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Jawaharlal Nehru

Nehru, ca. 1927

In office
15 August 1947 – 27 May 1964
Monarch King George VI (until 26 January 1950)
President Rajendra Prasad and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Governor–General Louis Mountbatten
C. Rajagopalachari
Preceded by Position Created
Succeeded by Gulzarilal Nanda (interim)

In office
15 August 1947 – 27 May 1964
Preceded by Position Created
Succeeded by Gulzarilal Nanda

In office
8 October 1958 – 17 November 1959
Preceded by T. T. Krishnamachari
Succeeded by Morarji Desai

Born 14 November 1889
Allahabad, United Provinces, British India
Died 27 May 1964 (aged 74)
New Delhi, India
Nationality Indian
Spouse(s) Kamala Nehru
Children Indira Gandhi
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge
Profession Barrister
Religion none (Atheism)
Signature

Jawaharlal Nehru (Hindi: जवाहरलाल नेहरू, pronounced [dʒəʋaːɦərˈlaːl ˈneːɦruː]; 14 November 1889–27 May 1964[1]) was an Indian statesman who was the first (and to date the longest-serving) prime minister of India, from 1947 until 1964. A leading figure in the Indian independence movement, Nehru was elected by the Congress Party to assume office as independent India's first Prime Minister, and re-elected when the Congress Party won India's first general election in 1952. As one of the founders of the Non-aligned Movement, he was also an important figure in the international politics of the post-war era. He is frequently referred to as Pandit Nehru ("pandit" being a Sanskrit and Hindi honorific meaning "scholar" or "teacher") and, specifically in India, as Panditji (with "-ji" being a suffix to the honorific).

The son of a wealthy Indian barrister and politician, Motilal Nehru, Nehru became a leader of the left wing of the Indian National Congress when still fairly young. Rising to become Congress President, under the mentorship of Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru was a charismatic and radical leader, advocating complete independence from the British Empire. In the long struggle for Indian independence, in which he was a key player, Nehru was eventually recognized as Gandhi's political heir. Throughout his life, Nehru was also an advocate for Fabian socialism and the public sector as the means by which long-standing challenges of economic development could be addressed by poorer nations.

Contents

Education

Nehru was educated in Britain; at the independent boy's school, Harrow School and Trinity College, Cambridge.

Life and career

Nehru was given the singular honour of raising the flag of independent India in New Delhi on 15 August 1947, the day India gained Independence. Nehru's appreciation of the virtues of parliamentary democracy, secularism and liberalism, coupled with his concerns for the poor and underprivileged, are recognised to have guided him in formulating policies that influence India to this day. They also reflect the socialist origins of his worldview. His long tenure was instrumental in shaping the traditions and structures of independent India. He is sometimes referred to as the "Architect of Modern India"[citation needed]. His daughter, Indira Gandhi, and grandson, Rajiv Gandhi, also served as Prime Ministers of India.

Gita Sahgal – a writer and journalist who addresses issues of feminism, fundamentalism, and racism, director of prize-winning documentary films, and human rights activist – is his grand-niece.

Role in Indian Independence Movement

Jawaharlal Nehru returned to India in 1912 and started legal practice. He married Kamala Kaul through a marriage arranged by his parents in 1916. Jawaharlal Nehru joined All India Home Rule League in 1917. His real initiation into politics came two years later when he came in contact with Mahatma Gandhi in 1919. At that time, Mahatma Gandhi had launched a campaign against the Rowlatt Act. Nehru was instantly attracted to Gandhi's commitment for active but peaceful, civil disobedience. Jawaharlal Nehru was elected President of the Allahabad Municipal Corporation in 1924, and served for two years as the city's chief executive.

From 1926 to 1928, Jawaharlal served as the General Secretary of the United Provinces Congress Committee. In 1928-29, the Congress's annual session under President Motilal Nehru was held. During that session Jawaharlal Nehru and Subhas Chandra Bose backed a call for full political independence, while Motilal Nehru and others wanted dominion status within the British Empire. To resolve the point, Gandhi proposed that the British be given two years to grant India dominion status and, if they did not, the Congress would launch a national struggle for full, political independence. Nehru and Bose reduced that two-year window of opportunity to one year. The British did not respond.

In December, 1929, Congress's annual session was held in Lahore, and Jawaharlal Nehru was elected as the President of the Congress Party. During that session, a resolution demanding India's independence was passed and on 26 January 1930 in Lahore, Jawaharlal Nehru unfurled free India's flag. And Gandhiji gave the call for a Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930. The movement eventually forced the British Government to acknowledge the need for major political reforms and was ultimately a great success.

When the British promulgated the Government of India Act 1935, the Congress Party decided to contest elections. Nehru stayed out of the elections, but campaigned vigorously nationwide for the party. The Congress formed governments in almost every province, and won the largest number of seats in the Central Assembly. Nehru was elected to the Congress presidency in 1936, 1937, and 1946, and came to occupy a position in the nationalist movement second only to that of Gandhi. He was arrested in 1942 during the Quit India Movement. Released in 1945, he took a leading part in the negotiations that culminated in the emergence of the dominions of India and Pakistan in August 1947, resulting in the Partition of India.

Successor To Gandhi

On 15 January 1941 Gandhiji said, "Some say Pandit Nehru and I were estranged. It will require much more than difference of opinion to estrange us. We had differences from the time we became co-workers and yet I have said for some years and say now that not Rajaji (Chakravarti Rajagopalachari) but Nehru will be my successor." [2]

India's first Prime Minister

Teen Murti Bhavan, Nehru's residence as Prime Minister, now a museum in his memory.

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 "A 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."[2]

However, this period was marked with intense communal violence. This violence swept across the Punjab region, Delhi, Bengal and other parts of India. Nehru conducted joint tours[citation needed] with Pakistani leaders to encourage peace and calm angry and disillusioned refugees. Nehru would work with Maulana Azad and other Muslim leaders to safeguard and encourage Muslims to remain in India. The violence of the time deeply affected Nehru, who called for a ceasefire[citation needed] and UN intervention to stop the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. Fearing communal reprisals, Nehru also hesitated in supporting the annexation of Hyderabad State.

In the years following independence, Nehru frequently turned to his daughter Indira to look after him and manage his personal affairs. Under his leadership, the Congress won an overwhelming majority in the elections of 1952. Indira moved into Nehru's official residence to attend to him and became his constant companion in his travels across India and the world. Indira would virtually become Nehru's chief of staff.

Nehru's study in Teen Murti Bhavan.

Economic policies

Nehru presided over the introduction of a modified, Indian version of state planning and control over the economy. Creating the Planning commission of India, Nehru drew up the first Five-Year Plan in 1951, which charted the government's investments in industries and agriculture. Increasing business and income taxes, Nehru envisaged a mixed economy in which the government would manage strategic industries such as mining, electricity and heavy industries, serving public interest and a check to private enterprise. Nehru pursued land redistribution and launched programmes to build irrigation canals, dams and spread the use of fertilizers to increase agricultural production. He also pioneered a series of community development programs aimed at spreading diverse cottage industries and increasing efficiency into rural India. While encouraging the construction of large dams (which Nehru called the "new temples of India"), irrigation works and the generation of hydroelectricity, Nehru also launched India's programme to harness nuclear energy.

For most of Nehru's term as prime minister, India would continue to face serious food shortages despite progress and increases in agricultural production. Nehru's industrial policies, summarised in the Industrial Policy Resolution of 1956, encouraged the growth of diverse manufacturing and heavy industries,[3] yet state planning, controls and regulations began to impair productivity, quality and profitability. Although the Indian economy enjoyed a steady rate of growth, chronic unemployment amidst widespread poverty continued to plague the population.

Education and social reform

Jawaharlal Nehru was a passionate advocate of education for India's children and youth, believing it essential for India's future progress. His government oversaw the establishment of many institutions of higher learning, including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Management. Nehru also outlined a commitment in his five-year plans to guarantee free and compulsory primary education to all of India's children. For this purpose, Nehru oversaw the creation of mass village enrollment programmes and the construction of thousands of schools. Nehru also launched initiatives such as the provision of free milk and meals to children in order to fight malnutrition. Adult education centres, vocational and technical schools were also organised for adults, especially in the rural areas.

Under Nehru, the Indian Parliament enacted many changes to Hindu law to criminalize caste discrimination and increase the legal rights and social freedoms of women[4][5][6] [7] . A system of reservations in government services and educational institutions was created to eradicate the social inequalities and disadvantages faced by peoples of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Nehru also championed secularism and religious harmony, increasing the representation of minorities in government.

National security and foreign policy

Nehru led newly independent India from 1947 to 1964, during its first years of freedom from British rule. Both the United States and the Union Soviet Socialist Republic competed to make India an ally throughout the Cold War.

On the international scene, Nehru was a champion of pacifism and a strong supporter of the United Nations. He pioneered the policy of non-alignment and co-founded the Non-Aligned Movement of nations professing neutrality between the rival blocs of nations led by the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Recognising the People's Republic of China soon after its founding (while most of the Western bloc continued relations with the Republic of China), Nehru argued for its inclusion in the United Nations and refused to brand the Chinese as the aggressors in their conflict with Korea.[8] He sought to establish warm and friendly relations with China despite the invasion of Tibet in 1950, and hoped to act as an intermediary to bridge the gulf and tensions between the communist states and the Western bloc.

Meanwhile, Nehru had promised in 1948 to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir under the auspices of the U.N. but, as Pakistan failed to pull back troops in accordance with the UN resolution and as Nehru grew increasingly wary of the U.N., he declined to hold a plebiscite in 1953. He ordered the arrest of the Kashmiri politician Sheikh Abdullah, whom he had previously supported but now suspected of harbouring separatist ambitions; Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad replaced him.

His policy of pacifism and appeasement with respect to China also came unraveled when China annexed Aksai Chin, the region of Kashmir adjoining Tibet in 1962 that led to the Sino-Indian war.

Jawaharlal Nehru (right) talks to Pakistan prime minister Muhammad Ali Bogra (left) during his 1953 visit to Karachi.

Nehru was hailed by many for working to defuse global tensions and the threat of nuclear weapons[9]. He commissioned the first study of the human effects of nuclear explosions, and campaigned ceaselessly for the abolition of what he called "these frightful engines of destruction." He also had pragmatic reasons for promoting de-nuclearisation, fearing that a nuclear arms race would lead to over-militarisation that would be unaffordable for developing countries such as his own[10].

In 1956 he had criticised the joint invasion of the Suez Canal by the British, French and Israelis. Suspicion and distrust cooled relations between India and the U.S., which suspected Nehru of tacitly supporting the Soviet Union. Accepting the arbitration of the UK and World Bank, Nehru signed the Indus Water Treaty in 1960 with Pakistani ruler Ayub Khan to resolve long-standing disputes about sharing the resources of the major rivers of the Punjab region.

Final years

Nehru with Josip Broz Tito and Gamal Abdel Nasser, Brioni, 18 July 1956.

Nehru had led the Congress to a major victory in the 1957 elections, but his government was facing rising problems and criticism. Disillusioned by intra-party corruption and bickering, Nehru contemplated resigning but continued to serve. The election of his daughter Indira as Congress President in 1959 aroused criticism for alleged nepotism[citation needed], although actually Nehru had disapproved of her election, partly because he considered it smacked of "dynastism"; he said, indeed it was "wholly undemocratic and an undesirable thing", and refused her a position in his cabinet[11]. Indira herself was at loggerheads with her father over policy; most notably, she used his oft-stated personal deference to the Congress Working Committee to push through the dismissal of the Communist Party of India government in the state of Kerala, over his own objections[11]. Nehru began to be frequently embarrassed by her ruthlessness and disregard for parliamentary tradition, and was "hurt" by what he saw as an assertiveness with no purpose other than to stake out an identity independent of her father[1].

Although the Pancha Sila (Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence) was the basis of the 1954 Sino-Indian treaty over Tibet, in later years, Nehru's foreign policy suffered through increasing Chinese antagonism over border disputes and Nehru's decision to grant asylum to the Dalai Lama. After years of failed negotiations, Nehru authorized the Indian Army to annex Goa from Portugal in 1961. See liberation of Goa. While increasing his popularity, Nehru received criticism for opting for military action.

In the 1962 elections, Nehru led the Congress to victory yet with a diminished majority. Opposition parties ranging from the right-wing Bharatiya Jana Sangh and Swatantra Party, socialists and the Communist Party of India performed well.

In a matter of months, the border disputes with China turned into open conflict. Nehru assumed that as former victims of imperialism (India being a colony itself) they shared a sense of solidarity, as expressed in the phrase "Hindi-Chini bhai bhai" (Indians and Chinese are brothers). He was dedicated to the ideals of brotherhood and solidarity among developing nations. Nehru, credulously, did not believe that one fellow Socialist country would attack another; and in any event, he felt secure behind the impregnable wall of ice that is the Himalayas. Both proved to be severe miscalculations of China's intentions and military capabilities. Following reports of his intention to confront Chinese occupation of the disputed areas—summarised in a memorable statement that he had asked the Army to "throw them (Chinese) out" - China launched a pre-emptive attack.[12]

Public viewing of Nehru's body, which lies in state, 1964

In a matter of days, a Chinese invasion of northeastern India exposed the weaknesses of India's military as Chinese forces came as far as Assam. Widely criticised for his government's insufficient attention to defence, Nehru was forced to sack the defence minister Krishna Menon and seek U.S. military aid. Nehru's health began declining steadily, and he was forced to spend months recuperating in Kashmir through 1963. Some historians attribute this dramatic decline to his surprise and chagrin over the invasion of India by the Chinese, which he perceived as a betrayal of trust.[13] Upon his return from Kashmir in May 1964, Nehru suffered a stroke and later a heart attack. He died in the early hours of 27 May 1964. Nehru was cremated in accordance with Hindu rites at the Shantivana on the banks of the Yamuna River, witnessed by hundreds of thousands of mourners who had flocked into the streets of Delhi and the cremation grounds.

Legacy

Nehru's statue in Aldwych, London.

As India's first Prime minister and external affairs minister, Jawaharlal Nehru played a major role in shaping modern India's government and political culture along with sound foreign policy. He is praised for creating a system providing universal primary education, reaching children in the farthest corners of rural India. Nehru's education policy is also credited for the development of world-class educational institutions such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences [14], Indian Institutes of Technology,[15] and the Indian Institutes of Management.

"Nehru was a great man... Nehru gave to Indians an image of themselves that I don't think others might have succeeded in doing." - Sir Isaiah Berlin[16]

Nehru is credited for establishing a widespread system of affirmative action to provide equal opportunities and rights for India's ethnic groups, minorities, women, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes[17][18]. Nehru's passion for egalitarianism meant that he put the state to work to try and end widespread practices of discrimination against women and depressed classes[19], though with limited success in his lifetime.

Nevertheless, Nehru's stance as a unfailing nationalist led him to also implement policies which stressed commonality among Indians while still appreciating regional diversities. This proved particularly important as post-Independence differences surfaced since British withdrawal from the subcontinent prompted regional leaders to no longer relate to one another as allies against a common adversary. While differences of culture and, especially, language threatened the unity of the new nation, Nehru established programs such as the National Book Trust and the National Literary Academy which promoted the translation of regional literatures between languages and also organized the transfer of materials between regions. In pursuit of a single, unified India, Nehru warned, "Integrate or perish."[20]

Commemoration

Jawaharlal Nehru on a 1989 USSR commemorative stamp.
Nehru hands out sweets to children in Nongpoh

In his lifetime, Jawaharlal Nehru enjoyed an iconic status in India and was widely admired across the world for his idealism and statesmanship. His birthday, 14 November, is celebrated in India as Chacha Nehru (Children's Day) in recognition of his lifelong passion and work for the welfare, education and development of children and young people. Children across India remember him as Chacha Nehru (Uncle Nehru). Nehru remains a popular symbol of the Congress party which frequently celebrates his memory. Congress leaders and activists often emulate his style of clothing, especially the Gandhi cap, and his mannerisms. Nehru's ideals and policies continue to shape the Congress party's manifesto and core political philosophy. An emotional attachment to his legacy was instrumental in the rise of his daughter Indira to leadership of the Congress party and the national government.

Many documentaries about Nehru's life have been produced. He has also been portrayed in fictionalised films. The canonical performance is probably that of Roshan Seth, who played him three times: in Richard Attenborough's 1982 film Gandhi, Shyam Benegal's 1988 television series Bharat Ek Khoj, based on Nehru's The Discovery of India, and in a 2007 TV film entitled The Last Days of the Raj.[21] In Ketan Mehta's film Sardar, Nehru was portrayed by Benjamin Gilani. Nehru's personal preference for the sherwani ensured that it continues to be considered formal wear in North India today; aside from lending his name to a kind of cap, the Nehru jacket is named in his honour due to his preference for that style.

Numerous public institutions and memorials across India are dedicated to Nehru's memory. The Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi is among the most prestigious universities in India. The Jawaharlal Nehru Port near the city of Mumbai is a modern port and dock designed to handle a huge cargo and traffic load. Nehru's residence in Delhi is preserved as the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. The Nehru family homes at Anand Bhavan and Swaraj Bhavan are also preserved to commemorate Nehru and his family's legacy.

Writings

Nehru was a prolific writer in English and wrote a number of books, such as The Discovery of India, Glimpses of World History, and his autobiography, Towards Freedom.

Towards Freedom

Written in 1936, it ran nine editions in the first year alone. "Towards Freedom" is also known as "An Autobiography."

Criticism

D. D. Kosambi, a well-known Marxist historian criticized Nehru in his article for the bourgeoisie class exploitation of Nehru's socialist ideology for its own purposes.[22]

Jaswant Singh, a former BJP leader, viewed Nehru, not Mohammad Ali Jinnah, as causing the partition of India, mostly referring to his highly centralised policies for an independent India in 1947, which Jinnah opposed in favour of a more decentralised India. The split between the two was among the causes of partition. It is believed that personal animosity between the two leaders led to the partition of India.[23][24] Singh was later expelled from the BJP for having favourable views on Jinnah.[23]

See also

Notes

This article contains Indic text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks or boxes, misplaced vowels or missing conjuncts instead of Indic text.
  1. ^ a b Marlay, Ross; Clark D. Neher (1999). Patriots and Tyrants: Ten Asian Leaders. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 368. 
  2. ^ Nehru, Jawaharlal (2006-08-08). "Wikisource" (PHP). http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/A_Tryst_With_Destiny. Retrieved 2006-08-08. 
  3. ^ Farmer, B. H. (1993). An Introduction to South Asia. Routledge. pp. 120. 
  4. ^ Som, Reba (1994-02). "Jawaharlal Nehru and the Hindu Code: A Victory of Symbol over Substance?". Modern Asian Studies 28 (1): 165–194. doi:10.1017/S0026749X00011732. http://www.jstor.org/stable/312925. Retrieved 2008-05-29. 
  5. ^ Basu, Srimati (1999). She Comes to Take Her Rights: Indian Women, Property, and Propriety. SUNY Press. pp. 3. "The Hindu Code Bill was visualised by Ambedkar and Nehru as the flagship of modernisation and a radical revision of Hindu law...it is widely regarded as dramatic benchmark legislation giving Hindu women equitable if not superior entitlements as legal subjects." 
  6. ^ Kulke, Hermann; Dietmar Rothermund (2004). A History of India. Routledge. pp. 328. "One subject that particularly interested Nehru was the reform of Hindu law, particularly with regard to the rights of Hindu women..." 
  7. ^ Forbes, Geraldine; Geraldine Hancock Forbes, Gordon Johnson (1999). Women in Modern India. Cambridge University Press. pp. 115. "It is our birthright to demand equitable adjustment of Hindu law...." 
  8. ^ Robert Sherrod (19 January 1963). Nehru:The Great Awakening journal=The Saturday Evening Post. 236. pp. 60–67. 
  9. ^ Bhatia, Vinod (1989). Jawaharlal Nehru, as Scholars of Socialist Countries See Him. Panchsheel Publishers. pp. 131. 
  10. ^ Dua, B. D.; James Manor (1994). Nehru to the Nineties: The Changing Office of Prime Minister in India. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. pp. 261. 
  11. ^ a b Frank, Katherine (2002). Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi. Houghton Mifflin Books. pp. 250. 
  12. ^ "A powder-keg on the border with China". Rediff. 2008-02-26. http://in.rediff.com/news/2008/feb/26guest.htm. Retrieved 2008-02-26. 
  13. ^ Embree, Ainslie T., ed (1988). Encyclopedia of Asian History. 3. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 98–100. 
  14. ^ www.aiims.ac.in
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ Ramin Jahanbegloo, Conversations with Isaiah Berlin (London 2000), pages 201-2
  17. ^ Jackson, Thomas William (2007). From Civil Rights to Human Rights. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 100. ISBN 0-8122-3969-5. 
  18. ^ Manor, J.; Dua, B.D. (1994). Nehru to the Nineties: The Changing Office of Prime Minister in India. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. p. 240. 
  19. ^ Zachariah, Benjamin (2004). Nehru. New York: Routledge. pp. 265. ISBN 0-415-25016-1. 
  20. ^ Harrison, Selig S. (July 1956). ""The Challenge to Indian Nationalism"". Foreign Affairs 34 (2): 620–636. 
  21. ^ The Last Days of the Raj (2007) (TV)
  22. ^ The Bourgeoisie Comes of Age in India
  23. ^ a b Thapar, Karan (17 August 2009). Gandhi, Jinnah both failed: Jaswant. IBN Live.
  24. ^ After Advani, Jaswant turns Jinnah admirer. The Economic Times. 17 August 2009.

References

  • A Tryst With Destiny historic speech made by Jawaharlal Nehru on 14 August 1947
  • Nehru: The Invention of India by Shashi Tharoor (November 2003) Arcade Books ISBN 1-55970-697-X
  • Jawaharlal Nehru (Edited by S. Gopal and Uma Iyengar) (July 2003) The Essential Writings of Jawaharlal Nehru Oxford University Press ISBN 0195653246
  • Autobiography:Toward freedom, Oxford University Press
  • Jawaharlal Nehru: Life and work by M. Chalapathi Rau, National Book Club (1 January 1966)
  • Jawaharlal Nehru by M. Chalapathi Rau. [New Delhi] Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India [1973]
  • Letters from a father to his daughter by Jawaharlal Nehru, Children's Book Trust
  • Nehru: A Political Biography by Michael Brecher (1959). London:Oxford University Press.
  • After Nehru, Who by Welles Hangen (1963). London: Rupert Hart-Davis.
  • Nehru: The Years of Power by Geoffrey Tyson (1966). London: Pall Mall Press.
  • Independence and After: A collection of the more important speeches of Jawaharlal Nehru from September 1946 to May 1949 (1949). Delhi: The Publications Division, Government of India.
  • Commanding Heights. by Joseph Stanislaw and Daniel A. Yergin. (Simon & Schuster, Inc: New York), 1998. [3]
  • "The Challenge to Indian Nationalism." by Selig S. Harrison Foreign Affairs vol. 34, no. 2 (1956): 620-636.
  • “Nehru, Jawaharlal.” by Ainslie T. Embree, ed., and the Asia Society. Encyclopedia of Asian History. Vol. 3. Charles Scribner’s Sons. New York. (1988): 98-100.
  • “Nehru: The Great Awakening.” by Robert Sherrod. Saturday Evening Post vol. 236, no. 2 (19 January 1963): 60-67.

External links

Preceded by
-
Prime Minister of India
1947–1964
Succeeded by
Gulzari Lal Nanda
Preceded by
Post created
Minister for External Affairs of India
1947–1964
Succeeded by
Gulzari Lal Nanda
Preceded by
T. T. Krishnamachari
Finance Minister of India
1958–1959
Succeeded by
Morarji Desai

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Freedom and power bring responsibility.

Jawaharlal Nehru (14 November 188927 May 1964) was an Indian politician and the first Prime Minister of India.

Contents

Sourced

The most effective pose is one in which there seems to be the least of posing, and Jawahar had learned well to act without the paint and powder of an actor ... What is behind that mask of his?
  • Religion is not familiar ground for me, and as I have grown older, I have definitely drifted away from it. I have something else in its place, something older than just intellect and reason, which gives me strength and hope. Apart from this indefinable and indefinite urge, which may have just a tinge of religion in it and yet is wholly different from it, I have grown entirely to rely on the workings of the mind. Perhaps they are weak supports to rely upon, but, search as I will, I can see no better ones.
  • The most effective pose is one in which there seems to be the least of posing, and Jawahar had learned well to act without the paint and powder of an actor ... What is behind that mask of his? ... what will to power? ... He has the power in him to do great good for India or great injury ... Men like Jawaharlal, with all their capacity for great and good work, are unsafe in a democracy.
    He calls himself a democrat and a socialist, and no doubt he does so in all earnestness, but every psychologist knows that the mind is ultimately slave to the heart ... Jawahar has all the makings of a dictator in him — vast popularity, a strong will, ability, hardness, an intolerance for others and a certain contempt for the weak and inefficient ... In this revolutionary epoch, Caesarism is always at the door. Is it not possible that Jawahar might fancy himself as a Caesar? ... He must be checked. We want no Caesars.
  • Great causes and little men go ill together.
    • The Indian Annual Register Vol.1 (January-June 1939)
We must constantly remind ourselves that whatever our religion or creed, we are all one people.
  • Most of us seldom take the trouble to think. It is a troublesome and fatiguing process and often leads to uncomfortable conclusions. But crises and deadlocks when they occur have at least this advantage, that they force us to think.
    • The Unity of India : Collected Writings, 1937-1940 (1942), p. 94
  • Because we have sought to cover up past evil, though it still persists, we have been powerless to check the new evil of today.
    Evil unchecked grows, Evil tolerated poisons the whole system.
    And because we have tolerated our past and present evils, international affairs are poisoned and law and justice have disappeared from them.
    • The Unity of India : Collected Writings, 1937-1940 (1942), p. 280
  • They fought because they were paid for it; they were not interested very much in the conquest of Greece. The Athenians on the other hand, fought for their freedom. They preferred to die rather than lose their freedom, and those who are prepared to die for any cause are seldom defeated.
    • On the defeat of the forces of Darius the Great of Persia at the Battle of Marathon, in Glimpses of World History; Being Further Letters to His Daughter, Written In Prison, And Containing A Rambling Account of History For Young People (1942); also in Nehru on World History (1960} edited by Saul K. Padover, p. 14
  • We must constantly remind ourselves that whatever our religion or creed, we are all one people. I regret that many recent disturbances have given us a bad name. Many have acquiesced to the prevailing spirit. This is not citizenship. Citizenship consists in the service of the country. We must prevail on the evil-doers to stop their activities. If you, men of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, serve your countrymen without distinction of class and religion, you will bring honour to yourselves and to your country.
    • Radio address to the Defence Services (1 December 1947)
Ultimately what we really are matters more than what other people think of us.
  • In times of crisis it is not unnatural for those who are involved in it deeply to regard calm objectivity in others as irrational, short-sighted, negative, unreal or even unmanly. But I should like to make it clear that the policy India has sought to pursue is not a negative and neutral policy. It is a positive and vital policy that flows from our struggle for freedom and from the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. Peace is not only an absolute necessity for us in India in order to progress and develop but also of paramount importance to the world. How can that peace be preserved? Not by surrendering to aggression, not by compromising with evil or injustice but also not by the talking and preparing for war! Aggression has to be met, for it endangers peace. At the same time, the lesson of the past two wars has to be remembered and it seems to me astonishing that, in spite of that lesson, we go the same way. The very processes of marshaling the world into two hostile camps precipitates the conflict that it had sought to avoid. It produces a sense of terrible fear and that fear darkens men's minds and leads them to wrong courses. There is perhaps nothing so bad and so dangerous in life as fear. As a great President of the United States said, there is nothing really to fear except fear itself.
    • Speech at Columbia University (1949); published in Speeches 1949 - 1953 p. 402; as quoted in Sources of Indian Tradition (1988) by Stephen Hay, p. 350
  • Wars are fought to gain a certain objective. War itself is not the objective; victory is not the objective; you fight to remove the obstruction that comes in the way of your objective. If you let victory become the end in itself then you've gone astray and forgotten what you were originally fighting about.
  • If in the modern world wars have unfortunately to be fought (and they do, it seems) then they must be stopped at the first possible moment, otherwise they corrupt us, they create new problems and make our future even more uncertain. That is more than morality; it's sense.
    • Interview by James Cameron in Picture Post (28 October 1950)
  • Ultimately what we really are matters more than what other people think of us. One has to face the modern world with its good as well as its bad and it is better on the whole, I think, that we give even licence than suppress the normal flow of opinion. That is the democratic method. But having laid that down, still I would beg to say that there is a limit to the licence that one can allow, more so in times of great peril to the State.
    • Parliamentary Debates [Parliament of India] Pt.2 V.12-13 (1951); also quoted in Glorious Thoughts of Nehru (1964), p. 146
  • I want to go rapidly towards my objective. But fundamentally even the results of action do not worry me so much. Action itself, so long as I am convinced that it is right action, gives me satisfaction. In my general outlook on life I am a socialist and it is a socialist order that I should like to see established in India and the world.
    • Statement of 1951, in Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru Vol. 5 (1987), p. 321
  • I have become a queer mixture of the East and the West ... Out of place everywhere, at home nowhere. Perhaps my thoughts and approach to life are more akin to what is called Western than Eastern, but India clings to me, as she does to all her children, in innumerable ways ... I am a stranger and alien in the West. I cannot be of it. But in my own country also, sometimes I have an exile's feeling.
  • Every little thing counts in a crisis and we want our weight felt and our voice heard in quarters which are for the avoidance of world conflict.
    • Jawaharlal Nehru's Speeches 1949 - 1953 (1954), p. 144
  • Theoretical approaches have their place and are, I suppose, essential but a theory must be tempered with reality.
    • Jawaharlal Nehru's Speeches 1949 - 1953 (1954), p. 235
  • Without peace, all other dreams vanish and are reduced to ashes.
    • Address to the United Nations (28 August 1954); as quoted in The Macmillan Dictionary of Political Quotations (1993) by Lewis D. Eigen and Jonathan Paul Siegel, p. 698
  • The only alternative to coexistence is codestruction.
    • As quoted in The Observer [London] (29 August 1954)
  • Democracy and socialism are means to an end, not the end itself. We talk of the good of society. Is this something apart from, and transcending, the good of the individuals composing it? If the individual is ignored and sacrificed for what is considered the good of the society, is that the right objective to have?
    It was agreed that the individual should not be sacrificed and indeed that real social progress will come only when opportunity is given to the individual to develop, provided "the individual" is not a selected group but comprises the whole community. The touchstone, therefore, should be how far any political or social theory enables the individual to rise above his petty self and thus think in terms of the good of all. The law of life should not be competition or acquisitiveness but cooperation, the good of each contributing to the good of all.
    • As quoted in World Marxist Review : Problems of Peace and Socialism (1958), p. 40
  • You don't change the course of history by turning the faces of portraits to the wall.
    • Statement to Nikita Khrushchev, as quoted in The New York Post (1 April 1959), and in The Cynic's Lexicon : A Dictionary of Amoral Advice (1984) by Jonathon Green, p. 184
  • We talk about a secular state in India. It is perhaps not very easy even to find a good word in Hindi for "secular". Some people think it means something opposed to religion. That obviously is not correct. What it means is that it is state which honours all faiths equally and gives them equal opportunities; that, as a state, it does not allow itself to be attached to one faith or religion, which then becomes the state religion.
    • Statement of 1961, as quoted in Locked Minds, Modern Myths (1997) by T. N. Madan
  • Democracy is good. I say this because other systems are worse. So we are forced to accept democracy. It has good points and also bad. But merely saying that democracy will solve all problems is utterly wrong. Problems are solved by intelligence and hard work.
    • As quoted in The New York Times (15 January 1961), and in Lifetime Speaker's Encyclopedia (1962) by Jacob Morton Braude, p. 173
  • Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit. It is never a narrowing of the mind or a restriction of the human spirit or the country's spirit.
    • The Quintessence of Nehru (1961) edited by K. T. Narasimhachar, p. 120
  • Time is not measured by the passing of years but by what one does, what one feels, and what one achieves.
    • As quoted in Al Arab Vol. 9 (1970) by the League of Arab States, p. 9
  • America is a country no one should go to for the first time.
    • As quoted in The Traveling Curmudgeon : Irreverent Notes, Quotes, and Anecdotes on Dismal Destinations, Excess Baggage, The Full Upright Position, and Other Reasons Not To Go There (2003) by Jon Winokur, p. 5
  • We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.
    • As quoted in Building A Life Of Value : Timeless Wisdom to Inspire and Empower Us (2005) by Jason A. Merchey, p. 74

The Discovery of India (1946)

  • The discovery of India — what have I discovered? It was presumptuous of me to imagine that I could unveil her and find out what she is today and what she was in the long past. Today she is four hundred million separate individual men and women, each differing from the other, each living in a private universe of thought and feeling. If this is so in the present, how much more so to grasp that multitudinous past of innumerable successions of human beings. Yet something has bound them together and binds them still. India is a geographical and economic entity, a cultural unity amidst diversity, a bundle of contradictions held together by strong but invisible threads. Overwhelmed again and again her spirit was never conquered, and today when she appears to be a plaything of a proud conqueror, she remains unsubdued and unconquered. About her there is the elusive quality of a legend of long ago; some enchantment seems to have held her mind. She is a myth and an idea, a dream and a vision, and yet very real and present and pervasive.
  • The world of today has achieved much, but for all its declared love for humanity, it has based itself far more on hatred and violence than on the virtues that make one human. War is the negation of truth and humanity. War may be unavoidable sometimes, but its progeny are terrible to contemplate. Not mere killing, for man must die, but the deliberate and persistent propagation of hatred and falsehood, which gradually become the normal habits of the people. It is dangerous and harmful to be guided in our life's course by hatreds and aversions, for they are wasteful of energy and limit and twist the mind and prevent it from perceiving truth.
  • History is almost always written by the victors and conquerors and gives their view. Or, at any rate, the victors' version is given prominence and holds the field.

A Tryst With Destiny (1947)

The ambition of the greatest men of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but so long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over.
Speech in the Constituent Assembly of India, on the eve of India's independence (14 August 1947) Full text at Wikisource
  • 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.
  • Freedom and power bring responsibility.
  • The ambition of the greatest men of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but so long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over.
    And so we have to labour and to work, and work hard, to give reality to our dreams. Those dreams are for India, but they are also for the world, for all the nations and peoples are too closely knit together today for any one of them to imagine that it can live apart. Peace has been said to be indivisible; so is freedom, so is prosperity now, and so also is disaster in this One World that can no longer be split into isolated fragments.

The Light Has Gone Out (1948)

Speech after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi (30 January 1948) Full text online
The light has gone out, I said, and yet I was wrong. For the light that shone in this country was no ordinary light...
  • Friends and Comrades, the light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere. I do not know what to tell you and how to say it. Our beloved leader, Bapu as we called him, the Father of the Nation, is no more.
  • The light has gone out, I said, and yet I was wrong. For the light that shone in this country was no ordinary light. The light that has illumined this country for these many years will illumine this country for many more years, and a thousand years later, that light will be seen in this country and the world will see it and it will give solace to innumerable hearts. For that light represented something more than the immediate past, it represented the living, the eternal truths, reminding us of the right path, drawing us from error, taking this ancient country to freedom.
  • A great disaster is a symbol to us to remember all the big things of life and forget the small things of which we have thought too much. In his death he has reminded us of the big things of life, the living truth, and if we remember that, then it will be well with India.

Speech to the US Congress (13 October 1949)

Full text of Speech
  • Where freedom is menaced or justice threatened or where aggression takes place, we cannot be and shall not be neutral.
  • We have achieved political freedom but our revolution is not yet complete and is still in progress, for political freedom without the assurance of the right to live and to pursue happiness, which economic progress alone can bring, can never satisfy a people. Therefore, our immediate task is to raise the living standards of our people, to remove all that comes in the way of the economic growth of the nation. We have tackled the major problem of India, as it is today the major problem of Asia, the agrarian problem. Much that was feudal in our system of land tenure is being changed so that the fruits of cultivation should go to the tiller of the soil and that he may be secure in the possession of the land he cultivates. In a country of which agriculture is still the principal industry, this reform is essential not only for the well-being and contentment of the individual but also for the stability of society. One of the main causes of social instability in many parts of the world, more especially in Asia, is agrarian discontent due to the continuance of systems of land tenure which are completely out of place in the modem world. Another — and one which is also true of the greater part of Asia and Africa — is the low standard of living of the masses.
  • India is industrially more developed than many less fortunate countries and is reckoned as the seventh or eighth among the world's industrial nations. But this arithmetical distinction cannot conceal the poverty of the great majority of our people. To remove this poverty by greater production, more equitable distribution, better education and better health, is the paramount need and the most pressing task before us and we are determined to accomplish this task. We realize that self-help is the first condition of success for a nation, no less than for an individual. We are conscious that ours must be the primary effort and we shall seek succour from none to escape from any part of our own responsibility. But though our economic potential is great, its conversion into finished wealth will need much mechanical and technological aid. We shall, therefore, gladly welcome such aid and co-operation on terms that are of mutual benefit. We believe that this may well help in the solution of the larger problems that confront the world. But we do not seek any material advantage in exchange for any part of our hard-won freedom.

Autobiography (1936; 1949; 1958)

Several editions of Nehru's autobiography were published in his lifetime, including An Autobiography (1936), Jawaharlal Nehru, An Autobiography, with Musings on Recent Events in India (1949), and Toward Freedom : The Autobiography of Jawaharlal Nehru (1958) Some passages occur in all of these, but with slight variations of wording.
A leader or a man of action in a crisis almost always acts subconsciously and then thinks of the reasons for his action.
  • Religion merges into mysticism and metaphysics and philosophy. There have been great mystics, attractive figures, who cannot easily be disposed of as self-deluded fools. Yet, mysticism (in the narrow sense of the word) irritates me; it appears to be vague and soft and flabby, not a rigorous discipline of the mind but a surrender of mental faculties and living in a sea of emotional experience. The experience may lead occasionally to some insight into inner and less obvious processes, but it is also likely to lead to self-delusion.
  • Essentially I am interested in this world, in this life, not in some other world or future life. Whether there is such a thing as soul, or whether there is survival after death or not, I do not know; and important as these questions are, the do not trouble me the least.
  • What the mysterious is I do not know. I do not call it God because God has come to mean much that I do not believe in. I find myself incapable of thinking of a deity or of any unknown supreme power in anthropomorphic terms, and the fact that many people think so is continually a source of surprise to me. Any idea of a personal God seems very odd to me.
    Intellectually, I can appreciate to some extent the conception of monism, and I have been attracted towards the Advaita (non-dualist) philosophy of the Vedanta, though I do not presume to understand it in all its depth and intricacy, and I realise that merely an intellectual appreciation of such matters does not carry one far.
  • India is supposed to be a religious country above everything else, and Hindu and Moslem and Sikh and others take pride in their faiths and testify to their truth by breaking heads. The spectacle of what is called religion, or at any rate organised religion, in India and elsewhere has filled me with horror, and I have frequently condemned it and wished to make a clean sweep of it. Almost always it seems to stand for blind belief and reaction, dogma and bigotry, superstition and exploitation, and the preservation of vested interests. And yet I knew well that there was something else in it, something which supplied a deep inner craving of human beings. How else could it have been the tremendous power it has been and brought peace and comfort to innumerable tortured souls? Was that peace merely the shelter of blind belief and absence of questioning, the calm that comes from being safe in harbour, protected from the storms of the open sea, or was it something more? In some cases certainly it was something more.
    But organized religion, whatever its past may have been, today is largely an empty form devoid of real content. Mr. G. K. Chesterton has compared it (not his own particular brand of religion, but other!) to a fossil which is the form of an animal or organism from which all its own organic substance has entirely disappeared, but has kept its shape, because it has been filled up by some totally different substance. And, even where something of value still remains, it is enveloped by other and harmful contents. That seems to have happened in our Eastern religions as well as in the Western.
  • I knew that Gandhiji usually acts on instinct (I prefer to call it that than the "inner voice" or an answer to prayer) and very often that instinct is right. He has repeatedly shown what a wonderful knack he has of sensing the mass mind and of acting at the psychological moment. The reasons which he afterward adduces to justify his action are usually afterthoughts and seldom carry one very far. A leader or a man of action in a crisis almost always acts subconsciously and then thinks of the reasons for his action.
  • Action to be effective must be directed to clearly conceived ends. Life is not all logic, and those ends will have to be varied from time to time to fit in with it, but some end must always be clearly envisaged.
  • To be in good moral condition requires at least as much training as to be in good physical condition. But that certainly does not mean asceticism or self-mortification. Nor do I appreciate in the least the idealization of the "simple peasant life." I have almost a horror of it, and instead of submitting to it myself I want to drag out even the peasantry from it, not to urbanization, but to the spread of urban cultural facilities to rural areas.
  • Organised religion allying itself to theology and often more concerned with its vested interests than with the things of the spirit encourages a temper which is the very opposite of science. It produces narrowness and intolerance, credulity and superstition, emotionalism and irrationalism. It tends to close and limit the mind of man and to produce a temper of a dependent, unfree person.
    Even if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him, so Voltaire, said ... perhaps that is true, and indeed the mind of man has always been trying to fashion some such mental image or conception which grew with the mind's growth. But there is something also in the reverse proposition: even if God exist, it may be desirable not to look up to Him or to rely upon Him. Too much dependence on supernatural forces may lead, and has often led, to loss of self-reliance in man, and to a blunting of his capacity and creative ability. And yet some faith seems necessary in things of the spirit which are beyond the scope of our physical world, some reliance on moral, spiritual, and idealistic conceptions, or else we have no anchorage, no objectives or purpose in life. Whether we believe in God or not, it is impossible not to believe in something, whether we call it a creative life-giving force, or vital energy inherent in matter which gives it its capacity for self-movement and change and growth, or by some other name, something that is as real, though elusive, as life is real when contrasted with death.

Quotes about Nehru

  • So important to all of us, that if he did not exist — as Voltaire said of God — he would have to be invented. ... One of the most difficult men with whom I have ever had to deal.
  • My father was a statesman, I’m a political woman. My father was a saint. I’m not.
  • Thirty years of struggle and sacrifice have left their mark. Each year has taken away something of the warmth, gaiety and outgoing charm ... The brown eyes that were ever ready to sparkle at some witty sally often hold an expression now of hard defiance or weary frustration. His face is that of a tired man who seems to be driven by some internal force which never relents, never lets go. His smile today is the smile of a self-possessed man, a polite Prime Minister, fully aware of his power, defying any criticism... In the eyes of the world, he is undoubtedly the only man in India who can guide and control her destiny in these difficult times. Nevertheless, there is danger for him and for India if he is spoiled too much with adulation. In his own words, "It must be checked. We want no Caesars!"
  • Upon Gandhi's assassination in 1948, a year after independence, Nehru, the country's first Prime Minister, became the keeper of the national flame, the most visible embodiment of India's struggle for freedom. Gandhi's death could have led Nehru to assume untrammeled power. Instead, he spent a lifetime trying to instill the habits of democracy in his people — a disdain for dictators, a respect for parliamentary procedures, an abiding faith in the constitutional system. He himself was such a convinced democrat that, at the crest of his rise, he authored an anonymous article warning Indians of the dangers of giving dictatorial temptations to Jawaharlal Nehru. "He must be checked," he wrote of himself. "We want no Caesars."

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File:Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru (November 14 1889 - May 27 1964) was the leader (prime minister) of India for 17 years immediately after 1947, when India became independent. He was born in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh state, India.

During the struggle for Indian independence from British rule, Nehru was jailed many times. During these periods, he used to write long letters to his daughter, Indira, on Indian and World history. These letters were remarkably well written and became very successful books when published later as Glimpses of World History and The discovery of India.

His father Motilal Nehru, was also an important figure in the Indian freedom struggle, and his daughter Indira Gandhi and grandsons Rajiv Gandhi went on to become prime ministers of India.

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