14 November 1889 – 27 May 1964
• Jawaharlal Nehru was born on 14 November 1889
in Allahabad in British India. His father, Motilal Nehru, a
wealthy barrister who belonged to the Kashmiri
Pandit community, His mother, Swaruprani Thussu, who
came from a well-known Kashmiri Brahmin family settled
in Lahore, was Motilal's second wife, the first having died in
• Jawaharlal was the eldest of three children, two of whom
were girls. The elder sister, Vijaya Lakshmi, later became the
first female president of the United Nations General
Assembly. The youngest sister, Krishna Hutheesing, became a
noted writer and authored several books on her brother.
• Jawaharlal Nehru received primary education under the guidance of
an English governess. Young Jawaharlal was taught to converse in
English from an early age. He also learnt the appropriate customs of
the British Raj. The early education of Jawaharlal Nehru played a
major role in his political views and economic policies.
• Later when he had begun his institutional schooling in 1905
at Harrow, a leading school in England, he was greatly influenced
by G.M. Trevelyan's Garibaldi books, which he had received as prizes
for academic merit. He viewed Garibaldi as a revolutionary hero. He
wrote: "Visions of similar deeds in India came before, of [my] gallant
fight for [Indian] freedom and in my mind India and Italy got
strangely mixed together."
• Nehru went to Trinity College, Cambridge in
October 1907 and graduated with an honor's
degree in natural science in 1910. During this
period, he also studied politics, economics, history
and literature desultorily. Writings of Bernard
Shaw, H.G Wells, J.M. Keynes, Bertrand
Russell, Lowes Dickinson and Meredith
Townsend moulded much of his political and
• After completing his degree in 1910, Nehru went to
London and stayed there for two years for law
studies at the Inns of Court School of Law (Inner
Temple). During this time, he continued to study
the scholars of the Fabian
Society including Beatrice Webb. He passed his bar
examinations in 1912 and was admitted to the
• After returning to India in August 1912, Nehru
enrolled himself as an advocate of the Allahabad
High Court and tried to settle down as a barrister.
Nehru dressed in cadet uniform at
Harrow School in England
Nehru at the Allahabad High
Nehru married Kamala Kaul in 1916. Their only daughter Indira was born a year later
in 1917. Kamala gave birth to a boy in November 1924, but he lived only for a week.
Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal
Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi and Sanjay
Firoze and Indira's wedding was as
per Hindu rituals
Nehru in 1918 with wife Kamala
and daughter Indira
Struggle for Indian Independence (1912–47)
• Nehru had developed an interest in Indian politics during his time in Britain, within months of
his return to India in 1912 he had attended an annual session of the Indian National Congress
in Patna. The Congress in 1912 had been the party of moderates and elites.
• Nehru harboured doubts regarding the ineffectualness of the Congress but agreed to work
for the party in support of the Indian civil rights movement in South Africa. He collected
funds for the civil rights campaigners led by Mohandas Gandhi in 1913.
• Motilal Nehru, a prominent moderate leader, acknowledged the limits of constitutional
agitation, but counselled his son that there was no other "practical alternative" to it. Nehru,
however, was not satisfied with the pace of the national movement. He became involved
with aggressive nationalists leaders who were demanding Home Rule for Indians.
• The influence of the moderates on Congress politics began to wane after Gokhale died in
1915. Anti-moderate leaders such as Annie Beasant and Lokmanya Tilak took the opportunity
to call for a national movement for Home Rule.
Home Rule Movement
Several nationalist leaders banded together in 1916 under the leadership of Annie
Besant to voice a demand for self-government, and to obtain the status of
a Dominion within the British Empire as enjoyed by Australia, Canada, South Africa,
New Zealand and Newfoundland at the time. Nehru joined the movement and rose
to become secretary of Besant's All India Home Rule League. In June 1917 Besant
was arrested and interned by the British government. The Congress and various
other Indian organisation threatened to launch protests if she were not set free. The
British government was subsequently forced to release Besant and make significant
concessions after a period of intense protest.
The first big national involvement of Nehru came at the onset of the non-co-
operation movement in 1920. He led the movement in the United Provinces
(now Uttar Pradesh). Nehru was arrested on charges of anti-governmental activities
in 1921, and was released a few months later. In the rift that formed within the
Congress following the sudden closure of the non-co-operation movement after
the Chauri Chaura incident, Nehru remained loyal to Gandhi and did not join
the Swaraj Party formed by his father Motilal Nehru and CR Das.
Nehru and most of the Congress leaders were initially ambivalent about Gandhi's plan
to begin civil disobedience with a satyagraha aimed at the British salt tax. After the
protest gathered steam, they realised the power of salt as a symbol. Nehru remarked
about the unprecedented popular response, "it seemed as though a spring had been
suddenly released". He was arrested on 14 April 1930 while entraining
from Allahabad for Raipur. He had earlier, after addressing a huge meeting and leading
a vast procession, ceremoniously manufactured some contraband salt. He was charged
with breach of the salt law, tried summarily behind prison walls and sentenced to six
months of imprisonment. He nominated Gandhi to succeed him as Congress President
during his absence in jail, but Gandhi declined, and Nehru then nominated his father as
his successor. With Nehru's arrest the civil disobedience acquired a new tempo, and
arrests, firing on crowds and lathi charges grew to be ordinary occurrences.
Gandhi and Nehru
The Salt Satyagraha succeeded in drawing the attention of the world. Indian,
British, and world opinion increasingly began to recognise the legitimacy of the
claims by the Congress party for independence. Nehru considered the salt
satyagraha the high-water mark of his association with Gandhi, and felt that its
lasting importance was in changing the attitudes of Indians:
"Of course these movements exercised tremendous pressure on the British
Government and shook the government machinery. But the real importance, to my
mind, lay in the effect they had on our own people, and especially the village
masses. ... Non-cooperation dragged them out of the mire and gave them self-
respect and self-reliance. ... They acted courageously and did not submit so easily to
unjust oppression; their outlook widened and they began to think a little in terms of
India as a whole. ... It was a remarkable transformation and the Congress, under
Gandhi's leadership, must have the credit for it."
Jawaharlal Nehru and Rabindranath
Declaration of Independence
Nehru was one of the first leaders to demand that the Congress Party should resolve
to make a complete and explicit break from all ties with the British Empire. He
introduced a resolution demanding "complete national independence" in 1927, which
was rejected because of Gandhi's opposition.
In 1928, Gandhi agreed to Nehru's demands and proposed a resolution that called for
the British to grant dominion status to India within two years. If the British failed to
meet the deadline, the Congress would call upon all Indians to fight for complete
independence. Nehru was one of the leaders who objected to the time given to the
British – he pressed Gandhi to demand immediate actions from the British. Gandhi
brokered a further compromise by reducing the time given from two years to one.
Nehru agreed to vote for the new resolution.
Nehru drafted the Indian declaration of independence, which stated:
"We believe that it is the inalienable right of the Indian people, as of any other people,
to have freedom and to enjoy the fruits of their toil and have the necessities of life, so
that they may have full opportunities of growth. We believe also that if any
government deprives a people of these rights and oppresses them the people have a
further right to alter it or abolish it. The British government in India has not only
deprived the Indian people of their freedom but has based itself on the exploitation of
the masses, and has ruined India economically, politically, culturally and spiritually. We
believe therefore, that India must sever the British connection and attain Purna Swaraj
or complete independence."
At midnight on New Year's Eve 1929, Nehru hoisted the tricolor flag of India
upon the banks of the Ravi in Lahore. A pledge of independence was read out,
which included a readiness to withhold taxes. The massive gathering of public
attending the ceremony was asked if they agreed with it, and the vast majority of
people were witnessed to raise their hands in approval. 172 Indian members of
central and provincial legislatures resigned in support of the resolution and in
accordance with Indian public sentiment. The Congress asked the people of India
to observe 26 January as Independence Day. The flag of India was hoisted
publicly across India by Congress volunteers, nationalists and the public. Plans
for a mass civil disobedience were also underway.
After the Lahore session of the Congress in 1929, Nehru gradually emerged as
the paramount leader of the Indian independence movement. Gandhi stepped
back into a more spiritual role. Although Gandhi did not officially designate
Nehru his political heir until 1942, the country as early as the mid-1930s saw in
Nehru the natural successor to Gandhi.
Prime Minister of India (1947–64)
• Nehru and his colleagues had been released as the British Cabinet Mission arrived
to propose plans for transfer of power.
• Once elected, Nehru headed an interim government, which was impaired by
outbreaks of communal violence and political disorder, and the opposition of
the Muslim League led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who were demanding a separate
Muslim state of Pakistan. After failed bids to form coalitions, Nehru reluctantly
supported the partition of India, according to a plan released by the British on 3
June 1947. He took office as the Prime Minister of India on 15 August, and
delivered his inaugural address titled "Tryst with Destiny".
• "Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we
shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At
the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life
and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step
out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation,
long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take
the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still
larger cause of humanity.”
o Throughout his 17-year leadership, Nehru advocated democratic socialism and
secularism and encouraged India’s industrialization beginning with the
implementation of the first of his five-year plans in 1951, which emphasized the
importance of increasing agricultural production. He also promoted scientific
and technological advancements through the establishment of higher learning,
and instituted various social reforms such as free public education and meals for
Indian children, legal rights for women—including the ability to inherit property
and divorce their husbands—and laws to prohibit discrimination based on caste.
o In 1955 Nehru was awarded Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour.
o During the Cold War, Nehru adopted a policy of non-alignment in which he
professed neutrality, but was criticized when he refused to condemn the Soviet
invasion of Hungary in 1956 and later requested foreign aid after China invaded
India’s northern border in 1962. The conflict, known as the Sino-Indian War, had
a deleterious effect on Nehru’s health, resulting in a severe stroke in January of
1964 and his death a few months later on May 27.
Indira Gandhi and India Mourns.
Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit.
Time is not measured by the passing of years but by what one does, what one feels,
and what one achieves.
A leader or a man of action in a crisis almost always acts subconsciously and then
thinks of the reasons for his action.
By - G. Sriram Goud
Source : Wikipedia