24 July, 2021

While It Rains Rose Petals

India under Nehru was a land of abiding hope. Sixty-two years on, should we still celebrate?

While It Rains Rose Petals

When I was a schoolkid in Delhi, Independence Day was Pandit Nehru’s day. Thousands went to the Red Fort, spontaneously, to hear him. And they came away with rose petals on their shoulders and on their thoughts. For the many who did not go to that iconic venue, it was also Panditji’s day. For he was on the airwaves. He made those waves. He was, in fact, the wave. Our home radio, that rectangular box with its green eye widening as the volume reached its fullness, seemed to wait for his Red Fort address. Each anniversary of our independence reminded us that India was in Panditji’s hands. And a more reassuring pair of hands there could not be.

Nineteen sixty-two seemed to change that. A new vulnerability gripped us after the defeat at China’s hands. Sharafat was seen as an error. To my teenage mind, though, Nehru had not gone wrong. He had been wronged. And sharif that he was, he was also strong enough to protect India’s dignity. My grandfather C. Rajagopalachari’s...

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