IDEAS: Pandit's Mind

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One summer, a quarter of a century ago, streams of Hindu pilgrims came for their annual ritual bath at the confluence of the holy rivers Ganges and Jumna. The British authorities, noting that the currents were dangerously fierce that year, forbade the ablutions, and erected a high palisade to keep the pilgrims from the water. Thereupon thousands of Hindus, disciples of Gandhi, squatted before the palisade in the scorching sun, hour after nonviolent hour. Among them was a young, Cambridge-educated Brahman named Jawaharlal Nehru. As he recalls:

"I was fed up...

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