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A portrait of the Indian secularist and spiritual companion of Mahatma Gandhi discusses his childhood as a member of a politically influential family, the Enlightenment philosophies that marked his education, his decision to become an activist, his contributions to India's non-violent struggle for independence, and his witness to the violence of pa A portrait of the Indian secularist and spiritual companion of Mahatma Gandhi discusses his childhood as a member of a politically influential family, the Enlightenment philosophies that marked his education, his decision to become an activist, his contributions to India's non-violent struggle for independence, and his witness to the violence of pa


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A portrait of the Indian secularist and spiritual companion of Mahatma Gandhi discusses his childhood as a member of a politically influential family, the Enlightenment philosophies that marked his education, his decision to become an activist, his contributions to India's non-violent struggle for independence, and his witness to the violence of pa A portrait of the Indian secularist and spiritual companion of Mahatma Gandhi discusses his childhood as a member of a politically influential family, the Enlightenment philosophies that marked his education, his decision to become an activist, his contributions to India's non-violent struggle for independence, and his witness to the violence of pa

30 review for Nehru: The Invention of India

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sukanta Hazra

    Another well written book on Nehru. A man about whom there is much misunderstanding in India, or at least an attempt is being made (unfairly) at present to show him in worse light than he deserves. Surely he made some blunders, but his passion and achievements to keep India united and to modernise it can't and shouldn't be overlooked. Another well written book on Nehru. A man about whom there is much misunderstanding in India, or at least an attempt is being made (unfairly) at present to show him in worse light than he deserves. Surely he made some blunders, but his passion and achievements to keep India united and to modernise it can't and shouldn't be overlooked.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Riddhi Shah

    A very very biased biography trying to paint the character of Nehru with the whitest and brightest colours. From the very first chapter, you can see the author's support to the centre-left Indian national Congress. And at certain stages it's hypocritic as well. For example, motilal is shown to be this advanced and modern man who encourages Nehru to bring out the best of him but at the same time he believes that his daughters belong in the house. The two stars are only for the eloquent language a A very very biased biography trying to paint the character of Nehru with the whitest and brightest colours. From the very first chapter, you can see the author's support to the centre-left Indian national Congress. And at certain stages it's hypocritic as well. For example, motilal is shown to be this advanced and modern man who encourages Nehru to bring out the best of him but at the same time he believes that his daughters belong in the house. The two stars are only for the eloquent language and poetic description. The author builds a vivid storyline which makes it easier to imagine the era and the characters. But it's a disappointment when it comes to actually knowing the character of Nehru or the personality that Nehru was!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jyotsna Batra

    Nehru has been an exceptionally important figure in Indian History, and he has been seen as a controversial figure as well. I had the curiosity to know more about his life and thoughts that I began reading this book. It is a well-written insight into the life of Nehru. The description of his father's influence on him, his relationship with his daughter, Indira, and his reverence towards Mahatma Gandhi are quite interesting. Also, his moderation, handling of differences of opinions, his foreign p Nehru has been an exceptionally important figure in Indian History, and he has been seen as a controversial figure as well. I had the curiosity to know more about his life and thoughts that I began reading this book. It is a well-written insight into the life of Nehru. The description of his father's influence on him, his relationship with his daughter, Indira, and his reverence towards Mahatma Gandhi are quite interesting. Also, his moderation, handling of differences of opinions, his foreign policy approach along with the course of India's independence struggle and thereafter has been discussed well. However, the book falls a bit short in providing a truly objective view. It seems so appreciative of him that it fails to provide any sort of criticism when required. To a questioning mind, this book increases the eagerness to know the flip side of Nehru. It is a good read to know about his life events but it doesn't provide a sound analysis for shaping an objective opinion.

  4. 4 out of 5

    S.Ach

    My knowledge on the life and contributions of Nehru as the architect of modern India, could be just sufficient for me to probably participate in Class 5 debate competition. Not more. Having read before Nehru's "The Discovery of India" and parts of "Glimpses of World History", I had huge appreciation for the learning and culture of Nehru. However, in the present times, the amount of dirt that has been hurled at Nehru and his legacy ( interesting essay in Outlook)that, it prompted me to read more My knowledge on the life and contributions of Nehru as the architect of modern India, could be just sufficient for me to probably participate in Class 5 debate competition. Not more. Having read before Nehru's "The Discovery of India" and parts of "Glimpses of World History", I had huge appreciation for the learning and culture of Nehru. However, in the present times, the amount of dirt that has been hurled at Nehru and his legacy ( interesting essay in Outlook)that, it prompted me to read more about Nehru. A book by the current Congress MP and Nehruvian Sashi Tharoor is not expected to be objective in its assessment. As the author admits himself, "I started the book as divided between admiration and criticism as when I finished it, but the more I delved in Nehru's life, it was the admiration which deepened." And I don't entirely blame the author. The book presents the accounts of Nehru's life chronologically and focuses more on the freedom fighter and revolutionary Nehru than the Statesman Nehru, which I expected to read more about. The well-presented chronicles are pretty informative and definitely presents Nehru in a pretty bright light. It seemed that Tharoor has deliberately omitted the more controversial actions, inactions and interactions. Whether, we appreciate Nehru or call him a villain, but his contributions to the nation, cannot be undermined. In the concluding essay, Tharoor summarizes Nehru's legacy as - Nehru’s impact on India rested on four major pillars — democratic institution-building, staunch pan-Indian secularism, socialist economics at home, and a foreign policy of nonalignment. ……Of the four major pillars of his system, two — democratic institution-building and staunch secularism — were indispensable to the country’s survival as a pluralist land; a third, nonalignment, preserved its self respect and enhanced its international standing without bringing any concrete benefits to the Indian people; the fourth, socialist economics, was disastrous, condemning the Indian people to poverty and stagnation and engendering inefficiency, red-tapism, and corruption on a scale rarely rivaled elsewhere. Despite lacking depth and structural analysis, there is little doubt that it is most beautifully written with "Tharoorian English" and could act as a nice introduction to the life and works of one of the prominent makers of modern India. I need to pick up a thicker biography.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Röhan

    The Pandit Just how shall we define a Pandit? It’s not a panda, nor a bandit. But rather a Pandora’s box Of sophistry and paradox. Though Oxford [sic] gave it a degree It maintains its neutrality By quietly hating General Clive As hard as if he were alive. On weighty international questions It’s far more Christian than most Christians; It’s ever eager, being meek To turn someone else’s cheek. Oft has it said all men are brothers, And set that standard up for others, Yet as it spoke it gerrymandered Proclaiming The Pandit Just how shall we define a Pandit? It’s not a panda, nor a bandit. But rather a Pandora’s box Of sophistry and paradox. Though Oxford [sic] gave it a degree It maintains its neutrality By quietly hating General Clive As hard as if he were alive. On weighty international questions It’s far more Christian than most Christians; It’s ever eager, being meek To turn someone else’s cheek. Oft has it said all men are brothers, And set that standard up for others, Yet as it spoke it gerrymandered Proclaiming its private Pakistandard. The neutral pandit walks alone, And if abroad, it casts a stone, It walks impartial to the last, Ready at home to stone a caste. Abandon I for now the pandit, I fear I do not understand it. -Ogden Nash Quite a savage bit of doggerel, but even today, and more notably closer to home, he remains the most grossly misunderstood and perhaps posthumously derided figure in Indian history.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Abhishek

    Even the harshest critic has to admit that Dr. Tharoor in spite of his fair share of controversies is an impeccable painter with words. The short & witty biography of literally a legacy is by no means an easy task. There is always a risk of misrepresentation or even worst omission of certain facts. But, this book like a river once starts flowing, only gains speed. In our country almost everyone has an opinion about chacha nehru, but the way Dr. Tharoor has articulated his entire journey of life Even the harshest critic has to admit that Dr. Tharoor in spite of his fair share of controversies is an impeccable painter with words. The short & witty biography of literally a legacy is by no means an easy task. There is always a risk of misrepresentation or even worst omission of certain facts. But, this book like a river once starts flowing, only gains speed. In our country almost everyone has an opinion about chacha nehru, but the way Dr. Tharoor has articulated his entire journey of life in a crisp & concise manner without leaving out any facts or being judgmental about it. It is this objectivity in his writing which differs from the other writers & their work on Jawaharlal Nehru. If you have any interest in History or politics of India, you might be missing an angle if you haven't read this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Muthu Raj

    5 stars. A third entry to the classy shelf. TLDR; A must read that puts the people involved in Nationalist movement and Nehru's role in it as well as the feelings and ideals of Nehru in perspective. Excellent language. This is a magisterial work on Nehru. I was squirming in shame at some points in the book that I didn't know some very basic things about the architects of my country. I am not going to attempt to comment about Nehru himself. I know too little and have too much adulation for him, t 5 stars. A third entry to the classy shelf. TLDR; A must read that puts the people involved in Nationalist movement and Nehru's role in it as well as the feelings and ideals of Nehru in perspective. Excellent language. This is a magisterial work on Nehru. I was squirming in shame at some points in the book that I didn't know some very basic things about the architects of my country. I am not going to attempt to comment about Nehru himself. I know too little and have too much adulation for him, to provide any unbiased summary of the man and what he stood for. However, at the end of the book, this is what I told myself, Nehru ji was a great idealist, nationalist, and a statesman. A very good writer, a true secularist, wannabe socialist and a terrible politician, and a terrible judge of people. Shashi Tharoor has become my most favorite author right now, in this genre at least. The book is genuine attempt at distilling the great and varied life of Nehru. The book in the first half, portrays Nehru as someone beyond repudiation by mere mortals. One even suspects that this is a hagiography at a point. But the doubt is easily dispelled, once we get to the second half. The author is unapologetic when portraying the faults of the great man, and doesn't try to deify him at any point. He draws from a variety of sources, is critical of some nehruvian policies and makes a very good case when he says that Nehru put political horse before the economic cart. The Author laments reservations, stagnant economic policies, and the non pragmatism of Nehruvian foreign policies including non alignment. The Author's analysis of some of the policies as well as habits of Nehru, shows his depth of knowledge. Throughout the book, the author doesn't hide the fact that he admires Nehru, but doesn't allow that to compromise the work in any sort. The shortcomings of the book, can be safely ignored, since this kind of distillation very much warrants such negligible side effects. The book is really dense at some points, but I suspect it is due to the subject of the book and not the Author's fault. The exploration of the relationship between Motilal and his son, as well as Gandhi and Nehru, though cursorial, is a very important constituent of the book. The fact that Sardar replaced Gandhi as a father figure albeit for a short time and that Nehru desperately needed someone to keep him in check, is telling in Nehru's some later spectacular failures in policy issues. For some reason, I am unable to shake the feeling that Modern Review attack on Nehru by himself was nothing short of a premonition that proved to be true after departing of Sardar and sidelining of Rajaji. The author doesn't lean on condescension towards readers and is very content to present just the facts at important junctures and leaves the reader to draw his conclusions. The "show, don't tell" has been meticulously followed by the Author. He is incisive in his refutation of unfounded vilification of Nehru. Though primarily about Nehru, the author explores in sufficient detail the mood of the country, whenever Nehru is in jail, or otherwise incapable of being physically present for the Nationalist movement. The focus on Jinnah is most welcome. The fact that he started learning Urdu only in late 1938 disillusions even the most stubborn Muslim loyalist to see that Jinnah was not a saint without any vested interests. Similarly, throughout the book, the author marks important happenings and doesn't fail to follow to link them to Nehru, even if the connection isn't apparent to the layman reader easily. Highly recommended.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Ambruso

    Well-written but boring I thoroughly enjoy history and biography - just not this one. The subject just failed to grab me. Indian history is just not that exciting. It's all about deals and mind-changing and recharging. Got about 20% through it but had to stop. Well-written but boring I thoroughly enjoy history and biography - just not this one. The subject just failed to grab me. Indian history is just not that exciting. It's all about deals and mind-changing and recharging. Got about 20% through it but had to stop.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Raghu

    It is not easy to write a biography of a towering and complex personality like Nehru and not end up short. Everyone interested in India and its history has an opinion on Nehru and often they are diametrically opposite to one another. Tharoor, like me, is an admirer of Nehru and believes that his contribution to India is immense. This naturally, has its effect on his portrayal of Nehru and so this book should not be viewed as a comprehensive study of the man or of all his achievements and failure It is not easy to write a biography of a towering and complex personality like Nehru and not end up short. Everyone interested in India and its history has an opinion on Nehru and often they are diametrically opposite to one another. Tharoor, like me, is an admirer of Nehru and believes that his contribution to India is immense. This naturally, has its effect on his portrayal of Nehru and so this book should not be viewed as a comprehensive study of the man or of all his achievements and failures. I see this book as another perspective on Nehru and a well-written one. Nowadays, in India and particularly in the Indian diaspora, it is fashionable to denounce Nehru as the 'lotus-eater' from Kashmir and as one who ruined India's economic development and also as one who encouraged a pseudo-secular culture in India. Tharoor challenges this well in his book and shows the legacy of Nehru and the India that he tried to build on the pillars of democratic institution-building, staunch pan-Indian secularism, socialist economics at home and a foreign policy of non-alignment. In addition, I found that Tharoor brings out certain aspects of the past which are generally not highlighted in the teaching of history in our schools in India. For example, it was his father Motilal Nehru whose liberal and rationalist temperament that gave the son his scientific inclinations and agnosticism. Motilal had no time for the self-appointed guardians of any faith, abhorred bigotry and had contempt for Hindu communalism which mirrored the Muslim League. Motilal was also moderate and believed in compromise to find common ground. One can see that Jawaharlal Nehru imbibed all these qualities. I had never known that Motilal was such a significant personality. For all those Indians who talk ill of Nehru's independent thought process, Tharoor gives some interesting snippets. Nehru wrote in 1927, "England, in order to save herself from extinction, will become a satellite of the US and incite American imperialism to fight by her side". On China in the 1940s, he writes that a communist victory would not necessarily mean a rule by the principles of Marx; the role of the 'small peasant' would ensure a departure from 'pure communism'. He also speculates in the 1940s that Britain and the US will join together to create a powerful Anglo-Saxon bloc to dominate the world. Tharoor writes about another little-known and interesting snippet about Nehru's democratic instincts. Nehru himself penned an pseudonymous essay in the Modern Review in the late 1930s, warning the countrymen to put a check on Nehru and stop him from becoming a Caesar as he has all the makings of a dictator in him! This was because he was conscious of the risk that power, and in particular mass adulation, could turn one's head. There have been many who denounce on his conduct of foreign policy. Still, I am in agreement with Shashi Tharoor when he says: " Nehru projected a different ideal for India on the world stage. The force of example, the nobility of aspiration and the articulation of India's interests as those of a humanistic universalism, all served to give Nehru's India stature. India did not speak in terms of nation-state rivalry or patriotic chauvinism ; Nehru sought a loftier place for India on the world stage. For all its flaws, this credibility was not easily achieved.". Such idealism obviously does not pay much dividends nor is it possible for any nation to sustain it consistently. But it shows Nehru's vision of an India, inspired by his tutelage under Gandhi and at the dawn of India's independence in the late 1940s, there was a case for such idealism. The book brings out Tharoor's passion for India through Nehru. Tharoor himself is a citizen of the world and was an UN official and through his literary abilities, he paints a composite picture of Jawaharlal Nehru. With the rising middle-class in India, which like elsewhere, tends to be more right-wing, sectarian and parochial, this book is a good balancer for the young of India to understand the ideals of the 'Nehru-Gandhi' vision of India.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Palahalli Rajesh

    The book is a fascinating journey through the life of Pt. Nehru, without being in any sort of biased bigots. It is an honest approach to bring into light Nehru’s legacies; there are good, bad, and ugly sides of it. One needs to accept Nehru with all his glaring failures, which will no doubt torment his soul, not only till his death; but continues even today. Along with it comes his stupendous success too! In a Hindu majority India he established a secular state which stood the storms of religiou The book is a fascinating journey through the life of Pt. Nehru, without being in any sort of biased bigots. It is an honest approach to bring into light Nehru’s legacies; there are good, bad, and ugly sides of it. One needs to accept Nehru with all his glaring failures, which will no doubt torment his soul, not only till his death; but continues even today. Along with it comes his stupendous success too! In a Hindu majority India he established a secular state which stood the storms of religious fanatics; a fact testament, months earlier, in India as his grandson's Italian born, Christian, widow lead her party to a tremendous victory, giving them second straight term in office, against staunch Hindu party. Shashi Tharoor has exhaled readers with vivid picture of India’s freedom struggle to its earlier days. The narrations at time not so impressive; this one should expect while reading History!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bharath Kumar

    A Great book which takes you through the life of a person known for his diplomacy written by an equally matched diplomat,who writes a sentence as long as a page and still you will be able to read it with excellent fluency.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mariana

    A quick read, a thoughtful appraisal of Nehru.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Vikas Lather

    Not very well researched but written with sophisticated style

  14. 4 out of 5

    Razi Shaikh

    This is not so much a biography as a timely reflection on Pandit Nehru, the country's first Prime Minister, indeed the man who made his countrymen realize what it meant to be Indians. Shashi Tharoor does full justice to the man, in his crowning glories, in all his tarnishing flaws. It's a humanistic picture, neither overly critical nor degenerating into flattery. Nehru comes across as a man both bound by destiny and enamoured of it, a man of deep contemplation and a man in perennial hurry, a per This is not so much a biography as a timely reflection on Pandit Nehru, the country's first Prime Minister, indeed the man who made his countrymen realize what it meant to be Indians. Shashi Tharoor does full justice to the man, in his crowning glories, in all his tarnishing flaws. It's a humanistic picture, neither overly critical nor degenerating into flattery. Nehru comes across as a man both bound by destiny and enamoured of it, a man of deep contemplation and a man in perennial hurry, a person who decorated the past while aligning it with the future. Poetic, picturesque, this is a recommended reading for all those who would like to know what Jawaharlal Nehru was, of the nation that made him and the nation he made.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rimjhim Saxena

    What a world we live in where appreciating & understanding India’s first prime minister is an unpopular opinion. However, few men have made me think, contemplate and learn as much as JL Nehru has. This is a decent book which captures an overview of JL nehru’s life and legacy. It at times is doting but overall a nice read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Booxoul

    Jawaharlal Nehru has been an important part of me growing up. In fact, he is part of every child in India, isn’t he? We as a kid use to wait for his birthday with excitement and furor. He has also been an integral part of India’s struggle for freedom. Jawaharlal Nehru was also free India’s first Prime Minister, who laid foundations on which today’s India stands proud. In Jawaharlal Nehru’s biography ‘Nehru: The Invention of India’, noted critic and columnist and numerous literary award winner Shashi Jawaharlal Nehru has been an important part of me growing up. In fact, he is part of every child in India, isn’t he? We as a kid use to wait for his birthday with excitement and furor. He has also been an integral part of India’s struggle for freedom. Jawaharlal Nehru was also free India’s first Prime Minister, who laid foundations on which today’s India stands proud. In Jawaharlal Nehru’s biography ‘Nehru: The Invention of India’, noted critic and columnist and numerous literary award winner Shashi Tharoor examines the life of Nehru. With unsparing objectivity and wit, Shashi Tharoor in his elegant writing re-examines Nehru as a person and the impact he had on India. And how his modern principles had favorable and adverse effects on India. This book takes its readers on vestiges of Nehru’s life through many events that made him a freedom fighter to the political leader of Congress and then a PM. Unlike his father, Nehru turned out to be a lousy husband and a father, whereas his father Motilal Nehru was a dedicated father. In this book, Shashi Tharoor far from singing praises for Nehru, he unsparingly unravels the layers of Nehru, replete with paradoxes and vainglory. Maybe, because of this very nature of his, he failed in his leadership in Post Independence era. The written Language of Shashi Tharoor is unquestionable. This engaging short by Tharoor is a quick and easy read. Although at some places I found the narration to be dragging a bit. A bit of a dull moment here and there. This book has earned a 3 star for Tharoor’s unbiased and beautiful writing style, but the book kind of failed to impress me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nandini Chakravorty

    As someone who has little knowledge about Indian history, I found this novel incredibly educational as well as engaging. Though I did read it in installments, the tone throughout the novel kept me from giving up on it. The story took me on a journey that I found both moving and exciting. I also appreciated the analysis of the facts presented throughout which allowed me to gain insight into the existence of the range of perspectives that exist regarding the man's policies and legacy. Definitely g As someone who has little knowledge about Indian history, I found this novel incredibly educational as well as engaging. Though I did read it in installments, the tone throughout the novel kept me from giving up on it. The story took me on a journey that I found both moving and exciting. I also appreciated the analysis of the facts presented throughout which allowed me to gain insight into the existence of the range of perspectives that exist regarding the man's policies and legacy. Definitely going to try to learn more about Nehru and hopefully understand the controversy that surrounds him.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Parth Agrawal

    A revelation. A lot is misunderstood, misinformed and misinterpreted as far as the protagonist of the story is concerned. Popular stories that I had heard of Mr Nehru since my childhood includes: 1) He was a freedom fighter 2) He sacrificed a lot for the independence of our country 3) His birthday is celebrated as children's day because he had so many illegitimate children 4) He has had love affairs with plenty of women 5) Edwina Mountbatten was the woman who was responsible for the partition of our A revelation. A lot is misunderstood, misinformed and misinterpreted as far as the protagonist of the story is concerned. Popular stories that I had heard of Mr Nehru since my childhood includes: 1) He was a freedom fighter 2) He sacrificed a lot for the independence of our country 3) His birthday is celebrated as children's day because he had so many illegitimate children 4) He has had love affairs with plenty of women 5) Edwina Mountbatten was the woman who was responsible for the partition of our country as she convinced him to accede to this demand by sleeping with him 6) He never really agreed with Gandhi instead he only followed him because he wanted to the rule the independent India I'm not going to argue as to whether or not these stories are true or are apocryphal but what I understood after reading this book is that these stories magnify the failures and belittle the achievements. He took rein of our country when it was at its most difficult phase. Simultaneously, he had to juggle amongst the following matters: Foreign Affairs, economic condition, maintaining law and order, convincing princely states to join Union of India, maintain National security especially at border, upholding secularism, rehabilitation of refugees who had moved to India due to partition. I don't know how many of you would agree with me but that JD is pretty demanding and anyone who would've been up for the job would've made some or the other mistakes. There are many stories in book which will help you to empathize with the leader as to how multiple responsibilities along-with mammoth expectations can lead to a cocktail of unrest Let's reflect upon the particular allegation of partition for which Mr Nehru is blamed. Congress came into existence in 1885 by A O Hume and Muslim League came into existence in 1906. Before 1906, there was no communal difference between Hindus and Muslims as both representatives were from Congress. When Britishers began to divide Indians in the name of religion, there was an aristocratic group of Muslims who formed the league which was led by Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Now until the elections of provincial legislatures of 1930s (as per the regulations of GOI act of 1935), out of all the Muslim votes that were cast, the league only got 4.4% of them. Until now, the idea of secession was nowhere on the table and Muslim League's claim of the sole representative of all the Muslims of India rang hollow World war 2 started after these elections and Britishers started to loose power and wealth at an alarming rate. At this time, all the prominent leaders of Congress including Nehru and Gandhi were in jail and since they were not allowed any contact with the outside world, they were largely unaware of the happenings of outside world. During this period, Muslim league strengthened its communal position across India. They were provided with pelf and patronage from the Britishers for their campaigns which finally resulted into their sole representation of Muslims of India. After partition, the picture got cleared through Lord Mountbatten as to why was Britishers encouraging Muslims of India to form their independent state Until the Independence of our country, Western world's(which includes UK as well) image in the Islamic population was very negative because of imperialism and the specific case of supporting Israel over Palestine. So, through this man-oeuvre they wanted to win an Islamic state in their favor which would further their causes in the group of gulf countries What is the lesson that we get here? Irrespective of what the global powers say regarding peace keeping, every country almost always tries to subtly further their own cause Do read this one as it is required to set the record straight of a lot of Indians who are libing in a mirage

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sneha Bollepalli

    This book is a concise and comprehensive account on the life Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru covering almost every major part of his life, right from a small legend related to his birth to the legacy left by him to India after his death. The book was written by Shashi Tharoor, a former Member of Parliament of India and a member of Indian National Congress, the same political party to which Nehru belonged, so I was naturally afraid this might be a biased book glorifying Nehru and being a lesser critique This book is a concise and comprehensive account on the life Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru covering almost every major part of his life, right from a small legend related to his birth to the legacy left by him to India after his death. The book was written by Shashi Tharoor, a former Member of Parliament of India and a member of Indian National Congress, the same political party to which Nehru belonged, so I was naturally afraid this might be a biased book glorifying Nehru and being a lesser critique about Nehru’s mistakes. But, I was quite surprised, in a good way, by the balanced approach Tharoor has in depicting and interpreting Nehru and his ‘Invention of India’. It’s the most balanced book about the life of Jawaharlal Nehru I read yet, and I’m glad I read this book. The book gives a fair detail of Nehru, his idea of ‘Invention of India’, his dreams about India and his efforts to achieve that dream without shying away from mentioning and being critique about his failures in the process. If you are interested in getting a non-biased glimpse of Nehru and his ideologies without actually making an extensive research about the man, this book could be a great starting point. Personal Note: Life of the first Prime Minister of India, has always been intriguing and fascinating story. Though I never studied extensively about my country’s first Prime Minister other than learning about him along with other freedom fighters in school, I knew enough to understand that his life story and he himself was a fascinating figure. Even though I did read a collection of his letters to his daughter Indira (Letters from a Father to his Daughter), I’ve always wanted to make an extensive read on him since a long time because he has laid strong foundations to the country in his tenure as a Prime Minister which even after nearly six decades after his demise (still in office) continue to have their effect directly and indirectly in the country’s current social, economical and political scenarios. Letters from a Father to his Daughter was a good start into knowing his life, but it did not really intrigue me into reading more about him. This book did the opposite.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Saikanth Dacha

    Much of Nehru, his policies, his socialism, his contribution to building a united India, and even his legacy, is grossly misinterpreted and misunderstood by the politicians, analysts and the general public of today. This book puts into perspective how the best and worst of India as we know it today find their roots in the best and worst of Nehru and his government. Imperfect as he was, few statesmen have had a more dramatic impact on India's international standing than Nehru. In a period where po Much of Nehru, his policies, his socialism, his contribution to building a united India, and even his legacy, is grossly misinterpreted and misunderstood by the politicians, analysts and the general public of today. This book puts into perspective how the best and worst of India as we know it today find their roots in the best and worst of Nehru and his government. Imperfect as he was, few statesmen have had a more dramatic impact on India's international standing than Nehru. In a period where political dialogue is defined by name calling and branding people who disagree with your views as anti-national, Tharoor does an exceptional job of portraying Jawaharlal Nehru not as a left-wing politician but as a human being: imperfect yet consistent, (some times) dated yet visionary, and emotional yet calculating. Through this book, Tharoor also reminds us of what Gandhi, Nehru, Patel and others had fought for, the ideas that independent India was built on, and the values and principles that are important to remember today more than ever.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sulav Jung

    Tharoor ascribes four pillaring Legacy of Nehru to India viz, Democratic institution building, Pan Indian Secualrism, Peculiar Socialist economy and contribution in Indian Foreign Policy and Non-Aligned Ideology. Among the four first two flourished successfully ( Both of them are under onslaught by ruling government of India), the socialist economy failed whereas the NAM which was reaction to Cold War era is no more relevant. Tharoor being member of INC might have hyperbolized it (even though he Tharoor ascribes four pillaring Legacy of Nehru to India viz, Democratic institution building, Pan Indian Secualrism, Peculiar Socialist economy and contribution in Indian Foreign Policy and Non-Aligned Ideology. Among the four first two flourished successfully ( Both of them are under onslaught by ruling government of India), the socialist economy failed whereas the NAM which was reaction to Cold War era is no more relevant. Tharoor being member of INC might have hyperbolized it (even though he points out the weakness of Nehru). However his syncretic upbringing, reflective behavior, sense of wonderness (philosophical musings) and writings are what lures me. Nevertheless like all human he is also fallible (no he is not a Demigod) and he has couple of sort comings to. Hope I'll get to read more of book on Nehru, his original writings and History of India.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Darshan Markandaiah

    Shashi Tharoor is well articulated and here, he writes coherently about Nehru's life in an easy to follow along manner. He gives an objective view of his successes, his shortcomings and also touches on the relationship that he shared with Gandhi. This books acts as a good backbone to understanding how the Gandhi family continues in Indian politics. Shashi Tharoor is well articulated and here, he writes coherently about Nehru's life in an easy to follow along manner. He gives an objective view of his successes, his shortcomings and also touches on the relationship that he shared with Gandhi. This books acts as a good backbone to understanding how the Gandhi family continues in Indian politics.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nayan

    A short essay on the life of India's first Prime Minister would be the perfect way to describe this book. A short essay on the life of India's first Prime Minister would be the perfect way to describe this book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rajdeep Chauhan

    I picked up this book with a slight sense of scepticism and a natural fear of it being adulatory, like most biographies authored by people belonging to the same ideological sect as their subject (here the biographer being one of the frontline leaders of the party led by Nehru's descendants) tend to be. But, to my surprise it was far from being the case. In this short biography running about 250 pages, Tharoor tries and to a large extent succeeds in maintaining his reverence for Nehru while retai I picked up this book with a slight sense of scepticism and a natural fear of it being adulatory, like most biographies authored by people belonging to the same ideological sect as their subject (here the biographer being one of the frontline leaders of the party led by Nehru's descendants) tend to be. But, to my surprise it was far from being the case. In this short biography running about 250 pages, Tharoor tries and to a large extent succeeds in maintaining his reverence for Nehru while retaining his ability to critically analyse the follies of his subject. It is a very compact account of Nehru's prince-like western upbringing, his early radicalism, rise to fame, ideological disagreements with his peers, rise as an international leader, blind idealism and declining efficiency among other such things with Tharoor's commentary on how the leader's life shaped the life of India.The book also sheds light on his much debated private life but it is certainly more political than personal. Shashi Tharoor states in the preface - "This book involved no original research into the archives,it is a reinterpretation of material largely in the public domain". Nonetheless, the book proves to be a very insightful overview on life and legacy of the man without whom independent India was inconceivable in its formative years. It is certainly not the best biography on Nehru but it is great in the sense that it serves its purpose of offering a vivid portrait of Nehru for the general reader in a short slim book. The current shift in the Indian politics towards Hindutva ideology and its contrast to the Nehruvian idea of India makes the book even more compelling. (The book is perfect for someone who is just starting out and is looking for a basic introduction to the life and legacy of Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ritika Bajaj

    Shashi Tharoor has attempted to give us a glimpse of one of the most complex leaders in our History- Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. My favourite quote from Pandit Nehru:- “ Religion was a terrible burden, India has to get rid of if it was to breathe freely or do anything useful” His dream of a secular and democratic India is what we are today(somewhat). I believe we have the right to critique his policies but at the same time we should not forget that he was doing his best after independence. He changed Shashi Tharoor has attempted to give us a glimpse of one of the most complex leaders in our History- Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. My favourite quote from Pandit Nehru:- “ Religion was a terrible burden, India has to get rid of if it was to breathe freely or do anything useful” His dream of a secular and democratic India is what we are today(somewhat). I believe we have the right to critique his policies but at the same time we should not forget that he was doing his best after independence. He changed from a privileged man to the man of the masses; from first class travel to travelling in the general coaches, wearing expensive English suits to khadi and spending so much time in prison with the basic facilities and denying any special treatment. The book has an impartial account of his views, policies and even his shortcomings. But Nehru was a force to reckon with and was one of the best leader we had and we should respect his legacy. Nehru’s views on religion, politics and idealism are still relevant. This book has inspired me to read more about Pandit Nehru.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Smita

    Having read and heard so much about Nehru growing up, it was time to revisit his life and times in a well written Biography. Tharoor does not hold back his criticisms of Nehru and his policies that still affect and perhaps will always affect India and Indians, as long as we exist as a democracy. An easy, fast paced read!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Deepu George

    This book is a commentary on the life and works of Nehru, from Shashi Tharoor before he joined the congress party. So he gives a somewhat unbiased description putting forward the pros and cons of the nehruvian thoughts. This one is a good study on Nehru and his legacies . ( If any of the congress top bras reads this book they might throw the author out of the party... thank god that there is non who care to read in there)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Shraddha Barke

    An unbiased and heartwarming portrayal of Nehru's unparalleled contributions in shaping the future of modern India. An unbiased and heartwarming portrayal of Nehru's unparalleled contributions in shaping the future of modern India.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Arun Pandiyan

    There are many great men and women who have left deep impact and marked improvement on my thinking and there are fewer men who I look up to and go back to re-reading their works whenever I direly need a stimulus to refresh my mind. That would be Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru. Dichotomous, as it may sound, but the sheer intellectualism and the grasp of subject they exhibit in their writings have not only made their work a pastime read, but also as an object of analysis in relation to the There are many great men and women who have left deep impact and marked improvement on my thinking and there are fewer men who I look up to and go back to re-reading their works whenever I direly need a stimulus to refresh my mind. That would be Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru. Dichotomous, as it may sound, but the sheer intellectualism and the grasp of subject they exhibit in their writings have not only made their work a pastime read, but also as an object of analysis in relation to the contemporary times and the present. If Dr. Ambedkar had given life to the political philosophy and identity of subaltern and oppressed classes through his historical analysis of the societal order and religion, it would be none other than Jawaharlal Nehru who cultured the tissues of Indian identity and pan nationalistic political ideology on a secular and democratic medium, transcending all narrow boundaries and parochial ideas. Spending nearly ten years of his life behind the bars, accustomed only to referring the books from prison library, he authored the colossal Glimpses of World History and The Discovery of India, which were published later without any major factual corrections. I revere Jawaharlal Nehru for his intellect, his contribution and particularly for the cause he stood for, which later became emblematic of a system called ‘democracy.’ As someone who has read the original works of Jawaharlal Nehru before, I picked this book authored by a self-proclaimed Nehruvian thinking that that it would be nothing short of a 220 pages eulogy in remembrance of the first Prime Minister of India. The original autobiography of Nehru ends with his pre-mature release from the jail in 1935, when he was allowed to visit his ill and critical wife who is undergoing treatment in Europe. Shashi Tharoor has heavily relied on the previous works on Nehru to sketch the life story in a more succinct and comprehensive manner on Nehru’s grandiose early life, his education in Europe, his relation with his father and his ever faithful allegiance with M.K. Gandhi for three decades. Nehru in his twenties and thirties, like every other radical, was a man with little patience, who abhorred Gandhi’s techniques of Satyagraha, spinning, social reforms and compromise with power. Though Nehru personally opposed Gandhi on many occasions and disagreed with him on crucial issues, he considered Gandhi as someone who is no less than a father figure whose tutelage and guidance, though seemed futile on many occasions, had moulded him for future India by imbuing the ideas and values of democracy. This book covers the important movements under Indian struggle for Independence in which Nehru played a major role in reaching to the masses, evoking a sense of patriotism in them, courting arrests and resisting passively and abstaining from violent responses even on occasion when his own mother was brutally beaten for protesting. While the British had placed Nehru in their bad books, describing him as the ‘young radicalised and revolutionary communist’, Nehru considered the philosophy of Marxism as an ideal tool for social equality rather than economical. By publicly declaring himself as a socialist in one of his visit to Europe, Nehru’s left leaning ideology was heavily shaped by his admiration towards the erstwhile Soviet Union. As much as Nehru despised the western imperialists, his commitment to democracy was evident from his aversion towards fascists as well. This book recounts the circumstances under which Nehru preferred the democratic socialism, as a tool for gradual reformation rather than a revolutionary overthrow. Having witnessed two inhumane world wars, the bloodbath which followed the partition and the imperialistic ambitions of west, it is fathomable why the policies of non-alignment, socialism, secularism and democracy upheld by Nehru were metaphorical equivalent to ‘half a loaf is better than none.’ Dr. B.R. Ambedkar once accused Nehru of reducing Congress party to a ‘dharamsala’ devoid of principle or policy, open to all fools and knaves, friends and foes, communists and secularists, reformers and orthodox, capitalists and anti-capitalists. But this was what Nehru believed Indian democracy required. His inclusiveness in forming the first cabinet with pluralistic representation from every religion and class, being commemorative of India’s wide diversity and his commitment towards democratic institutions shows the kind of secular democrat Nehru was and the ideal which he strived for. Furthermore, as an agnostic and rational person who loathed superstition and communalism, Nehru was always fascinated by science and scientists. His letters to his daughter on the topics of evolution, quantum mechanics and nuclear energy connotes admiration for Nehru’s flawless understanding of scientific theories. This book also makes the reader dive into the crucial events happened under the leadership of Nehru from accession of Kashmir to the Indo-China war and the many mistakes committed by him and his failure to assess the ever growing world around him, which was in contrast with his ideology of pacifism, internationalism and global peace. His foreign policy was well discussed in this book, and since Shashi Tharoor has credible expertise in external affairs and diplomacy, the particular chapter on Nehru’s foreign policy and his interventions on important global events at his time, makes it a fascinating read. There are people who consider Nehru as a blind visionary, who was unable to see the realities around him while he fixed his gaze on distant ideals. Yes, Nehru indeed strived for higher ideals and his dream and vision for India was, as he said in his tryst with destiny speech, not only for India, but for the world and the whole humanity. And what the liberal critiques of Nehru fail to understand is that, these vision and dreams are so much more valuable than the atavistic assertion of pride in past, that stirs pettier right wing religious nationalists. My love for Nehru started when I read these lines from The Discovery of India, in which Nehru best described India as 'pluralism vindicated by history.' He says, “India. . . was like an ancient palimpsest on which layer upon layer of thought and reverie had been inscribed, and yet no succeeding layer had completely hidden or erases what had been written previously. . . Though outwardly there was diversity and infinite variety among our people, everywhere there was a tremendous impress of oneness which had held all together for ages. India was a world in itself, a culture and civilization which gave shape to all things. Foreign influences poured in. . . and were absorbed. Disruptive tendencies gave rise immediately to an attempt to find synthesis. Some kind of dream of unity has occupied the mind of India since the dawn of civilization. That unity was not conceived as something imposed from outside, standardization of external or even of beliefs. It was something deeper and, within its fold, the widest tolerance of beliefs and custom was practiced and every variety acknowledged and even encouraged.” These lines, ever since I read, had stirred a sense of passion and euphoria in me, but more importantly, it made me eclectic and tolerant to differences. And for the same reason, I often ask people to read Jawaharlal Nehru. And for the beginners, this book from Shashi Tharoor can give a glimpse of the man, who is a chief architect of India’s present and future.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    The movie Gandhi introduced me to many of the key figures in India’s independence movement and early political leadership, and beyond Gandhi no man interested me more than the Mahatma’s right hand, Jawaharlal Nehru. Gandhi’s commitment to nonviolence stemmed from his near-mystic religious beliefs, but Nehru held fast to those convictions without religious training. The close relationship between the two men in light of their differing religious convictions fascinated me, so I decided to read a b The movie Gandhi introduced me to many of the key figures in India’s independence movement and early political leadership, and beyond Gandhi no man interested me more than the Mahatma’s right hand, Jawaharlal Nehru. Gandhi’s commitment to nonviolence stemmed from his near-mystic religious beliefs, but Nehru held fast to those convictions without religious training. The close relationship between the two men in light of their differing religious convictions fascinated me, so I decided to read a biography of Nehru, India’s first prime minister, Nehru emerges from this book as an iconic figure for Indians: their Thomas Paine, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln all converge under his mantle. Nehru defined the necessity of independence, participated in the movement, and attempted to steer the ship of state around sectarianism and political subordination to the world’s superpowers. Nehru is in ways more western than eastern: largely nonreligious, educated in England, and valuing western political theory more than eastern religious principles. Interestingly, he and Gandhi come to the same conclusions from different approaches on various subjects. For instance, Gandhi believes in self-sufficiency as a spiritual value while Nehru sees it as a Marxist necessity: without economic independence Indians are doomed to political bondage of one form or another. Tharoor presents an easily digestible narrative here that is sympathetic but not protective of Nehru. Tharoor clearly admires him for his pragmatic idealism, integrity, and internationalism, but sees Nehru’s political leadership as flawed, particularly in the realm of economics and foreign affairs. The ending chapter – following Nehru’s death – attempts to summarize Nehru’s influence on the stated he helped create and dominated for so long. Regardless of Nehru’s administrative shortcomings, he is for me as interesting a politician as I’ve never encountered. He reminds me of Marcus Aurelius: thrust into the spotlight unwillingly, wary of the power he possesses, daunted by the responsibility, and yet determined to make his character prove worthy of the challenge. Most remarkable for me was the way he checked himself: at a time when no one would criticize him, he wrote to a newspapers anonymously warning that “Nehru has all the makings of a dictator in him”.

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