India’s first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru died on 27 May 1964.
- Jawaharlal Nehru was born on 14th November 1889 to affluent barrister Motilal Nehru and his wife Swaruprani Thussu at Allahabad, United Provinces.
- He had a privileged childhood thanks to his father’s successful career in the legal profession. He went to England to study at the Harrow School aged 15. He then pursued natural science from Cambridge University.
- He was also interested in politics, literature, history and economics.
- His father was a member of the Indian National Congress and an active participant in the freedom struggle. Nehru was also influenced by the Italian leader Garibaldi.
- Nehru studied law and entered the Bar in 1912. He started his practice at the Allahabad High Court.
- However, he felt inclined towards the independence movement and drifted away from his profession to participate in the movement.
- In 1912, he attended the Patna session of the INC and felt that the party was restricted in its membership to the upper classes of India. He had more radical ideas and espoused complete independence from British rule at a time when most people only demanded home rule or dominion status.
- He came under the spell of Mahatma Gandhi when they met for the first time in 1916. He then advocated non-violence and non-cooperation.
- When his father broke away from the INC in the wake of the cancelling off of the Non-Cooperation Movement by Gandhi due to the violence at Chauri Chaura, Nehru remained with the original party.
- Nehru was also a keen diplomat. Even during the freedom struggle days, he visited several countries where there were similar movements for democratic rights.
- He also understood the importance of bringing together the people of the princely states in the national movement.
- He became the INC’s General Secretary in 1923. He was the party president in the Lahore session in 1929 when the Poorna Swaraj declaration was made for the first time.
- He was the head of the party several times and also was a major face of the freedom movement next to Gandhi. He was jailed on many occasions.
- He headed the Interim Government in 1946. He played a major part in the framing of the Constitution of the country.
- After the country achieved independence, he along with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and his aide V K Krishna Menon successfully integrated the country.
- As a Prime Minister, he followed the Soviet Model of the economy. Nehru also believed in secularism but his selective implementation of this ideal has led to several debates even today. He is said to have secularised many personal laws for the majority community but has left the Muslim personal law from legislation.
- He initiated many projects for the development of the country like the establishment of the IITs, defence academies and so on.
- He also gave political support to the space and nuclear programs of the country.
- Nehru was also responsible for the annexation of Goa after years of failed negotiations with the Portuguese.
- He is the longest-serving PM of the country, having been in office for 17 years. He died in office on 27thMay 1964 aged 74. He died of a heart attack.
- His birth anniversary is observed as ‘Children’s Day’ in India.
Some of Nehru’s works:
- The Discovery of India
- Toward Freedom (Autobiography)
- Glimpses of World History
- Letters from a Father to His Daughter