Today is the death anniversary of Pandit Nehru, architect of modern India. (Which, incidentally, looks more medieval than it did 70 years back, but that is for another post.) Jawaharlal Nehru's biggest misfortune might well be his progeny -- all those letters wasted on Indira.
Yet, while Nehru's legacy is tainted by the conduct of his descendants, today is still a good time to recognize his many achievements, foremost amongst which is his support for women's rights. Especially when in India today, sanitary napkins are taxed but "essential" items such as sindoor-kumkum-bangles is not. Progress, welcome!
In the Indian parliament, the 'Hindu Code Bill' was stalled repeatedly by more conservative-minded politicos. However, after winning the first general elections in 1952, Nehru revived the reforms which were passed into law after a lengthy and bitter debate in Parliament.
"Now, we are often told, reminded of the high ideals of Indian womanhood, Sita and Savitri. I do not seem to remember men being reminded of Ramchandra and Satyavan, to behave like them. I do not know if Indian men are supposed to be perfect, incapable of any further effort or improvement, but it is bad that this can be so. You cannot have a democracy if you cut off fifty percent of the people and put them in a separate class..."
- excerpt from a speech by Nehru in Parliament, from Ram Guha's Makers of Modern India