What made Nehru such an iconic world figure?

Nehru was not only the most popular Prime Minister of India, but a prominent figure even on the global stage. India had based her freedom struggle on the values of peaceful opposition and non-violent protest. This unique strategy garnered considerable attention and respect globally and earned India and her leaders of the time, especially Nehru, iconic status.

Nehru had a finger on the pulse of the nation. He had a special rapport with the humble farmer as well as the intellectual youth of India. The masses that he addressed trusted and loved him. He was deeply connected to ground realities and initiated many agricultural reforms. At the same time, his modern, progressive vision drew talented new blood into the Congress.

He belonged to a prominent family who were well-educated and prosperous. Because of this he was exposed to the cream of society and had a classical Western education. He was thus able to straddle both the humble world of the rural peasant and the hallowed halls of high society with equal ease.

He was widely admired for his idealism and statesmanship. He stood apart from other politicians because of the sincerity of his actions. He was motivated by the desire to only serve and not to gather power or wealth for himself. He was a courageous and powerful leader who ensured that democracy took firm root in India.

He is unique because he held absolute power ever since he took office as the first prime minister of India till his death in 1964, but never let power corrupt him. While he lived, he defended the freedom of the marginalized and the voiceless and worked tirelessly to modernize and strengthen India. He was not just a leader and statesman but a beloved and admired guardian and founder of Indian democracy.

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How was Nehru cremated?

Nehru’s death marked the end of an era. Condolence messages poured in from Commonwealth countries as well as from leaders all across the world. His life was one of long endeavour, unfailing service and exemplary idealism. Dignitaries from 17 countries attended his funeral. Such was his charisma and stature that even his adversaries honoured him, including President Ayub Khan of Pakistan, who called him a “great Indian leader who commanded not only admiration but the devotion of his people”. The West Pakistan Provincial Assembly adjourned without transacting business after observing two minutes silence in memory of the “great freedom fighter”.

In India his body was draped in the National Flag and he was accorded a state funeral with full military honours. Flag officers of the Indian Armed Forces maintained a constant vigil over his body till 28 May when his body was borne on a ceremonial gun carriage to the banks of the Yamuna River.

The masses who revered Nehru in life gathered in full force to pay their last respects. Around 1.5 million people lined the streets of New Delhi to catch a final glimpse of him.

According to Nehru’s wishes, a handful of his ashes were thrown into the Ganga and the rest were carried and scattered over fields. He had said that “I want these to be carried high up into the air in an aeroplane and scattered from that height over the fields where the peasants of India toil, so that they might mingle with the dust and soil of India and become an indistinguishable part of India.”

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How did Jawaharlal Nehru die?

Nehru had been suffering from ill health for some time and had even considered resigning twice from the Prime minister’s post at the age of 74. However, due to the enormity of his responsibilities he was unable to do so.

In January of 1964, Jawaharlal Nehru suffered a stroke. Although he was partially paralyzed, he continued in office for another three months. Senior colleagues handled his ministerial duties, though he insisted on dealing with official papers himself, which he did right up to the evening before he died.

Nehru spent the last four days of his life from May 23 to 26, 1964 in Dehradun, his favourite getaway. An eye-witness account by journalist Raj Kanwar recounts that he sat under his favourite camphor tree and listened to the birds in the wooded grounds of Circuit House, now Raj Bhawan during these days.

He was restless the night before his death and woke one last time at 6.30 am before falling into a coma. He died on 27 May at 1.44 pm. His daughter Indira Gandhi was by his side at his death.

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What made Nehru work so tirelessly?

It is said that Jawaharlal Nehru heard of General Dyer boasting about the Amritsar Massacre. Shocked and appalled at the brutal act and the lack of regret over the loss of lives on the part of the British, Nehru made up his mind to work tirelessly for India’s freedom.

He joined the Indian National Congress that same year in 1919 and developed a rigorous work routine that lasted 17 hours a day, seven days a week. He seldom took holidays and worked tirelessly for his country’s independence. He was imprisoned in total for a period of nine years, longer than anyone, including Mahatma Gandhi. During this time he wrote a number of books, including his autobiography titled Towards Freedom which was published in 1936.

He was a prolific writer and has written over 100 volumes running into 70,000 pages of reading matter! In the world of literature, Nehru is ranked along with Bernard Shaw, George Orwell, Bertrand Russell and Winston Churchill. When one considers his busy political life before and after independence, this is quite remarkable.

After India got its independence in 1947 after long years of struggle, Nehru became our first Prime Minister. But Nehru’s struggle for freedom did not stop with the British leaving India. He made it his life’s mission to protect minorities in India and defend individual freedom as well. Though it was Dr. B. R. Ambedkar who formulated the Constitution, it was Nehru who fought tirelessly to ensure that the country remained secular.

He translated his vision of a mighty India into reality and worked for a better tomorrow for generations to come. He was a freedom fighter, statesman, litterateur, visionary and architect of modern India.

He remained Prime minister till his death on 27 May, 1964 at the age of 74.

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How did the war between India and China begin?

The Indo-China war began on 20 October, 1962 and lasted a month, ending on 19 November, 1962, when Premier Zhou Enlai announced a unilateral ceasefire.

India was caught off guard as previous policies initiated by Nehru had been made in an effort to cooperate with China.

The main reasons for China to start the war were that India had offered asylum to Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in 1959 and because of a dispute between India and China over the sovereignty of the Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh border regions.

The attack was a personal blow to Nehru who had signed the ‘Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence Treaty’ (Panchsheel) with China, in 1954.

The war was a systematic, planned attack launched by China at a time when the U.S. and U.S.S.R. were busy dealing with the Cuban Missile Crisis and Jawaharlal Nehru and India’s Defence Minister Krishna Menon were busy attending Commonwealth and UN conferences respectively. Due to Russia’s involvement in the Cuban crisis, it was not able to extend much support to India at the time.

The Chinese Aggression cost India 1,383 Indian soldiers and the loss of 43,000 sq km of land in Aksai Chin (roughly the size of Switzerland). Nehru never recovered from the shock of this betrayal and it is widely regarded as the biggest setback of his political career.

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