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Jawaharlal Nehru was the first Prime Minister of independent India.

He was a key figure in the Indian


independence movement. Nehru also initiated the process of social reform in the independent Indian
Republic. The importance of Jawaharlal Nehru as a social reformer in Indian history cannot be denied.

India gained independence on 15 August, 1947. The India that existed in the 1940's was a cauldron of social
unrest. The age-old problem of caste had reared its ugly head and was threatening to tear the social fabric
apart. Religious tensions were also a reigning problem in India during those days. The partition of pre-
independent India had divided the Indian sub-continent into two countries, India and Pakistan. Pakistan
became an Islamic Republic as envisaged by its creator Mohamed Ali Jinnah. India became a secular
republic by choice.

Jawaharlal Nehru inherited from the British a country that was bereft of social and economic stability. He
inherited a mish-mash of people speaking as many as 16 different languages with different cultural
moorings.

The genius of Jawaharlal Nehru as a social reformer shone through in this post-independence period. He
took decisive steps to eradicate the evils of the all pervasive caste system. Nehru undertook corrective
measures by changing existing Indian legal laws. Legal procedures were enacted to make caste
discrimination illegal and punishable by law. The enacted laws were strictly enforced.

Jawaharlal Nehru was one of the few Indian statesmen at that time who understood the need of proper
intellectual development of the Indian populace. He had exposure to European educational ideals during his
stay at England, where he received education. Nehru also knew that British stress on proper education to
run their colonial empire. He understood the importance of proper and healthy intellectual development to
run the nascent Indian state. Jawaharlal Nehru wished to combine the best of both worlds, the winning
combination of western scientific prowess and Indian civilization wisdom.

Nehru realized that the only way the Indian Republic can reestablish its presence in the world stage is
through the intellectual power of its citizens. Jawaharlal stressed on the teaching of science and its practical
application fields. He took cognizance of the need of learning vocational science. The teaching of vocational
science attracted him. Special focus was put on the development of technology. The famed Indian Institutes
of Technology or IIT's were conceived and established during his Prime Minister-ship.

The Indian Institutes of Technology are now regarded as one of the premier scientific institutes of higher
technological learning throughout the world. IIT graduates are much in demand among the corporate sector.
The establishment of such learning centers also indirectly contributed to the emergence of the Indian
Republic as a pharmaceutical major in the late 1980's. The cheapest medicines in the world are produced
and sold in India. The capabilities of the Indian software industry have also amazed the world.

Jawaharlal Nehru was born in an era when the principal mode of communication was the postal service.
Telephones were affordable only by the minuscule economically empowered Indian populace. There were
few government hospitals. The rural Indian population lived in pitiable conditions amidst abject poverty.

Nehru was acutely aware of the rural situation of India. He had contested and won democratic elections in
Pratapgarh district of Uttar Pradesh. Jawaharlal Nehru knew the many problems faced by the rural populace.
The rural environment was feudal at that time. Literacy was low and social tensions were simmering below
the societal surface. Nehru initiated the construction and functioning of a number of schools. The schools
provided primary and secondary education to the rural population. The schools are spread throughout India.
Primary education was provided free of cost.

The government schools also provided free meals to its students. This scheme was the trump card of
Jawaharlal Nehru. The great statesmen understood the importance of food to attract students to schools.
The purchasing power of the rural Indian population at that time was very low. A majority of the rural
population subsisted on one meal a day. All members of the family were required to work to keep the home-
fires burning. The children were also roped in to earn for the family. Jawaharlal Nehru knew the importance
of food in the educational scheme. The food acts as a magnet for the impoverished hungry child. The family
of the prospective student was also happy with the subsequent tangible cost savings.

The food given in the primary education programs included milk in addition to pulses for a healthy meal. The
specter of malnutrition in the 1950's and 1960's India were fought in this way. Jawaharlal Nehru also
established vocational schools for adults. Adult education centers were created both in rural and urban
areas. Higher technical schools were also established.

The Indian Republic has a substantial population. Almost half of the population is women. Jawaharlal Nehru
enacted laws to guarantee practical universal suffrage to the women population of the country. The laws
aimed to secure the social freedoms of Indian women. Female legal rights were also increased under
Nehru's able Prime Minister-ship.

Jawaharlal Nehru was a highly educated man. His western education catalyzed his aspirations for equality of
the Indian populace. Nehru actively promoted and brought about the system of reservations in the Indian
job sector. A certain percentage of government jobs were reserved for persons born into scheduled castes
and scheduled tribes. This was done to ensure the participation of the less privileged Indian population to
the mainstream.

Jawaharlal Nehru had many social successes to his credit. He was responsible for promoting the rights of
religious minorities. His swift judgment along with his mentor Mahatma Gandhi at the time of independence
ensured that the Indian Republic became a secular state. He understood the basic social nature of the Indian
population. The Indian population is largely secular, plural and civil and has a number of practicing religions.
Nehru fostered the need for tolerance of all religions and respect for people unlike own.

The success of Jawaharlal Nehru's reforms is apparent throughout the modern Indian Republic. The booming
economy of contemporary India underscores this fact.

If the first half of the 20th century in the history of India belonged to Mahatma Gandhi, the other
half belonged to Jawaharlal Nehru, though he ruled over the newly independent India as its
elected prime minister only for about 20 years from 1947 through 1964. It was on the
democratic and secular pedestal that Nehru and his team built up, that India worked on to prove
that it is a strong and prosperous presence among the comity of nations. Professor Percival
Spear, famous indologist, assesses: By about 1950 it may be said that India had closed a
chapter in her long history and opened another. The British had gone, the new regime had been
successfully established, and outstanding questions left over from the past had been dealt with.
The Congress (party) had, with the exception of the loss of Pakistan, completed its program,
and the way was clear for India to chart a new course into the future.

Nehru was the central figure of this new India. So powerful was his personality and its hold on
the people of his country and even abroad, that he was almost unquestioned as the top-most
leader of India, and its prime minister. As the son of an equally brilliant father, as the disciple,
favored son, and successor to India’s moral and ethical leader Mahatma Gandhi, as a
modernist, socialist, and humanist, as the second-in-command to Gandhi in India’s freedom
movement, the most popular leader of the Indian National Congress party, a first-rate author,
orator and organizer, Jawaharlal Nehru was the political role model and cultural icon, especially
for the youth of India.

Jawaharlal, born in 1889, was the only son of the three kids of the famous lawyer of Allahabad,
Motilal Nehru and Swarupa Rani. Young Jawahar was trained in English and the western ways
of life. European governesses and tutors coached him up in languages and the sciences. In
1905 he was taken to England to learn at the famous Harrow School and later at the
Cambridge, opting natural sciences. It was the college days that brought him close to literature
and politics and he became interested in socialism. He returned to India in 1912, qualified as a
barrister from Inner Temple and began practicing at the High court in Allahabad.

In the same year Jawahar attended the Indian National Congress session as a delegate and
also joined the Servants of India Society founded by Gokhale whom Gandhi considered his
Guru. Jawahar’s first public speech was in Allahabad in 1915. In the next year, he met Gandhi,
for the first time, at the Lucknow Session of the Congress party. He married Kamala Kaul, also
from Kashmir, the same year. And in the next year was born their only child, Indira
Priyadarshini, who was to become the future prime minister of India, succeeding her father.

While young Jawahar wanted to take part in direct actions, his father, Motilal, was against any
extreme move. But Gandhi had now magnetized the young Jawahar into action. The
Jalianwaallahbag massacre in which thousands were shot sent waves of protest all over the
country, and Jawahar and his father stood at the forefront to lead the protest. That was just the
beginning. Discussions, debates, speeches, travels, letters, articles in the press, drafting
resolutions and plans, demonstrations of protests, arrests, police beatings, imprisonments and
other sufferings, disobedience of civil laws, non-cooperation with the government, non-violent
resistance to the foreign rule, Presidentship of the Congress party several times… Jawaharlal
was baptized in fire. Bouts of imprisonment were time for him to brood over his country and the
world and his surroundings – and there arrives Jawahar the writer. ‘Glimpses of World History’
was a voluminous book he wrote during the imprisonments between 1930-34 and published in
1934. In another imprisonment during 1934-35 he wrote ‘An Autobiography’. Discovery of India,
A bunch of Old Letters, A book of letters that he wrote to his daughter…. Jawaharlal Nehru has
been a highly rated author of best sellers.

India’s independence was almost a reality even before it was free. But it was also a reality
almost that India would be partitioned into India and Pakistan, in order to accommodate the
strong demand of the Muslim League leader Jinnah’s claims. On 2nd September 1946 an
interim government was formed with Jawaharlal Nehru as the prime minister. India became free
on the midnight of August 14/15 at a transfer of power signed in New Delhi and Nehru was
elected the first Prime Minister of Independent India. On 26th of January 1950 India was
declared a Sovereign Republic and Nehru was again elected Prime Minister in the first general
elections to the Parliament in 1952. Till his death in 1964, Nehru held the crucial portfolio of
foreign relations also. Nehru was one of the chief architects of the Non-Alignment Movement in
International Relations. If Gandhi is India’s Father of the Nation, Jawaharlal Nehru is
remembered as the Architect of the Nation. India’s internal policy of secularism, socialism, and
scientific planning for development has been the foundation upon which the modern India is
built up. In spite of the frequent border wars with Pakistan and one with China, India has
developed itself into one of the leading nations in the world today, and the credit goes to none
other than Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India.

Nehru became India's prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and led the country through the
difficult early years of independence. The domestic problems of those years included the massive influx of
Hindu refugees from Pakistan; the integration of the princely states into the new political structure
(Hyderabad was incorporated by force in 1948, and Kashmir's accession caused the first India-Pakistan
War , ending in the partition of the state); and controversy and unrest associated with the reorganization
of the states on a linguistic basis. On the economic front the government launched a series of five-year
plans with the declared goal of achieving a "socialist pattern of society." In foreign affairs Nehru adopted a
policy of neutralism. He stressed the importance of the movement of nonaligned nations in international
politics and became one of its leading spokesmen. He also opposed the formation of military alliances
and urged a moratorium on all nuclear testing. Some observers felt that he lost stature as an advocate of
peace by employing force in Kashmir and by seizing (1961) Goa from the Portuguese. It also appeared
that he might be abandoning strict neutralism for a more pro-Western policy when he requested Western
aid to defend India against Chinese border incursions in 1962.

Jawaharlal Nehru was born in 1889 into a wealthy Indian family. India was under British rule at that
time and like many upper class sons of wealthy locals in Europe's Asian and African colonies, was
educated in Europe.

For Nehru the schools were Harrow, followed by Cambridge University. In addition to his formal
education, his seven year stint in England in the early years of the twentieth century, Nehru acquired
the socialist political philosophy which influenced his life and politics for the rest of his life.

Leftist and Marxist ideas were popular in European intellectual circles during the early years of the
twentieth century and these were picked up by the future political leaders of Europe's Asian and
African colonies during their student years in European universities. Some, like Ho Chi Minh of
France's Indochina (now Vietnam) colony returned home as a rigid Marxist while others, like
Jawaharlal Nehru it was Fabian Socialism, a less radical version of socialism associated with social
democracy and the European welfare state.

While democratic, Fabian socialism is still a poor economic system. Despite his best efforts and
massive aid from both the West and Soviet Bloc, the socialist economic policies involving central
planning and government investment followed by Jawaharlal Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi
failed to achieve success in their economic development attempts.

Ironically, India's economy took off and began developing under the leadership of Jawaharlal
Nehru's grandson Rajiv Gandhi who was elected Prime Minister by the ruling Congress Party
following the assassination of Nehru's daughter, Indira Gandhi, on October 31, 1984. Under the
leadership of Rajiv Gandhi many of the economic regulations, tariffs and other controls were lifted
and the free market allowed to operate which led to the rapid economic development and rising
incomes that continues to this day