UiTV Search





If Mahatma Gandhi was PM !

Picture: Pandit Nehru With the Father of the Nation

At the time of India's independence in 1947, India had 4 main leaders. Mahatma Gandhi (aged 77), Vallabhbhai Patel (aged 71), Jawaharlal Nehru (aged 57), Rajaji (aged 68). Notice a pattern? All of them were very old (given the medical advancements of 1940s) and Nehru was the youngest of them.

The ideal scenario for India would have been a Patel-Rajaji partnership as Prime Minister and President respectively. They were strong men of action and this would have been the India had they ruled long enough.

This duo could have actually made huge lot of difference by enforcing the army in the Himalayan borders near the Jammu and Kashmir area and then towards the Pakistan border as well.

Here I have tried to predict on how these Prime Leaders could have ruled in a different way, if the swapping of the leaders could have taken place.

From left: Nehru, Rajaji and Patel

1.Elimination of Kashmir problem

Kashmir is still a big flashpoint mainly because of the mishandling by Nehru. Indo-Pakistani War of 1947.  Patel had already managed the much bigger problem of Hyderabad (in 1947 Hyderabad was a far bigger threat to India than Kashmir) and he might have possibly done better. With Rajaji to provide strength, Patel would have been incredibly powerful. In fact, it was Rajaji who often mediated between Nehru and Patel as they grew incredibly bitter after Kashmir fiasco. Comrades, friends, rivals

Indian Army in war with Pakistan in 1948

And the map of the Indian army in Kashmir in 1948, surprises you!

2. Elimination of the war with China

Sino-Indian War Both Patel and Rajaji served Nehru as Home Ministers (in succession) and both warned Nehru of China's activities in Tibet & dangers it posed to India. Nehru blithely ignored and 13 years later he acted surprised. Had it been Patel-Rajaji, India would have built a strong military deterrent to prevent China from playing us. Had India been strong and prepared in 1962, China would not have attacked us. A stronger India might have been seen by China as a peer and not as a little brother (like how it saw us since 1950s).

3. A capitalistic middle income nation

Both Patel and Rajaji were strong capitalists and favored the industry. They were pragmatic. It was quite likely that they would have followed the same model of Singapore, Korea and Thailand back then. That means India's economic reforms would have started in 1940s and not in 1990s. We wasted too long following failed ideas of Nehru.

4. A nuclear power and a world power

India's nuclear father Homi Bhabha had to plead to Nehru for nuclearizing India. At the end it was Nehru's daughter who finally took India to nuclear weapons, 9 years after China did Smiling Buddha. That was a long time wasted (27 years post independence). Had India gone nuclear before China did (India had a strong resource advantage and well connected with the West), India would not have been a nuclear pariah and NPT would have been a much stronger treaty. It might even qualified for a permanent seat in UNSC, as all the 5 permanent members are recognized nuclear powers.

India went berserk after its first nuclear test in Pokhran.  

Indira Gandhi after the first nuclear test


There is one key piece that was assumed. In the previous scenario, I assumed that Patel would live long enough. But fate would have it, he died at the age of 74 (soon after India' independence). Even Mahatma would have died of natural causes by early 1950s (well into his 80s) had he not been shot by Godse. Without Nehru, Mahatma and Sardar, Indian congress would have been in disarray by early 1950s. Rajaji was also quite older (pushing 80).

Stabilized India by ruling long enough:

At that time, India had no major leaders with national recognition apart from these 3. While Maulana Azad, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Rajendra Prasad had some power, none of these were at the national level. Without a strong national leadership, India might have fallen in the same trap as many of our neighbors and developing nations elsewhere. Pakistan went into that trap as by 1951 both Jinnah and Liaqat Ali Khan were dead. That sent the Jinnah's dream of a "Secular Pakistan" out and goons came in.

Final procession of Nehru

Heartbroken from the China war, Nehru was dead in 1964.

In my ideal world, Patel would have lived long, Rajaji would have had more power and Netaji would never gone in the path of violence. If I could save one person from dying, it would have been Patel.


Although Nehru's secularism was probably an albatross around India's neck, it still had positives. We could protect our minorities better (any other nation with 200 million "minorites" would have collapsed on its own weight) without at the same time affecting the rights of the majority. The secularism gave the right folly and it was needed when India was putting its foot firmly. Nehru was a man of big ideas and big vision (although a bad executioner in that).

Nehru's Charishma:

Nehru had a charm that even his opponents reluctantly gave in. During the 1961 Goa War, his charm was one reason that saved India from a direct war with USA. Portugal had declared war with India and by NATO's agreement, if one of the members is at war, all other members have to join. Kennedy refused although he was terribly displeased. Nehru built an aura around him and that helped India's image abroad. World saw Nehru's India not one of a basket case but an upcoming power. He owned the room even when talking with the world's most powerful men.

Final pictures to conclude:

And this picture of Nehru sums it up.

The Starmark in Indian politics: On the cover page of the TIME Magazine.