Jawaharlal Nehru

14 Nov 1889
27 May 1964
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Jawaharlal Nehru was born at Allahabad on November 14, 1889, the son of Pandit Motilal Nehru and Swarup Rani. Motilal Nehru was a renowned lawyer of the North with a huge practice. Jawaharlal, was brought up in luxury, had European governesses and tutors, and was provided with a private swimming pool and tennis Courts He was educated at Harrow and Cambridge and took the Natural SciencesTripos from Trinity College. Later he qualified for the Bar from the Inner Temple.

Back home he joined his father’s Chambers but his heart was not in legal practice, and he also soon got bored with the life of ease upper class Indians were accustomed to. He began to take an active interest in politics and showed early signs of being a radical – he disliked the Moderate group to which his father belonged. Mrs. Besant’s internment caused a change heart among some Moderates and his father too drifted away from the orthodox Moderate position. In 1916 Jawaharlal married Kamala.

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Gandhiji’s satyagraha movement and other events swept him completely into the national struggle. It did not take him long long to emerge as a great national leader. When he was only 40 he was elected to preside over the momentous Lahore session of the Congress in 1929- it was here that the resolution on Puna Swaraj was adopted. He often came into conflict with his father who was for Dominion Status. The two loved each other deeply in spite of their differences and it is likely the son influenced the father.

He had differences with Gandhiji also but these did not come in the way of his faith in the leadership of the Mahatma. Jawaharial so endeared himself to the latter that he wrote: “He is pure as crystal, he is truthful beyond suspicion. He is a knight sans peur, sans reproche. The nation is safe in his hands.” Gandhiji nominated him as his political heir.

Jawaharlal spent many years of his political career in gaol. His life of sacrifice earned him the affection of his countrymen. Indeed next to the Mahatma he was our most popular leader. India and its people became his major concern and during his tour of the country he was moved by the vast crowds that came to see him. He was a man of many interests, fond of nature, particularly the mountains. He was some what impetuous and in him there was a wonderful combination of the man of action and the man of thought. He wrote sensitively and his several books brought hirn international fame-“An Autobiography”, “Glimpses of World History” and “Discovery of India” are among the more notable of his publications.

It is difficult to say which of Panditji’s two periods is more memorable- the one before freedom or the one after it. During both he played a crucial role. His prime ministership of free India was a blessing to the nation. It was mainly because of him that the country did not go to pieces during the first years of upheaval. (We do not of course forget that there were others like Sardar Patel who did much to preserve the country’s integrity. Nehru often differed from the Sardar and once or twice Gandhiji brought them together.)

Jawaharial Nehru was Prime Minister for seventeen years. During this period he worked to take India to the modem era and at the same time earned for it a place in the world. He himself came to be counted among the great leaders of his time, a bitter opponent of colonialism who was looked upon for inspiration by the Afro-Asian world. He will be remembered not only for the dams and laboratories he built and for laying the foundation of heavy industry. He will have his place in history as a man who had a great vision of India and the world and endeavoured to fulfil it by his action.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Independent India, was loved by the people both as a man and a leader. He stands foremost among the builders of modern India, giving it a direction towards socialism in a secular, democratic setting. Writer and historian, Nehru through his books influenced the thinking of generations of Indians and made them thirsty for a free, democratic, socialist, secular India with science and technology as its driving force. He was largely responsible with initiating planned economic development.