Marian Miner Cook

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Nehru, The Making of Modern India, and the Politics of Revisionism

Mon, March 4, 2024
Lunch Program
Vinay Lal

Jawaharlal Nehru was India's first and, to this day, longest-serving prime minister (1947-64). He may justly be viewed as the principal architect of modern India: independence came in the midst of enormous bloodshed and he had to shepherd a country of over 300 million people, the vast majority of whom were poor, illiterate, and little-versed in the protocols of "democracy", into becoming the lords of their own destiny. Nehru would preside over India's entry into the modern nation-state system amidst challenges that can only be described as monumental. But Nehru was much more than a nation-builder, perhaps, as is increasingly being argued, a flawed one at that; he was a thinker, writer, and statesman of admirable ecumenical disposition. By the reckoning of some, he was a world-historical figure; however, in recent years, his legacy is being torn, often merely from spite, to shreds. In this talk, historian Vinay Lal will take a critical look at Nehru, suggesting the limitations of both the liberal and Hindu revisionist views.

Vinay Lal is a cultural critic, writer, blogger, and Professor of History at UCLA. He earned his BA and MA from Johns Hopkins in literature, philosophy, and history in 1982, and a PhD with Distinction from the University of Chicago in 1992 in South Asian studies. He is the author or editor of 21 books including nine volumes from Oxford University Press. He blogs for ABP, India’s largest media network, and at, and has an academic YouTube channel: He is a Fellow for 2024 at the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study, South Africa.

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