I was Nehru’s shadow- review

It is quite easy to heap garbage on people. That too, if the people happen to be past leaders, it becomes all the more lucrative.  And if the person happens to be Jawaharlal Nehru, then he can be vilified no matter what. That is the norm these days.

But this book is not about vilifying Panditji ( Nehru is called Panditji in India). This, for a change, shows in detail about Panditji, the person.

Rustomji was the personal security officer appointed by the government to guard JN ( Nehru is called as JN in this book). And he writes about Panditji from what he saw about him and his interactions with him for no man on earth would have had so close an access to Panditji as Rustomji had. He was the PSO for JN between 1952 and 1958 – those tumultous early days of independence.

Rustomji writes in detail about his daily interactions with JN – what his daily routine used to be, what he would have for breakfast and how his days would be. We get to know of the different speeches that JN made at different points in time in different countries, JNs’ interactions with other world leaders Eisenhower, Chou-En-Lai, U-Nu of Burma, Pakistani leaders, the Saudi royalty, Khrushev and Bulganin of the USSR and the different Indian leaders.

Apart from the routine stuff, what we get to know about JN are his un-ending love for the country, his stubborn resistance to communalism often bordering on utopian-secularism, his strong adherence to ‘socialism’ – the concept failed though in later years, his extra-ordinary efforts to forge friendship between India and China that ultimately led to complacence which resulted in the India-China war in 1962.

JN stands out as a extra-ordinary patriot, a no-nonsense person who fumed at inefficiency, despotism and lethargy, one who stood out as a towering leader during the volatile and unstable time just after independence.

We also come across the human attributes of JN. One such is his ability to get angry and express his emotions in public and soon after try to patch up with the admonished almost immediately.

JN comes out as a person who worked for more than 16 hours per day even if he had had to travel from one part of the country to the other for 15 days in a month. JN apparently had made his routine to conduct his party conferences in far off places from Delhi like Madras ( now Chennai ), Kerala, Assam and the like just to ensure that the people of those regions don’t feel alienated.

We also get to know of Indira Gandhi ( JN’s daughter ) who, unknown to herself, was getting educated in the rough and tumble of Indian politics.

A great read for Indians of the new era who apparently don’t have an insight into the lives of the leaders of yore.

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