Monday, March 29, 2010

Pablo Neruda and India

Pablo Neruda,Communist with ideas and a poet, diplomat and humanist by deeds was among the most profound voice of twentieth century-this great man from Chile have been always supported the cause of freedom and justice throughout his life and succeeded in unprecedented way in his prolific inter-cultural activities. In 1927, Neruda became the Chilean Counsel in Rangoon and spent next five years in the eastern countries that infused in him a concern for repressive colonialism in Indian Sub-continent; obviously as an ardent revolutionary, he stood with the Indian Freedom Movement and participated in A.I.C.C meeting in Kolkata {1928}. That was a chunk of gesture from him for Indian Freedom Movement albeit he did much more covertly for that historic struggle-his next visit almost took twenty two years later, when he arrived in India in 1950, the condition was entirely changed since it was now an independent nation.

Alas! Than the world politics was on the crest of lethal ideological encampment and being revolutionary were indeed used to possess a far reaching effect-so, circumstances in that phase, have compelled him to led an exiled life in Europe albeit that didn’t restrain him to be a leading name during the cold war year.He awarded with Noble peace prize for his initiatives for peace-non-alignment was a fascinating interference for him besides he had great vision for close India-U.S.S.R ties for balancing the power equation in world politics. He often called a “Soldier of Peace” for his die-hard commitments for peace and ends of ideological monopoly-knowing his temptation, famous French Scientist Juliat Coori induced him for visiting India and meeting with Nehru for tracing the ground of peace movement during the high intensity of cold war. Scientist C.V.Raman was the next person to met but before that he stuck through a terrible frisking exercise at the Mumbai Airport by Custom and Police officials-a witness of freedom movement received with such humiliating treatment in the hands of officials who treated him as a suspect and worst even, his Passport and Shoes were not spared to be ceased.

Anyhow, he managed to enter in his destined Hotel-later had a meeting with Vijaya Lakshami Pandit and received assurance for world peace movement. Further, he came to Delhi-had meeting with different groups-like of Writers, Philosophers, and Artists etc-that was the only solace for him in that visit. But his euphoria suddenly disappeared when he was called on dinner by the Ambassador of Chile, Juan Marin- he informed him about the apprehensive concern of Indian government regarding his activities.Despite such stodgy advances, he remained patient enough and moved for a meeting with Nehru in his office-he warmly reminded him about their previous meeting, yet he received a cold approval; next, he given the Juliat Coori’s later to him and asked about his message-Nehru’s next sleepy reply was “I will answer to this letter”. The only less dry proposal from Nehru was-What can I do for you? Against the nature, hurt Neruda replied that visiting monuments of splendid Tajmahal was on my wish list but now returning to Europe from first possible flight is my only priority.Although when he backed to Hotel, officials informed him about the state sponsored trip for Agra but it was too late till than-after sixty year of his last visit, it still haunts, why a cultured person like Nehru shown such dry gestures for a great visionary? Might be, he was passing through a very rough physical, political or emotional phase but in no way, it was justifiable! It was stoutly unfair to treat Pablo Neruda on the basis of contemporary communist movement in India.

Despite such bad and scratchy experience during last visit to India, Neruda surprisingly voted for Nehru as a member of panel in “Lenin Peace Prize” only five years later…indeed he succeeded as a great visionary and well wisher of Indian causes by broadly ignoring the stodgy treatment of last visit. Nehru’s treatments for Neruda were emerged from the internal feud between Indian state and confused Communist movement…whatever was the reason, it was inappropriate from both the diplomatic as well as personnel standard. A nation like India which has shaped on a historical legacy of great courtesy for its well wisher, probably lost a ground in the case of Neruda albeit he as a person and a poet have secured a permanent place in Indian peoples mind and heart which is a true respect for him and his bond for India… of course, Pablo Neruda was aware about that bright side from his loving India.
Atul Kumar Thakur
March24th2010 {Wednesday}
New Delhi


  1. Your observation is completely fresh,but sad to know about the shaky treatment Pablo Neruda faced in his last Indian trip..all must know that art,cultutre and literature must be seen outside the gegraphical perview.

  2. an insightful discovery of the visit of a poet par excellence to this country. But the treatment he received has mirrored the lack of sensibility shown by the Indian diplomats. Its sad but true that when treatment with a well known foreign figure is in question they always think about the country to which they belong to, or the ideology which they are entitled to. This should not happen.