Was Nehru a Dictator? — Part 2

I had arrived at the hypothesis that Nehru was a dictator not from a careful reading of history but rather a careful observation of contemporary reality. First, I saw that Nehru was clearly considered one of the greatest leaders of India — so much so that his descendants were considered by a very large segment of Indians to be natural born leaders. Second, Nehru’s name graced too many institutions for my comfort. It reeked of idol worship. Third, he appeared to be a person of very limited intelligence and even more limited wisdom. The development path of India was perhaps set back a couple of generations at least and at the horrible human cost of hundreds of millions of lives lived in abject misery.

As it happens, my conjecture that he was a dictator keeps accumulating support in bits and pieces. Here’s something that I came across in a piece by Tarun Vijay (about which I wrote in the previous post) which I am reproducing here for the record. Tarun asks, “And what was the “vision” for security forces that Nehru presented?” and quotes Wing Commander (retd) R V Parasnis:

Soon after Independence, the first commander-in-chief of the Indian armed forces, General Sir Robert Lockhart, presented a paper outlining a plan for the growth of the Indian Army to Prime Minister Nehru.

Nehru’s reply: ‘We don’t need a defence plan. Our policy is non-violence. We foresee no military threats. You can scrap the army. The police are good enough to meet our security needs.’

He didn’t waste much time. On September 16, 1947, he directed that the army’s then strength of 280,000 be brought down to 150,000. Even in fiscal 1950-51, when the Chinese threat had begun to loom large on the horizon, 50,000 army personnel were sent home as per his original plan to disband the armed forces.

After Independence, he once noticed a few men in uniform in a small office the army had in North Block and angrily had them evicted.

Soon after Independence, he separated the army, navy, and air force from a unified command and abolished the post of commander-in-chief of the armed forces, thus bringing down the status of the senior most military chief.

He continued to demote the status of the three service chiefs at irregular intervals in the order of precedence in the official government protocol, a practice loyally continued by successive governments to the benefit of politicians and bureaucrats.

During the 1947-48 war with Pakistan in Kashmir, Nehru interfered with purely military decisions at will which delayed the war and changed the ultimate outcome in Pakistan’s favour. He developed a precedent to violate channels and levels of communications at that time. His penchant for verbal orders to the various army commanders, of which he kept no records, violated the chain of command.

The army thereafter reversed this trend. [Emphasis mine.]

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is in all likelihood a duck.

[Previous part: Was Nehru a dictator?]

Author: Atanu Dey


3 thoughts on “Was Nehru a Dictator? — Part 2”

  1. He loved Islam and communism. Why would China or Pakistan ever be hostile to India? Makes perfect sense.

    You may already have come across this snippet of infinite wisdom, but it’s worth a re-read.

    “we were tired men and we were getting on in years too. Few of us could stand the prospect of going to prison again – and if we had stood out for a united India as we wished it, prison obviously awaited us. We saw the fires burning in the Punjab and heard of the killings. The plan of Partition offered a way out and we took it. …We expected that Partition would be temporary, that Pakistan was bound to come back to us.” –Nehru in an interview with Leonard Mosley, 1960 [The Last Days of British Raj, p-285]


  2. well meaning idiot. it is not Nehru’s fault entirely if foolish Indians allow him to rule without question.

    saving grace: he did not make money out of it all, and, like his daughter, did not relish in destroying all fundamental democratic structures…


  3. ashish got it right ,Leader’s are like the people, they reflect the mentality and aspirations of the people ,Ultimately the ageless widom of “People get the rulers they deserve not what they desire”


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