Jawaharlal Nehru of India
One American’s Glowing Tribute (1950)

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | May 27, 2017                       

“Sometimes there is a leader with democratic ideals who offers an alternative to Communist leadership. Such a man is Mossadegh in Iran and Nehru in India.”William O. Douglas, April 28, 1952

Jawaharlal Nehru | Prime Minister of India, 1947-1964 (photo by Yousuf Karsh)

Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, Gandhi’s political partner and heir, and a major figure in both the Non-Aligned Movement and the Indian independence movement, died today in 1964.

Bruce Fairchild Barton (1886-1967) Here is an appreciation of the Hindu-born leader from a rather unlikely American admirer: Christian advertising executive and former Republican Congressman Bruce Barton (1886-1967). The author clearly respected Nehru’s vast knowledge of world history, independent streak and resourcefulness, and believed he was an underrated world figure.

November 12, 1950
By Bruce Barton

Ever since World War II began people have been bombarded with promises. Every national leader has held out high hopes, few have delivered.

The shining exceptions are Gandhi and Nehru. They said to their people: “We will give you independence and free you from the British.” They did just that—and without firing a shot.

Our internationalists criticize Nehru because he insists on making up his own mind instead of letting us or the Russians make it up for him.

But for my money he is a very big fellow indeed. I base this judgment on no personal acquaintance, but, first of all, on a book called “Glimpses of World History”, which he wrote in the form of letters to his daughter.

In size and content it compares with the “Outline of History” by H. G. Wells. But this is the amazing thing—Nehru wrote his book during a two-year stretch in prison: he wrote it with no research help, no library; indeed, with not one single book of reference. Yet scholars have found in it no essential error of fact.

Where among statesmen is there any man whose brain could match that achievement?

His land and his people are poor; he has no army, no money. Yet there is in him a spiritual power so ardent and compelling that the whole world feels it, and every member of the U.N. seeks to have him as a friend. This mighty power of the spirit is my second and principal reason for holding him great.

Speaking recently of India’s position in the world, he said; “We do not think it is inevitable for world conflict to take place between the democratic world and the Communist world . . . Given a period of peace . . . the inner weaknesses of any system will show themselves . . .”

Because he knows world history—(and how many of our “experts” do?)—he knows that despotism carries always the seeds of its own destruction. He knows that the farther Stalin spreads out, the more enemies he raises up. He knows that Alexander, Caesar, and every other aggressor were hardly cold in their graves before battles broke out among their generals, and their empires began to fall apart.

Nehru said also: “India does not claim infallibility of judgment nor does she recognize such infallibility and monopoly of rectitude in any other country.”

Did it ever occur to you how President Truman’s speeches and Secretary Acheson’s would sound in your ears if you were a Russian or a Chinese? Don’t they sound sometimes as if we do think that we have “infallibility of judgment” and “monopoly of rectitude”?

Shouldn’t we pay a bit more attention to this world figure who, sneered at as an “impractical” idealist, has brought to his people more benefits at less cost than any of the “practical” statesman, or all of them lumped together?

With all of their billions and all of their guns.

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Related links:

The Tyranny of Words — Bruce Barton on Aggression (1951)

Many Things Contribute to Mistrust of Truman | The Chester Times, July 17, 1951

Why Do We Call It Electoral ‘College’? | U.S. editorial, August 18, 1952

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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