Jawaharlal Nehru as Prime Minister

Jawaharlal Nehru was the first Prime Minister of India. His Prime-Minister-ship was marked by social and economic reforms of the Indian state. A number of foreign policy landmarks like the founding of the Non-Aligned Movement also marked the tenure of Jawaharlal Nehru as Prime Minister.

Jawaharlal Nehru became Prime Minister on the 15th of August 1947. His ascension was plagued by controversy and a bitter power struggle within the Congress Party. The internal struggle of the party was symptomatic of the larger struggle within the Indian Republic itself. The initial period of Jawaharlal Nehru as Prime Minister was marked by communal violence.

Jawaharlal Nehru was forced to concede the creation of Pakistan as per the wishes of the Muslim League leader the leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Communal violence enveloped the entire country during this period. Maximum bloodshed was witnessed in the national capital Delhi. The Indian states of Punjab and West Bengal also witnessed fierce bloodshed.

The first Prime Minister tried to defuse the explosive situation by visiting the violence affected areas. He toured the riot stricken areas with Pakistani leaders to reassure those affected by the violence. Nehru promoted peace in Punjab during that momentous period in Indian history. The secular nature of Jawaharlal Nehru was best exemplified during those times. He took active steps to safeguard the status of Indian Muslims.

The enduring legacy of Nehru rule is the effect of Nehru's economic policies. His economic policies were far reaching and its effects are felt to this day. Jawaharlal Nehru is best known for his enduring brand of 'Nehruvian Socialism' or the Indian version of Socialism. The original socialist policies were watered down by Nehru to gel with the Indian economic context. Jawaharlal Nehru was responsible for the special economic reform policy vehicle, Planning Commission of India.

The Planning Commission of India is Jawaharlal Nehru's brainchild. The Commission is responsible for formulating the 'Five-Year Plans' of the Indian economy. The Planning Commission also conducts a host of other economic functions. The first Five-Year Plan was presented by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on the 8th of December, 1951.

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru concentrated his economic policies on the rural sector. The Indian rural economy was allotted a lion's share of the first Five-Year Plan fund money. More than 27% of the total funding went to irrigation and energy production. The agricultural sector got more than 17% of the budget resource. About 4% of the fund money was earmarked for land rehabilitation.

The first Five-Year Plan also provided the seed money for setting up the five Indian Institutes of Technology or IIT's. The University Grants Commission or UGC was also set up during this period. The tenth Five-Year Plan is currently in vogue.

Land redistribution plans were undertaken during Jawaharlal Nehru's tenure as a Prime Minister. The redistribution of land ensured a more socially just Indian society. This move helped the Indian economy in many ways. The wealth disparity between sections of the populace lessened. This resulted in a more thriving and healthy societal landscape.

The first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was one of the first Indian policymakers to understand the importance of cottage industries in the Indian economy. The development of such small scale industries infused much needed production efficiency into the rural Indian economy. The Cottage Industries also helped the agricultural workers to have a better quality of life. This is due to the additional profits generated by the farming community.

A number of educational and social reforms were undertaken when Jawaharlal Nehru was Prime Minister. He was instrumental in starting new Indian institutes of higher learning like the Indian Institutes of Technology, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences or AIIMS and the various branches of the Indian Institutes of Management among others. Primary education was made compulsory. It was also made free of cost. Adult educational units were also established.

Jawaharlal Nehru was also responsible for setting the direction of India's foreign policy. The policy is valid till now. The world in the 1950s was sharply divided into two opposite factions: one side was the west-comprising of the United States and western European countries and the other side was the East- dominated by the erstwhile USSR. India wisely joined neither faction during that period. The Republic of India was one of the founding members of the Non Aligned Movement or NAM.

The negotiating skills of Jawaharlal Nehru came into focus during his dealings with the Pakistani ruling establishment. His consummate skill was on display during the talks with Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. The first Indian Prime Minister cemented India's administrative hold on the northern Indian state. He also arrested the influential politician- Sheikh Abdullah on suspicion of anti-national activities. This led to a smoother administrative transition from the former Kashmiri ruler to civilian Indian rule.

The Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was feted around the world for his efforts to ease global political tensions. The middle of the 1950s saw India criticizing the invasion of the Suez Canal by a combined military force comprising French, British and Israeli troops. Jawaharlal Nehru formally signed the Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan in 1960. This was done with a view to mitigate the long standing dispute between India and Pakistan in sharing the water resources of the major rivers in the shared geographical region of Punjab.

The invasion of India's north-eastern territorial region by China in the 1960s dashed Jawaharlal Nehru's hopes for a peaceful South-East Asia. His decision to grant refuge to the Tibetan Buddhist leader Dalai Lama also came in for severe criticism. The Chinese invasion also forced him to re-examine India's security requirements and act accordingly.

Jawaharlal Nehru's last days as India's Prime Minister were marred by political problems. The Congress Party suffered from corruption within itself. He promoted his daughter Indira Gandhi to the Indian political landscape in that period. Indira Gandhi later became India's first woman Prime Minister. The last period of his Prime Minister-ship also included the Indian invasion of Portugal in 1961. Jawaharlal Nehru died in office on the 27th of May 1964.



Last Updated on : 10/08/2012