During the Hyderabad integration crisis, Jawaharlal Nehru threw a reception for the Nizam but found it difficult to keep him engaged in a conversation before a Nepalese bureaucrat came to his rescue.
Nehru failed in his attempts to take, what he felt, good care of the dour Nizam and finally turned up to Bijay Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, the then Nepalese ambassador to India, for help.
“After racking his brains, my father came up with Indian classical music as the subject for a tete-a-tete and managed to engage the Nizam in a lively conversation for almost an hour,” says Bijay Rana’s politician son Pashupati Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana.
Pashupati Rana mentions this anecdote as recounted by Sardar Bhim Bahadur Pandey, the then Nepalese Deputy Chief of Mission in New Delhi, in the latest issue of The Equator Line magazine.
“Pandit Nehru, it goes without saying, was duly grateful. This was a measure of their mutual trust and understanding,” writes Rana, a descendant of Nepal’s Rana dynasty, and chairman of Rastriya Prajatantra Party (United).
The erstwhile Hyderabad state was annexed to the Indian Union on September 17, 1948.
India’s first home minister Sardar Patel requested Mir Osman Ali Khan Asaf Jah VII, the last Nizam of the princely state of Hyderabad, to join India, but he refused and instead declared Hyderabad as an independent nation on August 15, 1947.
A military operation was launched in 1948 and the Indian armed forces invaded the Nizam-ruled princely state, annexing it into the Indian Union.
Rana hails Nehru’s statesmanship saying his “view that there should be continuity with change played a pivotal role in the peaceful transition to democracy in Nepal”. Such political safe landings are rare in history and difficult to make, he adds.
Nehru and his vision is the topic of this issue of the magazine, which has articles by the likes of economist Bibek Debroy, journalist Harish Khare, writer-TV producer Jad Adams and Sri Lankan writer Daya Dissanayake, among others.
“With his exposure to international politics, insights into the future, radical ideas in the context of the time and his phenomenal mass appeal, Nehru was the foremost leader of the freedom struggle and well-suited to interpret his country’s gloom and aspirations,” says magazine’s editor-in-chief Bhaskar Roy.
“India’s success as a democracy could be entirely ascribed to Nehru’s visionary leadership of this inchoate land for 17 long years after independence,” he adds.