There are a few people in each century of human life upon this earth who affect the lives of all of us. Such a one was Jawaharlal Nehru. For more decades than any other one person in his time, he influenced us, East and West, and always for good. Even when he was unjustly criticised by those who did not know him, he exerted this influence. The result was that he became a figure universally respected for his independence and loved for his integrity and personality.
He was always a leader. I remember that my own admiration for him began in the days when he was a young follower of Gandhi. I admired Mahatma Gandhi, but I know very well the power of such a man as Gandhiji, and I was amazed to see how Jawaharlal Nehru, though young, maintained his own mind and will while according to the older man every sign and depth of affection and respect. This ability to defer and yet not to submit was a symbol of the greatness that was to show itself so plainly and forcefully as the years went on.
I have deplored, certainly, the lack of understanding that the leaders of my own country at times showed toward Prime Minister Nehru. Again, however, I have seen his greatness when he never retaliated or exhibited bitterness. Meanwhile the years have shown the correctness of his political stand. Under his leadership India remained a pivot nation between East and West, her people able to speak the language of both. Through the most troubled times that human history has ever known, Jawaharlal Nehru was able steadfastly to hold his people together and to weld their variety into a whole - a nation strong enough to stand firm, I believe, for centuries to come.
I do not forget other aspects of Jawaharlal Nehru’s nature, his charm, his brilliance, his grace of manner and bearing. I know that had our times been more peaceful he could have found a high career as a creative writer, for his style of writing was distinguished and his imagination alive and quick. I regret the loss of the books he might have written had he not .devoted his talents to his country in political life. I am grateful for the few important books he wrote, all of them basic in their importance. Yet I suppose it is true that India needed the active daily leadership that he provided more than she needed books.
At all events, Jawaharlal Nehru is unforgettable. He began his life in the shadow of Gandhi, but he soon emerged into the full light of his own day, and there he lived and will live forever, not only as the greatest figure of modern India, but also as one of the very few truly great men in all the world. I count it as one of my most treasured experiences that I met him face to face and heard his living voice.