Jawaharlal Nehru

On this date in 1889, India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru was born to a humanist father and Hindu mother. Nehru was educated in England and Cambridge University and practiced law. He became an early protege of Gandhi in the 1920s and spent much of 1930 to 1936 in jail for civil disobedience campaigns. He was imprisoned for 32 months during the Quit India campaign, during which he and Gandhi pledged support for Great Britain during WWII only if India were freed. Upon the liberation and creation of India, Aug. 15, 1947, Nehru became the nation's first Prime Minister and led the nation through its turbulent beginnings for 18 years. Nehru, a rationalist and agnostic, believed in industrialization, education and mildly socialistic policies. Under his tutelage, India adopted a constitution which decreed a separation of church and state. During the Cold War, Nehru appealed to the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. to start nuclear disarmament. Nehru authored several books, including his autobiography. His only daughter, Indira Gandhi, became Prime Minister in 1966. D. 1964.

“I am interested in this world, in this life, not in some other world or a future life.”

—Jawaharlal Nehru, cited in Who's Who in Hell by Warren Allen Smith.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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