of introducing the mantle of science upon Indian soil. Furthermore, it is espoused that Nehru’s indefatigable ardor propelled the very establishment of India’s scientific edifices. This assertion, akin to the proverbial chisel upon the stone, has been incessantly hammered until it metamorphosed into an accepted verity, a testament to the art of propagandistic orchestration that would serve as an illuminating exemplar for those studying the craft of engineering their own versions of “truth”. Notably, Tharoor, ensconced in a political trajectory intimately entwined with appeasing the Nehruvian lineage, inevitably amplifies his encomiums, attributing to Nehru a staggering 40% stake in the germination of Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial ventures.
The portrayal of Nehru as a luminary statesman stood as a meticulously engineered endeavor, interwoven with an array of choreographed narratives. Among these narratives, one finds the saga of erecting bastions of erudition, officially crowned as Institutions of National Importance (INIs), exemplified by the prestigious IITs and IIMs. However, it remains a distinct facet of irony that, in the period leading up to the inauguration of the first IIM in November 1961, Nehru found himself ensnared in the paradox of elucidating the nuances of blades of grass and desolate terrains within the parliamentary chambers. Astonishingly, fate had etched a script whereby a mere year later, it would be the Chinese conflagration that would finally extricate him from the tormenting obligation of explicating the intricacies of verdant blades and barren expanses within the hallowed halls of the parliament.
Did the realm of ‘India that is Bharat’ lack bastions of excellence before the advent of the scientifically inclined Nehru, who seemingly conjured wonders to bridge the gap? Uttering such notions would likely unsettle secular historians, yet let us embark on an exploration of the transformative footprint left by the scientifically inclined Nehru within the precincts of the ‘Ministry of Education’, known in yesteryears as the ‘Ministry of Human Resources Development’.
A contemplation of the expanse and magnitude of responsibilities shouldered by this ministry borders on the staggering. Succinctly put, it wields the power to mold our historical understanding, shape our present pursuits, and sculpt the contours of our future aspirations. This ministry bifurcates into two expansive divisions: the ‘Department of School Education and Literacy’ and the ‘Department of Higher Education’. The latter division oversees an array of institutions, a roster encompassing the University Grants Commission (UGC), the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), the Central Universities, the IITs, the IIMs, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), and more.
In 2014, a moment of “astonishment” was triggered within Abhishek Manu Singhvi upon discovering that the newly appointed Minister of Human Resources Development lacked the status of a graduate. Such an occurrence invites contemplation about the educational qualifications of India’s inaugural Minister of Education, a role entrusted by Nehru to oversee the guardianship of institutions symbolizing excellence, research, and the frontier of disciplines spanning science, engineering, technology, not to mention the realms of humanities and social sciences.
Nehru’s chosen steward of education was none other than Maulana Sayyid Abul Kalam Ghulam Muhiyuddin Ahmed bin Khairuddin Al-Hussaini Azad. A moniker that resonates with grandeur, he hailed from Mecca, with his family transplanting roots to Calcutta in 1890. What credentials adorned this individual for the weighty mantle of supervising the pivotal domain of education? Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s odyssey was one of being educated within the confines of his own abode, a self-directed journey of knowledge acquisition. While no contention should arise against a “home-schooled and self-taught” luminary, the question beckons: would Nehru have entrusted a similarly nurtured “Shankaracharya” with the reins of India’s educational governance? The contemplation invites reflection on the criteria and nuances that shaped Nehru’s vision for India’s educational landscape.
Returning to the realm of institutions of eminence, were the IITs indeed the inaugural pillars of excellence, as painted by the acolytes of Nehru’s legacy? The historical chronicles of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) paint a picture that diverges from the fictitious tapestry woven by the Indian Left Illiberals, one that venerates Nehru as the paramount visionary of India’s inception.
In a voyage spanning Yokohama to Vancouver during 1893, the venerable Swami Vivekananda left an indelible mark on the philanthropist-business magnate Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata with his musings on science:
“How exquisite it would be, were we to weave the scientific and technological marvels of the West with the ascetic wisdom and humanism of India!”
Subsequent to this profound interaction, a correspondence unfolded between Jamsetji Tata and Swami Vivekananda, transpiring five years later in 1898. Within the words exchanged lay the blueprint of an institution dedicated to fostering scientific and technological exploration, with Tata ardently seeking Swami Vivekananda’s partnership in this endeavor.
A committee materialized to crystallize the architectural design for establishing this institution, wherein Tata bequeathed a substantial fraction of his personal wealth to nourish its aspirations. Tragically, Tata’s earthly sojourn concluded before his visionary dream could be fully realized, as he departed in 1904. It was then that the Queen Regent Vani Vilasa Sannidhana of Mysore, a steward of the princely state on behalf of her minor son Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV, extended a gracious donation of 371 acres of land to enshrine the aspirations of the institution. Thus, the IISc came into being, its inaugural moment occurring on May 27, 1909. Intriguingly, as the IISc found its birth, Nehru stood on the threshold of his twenties. The irony, however, lies in the tangential association between Nehru and the IISc; he departed from this world on the very day of its inception in 1964, a connection marked by temporal coincidence rather than a substantive shared vision.
Let us now shift our focus to the realm of unadulterated facts, shedding the veneer of myth that has shrouded Nehru’s purported affinity for science and technology. This article endeavors to untangle the narratives from reality, dismantling the pedestal on which Nehru’s image as a science enthusiast has been elevated.
It is imperative to establish a foundation built upon empirical truths, unearthing the actual origins and motivations that propelled India’s scientific trajectory. Amidst the fervor of Nehru’s legacy, a more nuanced tale emerges, one that unveils the instrumental role played by other luminaries in shaping India’s scientific landscape.
Deconstructing the mosaic of claims and postulations, this exposition draws attention to pivotal events that predate Nehru’s ascendancy. The birth of institutions like the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), catalyzed by the visionary insights of Swami Vivekananda and Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, provides an irrefutable counterpoint to the narrative that Nehru was the sole architect of India’s scientific pursuits.
Delving further, we scrutinize Nehru’s personal involvement in these scientific endeavors. The historical record reveals a more peripheral connection, marked by temporal coincidences rather than substantive contributions. Nehru’s passing on the same day the IISc was inaugurated, while seemingly symbolic, lacks the substantive synergy one would expect from a genuine champion of science.
In the annals of time, it is essential to demarcate the genuine architects of India’s scientific aspirations from the shadowy figures cast by political rhetoric. By liberating the discourse from the stranglehold of embellished accounts, we endeavor to unveil the unsung heroes and overlooked narratives that have shaped India’s journey into the realm of science and technology. LETS GO ONE BY ONE-
The inception of the Indian Institutes of Technology and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences had no association with Jawaharlal Nehru. The origins of the IITs trace back to the N.M. Sircar Committee report of 1945, while Nehru’s lack of enthusiasm for establishing medical institutes is evident from an exchange between Dr Mookerjee and N.G. Ranga in the Constituent Assembly. Dr Mookerjee mentioned the committee chaired by Dr Arcot Lakshmanaswami Mudaliar for an All India Medical Institute, but N.G. Ranga highlighted Nehru’s opposition due to housing concerns.
According to the website of the IIT, Kharagpur (the first IIT), the Honourable Sir Jogendra Singh (member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council, Department of Education, Health and Agriculture) set up a committee in 1946 to “consider the setting up of Higher Technical Institutions for post war industrial development in India.” The twenty-two member committee headed by Nalini Ranjan Sarkar recommended the setting up of four Higher Technical Institutions in the Eastern, Western, Northern and Southern parts of India. They were to be modelled on the lines of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Thus was born the first IIT in May 1950 which initially functioned from Calcutta and later shifted to Kharagpur in September 1950.
The IIT, Kharagpur began functioning in the Hijli detention camp (renamed Hijli Shaheed Bhavan) where many of our great freedom fighters were detained and some sacrificed their lives for the independence of the country. The hallowed history of the camp is marked by the martyrdom of two freedom fighters, Santosh Kumar Mitra and Tarakeswar Sengupta, whom the British shot dead on September 16, 1931. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose came to the camp, to receive the dead bodies of the martyred freedom fighters.
The most sordid twist in the saga of the Hijli Shaheed Bhavan was that a part of it was converted into the “Nehru Museum of Science and Technology” in 1990. The martyrs were dumped on the wayside of history.
This was, of course, a recurring theme in Nehru’s discourse. His pro-Soviet inclinations frequently surfaced, as seen in the infamous Avadi Resolution of the Indian National Congress, advocating the imposition of a “socialistic pattern of society” akin to the Soviet Union. The Second Five Year Plan further emphasized his endeavor to reshape India into a communist economy modeled on the Soviet system. This blueprint envisioned transforming both agriculture and manufacturing into massive government-controlled factories, reducing the populace to cogs in the machinery of state, with minimal sustenance for workers. A privileged elite, including Nehru and his associates, would monopolize resources and luxuries, akin to the Soviet “nomenklatura” class, while the rest of the population would revere them and their statues scattered throughout the nation.
It was this flawed vision that led Nehru to overlook the All India Council of Technical Education’s proposal for management institutes, opting instead for Joint Management Councils in industries. These councils aimed to reconcile workplace authoritarianism and societal democracy, fostering “industrial democracy.” Similar efforts in agriculture saw Nehru attempting to impose Soviet-style collective farming, culminating in disastrous consequences and numerous famine-related deaths.
Nehru’s disregard for science and endorsement of “socialist” pseudoscience are exemplified by his treatment of Srinivasa Sourirajan and fellow scientists. Nehru elevated his supporters, shaping Indian scientific institutions for decades. This bred a “science bourgeoisie” accused of stifling talent, prompting a “brain drain” as scientists left India. Srinivasa Sourirajan, a scientist who departed after completing his doctorate and briefly teaching, pioneered the world’s first reverse osmosis sea water desalination membrane upon reaching the United States in 1958. Collaborating with Sidney Loeb, they patented the commercial membrane, now pivotal in quenching global thirst, notably in Israel and Saudi Arabia. While Israel recognized Loeb’s contributions, Sourirajan and his technology remained unknown in India, thanks to the Nehruvian regime.
Latest information places Sourirajan, now elderly and residing in Canada, as a nominee for esteemed global honors in membrane technology. The minimum gesture from India would be conferring him the Bharat Ratna and earnestly implementing his technology to alleviate India’s water scarcity, dissociating it from the legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru.
ISRO/INCOPSAR NO NEHRU DID NOT FORMED INCOSPAR
ISRO’s inception took place in 1969, a significant five years after the passing of Nehru. The seeds of ISRO’s establishment were sown in 1962, when the Government of India gave life to the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR), operating under the aegis of the Department of Atomic Energy. The lion’s share of credit for the conceptualization and realization of INCOSPAR must be attributed to Vikram Sarabhai, widely regarded as the visionary architect of India’s foray into space.
The pages of history reveal a narrative diverging from the claims of Nehru’s involvement in ISRO’s birth, a myth perpetuated over time by Congress loyalists, admirers, and proponents. The actual genesis of India’s journey into the celestial realm can be traced back to Dr. Sarabhai’s pioneering endeavors. As early as 1947, Dr. Sarabhai established the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), bolstered by support from the Karmkshetra Educational Foundation and the Ahmedabad Education Society. These nascent stages were characterized by an unwavering focus on the study of Cosmic Rays and the intricacies of the Upper Atmosphere. Subsequently, the canvas of research expanded to encompass Theoretical Physics and Radio Physics, facilitated by grants from the Atomic Energy Commission.
As history’s lens sharpens, it becomes apparent that the contributions of key figures such as Vikram Sarabhai underscore the true origin of India’s cosmic odyssey, relegating the claims of Nehru’s direct involvement in the founding of ISRO to the realm of political rhetoric and revisionism.
On the unfortunate day of 30th of December, 1971, he was to review the Satellite Launch Vehicle design before departing for Bombay on the same night. He was in good health and had spoken to Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam on the telephone. Just within an hour or so of the conversation, he allegedly died of cardiac arrest in his favorite resort in Trivandrum. Unfortunately, no scientific inquiry, no postmortem was conducted regarding sudden death of Vikram Sarabhai and his body was cremated in Ahmedabad. Who killed Vikram Sarabhai? Why was the enquiry about his death was not approved by the then central government? We leave this on our readers to decide.
CSIR (Council for Scientific and industrial research): NO IT WAS NOT NEHRU WHO FORMED CSIR
It is imperative to recognize that the genesis of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) owes its existence to the visionary acumen and tenacious efforts of Arcot Ramaswami Mudaliar, who masterminded its establishment in 1940. The mantle of fostering CSIR was deftly shouldered by Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee, who steered its growth. Notably, Nehru’s connection to CSIR remained more titular than substantial; his affiliation was largely a byproduct of assuming the mantle of Prime Minister. The verity of Nehru’s limited role is underscored by his own candid admission, wherein he acknowledged his inability to dedicate substantial time to the intricacies of CSIR’s operation. Dr. Mookerjee, meanwhile, was entrusted with overseeing the organization’s day-to-day endeavors during this period.
Dr. Mookerjee’s tenure, however, stands as a pivotal chapter marked by his instrumental role in erecting numerous laboratories, including but not limited to the National Physical Laboratory, National Chemical Laboratory, National Metallurgical Laboratory, Fuel Research Institute, Ceramics Research Institute, Central Leather Research Institute, and the Central Electro Chemical Research Institute. Additionally, his stewardship extended to envisioning the integration of diverse power sources, shaping the blueprint for an interconnected electrical grid spanning Pykara, Mettur, Shimoga, and Sivasamudram.
The landscape of Indian scientific enterprise had already witnessed its foundations being laid by the 1940s. Noteworthy institutions like the Banaras Hindu University, a creation of Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, the Indian Institute of Science, the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (inaugurated in 1876), the cornerstone of the Indian Statistical Institute, and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research had all sprung forth prior to Nehru’s tenure. However, a recurring trend emerges wherein Nehru and his proponents have often appropriated credit for the inception of these establishments.
In the realm of public sector units, the history of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited unfolds as a story initiated by Walchand Hirachand as a private enterprise, supplying cutting-edge aircraft to Britain for wartime efforts. Regrettably, the management of this enterprise deteriorated after the mantle was assumed by the Nehru government.
In essence, the historical tableau intricately woven with threads of scientific progress and establishment pre-dates Nehru’s tenure, necessitating a nuanced reevaluation of his contributions within the broader context of India’s scientific heritage.
The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) was established by incorporating two military units that had been in existence since the 1920s. Simultaneously, the rocket launch facility in Thumba emerged as a response to the apprehension felt by Western nations, which found themselves trailing the Soviet Union in space technology. Leveraging the United Nations, they advocated for collaborative global space research. India reaped the benefits of this initiative when Thumba was designated as the location for an international center dedicated to launching sounding rockets.
Nehru, however, maintained his opposition to the acquisition of missiles and atomic bombs. He articulated his concerns, stating, “The distribution of this ‘toy’—the atom bomb, ballistic missiles, and similar weapons—to other nations would not only be perilous, but profoundly hazardous, further tainting the already troubled global atmosphere.” Nehru labeled the creation of atomic bombs as “perilous and terrifying.” It was he who initially endorsed the divisive stance of excluding India and fellow Asian countries from the nuclear community—a stance later embedded in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, against which India would vehemently contend for decades. Nehru’s assertion that “the introduction of this atomic weapon into an Asian nation would be an alarming and exceptionally risky occurrence” underscores his position at the time.
The founding of All India Institute of Medical Sciences too had nothing to do with Jawaharlal Nehru. While the IITs had their genesis in the N.M. Sircar Committee report of 1945, Nehru’s indifference towards setting up medical institutes was captured in an exchange between Dr Mookerjee and N.G. Ranga in the Constituent Assembly.
When Dr Mookerjee mentioned that a committee under the chairmanship of Dr Arcot Lakshmanaswami Mudaliar had been set up to establish an All India Medical Institute, N.G. Ranga highlighted Nehru’s statement opposing the All India Medical Institute in Delhi on the grounds that the housing problem had to be solved first.
In closing, it is worthwhile to reflect on the immense damage to India inflicted by Nehruvian Sovietism. Keep in mind the description of the state of India by the parliamentarian Dr B.N. Singh just three months before the death of Nehru, “If you take a glimpse of the rural India, you will see a more ghastly spectacle-indescribable poverty and misery in every village, a daily income of. between 19 and 31 nP for over half of the population; population increase outstripping national income growth, illiteracy still between 70 to 80 per cent, caste’s apartheid spreading within society like a fungus disease, an epidemic here and a famine there, corruption in the police, graft in Government, cynicism and patronage in higher politics, bullying and intimidation in lower, gloom and frustration written large on the face of the people.”
NO NEHRU DID NOT BUILD ANY SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGICAL INSTITUTION OR BODY, IN FACT HE OPPOSED SETTING THEM IN THE BEGINNING.