• $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • other
  • use Paypal

CALLING ALL COUNTERPUNCHERS! CounterPunch’s website is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. We are supported almost entirely by the subscribers to the print edition of our magazine and by one-out-of-every-1000 readers of the site. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners to the “new” Cuba. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads or click bait. Unlike many other indy media sites, we don’t shake you down for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it. So over the next few weeks we are requesting your financial support. Keep CounterPunch free, fierce and independent by donating today by credit card through our secure online server, via PayPal or by calling 1(800) 840-3683. Note: This annoying box will disappear once we reach our fund drive goal. Thank you for your support!


40 Years After


It was afternoon in India, forty years ago on May 27, when news came of Jawaharlal Nehru’s death. Few things have stunned India in a similar manner, before or since. For seventeen years, the Prime Minister had led India with a mixture of vision, charm, bombast — and some tilting at windmills. Since he fostered a democracy, there were plenty of people to criticize his policies, but it was clear that everyone, including his detractors, liked him personally.

It was an expansive era in Indian politics when Nehru reigned. Indian political parties were yet to become as venal as they have since, and because most were offshoots of the Congress, the standard-bearer of the Freedom Movement under Mahatma Gandhi, there was an element of collegiality even in the fiercest debates in Parliament. Almost everyone who has lived through that era remarks how parliamentary debates meant something in those days, unlike the chair-throwing and slipper-waving spectacles for which Indian legislatures have become world-renowned in the recent past. Indeed it is the era itself, of greater courtesy, generosity and gallantry, that many miss most when they reminisce about the Nehru age.

Nehru’s achievements were many, as were his failures. For good or bad, however, his foundations shaped the India we see today.

For the thousands of engineers, doctors and scientists that India turns out today, we have the huge investments Nehru made in primary and higher education to thank. When we look at India’s gigantic and rambunctious press–not always readable but unquestionably free, we once again must acknowledge Nehru’s faith in, and implementation of, plurality in governance. When India exploded the bomb in 1998, then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee paid tribute to Nehru’s foresight in setting up the Atomic Energy Commission. In just two-and-a-half years after freedom, India had a constitution. This month, India just finished her fourteenth general elections. This functioning democracy is, in many ways, as much a product of Nehru’s architecture as it is of India’s unique non-violent struggle to wrest freedom from Britain.

Critics will point to the growing disparity between the rich and the poor, the conspicuous consumption habits of the Indian elite, the spreading culture of waste, the depradation of the forests, the nexus between organized crime and the political class, the continuing problem of Kashmir, the scourge of pervasive and ever-expanding corruption, a bloated government bureaucracy, all growing out of Nehru’s grandiose schemes, his blind faith in the western-socialist model of industrialization and central-planning, his turning away from Gandhi’s prescriptions of simple living and focus on economies, and Nehru’s own romantic notions, far removed from realpolitik.

And both would be right. But merely to conclude, therefore, that his legacy is mixed, would be to miss the wood for the trees. For, while most of Nehru’s positive contributions are directly attributable to him, his negative contributions were, to a large degree, inchoate in his time, accentuated more by his successors, chiefly his daughter Indira and grandson Rajiv, both of whom acquired a reputation far less unsullied than their illustrious progenitor–Indira for introducing her particular brand of Willie Horton politics where everything was in play if it could win that extra seat in Parliament–and Rajiv for interfering in the Shah Bano case and his mischief at the Babri mosque in Ayodhya, thus lending a legitimacy to the politics of communalism of the just-deposed BJP.

Nehru ruled for seventeen years–he was prime minister from the day of India’s independence till the day he died. There was never a direct challenge to his leadership, and his party’s position in parliament, though steadily declining in the three elections during his lifetime, was always a majority. He was considered indispensable, for he was a figure above everyone else in the polity. The people of India adored him personally–his elite background and his pompous ways notwithstanding, he could connect with the common man’s heart through some magic which can only be compared to the appeal Kennedy wrought in America.

He was in every way a remarkable personality (see, A Stroke of Good Fortune)

When Nehru died, an British newspaper wrote that "hereafter, India will be ruled by an Indian", meaning that he was the last Englishman to rule India. (Something Indians might reflect upon when they were outraged by his grandson Rajiv’s widow, Sonia Gandhi, an Indian citizen of Italian origin, daring to dream of becoming India’s prime minister).

On this last matter, I’ve tried to imagine what Nehru, a lifelong opponent of colonial rule, would think of a white woman presiding over a nation of 1 billion brown, black and yellow people. I like to think that he would treat her as just another Indian, deserving to be judged on her own merits, not on her origins. However, he did have an eternal answer to such conundrums (I paraphrase), "He who tries to predict the India of tomorrow would be a bold man. He who would predict the India of the next century would be a mad man."

NIRANJAN RAMAKRISHNAN is a writer living on the West Coast. His writings can be found on http://www.indogram.com. He can be reached at njn_2003@yahoo.com.

October 13, 2015
Dave Lindorff
US Dispatched a Murderous AC-130 Airborne Gunship to Attack a Hospital
Steve Martinot
The Politics of Prisons and Prisoners
Heidi Morrison
A Portrait of an Immigrant Named Millie, Drawn From Her Funeral
Andre Vltchek
Horrid Carcass of Indonesia – 50 Years After the Coup
Jeremy Malcolm
All Rights Reserved: Now We Know the Final TTP is Everything We Feared
Omar Kassem
Do You Want to See Turkey Falling Apart as Well?
Paul Craig Roberts
Recognizing Neocon Failure: Has Obama Finally Come to His Senses?
Theodoros Papadopoulos
The EU Has Lost the Plot in Ukraine
Roger Annis
Ukraine Threatened by Government Negligence Over Polio
Matthew Stanton
The Vapid Vote
Mel Gurtov
Manipulating Reality: Facebook is Listening to You
Louisa Willcox
Tracking the Grizzly’s Number One Killer
Binoy Kampmark
Assange and the Village Gossipers
Robert Koehler
Why Bombing a Hospital Is a War Crime
Jon Flanders
Railroad Workers Fight Proposed Job Consolidation
Mark Hand
Passion and Pain: Photographer Trains Human Trafficking Survivors
October 12, 2015
Ralph Nader
Imperial Failure: Lessons From Afghanistan and Iraq
Ishmael Reed
Want a Renewal? Rid Your City of Blacks
Thomas S. Harrington
US Caught Faking It in Syria
Victor Grossman
Scenes From a Wonderful Parade Against the TPP
Luciana Bohne
Where Are You When We Need You, Jean-Paul Sartre?
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The US Way of War: From Columbus to Kunduz
Paul Craig Roberts
A Decisive Shift in the Balance of Power
Justus Links
Turkey’s Tiananmen in Context
Ray McGovern
Faux Neutrality: How CNN Shapes Political Debate
William Manson
Things R Us: How Venture Capitalists Feed the Fetishism of Technology
Norman Pollack
The “Apologies”: A Note On Usage
Steve Horn
Cops Called on Reporter Who Asked About Climate at Oil & Gas Convention
Javan Briggs
The Browning of California: the Water is Ours!
Dave Randle
The BBC and the Licence Fee
Andrew Stewart
Elvis Has Left the Building: a Reply to Slavoj Žižek
Nicolás Cabrera
Resisting Columbus: the Movement to Change October 12th Holiday is Rooted in History
Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria