Admirers claim Nehru was the builder of modern India. Is one referring to “modern” India with broken-down, side-lane-like highways, run-down Fiats and Ambassadors, meagre second world-war armaments to take care of its security, perennial food shortages, famines, millions in grinding poverty, both hands holding begging bowls? He did set up a string of research labs, but they did little, and became money sinks. Pathetic communication networks and transport severely affected economic growth, fight against poverty, mobility and national integration.

Many countries, including those in Southeast Asia, which were much behind India at the time India got independence, marched far ahead of India. When you look at their airports, their roads, their metros, their city- buses, their well laid-out cities, their infra-structure, their cleanliness, their everything, you wonder why you had remained (till the Nehruvian and the Nehru-Dynasty times [things have begun to change with Modi]) a country of crumbling roads, overcrowded locals, overhanging scary ugly mess of mesh of electrical, TV and internet cables blotting the skyline and brutally assaulting even the “chalta hai” sense of terribly intolerable tolerance of the “have given up” generations; a country of absent pavements or encroached pavements or pavements that stink from the use they are not meant for, and where mercifully for the walkers this is not so, they are but patches of broken down pavers, punctuated by uncovered, or partially covered, or precariously or deceptively covered man-holes, awaiting their catch; a nation of stinking slums and impoverished villages, open drains and sewers, rotting garbage, squalor and stink all around, children and men defecating by the road-side—all testimony to criminal absence of the very basics of being modern and civilised…

Most of the Indian towns, cities and metros are dirty, foul smelling and hideous. They look like a defacement of spaces and a blot on the landscape. Cities in the West, Southeast Asia, China and elsewhere get better, cleaner, smarter and spiffier year after year, while ours get worse, more congested, more polluted, more difficult to live in and more squalid.

How’s it that we got so left behind? What is it that we did, or did not do, after independence, that everything is so abysmal and pathetic? And all this unmitigated misery despite the overwhelming advantage of India as a nation with first-rate people, plentiful natural resources, grand civilisational heritage, rich culture and languages, unmatched ethical and spiritual traditions, and, above all, relatively better position in all fields— infrastructure, trained manpower, bureaucracy, army—at the time of independence compared to all other nations who have since overtaken us. Why did we fail to leverage such rich assets of a gifted country? Well, all thanks to Nehruvian policies. Nehruvianism is responsible for keeping India forever a developing, third-world country.

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