At the stroke of midnight, India embarked on a new journey as an independent nation on August 15, 1947. She freed herself from the colonial rule's iron clutches and strived towards making a mark in the evolving world. For several years, many people came together to fight for a common goal. Independent India's first government consisted of many individuals who played an integral part in the movement.
The country got its first president in the form of Dr Rajendra Prasad. From being a lawyer to an accomplished journalist, Dr Prasad's quiet demeanour was one of the things that made him stand out in his leadership. He was deeply inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's ideal and applied it while running the country with Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister.
Opposite Spectrum Yet Similar Vision
Both Nehru and Rajendra Prasad were given the prestigious jobs of leading the country after its independence. While they worked together harmoniously, there were significant ideological differences between them. They both had a common goal of envisioning a progressive India in the future, and however, they had different approaches to achieve it.
Jawaharlal Nehru strongly believed in the country's scientific and technological prowess and highlighted the need for industries, schools and hospitals over places of worship. On the other hand, Dr Rajendra Prasad believed in ensuring progress but without compromising India's culture, tradition, and beliefs. Therefore, it was evident that both of them came at loggerheads with each other as the ideological differences grew.
Somnath Temple Installation
The famous Somnath Temple was newly-restored and set to be inaugurated in 1951. During this time, a debate ensued about religion's place in the Indian society, which Nehru and Prasad consistently argued about. It reached its height when the latter was called to inaugurate the temple. On hearing this, Nehru was not only appalled, but he expressed his discontentment to the President in a letter.
The Indian Express quotes excerpts stated by Ramchandra Guha, "The Prime Minister thought that public officials should never publicly associate with faiths and shrines. The President, on the other hand, believed that it should be equally and publicly respect them all."
Adding to this, Nehru also felt that this was not the right time for an event like this. "I thought this was no time to lay stress on large-scale building operations at Somnath. This could have been done gradually and more effectively later. However, this has been done. Still, I feel that it would be better if you did not preside over the functions," the news publication quotes excerpts from KM Munshi's book 'Pilgrimage To Freedom.'
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