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Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi’s father, was a leader of India’s nationalist movement and became India’s first prime minister after its independence.
As Gandhi became the leader in the struggle for Indian Independence, Jawaharlal Nehru sought to join his movement.
Jawaharlal Nehru was born on November 14, 1889, in Allahabad, India. Yet his early life experiences couldn't foreshadow the fiery political life he would come to lead.
After working all his life for the freedom of India, Jawaharlal Nehru became India's first Prime Minister on August 15th, 1947.
On August 15th, 1947 came the moment that Jawaharlal Nehru had fought fro all his life, the freedom of India.
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November 1930 saw the start of the Round Table Conferences, which convened in London and hosted British and Indian officials working toward a plan of eventual independence.
After his father's death in 1931, Nehru became more embedded in the workings of the Congress Party and became closer to Gandhi, attending the signing of the Gandhi-Irwin pact. Signed in March 1931 by Gandhi and the British viceroy Lord Irwin,
the pact declared a truce between the British and India's independence movement. The British agreed to free all political prisoners and Gandhi agreed to end the civil disobedience movement he had been coordinating for years.
Unfortunately, the pact did not instantly usher in a peaceful climate in British-controlled India, and both Nehru and Gandhi were jailed in early 1932 on charges of attempting to mount another civil disobedience movement. Neither man attended the third Round Table Conference. (Gandhi was jailed soon after his return as the sole Indian representative attending the second Round Table Conference.) The third and final conference did, however, result in the Government of India Act of 1935, giving the Indian provinces a system of autonomous government in which elections would be held to name provincial leaders.
By the time the 1935 act was signed into law, Indians began to see Nehru as natural heir to Gandhi, who didn’t designate Nehru as his political successor until the early 1940s. Gandhi said in January 1941, "[Jawaharlal Nehru and I] had differences from the time we became co-workers and yet I have said for some years and say so now that ... Jawaharlal will be my successor."
At the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, British viceroy Lord Linlithgow committed India to the war effort without consulting the now-autonomous provincial ministries. In response, the Congress Party withdrew its representatives from the provinces and Gandhi staged a limited civil disobedience movement in which he and Nehru were jailed yet again.
Nehru spent a little over a year in jail and was released with other Congress prisoners three days before Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese. When Japanese troops soon moved near the borders of India in the spring of 1942, the British government decided to enlist India to combat this new threat, but Gandhi, who still essentially had the reins of the movement, would accept nothing less than independence and called on the British to leave India. Nehru reluctantly joined Gandhi in his hardline stance and the pair were again arrested and jailed, this time for nearly three years.
By 1947, within two years of Nehru's release, simmering animosity had reached a fever pitch between the Congress Party and the Muslim League, who had always wanted more power in a free India. The last British viceroy, Louis Mountbatten, was charged with finalizing the British roadmap for withdrawal with a plan for a unified India. Despite his reservations, Nehru acquiesced to Mountbatten and the Muslim League's plan to divide India, and in August 1947, Pakistan was created—the new country Muslim and India predominantly Hindu.
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Learn more about some of the world's most famous prime ministers, including "Iron Lady" Margaret Thatcher, the first woman to hold the position; Winston Churchill, who stood against Adolph Hitler's threat to control Europe during World War II; Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister; and his daughter, Indira Gandhi, who served three consecutive terms as prime minister before she was assassinated by her bodyguards in 1984.
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