Context: The Prime Minister of India has paid tributes to the first Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on his death anniversary.
About Pt Jawaharlal Nehru:
- An influential leader in the Indian independence movement and political heir of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru became the nation’s first prime minister in 1947.
- Although faced with the challenge of uniting a vast population diverse in culture, language and religion, he successfully established various economic, social and educational reforms that earned the respect and admiration of millions of Indians.
- His policies of non-alignment and Panchscheel - principles of peaceful coexistence - guided India’s international relations until the outbreak of the Sino-Indian War in 1962.
Jawaharlal Nehru: Early Life:
- Jawaharlal Nehru was born into an affluent Kashmiri Brahman family in Allahabad on November 14, 1889.
- After studying law at London’s Inner Temple, he returned to India at the age of 22 where he practiced law with his father and prominent barrister, Motilal Nehru.
Jawaharlal Nehru: Political Awakening:
- Joined All India Home Rule League: Upon learning of esteemed theosophist Annie Besant’s arrest in 1917, Nehru was moved to join the All India Home Rule League, an organization devoted to obtaining self-government within the British Empire.
- Jallianwala Bagh Massacre: The Massacre of Amritsar, in which hundreds of Indians were killed and more than a thousand others were wounded, outraged Nehru and further solidified his resolve to win India’s independence.
- During the Non-Cooperation Movement (1920-22) led by Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru was imprisoned for the first time for activities against the British government and, over the course of the next two and a half decades, spent a total of nine years in jail.
- President of INC: In 1929, Jawaharlal was elected president of the Indian National Congress—his first leadership role in politics—whereby he promoted the goal of complete independence from Britain as opposed to dominion status.
- Participation in Individual Satyagraha:
To protest against the participation of India in World War II without consulting Indian leaders and confusion created by the August Offer, the individual satyagraha was launched not to seek independence but to affirm the right to speech. Pt. Nehru was chosen as the second satyagrahi in this movement after Vinoba Bhave.
- Quit India Movement:
The members of Congress passed the Quit India resolution on August 8, 1942, demanding political freedom from Britain in exchange for support in the war effort. The following day, the British government arrested all Congress leaders, including Nehru and Gandhi.
- Role in framing of Indian Constitution: He was one of the pioneers of the constituent Assembly. He moved the objective Resolution on 13 December 1946, which became the light for our preamble. He was the chairman of the States Committee, Union Powers Committee and Union Constitution Committee.
Jawaharlal Nehru: Challenges and Legacy as Prime Minister:
On August 15, 1947, India finally gained its independence and Nehru became the nation’s first prime minister.
Amid the celebration of newly acquired freedom, there was also considerable turmoil caused by the
- Mass displacement that followed partition into the separate nations of Pakistan and India.
- Disputes over control of Kashmir.
- These had resulted in the loss of property and lives for several hundred thousand Muslims and Hindus.
- Advocated democratic socialism and secularism.
- Encouraged India’s industrialization beginning with the implementation of the first of his five-year plans in 1951, which emphasized the importance of increasing agricultural production.
- He also promoted scientific and technological advancements.
- Social reforms such as free public education and meals for Indian children, legal rights for women - including the ability to inherit property and divorce their husbands - and laws to prohibit discrimination based on caste.
- During the Cold War, Nehru adopted a policy of non-alignment in which he professed neutrality, but was criticized when he refused to condemn the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 and later requested foreign aid after China invaded India’s northern border in 1962.
- The conflict, known as the Sino-Indian War, had a deleterious effect on Nehru’s health, resulting in death on May 27, 1964.