Biography of Indian Ruler Jawaharlal Nehru Part 4

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

Famous and Infamous Rulers in History

JAWAHARLAL NEHRU

Not a physically demonstrative man, Nehru showed his concern indirectly for people he worked with; for instance, he would take care to see that his aides were fed before sitting down to a meal himself. He also disliked lavish displays; upon being presented with a silver-and gold-plated chair at a meeting, he said disgustedly, "What is this? I hate this show--take it away." Perhaps the worst that could be said of him was that he was an inept administrator at times, stubbornly refusing, for instance, to believe reports of corruption about those who served under him.

In later life Nehru became increasingly isolated, the inevitable result of being placed on a pedestal by so many of his peers. He first talked of resigning in 1954, partially to seek reassurance that people didn't feel he was clinging to power. Worried about losing the capacity for being treated as a human being, he confided to a friend that he would like to retire and "wander about as a private person." Twice more, in 1956 and 1957, Nehru offered his resignation but both times gave in at the protest of his colleagues and remained as prime minister. He relied more and more on his daughter, Indira, who became his official hostess and traveling companion as well as his confidante. After ruling a nation of 450 million people for more than 15 years, Nehru was criticized for not training a successor. But the oft-repeated question Who after Nehru? irritated the ruler, who asserted that no great nation is dependent on one man. In January of 1964 the 74-year-old leader suffered a stroke that left him slightly paralyzed on one side. Five months later his aortic artery burst, and he died on May 27. According to his wishes, some of Nehru's ashes were scattered "over the fields where the peasants of India toil, so that they might mingle with the dust and soil ... and become an indistinguishable part of India."

Little-Known Facts: An animal lover, Nehru kept a private zoo at his residence. His pets included deer, crocodiles, tiger cubs, pigeons, dogs, and squirrels. His special pride was four pet pandas, which he would coax to eat out of his hand. Once after they repeatedly rejected the proffered food, Nehru remarked to a friend with a disgusted grin, "I can't get them to mate either."

During one of his stints in prison, Nehru spun for nearly three hours a day on his own spinning wheel. Then for another two to three hours he did tape weaving. He said he liked such activities because they "soothed the fever of my mind."

Nehru felt more comfortable speaking and writing in English than in any of the Indian languages. He thought in English and wrote all of his books in English. The only Indian language he was reasonably competent at was Urdu, a derivative of Persian and Hindi.

The Indian ruler had a penchant for poetry, and in the latter years of his life took to carrying with him four lines of a poem by Robert Frost:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep.

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

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