History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 2011: Q.4 (a)

4 (a) “Nehru’s ‘temple of Modern India’ consisted not only of steel and power plants, irrigation dams, but included institutions of higher learning, particularly in the scientific field.” Elaborate. [30 Marks]


In 1954, Nehru,  while inaugurating Bhakra Nangal Dam, had described public sector enterprises (PSEs) as ‘temples of modern India’. Nehru declared that India’s economic policy must be based on a humane outlook and must not sacrifice men for money.

They were called called ‘Modern Temples’ because:

(1) PSEs, working in areas like dams, steel and power plants were conceived as instruments to bring socio-economic transformation of the country.

(2) They were important for the nation building, national integration and self reliance.

Following steps were taken in this directions:

(1) Big dams like Bhakhra Nangal, Hirakund were built.

(2) Iron and Steel Plants were established in Bhilai, Durgapur, Rourkela and Bokaro.

(3) Industry was made priority area in the second five year plan.

(4) Industry Policy Resolution 1956 defined areas for public and private sector.

Important objectives of building these modern temples were to create infrastructure, absorb technology, encourage innovation, generate employment, solving socio-economic problems etc.

To fullfil these objectives, ‘temples of modern India’ were not just limited to building dams and plants but also included creating institutions of higher learning particularly scientific institutions. Without these instiutions, it was not possible to create highly trained manpower, scientists, engineers etc to work in PSEs or to contribute in any other way in building modern India and socio-economic transformation of India. This was also necessary for self reliance.

Following important steps were taken in this direction:

(1) Nehru himself assumed the chairmanship of Centre for Science and Industrial Research and pioneered the establishment of network of national laboratories, starting with National Physics Laboratory in 1947 itself.

(2) Department of Scientific Research was created under Nehru.

(3) Scientific Policy Resolution was passed in 1958.

(4) In the field of higher learning, urgent steps were taken to organize the training of technical personnel.

(5) In 1952, first of the five Institutions of Technology (IITs) on the pattern of MIT was established at Kharagpur. Other four were established at Delhi, Kanpur, Madras, and Bombay.

(6) Due to Nehru’s efforts in higher learnings, the number of science and technical personnel rose from around 180,000 in 1950 to around 730,000 in 1965, by the time he passed away.

(7) Along with Homi J Bhabha, Nehru played an important role in laying down Nuclear policy for nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Atomic Energy Commssion was set up in 1948 with Bhabha as chairman.

(8) India also laid foundations in Space research by creating Indian National Committee.

(9) Institutions like AIIMS, IIMs, DRDO, ISRO, CSIR, IARC, IISc were established with a futuristic vision and have contributed in meeting the challenges of society by providing world class engineers, doctors, managers, scientists and agriculturists. They have resulted in India’s world class strength in modern technologies.

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