It was William Shakespeare who, in a funny situation in ‘Twelfth Alight’, made one of his characters say, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.” The light statement applies seriously to the life of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. He was born great, being the son of Pandit Motilal Nehru who was one of the top most successful lawyers of India earning a lot of money and who, it is said, got his clothes washed in Paris. He achieved greatness through his great contribution to struggle for freedom before independence and as an architect of modern India after independence. And he had greatness thrust upon him by the Indian masses who lavished liberal praises on him and made him the darling of their eyes. He was the first Prime Minister of free India and continued to be so till he died in harness in 1964. No other Indian leader influenced national and international politics so much as Nehru did.
Jawaharlal Nehru was born on November 14, 1889 at Allahabad. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth as his father, Mr. Motilal Nehru was a leading lawyer of India, and was brought up like a prince. After his early education at home by English tutors, he was sent to
England for higher studies. He took his degree in Law from England and returned to India as a Barrister.
Pandit Nehru came under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi and devoted himself to the cause of India’s struggle for freedom. He associated himself with Mahatma Gandhi in the long-drawn nonviolent campaign against the British rule in India. He spent the best part of his life in jails and even lost his beloved wife, Kamala Nehru, in the process. On January 26, 1929, it was under his presidentship of the Congress that its Lahore session passed the Independence Resolution. Later he was the author of the ‘Quit India’ Resolution. When India became free on August 15, 1947, Pandit Nehru was made the first Prime Minister of the free nation.
As Prime Minister, Nehru worked hard and continuously year after year with zest and zeal for the progress and development of the country. For the guidance of his countrymen, particularly the youth, Nehru gave the slogan ‘Aaram Haraam Hai’ and demonstrated it by his own example. He was so active and energetic even at the advanced age of seventy five that he made young men blush. Nehru was essentially a man of the masses and good of the common man was always at his heart. For improving common man’s lot, he started economic planning in the country through Five Year Plans.
Nehru was a great lover of children and the children also loved him dearly. They lovingly called him ‘Chacha Nehru’. It is because of his great liking for the children and the children’s love for Nehru that his birthday on November 14 is celebrated as Children’s Day in the country every year.
Nehru was a great patriot who gave his all for the country. He was a socialist through and through who wanted to establish in India a classless and casteless society and who gave the slogan ‘produce or perish’ to the nation. He was also a good writer who wrote and published his ‘Autobiography’, ‘Discovery of India’, and ‘Glimpses of World History’ . His letters written from prison to his daughter Indira were published under the title ‘Letters of a Father to His Daughter’.
This great son of India breathed his last on May 27, 1964 and “an epoch came to an end” with his death. Till the end of his life he kept on thinking of his country and her welfare which fact is borne out by the famous lines of American poet Robert Frost which were found written on his writing pad:
‘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. ‘