Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Why Saffron Brigade Hates Pandit Nehru

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru practised yoga. Of course, he was a Kashmiri "pandit". Why does RSS, BJP, and the whole bhakta bandwagon hate him? One reason is that unlike the fanatics, he did not fantasize about an ideal "Hindu" past. For example, unlike a current BJP minister who said journalism began in the Mahabharata, Nehru acknowledged the pioneering role of Serampore missionaries, William Carey, Joshua Marshman and William Ward, in setting up free press in nineteenth-century India. Nehru was a reform-minded, moderate, educated Hindu who was sensible and humble enough to acknowledge historical debts. He did not try to paint Indian history with saffron-soaked brush. Here are some of his thoughts—culled from his masterly The Discovery of India—about the emergence of modern Indian mind. This will be of immense value to the younger generation
"Individual Englishmen, educationists, orientalists, journalists, missionaries, and others played an important part in bringing western culture to India, and in their attempts to do so often came into conflict with their own Government. That Government feared the effects of the spread if modern education and put many obstacles in is way, and yet it was due to the pioneering efforts of able and earnest Englishmen, who gathered enthusiastic groups of Indian students around them, that English thought and literature and political tradition were introduced to India." (Nehru 313).
"Full of the ideal of the patient loving service of the Franciscans of old, and quiet unostentatious, efficient, rather like the Quakers, the members of the Ramakrishna Mission carry on their hospitals and educational establishments and engage in relief work, whenever any calamity occurs, all over India and even outside." (Nehru 315).
"The first private printing press was started by the Baptist missionaries in Serampore, and the first newspaper was started by an Englishman in Calcutta in 1780. All these and other like changes crept in gradually, influencing the Indian mind and giving rise to the 'modern' consciousness." (Nehru 313).
"From 1780 onwards a number of newspapers had been published by Englishmen in India. These were usually very critical of the Government and led to conflict an the establishment of a strict censorship. Among the earliest champions of the freedom of the press in India were Englishmen and one of them, James Silk Buckingham, who is still remembered, was deported from the country. The first Indian owned and edited newspaper was issued (in English) in 1818, and in the same year the Baptist missionaries of Serampore brought out a Bengali monthly and a weekly. Newspapers and periodicals in English and the Indian languages followed in quick succession in Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay" (Nehru 316).
"Serious writing was almost confined to Sanskrit and Persian, and every cultured person was supposed to know one of them. These two classical languages played a dominating role and prevented the growth of the popular provincial languages. The printing of books and newspapers broke the hold of the classics and immediately prose literatures in the provincial languages began to develop. The early Christian missionaries, especially of the Baptist mission at Serampore, helped in this process greatly. The first private printing presses were set up by them and their efforts to translate the Bible into prose versions of the Indian languages met with considerable success.
"There was no difficulty in dealing with the well-known and established languages, but the missionaries went further and tackled some of the minor and undeveloped languages and gave them shape and form, compiling grammars and dictionaries for them. They even laboured at the dialects of the primitive hill and forest tribes and reduced them to writing. The desire of the Christian missionaries to translate the Bible into every possible language thus resulted in the development of many Indian languages. Christian mission work in India has not always been admirable or praise-worthy, but in this respect, as well as in the collection of folklore, it has undoubtedly been of great service to India" (Nehru 317–318).
(Originally shared as an FB post on 31.05.2018)

No comments: