Jawaharlal Nehru was an Indian anti-colonial nationalist, secular humanist, social democrat, diplomat and author, who became the first prime minister of independent India. He has been referred to as the 'Architect of Modern India'. He served as finance minister, defence minister and he also served in ministry of external affairs. He remains the longest serving prime minister of the country. Famous books written by him including- 'Letters from a Father to His Daughter' (1929), 'An Autobiography' (1936) and 'The Discovery of India' (1946), have been read around the world.
- Birth: 14 November 1889, in Allahabad, North-Western Provinces, British India
- Died: 27 May 1964 (aged 74), in New Delhi
- Cause of death: Heart attack
- Resting place: Shantivan
- Political party: Indian National Congress
- Father: Pandit Motilal Nehru
- Mother: Swarup Rani Nehru
- Spouse: Kamala Nehru (m. 1916; died 1936)
- Children: Indira Gandhi
- Awards: Bharat Ratna (1955)
Jawaharlal Nehru was born on 14 November, 1889, in Allahabad, India, to Motilal Nehru and Swarup Rani. Motilal Nehru himself was a part of the Indian independence movement. His father served as the president of the Indian National Congress twice. Jawaharlal Nehru was one of three childrens of his parents. His sister, Vijaya Lakshmi, later became the first female president of the United Nations General Assembly and Krishna Hutheesing, his youngest sister, became a noted writer and authored several books on her brother.
Nehru grew up in an atmosphere of privilege at wealthy homes, including a palatial estate (called the Anand Bhavan).
Nehru received his early education at home till the age of fifteen. Nehru became an ardent nationalist during his youth. Later on, he went to Harrow School in England, where he was Nicknamed as "Joe". For his higher education, Nehru attended Trinity College in Cambridge, in October 1907 and graduated with an honours degree in natural science in 1910. In his graduation he studied politics, economics, history and literature with interest. During this period, writings of Bertrand Russell, Lowes Dickinson, Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, John Maynard Keynes, and Meredith Townsend moulded much of his political and economic thinking.
In 1910, Nehru went to London. There, he studied law at the Honourable Society of the Inner temple. In 1912, Nehru came back to India, having developed a sense of nationalism. He started his practice as a lawyer at the Allahabad High Court. Unlike his father, he had very little interest in his work.
Nehru was not satisfied with how the Indian National Congress was functioning. Indian commoners were dominated by the English-knowing upper-class elite. Soon, he joined the civil rights movement launched by Gandhi, angered by the harsh treatment of his fellow Indians by the British. He suffered willingly for the sake of his country.
Role in India's Independent
In 1917, Nehru joined the All India Home Rule League. He had immense support from Gandhi. He worked with the National Congress and was elected to the post of the general secretary of the Congress.
In 1920, the Non-Cooperation Movement was launched. This step was Nehru's first big involvement in india independence. It was started by Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru. Nehru led the movement in the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh). For launching this movement, both of them were jailed for the first time. Nehru was realised few months later. In 1923, Nehru was imprisoned in Nabha, a princely state, when he went there to see the struggle that was being waged by the Sikhs against the corrupt Mahants.
In 1929, Jawaharlal Nehru was named as the president of the Indian National Congress. In the same year, Nehru led the historic session at Lahore that proclaimed complete independence as India's political goal.
Nehru also took part in the Civil Disobedience movement. At the same time, Mahatma Gandhi started the Satyagraha movement, which was supported by Nehru. However he was once again imprisoned, along with a large number of nationalists. When World War II ended, Nehru asked for complete independence for India.
In 1947, India got independence and the British departed from Indian soil. But before they left, they divided the country into two nations, India and Pakistan.
Nehru became the first prime minister of the country soon after the country got independence. He made many changes in domestic, international, economic, agricultural and social policies. He built many renowned institutions and industries, which boosted the Indian economy and helped in its modernization. Nehru greatly emphasized on equality irrespective of color or religion.
Nehru's main focus was education and the youth of the country. He felt that the youth were vital for the country's future growth. So he founded organization of higher learning, such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and others. He introduced free and compulsory primary education to all children in his five year plan.
Nehru also began the National Defence Academy and the Atomic Energy Commission of India (AEC). He strengthened the country with modern equipment and defense systems to safeguard the borders.
He also built good relations with the neighbouring countries. Nehru supported the inclusion of the People's Republic of China as a permanent member in the Security Council of the United Nations. This helped in establishing friendly relations. But, it didn't last very long and soon border disputes arose. In 1962, China invaded India's northern border. It was known as the Sino-Indian War. The war and conflicts took a toll on Nehru's health.
In 1955, Nehru was awarded the Bharat Ratna Award, India's highest civilian honor. He received this award for his exceptional contribution to the freedom struggle.
Nehru married Kamala Kaul in 1916. They had one daughter, Indira Priyadarshini Nehru (later Gandhi), who became the first female prime minister of the country. Nehru was very fond of children. He was addressed as 'Chacha Nehru' by children all over the country. In 1965, the Government of India introduced the Jawaharlal Nehru Award.
Nehru's health began declining steadily after 1962. When he returned from Dehradun on 26 May 1964, he was feeling quite comfortable and went to bed at about 23:30 as usual. He had a restful night until about 06:30. Nehru complained of pain in the back that night. He spoke to the doctors who attended on him for a brief while, and almost immediately he collapsed and remained unconscious until he died early in the afternoon of 27th May 1964. Nehru's death was announced in the Lok Sabha on 27 May, at 14:00 local time. The cause of his death was supposed to be a heart attack. His Resting place is Shantivan.
Nehru's death left India with no clear political heir to his leadership; later Lal Bahadur Shastri succeeded him as the prime minister.