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JAWAHARLAL NEHRU
Date of Birth 14-11-1900
Nationality Indian
Sunsign Scorpio
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Jawaharlal Nehru ( 14 November 1889 – 27 May 1964 ), often referred to as Panditji, was an Indian politician and statesman, a leader in the Indian independence movement, and the first Prime Minister of independent India. Nehru was elected by the Indian National Congress to assume office as independent India s first Prime Minister in 1947, and re-elected when the Congress party won India s first general election in 1951. He was one of the founders of the international Non-Aligned Movement.

The son of moderate nationalist leader and Congressman Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru became a leader of the left wing of the Congress. He became Congress President under the mentorship of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Nehru advocated Democratic Socialism/Fabian Socialism and a strong public sector as the means by which economic development could be pursued by poorer nations. He was the father of Indira Gandhi and the maternal grandfather of Rajiv Gandhi, who would later serve as the third and sixth Prime Ministers of India respectively.


Family and childhood

Nehru was born into a prominent Kashmiri Brahman family. His father was Motilal Nehru and his mother was Swaruprani Nehru. He had two younger sisters who were named Vijaya Lakshmi and Krishna.Nehru grew up in his birthplace in Allahabad. His father owned a wealthy estate in Allahabad which was called Anand Bhavan. Nehru spent his childhood in the company of many illustrious people who visited the estate to call upon his father, a wealthy barrister and influential nationalist politician with the Indian National Congress.


Education

Nehru was educated by a series of British governesses and tutors until he was sixteen. He joined the Theosophical Society in India at age thirteen. He had Indian tutors who taught him Hindi and Sanskrit. Nehru grew up an atheist.Nehru attended Harrow in England (1905–07) before earning an honours degree in natural science from the Trinity College in Cambridge University (1907–10).Nehru qualified as a barrister after two years (1910–12) at the Inns of Court School of Law in London.


Marriage and children

Nehru returned to India in 1912. His mother arranged his marriage with Kamala Kaul, a girl from a conservative middle-class Kashmiri Brahman family in 1912. Kaul was the grand-daughter of Kishanlal Atal, who had been prime minister of Jaipur, so the match was acceptable to the aristocratic Motilal Nehru. The marriage ceremony finally took place in 1916, when Kamala had attained the age of seventeen years. Nehru and Kaul had a daughter in 1917, who was named Indira Priyadarshini.Kamala gave birth to a pre-matured baby boy, who died in 1924. After that she underwent a miscarriage in 1927. Kamala could not bear this trauma and fell seriously ill. She was then diagnosed of tuberculosis and underwent treatment in various hospitals in the country as well as abroad. Nehru took her abroad for treatment in Switzerland and was with her when she breathed her last in 1936.Nehru was later alleged to have had a relationship with Padmaja Naidu, who was the daughter of his friend Sarojini Naidu. In the 1940s, Nehru was alleged to have had an affair with Edwina Mountbatten, who was the wife of Louis Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India.


Legal career and political activities

On his return from England in 1912, Nehru joined the Allahabad High Court as a barrister, but soon he lost interest in a legal career. Rather he was attracted towards the national movement for home rule. Nehru made his first appearance at the Congress platform as a delegate to the Bankipore session in 1912. During World War I, Nehru volunteered for the St. John Ambulance and spoke out against the censorship acts passed by the British government in India. He also worked for the All India Home Rule League under Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Annie Beasant. Nehru campagined on behalf of the Congress against the indentured labour system forced upon Indian workers in Fiji as well as the discrimination faced by Indians in South Africa.In 1916, the leaders of India met at the Anand Bhavan to hammer out the Lucknow Pact, which united the reunified Congress with the Muslim League. The Lucknow session in 1916 first brought together the three men who would shape the destiny of the subcontinent; Nehru, Jinnah, and Gandhi.Nehru became Secretary of the All India Home Rule League in 1918.His father had meanwhile become President of the Allahabad branch of the League and had rallied the Congress moderates in support of Annie Beasant, who had been arrested by the British in June 1917. Nehru, who had been working to provide military training for the Indian middle-class in cooperation with the British through the Indian Defense Forces (modelled on the European defense forces in India), managed to convince the committee members of the project (led by his father, Tej Bahadur Sapru, and C. Y. Chintamani) - to call it off as a protest against the arrest of Beasant.In 1915 Nehru became active in the functioning of the Kisan Sabha (farmers association) of Uttar Pradesh and became its deputy president in 1918. Nehru s contacts with peasants changed his life style. He soon became one of the most popular leaders of India due to his common people appeal. His work for the farmers and labourers endeared him to the lower middle class and peasant classes of India. These were the qualities that moved Gandhi (who was looking to broaden the support base of the Congress and who had met him in the 1916 Lucknow session of the party) to include Nehru in the inner circles of the Congress.


Struggle for Indian Independence (1916–47)
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    Political apprenticeship

Nehru s political apprenticeship under Gandhi lasted from 1919 to 1929. He was elected general secretary of the Congress party for two terms in the 1920s. His first term began with the Coconada session of the Congress in 1923. Along with Subhas Chandra Bose, Nehru was considered a radical within the party during his tenure as general secretary due to his rejection of dominion status for India in favour of complete independence.Nehru co-operated with Dr. N.S. Hardiker in founding the Hindustani Seva Dal in 1923.Nehru was elected chairman of the Allahabad Municipal Board in 1923.Nehru s second term as general secretary began with the Madras session of the Congress in 1927.


Non-cooperation

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.


Internationalising the struggle

Nehru played a leading role in the development of the internationalist outlook of the Indian freedom struggle. He sought foreign allies for India and forged links with movements for freedom 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.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 early in 1936, visiting his ailing wife, shortly before she died in a sanitarium in Switzerland. Even at this time he emphasized 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 closely worked with Subhash Bose in developing good relations with governments of free countries all over the world. However, the duo split in the late 1930s when Bose agreed to seek the help of fascists in driving the British out of India. At the same time, Nehru had supported the people of Spain who were fighting to defend themselves against Franco. People of many countries volunteered to fight the fascist forces in Spain and formed the International Brigade. Nehru along with his aide V.K. Krishna Menon went to Spain and extended the support of the Indian people to the people of Spain. Nehru refused to meet Mussolini, the dictator of Italy when the latter expressed his desire to meet him. Thus Nehru came to be seen as a champion of freedom and democracy all over the world.


Republicanism

Nehru was one of the first nationalist leaders to realise the sufferings of the people in the states ruled by Indian Princes. He 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. The nationalist movement had been confined to the territories under direct British rule. Nehru helped to make the struggle of the people in the princely states a part of the nationalist movement for freedom. The All India states people s conference was formed in 1927. Nehru who had been supporting the cause of the people of the princely states for many years was made the President of the conference in 1935. 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.K. Krishna Menon (to whom Nehru had delegated the task of integrating the princely states into India) negotiate with hundreds of princes.In July 1946, Nehru pointedly observed that no princely state could prevail militarily against the army of independent India.[19] In January 1947, Nehru 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. 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 (due to the efforts of Nehru), it was decided that all the Princely states/Covenanting States would merge with the Indian republic. Nehru s daughter, Indira Gandhi, de-recognized all the rulers by a presidential order in 1969. But this was struck down by the Supreme Court of India. Eventually, the government by the 26th Amendment to the constitution was successful in abolishing the Princely states of India. The process began by Nehru was finally completed by his daughter by the end of 1971.


Declaration of Independence

Nehru was one of the first leaders to demand that the Congress resolve to make a complete and explicit break from all ties with the British Empire. He introduced a resolution demanding "complete national independence" in 1927, which was rejected because of Gandhi s opposition.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.Demands for dominion status was 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: "We believe that it is the inalienable right of the Indian people, as of any other people, to have freedom and to enjoy the fruits of their toil and have the necessities of life, so that they may have full opportunities of growth. We believe also that if any government deprives a people of these rights and oppresses them the people have a further right to alter it or abolish it. The British government in India has not only deprived the Indian people of their freedom but has based itself on the exploitation of the masses, and has ruined India economically, politically, culturally and spiritually. We believe therefore, that India must sever the British connection and attain Purna Swaraj or complete independence."At midnight on New Year s Eve 1929, Nehru hoisted the tricolour flag of India upon the banks of the Ravi in Lahore. A pledge of independence was read out, which included a readiness to withhold taxes. The massive gathering of public attending the ceremony were asked if they agreed with it, and the vast majority of people were witnessed to raise their hands in approval. 172 Indian members of central and provincial legislatures resigned in support of the resolution and in accordance with Indian public sentiment. The Congress asked the people of India to observe January 26 as Independence Day. The flag of India was hoisted publicly across India by Congress volunteers, nationalists and the public. Plans for a mass civil disobedience was also underway.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.


Civil disobedience

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 realized the power of salt as a symbol. Nehru remarked about the unprecedented popular response, “it seemed as though a spring had been suddenly released.”Nehru was arrested on 14 April 1930 while entraining 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. Nehru nominated Gandhi to succeed him as Congress President during his absence in jail, but Gandhi declined, and Nehru then nominated his father as his successor. With Nehru s arrest the civil disobedience acquired a new tempo, and arrests, firing on crowds and lathi charges grew to be ordinary occurrences.The salt satyagraha succeeded in drawing the attention of the world. Indian, British, and world opinion increasingly began to recognize the legitimacy of claims by the Congress party for independence. Nehru considered the salt satyagraha the high water mark of his association with Gandhi,and felt that its lasting importance was in changing the attitudes of Indians:

    "Of course these movements exercised tremendous pressure on the British Government and shook the government machinery. But the real importance, to my mind, lay in the effect they had on our own people, and especially the village masses....Non-cooperation dragged them out of the mire and gave them self-respect and self-reliance....They acted courageously and did not submit so easily to unjust oppression; their outlook widened and they began to think a little in terms of India as a whole....It was a remarkable transformation and the Congress, under Gandhi s leadership, must have the credit for it.

Architect of India

Nehru elaborated the policies of the Congress and a future Indian nation under his leadership 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 by the All India Congress Committee under Gandhi s leadership. However, some Congress leaders objected to the resolution and decided to oppose Nehru.The espousal of socialism as the Congress goal was most difficult to achieve. Nehru was opposed in this by the right-wing Congressmen Sardar Patel, Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari. Nehru had the support of the left-wing Congressmen Maulana Azad and Subash 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). Nehru was then succeeded by his socialist colleagues Bose (1938–39) and Azad (1940–46). After the fall of Bose from the mainstream of Indian politics (due to 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. The conservative right-wing of the Congress (composed of India s upper class elites) would continue opposing the socialists until the great schism in 1969. Nehru s daughter, Indira Gandhi, 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".During Nehru s second term as general secretary of the Congress, he proposed certain resolutions concerning the foreign policy of India.from that time onwards, he was given carte blanche in framing the foreign policy of any future Indian nation. Nehru developed good relations with governments all over the world. He firmly placed India on the side of democracy and freedom during a time when the world was under the threat of fascism. Nehru was also given the responsibility of planning the economy of a future India. He 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

Awards

In 1955 Nehru was awarded Bharat Ratna, India s highest civilian honour.

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