The first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru gave India a new hope to dream of a free nation. He, along with other leaders gifted us the biggest democracy, the most ambitious republic, a colossal Constitution and an advanced form of secularism. He alsmost single-handedly integrate the entire nation after Indepence from India. He stirred emotions and tears when he said in his speech, “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not fully or in whole measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.”
Such invoking and inspiring speeches is one of the reason why Jawaharlal Nehru is deeply loved and revered among the Indians. It is said that during the first General Assembly Election 0f 1952, Dr.Nehru addressed almost 1/10th population of India. A brilliant statesman and orator, he is even respected in the global sphere.
However, a successful person is not without failures and setbacks. Nehru was an idealist hence even the slightest contrary caused him discomfort. Though he handled them with grace and elan.
The first setback he faced in his illustrious political career was when Subhas Chandra Bose resigned from Congress. Jawaharlal Nehru had attachment towards Gandhi but he also wanted Subhas to be in the Congress as he was modern and had socialist beliefs. Nehru never wanted this division in the Congress but in vain.
The next major dilemma Nehru faced was the Partition and the horrors of the communal riots and the immigration of thousands of refugees. Nehru always wanted peaceful coexistence and equality of all religions. He had to agree to the Partition to avoid more deaths and a civil war. Though his policy of secularism helped him gather people’s support during the election campaign.
In between of all these political conflicts, he was not without personal losses. He lost his dear wife, Kamala Nehru who was Indian activist. Jawaharlal lost her to tubercolosis in Switzterland in 1936. Nehru recalls in his book, “The Discovery of India” reading out to Kamala when she could no longer read due to her weakness. Nehru recounts in his book that he would look at the moon from his prison window and think of her. Kamala was his strength.
Another major and mammoth task after Independence was the consolidation and integration of the Indian states into the Indian Union. States like Kashmir, Junagad and Hyderabad proved to be troublesome. Though it was the work of Srdar Vallabhai Patel to integrate the states. Nehru gave the Tribal Panchsheel policy to integrate the tribal states using humane and considerate ways. One of his principle was that development should be assessed with qulaities and not statistics. He was successful but had faced immense amount of resistance. Nehru never used the Indian Armed Forces until it was the breaking point.
Nehru has been extremely respected by his opposition parties. Nehru had internationalist views as well. Nehru was the brainchild of the NAM or Non Aligned Movement. He shared his idealist vision with the other leaders of newly independent states of Asia and Africa. When the world was grasping in fear of another war due to the Cold War, he saved us from fear and promoted his non-alignment views. He promoted far more modern ideas like economic assistance, non-interferance, integrity and pecaeful co-existence. But this policy was brutally criticized by the Western theorists as it did not fit into the American view. The policy of NAM was also blatantly violated by even his NAM counterparts.
Last but not atleast, Nehru was badly betrayed by his ally he trusted. He had signed an agreement with the Chinese premier Zhou Enlai only to be attacked badly at the Tibetian fronts during the Indo-China War of 1962. Nehru had never felt this betrayed and the condition of his heart worsened. For the first time he was criticized largely by his oppositions in the Parliament. It was a huge embarrassment for him in the world forum. He only wanted to share good values with the still-developing China but alas.
Many information in this article are from the book The Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru. In the book he has delved deep into the foundation of the Indian society since the Indus Valley Civilization and the Aryan society. He fully embraced Indian culture but mixed it with ancient wisdoms that are relevant even n today’s hostile political climate.
Jawaharlal Nehru believed in the Indian people when the British rulers could not even entrust upon us the task of making a Constitution. His failures made him strong and resilient. He truly was the quintessential administrator and the ‘Chacha’ of the beloved children of his nation.