Jawaharlal Nehru was born into a Kashmiri Pandit family. His father was Motilal Nehru and mother Swaruprani Thussu. His mother belonged to a Kashmiri Brahmin family well-settled in Lahore. She was Motilal Nehru’s second wife.
Jawaharlal Nehru was the eldest of the three siblings. He had two younger sisters. The elder of the two sisters was Vijaylakshmi Pandit who became the President of United Nations General Assembly. His youngest sister was Krishna Hutheesing, was a writer. She wrote many books on her brother as well.
During his childhood, Nehru was tutored at home. He resided in a large residence named Anand Bhawan. One of his tutors was Ferdinand T. Brooks who taught him Theosophy and science. Also, he was inspired to join the Theosophical Society at a very young age of 13 by family friend Annie Besant. But he left the society and did not continue for long.
Nehru took admission in Trinity College, Cambridge in the year 1907. He obtained his honours degree in Natural Sciences in the year 1910. During his college days he was read diverse subjects viz. History, Economics, Literature and Politics, etc. The valuable works of Bertrand Russell, Meredith Townsend, Bernard Shaw, J.M. Keynes, H.G. Wells etc. influenced Nehru’s thinking.
After completing graduation Nehru went on to take admission at Inns of Court School of Law and studied Law there. He cleared his Bar exam in the year 1912 and thus admitted to the English Bar.
Nehru came back to India in August 1912 and enrolled as an advocate of the Allahabad High Court. But he did not have much interest in Law unlike his father.
Nehru married Kamala Nehru in the year 1916. He had a daughter Indira Gandhi who was born just a year after their marriage in 1917. She was his only child. However, Kamala gave birth to baby by as well but he died after a week.
His participation in struggle for independence
Indian politics enticed Nehru since the days when he was in Britain. Consequently, he joined the Indian National Congress when he came back to India in the year 1912. Also he attended the session of INC held at Patna.
• He collected funds for civil rights campaigners that were led by Mahatma Gandhi in the year 1913.
• Further, he also campaigned against the indentured labour as well as discriminations against the Indian labour force then.
• He too raised his voice with the group led by Annie Besant that demanded self rule and the status of a Dominion within the British Empire similar to countries like Australia, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand etc. This movement was named as Home Rule Movement. Nehru became the Secretary in this movement.
• Nehru undertook a major step by participating in Non Cooperation Movement in 1920. He directed this movement in the United Provinces, now known as Uttar Pradesh. Though, he was arrested for his attempts on account of being anti-governmental but was released later on. Also, he did not join his father’s Swaraj Party and remained loyal to Gandhi after the split of Congress after the Chauri Chaura Incedent.
• Nehru worked towards internationalising the Independence struggle and thus was invited by Brussels in Belgium to attend a session of Congress of Oppressed Nationalities. The main aim of this meeting was to start a common struggle against Imperialism.
• Nehru also worked with Subhash Chandra Bose in developing good relations with the government of those nations that were free. But, the two spilt in the late 1930s.
• He was jailed 9 times during the period of 1921 to 1945. During his jail visits he studied Marxism.
• The year 1930 marked the commencement of Round Table Conference. Further, Nehru’s father died in the year 1931 and Nehru started working more closely with Gandhi and witnessed the signing of Gandhi-Irwin pact that stated to release all political leaders from prisoners by British government. On the other hand Gandhi called of the Civil Disobedience Movement. But, unfortunately the pact did not have positive results and both Gandhi and Nehru were jailed on account of starting another Civil Disobedience Movement in the year 1932. Thus, both of them were absent from the Third Round Table Conference.
World War 2
During the commencement of World War 2 British Viceroy Linlithgrow declared that India was waging a war against the British Empire. Nehru was in China then and he rushed back to India. He informed the Viceroy as one of the top leaders of Congress that the Indians will cooperate with British power but on certain conditions. Following were those conditions:
• The colonial power will give India full independence after the war gets over and form a constituent assembly to frame a new constitution.
• Though, the Indian armed forces will remain under the British commander-in-chief, but Indians must be included in the workings of Central government.
The Viceroy rejected all these demands. As a result, Nehru in the year 1939 on October 30, called the various ministries working in different provinces to resign the protest. Also, he asked Jinnah and other Muslim Leagues to join the protest but Jinnah refused. On the contrary Jinnah, asked for a separate nation called Pakistan in the year 1940.
First Prime Minister Of Independent India
Nehru was released from jail when the British Cabinet Power announced the transfer of authority and power. Nehru came to power but the government functioning was hampered time and again by the communal forces demanding Pakistan. After many failed attempts to control the situation and work in a peaceful manner, Nehru agreed to the Partition. He took office on 15 August 1947 and delivered his inaugural speech that was titles “Tryst with Destiny”.
His work after Independence
• Nehru’s Economic policy emphasised on a Mixed Economy set-up where public sector will work parallel with the private sector.
• He also laid emphasis on agriculture and industrialisation to ensure speedy national growth. Thus, he established many agricultural Universities and colleges. These educational institutions worked to produce high-yielding variety of rice and wheat that were initially developed in Mexico and Phillipines.
• Green Revolution was started in the year 1960 to ensure more production of crops and eradicate food scarcity.
• Indian Constitution came into existence in the year 1950, on January 26. Nehru declared India a Union of states.
• Nehru worked towards establishing a robust education system in India and highly advocated the need of education in framing the future of Indian youth. Thus, he established many higher educational institutes in various fields viz. Medical, Engineering, Management, etc. The list of colleges that were started during that era were IITs, IIMs, AIIMS, NITs, etc.
• Also, he recommended the compulsory free primary education for all children as a part of Five-Year Plan.
Nehru’s health deteriorated since 1962. After returning from Dehradun on 26 May 1964 he went to bed comfortably but got up with pain in back. He collapsed while the doctors were attending him. He remained in unconscious state till his death on 27 May 1964. The reason for his death was thought to be due to hear-attack.
His Literary Work
Nehru was a voracious reader as well a great writer. He wrote many books and his major works are as follows:
• The Discovery of India
• Glimpses of World History
• Toward Freedom that was his first Biography
• He also wrote 30 letters to Indira Gandhi when she was just 10 years old studying in Boarding school in Mussoorie. These letters included details about Natural History and story of civilisation. These letters were later on published as a book titles Letters From a Father to His Daughter.
Nehru was awarded Bharat Ratna that is India’s highest Civilian Honour.