Nehru and America

America is swift and direct. She is also decisive; incertitude fails to touch her. Nehru was wakeful and unfailing. He was also untiring. No gulf was to be found between his life and his message. As America is a clarion call for the development of a universal Freedom, so also is Nehru’s soul a clarion call for the blossoming of a sustaining Peace. Nehru saw in America an evolution which is at once enormously dynamic and unimaginably unparalleled. America saw in Nehru, in his vision, an evolution which is supremely peaceful and divinely meaningful.

On November 6, 1961, President Kennedy greeted Nehru at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland:

"Prime Minister, we welcome you here to the shores of this country as a friend, as a great world leader, as one who has in his life and times stood for those basic aspirations which the United States stands for today."

Significant are these words. For with them President Kennedy brought forward clearly to the American consciousness one of the basic aspects of Nehru’s mission. Nehru was perfectly mirrored in Kennedy’s accurate scrutiny. And the Prime Minister, on his part, did not lag behind in assessing Kennedy:

"We face mighty problems in the world today, and you, Mr. President, bear perhaps the greatest responsibility in this world. And so we look up to you and to your country, and seek to learn from you, and sometimes also to express what we have on our minds: that we can achieve the greatest aim that the world needs today — peace and [the] opportunity to grow and flourish in peace."

America discovered in Nehru’s soul the secret of how a man’s characteristics can be uplifted into character. Nehru discovered in America’s soul the secret of how human dynamism can be transmuted into international unity.

Worried by a shoreless sea of debts, hounded by the undying throes of poverty and faced with a rapidly increasing population: this fate of hers, India cannot so easily overcome.

Threatened by her own creation — the two roaring bombs, suffering from the pressures of others’ demands, eclipsed by doubts about her own future in the world of tomorrow: this fate of hers, America cannot so easily escape.

President Johnson characterises Nehru’s contribution to the four frontiers with a profound insight:

"History has already recorded his monumental contribution to the moulding of a strong and independent India. And yet, it is not just as a leader of India that he has served humanity. Perhaps more than any other world leader, he has given expression to man’s yearning for peace. This is the issue of our age. In his fearless pursuit of a world free from war, he has served all humanity."

Unlike the reputations of a good many luminaries of the world, Nehru’s did not rise and fall like the flash of a skyrocket. With his passing behind the curtain of eternity, India’s heart was smitten with excruciating pangs and slow-healing sorrows, while America was deprived of two far-flung embracing arms. To America, Nehru was a fount of inspiration and an unforgettable international. To Nehru, America was a towering achievement, a great boon to the world at large.

East and West: two Olympian influences, surprisingly luminous and instructive, ran simultaneously through the span of Nehru’s life. Kipling’s prophetic utterance, “East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,” proved empty in the life of Jawaharlal Nehru.

People railed at Nehru’s neutralism, but his neutralism had a profound purpose of its own which was appreciated by the deepest minds in America.

The Hanford (California) Sentinel wrote on May 28, 1964:

"Nehru’s great contribution has been reason and patience. His influence helped to cool national tempers, to work the nations away from each crisis. Sometimes his efforts were misunderstood, his complicated neutralism condemned. But if we are safer in the world today, as we seem to be, much of the credit goes to India’s gentle leader."

Life to the American consciousness is nothing short of completing one task after another with the hope of realising the all-liberating Freedom. Life to the Indian consciousness is nothing short of completing one endeavour after another with the hope of realising the all-nourishing Peace.

In our salutations to America, we see God the Warrior and Protector. In our salutations to Nehru, we see God the Divine Dreamer and Torch-Bearer of Truth.