Nehru on Indian problems

..What of New Delhi today with its Viceregal pomp and pageantry, and the provincial Governors with all their ostentation? And all this with a background of abject and astonishing poverty. The contrast hurts, and it is a little difficult to imagine how sensitive men can put up with it.  India today is a poor and dismal sight behind all the splendors of the imperial frontage. There is a great deal of patchwork and superficiality, and behind it the unhappy petty bourgeoisie, crushed more and more by modern conditions. Further back come the workers, living miserably in grinding poverty, and then the peasant, that symbol of India, whose lot is to be “born to Endless Night”. 

“Bowed by the weight by the weight of centuries he leans
Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground.
The emptiness of ages on his face,
And on his back the burden of the world.
                          .    .     .      .      .
“Through this dread shape the suffering ages look.
Time’s tragedy is in that aching stoop,
Through this dread shape humanity betrayed,
Plundered, profaned and disinherited, 
Cries protest to the powers that made the world,
A protest that is also prophecy”. 

It would be absurd to cast the blame for all India’s ills on the British. That responsibility must be shouldered by us, and we may not shirk it; it is unseemly to blame others for the inevitable consequences of our own weaknesses...The problem to-day all over the world is not one of lack of food or lack of other essentials, but actually lack of mouths to feed or lack of other capacity to buy food, etc, for those who are in need. Even in India, considered apart, there is no lack of food, and though the population has gone up, the food supply has increased and can increase more proportionately than the population. The again the much advertised increase of population in India has been (except in the last decade) at a much lower rate than in most Western countries....Whenever India becomes free, and is a position to build her new life as she want to , she will necessarily require the best of her sons and daughters for this purpose. Good human material is always rare...Who are we to complaint of its deficiencies when they were but the consequences of our own failings? If we lose touch with the river of change and enter a backwater, become self centred and self-satisfied, and, ostrich like, ignore what happens elsewhere, we do so at our peril.....
.(Jawaharlal Nehru: An Autobiography. 1936)

Jawaharlal Nehru



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