In Nehru and the Spirit of India, Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee brings Nehru’s ideas through a critical condensation of his autobiography The Discovery of India. The book focuses on the intrinsic spirit which has not only steered India through over the years but has also informed the ideas of Nehru, who embodied the vigour of critical inquiry. Bhattacharjee bolsters Nehru’s view that India is enriched by the encounter of cultures and that we must not discard the past but engage with it.
Bhattacharjee is a writer, political theorist and poet. He is the author of The Town Slowly Empties: On Life and Culture During Lockdown (2021), Looking for the Nation: Towards Another Idea of India (2018), and Ghalib’s Tomb and Other Poems (2013). Excerpts from an interview:
Can you tell us how the ‘spirit of India’ correlates with Nehru’s ideas?
Even though I did not specify this, I elaborated the themes which I consider to be part of the spirit of India: namely, the spirit of modernity that questions everything, including one’s own ideas and beliefs, the secular spirit of accepting refugees and treating minorities without discrimination, the spirit of a people who were shaped by cultural encounters with other religions throughout history, and the spirit that feels the need to discard and retain certain aspects of the past. Nehru’s…