In India, the prime minister is the most powerful person in the country officially, yet except the speeches, which are broadcast to the nation, there is little known about how the prime ministers of India function, the kind of support staff that they have, their lifestyle and personal nature. The book “With Three Prime Ministers Nehru, Indira and Rajiv” by N K Seshan who was the private secretary of Nehru and Indira and worked with Rajiv Gandhi gives a glimpse of the lifestyle of some of the most influential prime ministers of India.
Today as cheating, lies and fraud has become the norm in indian society and corporate world, people who are middle aged or older in India wonder what is wrong with them, why the value systems in Indian society have changed so drastically, why being honest and hardworking is considered to be a crime. The sheena bora murder case which was exposed in 2015 was typical of the values of India in the last decade. The real reason for the transformation was the drastic changes in the value system, lifestyle of the most powerful and influential people in the country.
N K Seshan worked as the private secretary of Nehru from the 1940’s till his death in 1964, and he describes in detail the life, value system and personal ethics of the first prime minister of India. Though born in India in a wealthy family, Jawaharlal Nehru or Pandit Nehru did not care much for money, and was influenced by western countries in his attitude towards other people, his value system of honesty, consideration for those who were not wealthy, unlike in India today, where the tendency is to exploit to the maximum extent possible, especially those who are vulnerable.
Pandit Nehru was also a well read person, an intellectual who wrote a number of books, especially during his prison stay, and the royalty from these books were a source of income. He treated both the poor and rich will respect and consideration, unlike today when powerful people do not lose any opportunity to ridicule and humiliate people who they do not like. Though widely travelled he led a frugal life. Details of other people who influenced Nehru like Krishna Menon, Vallabhai Patel, Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi are also described
Pandit Nehru worked hard to help China gain acceptance worldwide, so the attack of China on India in 1962 adversely affected him both mentally and physically. After the betrayal by China, his secretary noted that his health worsened and he was also a changed person. After his death, Lal Bahadur Shastri became the Prime minister of India for some time, yet after his death, Indira Gandhi, who worked as the information and broadcasting minister in his cabinet, became the Prime Minister of India.
Some of the decisions of Indira Gandhi like the nationalization of banks, abolition of Privy purses and invasion of Bangladesh helped to consolidate her position. He also mentioned how the intelligence agencies would keep Indira Gandhi well informed of whatever was going on in the country. The declaration of emergency and the loss in the general elections are also mentioned. While Sanjay Gandhi was interested in politics, his brother Rajiv Gandhi was a trained pilot, more interested in his professional and family life.
However after the death of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi asked N K Seshan to take care of the numerous important papers, including correspondence, notes, of Indira gandhi and her father, so that they could be properly preserved for the future generations. In a way, the book reflects the transition in the value systems of India, how the idealism of Pandit Nehru has died as people in India become increasingly materialistic, and honest people are ruthlessly defamed, cheated and exploited.
An excellent read for those who wish to understand the ideals of India immediately after independence and how these ideals slowly died in India over the last few decades, due to nepotism, corruption, and greed.
With Three Prime Ministers Nehru, Indira and Rajiv
Author : N K Seshan
Published in 1993
Publisher : Wiley Eastern Limited
Pages : 136