it is possible to take the view that Nehru put aside the issue of
the Pre-eminence of Hindu civilization because he was convinced that
Hindus needed first to overcome the weakness resulting from their
lagging behind in the field of science and technology. It must be
remembered that he grew up in Britain in the age of optimism before
the First World War when the Western man entertained little doubt
that limitless progress was possible, if not inevitable, and that
science based on reason and technology were the instruments of that
march into the future, Nehru, it may also be recalled, spoke
frequently of the need to overcome superstition and to
cultivate the scientific temper. He did not identify Hindus as his
target audience. But they were his target audience.
It is inconceivable that Nehru was
not sensitive to Muslim resistance to modernization and
secularization. Indeed, it can safely be assumed that he left them
alone in respect of their Personal Law and did not seek to bring
them into the orbit of a common civil code precisely because he was
aware of the depth of their opposition, though that is clearly an
essential part of a modern polity based on a principle of equal
citizenship. Perhaps he expected that their attitude would change in
course of time under the pressure of forces unleashed by the spread
of education, economic development and democratic political process.
if he ever spelt out his views on how the Muslims would come out of
their ghetto psychology after independence, it has still not been
made public. Alternatively, it is possible that he was too busy
managing the affairs of the state of India on a day- to-date basis
to be able to pay attention to this problem. We just do not know
Nehru's views on a long-term resolution of the Muslim question.
Nehru spoke often of the need for national
integration. But if ever defined what that called for by way of
change among Muslims in practical terms, I am not aware of it. The
addresses quoted earlier do not contain any action programme. He
denounced communalism. He was particularly harsh on what he called Hindu
communalism on the ground (as he explained in a letter to Dr.
K.N.Katju, at one stage his home minister) that it would be far more
dangerous in view of the power of Hindus in independent India.