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JawaharLal Nehru

JawaharLal Nehru

Nehru’s idea of India’s modern nationhood consisted of four key dimensions:                 democracy, secularism, socialism, and non-alignment

  • Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru (14 November 1889 – 27 May 1964) was a freedom fighter, the first Prime Minister of India and a central figure in Indian politics before and after independence.
  • He emerged as an eminent leader of the Indian independence movement under the tutelage of Mahatma Gandhi and served India as Prime Minister from its establishment as an independent nation in 1947 until his death in 1964.
  • He is considered to be the architect of the modern Indian nationstate: a sovereign, socialist, secular, and democratic republic
  • Under Nehru’s leadership, the Congress emerged as a catch-all party, dominating national and state-level politics and winning consecutive elections in 1951, 1957, and 1962.
  • Nehru implemented policies based on import substitution industrialization and advocated a mixed economy where the government controlled public sector would co-exist with the private sector.
  • He believed that the establishment of basic and heavy industry was fundamental to the development and modernisation of the Indian economy.
  • The policy of non-alignment during the Cold War meant that Nehru received financial and technical support from both power blocs in building India’s industrial base from scratch.
  • Steel mill complexes were built at Bokaro and Rourkela with assistance from the Soviet Union and West Germany.
  • There was substantial industrial development.Industry grew 7.0 percent annually between 1950 and 1965 – almost trebling industrial output and making India the world’s seventh largest industrial country.
  • India’s share of world trade fell from 1.4 per cent in 1951–1960 to 0.5 per cent over 1981–1990.On the other hand, India’s export performance is argued to have actually showed sustained improvement over the period. The volume of exports went up at an annual rate of 2.9 per cent in 1951–1960 to 7.6 per cent in 1971–1980.
  • India’s economy grew faster than both the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • Under Nehru’s leadership, the government attempted to develop India quickly by embarking on agrarian reform and rapid industrialisation.
  • A successful land reform was introduced that abolished giant landholdings, but efforts to redistribute land by placing limits on landownership failed.
  • Agricultural production expanded until the early 1960s, as additional land was brought under cultivation and some irrigation projects began to have an effect.
  • The establishment of agricultural universities, modelled after landgrant colleges in the United States, contributed to the development of the economy. These universities worked with high-yielding varieties of wheat and rice, initially developed in Mexico and the Philippines, that in the 1960s began the Green Revolution.
  • Between 1947 and about 1950, the territories of the princely states were politically integrated into the Indian Union under Nehru and Sardar Patel.
  • The new Constitution of India, which came into force on 26 January 1950, made India a sovereign democratic republic.
  • Nehru declared the new republic to be a “Union of States”.

The constitution of 1950 distinguished between three main types of states:

  1. Part A
  2. Part B
  3. Part C
  • In December 1953, Nehru appointed the States Reorganisation Commission to prepare for the creation of states on linguistic lines.
  • This was headed by Justice Fazal Ali and 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.
  • Under the Seventh Amendment, the existing distinction between Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D states was abolished. The distinction between Part A and Part B states was removed, becoming known simply as “states”.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru was a passionate advocate of education for India’s children and youth, believing it essential for India’s future progress.
  • His government oversaw the establishment of many institutions of higher learning, including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the Indian Institutes of Technology, the Indian Institutes of Management and the National Institutes of Technology.
  • Nehru also outlined a commitment in his five-year plans to guarantee free and compulsory primary education to all of India’s children.
  • 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 fifteen years, after which Hindi would become the sole official language.
  • Nehru led newly independent India from 1947 to 1964, during its first years of independence from British rule. Both the United States and the Soviet Union competed to make India an ally throughout the Cold War.Nehru also maintained good relations with the British Empire.
  • On the international scene, Nehru was a champion of pacifism and a strong supporter of the United Nations. 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 , 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.
  • Nehru, while a pacifist, was not blind to the political and geostrategic reality of India in 1947.
  • 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, 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”.
  • 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.
  • At Lord Mountbatten’s urging Nehru had promised in 1948 to hold a referendum 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.
  • Nehru ordered the arrest of the Kashmiri politician Sheikh Abdullah in 1953, whom he had previously supported but now suspected of harbouring separatist ambitions.
  • 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.
  • 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”.