Jawaharlal Nehru

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Jawaharlal Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru ( Hindi जवाहरलाल नेहरू, Javāharlāl Nehrū; born November 14, 1889 in Allahabad ; † May 27, 1964 in New Delhi ) was an Indian politician, resistance fighter and from 1947 to 1964 the first prime minister of India .

He is generally valued as the architect of the modern Indian nation-state. The guiding principles of his understanding of the state included India's independence from the European colonial system , and the idea of ​​a socialist, secular and democratic republic. In the seventeen years of his reign he played a decisive role in shaping the new constitution of India , initiated major industrial and agricultural reforms and promoted the idea of secularism .

Popularly he is also known as Pandit Nehru due to his family connections to the Kashmir Pandit community , although he was often also known as Chacha Nehru ( Hindi for "Uncle Nehru") among Indian school children .


Nehru as a barrister (attorney) at Allahabad High Court
Nehru with Mohandas K. Gandhi, 1941
Nehru with his daughter Indira and their two grandchildren, Sanjay and Rajiv
Nehru with Albert Einstein, 1949

Origin and education

Jawaharlal Nehru was born in 1889 as the first son of the wealthy lawyer Motilal Nehru , a leading politician and two-time President of the Indian National Congress . His mother, Swaruprani Thussu, came from a wealthy Lahore family . He was brought up in the West, initially by a theosophical tutor. Nehru received his secondary education at a school in Harrow , England . He studied biology at Trinity College of the University of Cambridge , where he graduated with honors. At the same time he was also taking courses in political science, economics, history and literary studies at Cambridge. He then completed a law degree in London, which he finished at the Inner Temple .

Marriage and political career

In 1916 Nehru married the Delhi native Kamala Kaul, with whom he had a daughter, who later became Prime Minister Indira Gandhi , the following year . After a trip to Europe, he returned to India in 1917 , where he became Mahatma Gandhi's private secretary . This also led to a political rapprochement between Motilal Nehru and Gandhi. The following year Jawaharlal Nehru became a member of the All-Indian Congress .

In 1922 he was first arrested for his involvement in actions of civil disobedience against the British colonial administration. Many more prison terms followed. From 1929, Nehru was the leader of the independence movement alongside Gandhi. In 1930 he was elected chairman of the Indian National Congress to succeed his father. During the Spanish Civil War he was in Barcelona. He described the bombing of the city in his memoir.

On August 9, 1942, Nehru was arrested again and only released in 1945 after negotiations between the National Congress, the Muslim League and the British government on India's independence had begun, in which Nehru and Gandhi played a key role.

The first Provisional Government in 1946 included Nehru as vice president.

First Prime Minister of India

India gained independence on August 15, 1947. Nehru became the first prime minister and foreign minister at the same time. He headed an all-party cabinet to prepare the future constitution, which included Syama Prasad Mukherjee , BR Ambedkar , among others . Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel became his deputy (Deputy Prime Minister of India) and Minister of the Interior.

In 1947 Nehru was unable to prevent the division of the Indian subcontinent into secular India, which is predominantly inhabited by Hindus, and the Muslim state of Pakistan . Gandhi's assassination in January 1948 brought Indian politicians closer together. The Treaty of Delhi (1949) guaranteed minority rights in both states. When Rajendra Prasad became the first president of the parliamentary Federal Republic of India in 1950, Nehru considered resigning. Also in 1950 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters .

1952 saw the first free elections in India. The Congress Party became the strongest political force in the Union Parliament and Nehru was re-elected Prime Minister. After he was re-elected in 1957 and 1962, he died in office in 1964.

His daughter Indira Gandhi, born in 1917, became Prime Minister of India two years after his death. His grandson Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister of the country in 1984 and his great grandson Rahul Gandhi became President of the Indian National Congress in 2017 .

Political ideas

Nehru is considered to be the founder of the idea of ​​not being bound by a pact; he advocated a democratic and secular India whose economic system had socialist features. He is considered to be the organizational founder of the Indian Congress Party . In terms of foreign policy, he had been a pioneer of the movement of the non-aligned states since 1955 .

The idea of ​​a republican India was also decisive for Nehru's political thinking. India, which for centuries was largely ruled by aristocratic families and feudal lords, was to be renewed according to its vision through a republican-democratic spirit. In 1946 he wrote that no Indian princely state could militarily win against a united India. The following year, during the negotiation of the Indian Constitution, he proclaimed that all those princely states that refused to join a democratic India would be treated as enemies of the state.

Literary work

From imprisonment in the prisons in Naini , Bareilly and Dehradun , between October 1930 and August 1933 he sent his daughter Indira, who was almost thirteen at the beginning of his correspondence, in 196 letters complex but simply written explanations of world history. These letters were later summarized and published under the title Glimpses of World History (Eng. "World History Considerations").

Just like the discovery of India and India's path to freedom , the letters are regarded as a stylistically successful work of English-language literature.

Fonts (selection)

  • Toward Freedom: The Autobiography of Jawaharlal Nehru , The John Day Company, New York 1941
    • German: India's way to freedom , European Publishing House, Hamburg 1948
  • The Discovery of India , Doubleday, Garden City, NY 1959
    • German: Discovery of India , Rütten & Loening, Berlin 1959
  • The Quintessence of Nehru. Allen & Unwin, London 1961
    • German: sum of my thoughts , translated by Paul Baudisch. Kindler, Munich 1962


  • A Tryst With Destiny , August 14, 1947, Great Speeches of the 20th Century series. Guardian, London 2007
  • Nehru's India: Select Speeche. , edited and introduced by Mushirul Hasan. Oxford University Press, New Delhi 2011, ISBN 978-0-19-568787-3


  • Bunch of Old Letters , Asia Publ. House, Bombay 1958
    • German: A bundle of old letters , translated by Hermann Venedey, Fladung, Darmstadt 1961
  • Glimpses of World History, Being Futher Letters to his Daughter, Written in Prison, and Containing a Rambling Account of History for Young People. Asia Publ. House, London 1962
    • German. World historical considerations. Letters to Indira , re-edited by Susanne Popp and Michael Wobring, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2011, ISBN 978-3-525-30026-8
  • Jammu and Kashmir 1949–1964, select correspondence between Jawaharlal Nehru and Karan Singh , Penguin, Viking, New Delhi u. a. 2006, ISBN 0-670-99937-7

See also


  • Tariq Ali : The Nehrus and the Gandhis. An Indian dynasty. Hugendubel, Kreuzlingen 2005, ISBN 3-7205-2602-X .
  • Shashi Tharoor: The Invention of India. The life of the Pandit Nehru. Insel, Frankfurt 2006, ISBN 3-458-17303-X .
  • Alex von Tunzelmann: Indian Summer. The Secret History of the End of an Empire. Simon & Schuster, UK 2007, ISBN 978-1-4165-2225-6 .

Web links

Commons : Jawaharlal Nehru  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Jawaharlal Nehru | prime minister of India . In: Encyclopedia Britannica . ( britannica.com [accessed February 5, 2018]).
  2. Nation pays tribute to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on his 124th birth anniversary | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis . In: dna . November 14, 2013 ( dnaindia.com [accessed February 5, 2018]).
  3. Honorary Members: Jawaharlal Nehru. American Academy of Arts and Letters, accessed March 17, 2019 .
  4. Wayback Machine. (No longer available online.) May 17, 2013, archived from the original on May 17, 2013 ; accessed on February 5, 2018 .
  5. ^ Ian Copland: The Princes of India in the Endgame of Empire, 1917-1947 . Ed .: Cambridge University Press. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom 1997, ISBN 0-521-57179-0 , pp. 258 .