|Nick Name:||Chacha Nehru, Panditji|
|Height:||173 cm (5' 9'')|
|Birth Day:||November 14, 1889|
|Death Date:||May 27, 1964 (age 74)|
|Birth Place:||Allahabad, India|
|#1||Indira Gandhi||Daughter||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||66||Politician|
|#2||Motilal Nehru||Father||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||158||Politician|
|#5||Rajiv Gandhi||Grandson||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||46||Politician|
|#6||Priyanka Gandhi||Great-granddaughter||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||48||Celebrity Family Member|
|#7||Varun Gandhi||Great-grandson||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||40||Politician|
|#8||Rahul Gandhi||Great-grandson||$3 Million||N/A||50||Politician|
|#9||Swarup Rani Nehru||Mother||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#10||Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit||Sister||N/A||N/A||N/A|
As per our current Database, Jawaharlal Nehru died on May 27, 1964 (age 74).
At age 13, he became a member of the Theosophical Society in India.
Jawaharlal Nehru was born on 14 November 1889 in Allahabad in British India. His father, Motilal Nehru (1861–1931), a self-made wealthy barrister who belonged to the Kashmiri Pandit community, served twice as President of the Indian National Congress, in 1919 and 1928. His mother, Swarup Rani Thussu (1868–1938), who came from a well-known Kashmiri Brahmin family settled in Lahore, was Motilal's second wife, the first having died in childbirth. Jawaharlal was the eldest of three children, two of whom were girls. The elder sister, Vijaya Lakshmi, later became the first female president of the United Nations General Assembly. The youngest sister, Krishna Hutheesing, became a noted writer and authored several books on her brother.
Nehru became an ardent nationalist during his youth. The Second Boer War and the Russo-Japanese War intensified his feelings. About the latter he wrote, "[The] Japanese victories [had] stirred up my enthusiasm.… Nationalistic ideas filled my mind.… I mused of Indian freedom and Asiatic freedom from the thraldom of Europe." Later, when he had begun his institutional schooling in 1905 at Harrow, a leading school in England, he was greatly influenced by G. M. Trevelyan's Garibaldi books, which he had received as prizes for academic merit. He viewed Garibaldi as a revolutionary hero. He wrote: "Visions of similar deeds in India came before, of [my] gallant fight for [Indian] freedom and in my mind India and Italy got strangely mixed together."
Nehru went to Trinity College, Cambridge in October 1907 and graduated with an honours degree in natural science in 1910. During this period, he also studied politics, economics, history, and literature with little interest. The writings of Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, John Maynard Keynes, Bertrand Russell, Lowes Dickinson, and Meredith Townsend moulded much of his political and economic thinking.
After completing his degree in 1910, Nehru moved to London and studied law at Inner temple Inn During this time, he continued to study the scholars of the Fabian Society including Beatrice Webb. He was called to the Bar in 1912.
After returning to India in August 1912, Nehru enrolled himself as an advocate of the Allahabad High Court and tried to settle down as a barrister. But, unlike his father, he had very little interest in his profession and did not relish either the practice of law or the company of lawyers: "Decidedly the atmosphere was not intellectually stimulating and a sense of the utter insipidity of life grew upon me." His involvement in nationalist politics would gradually replace his legal practice in the coming years.
Within months of his return to India in 1912, Nehru attended an annual session of the Indian National Congress in Patna. Congress in 1912 was the party of moderates and elites, and he was disconcerted by what he saw as "very much an English-knowing upper-class affair." Nehru harboured doubts regarding the effectiveness of Congress but agreed to work for the party in support of the Indian civil rights movement led by Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa, collecting funds for the movement in 1913. Later, he campaigned against indentured labour and other such discrimination faced by Indians in the British colonies.
The influence of the moderates on Congress politics began to wane after Gokhale died in 1915. Anti-moderate leaders such as Annie Besant and Bal Gangadhar Tilak took the opportunity to call for a national movement for Home Rule. However, in 1915, the proposal was rejected because of the reluctance of the moderates to commit to such a radical course of action.
Besant nevertheless formed a league for advocating Home Rule in 1916, and Tilak, on his release from a prison term, had in April 1916 formed his own league. Nehru joined both leagues but worked especially for the former. He remarked later that "[Besant] had a very powerful influence on me in my childhood…even later when I entered political life her influence continued." Another development which brought about a radical change in Indian politics was the espousal of Hindu-Muslim unity with the Lucknow Pact at the annual meeting of the Congress in December 1916. The pact had been initiated earlier in the year at Allahabad at a meeting of the All India Congress Committee which was held at the Nehru residence at Anand Bhawan. Nehru welcomed and encouraged the rapprochement between the two Indian communities.
Several nationalist leaders banded together in 1916 under the leadership of Annie Besant to voice a demand for self-governance, and to obtain the status of a Dominion within the British Empire as enjoyed by Australia, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, and Newfoundland at the time. Nehru joined the movement and rose to become secretary of Besant's Home Rule League.
Nehru married Kamala Kaul in 1916. Their only daughter Indira was born a year later in 1917. Kamala gave birth to a boy in November 1924, but he lived for only a week. Indira married Feroze Gandhi in 1942. They had two sons – Rajiv (b. 1944) and Sanjay (b. 1946).
In June 1917, Besant was arrested and interned by the British government. The Congress and various other Indian organisations threatened to launch protests if she were not set free. The British government was subsequently forced to release Besant and make significant concessions after a period of intense protest.
The first big national involvement of Nehru came at the onset of the Non-Cooperation movement in 1920. He led the movement in the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh). Nehru was arrested on charges of anti-governmental activities in 1921, and was released a few months later. In the rift that formed within the Congress following the sudden closure of the Non-Cooperation movement after the Chauri Chaura incident, Nehru remained loyal to Gandhi and did not join the Swaraj Party formed by his father Motilal Nehru and CR Das. In 1923, Nehru suffered imprisonment in Nabha, a princely state, when he went there to see the struggle that was being waged by the Sikhs against the corrupt Mahants.
Nehru played a leading role in the development of the internationalist outlook of the Indian independence struggle. He sought foreign allies for India and forged links with movements for independence and democracy all over the world. In 1927, his efforts paid off and the Congress was invited to attend the congress of oppressed nationalities in Brussels in Belgium. The meeting was called to coordinate and plan a common struggle against imperialism. Nehru represented India and was elected to the Executive Council of the League against Imperialism that was born at this meeting.
Nehru was one of the first leaders to demand that the Congress Party should resolve to make a complete and explicit break from all ties with the British Empire. His resolution for independence was approved at the Madras session of Congress in 1927 despite Gandhi's criticism. At that time he also formed Independence for India league, a pressure group within the Congress. In 1928, Gandhi agreed to Nehru's demands and proposed a resolution that called for the British to grant dominion status to India within two years. If the British failed to meet the deadline, the Congress would call upon all Indians to fight for complete independence. Nehru was one of the leaders who objected to the time given to the British—he pressed Gandhi to demand immediate actions from the British. Gandhi brokered a further compromise by reducing the time given from two years to one. Nehru agreed to vote for the new resolution.
The All India States Peoples Conference (AISPC) was formed in 1927 and Nehru, who had been supporting the cause of the people of the princely states for many years, was made the President of the organization in 1939. He opened up its ranks to membership from across the political spectrum. The body would play an important role during the political integration of India, helping Indian leaders Vallabhbhai Patel and V. P. Menon (to whom Nehru had delegated the task of integrating the princely states into India) negotiate with hundreds of princes.
Nehru drafted the policies of the Congress and a future Indian nation in 1929. He declared that the aims of the congress were freedom of religion; right to form associations; freedom of expression of thought; equality before law for every individual without distinction of caste, colour, creed, or religion; protection to regional languages and cultures, safeguarding the interests of the peasants and labour; abolition of untouchability; introduction of adult franchise; imposition of prohibition, nationalisation of industries; socialism; and establishment of a secular India. All these aims formed the core of the "Fundamental Rights and Economic Policy" resolution drafted by Nehru in 1929–31 and were ratified in 1931 by the Congress party session at Karachi chaired by Vallabhbhai Patel.
Demands for dominion status were rejected by the British in 1929. Nehru assumed the presidency of the Congress party during the Lahore session on 29 December 1929 and introduced a successful resolution calling for complete independence. Nehru drafted the Indian declaration of independence, which stated:
After the Lahore session of the Congress in 1929, Nehru gradually emerged as the paramount leader of the Indian independence movement. Gandhi stepped back into a more spiritual role. Although Gandhi did not officially designate Nehru his political heir until 1942, the country as early as the mid-1930s saw in Nehru the natural successor to Gandhi.
Nehru and most of the Congress leaders were initially ambivalent about Gandhi's plan to begin civil disobedience with a satyagraha aimed at the British salt tax. After the protest gathered steam, they realised the power of salt as a symbol. Nehru remarked about the unprecedented popular response, "it seemed as though a spring had been suddenly released." He was arrested on 14 April 1930 while on train from Allahabad for Raipur. He had earlier, after addressing a huge meeting and leading a vast procession, ceremoniously manufactured some contraband salt. He was charged with breach of the salt law, tried summarily behind prison walls and sentenced to six months of imprisonment.
During the mid-1930s, Nehru was much concerned with developments in Europe, which seemed to be drifting toward another world war. He was in Europe in early 1936, visiting his ailing wife, shortly before she died in a sanitarium in Switzerland. At that time, he emphasised that, in the event of war, India's place was alongside the democracies, though he insisted that India could only fight in support of Great Britain and France as a free country.
Nehru's visit to Europe in 1936 proved to be the watershed in his political and economic thinking. His real interest in Marxism and his socialist pattern of thought stem from that tour. His subsequent sojourns in prison enabled him to study Marxism in more depth. Interested in its ideas but repelled by some of its methods, he could never bring himself to accept Karl Marx's writings as revealed scripture. Yet from then on, the yardstick of his economic thinking remained Marxist, adjusted, where necessary, to Indian conditions.
At the 1936 Lucknow session of 1936, the Congress party, despite opposition from the newly elected Nehru as the party president, agreed to contest the provincial elections to be held in 1937 under the Government of India Act 1935. The elections brought Congress party to power in a majority of the provinces with increased popularity and power for Nehru. Since the Muslim League under Muhammad Ali Jinnah (who was to become the creator of Pakistan) had fared badly at the polls, Nehru declared that the only two parties that mattered in India were the British colonial authorities and the Congress. Jinnah's statements that the Muslim League was the third and "equal partner" within Indian politics was widely rejected. Nehru had hoped to elevate Maulana Azad as the preeminent leader of Indian Muslims, but in this, he was undermined by Gandhi, who continued to treat Jinnah as the voice of Indian Muslims.
In the 1930s, the Congress Socialist Party group was formed within the INC under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan, Narendra Deo, and others. Nehru, however, never joined the group but did act as bridge between them and Gandhi. He had the support of the left-wing Congressmen Maulana Azad and Subhas Chandra Bose. The trio combined to oust Dr. Prasad as Congress President in 1936. Nehru was elected in his place and held the presidency for two years (1936–37). He was then succeeded by his socialist colleagues Bose (1938–39) and Azad (1940–46). During Nehru's second term as general secretary of the Congress, he proposed certain resolutions concerning the foreign policy of India. From that time onward, he was given carte blanche in framing the foreign policy of any future Indian nation. Nehru worked closely with Bose in developing good relations with governments of free countries all over the world.
After Kamala's death in 1936, Nehru was rumoured to have relationships with several women. These included Shraddha Mata, Padmaja Naidu and Edwina Mountbatten. Edwina's daughter Pamela acknowledged Nehru's platonic relationship with Edwina. Nehru sent an Indian Navy frigate to the sea burial of Edwina Mountbatten in 1960.
Nehru was one of the first nationalist leaders to realise the sufferings of the people in the states ruled by Indian princes. The nationalist movement had been confined to the territories under direct British rule. He helped to make the struggle of the people in the princely states a part of the nationalist movement for independence. Nehru was also given the responsibility of planning the economy of a future India and appointed the National Planning Commission in 1938 to help in framing such policies. However, many of the plans framed by Nehru and his colleagues would come undone with the unexpected partition of India in 1947.
On 23 October 1939, the Congress condemned the Viceroy's attitude and called upon the Congress ministries in the various provinces to resign in protest. Before this crucial announcement, Nehru urged Jinnah and the Muslim League to join the protest but the latter declined.
In March 1940, Muhammad Ali Jinnah passed what would come to be known as the Pakistan Resolution, declaring that "Muslims are a nation according to any definition of a nation, and they must have their homelands, their territory and their State." This state was to be known as Pakistan, meaning 'Land of the Pure'. Nehru angrily declared that "all the old problems…pale into insignificance before the latest stand taken by the Muslim League leader in Lahore." Linlithgow made Nehru an offer on 8 October 1940, which stated that Dominion status for India was the objective of the British government. However, it referred neither to a date nor method of accomplishment. Only Jinnah received something more precise: "The British would not contemplate transferring power to a Congress-dominated national government the authority of which was 'denied by large and powerful elements in India's national life.'"
In October 1940, Gandhi and Nehru, abandoning their original stand of supporting Britain, decided to launch a limited civil disobedience campaign in which leading advocates of Indian independence were selected to participate one by one. Nehru was arrested and sentenced to four years' imprisonment. On 15 January 1941, Gandhi had stated:
In 1942, Gandhi called on the British to leave India; Nehru, though reluctant to embarrass the allied war effort, had no alternative but to join Gandhi. Following the Quit India resolution passed by the Congress party in Bombay on 8 August 1942, the entire Congress working committee, including Gandhi and Nehru, was arrested and imprisoned. Most the Congress working committee including, Nehru, Abdul Kalam Azad, Sardar Patel were incarcerated at the Ahmednagar Fort until 15 June 1945.
During the period where all of the Congress leadership were in jail, the Muslim League under Jinnah grew in power. In April 1943, the League captured the governments of Bengal and, a month later, that of the North West Frontier Province. In none of these provinces had the League previously had a majority – only the arrest of Congress members made it possible. With all the Muslim dominated provinces except the Punjab under Jinnah's control, the artificial concept of a separate Muslim State was turning into a reality. However, by 1944, Jinnah's power and prestige were on the wane.
A general sympathy towards the jailed Congress leaders was developing among Muslims, and much of the blame for the disastrous Bengal famine of 1943–44 during which two million died, had been laid on the shoulders of the province's Muslim League government. The numbers at Jinnah's meetings, once counted in thousands soon numbered only a few hundreds. In despair, Jinnah left the political scene for a stay in Kashmir. His prestige was restored unwittingly by Gandhi, who had been released from prison on medical grounds in May 1944 and had met Jinnah in Bombay in September. There he offered the Muslim leader a plebiscite in the Muslim areas after the war to see whether they wanted to separate from the rest of India. Essentially, it was an acceptance of the principle of Pakistan – but not in so many words. Jinnah demanded that the exact words be said; Gandhi refused and the talks broke down. Jinnah, however, had greatly strengthened his own position and that of the League. The most influential member of Congress had been seen to negotiate with him on equal terms. Other Muslim League leaders, opposed both to Jinnah and to the partition of India, lost strength.
In July 1946, Nehru pointedly observed that no princely state could prevail militarily against the army of independent India. In January 1947, he said that independent India would not accept the Divine right of kings, and in May 1947, he declared that any princely state which refused to join the Constituent Assembly would be treated as an enemy state. Vallabhbhai Patel and V. P. Menon were more conciliatory towards the princes, and as the men charged with integrating the states, were successful in the task. During the drafting of the Indian constitution, many Indian leaders (except Nehru) of that time were in favour of allowing each princely state or covenanting state to be independent as a federal state along the lines suggested originally by the Government of India Act 1935. But as the drafting of the constitution progressed and the idea of forming a republic took concrete shape, it was decided that all the princely states/covenanting States would merge with the Indian republic.
Nehru and his colleagues were released prior to the arrival of the British 1946 Cabinet Mission to India to propose plans for transfer of power. The agreed plan in 1946 led to elections to the provincial assemblies and the members of the assemblies in turn electing members of the Constituent assembly. Congress won majority of seats in the assembly and headed the interim government with Nehru as the prime minister.
The period before independence in early 1947 was impaired by outbreaks of communal violence and political disorder, and the opposition of the Muslim League led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who were demanding a separate Muslim state of Pakistan. After failed bids to form coalitions, Nehru reluctantly supported the partition of India, according to a plan released by the British on 3 June 1947.
In later years, there emerged a revisionist school of history which sought to blame Nehru for the partition of India, mostly referring to his highly centralised policies for an independent India in 1947, which Jinnah opposed in favour of a more decentralised India.
There were four known assassination attempts on Nehru. The first attempt on his life was during partition in 1947 while he was visiting North-West Frontier Province (now in Pakistan) in a car. The second one was by a knife-wielding rickshaw-puller near Nagpur in 1955. The third one happened in Bombay in 1956. The fourth one was a failed bombing attempt on train tracks in Maharashtra in 1961. Despite threats to his life, Nehru despised having too much security around him and did not like to disrupt traffic due to his movement.
On 30 January 1948, Gandhi was shot while he was walking to a platform from which he was to address a prayer meeting. The assassin, Nathuram Godse, was a Hindu nationalist with links to the extremist Hindu Mahasabha party, who held Gandhi responsible for weakening India by insisting upon a payment to Pakistan. Nehru addressed the nation through radio:
Nehru, while adverse to war, led the preparations and actual campaigns against Pakistan with regard to Kashmir. He used overwhelming military force to seize Hyderabad In 1948 and Goa In 1961. He was keenly sensitive regarding the geostrategic and military strengths and weaknesses of India in 1947. While laying the foundation stone of the National Defence Academy in 1949, he stated: "We, who for generations had talked about and attempted in everything a peaceful way and practised non-violence, should now be, in a sense, glorifying our army, navy and air force. It means a lot. Though it is odd, yet it simply reflects the oddness of life. Though life is logical, we have to face all contingencies, and unless we are prepared to face them, we will go under. There was no greater prince of peace and apostle of non-violence than Mahatma Gandhi...but yet, he said it was better to take the sword than to surrender, fail or run away. We cannot live carefree assuming that we are safe. Human nature is such. We cannot take the risks and risk our hard-won freedom. We have to be prepared with all modern defense methods and a well-equipped army, navy and air force."
Nehru envisioned the development of nuclear weapons and established the Atomic Energy Commission of India in 1948. Nehru also called Dr. Homi J. Bhabha, a nuclear physicist, who was entrusted with complete authority over all nuclear-related affairs and programs and answered only to Nehru himself. Indian nuclear policy was set by unwritten personal understanding between Nehru and Bhabha. Nehru famously said to Bhabha, "Professor Bhabha take care of Physics, leave international relation to me". From the outset in 1948, Nehru had high ambition to develop this program to stand against the industrialised states, and to establish a nuclear weapons capability as part of India's regional superiority to other South-Asian states, most particularly Pakistan. Nehru also told Bhabha, and later it was told by Bhabha to Raja Rammanna, that: "We must have the capability. We should first prove ourselves and then talk of Gandhi, non-violence and a world without nuclear weapons."
At Lord Mountbatten's urging Nehru had promised in 1948 to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir under the auspices of the UN. Kashmir was a disputed territory between India and Pakistan, the two having gone to war with each other over the state in 1947. However, as Pakistan failed to pull back troops in accordance with the UN resolution, and as Nehru grew increasingly wary of the UN, he declined to hold a plebiscite in 1953. His policies on Kashmir and the integration of the state into India were frequently defended in front of the United Nations by his aide, V. K. Krishna Menon, who earned a reputation in India for his passionate speeches.
After the adoption of the constitution on 26 November 1949, the Constituent Assembly continued to act as the interim parliament until new elections. Nehru's interim cabinet consisted of 15 members from diverse communities and parties. The first elections to Indian legislative bodies (National parliament and State assemblies ) under the new constitution of India were held in 1952. Various members of the cabinet resigned from their posts and formed their own parties to contest the elections. During that period, the then Congress party president, Purushottam Das Tandon also resigned his post because of differences with Nehru and since Nehru's popularity was needed for winning elections. Nehru, while being the PM, also was elected the president of Congress for 1951 and 1952. In the election, despite a large number of parties competing, the Congress party under Nehru's leadership won large majorities at both state and national level.
The new Constitution of India, which came into force on 26 January 1950, made India a sovereign democratic republic. The new republic was declared to be a "Union of States". The constitution of 1950 distinguished between three main types of states:
After the fall of Bose from the mainstream of Indian politics (because of his support of violence in driving the British out of India), the power struggle between the socialists and conservatives balanced out. However, Sardar Patel died in 1950, leaving Nehru as the sole remaining iconic national leader, and soon the situation became such that Nehru was able to implement many of his basic policies without hindrance. Nehru's daughter, Indira Gandhi, during the state of Emergency she imposed, was able to fulfill her father's dream by the 42nd amendment (1976) of the Indian constitution by which India officially became "socialist" and "secular."
Nehru led the faction of the Congress party which promoted Hindi as the lingua franca of the Indian nation. After an exhaustive and divisive debate with the non-Hindi speakers, Hindi was adopted as the official language of India in 1950 with English continuing as an associate official language for a period of 15 years, after which Hindi would become the sole official language. Efforts by the Indian Government to make Hindi the sole official language after 1965 were not acceptable to many non-Hindi Indian states, who wanted the continued use of English. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), a descendant of Dravidar Kazhagam, led the opposition to Hindi. To allay their fears, Nehru enacted the Official Languages Act in 1963 to ensure the continuing use of English beyond 1965. The text of the Act did not satisfy the DMK and increased their scepticism that his assurances might not be honoured by future administrations.The Official Languages Act was eventually amended in 1967 by the Congress Government headed by Indira Gandhi to guarantee the indefinite use of Hindi and English as official languages. This effectively ensured the current "virtual indefinite policy of bilingualism" of the Indian Republic.
After independence, Nehru wanted to maintain good relations with Britain and other British commonwealth countries and signed the London Declaration, under which India agreed that, when it becomes a republic in January 1950, it would join the Commonwealth of Nations and accept the British monarch as a "symbol of the free association of its independent member nations and as such the Head of the Commonwealth." The other nations of the Commonwealth recognised India's continuing membership of the association. The reaction back home was favourable; only the far-left and the far-right criticised Nehru's decision.
On the international scene, Nehru was an opponent of military action and of military alliances. He was a strong supporter of the United Nations, except when it tried to resolve the Kashmir question. He pioneered the policy of non-alignment and co-founded the Non-Aligned Movement of nations professing neutrality between the rival blocs of nations led by the US and the USSR. Recognising the People's Republic of China soon after its founding (while most of the Western bloc continued relations with Taiwan), Nehru argued for its inclusion in the United Nations and refused to brand the Chinese as the aggressors in their conflict with Korea. He sought to establish warm and friendly relations with China in 1950, and hoped to act as an intermediary to bridge the gulf and tensions between the communist states and the Western bloc.
Vallabhbhai Patel served as home minister in the interim government. He was instrumental in getting the Congress party working committee to vote for partition. He is also credited with integrating peacefully most of the princely states of India. Patel was a strong rival to Nehru but died in 1950, leaving Nehru as the unchallenged leader of India until his own death in 1964.
C. D. Deshmukh was one of 5 members of the Planning Commission when it was constituted in 1950 by a cabinet resolution. Deshmukh succeeded John Mathai as the Union Finance Minister in 1950 after Mathai resigned in protest over the transfer of certain powers to the Planning Commission. As Finance Minister, Deshmukh continued to remain a member of the Planning Commission. Deshmukh's tenure – during which he delivered six budgets and an interim budget – is noted for the effective management of the Indian economy and its steady growth which saw the economy recover from the impacts of the events of the 1940s.
In December 1953, Nehru appointed the States Reorganisation Commission to prepare for the creation of states on linguistic lines. Headed by Justice Fazal Ali, the commission itself was also known as the Fazal Ali Commission. The efforts of this commission were overseen by Govind Ballabh Pant, who served as Nehru's Home Minister from December 1954. The commission created a report in 1955 recommending the reorganisation of India's states.
Nehru orchestrated the ouster and arrest of Sheikh Abdullah, the then prime minister of Kashmir in 1953, whom he had previously supported but now suspected of harbouring separatist ambitions; Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad replaced him.
While Nehru exempted Muslim law from legislation and they remained unreformed, he did pass the Special Marriage Act in 1954. The idea behind this act was to give everyone in India the ability to marry outside the personal law under a civil marriage. As usual the law applied to all of India, except Jammu and Kashmir (again leading to accusations of selective secularism). In many respects, the act was almost identical to the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, which gives some idea as to how secularised the law regarding Hindus had become. The Special Marriage Act allowed Muslims to marry under it and thereby retain the protections, generally beneficial to Muslim women, that could not be found in the personal law. Under the act polygamy was illegal, and inheritance and succession would be governed by the Indian Succession Act, rather than the respective Muslim personal law. Divorce also would be governed by the secular law, and maintenance of a divorced wife would be along the lines set down in the civil law.
In 1954, Nehru signed with China the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, known in India as the Panchsheel (from the Sanskrit words, panch: five, sheel: virtues), a set of principles to govern relations between the two states. Their first formal codification in treaty form was in an agreement between China and India in 1954 which recognized Chinese sovereignty over Tibet. They were enunciated in the preamble to the "Agreement (with exchange of notes) on trade and intercourse between Tibet Region of China and India", which was signed at Peking on 29 April 1954. Negotiations took place in Delhi from December 1953 to April 1954 between the Delegation of the PRC Government and the Delegation of the Indian Government on the relations between the two countries with respect to the disputed territories of Aksai Chin and South Tibet. By 1957, Chinese premier Zhou Enlai had also succeeded in persuading Nehru to accept the Chinese position on Tibet, thus depriving Tibet of a possible ally, and of the possibility of receiving military aid from India. The treaty was disregarded in the 1960s, but in the 1970s, the Five Principles again came to be seen as important in China–India relations, and more generally as norms of relations between states. They became widely recognised and accepted throughout the region during the premiership of Indira Gandhi and the 3-year rule of the Janata Party (1977–1980). Although the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence were the basis of the 1954 Sino-Indian border treaty, in later years, Nehru's foreign policy suffered from increasing Chinese assertiveness over border disputes and Nehru's decision to grant asylum to the 14th Dalai Lama.
During Deshmukh's tenure the State Bank of India was formed in 1955 through the nationalisation and amalgamation of the Imperial Bank with several smaller banks. The nationalisation of insurance companies and the formation of the Life Insurance Corporation of India was accomplished by him through the Life Insurance Corporation of India Act, 1956.
In 1955, Nehru was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour. President Rajendra Prasad awarded him the honour without taking advice from the Prime Minister as would be the normal constitutional procedure.
In 1956, Nehru had criticised the joint invasion of the Suez Canal by the British, French and Israelis. The role of Nehru, both as Indian Prime Minister and a leader of the Non-Aligned Movement was significant; he tried to be even-handed between the two sides, while denouncing Eden and co-sponsors of the invasion vigorously. Nehru had a powerful ally in the US president Dwight Eisenhower who, if relatively silent publicly, went to the extent of using America's clout in the International Monetary Fund to make Britain and France back down. During the Suez crisis, Nehru's right-hand man, Menon attempted to persuade a recalcitrant Gamal Nasser to compromise with the West, and was instrumental in moving Western powers towards an awareness that Nasser might prove willing to compromise.
In the 1957 elections, Nehru also led the Congress party to victory with 47.8% of the votes and taking 371 of the 494 seats in the 1957 elections.
In 1957, Menon was instructed to deliver an unprecedented eight-hour speech defending India's stand on Kashmir; to date, the speech is the longest ever delivered in the United Nations Security Council, covering five hours of the 762nd meeting on 23 January, and two hours and forty-eight minutes on the 24th, reportedly concluding with Menon's collapse on the Security Council floor. During the filibuster, Nehru moved swiftly and successfully to consolidate Indian power in Kashmir (then under great unrest). Menon's passionate defence of Indian sovereignty in Kashmir enlarged his base of support in India, and led to the Indian press temporarily dubbing him the "Hero of Kashmir". Nehru was then at the peak of his popularity in India; the only (minor) criticism came from the far-right.
Historian Ramachandra Guha writes, "[had] Nehru retired in 1958 he would be remembered as not just India's best prime minister, but as one of the great statesmen of the modern world." Nehru, thus, left behind a disputed legacy, being "either adored or reviled for India's progress or lack of it".
From 1959, in a process that accelerated in 1961, Nehru adopted the "Forward Policy" of setting up military outposts in disputed areas of the Sino-Indian border, including in 43 outposts in territory not previously controlled by India. China attacked some of these outposts, and thus the Sino-Indian War began, which India lost, and China withdrew to pre-war lines in eastern zone at Tawang but retained Aksai Chin which was within British India and was handed over to India after independence. Later, Pakistan handed over some portion of Kashmir near Siachen controlled by Pakistan since 1948 to China.
In the years following independence, Nehru frequently turned to his daughter Indira to look after him and manage his personal affairs. Indira moved into Nehru's official residence to attend to him and became his constant companion in his travels across India and the world. She would virtually become Nehru's chief of staff. Indira was elected as Congress party President in 1959 which aroused criticism for alleged nepotism, although actually Nehru had disapproved of her election, partly because he considered that it smacked of "dynasticism"; he said, indeed it was "wholly undemocratic and an undesirable thing", and refused her a position in his cabinet. Indira herself was at loggerheads with her father over policy; most notably, she used his oft-stated personal deference to the Congress Working Committee to push through the dismissal of the Communist Party of India government in the state of Kerala, over his own objections. Nehru began to be frequently embarrassed by her ruthlessness and disregard for parliamentary tradition, and was "hurt" by what he saw as an assertiveness with no purpose other than to stake out an identity independent of her father.
During most of Nehru's tenure as the prime minister, Indira served her father unofficially as a personal assistant. Towards the end of the 1950s, Indira Gandhi served as the President of the Congress. In that capacity, she was instrumental in getting the Communist led Kerala State Government dismissed in 1959.
The US had hoped to court Nehru after its intervention in favour of Nasser during the Suez crisis. However, Cold War suspicions and the American distrust of Nehruvian socialism cooled relations between India and the US, which suspected Nehru of tacitly supporting the Soviet Union. Nehru maintained good relations with Britain even after the Suez Crisis. Nehru accepted the arbitration of the UK and World Bank, signing the Indus Waters Treaty in 1960 with Pakistani ruler Ayub Khan to resolve long-standing disputes about sharing the resources of the major rivers of the Punjab region.
Nehru specifically wrote Article 44 of the Indian constitution under the Directive Principles of State Policy which states: "The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India." The article has formed the basis of secularism in India. However, Nehru has been criticized for the inconsistent application of the law. Most notably, Nehru allowed Muslims to keep their personal law in matters relating to marriage and inheritance. Also in the small state of Goa, a civil code based on the old Portuguese Family Laws was allowed to continue, and Muslim personal law was prohibited by Nehru. This was the result of the annexation of Goa in 1961 by India, when Nehru promised the people that their laws would be left intact. This has led to accusations of selective secularism.
After years of failed negotiations, Nehru authorised the Indian Army to invade Portuguese-controlled Goa in 1961, and then he formally annexed it to India. It increased his popularity in India, but he was criticised by the communist opposition in India for the use of military force.
Govind Ballabh Pant (1887–1961) was a key figure in the Indian independence movement and later a pivotal figure in the politics of UP and later in the Indian Government. Pant served in Nehru's cabinet as Union Home Minister from 1955 until Pant's death in 1961. As Home Minister, his chief achievement was the re-organisation of States along linguistic lines. He was also responsible for the establishment of Hindi as an official language of the central government and a few states. During his tenure as the Home Minister, Pant was awarded the Bharat Ratna.
In 1962, Nehru led the Congress to victory yet with a diminished majority. Communist and socialist parties were the main beneficiaries although some right-wing groups like Bharatiya Jana Sangh also did well.
Throughout his long tenure as the prime minister, Nehru also held the portfolio of External Affairs. As such, he has been credited as the sole architect of Indian foreign policy by many including Rajendra Prasad Dubey. His idealistic approach focused on giving India a leadership position in nonalignment. He sought to build support among the newly independent nations of Asia and Africa in opposition to the two hostile superpowers contesting the Cold War. The war with China in 1962 caused a radical shift. After that he became more realistic and defense-minded.
The war exposed the unpreparedness of India's military which could send only 14,000 troops to the war zone in opposition to the much larger Chinese army, and Nehru was widely criticised for his government's insufficient attention to defence. In response, Nehru sacked the defence minister V. K. Krishna Menon and sought U.S. military aid. Nehru's improved relations with the US under John F. Kennedy proved useful during the war, as in 1962, President of Pakistan (then closely aligned with the Americans) Ayub Khan was made to guarantee his neutrality in regards to India, who was threatened by "communist aggression from Red China." The Indian relationship with the Soviet Union, criticised by right-wing groups supporting free-market policies was also seemingly validated. Nehru would continue to maintain his commitment to the non-aligned movement despite calls from some to settle down on one permanent ally.
Nehru's health began declining steadily after 1962, and he spent months recuperating in Kashmir through 1963. Some historians attribute this dramatic decline to his surprise and chagrin over the Sino-Indian War, which he perceived as a betrayal of trust. Upon his return from Dehradun on 26 May 1964 he was feeling quite comfortable and went to bed at about 23:30 as usual, he had a restful night until about 06:30 soon after he returned from bathroom, Nehru complained of pain in the back. He spoke to the doctors who attended on him for a brief while and almost immediately Nehru collapsed. He remained unconscious until he died. His death was announced to Lok Sabha at 14:00 local time on 27 May 1964 (same day); cause of death is believed to be heart attack. Draped in the Indian national Tri-colour flag the body of Jawaharlal Nehru was placed for public viewing. "Raghupati Raghava Rajaram" was chanted as the body was placed on the platform. On 28 May, Nehru was cremated in accordance with Hindu rites at the Shantivan on the banks of the Yamuna, witnessed by 1.5 million mourners who had flocked into the streets of Delhi and the cremation grounds.
Numerous public institutions and memorials across India are dedicated to Nehru's memory. The Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi is among the most prestigious universities in India. The Jawaharlal Nehru Port near the city of Mumbai is a modern port and dock designed to handle a huge cargo and traffic load. Nehru's residence in Delhi is preserved as the Teen Murti House now has Nehru Memorial Museum & Library, and one of five Nehru Planetariums that were set in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Allahabad and Pune. The complex also houses the offices of the 'Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund', established in 1964 under the Chairmanship of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, then President of India. The foundation also gives away the prestigious 'Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fellowship', established in 1968. The Nehru family homes at Anand Bhavan and Swaraj Bhavan are also preserved to commemorate Nehru and his family's legacy.
Nehru's daughter, Indira Gandhi, as prime minister, de-recognised all the rulers by a presidential order in 1969, a decision struck down by the Supreme Court of India. Eventually, her government by the 26th amendment to the constitution was successful in derecognizing these former rulers and ending the privy purse paid to them in 1971. In a series of letters Nehru wrote to his ten-year-old daughter Indira in 1928, Letters from a Father to His Daughter, he promotes the republican model of government to her, and heavily criticizes the monarchs of India:
The unpreparedness of the army was blamed on Defence Minister Menon, who "resigned" his government post to allow for someone who might modernise India's military further. India's policy of weaponisation via indigenous sources and self-sufficiency began in earnest under Nehru, completed by his daughter Indira Gandhi, who later led India to a crushing military victory over rival Pakistan in 1971. Toward the end of the war India had increased her support for Tibetan refugees and revolutionaries, some of them having settled in India, as they were fighting the same common enemy in the region. Nehru ordered the raising of an elite Indian-trained "Tibetan Armed Force" composed of Tibetan refugees, which served with distinction in future wars against Pakistan in 1965 and 1971.
Nehru's preference for big state controlled enterprises created a complex system of quantitative regulations, quotas and tariffs, industrial licenses and a host of other controls. This system, known in India as Permit Raj, was responsible for economic inefficiencies that stifled entrepreneurship and checked economic growth for decades until the liberalization policies initiated by Congress government in 1991 under P. V. Narasimha Rao.
Many documentaries about Nehru's life have been produced. He has also been portrayed in fictionalised films. The canonical performance is probably that of Roshan Seth, who played him three times: in Richard Attenborough's 1982 film Gandhi, Shyam Benegal's 1988 television series Bharat Ek Khoj, based on Nehru's The Discovery of India, and in a 2007 TV film entitled The Last Days of the Raj. In Ketan Mehta's film Sardar, Nehru was portrayed by Benjamin Gilani. Girish Karnad's historical play, Tughlaq (1962) is an allegory about the Nehruvian era. It was staged by Ebrahim Alkazi with National School of Drama Repertory at Purana Qila, Delhi in the 1970s and later at the Festival of India, London in 1982.
In 2012, Nehru was ranked number 4 in Outlook's poll of The Greatest Indian.
Currently, Jawaharlal Nehru is 132 years, 6 months and 3 days old. Jawaharlal Nehru will celebrate 133rd birthday on a Monday 14th of November 2022.
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