Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964)

Jawaharlal Nehru was the son of his father as Mahatma Gandhi was, of his mother. Born in Allahabad, Jawaharlal had his early education at his place and went to Harrow for studies which he did not enjoy much, and then to Cambridge where he developed his scientific attitude. He became a barrister. Nehru joined politics and took active part in non-cooperation movement. His association with Gandhi made him a devoted follower of Gandhi, though on numerous political issues he differed strongly with Gandhi. At the age of 40, he became the President of the Congress and delivered the historic speech of ‘Purna Swaraj’. He was widely acclaimed as a young, energetic, left-leaning Congress leader, a secularist and a democrat. He was among the first few favourite Congress leaders during 1930s and 1940. He became the Prime Minister of the interim government in 1946, and held this job between 1947 to 1964, till his death. He is rightly described as the architect of modern India and a great advocate of India’s policy of non-alignment. His concept of mixed economy dominated the economy of India for over forty years. His works included Glimpses of World History (1934). An Autobiography (1936) and The Discovery of India (1946).

“We believe that it is the inalienable right of the Indian people, as of any other people, to have freedom and to enjoy the fruits of their toil and have the necessities of life, so that they may have full opportunities of growth. We believe also that if any government deprives a people of these righst and oppresses them, the people have a further right to alter it or to abolish it. The British Government in India has not only deprived the Indian people of their freedom but has based itself on the exploitation of the masses, and has ruined India economically, politically, culturally, and spiritually. We believe, therefore, that India must sever the British connection and attain Purna Swaraj, or complete independence.

India has been ruined economically. The revenue derived from our people is out of all proportion to our income. Our average income is seven paise (Editor’s note: There were 4 paise in an anna, and 16 annas in a rupee) per day, and of the heavy taxes we pay, 20 per cent are raised from the land revenue derived from the peasantry and 3 per cent from the salt tax, which falls most heavily on the poor.

Politically, India’s status has never been so reduced as under the British regime. No reforms have given real political power to the people. The tallest of us have to bend before foreign authority. The rights of free expression of opinion and free association have been denied to us, and many of our countrymen are compelled to live in exile abroad and cannot return to their homes. All administrative talen is killed, and the masses have to be satisfied with petty village offices and clerkships.

Culturally, the system of education has torn us from our moorings, and our training has made us hug the very chains that bind us. Spirityally, compulsory disarmament has made us unmanly, and the presence of an alien army of occupation, employed with deadly effect to crush in us the spiritt of resistance, has made us think that we cannot look after ourselves or put up a defense against foreign aggression, or even defend our homes and families from attacks of thieves, robbers, and miscreants.

We hold it to be a crime against man and God to submit any longer to a rule that has caused this fourhold disaster to our country. We recognize, however, that the most effective way of gaining our freedom is through nonviolence. We will therefore prepare ourselves by withdrawing, so far as we can, all voluntary association from the British Government, and will prepare for civil disobedience, including nonpayment of taxes. We therefore, hereby solemnly resolve to carry out the Congress instructions – for the purpose of Purna Swaraj.

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