How renaming Nehru Memorial Museum is another nail in the colonization coffin


In a week, this vestige of the Nehruvian colonization of India will be erased from history. Dr BR Ambedkar had the final say

In no particular order, a primary area in the long-awaited national effort of civilizational recovery began with the physical ejection of Delhi’s political squatters. The list includes dozens of MPs who had lost the election and had no place in their taxpayer-funded plush accommodation.

The most recent ejected celebrity (that’s a word) was Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who is best known for the surname she acquired by accident of birth, a surname that continues to generate negative dividends. She has never held political office until now, but in this one-of-a-kind wonder of the Nehruvian ecosystem, she has enjoyed sprawling government housing for years.

Other notorious names include Charan Singh’s son who threw a huge fit when asked to squat, and Shabana Azmi, infamous for his villainous lobbying to occupy a posh bungalow on Lodhi Road. A Dara hua Musalman who is unable to find a home in Mumbai is miraculously transformed into a very successful lobbyist Lutyens in Delhi. Such examples abound, and a diligent researcher has enough material to write an independent volume on this micro-specialty topic.

The sickening phenomenon can only be described as a state of existing in a semi-permanent stupor induced by Nehruvian political potassium bromide.

When the sun finally set on their seven decades of permitted revelry, these stunned inhabitants of Lutyens were forced to make a living by obsessively ranting against Modi, even as he quietly undoes another colonial remnant: renaming Race Course Road in Lok Kalyan Marg, the road to his official residence. For those in the know, the term “7 RCR” still sends a shiver… when one remembers a certain disgraced reporter repeatedly shouting that address over the phone in the run-down Radia Tapes scandal.

Perhaps the mother of all decolonization initiatives announced by Narendra Modi is the Central Vista project which I have written about extensively elsewhere. In its foundations and essence, it echoes and perhaps will realize Dharampal’s profound vision for global civilizational decolonization. More than half a century ago, Dharampal appealed to the nation to turn all colonial structures in Delhi into museums telling the tragic story of our colonization.

The biographies of the greatest monarchs and the histories of the most fabulous empires infallibly reveal a keen understanding of their understanding of gravity and the awe that physical structures exude by their mere presence. Despite all his other faults, Nehru also understood him; on the contrary, he had learned the lesson of the British well. In an anonymous hymn to himself – the equivalent of a snarky tweet – he had the illusion of being some sort of Caesar. He described himself as an avowed imperialist who had an “intolerance for weak men”. He wasn’t entirely wrong. Weak men eventually emerged as his hagiographers, and the chief hagiographer specimen has been briefly described here.

Among other things, Nehru, as Prime Minister, shrewdly expropriated the colonial structures built by the British. As proud and shameless colonialists, these buildings had a definite purpose: to ooze their raw power as global marauders, to stun, amaze and strike fear into the hearts of impure Hindu savages.

The imposing Flagstaff House was one such forbidding structure.

Built on an expanse of thirty acres, it was part of the new imperial complex that the British built when they decided to move the capital of India from Calcutta to Delhi. Opened in 1930, Flagstaff House served as the winter headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief of the British Imperial Forces in India. He was also the commander-in-chief of the armies of the princely states. Or to make it more explicit, the Flagstaff House was the headquarters of a ruthless army that was used to pillage, slaughter, oppress and keep the Indians in a state of semi-permanent slavery even in “peacetime”.

After 1947, it became the official residence and workplace of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

Flagstaff House’s new avatar was the Teen Murti Bhavan. It was a simple name change and in hindsight a morbid continuation of much the same colonial trappings. We continue to be perplexed by trivial questions: for example, what law allowed, say, Padmaja Naidu to occupy an impressive bungalow on the estate of Teen Murti Bhavan? After all, India had now become a democratic republic where even the “lowest” citizen could become Prime Minister and granting unearned privileges to the extended royal family was a thing of the past. Indeed, on many occasions during the struggle for freedom, Nehru the great democrat, had expressed his disgust for the methods and lifestyles of our Maharajas. Which brings up the same question: in a country then populated by thirty-four million Indians, why or how was he unable to identify talented and honest people for high office appointments outside of his extended family and his coterie of admirers and cupbearers? What were the exact qualifications and distinctions of, say, Vijayalakshmi Pandit to hold the sensitive post of Indian Ambassador to the USSR?

The answer: the new monarch had arrived and instead of building himself a palace, he effortlessly settled into the physical imperialisms of the nearly deceased oppressor and annexed them. The full story of the vast acres of real estate directly and indirectly, and still controlled by the Nehru clan in Delhi, when told honestly, will provide eminent fodder for several seasons of a web series dripping with deception, intrigue and chicanery.

But the posthumous story of Teen Murti Bhavan is even more interesting. History reveals how this colonial building served to further freeze the Nehru myth by transforming it into a “national memorial” dedicated to its construction. This was done after he allowed China to gobble up precious Indian territory, after rendering India friendless on the world stage, not to mention the dastardly precedents he set in motion: undermining Article 19 and using Article 356 to remove democratically elected state governments.

Unnecessarily, the refurbished avatar Teen Murti Bhavan continued to remain in the iron grip of the Nehru clan for some seventy years, despite nominally being owned by the Indian government. But then, it was not an ordinary Indian government, it was a possessed government.

Although by no means an isolated phenomenon or a single building, the Nehru Memorial and Museum is perhaps the most illustrative of Nehruvian colonization of “independent” India. Yatha raja thata praja: as the king, so the people. In his case, “as the king, so his courtiers”. This usurpation of, say, the Flagstaff House, is one of the roots of the aforementioned political squatting in Delhi.

Until recently, access to the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library was tightly controlled and reliable sources tell me that some records of the building remain sealed. Forget the Indians, many Western authors writing, for example, about the Indian freedom struggle and the biographies of Nehru and Indira Gandhi are unanimous on one fact. Katherine Frank, Ms Gandhi’s biographer, and Alex Tunzelmann who chronicled the sunset of the British Empire, testify to their frustration with this insurmountable black wall of lack of access to archives. It reminds us of those famous British signs when they ruled us: No dogs and Indians allowed. Those who were allowed, evidently, were loyal durbaris populating the various strata of the Nehruvian and Lutyan food chain.

With the decisive arrival of Narendra Modi, the stranglehold of the Nehru dynasty on this institution is almost a thing of the past, although some vestiges of this hold remain. However, even these remnants hang on a thin string.

It all started with the first Red Fort speech where Modi acknowledged the contributions of all Prime Ministers and finally announced his intention to show their legacy as it is. And now, renaming the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library “Pradhan Mantri Sangrahalaya” (Prime Ministers Museum) is the concrete realization of this vision and intention. It follows the same line as renaming the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award after hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to inaugurate the expanded and renovated Prime Ministers Museum on April 14, the anniversary of BR Ambedkar’s birth. A perfectly suitable day, especially when one remembers his anguished resignation speech to Parliament delivered on October 10, 1951.

A few excerpts from the speech are relevant in this context: “I was on the opposite side [of the Prime Minister] and had already been condemned as unworthy of association… It is difficult to understand what is the principle underlying the distribution of government work among ministers which the Prime Minister follows. Is it capacity? Is it trust? Is it friendship? Is it flexibility?… The Cabinet has become a mere registrar and registry of the decisions already taken by the commissions… They work behind an iron curtain… The conduct of the Minister for Business parliamentarians, who is also the leader The whip of the party in relation to the Hindu code, to say the least, has been most extraordinary … I have never seen a case of a whip in leader so disloyal to the Prime Minister and a Prime Minister so loyal to a disloyal whip. .. If I didn’t think there could be a difference between the Prime Minister’s promises and performance, the fault is certainly not mine.

It is clear that Dr. Ambedkar unequivocally accused Jawaharlal Nehru of being a man who breaks his promises. It’s clearer that Nehru got what he wanted by orchestrating things behind an iron curtain. Pretty much how things worked at Flagstaff House before and after it was transformed into Teen Murti Bhavan, which in turn was renamed the Nehru Memorial Museum. In a week, even this vestige of the Nehruvian colonization of India will disappear from history.

Dr. Ambedkar had the last word. Well Named.

The author is the founder and editor of “The Dharma Dispatch”. The opinions expressed are personal.

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