Aligarh, November 12:
The Centre for Nehru Studies, Aligarh Muslim University today organized a National Seminar on ‘Political Ideas of Nehru’ which was attended by former Union Minister, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar as the Chief Guest.
Emeritus Professor Irfan Habib, Prof Aditya Mukherjee, Prof Mridula Mukherjee and Congress leader and former Legislative Assembly member, Mr Vivek Bansal also attended the seminar.While delivering the keynote address, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar pointed out that with a rise in communalism today, it is necessary to revisit the Nehru era which showed us compassion and unity among the diverse Indian population.
“We need to tell the common people today that the first Indian Prime Minister did not incited communal clashes but instead said that he was ready to fight anyone who will raise his hands in the name of religion,” said Mr Aiyar adding that Nehru had always said that he will fight against the communal forces whether he is in the government or opposition.
Mr Aiyar also reminded the gathering of a speech, which Nehru delivered in the AMU soon after the partition.“Nehru had then told the AMU students that he believes that they are equal Indians like others and he wants the whole country to believe the same about AMU and its students,” further said Mr Aiyar.Mr Aiyar also said that when the country celebrates the 125th birth anniversary of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on November 14, it is important to re-explore Nehru’s unflinching efforts to establish and practice secularism within the country’s democratic framework in the best possible manner.“The credit goes to him that he succeeded in defeating the communal forces in an effective way though his successors many a time failed on this count,” said Mr Aiyar.
During the welcome address, AMU Prof Vice Chancellor, Brigadier S Ahmad Ali (retd) said that he is grateful to the speakers for accepting the invitation to attend the seminar. He also said that he can hardly recall any other gathering with such distinguished speakers.
Prof Irfan Habib said that Nehru ensured the safety of AMU campus soon after the partition of India, when the university was under a threat from communal organizations. “Nehru sent a regiment to safe guard AMU campus and kept convincing the AMU students to get into the main stream of Indian intelligentsia,” he said.
“Nehru visited AMU thrice as the Prime Minister and during these trips, he emphasized on the university extension and also what was taught here,” said Prof Habib adding that Nehru was interested in expansion of science, technology and important research areas in AMU.
Prof Habib also reminded that Nehru realized that AMU has a Persian speaking strength of academics and students, who can contribute in the field of medieval Indian history. “AMU was given grants to study and research in medieval Indian history on the recommendations of Nehru,” said Prof Habib.
Noted academic, Prof Aditya Mukherjee said that Nehru was a firm believer in state control over the economic sectors and his socialist ideals revealed themselves in the way he introduced laws for land redistribution, in order to curtail the economic disparity in India among the landed and the land-less classes.
“One of Nehru’s key economic reforms was the introduction of the Five Years Plan in 1951, which were introduced to determine the mode of government expenditure and grants in important development sectors like agriculture, industries and education,” said Prof Aditya. Eminent historian, Prof Mridula Mukherjee said that Nehru was an extraordinary giant of Indian freedom struggle, a prominent maker of modern India, a great believer of pluralism, the chief architect of our democracy, socialism and secular ethos.She added that Nehru’s artistry of crafting and building a new nation from the older version marred by orthodoxy, hierarchy and the wreckage of a decaying empire was remarkable.However, she also pointed out that today there are efforts to make him an outcast and people who believed in Nehru’s ideals are often hated.
“In today’s situation, it is important to tell people that the open, civilized and reformist political system we have today is premised on principles of democracy, secularism and pluralism institutionalized by Nehru,” said Prof Mridula.
Prof Mirza Asmer Beg, Chairman, Department of Political Science delivered the vote of thanks while Prof Aftab Alam conducted the programme.