Born: 14 November 1889
Passed Away: 27 May 1964
Jawaharlal Nehru was the first Prime Minister of independent India. He
was a member the Congress Party that led the freedom movement against
British Empire. Nehru was one of the architects who had the opportunity
to steer the newly freed-nation. He was also the chief framer of
domestic and international policies between 1947 and 1964. It was under
Nehru's supervision that India launched its first Five-Year Plan in
1951. Nehru's predominant roles in substantiating India's role in the
foundation of institutions like NAM had surprised the then stalwarts of
international politics. He advocated the policy of Non-Alignment during
the cold war and India, subsequently, kept itself aloof from being in
the process of "global bifurcation".
Jawaharlal Nehru was born on 14 November 1889, to a wealthy Kashmiri
Brahmin family in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. His father Motilal Nehru was
a renowned advocate and also an influential politician.
The atmosphere in the Nehru family was different from that of other
prominent families of that society. English was spoken and encouraged.
His father, Motilal Nehru had appointed some English and Scottish
teachers at home.
For higher education, young Nehru was sent to Harrow school and then
later to Cambridge University in England. After spending two years at
the Inner Temple, London, he qualified as a barrister. During his stay
in London, Nehru was attracted by the ideas of liberalism, socialism and
nationalism. In 1912, he had returned to India and joined the Allahabad
High Court Bar.
Kamala, his wife
Upon his return to India, Nehru's marriage was arranged with Kamala on
8 February, 1916. Brought up in a traditional Hindu Brahmin family,
Kamala felt alienated amongst the progressive Nehrus. During the Non
Cooperation movement of 1921, Kamala played a vital role. In Allahabad,
she organized groups of women and picketed shops selling foreign cloth
and liquor. On19 November, 1917 she gave birth to Indira Priyadarshini,
popularly known as Indira Gandhi. Kamala died from tuberculosis in
Switzerland while Jawaharlal Nehru was languishing in Indian prison.
In 1916, Nehru participated in the Lucknow Session of the Congress.
There, after a very long time, member of both the extremist and moderate
factions of the Congress party had come. All the members equivocally
agreed to the demand for "swaraj" (self rule). Although the
means of the two sections were different, the motive was "common"
In 1921 Nehru was imprisoned for participating in the first civil
disobedience campaign as general secretary of the United Provinces
Congress Committee. The life in the jail helped him in understanding the
philosophy followed by Gandhi and others associated with the movement.
He was moved by Gandhi's approach of dealing with caste and "untouchablity".
With the passing of every minute, Nehru was emerging as a popular
leader, particularly in Northern India.
In 1922, some of the prominent members including his father Motilal
Nehru had left the congress and launched the "Swaraj Party".
The decision, no doubt upset Jawahar but he rejected the possibility of
leaving the Congress party. He was also elected as the president of the
Allahabad municipal corporation in 1920.
1926, he along with his wife Kamala and daughter India, traveled to the
flourished European nations like Germany, France and the Soviet Union.
Here, Nehru got an opportunity to meet various Communists, Socialists,
and radical leaders from Asia and Africa. Nehru was also impressed with
the economic system of the communist Soviet Union and wished to apply
the same in his own country. In 1927, he became a member of the League
against Imperialism created in Brussels, the capital city of Belgium.
During the Guwahati Session in 1928, Mahatma Gandhi announced that the
Congress would launch a massive movement if the British authority did
not grant dominion status of India within next two years. It was
believed that under the pressure of Nehru and Subhash Chandra Bose, the
deadline was reduced to one year. Jawaharlal Nehru criticized the famous
"Nehru Report" prepared by his father Motilal Nehru in 1928
that favored the concept of a "dominion status for India within the
In 1930 Mahatma Gandhi advocated Nehru as the next president of the
Congress. The decision was also an attempt to abate the intensity of "communism"
in the Congress. The same year, Nehru was arrested for the violation of
the Salt Law.
In 1936, Nehru was re-elected as the president of the Indian National
Congress. Sources suggest that a heated argument between the classical
and young leaders had taken place in the Lucknow Session of the party.
The young and "new-gen" leaders of the party had advocated for
an ideology, based on the concepts of Socialism.
Nehru as PM
Fifteen years after the Guwahati Session, on 15 August, 1947, the
congress succeeded to overthrow the influential British Empire. Nehru
was recognized as the first Prime Minister of independent India. He was
the first PM to hoist the national flag and make a speech from the
ramparts of Lal Quila (Red Fort). The time had come to implement his
ideas and construct a healthy nation.
Following Gandhi's assassination in 1948, Jawaharlal Nehru felt very
much alone. All the time he would contemplate over the issues pertaining
to the economic sector of the country. In the year 1949, Jawaharlal
Nehru made his first visit to the United States, seeking a solution to
India's urgent food shortage. In 1951, Jawaharlal Nehru launched the
country's "First Five-Year Plan" emphasizing on the increase
in the agricultural output.
Nehru's Foreign Policy
Jawaharlal Nehru was supporter of the anti-imperialist policy. He
extended his support for the liberation of small and colonized nations
of the world. He was also one of the prominent architects of the
Non-Aligment Movement. Following the policies of NAM, India decided stay
away from being a part of the global bifurcation.
In 1957, despite of the major victory attained the elections, the Nehru
led central government faced rising problems and criticism. The election
of his daughter Indira as Congress President in 1959 was viewed by many,
In 1964, Jawaharlal Nehru suffered a stroke and a heart attack. On 27
May 1964, Nehru passed away. Nehru was cremated at the Shantivana on the
banks of the Yamuna River, Delhi.