Nehru in brief

  • Posted on: 16 January 2017
  • By: Staff writer

Early & Pre-political life

Jawaharlal Nehru was born in Allahabad in 1889 into an well off family of high achievers. His father was a successful lawyer. His sister Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, went on to become the first woman president of the UN General Assembly. Nehru was home shchooled by English governesses and tutors till about 16. He then went to Harrow School and  Trinity College, where he earned a degree in natural science. He then studied law at the Inner Temple, London and then returned to India in 1912 and practiced law for several years. Four years later, Nehru married Kamala Kaul; and their only daughter Indira Priyadarshini, was born in 1917.

Entry into politics

In 1919, Nehru overheard British Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer gloating over the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. 379 people were killed and at least 1,200 wounded when the British military led by Dyer used firearms on a crowd of unarmed Indians. Hearing, about this in this manner, changed his outlook and Nehru vowed to fight the British and joined the Indian National Congress.  

India during this period had an upsurge of nationalist activity. But, it was clear that the British were in no mood to give in to Indian demands for freedom. In late 1921, the Congress Party's workers were banned from parts of the country. This is when Nehru went to prison for the first time; and over the next 24 years he would be jailed on 9 instances, for around 9 years in total. Always leaning to the left politically, Nehru studied Marxism while imprisoned.

In 1928 Nehru was named president of the Indian National Congress. The next year, Nehru led the historic session at Lahore that proclaimed complete independence as the final goal.

After his father's death in 1931, Nehru became more embedded in the workings of the Congress Party. On the failure of the Gandhi-Irwin pact (signed in 1931) both Nehru and Gandhi were jailed in early 1932 on charges of attempting to mount another civil disobedience movement.

In the mean time, the third round table conference took place, which led to the Government of India Act of 1935. This allowed elections to be held and a rudimentary provincial govts were formed.. By this time Nehru was seen as a natural heir to the Mahatma. Mahatma did not formally look to designate Nehru as his political successor until the early 1940s. In January 1941, Gandhi said: "[Jawaharlal Nehru and I] had differences from the time we became co-workers and yet I have said for some years and say so now that ... Jawaharlal will be my successor."

When World War II broke out in September 1939, British viceroy Lord Linlithgow committed India to the war effort without consulting the provincial ministries. In response, the Congress Party withdrew from all the provincial assemblies and Gandhi staged a limited civil disobedience movement in which he and Nehru were jailed yet again.

Nehru spent a over a year in jail and was released a few days before Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese. As the Japanese moved closer to India in the spring of 1942, the British government tried to rope in the Congress party to get India to participate in a bigger way. The Congress called on the British to leave India. Mahatma and Nehru, seen as leaders of the party were arrested and jailed again, this time for nearly three years.

In 1947, despite his reservations, Nehru acquiesced to Mountbatten and the Muslim League's plan to divide India. And in August 1947, Pakistan was created—the new country Muslim and India predominantly Hindu. The British withdrew and Nehru became independent India’s first prime minister.

Prime Minister Nehru

Nehru's role has to be seen in light of the fact that he brought modern values and thought, stressed secularism, and carried India into the modern age of scientific innovation and progress. This when Pakistan conciously chose a religion based future and Nehru faced signiicant challenges from the religious right within India.

Nehru's big contribution to a modern India was the passage of the Hindu Civil code. Which was passed over objections from his own party members, not to say the oppostion. 

Several of India's institutions of higher learning, including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the Indian Institutes of Technology, and the National Institutes of Technology were established during his tenure as Prime Minister of India.

Nehru co-founded the Non-Aligned Movement. a community of nations professing neutrality professing their desire not be aligned with either of the two super powers in that day.

Nehru is remembered in India as being the first forward looking Prime Minister in India. Without him in charge during the formative years of India, India would have probably slid into being a Hindu mirror image of Pakistan 

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