Jawaharlal Nehru quotes

Jawaharlal Nehru photo
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Jawaharlal Nehru

Birthdate: 14. November 1889
Date of death: 27. May 1964

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was an Indian independence activist, and subsequently, the first Prime Minister of India and a central figure in Indian politics before and after independence. He emerged as an eminent leader of the Indian independence movement and served India as Prime Minister from its establishment as an independent nation in 1947 until his death in 1964. He has been described by the Amar Chitra Katha as the architect of India. He was also known as Pandit Nehru due to his roots with the Kashmiri Pandit community while Indian children knew him as Chacha Nehru .The son of Motilal Nehru, a prominent lawyer and nationalist statesman and Swaroop Rani, Nehru was a graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge and the Inner Temple, where he trained to be a barrister. Upon his return to India, he enrolled at the Allahabad High Court and took an interest in national politics, which eventually replaced his legal practice. A committed nationalist since his teenage years, he became a rising figure in Indian politics during the upheavals of the 1910s. He became the prominent leader of the left-wing factions of the Indian National Congress during the 1920s, and eventually of the entire Congress, with the tacit approval of his mentor, Gandhi. As Congress President in 1929, Nehru called for complete independence from the British Raj and instigated the Congress's decisive shift towards the left.

Nehru and the Congress dominated Indian politics during the 1930s as the country moved towards independence. His idea of a secular nation-state was seemingly validated when the Congress swept the 1937 provincial elections and formed the government in several provinces; on the other hand, the separatist Muslim League fared much poorer. But these achievements were severely compromised in the aftermath of the Quit India Movement in 1942, which saw the British effectively crush the Congress as a political organisation. Nehru, who had reluctantly heeded Gandhi's call for immediate independence, for he had desired to support the Allied war effort during World War II, came out of a lengthy prison term to a much altered political landscape. The Muslim League under his old Congress colleague and now opponent, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, had come to dominate Muslim politics in India. Negotiations between Congress and Muslim League for power sharing failed and gave way to the independence and bloody partition of India in 1947.

Nehru was elected by the Congress to assume office as independent India's first Prime Minister, although the question of leadership had been settled as far back as 1941, when Gandhi acknowledged Nehru as his political heir and successor. As Prime Minister, he set out to realise his vision of India. The Constitution of India was enacted in 1950, after which he embarked on an ambitious program of economic, social and political reforms. Chiefly, he oversaw India's transition from a colony to a republic, while nurturing a plural, multi-party system. In foreign policy, he took a leading role in the Non-Aligned Movement while projecting India as a regional hegemon in South Asia.

Under Nehru's leadership, the Congress emerged as a catch-all party, dominating national and state-level politics and winning consecutive elections in 1951, 1957, and 1962. He remained popular with the people of India in spite of political troubles in his final years and failure of leadership during the 1962 Sino-Indian War. In India, his birthday is celebrated as Bal Diwas . Wikipedia

Photo: AFP staff, AFP / Public domain

Works

The Discovery of India
The Discovery of India
Jawaharlal Nehru

„I want to go rapidly towards my objective. But fundamentally even the results of action do not worry me so much. Action itself, so long as I am convinced that it is right action, gives me satisfaction.“

—  Jawaharlal Nehru

Statement of 1951, in Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru Vol. 5 (1987), p. 321
Context: I want to go rapidly towards my objective. But fundamentally even the results of action do not worry me so much. Action itself, so long as I am convinced that it is right action, gives me satisfaction. In my general outlook on life I am a socialist and it is a socialist order that I should like to see established in India and the world.

„That is more than morality; it's sense.“

—  Jawaharlal Nehru

Interview by James Cameron in Picture Post (28 October 1950)
Context: If in the modern world wars have unfortunately to be fought (and they do, it seems) then they must be stopped at the first possible moment, otherwise they corrupt us, they create new problems and make our future even more uncertain. That is more than morality; it's sense.

„There is perhaps nothing so bad and so dangerous in life as fear.“

—  Jawaharlal Nehru

Speech at Columbia University (1949); published in Speeches 1949 - 1953 p. 402; as quoted in Sources of Indian Tradition (1988) by Stephen Hay, p. 350
Context: In times of crisis it is not unnatural for those who are involved in it deeply to regard calm objectivity in others as irrational, short-sighted, negative, unreal or even unmanly. But I should like to make it clear that the policy India has sought to pursue is not a negative and neutral policy. It is a positive and vital policy that flows from our struggle for freedom and from the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. Peace is not only an absolute necessity for us in India in order to progress and develop but also of paramount importance to the world. How can that peace be preserved? Not by surrendering to aggression, not by compromising with evil or injustice but also not by the talking and preparing for war! Aggression has to be met, for it endangers peace. At the same time, the lesson of the past two wars has to be remembered and it seems to me astonishing that, in spite of that lesson, we go the same way. The very processes of marshaling the world into two hostile camps precipitates the conflict that it had sought to avoid. It produces a sense of terrible fear and that fear darkens men's minds and leads them to wrong courses. There is perhaps nothing so bad and so dangerous in life as fear. As a great President of the United States said, there is nothing really to fear except fear itself.

„It was the essential freedom from dogma and the scientific outlook of Marxism that appealed to me.“

—  Jawaharlal Nehru

Autobiography (1936; 1949; 1958)
Context: Russia apart, the theory and philosophy of Marxism lightened up many a dark corner of my mind. History came to have a new meaning for me. The Marxist interpretation threw a flood of light on it... It was the essential freedom from dogma and the scientific outlook of Marxism that appealed to me. p. 362-363

„Many a Congressman was a communalist under his national cloak.“

—  Jawaharlal Nehru

Autobiography (1936; 1949; 1958)
Context: Many a Congressman was a communalist under his national cloak. But the Congress leadership stood firm and, on the whole, refused to side with either communal party, or rather with any communal group. Long ago, right at the commencement of non-co-operation or even earlier, Gandhiji had laid down his formula for solving the communal problem. According to him, it could only be solved by goodwill and the generosity of the majority group, and so he was prepared to agree to everything that the Muslims might demand. He wanted to win them over, not to bargain with them. With foresight and a true sense of values he grasped at the reality that was worthwhile; but others who thought they knew the market price of everything, and were ignorant of the true value of anything, stuck to the methods of the market-place. They saw the cost of purchase with painful clearness, but they had no appreciation of the worth of the article they might have bought. <!-- p. 136

„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.“

—  Jawaharlal Nehru

A Tryst With Destiny (1947)
Source: Quicktime excerpt http://www.harappa.com/wall/nehru.html and in: Rediscovery of India, The: A New Subcontinent http://books.google.com/books?id=XRpFol4AnO0C&pg=PA191, Orient Blackswan, 1 January 1999, p. 191
Excerpts from his speech delivered on the eve of declaration of Independence, on 14 August 1947, at the midnight hour declaring Independence of India on 15 August 1947.
Context: 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.

„We must constantly remind ourselves that whatever our religion or creed, we are all one people.“

—  Jawaharlal Nehru

Radio address to the Defence Services (1 December 1947)
Context: We must constantly remind ourselves that whatever our religion or creed, we are all one people. I regret that many recent disturbances have given us a bad name. Many have acquiesced to the prevailing spirit. This is not citizenship. Citizenship consists in the service of the country. We must prevail on the evil-doers to stop their activities. If you, men of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, serve your countrymen without distinction of class and religion, you will bring honour to yourselves and to your country.

„The discovery of India — what have I discovered?“

—  Jawaharlal Nehru, book The Discovery of India

The Discovery of India (1946)
Context: The discovery of India — what have I discovered? It was presumptuous of me to imagine that I could unveil her and find out what she is today and what she was in the long past. Today she is four hundred million separate individual men and women, each differing from the other, each living in a private universe of thought and feeling. If this is so in the present, how much more so to grasp that multitudinous past of innumerable successions of human beings. Yet something has bound them together and binds them still. India is a geographical and economic entity, a cultural unity amidst diversity, a bundle of contradictions held together by strong but invisible threads. Overwhelmed again and again her spirit was never conquered, and today when she appears to be a plaything of a proud conqueror, she remains unsubdued and unconquered. About her there is the elusive quality of a legend of long ago; some enchantment seems to have held her mind. She is a myth and an idea, a dream and a vision, and yet very real and present and pervasive.

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„The touchstone, therefore, should be how far any political or social theory enables the individual to rise above his petty self and thus think in terms of the good of all. The law of life should not be competition or acquisitiveness but cooperation, the good of each contributing to the good of all.“

—  Jawaharlal Nehru

As quoted in World Marxist Review : Problems of Peace and Socialism (1958), p. 40
Context: Democracy and socialism are means to an end, not the end itself. We talk of the good of society. Is this something apart from, and transcending, the good of the individuals composing it? If the individual is ignored and sacrificed for what is considered the good of the society, is that the right objective to have?
It was agreed that the individual should not be sacrificed and indeed that real social progress will come only when opportunity is given to the individual to develop, provided "the individual" is not a selected group but comprises the whole community. The touchstone, therefore, should be how far any political or social theory enables the individual to rise above his petty self and thus think in terms of the good of all. The law of life should not be competition or acquisitiveness but cooperation, the good of each contributing to the good of all.

„A leader or a man of action in a crisis almost always acts subconsciously and then thinks of the reasons for his action.“

—  Jawaharlal Nehru

On Mahatma Gandhi<!-- p. 506 (1949) / p. 310 (1961) -->
Autobiography (1936; 1949; 1958)
Context: I knew that Gandhiji usually acts on instinct (I prefer to call it that than the "inner voice" or an answer to prayer) and very often that instinct is right. He has repeatedly shown what a wonderful knack he has of sensing the mass mind and of acting at the psychological moment. The reasons which he afterward adduces to justify his action are usually afterthoughts and seldom carry one very far. A leader or a man of action in a crisis almost always acts subconsciously and then thinks of the reasons for his action.

„If you let victory become the end in itself then you've gone astray and forgotten what you were originally fighting about.“

—  Jawaharlal Nehru

Interview by James Cameron, in Picture Post (28 October 1950)
Context: Wars are fought to gain a certain objective. War itself is not the objective; victory is not the objective; you fight to remove the obstruction that comes in the way of your objective. If you let victory become the end in itself then you've gone astray and forgotten what you were originally fighting about.

„In times of crisis it is not unnatural for those who are involved in it deeply to regard calm objectivity in others as irrational, short-sighted, negative, unreal or even unmanly.“

—  Jawaharlal Nehru

Speech at Columbia University (1949); published in Speeches 1949 - 1953 p. 402; as quoted in Sources of Indian Tradition (1988) by Stephen Hay, p. 350
Context: In times of crisis it is not unnatural for those who are involved in it deeply to regard calm objectivity in others as irrational, short-sighted, negative, unreal or even unmanly. But I should like to make it clear that the policy India has sought to pursue is not a negative and neutral policy. It is a positive and vital policy that flows from our struggle for freedom and from the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. Peace is not only an absolute necessity for us in India in order to progress and develop but also of paramount importance to the world. How can that peace be preserved? Not by surrendering to aggression, not by compromising with evil or injustice but also not by the talking and preparing for war! Aggression has to be met, for it endangers peace. At the same time, the lesson of the past two wars has to be remembered and it seems to me astonishing that, in spite of that lesson, we go the same way. The very processes of marshaling the world into two hostile camps precipitates the conflict that it had sought to avoid. It produces a sense of terrible fear and that fear darkens men's minds and leads them to wrong courses. There is perhaps nothing so bad and so dangerous in life as fear. As a great President of the United States said, there is nothing really to fear except fear itself.

„I turned inevitably with goodwill towards communism, for, whatever its faults, it was at least not hypocritical and not imperialistic.“

—  Jawaharlal Nehru

Autobiography (1936; 1949; 1958)
Context: I turned inevitably with goodwill towards communism, for, whatever its faults, it was at least not hypocritical and not imperialistic. It was not a doctrinal adherence, as I did not know much about the fine points of Communism, my acquaintance being limited at the time to its broad features. There attracted me, as also the tremendous changes taking place in Russia. But Communists often irritated me by their dictatorial ways, their aggressive and rather vulgar methods, their habit of denouncing everybody who did not agree with them. This reaction was no doubt due, as they would say, to my own bourgeois education and up-bringing. <!-- p. 163

„The world of today has achieved much, but for all its declared love for humanity, it has based itself far more on hatred and violence than on the virtues that make one human.“

—  Jawaharlal Nehru, book The Discovery of India

The Discovery of India (1946)
Context: The world of today has achieved much, but for all its declared love for humanity, it has based itself far more on hatred and violence than on the virtues that make one human. War is the negation of truth and humanity. War may be unavoidable sometimes, but its progeny are terrible to contemplate. Not mere killing, for man must die, but the deliberate and persistent propagation of hatred and falsehood, which gradually become the normal habits of the people. It is dangerous and harmful to be guided in our life's course by hatreds and aversions, for they are wasteful of energy and limit and twist the mind and prevent it from perceiving truth.

„Religion is not familiar ground for me, and as I have grown older, I have definitely drifted away from it. I have something else in its place, something older than just intellect and reason, which gives me strength and hope.“

—  Jawaharlal Nehru

Letter to Mahatma Gandhi (1933), as quoted in "Nehru's Faith" by Sunil Khilnani, in The New Republic (24 May 2004), p. 27 http://web.archive.org/web/20041022115314/http://www.sais-jhu.edu/pubaffairs/SAISarticles04/Khilnani_NR_052404.pdf
Context: Religion is not familiar ground for me, and as I have grown older, I have definitely drifted away from it. I have something else in its place, something older than just intellect and reason, which gives me strength and hope. Apart from this indefinable and indefinite urge, which may have just a tinge of religion in it and yet is wholly different from it, I have grown entirely to rely on the workings of the mind. Perhaps they are weak supports to rely upon, but, search as I will, I can see no better ones.

„Wars are fought to gain a certain objective.“

—  Jawaharlal Nehru

Interview by James Cameron, in Picture Post (28 October 1950)
Context: Wars are fought to gain a certain objective. War itself is not the objective; victory is not the objective; you fight to remove the obstruction that comes in the way of your objective. If you let victory become the end in itself then you've gone astray and forgotten what you were originally fighting about.

„War may be unavoidable sometimes, but its progeny are terrible to contemplate. Not mere killing, for man must die, but the deliberate and persistent propagation of hatred and falsehood, which gradually become the normal habits of the people.“

—  Jawaharlal Nehru, book The Discovery of India

The Discovery of India (1946)
Context: The world of today has achieved much, but for all its declared love for humanity, it has based itself far more on hatred and violence than on the virtues that make one human. War is the negation of truth and humanity. War may be unavoidable sometimes, but its progeny are terrible to contemplate. Not mere killing, for man must die, but the deliberate and persistent propagation of hatred and falsehood, which gradually become the normal habits of the people. It is dangerous and harmful to be guided in our life's course by hatreds and aversions, for they are wasteful of energy and limit and twist the mind and prevent it from perceiving truth.

„What the mysterious is I do not know. I do not call it God because God has come to mean much that I do not believe in.“

—  Jawaharlal Nehru

Autobiography (1936; 1949; 1958)
Context: What the mysterious is I do not know. I do not call it God because God has come to mean much that I do not believe in. I find myself incapable of thinking of a deity or of any unknown supreme power in anthropomorphic terms, and the fact that many people think so is continually a source of surprise to me. Any idea of a personal God seems very odd to me.
Intellectually, I can appreciate to some extent the conception of monism, and I have been attracted towards the Advaita (non-dualist) philosophy of the Vedanta, though I do not presume to understand it in all its depth and intricacy, and I realise that merely an intellectual appreciation of such matters does not carry one far. <!-- p. 16 (1946)

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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