Yesterday, India survived (and done quite well for itself though things can always be better) 49 years of the post-Nehru era.

At 2 p.m. local time today 460,000,000 people in this country that has been forged on the anvil of this one man’s dreams and conflicts were plunged into the nightmare world which they have, in the last decade, come to dread as the “after Nehru” era. (link: Guardian archives)

But a small hint of one of the key factors why “India after Nehru” is where it is today (instead of being a developed nation).

One walked out to let in the diplomatists, the MPs, the Sikhs and the Hindus and the Moslems. They came – but they did not weep. Instead, the eyes shifted, there were tremors of disbelief, tinctured with moments of illumination as if this had to happen, and then the eyes shifted again. This time with fear.

Fear was the one dominant feeling one experienced as one came out. Fear that at this moment one had to avoid the reality of Nehru’s death and the Pandora’s box of suppressed ambitions it will release.

The funeral procession tomorrow will cover six miles. Mr Nehru will he cremated at Raj Ghat, where Gandhi was cremated. The last rites for this agnostic will be administered by Hindu priests

Fear. Need to turn to someone to be a leader. Nehru. Gandhi.

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