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Articles and Speeches on Nehru



Tribute U Thant
I deem it a privilege to be able to participate in this tribute to the late lamented Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India. Prime Minister Nehru, in my view, was one of the most perceptive analysts of the threads of human history, and he was a great leader of men because he understood the trends of human history. He was not only a great man, but a good man. His extraordinary qualities endeared him not only to the people of India but to people all over the world who had at heart peace, justice and equality for mankind. I think one of the reasons for his greatness was his understanding of the human situation in the shadow of the hydrogen bomb. He was one of the greatest torchbearers of new concepts, new approaches, and new attitudes toward new problems. He realised more than anybody else, I believe, that the old concepts old approaches, and even old philosophies, if I may say so, are facing a completely new set of circumstances. Pandit Nehru therefore tried to lead humanity from these age-old concepts and age-old approaches to the new concepts and new approaches and new philosophies, to be in tune with the needs and circumstances of our times. He was endowed with a very sharp intellect, a quality which is highly prized in Western societies. At the same time he was endowed with much wisdom and great moral virtues, qualities which are universally esteemed in the East, in our own part of the world. But his greatness lay in the fact that he was so adaptable, and he was so capable of adjusting himself to new environments and new conditions that he was a tower of strength both in regard to intellectual and moral values.

In the West, if I am correct in my reading of Western concepts, the stress is on the intellectual development of man. In the East, traditionally, the concept of education is different. There we try to develop the moral and spiritual qualities of men. My feeling is that a purely intellectual development un- accompanied by corresponding moral and spiritual development is sure to lead humanity from one crisis to another, while a purely moral and spiritual development without a corresponding intellectual development is an anachronism. Pandit Nehru realised this basic fact. If I am to point to a great man, a great leader of men, who understood this trend of history- who understood the need to harmonise the intellectual qualities of men with the moral and spiritual qualities of men-it was Pandit Nehru.

Jawaharlal Nehru was also a convinced internationalist. He believed, genuinely and sincerely, in the value of international cooperation. He appeared before the United Nations General Assembly in November 1961, and he said then:

More and more we live under a kind of regime of terror. Terror of what? Terror of some kind of catastrophe like war descending upon us? Some kind of disaster when nuclear weapons are used and the future of the world’s survival is imperiled. The choice today before the world is a choice of self-extinction or survival. Many people think and talk about escaping the disaster of a nuclear war by burrowing into the earth and living like rats in a hole. Surely it’s a strange commentary on our times that we should be driven to this conclusion instead of diverting all of our energies and all of our strength to the prevention of the catastrophe.

As an antidote he offered cooperation.

The essential thing about this world is cooperation. Little is known, or little is said, about this cooperation that is going on, but a great deal is said about every point of conflict, and so the world is full of this idea that the conflicts go on and we live on the verge of disaster. Perhaps it would be a truer picture if the cooperative elements in the world were put forward and we were made to think that the world depends upon cooperation and not on conflict.

And he went on to suggest that:

Perhaps this Assembly might resolve to call upon all countries of the world to devote a year, not to speeches about peace, I do not think that is much good, but to the furtherance of cooperative activities in any field, political, cultural, or whatever fields there may be, and there are thousands of fields.

We are observing in 1965 the twentieth year of the United Nations as the Year of International Cooperation. This observance may be said to be truly a tribute by the United Nations itself to the idea of international cooperation as expounded so eloquently by Jawaharlal Nehru.