Nehru got land for his jacket

September 05, 2011 17:03
Nehru got land for his jacket

Nehru got land for his jacketJawaharlal Nehru often referred to affectionately as 'Panditji', was an Indian statesman who was the first and longest-serving Prime Minister of India. He was a great personality who was acclaimed world over for his idealism and statesmanship. There is an interesting incident narrated in a book, A Journey through Nicobar.

The personality of India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was such commanding that once a tribal leader from the remote Nicobar Islands agreed to sell his land to the Indian government in exchange for the cult Nehru jacket.

A tribal leader, Edward Kutchat, hailing from the remotest Nicobar Island, was initially very reluctant to provide additional land for the expansion of an airfield. Later Panditji invited the leader at a party in New Delhi, in the late 1950s and requested him for the land. He obliged and gave his consent. To the surprise of the gathering he demanded the Jacket Nehru was wearing in return as barter for land.

“Instead of a quantum of money to settle the deal, to everyone's surprise, Kutchat asked for the 'achkan' (jacket) that the Prime Minister was wearing. Possibly, that was the most attractive portable item which was visible to him in the banquet hall. Though the guests were quite amused, the prime minister accepted the deal with delight,” Bera writes.

The Nehru jacket is a hip-length tailored coat for men or women, created in India in the 1940s. The jacket essentially blends the collar of the achkan, historically the royal court dress of Indian nobles, with the Western suit jacket. The jacket was first marketed as the Nehru jacket in the West in the mid-1960s. It gained popularity between the late 1960s and early 1970s by growing awareness of Eastern cultures, by the minimalism of the Mod lifestyle, and in particular, with its adoption by the Beatles and the Monkees.

A former surgeon commander of the Indian Navy, Dr. Tilak Ranjan Bera, has been extensively exploring remote areas of India and penning his experiences. His ninth book, A Journey through Nicobar was published by Woodland Publishers. The book charts the history of the Nicobar Islands, termed as a “little-known” territory of India, and how it changed after the tsunami of December 2004. There are photographs, too, some taken by the author and others collected by him, to illustrate the extent of damage.

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