The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers


Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964)

Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister, was born in Allahabad and educated at Britain's Harrow School and Trinity College, Cambridge. Although he planned to become a barrister, in 1912 he returned to India before completing his qualifying exams, joined the Indian nationalist movement, and, after the 1919 massacre at Amritsar, worked with Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress, which elected Nehru its leader in 1929. As a close ally of Gandhi, Nehru championed nonviolent resistance, helped negotiate with the British, and spoke out forcefully for Indian independence, for which the British imprisoned him nine times during the 1930s and 1940s. In 1947, when India and Pakistan achieved independent nation status, Indians elected Nehru their first prime minister, a position he held until his death in 1964. Under his leadership, India remained an independent republic within the British commonwealth and adopted a foreign policy adhering to nonalignment. The pragmatic, popular Nehru strove to ease religious tensions within India and helped foster a multiracial climate that challenged his nation's caste system. He died in office and was succeeded by his daughter, Indira Gandhi, who was elected prime minister in 1966.
Source: Asa Briggs, ed., Who's Who in the Twentieth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 426.