Jawaharlal Nehru was India’s first Prime Minister, its longest serving Prime Minister, a key figure in the country’s fight for independence from British rule and the successor to the revered Mahatma Gandhi. He was born in 1889 and died in 1964. His father, Motilal Nehru, was also a prominent figure in the struggle to gain independence and was a politician and a barrister. Jawaharlal Nehru was educated at home and then in Britain. He attended an independent boys’ school in Harrow and then Trinity College at the esteemed University of Cambridge. He studied law and was a fully fledged lawyer by 1912. At a young age, he became the leader of the Indian National Congress under the guidance of Mahatma Gandhi. Nehru was particularly in favour of Gandhi’s non-violent approach to conveying ideas and achieving difficult, sometimes ‘illegal’, objectives in the name of equality and independence. Eventually, he became this group’s president. It was during his presidency that Gandhi requested the Civil Disobedience Movement (1930), which was a success and forced Britain to take notice of the dire need for change in the political running of India. This Congress enjoyed widespread popularity and Nehru was elected its president in 1936, 1937 and 1946.
In 1945, after serving three years in prison for his part in the Quit India Movement, Nehru played a key function in the negotiations that, just two years later, led to the emergence of the powers of India and Pakistan. This resulted in the subcontinent’s partitioning and an entirely new procedure of governance being implemented.
When India finally gained independence from the rule of Britain and its Queen in 1947, Nehru had the grand privilege of hoisting the flag of the newly governed country. Because of his respect for and adherence to the principles of Mahatma Gandhi, as well as his desires for the country of his birth, this was a particularly proud and significant moment for Nehru. This had lifelong implications for all Indians, and his years of fighting had finally come to fruition.
Nehru demonstrated particular concern for the financially inferior and the underprivileged sectors of Indian society. He also supported the ideals of democracy and liberalism. These values and priorities motivated him to institute policies that worked towards bettering the quality of life for these down-trodden ones. Many of the policies implemented are still in use today. Because of the long-standing nature of his position, he ensured that these principles were inculcated into the minds and hearts of his people over years of repetition and consistency.
Since Nehru’s rule, his daughter (Indira Gandhi) and his grandson (Rajiv Gandhi) have also been elected as India’s Prime Ministers.
Jawaharlal Nehru made some poignant statements during his time in India’s political arena. Some of these include:
“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.”
“Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit.”
“Democracy and socialism are means to an end, not the end itself.”
“Facts are facts and will not disappear on account of your likes.”
“Failure comes only when we forget our ideals and objectives and principles.”
“Great causes and little men go ill together.”
“Loyal and efficient work in a great cause, even though it may not be immediately recognized, ultimately bears fruit.”
“Peace is not a relationship of nations. It is a condition of mind brought about by a serenity of soul. Peace is not merely the absence of war. It is also a state of mind. Lasting peace can come only to peaceful people.”