The Indian civilization and polity have had tremendous influence from two combinations of influential and individualistic personalities, in the last 2500 years or so. Kautilya and Chandragupta Maurya laid the foundation of the first great historical empire (Maurya Empire 321 – 184 B.C). The other duo, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi, laid down the basis of the modern Indian state, and greatly conceptualized and effected ideas in the realm of education, culture and democracy of present day India. Interestingly, Gandhi and Nehru were completely different people comparing their social status, age, way of thinking and individuality. While Gandhi had a Utopian world outlook basing all action on religion, morality and non violence, Nehru was somewhat enamoured by the Western concept of progress, and preached democratic socialism. There were always deep ideological differences between them.
Historically, the legacy of the Indian political dynasty commenced with Motilal Nehru’s active involvement with Mahatma Gandhi, being one of his prominent lieutenants, apart from being a renowned lawyer in his own right. Nehru, unlike his father, found the practice of law perfunctory and did not so much relish the company of lawyers. He was educated by British governesses from childhood, and later attended Harrow and Cambridge for higher education. Perhaps at that time, Nehru and his contemporaries were more instinctive nationalists, who aspired for a free India, but not so much had a plan in place.
Nehru and his father, though carrying a keen interest in politics of India at the time, were disillusioned with never ending speeches and long winded resolutions. Hence what struck the Nehrus was Gandhi’s insistence on action, and persistence for the cause of freedom, without fear or hatred.
Jawaharlal Nehru was elected president of Congress in 1929 at Lahore, where he proclaimed complete independence as the party’s political goal. In 1947, Nehru took office as the Prime Minister of India on August 15, 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.”
As India’s leader, Nehru oversaw major national programmes of industrialization, agrarian and land reforms, infrastructure and energy development. He worked passionately for women’s rights, secularism and advancement of education and social welfare. Nehru incepted the policy of non-alignment and developed India’s foreign policy under the ideals of Pancasila. Nehru’s lasting contribution lay in his social engineering capacity more than his neat ideological formulations.
Under Gandhi’s nationalist movement, Nehru, too, adopted a unifying strategy as many tasks were being accomplished simultaneously. Firstly, there was the organizational legacy, a structure around which men and institutions could function at various levels, channelize their loyalties and draw upon the loyalties of others. Secondly, there was a leadership legacy, which was a result of many stalwarts of the time, arising united to the occasion of demanding Indian independence from the British.
Jawaharlal Nehru is credited with playing a major role in shaping modern India’s government and political culture. 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 Indian Institutes of Technology, the National Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Management. Nehru established 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 helped end widespread practices of discrimination against women and depressed classes. Nehru is widely lauded for encouraging a global environment of peace and security amidst escalating Cold War tensions in that era.
Nehru’s vision was to bring all-around development of the society through planning to help eliminate poverty and provide social justice for the masses. He wanted to raise national income and to spend them in productive channels for the improvement of the lot of the poor people of India. Nehru’s Five Year Plans, The First Five Year Plan (1951-56), the Second Five Year Plan (1956-61) and the Third Five Year Plan (1961 -66) galvanized democratic socialism in India.
The Gandhi-Nehru duo did march on uninterrupted. Else, we would not have seen systematic progress in India’s growth after gaining independence. Substantial progress was made toward the goal of industrial self-reliance and growth in manufacturing during the 1950s and early 1960s. Bringing systems into a country torn with chaos on being separated into two homelands based on a religious divide was no easy task. In all, Nehru looked towards early industrialization and economic independence of India, and hence streamlined processes and policies attached with that.
PeopleWorks salutes the charismatic orator and fearless intellectual, best described by Gandhiji who on 18th January, 1948 wrote to Nehru “Bahut Baras Jiyo Aur Hind KE Jawahar Bane Raho” (May you live long to be the jewel of India), as the nation celebrates his 125th birth anniversary this year. PeopleWorks always aspires to collaborate with their clients for unhindered business growth. The PeopleWorks solution brings cohesiveness in processes and culture of SMEs, paving the way for innovation and higher profits by time saving in talent and people management. You can find more about PeopleWorks here, and to request a demo, click here.