ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Jawaharlal Nehru's Radical Cosmopolitanism

Nehruviannon-alignment is finished, South-South solidarity remains a dream, and anti-imperialism appears today as a quaint remnant of a past, even though imperialism is alive and kicking. In the process we have lost out on something that is rather important, teaching our children that our imaginations and our energies have to be harnessed to the cause of the oppressed all over the world, that closed-in societies lead to stagnation if not to certain death, and that societies that turn their back on Nehru's radical cosmopolitanism circumscribe imaginings and truncate visions of their members. We have, perhaps, become lesser human beings.

“As a fighter for colonial freedom”, wrote Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, “I followed avidly the progress of the revolution which was taking place in India prior to her independence. When the time came for me to do something about gaining the political independence of my own country, it was a natural thing that I should take inspiration from India and her leaders who had so recently had to face and overcome problems similar to those then facing my countrymen” (cited in Zakaria 1989: 110). The only effective way of dealing with colonialism, he added, was Gandhi’s policy of non-violence. Alongside Gandhi, it was Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, for whom Nkrumah professed great admiration. When the time came to meet Nehru personally at breakfast during the Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London in 1957, Nkrumah, by then the Prime Minister of Ghana that had become independent in March of that year, confessed that he was overcome by doubt. “Would he, I wondered, measure up to the degree of greatness in which I had always held him?...[But] Nehru was all that I had imagined he would be – and more” (ibid).

Worthy Exemplar

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