Jawaharlal Nehru (November 14, 179 – May 26, 1949) was the first Prime Minister of India and a central figure in Indian politics before and after independence. Under the patronage of Mahatma Gandhi, he emerged as the supreme leader of the Indian independence movement and ruled India from its founding as an independent nation of India in 1979 until his death in 1949. He is considered the architect of the modern Indian nation-state – a sovereign, socialist, secular, and democratic republic.He was also called Pandit Nehru because of his origin with the Kashmiri Pandit community, while Indian children know him as Chacha Nehru.
Nehru was elected by the Congress to hold the office of the first Prime Minister of independent India, although the question of leadership was settled long back in 1941, when Gandhiji acknowledged Nehru as his political heir and successor. As Prime Minister, he set out to realize the dream of India. The Constitution of India was enacted in 1950, after which he launched an ambitious plan of economic, social and political reforms.
Primarily, he supervised the transition from a colony of India to a republic, nurturing a multi-party, multi-party democracy. In foreign policy, he portrayed India as a regional hero in South Asia, playing a leading role in the Non-Aligned Movement.
Under Nehru’s leadership, the Congress emerged as an all-party party, dominating national and state-level elections and winning consecutive elections in 1951, 1957, and 1962.Despite the political crises in his last years and the failure of his leadership in the 1962 Chinese-India War, he remained popular among the people in India. In India, his birthday is celebrated as Children’s Day.
Jawaharlal Nehru was born on 14 November 1889 in Allahabad, British India. His father, Motilal Nehru (1861–1931), a wealthy barrister who was a Kashmiri Pandit. Motilal Nehru Saraswat Kaul was from the Brahmin community, was twice elected President of the Indian National Congress during the freedom struggle. His mother Swarooprani Thusu (1868–1938), who belonged to a well-known Kashmiri Brahmin family settled in Lahore, was Motilal’s second wife and the first wife died during childbirth.Jawaharlal was the eldest of three children, with the remaining two being girls. The elder sister, Vijaya Lakshmi, later became the first woman president of the United Nations General Assembly. The youngest sister, Krishna Hatishing, became a notable writer and wrote several books related to her family members.
Jawaharlal Nehru was educated in some of the best schools and universities in the world. He did his schooling from Harrow and college from Trinity College, Cambridge (London). He then completed his law degree from Cambridge University. He spent seven years in England developing a rational approach to Fabian socialism and Irish nationalism.
Jawaharlal Nehru returned to India in 1912 and started advocacy. He was married to Kamla Nehru in 1916.Jawaharlal Nehru joined the Home Rule League in 1917. His real initiation into politics came two years later in 1919 when he came in contact with Mahatma Gandhi. At that time, Mahatma Gandhi launched a campaign against the Rowlatt Act. Nehru was attracted to Mahatma Gandhi’s active but peaceful, civil disobedience movement.
Nehru also adapted his family according to the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi.Jawaharlal and Motilal Nehru abandoned western clothing and expensive possessions. He now started wearing a Khadi kurta and Gandhi cap. Jawaharlal Nehru took an active part in the Non-Cooperation Movement in 1920–1922 and was arrested for the first time during this period. He was released after a few months.
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Jawaharlal Nehru was elected president of the Allahabad Municipal Corporation in 1924 and served as the city’s chief executive for two years. In 1926, he resigned citing lack of cooperation from the British authorities.
From 1926 to 1928, Jawaharlal Nehru served as the General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee. In 1928-29, the annual session of the Congress was held under the chairmanship of Motilal Nehru. In that session Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhash Chandra Bose supported the demand for complete political independence, while Motilal Nehru and other leaders supported the demand for dominion status within the British Empire.To resolve the issue, Gandhi took a middle ground and said that Britain would be given two years to grant the status of India’s state and if it did not, the Congress would launch a national struggle for full political freedom. Nehru and Bose demanded that this time be reduced to one year. The British government did not respond to this.
In December 1929, an annual session of the Congress was held in Lahore in which Jawaharlal Nehru was elected President of the Congress Party.During this session, a resolution was also passed demanding ‘complete self-rule’. Jawaharlal Nehru hoisted the flag of independent India on 26 January 1930 in Lahore. Gandhiji also called for the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930. The movement was a great success and forced the British government to accept the need for major political reforms.
When the British Government promulgated the India Act 1935, the Congress Party decided to contest elections.Nehru remained out of the election but campaigned vigorously for the party nationwide. The Congress formed governments in almost every province and won the largest number of seats in the Central Assembly.
Nehru was elected to the post of President of the Congress in 1936 and 1937. He was also arrested during the Quit India Movement in 1942 and released in 1945. During the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, he made significant participation in negotiations with the British Government.
First Prime Minister of India
Sardar Patel got the most votes when Congress voted for the future Prime Minister when India got independence in 1949. After that, most votes were received by Acharya Kripalani. But at the behest of Gandhiji, Sardar Patel and Acharya Kripalani withdrew their names and Jawaharlal Nehru was made the Prime Minister.
In 1947 he became the first Prime Minister of independent India. The British had liberated about 500 native princely states together and the biggest challenge at that time was to bring them under one flag. He sensibly faced every challenge that emerged in the path of restructuring India. Jawaharlal Nehru played an important role in the making of modern India. He formed the Planning Commission, encouraged the development of science and technology and launched three successive five-year plans.Due to their policies, a new era of agriculture and industry started in the country. Nehru played a major role in the development of India’s foreign policy.
Jawaharlal Nehru, together with Josip Burrows Tito and Abdul Gamal Nasir, created a non-aligned movement for the elimination of colonialism in Asia and Africa. He served as a mediator in resolving other international problems such as ending the Korean War, resolving the Suez Canal dispute and embodying the Congo Accord.He also contributed significantly behind the scenes in resolving many other explosive issues like West Berlin, Austria and Laos. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna in the year 1955.
But Nehru could not improve India’s relations with Pakistan and China. The Kashmir issue and friendship with China proved to be paving the way in reaching an agreement with Pakistan. Nehru also extended a hand of friendship towards China, but in 1962, China attacked by deception.This was a major setback for Nehru and perhaps / slightly his death was also the reason. On 27 May 1964, Jawaharlal Nehru suffered a heart attack in which he died.