Educated in England at Harrow and Cambridge, he was admitted to the English bar in 1912 and practiced law in India for several years. After the massacre at Amritsar (1919), he devoted himself to the struggle for India's freedom. His compelling oratory as well as his close association with Mohandas Gandhi contributed to making him a leader of the Indian National Congress, and in 1929 (the first of four times) he was elected its president.
A leader of the radical wing of the Congress, Nehru spent most of the period from 1930 to 1936 in jail for conducting civil disobedience campaigns. About 1939 disharmony developed between him and Gandhi. Nehru, who had been influenced by a study of Marxism, opposed Gandhi's ideal of an agrarian society and advanced a program calling for the industrialization and socialization of India. During World War II, however, Nehru and Gandhi were united in their opposition to aiding Great Britain unless India was immediately freed, and Nehru was imprisoned from Oct., 1942, to June, 1945. After his release, he participated in the negotiations that led to the creation of the two independent states of India and Pakistan in 1947.
Nehru became India's prime minister and minister of foreign affairs and led the country through the difficult early years of independence. The domestic problems of those years included the massive influx of Hindu refugees from Pakistan; the integration of the princely states into the new political structure (Hyderabad was incorporated by force in 1948, and Kashmir's accession caused the first India-Pakistan War, ending in the partition of the state); and controversy and unrest associated with the reorganization of the states on a linguistic basis. On the economic front the government launched a series of five-year plans with the declared goal of achieving a "socialist pattern of society."
In foreign affairs Nehru adopted a policy of neutralism. He stressed the importance of the movement of nonaligned nations in international politics and became one of its leading spokesmen. He also opposed the formation of military alliances and urged a moratorium on all nuclear testing. Some observers felt that he lost stature as an advocate of peace by employing force in Kashmir and by seizing (1961) Goa from the Portuguese. It also appeared that he might be abandoning strict neutralism for a more pro-Western policy when he requested Western aid to defend India against Chinese border incursions in 1962.
Nehru wrote voluminously, especially while in prison; his notable works include Glimpses of World History (1936), comprising letters to his daughter (Indira Gandhi), and The Discovery of India (1946). See also his autobiography, Toward Freedom (American ed. 1941, repr. 1958); biographies by M. Edwardes (1971) and S. Gopal (3 vol., 1976-84); B. R. Nanda, The Nehrus (1962); A. von Tunzelmann, Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire (2007).
Jawaharlal Nehru, photograph by Yousuf Karsh, 1956.
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Jawaharlal Nehru (जवाहरलाल नेहरू, (14 November 1889 27 May 1964) was a major political leader of the Congress Party, a pivotal figure in the Indian independence movement and the First Indian Cabinet and one of the longest-serving Prime Minister of the Republic of India. He was also a key figure in international politics in the post-war period (in which he was considered the leader of Non-aligned Movement interests) and patriarch of the Nehru-Gandhi family, one of the most influential forces in Indian politics. He is popularly referred to as Panditji (Scholar) and Pandit Nehru.
The son of the wealthy Indian barrister and politician Motilal Nehru, Nehru became a leader of the left-wing of the Indian National Congress at a remarkably young age. Rising to Congress President under the mentorship of Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru was a charismatic, radical leader, advocating complete independence from the British Empire, and was eventually recognised as Gandhi's political heir. A life-long liberal, Nehru was also an advocate for Fabian socialism and the public sector as the means by which long-standing challenges of economic development could be addressed.
Serving as Congress President, Nehru raised the flag of independent India in New Delhi on 15 August 1947, and served as Prime Minister. His daughter Indira and grandson Rajiv would both also serve as Prime Minister and President of the Indian National Congress, as would Rajiv's wife Sonia. His long tenure was instrumental in shaping the traditions and structures of independent India.
Nehru was born in the city of Allahabad, situated along the banks of the Ganges River (now in the state of Uttar Pradesh). He was the eldest child of Swarup Rani, the wife of wealthy barrister Motilal Nehru. The Nehru family descended from Kashmiri heritage and belonged to the Kashmiri Saraswat Brahmin caste of Hindus. Training as a lawyer, Motilal had moved to Allahabad and developed a successful practise and had become active in India's largest political party, the Indian National Congress. Nehru and his sisters—Vijaya Lakshmi and Krishna—lived in a large mansion called Anand Bhavan and were raised with English customs, mannerisms and dress. While learning Hindi and Sanskrit, the Nehru children would be trained to converse fluently and regularly in English.
After being tutored at home and attending some of the most modern schools in India, Nehru travelled to England at the age of 15 to attend Harrow. During his time in Britain, Nehru was known as Joe Nehru. He proceeded to study natural sciences at Trinity College, Cambridge before choosing to train as a barrister at the Inner Temple in London. Frequenting the theatres, museums and opera houses of London, he would spend his vacations travelling across Europe. Observers later described him as an elegant, charming young intellectual and socialite. Nehru's academic career however, was in no way outstanding. Nehru also actively participated in the political activities of the Indian student community, growing increasingly attracted to socialism and liberalism, which were beginning to influence the politics and economies of Europe.
Upon his return to India, Nehru's marriage was arranged with Kamala Kaul. Married on 8 February 1916, Nehru was 27 and his bride was 17 years old, at the time. The first few years of their marriage were hampered by the cultural gulf between the anglicized Nehru and Kamala, who observed Hindu traditions and focused on family affairs. The following year Kamala gave birth to their only child, their daughter Indira Priyadarshini. Having made few attempts to establish himself in a legal practice, Nehru was immediately attracted to Indian political life, which at the time was emerging from divisions over World War I. The moderate and extremist factions of the Congress had reunited in its 1916 session in Lucknow, and Indian politicians had demanded Home Rule and dominion status for India. Joining the Congress under the patronage of his father, Nehru grew increasingly disillusioned with the liberal and anglicized nature of Congress politicians, which included his father. Although frequently hailed as a future leader of the Congress and India, Nehru's political rise did not begin until the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi on India's political arena.
Following Gandhi's example, Nehru and his family abandoned their Western-style clothes, possessions and wealthy lifestyle. Wearing clothes spun out of khadi, Nehru emerged as one of the most energetic supporters of Gandhi. Under Gandhi's influence, Nehru began studying the Bhagavad Gita and practiced yoga throughout his life. He would increasingly look to Gandhi for advice and guidance in his personal life, and would spend a lot of time travelling and living with Gandhi. Nehru travelled across India delivering political speeches aimed at recruiting India's masses, especially its youth into the agitation launched in 1919 against the Rowlatt Acts and the Khilafat struggle. He spoke passionately and forcefully to encourage Hindu-Muslim unity, spread education and self-reliance and the need to eradicate social evils such as untouchability, poverty, ignorance and unemployment.
Emerging as a key orator and prominent organiser, Nehru became one of the most popular political leaders in northern India, especially with the people of the United Provinces, Bihar and the Central Provinces. His youth and passion for social justice and equality attracted India's Muslims, women and other minorities. Nehru's role grew especially important following the arrest of senior leaders such as Gandhi and his father, and he was also imprisoned along with his mother and sisters for many months. Alarmed by growing violence in the conduct of mass agitations, Gandhi suspended the struggle after the killing of 22 state policemen by a mob at Chauri Chaura on 4 February 1922. This sudden move disillusioned some, including Nehru's father Motilal, who joined the newly formed Swaraj Party in 1923. However, Nehru remained loyal to Gandhi and publicly supported him.
A lull in nationalist activities enabled Nehru to turn his attention to social causes and local government. In 1924, he was elected president of the municipal corporation of Allahabad, serving as the city's chief executive for two years. Nehru launched ambitious schemes to promote education, sanitation, expand water and electricity supply and reduce unemployment—his ideas and experience proved valuable to him when he would assume charge of India's government in 1947. Achieving some success, Nehru was dissatisfied and angered by the obstruction of British officials and corruption amongst civil servants. He resigned from his position within two years.
In the early part of the decade, his marriage and family life had suffered owing to the constant activity on his part and that of his father. Although facing domestic pressures and tensions in the absence of her husband, Kamala would increasingly travel with Nehru, address public meetings and seek to sponsor and encourage nationalist activities in her hometown. In the late 1920s, the initial marital gulf between the two disappeared and the couple grew closer to each other and their daughter. In 1926 Nehru took his wife and daughter to Europe so that Kamala could receive special medical care. The family travelled and lived in England, Switzerland, France and Germany. Continuing his political work, Nehru was deeply impressed by the rising currents of radical socialism in Europe, and delivered fervent speeches in condemnation of imperialism. On a visit to the Soviet Union, Nehru was favourably impressed by the command economy, but grew critical of Stalin's totalitarianism.
In the 1920s, Nehru was elected president of the All India Trade Unions Congress. He and Subhash Chandra Bose had become the most prominent youth leaders, and both demanded outright political independence of India. In 1927, he became a member of the League against Imperialism created in Brussels. Nehru criticised the Nehru Report prepared by his father in 1928, which called for dominion status for India within the British Empire. The radicalism of Nehru and Bose would provoke intense debates during the 1928 Congress session in Guwahati. Arguing that India would deliver an ultimatum to the British and prepare for mass struggle, Nehru and Bose won the hearts of many young Indians. To resolve the issue, Gandhi said that the British would be given two years to grant India dominion status. If they did not, the Indian National Congress (INC) would launch a national struggle for full political independence. Nehru and Bose succeeded in reducing the statutory deadline to one year.
The failure of talks with the British caused the December 1929 session in Lahore to be held in an atmosphere charged with anti-Empire sentiment. Preparing for the declaration of independence, the AICC elected Jawaharlal Nehru as Congress President at the encouragement of Gandhi. Nehru himself recalled that he was sensible of the fact that it was considered somewhat surprising:
"I have seldom felt quite so annoyed and humiliated... It is not that I was not sensible of the honour... But I did not come to it by the main entrance or even the side entrance: I appeared suddenly from a trap door and bewildered the audience into acceptance."
On 31 December 1929 President Nehru hoisted the flag of independence before a massive public gathering along the banks of the Ravi River. The Congress would promulgate the Purna Swaraj (Complete Independence) declaration on 26 January 1930. With the launching of the Salt Satyagraha in 1930, Nehru travelled across Gujarat and other parts of the country participating and encouraging in the mass rebellion against the salt tax. Despite his father's death in 1931, Nehru and his family remained at the forefront of the struggle. Arrested with his wife and sisters, Nehru was imprisoned for all but four months between 1931 and 1935. During that same period, however, his popularity grew enormously. According to John Gunther, Nehru was both "distrustful of it, while simultaneously unable to control being somewhat " exhilarated and impressed".
His family quickly chastened him with raillery; his wife and sisters, and even his small daughter, began to call him in the home the names he was given by the crowd. They would say, "Oh Jewel of India, what time is it?" or "Oh Embodiment of Sacrifice, please pass the bread.
Nehru was released by the British and he traveled with his family once again to Europe in 1935, where his ailing wife Kamala would remain bed-ridden. Torn between the freedom struggle and tending to his wife, Nehru would travel back and forth between India and Europe. Kamala Nehru died on 28 February 1936. Deeply saddened, Nehru nevertheless continued to maintain a hectic schedule. In her memory, he wore a fresh rose on his coat for the rest of his life.
His popularity continued to grow, and his personal discomfort with that popularity rose with it. In the November, 1937 issue of the Calcutta-based journal Modern Review, an article entitled 'The Rashtrapati' severely criticized him. The anonymous author acknowledged Nehru's initiative and innate drive but also pointed out glaring streaks of autocracy, saying that his character was marked by "intolerance of others and a certain contempt for the weak and inefficient". The author, who signed himself "Chanakya", added that Nehru's conceit was "already formidable", and worried that soon "Jawaharlal might fancy himself as a Caesar". Later it became understood that Chanakya was Nehru himself, criticizing himself even while maintaining anonymity. This publication is a significantly important example of autocritique.
Nehru had been re-elected Indian National Congress(INC) President in 1936, and had presided over its session in Lucknow. Here he participated in a fierce debate with Gandhi, Patel and other Congress leaders over the adoption of socialism as the official goal of the party. Younger socialists such as Jaya Prakash Narayan, Mridula Sarabhai, Narendra Dev and Asoka Mehta began to see Nehru as leader of Congress socialists. Under their pressure, the Congress passed the Avadi Resolution proclaiming socialism as the model for India's future government. Nehru was re-elected the following year, and oversaw the Congress national campaign for the 1937 elections. Largely leaving political organisation work to others, Nehru travelled the length and breadth of the country, exhorting the masses on behalf of the Congress, which would win an outright majority in the central and most of the provincial legislatures. Although he did not contest elections himself, Nehru was seen by the national media as the leader of the Congress.
At the outbreak of World War II, the Assemblies were informed that the Viceroy had unilaterally declared war on the Axis on behalf of India, without consulting the people's representatives. Outraged at the viceroy's arbitrary decision, all elected Congressmen resigned from their offices at the instigation of Subhash Bose and Nehru. But even as Bose would call for an outright revolt and would proceed to seek the aid of Nazi Germany and Japan, Nehru remained sympathetic to the British cause. He joined Maulana Azad, Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari and Patel in offering Congress support for the war effort in return for a commitment from the British to grant independence after the war. In doing so, Nehru broke ranks with Gandhi, who had resisted in supporting war and remained suspicious of the British. The failure of negotiations and Britain's refusal to concede independence outraged the nationalist movement. Gandhi and Patel called for an all-out rebellion, a demand that was opposed by Rajagopalachari and resisted by Nehru and Azad. After intensive debates and heated discussions, the Congress leaders called for the British to Quit India—to transfer power to Indian hands immediately or face a mass rebellion. Despite his skepticism, Nehru travelled the country to exhort India's masses into rebellion. He was arrested with the entire Congress Working Committee on 9 August 1942 and transported to a maximum security prison at a fort in Ahmednagar. Here he remained incarcerated with his colleagues till June 1945. During his time at prison in Ahmadnagar, from April to September, 1944, Nehru wrote his masterpiece, The Discovery of India, in which he writes about the History of India, from ancient times, to the formation of British India, and the Indian Independence Movement. His daughter Indira and her husband Feroze Gandhi were also imprisoned for a few months. Nehru's first grandchild, Rajiv Gandhi was born in 1944.
After his release from prison at the end of the Second World War, Nehru immediately resumed his political work and toured through India preparing grounds for the elections that had been promised for 1946. In October 1945, with the decisions to carry on with the INA trials announced, Nehru was instrumental in announcing the formation of the INA Defence Committee for the defence of the officers of the Indian National Army who faced court Martial in Delhi. Nehru chaired the INA Defence Committee and the legal defence team, while at the same time carrying on with his political work.
Nehru and his colleagues had been released as the British Cabinet Mission arrived to propose plans for transfer of power. The Congress held a presidential election in the knowledge that its chosen leader would become India's head of government. In the 1946 election for the Congress presidency, Patel stepped down in favor of Nehru at the request of Gandhi. The election's importance stemmed from the fact that the elected President would lead free India's first Government. Gandhi asked all 16 states representatives and Congress to elect the right person and Sardar Patel's name was proposed by 13 states representatives out of 16, but Patel respected Gandhi's request to not be the first prime minister. As a Home Minister, Patel merged all parts of India under federal control but Jammu and Kashmir was left out because of Nehru.
Once elected, Nehru headed an interim government, which was impaired by outbreaks of communal violence and political disorder, and the opposition of the Muslim League led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who were demanding a separate Muslim state of Pakistan. After failed bids to form coalitions, Nehru reluctantly supported the partition of India as per a plan released by the British on 3 June 1947. He would take office as the Prime Minister of India on 15 August, and delivered his inaugural address titled "A Tryst With Destiny:"
"Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity."
However, this period was marked with intense communal violence. This violence swept across the Punjab region, Delhi, Bengal and other parts of India. Nehru conducted joint tours with Pakistani leaders to encourage peace and calm angry and disillusioned refugees. Nehru would work with Maulana Azad and other Muslim leaders to safeguard and encourage Muslims to remain in India. The violence of the time deeply affected Nehru, who called for a ceasefire and UN intervention to stop the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. Fearing communal reprisals, Nehru also hesitated in supporting the annexation of Hyderabad State, and clashed with Patel on the Kashmir dispute and relations with Pakistan. Nehru asserted his own control over Kashmir policy while Patel objected to Nehru sidelining his Home Ministry's officials. Nehru felt offended by Patel's decision-making regarding the states' integration without consulting either him or the Cabinet. Patel asked Gandhi to relieve him of his obligation to serve. He knew that he lacked Nehru's youth and popularity, and believed that an open political battle would hurt India. After much personal deliberation and contrary to Patel's prediction, Gandhi on 30 January 1948 told Patel not to leave the Government, and to stay by Nehru's side in joint leadership. A free India, according to Gandhi, desperately needed both Patel and Nehru's joint leadership.
Gandhi was assassinated on 30 January 1948. At Gandhi's wake, Nehru and Patel embraced each other and addressed the nation together. Despite working together, the two leaders would clash on various issues. Nehru declined Patel's counsel on sending assistance to Tibet in 1950 with the disputed entrance of the People's Republic of China and ejecting the Portuguese from Goa by military force.
When Nehru pressured Dr. Rajendra Prasad to decline a nomination to become the first President of India in 1950 in favour of Rajagopalachari, he thus angered the party, which felt Nehru was attempting to impose his will. Nehru sought Patel's help in winning the party over, but Patel declined, and Prasad was duly elected. When Nehru opposed the 1950 Congress presidential candidacy of Purushottam Das Tandon, a conservative Hindu leader, he endorsed Jivatram Kripalani and threatened to resign if Tandon was elected. Patel rejected Nehru's views and endorsed Tandon in Gujarat, in a disputed election where Kripalani received not one vote despite hailing from that state himself.
In the years following independence, Nehru frequently turned to his daughter Indira to look after him and manage his personal affairs. Following Patel's death in 1950, Nehru became the most popular and powerful Indian politician. Under his leadership, the Congress won an overwhelming majority in the elections of 1952, in which his son-in-law Feroze Gandhi was also elected. Indira moved into Nehru's official residence to attend to him, inadvertently estranging her husband, who would become a critic of Nehru's government. Nevertheless, Indira would virtually become Nehru's chief of staff and constant companion in his travels across India and the world.
Nehru presided over the introduction of a modified, "Indian" version of state planning and control over the economy. Creating the Planning commission of India, Nehru drew up the first Five-Year Plan in 1951, which charted the government's investments in industries and agriculture. Increasing business and income taxes, Nehru envisaged a mixed economy in which the government would manage strategic industries such as mining, electricity and heavy industries, serving public interest and a check to private enterprise. Nehru pursued land redistribution and launched programmes to build irrigation canals, dams and spread the use of fertilizers to increase agricultural production. He also pioneered a series of community development programs aimed at spreading diverse cottage industries and increasing efficiency into rural India. While encouraging the construction of large dams, irrigation works and the generation of hydroelectricity, Nehru also launched India's programme to harness nuclear energy.
For most of Nehru's term as prime minister, India would continue to face serious food shortages despite progress and increases in agricultural production. Nehru's industrial policies, summarised in the Industrial Policy Resolution of 1956, encouraged the growth of diverse manufacturing and heavy industries, yet state planning, controls and regulations began to impair productivity, quality and profitability. Although the Indian economy enjoyed a steady rate of growth, chronic unemployment amidst entrenched poverty continued to plague the population. Nehru's popularity remained unaffected, and his government succeeded to an extent in extending water and electricity supply, health care, roads and infrastructure for India's vast rural population.
Under Nehru, the Indian Parliament enacted many changes to Hindu law to criminalize caste discrimination and increase the legal rights and social freedoms of women . A system of reservations in government services and educational institutions was created to eradicate the social inequalities and disadvantages faced by peoples of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Nehru also championed secularism and religious harmony, increasing the representation of minorities in government.
Although having promised in 1948 to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir under the auspices of the U.N., Nehru grew increasingly wary of the U.N. and declined to hold a plebiscite in 1953. He ordered the arrest of the Kashmiri politician Sheikh Abdullah, whom he had previously supported but now suspected of harbouring separatist ambitions; Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad replaced him. On the international scene, Nehru was a champion of pacifism and a strong supporter of the United Nations. He pioneered the policy of non-alignment and co-founded the Non-Aligned Movement of nations professing neutrality between the rival blocs of nations led by the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Recognising the People's Republic of China soon after its founding (while most of the Western bloc continued relations with the Republic of China), Nehru sought to establish warm and friendly relations with it despite the invasion of Tibet in 1950, and hoped to act as an intermediary to bridge the gulf and tensions between the communist states and the Western bloc. This policy of pacifism and appeasement with respect to China soon came unraveled when China annexed Aksai Chin, the region of Kashmir adjoining Tibet in 1962 that led to the Sino-Indian war.
Jawaharlal Nehru declined a United States offer for India to occupy a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council around 1953. Nehru instead suggested that the seat be given to China.
Nehru was hailed by many for working to defuse global tensions and the threat of nuclear weapons. He commissioned the first study of the human effects of nuclear explosions, and campaigned ceaselessly for the abolition of what he called "these frightful engines of destruction." He also had pragmatic reasons for promoting de-nuclearisation, fearing that a nuclear arms race would lead to over-militarisation that would be unaffordable for developing countries such as his own.
In 1956 he had criticised the joint invasion of the Suez Canal by the British, French and Israelis. Suspicion and distrust cooled relations between India and the U.S., which suspected Nehru of tactily supporting the Soviet Union. Accepting the arbitration of the UK and World Bank, Nehru signed the Indus Water Treaty in 1960 with Pakistani ruler Ayub Khan to resolve long-standing disputes about sharing the resources of the major rivers of the Punjab region.
Mr. Nehru had led the Congress to a major victory in the 1957 elections, but his government was facing rising problems and criticism. Disillusioned by intra-party corruption and bickering, Nehru contemplated resigning but continued to serve. The election of his daughter Indira as Congress President in 1959 aroused criticism for alleged nepotism, although Nehru disapproved of her election, partly because he considered it smacked of "dynastism"; he said, indeed it was "wholly undemocratic and an undesirable thing", and refused her a position in his cabinet. Indira herself was at loggerheads with her father over policy; most notably, she used his oft-stated personal deference to the Congress Working Committee to push through the dismissal of the Communist Party of India government in the state of Kerala, over his own objections. Nehru began to be frequently embarrassed by her ruthlessness and disregard for parliamentary tradition, and was "hurt" by what he saw as an assertiveness with no purpose other than to stake out an identity independent of her father.
Although the Pancha Sila (Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence) was the basis of the 1954 Sino-Indian treaty over Tibet, in later years, Nehru's foreign policy suffered through increasing Chinese antagonism over border disputes and Nehru's decision to grant asylum to the Dalai Lama. After years of failed negotiations, Nehru authorized the Indian Army to annex Goa from Portugal in 1961.See liberation of Goa. While increasing his popularity, Nehru received criticism for opting for military action.
In the 1962 elections, Nehru led the Congress to victory yet with a diminished majority. Opposition parties ranging from the right-wing Bharatiya Jana Sangh and Swatantra Party, socialists and the Communist Party of India performed well.
In a matter of months, the border disputes with China turned into open conflict. Nehru assumed that as former victims of imperialism (India being a colony itself) they shared a sense of solidarity, as expressed in the phrase "Hindi-Chini bhai bhai" (Indians and Chinese are brothers). He was dedicated to the ideals of brotherhood and solidarity among developing nations. Nehru, naively, did not believe that one fellow Socialist country would attack another; and in any event, he felt secure behind the impregnable wall of ice that is the Himalayas. Both proved to be severe miscalculations of China's intentions and military capabilities. Following reports of his intention to confront Chinese occupation of the disputed areas—summarised in a memorable statement that he had asked the Army to "throw them (Chinese) out" - China launched a pre-emptive attack.
In a matter of months, a Chinese invasion of northeastern India exposed the weaknesses of India's military as Chinese forces came as far as Assam. Widely criticised for his government's insufficient attention to defence, Nehru was forced to sack the defence minister Krishna Menon and accept U.S. military aid. Nehru's health began declining steadily, and he was forced to spend months recuperating in Kashmir through 1963. Upon his return from Kashmir in May 1964, Nehru suffered a stroke and later a heart attack. He died in the early hours of 27 May 1964. Nehru was cremated in accordance with Hindu rites at the Shantivana on the banks of the Yamuna River, witnessed by hundreds of thousands of mourners who had flocked into the streets of Delhi and the cremation grounds.'''
As India's first Prime minister and external affairs minister, Jawaharlal Nehru played a major role in shaping modern India's government and political culture along with sound foreign policy. He is praised for creating a system providing universal primary education, reaching children in the farthest corners of rural India. Nehru's education policy is also credited for the development of world-class educational institutions such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences , Indian Institutes of Technology, the National Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Management.
Nehru is credited for establishing a widespread system of affirmative action to provide equal opportunities and rights for India's ethnic groups, minorities, women, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Nehru's passion for egalitarianism meant that he put the state to work to try and end widespread practices of discrimination against women and depressed classes, though with limited success in his lifetime.
In his lifetime, Jawaharlal Nehru enjoyed an iconic status in India and was widely admired across the world for his idealism and statesmanship. His birthday, 14 November, is celebrated in India as Children's Day in recognition of his lifelong passion and work for the welfare, education and development of children and young people. Children across India are taught to remember him as Chacha Nehru (Uncle Nehru). Nehru remains a popular symbol of the Congress party which frequently celebrates his memory. Congress leaders and activists often emulate his style of clothing, especially the Gandhi cap, and his mannerisms. Nehru's ideals and policies continue to shape the Congress party's manifesto and core political philosophy. An emotional attachment to his legacy was instrumental in the rise of his daughter Indira to leadership of the Congress party and the national government.
Many documentaries about Nehru's life have been produced. He has also been portrayed in fictionalised films. The canonical performance is probably that of Roshan Seth, who played him three times: in Richard Attenborough's 1982 film Gandhi, Shyam Benegal's 1988 television series Bharat Ek Khoj, based on Nehru's The Discovery of India, and in a 2007 TV film entitled The Last Days of the Raj. In Ketan Mehta's film Sardar, Nehru was portrayed by Benjamin Gilani. Nehru's personal preference for the sherwani ensured that it continues to be considered formal wear in North India today; aside from lending his name to a kind of cap, the Nehru jacket is named in his honour due to his preference for that style.
Numerous public institutions and memorials across India are dedicated to Nehru's memory. The Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi is among the most prestigious universities in India. The Jawaharlal Nehru Port near the city of Mumbai is a modern port and dock designed to handle a huge cargo and traffic load. Nehru's residence in Delhi is preserved as the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. The Nehru family homes at Anand Bhavan and Swaraj Bhavan are also preserved to commemorate Nehru and his family's legacy. In 1951, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).