Biography of Indian Ruler Jawaharlal Nehru Part 3

About the famous Indian leader Jawaharlal Nehru, biography and history of the ruler.

Famous and Infamous Rulers in History

JAWAHARLAL NEHRU

Nehru was imprisoned for the last, and longest, time in 1942, after Gandhi drafted the famous "Quit India" resolution at a Congress session in Bombay. Upon Nehru's release from prison in 1945, he played a key role in the intricate planning and negotiations that were necessary before England relinquished its power. When it became clear that it would be impossible to avoid massive civil war without giving in to Muslim factions who wanted a separate state, the pragmatic Nehru resigned himself to the partitioning of India and the resultant creation of Pakistan. "By cutting off the head, we shall get rid of the headache," he told the people. India was then ready to accept its place in the free world, with Nehru at its helm.

Rise to Power: As the first head of state of free India, Nehru assumed the post of prime minister on Aug. 15, 1947, the day that India formally achieved its independence from Great Britain.

In Power: One of Nehru's first tasks as prime minister was to tackle the problem of mass migration and border violence that erupted over the partitioning of India. More than 2 million people were killed in the bloodbath that accompanied the establishment of Pakistan, and Nehru had to deal with the rehabilitation of 5 million Hindu refugees. India's birth as a free nation was further marred by the assassination of Gandhi, who was shot by a Hindu fanatic in 1948. The spiritual leader's death was a personal blow to Nehru, who had come to regard Gandhi as a second father. Choking with emotion, he told the people in a radio broadcast, "The light of our life has gone out."

Nehru wielded supreme power as prime minister, and with the devoted consent of his people he could easily have assumed control as a dictator. Instead, he resolutely held to his belief that India must develop as a free nation through parliamentary methods with the mixed goals of socialism and a capitalistic economy. In addition to the prime ministership, however, he held an array of posts, including foreign minister, president of Congress, chairman of the planning commission, and head of the atomic energy department. Although no great orator, Nehru spoke in public more frequently than nearly any other statesman of his day. A good deal of his time was spent abroad, carrying out missions of diplomacy, and he emerged as the voice of the new Asia after giving an address before the U.N. General Assembly in Paris in 1948. Because of his nonalignment stance, Nehru's relationship with the U.S. was rocky, but he refused to back down from his firm position that India must achieve an independent status and not side with either the U.S.S.R. or the U.S.

Nehru's first and foremost intent was to bring India into the 20th century. Along with encouraging industrialization, he strove for the emancipation of Indian women. With that goal in mind, he advocated birth control programs, made Hindu marriage monogamous, established divorce procedures, and introduced laws that gave daughters an equal share in family estates. Nehru despised the ritualism and mysticism involved in religion and vowed that as long as he was in office India would never become a Hindu state. Under his rule, untouchability was abolished and a bill of rights was established in India's constitution.

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