Nehru: The Debates that Defined India

By Tripurdaman Singh and Adeel Hussain

‘An important contribution … Delving lucidly into the most significant ideological battles of the era, this book deftly outlines the thinking and dialogue that laid the foundations of the Republic – and which remain deeply relevant and contentious today’
Shashi Tharoor, author of Inglorious Empire

A history of Nehru that dives deep into the debates of his era to understand his ideology – and that of his contemporaries and opponents, asking what India would look like had another bold young mind with fiercely held views led during the country’s formative years of independence.

Sixty years after the death of Jawaharal Nehru, the independence activist and first prime minister of India continues to be deified and vilified in equal measure. And still in contemporary political debate, the ideological spectrum remains defined by the degree of divergence from Nehru’s ideas. With the Nehruvian ideals increasingly juxtaposed against the positions of Nehru’s erstwhile contemporaries and questions asked about what might have happened on the Indian subcontinent had another hero of that era taken leadership, this book explores his encounters with key contemporaries to excavate and evaluate the views that were in circulation.

It examines the founder of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah and his cause of Hindu-Muslim unity, Shyama Prasad Mookerjee of the Hindu Mahasabha and his fierce defence of the constitution, the Congress leader Sardar Patel, with whom Nehru often disagreed about the threat of China, and Mohammad Iqbal, the poet and politician whose letters on Muslim solidarity were often issued from a prison cell.

The correspondence and interactions that Nehru had with these key personalities captures the essence of how post-independent India was projected as a nation, and the early directions it took towards self-definition.

Format: Paperback
Release Date: 10 Nov 2022
Pages: 288
ISBN: 978-0-00-846386-1
DR TRIPURDAMAN SINGH is a British Academy postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London. Born in 1988 in Agra, Tripurdaman read politics and international studies at the University of Warwick, and subsequently earned a PhD in history from the University of Cambridge. Tripurdaman is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society. His books include Sixteen Story Days: The Story of the First Amendment of the Constitution of India.DR ADEEL HUSSAIN is an Associate Professor of Legal Studies at NYU Abu Dhabi and a Senior Research Affiliate at the Max Planck Institute for International Law in Heidelberg. Before coming to NYU, he was an Assistant Professor of Legal and Political Theory at Leiden University. He holds a Master\'s and PhD from the University of Cambridge and is qualified to practise law in Germany. He is also the author of Revenge, Politics, and Blasphemy in Pakistan and Law and Muslim Political Thought in Late Colonial North India.

‘Nehru: The Debates that Defined India is an important contribution to the continuing evaluation of Nehru’s role in the crafting of modern India. Examining four key debates between Nehru and the leading figures of his age on religion, foreign policy, and civil liberties, Tripurdaman Singh and Adeel Hussain allow Nehru and his interlocutors to express themselves in their own words. Delving lucidly into the most significant ideological battles of the era, this book deftly outlines the thinking and dialogue that laid the foundations of the Republic - and which remain deeply relevant and contentious today’Shashi Tharoor, author of Inglorious Empire -

‘[A book that] Reminds us of an era when Indian politics thrummed with ideas and arguments, articulated with conviction and civility. There is much to learn from, and in turn to argue with, in this timely anthology of some of modern India's most contentious - and still continuing - debates’Sunil Khilnani, author of The Idea of India and Incarnations -

‘This innovative book allows us to understand Nehru's legacy by focussing on some of the most important debates of his career. Putting together his correspondence and conversation with powerful rivals and colleagues, ranging from Jinnah to Sardar Patel, the authors have for the first time made available in a single volume the intense arguments that went into the making of modern India. The result is a nuanced exploration of the strengths and weaknesses of the country's first prime minister’Faisal Devji, Professor of History at the University of Oxford and author of Muslim Zion -

‘Tripurdaman Singh and Adeel Hussain have brought to life the intellectual vibrancy and excitement that surrounded the debates. These were not mere political arguments but cerebral duels that enriched public life. Resurrecting these for today’s audiences is a public service’Swapan Dasgupta, Member of Parliament -