And both had a huge burden of expectation on their shoulders when they became the prime minister for the first time.
Is it just a coincidence that the month of May has brought these two leaders closer? The India of Nehru and that of Modi are ages apart but yet when observers compare the two, there is a link between the two and that is about the challenge of building the nation.
The term 'Nehruvian' is used till today for it gives us an identity, will there be a term 'Modified' also?
Fifty years after the death of Nehru, we still use the term 'Nehruvian' while making analysis on Indian politics and economics because it provides the basis of our identity. It is because Nehru's vision and thought process had shaped the journey of post-Independence India. After the Mahatma's death in 1948, it was the giant called Nehru who had left an everlasting mark on India's fortunes, in terms of institutionalisation and economic development. There was criticism but Nehru never lost his will and confidence and went ahead to see the India of his dream becoming a reality.
Nehru was a great visionary and he stressed institutionalisation
One of Nehru's biggest legacy has been his will to think on lines of industrial development for the betterment of the nation and not stick to what many of his contemporary leaders, including the Mahatma, had envisioned in terms of 'back to the villages'. Nehru stressed institutions in various fields, including economy, health, higher education, research and planning and they played a big role in catering to the nation's interest.
Just like 'Nehruvian', will history also judge India as 'Modified' ever?
Nehru's policies had their drawbacks but why did they go wrong is another subject-matter altogether. The more important point is that he had envisioned a bigger goal for the nation, something which not many leaders of his own party have emphasised in the later years when politics became more of a power struggle than a welfare business. The United Progressive Alliance, which just lost power after a gap of a decade, failed to pursue the dreams of Nehru in stressing big industries and rise of income.
Can Modi carry forward the legacy?
It puts the onus now on Narendra Modi to carry forward the legacy of Nehru to build the nation. Being an administrator himself, Modi would understand the significance of the 'big' (investments and industry) in the Indian economy and contribute to the growth story in the way Nahru had once done.
If Modi succeeds in redirecting India on the path of growth and development as the first prime minister had done once, the analysts of the future will certainly coin his era beginning on May 26, 2014, as the second birth of the Republic of India.