Jawaharlal Nehru was Plato's philosopher king, who 'discovered' an India that remains an undiscovered possibility. Nehru and the Spirit of India is a critical and nuanced perusal of his intellectual and political legacy.
From the 'politics of friendship' between Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah, Nehru's defense of secularism in the Constituent Assembly Debates, to what propelled Nehru to curb free speech in the First Amendment, Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee draws from political history to illuminate fierce debates in India today: Kashmir, the CAA, and hate speech. Be it contemporary events like the miracle of Ganesha drinking milk and the use of Vedic astrology in Chandrayaan-2, or the agonising suicide of a doctor, the author examines the fractured nature of Indian modernity, which Nehru had suggestively called a 'garb'. Bhattacharjee bolsters Nehru's view that India is enriched by the encounter of cultures and that we must not discard the past, but engage with it.
As a second-generation refugee, Bhattacharjee argues for a 'minoritarian' approach to national politics. Breaking ideological and disciplinary protocols, he compels us to learn from the insights of poets and thinkers. Lucidly written, this provocative book offers an original perspective on Nehru and Indian history.
Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee has drawn a powerful intellectual portrait of Nehru. This is not an "objective" reading but it isn't biased because truth about some matters emerges only when nurtured in a space where two minds meet. Nehru's thought then becomes a vehicle of his own views on some of the most pressing issues of our time such as the politics of
identity, majority-minority, democracy, secularism, citizenship and Indian culture. Intensely felt, elegantly written, this rich and compelling book cuts across genres, transgressing boundaries between history of ideas, political philosophy, literature and memoir.
|Nehru and the Spirit of India