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" - freedom.
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.
In 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 British rule".
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, as Nepotism.
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