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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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The British withdrew and Nehru became independent India’s first prime minister.
The importance of Jawaharlal Nehru in the context of Indian history can be distilled to the following points: he imparted modern values and thought, stressed secularism, insisted upon the basic unity of India, and, in the face of ethnic and religious diversity, carried India into the modern age of scientific innovation and technological progress. He also prompted social concern for the marginalized and poor and respect for democratic values.
Nehru was especially proud to reform the antiquated Hindu civil code. Finally Hindu widows could enjoy equality with men in matters of inheritance and property. Nehru also changed Hindu law to criminalize caste discrimination.
Nehru's administration established many Indian institutions of higher learning, including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the Indian Institutes of Technology, and the National Institutes of Technology, and guaranteed in his five-year plans free and compulsory primary education to all of India's children.
National Security and International Policy
The Kashmir region—which was claimed by both India and Pakistan—was a perennial problem throughout Nehru's leadership, and his cautious efforts to settle the dispute ultimately failed, resulting in Pakistan making an unsuccessful attempt to seize Kashmir by force in 1948. The region has remained in dispute into the 21st century.
Internationally, starting in the late 1940s, both the United States and the U.S.S.R. began seeking out India as an ally in the Cold War, but Nehru led efforts toward a "nonalignment policy," by which India and other nations wouldn’t feel the need to tie themselves to either dueling country to thrive. To this end, Nehru co-founded the Non-Aligned Movement of nations professing neutrality.
Recognizing the People's Republic of China soon after its founding, and as a strong supporter of the United Nations, Nehru argued for China’s inclusion in the UN and sought to establish warm and friendly relations with the neighboring country. His pacifist and inclusive policies with respect to China came undone when border disputes led to the Sino-Indian war in 1962, which ended when China declared a ceasefire on November 20, 1962 and announced its withdrawal from the disputed area in the Himalayas.
Nehru's four pillars of domestic policies were democracy, socialism, unity, and secularism, and he largely succeeded in maintaining a strong foundation of all four during his tenure as president. While serving his country, he enjoyed iconic status and was widely admired internationally for his idealism and statesmanship. His birthday, November 14, is celebrated in India as Baal Divas ("Children's Day") in recognition of his lifelong passion and work on behalf of children and young people.
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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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