PANDIT JAWAHARLAL NEHRU
“Nehru was born on 14th November, 1889, the son of a wealthy Brahmin lawyer from Kashmir. He went to England at the age of 16 and was educated at the Harrow School and at the University of Cambridge. Returning to India in 1912, he practiced law for some time and in 1919, joined the Indian National Congress, the principal nationalist organization of India, led by Mohandas K Gandhi. Nehru soon became a leader of the nationalist movement; between 1921 and 1945, he was imprisoned nine times by the British administration for his activities for Indian independence. He served as President of the Congress Party from 1929 to 1931, a position he subsequently held six times. Although, Nehru remained a supporter of Gandhi until the latter’s death in 1948, he did not share Gandhi’s belief in passive resistance as a means of driving the British out of India. Instead, he put forth a militant programme involving the adoption of all possible measures short of armed resistance to the British.”
Jawaharlal Nehru, the son of Motilal Nehru was born in Allahabad on 14th November, 1889. He was the first Prime Minister of Independent India. His childhood was privileged; he was tutored at home and then studied in England at Harrow School and Trinity College, Cambridge. He married Kamla Kaul in 1916 and in 1917, their only daughter ‘Indira’ was born.”
Nehru met Mahatma Gandhi in 1916, at an Indian National Congress Party meeting. Thereafter, their lives were entwined, though they differed on several points, largely because of Nehru’s international outlook clashed with Gandhi’s simple Indian outlooks and orthodox views. The turning point in his life came in 1919, when he overheard General Dyer gloating over the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. From this point he vowed to fight the British. Regardless of the criticism, he was one of the most influential leaders in freedom struggle. He was the pioneering articulator of Asian resurgence and an unusually idealistic advocate of consciences in International politics.
The younger Nehru became a leader of more radical wing of the Congress Party and in 1929; he was elected as the party President. The British repeatedly arrested him for civil disobedience strikes and other political actions; he spent half of his next 18 years in jail.
Since 1942, Nehru had started getting recognized as one of the most prominent leaders of the National Congress Party. Four years later, when the British began to prepare for withdrawal from India, he was invited to form an interim government to organize the transition from dependency to independence. During the following year, Nehru attempted to prevent the partition of India into separate Hindu and Muslim States, but a separate Muslim State known as Pakistan was founded. In August 1947, following the final withdrawal of the British and the establishment of India as a self-governing dominion within the Commonwealth, Nehru was the first elected Prime Minister. He continued in that post when India became a republic in 1950 and was returned to office repeatedly until his death 27th May, 1964, in New Delhi.
Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister wanted to build the country a truly democratic and peace loving nation. The speech, he delivered to the Constituent Assembly in New Delhi at midnight on 14th August, 1947, well reflects his vision and views.
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 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 India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.
At the dawn of history, India started on her unending quest and trackless centuries are filled with her striving and the grandeur of her successes and her failures. Through good and ill fortune alike she has never lost sight of that quest or forgotten the ideals which gave her strength. We end today a period of ill fortune and India discovers herself again. The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?
Freedom and power bring responsibility. The responsibility rests upon this Assembly, a sovereign body representing the sovereign people of India. Before the birth of freedom we have endured all the pains of labour and our hearts are heavy with the memory of this sorrow. Some of those pains continue even now. Nevertheless, the past is over and it is the future that beckons to us now.
That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we might fulfill the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today. The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty, ignorance, disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest man 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 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 people 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.
“To the people of India whose representatives we are, we make appeal to join us with faith and confidence in this great adventure. This is no time for petty and destructive criticism, no time for ill-will or blaming others. We have to build the noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell.”
As a Prime Minister, he was fully involved in carrying out India’s Five Year Plans and pursuing a policy of peaceful coexistence with nations of every political identity. He supported the United Nations resolution on Korea in 1950, opposed the British and French move in 1956 at the Suez Canal—and told an aggressive China in 1959, that he would defend India’s borders with armed forces. Under his guidance India became an influential force within the so-called Non-Aligned Nations. His writings include letters published under the titles Glimpses of World History (1936), Letters to Chief Ministers (5 vol., 1987-90) and an autobiography published in the US as Toward Freedom (1941).
He was one of the nationalists who put their life and comfort at stake for the cause of freedom. He is known as the father of institutional democracy and as an architect of Indian policy in all manifestations and as the longest serving Prime Minister of India (1946-64).