Strong Activist – Shri Jawaharlal Nehru – 1st Prime Minister of India

October 14, 2020 By Poonam Kushwaha
Shri Jawaharlal Nehru

Shri Jawaharlal Nehru (1889–1964).

Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi’s father, was a leader of India’s nationalist movement and became India’s first prime minister after its independence.

Shri Jawaharlal Nehru joined the Indian National Congress and joined Indian Nationalist leader Mahatma Gandhi’s independence movement. In 1947, Pakistan was created as a new, independent country for Muslims. The British withdrew and Nehru became independent India’s first prime minister.

Nehruji was an Indian nationalist leader and statesman who became the first prime minister of independent India in 1947.

Shri Jawaharlal Nehru
Shri Jawaharlal Nehru

Shri Jawaharlal Nehru was born in Allahabad, the son of a lawyer whose family was originally from Kashmir. He was educated in England, at Harrow School, and then at Trinity College, Cambridge. He studied law at the Inner Temple in London. He returned to India in 1912 and practised law for some years. In 1916, he married Kamala Kaul and the following year they had a daughter, Indira.

In 1919, Nehru joined the Indian National Congress which was fighting for greater autonomy from the British. He was heavily influenced by the organisation’s leader Mohandas Gandhi. During the 1920s and 1930s Nehru was repeatedly imprisoned by the British for civil disobedience. In 1928, he was elected president of the Congress.

By the end of World War Two, Nehru was recognised as Gandhi’s successor. He played a central role in the negotiations over Indian independence. He opposed the Muslim League’s insistence on the division of India on the basis of religion. Louis Mountbatten, the last British viceroy, advocated the division as the fastest and most workable solution and Nehru reluctantly agreed.

Shri Jawaharlal Nehru was born in Allabahad on November 14, 1889. He received his early education at home under private tutors. At the age of fifteen, he went to England and after two years at Harrow, joined Cambridge University where he took his tripos in Natural Sciences. He was later called to the Bar from Inner Temple. He returned to India in 1912 and plunged straight into politics. Even as a student, he had been interested in the struggle of all nations who suffered under foreign domination. He took keen interest in the Sinn Fein Movement in Ireland. In India, he was inevitably drawn into the struggle for independence.

Shri Jawaharlal Nehru
Shri Jawaharlal Nehru

In 1912, he attended the Bankipore Congress as a delegate, and became Secretary of the Home Rule League, Allahabad in 1919. In 1916 he had his first meeting with Mahatma Gandhi and felt immensely inspired by him. He organised the first Kisan March in Pratapgarh District of Uttar Pradesh in 1920. He was twice imprisoned in connection with the Non-Cooperation Movement of 1920-22.

Shri Jawaharlal Nehru became the General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee in September 1923. He toured Italy, Switzerland, England, Belgium, Germany and Russia in 1926. In Belgium, he attended the Congress of Oppressed Nationalities in Brussels as an official delegate of the Indian National Congress. He also attended the tenth anniversary celebrations of the October Socialist Revolution in Moscow in 1927.

Earlier, in 1926, at the Madras Congress, Nehru had been instrumental in committing the Congress to the goal of Independence. While leading a procession against the Simon commission, he was lathi-charged in Lucknow in 1928. On August 29, 1928 he attended the All-Party Congress and was one of the signatories to the Nehru Report on Indian Constitutional Reform, named after his father Shri Motilal Nehru. The same year, he also founded the ‘Independence for India League’, which advocated complete severance of the British connection with India, and became its General Secretary.

Shri Jawaharlal Nehru
Shri Jawaharlal Nehru

In 1929, Pt. Nehru was elected President of the Lahore Session of the Indian National Congress, where complete independence for the country was adopted as the goal. He was imprisoned several times during 1930-35 in connection with the Salt Satyagraha and other movements launched by the Congress. He completed his ‘Autobiography’ in Almora Jail on February 14, 1935. After release, he flew to Switzerland to see his ailing wife and visited London in February-March, 1936. He also visited Spain in July 1938, when the country was in the throws of Civil War. Just before the court-break of the Second World War, he visited China too.

On October 31, 1940 Pt. Nehru was arrested for offering individual Satyagraha to protest against India’s forced participation in war. He was released along with the other leaders in December 1941. On August 7, 1942 Pt. Nehru moved the historic ‘Quit India’ resolution at the A.I.C.C. session in Bombay. On August 8,1942 he was arrested along with other leaders and taken to Ahmednagar Fort. This was his longest and also his last detention. In all, he suffered imprisonment nine times.

After his release in January 1945, he organized legal defence for those officers and men of the INA charged with treason. In March 1946, Pt. Nehru toured South East Asia. He was elected President of the Congress for the fourth time on July 6, 1946 and again for three more terms from 1951 to 1954.

Shri Jawaharlal Nehru
Shri Jawaharlal Nehru

On 15 August 1947, Nehru became the first prime minister of independent India. He held the post until his death in 1964. He implemented moderate socialist economic reforms and committed India to a policy of industrialisation.

Nehru also served as foreign minister of India. In October 1947, he faced conflict with Pakistan over the state of Kashmir, which was disputed at independence. Nehru sent troops into the state to support India’s claim. A United Nations ceasefire was negotiated, but Kashmir remains deeply unstable to this day.

Against the background of the Cold War, Nehru developed a policy of ‘positive neutrality’ for India. He became one of the key spokesmen for the non-aligned countries of Africa and Asia, many of which were former colonies that wanted to avoid dependence on any major power.

Despite efforts at cooperation by both countries, Indian-Chinese border disputes escalated into war in 1962 and Indian forces were decisively beaten. This had a significant impact on Nehru’s declining health. He died on 27 May 1964.

Two years later Nehru’s daughter, Indira Gandhi, became prime minister. With an interruption of only three years, she held the post until her assassination in 1984. Her son Rajiv was prime minister of India from 1984 to 1989, but he too was assassinated.

Jawaharlal Nehru

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