Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) was one of the greatest men the globe has known. He was the first Prime Minister of India. He was also the architect of India‘s Foreign Policy.
In 1950 under his leadership India’s Five-Year Plan was started. The country made great strides in the field of science and technology under his guidance. He dedicated his entire life to the nation. His life is an open book. He was born rich but lived like an ordinary man. He loved children immensely from the core of his heart. World Children’s Day was first established in 1954. It is globally celebrated on November 20 each year. India started observing Children’s Day in 1969 along with other countries of the world. After Nehru’s death in 1964, it was unanimously decided to celebrate his birthday 14 November as Children’s Day. Since then every year Children’s Day is observed on 14th, November, the birthday of Jawaharlal Nehru in India. He loved children and is fondly remembered as Chacha Nehru. To bring up children as useful citizens were his utmost desire. Their company was his solace and comfort. He knew their nature, feelings, psychology, mood and attitude well. He knew that the future of the country depended on them. His fondness for children increased with the years. No doubt, the story of his life is one of the noble words and righteous deeds.
In the children’s Special Number of Shankar’s Weekly (3.12.1949), he expressed his affection for children thus: “I like to be with the children, to talk to them and all the more to play with them. In their company for a while forget that am so old and that was a child long, long ago.”
“If you (the children) were with me, I would love to talk to you about this beautiful world of ours, about flowers, about birds and animals, about mountains and glaciers, and about all the other wonderful things our world is bestowed with. You know, so much beauty is perceptible all around us yet grown-up people like me often remain unaware about it and, engrossed in the office routine, think they are doing some very important work. I hope you would be wiser and keep your eyes open and ears open towards the beautiful life around you.”
Late President Dr Zakir Husain has quoted:
“If you were with me,” Jawaharlal Nehru writes in one of his letters to the children of India, “I would love to talk to you about this beautiful world of ours, about flowers and trees and birds and animals and stars and mountains and glaciers and all the other wonderful things that surround us…….. You must have read many fairy tales and stories of long ago. But the world itself is the greatest fairy tale and story of adventure that has been written. Only we must have eyes to see and ears to hear and a mind that opens out to the life and beauty of the world.”
Jawaharlal Nehru is no longer here to talk to children: his message has to be carried to them so that they open out their minds to life and beauty.
He further says:
“He loved children and flowers and birds, but his love of friendship and peace among men and nations was deeper still, because that was for him the most beautiful and desirable of all things. It was to this that he dedicated all his thought and energy, and he did it with a smile that has become a part of our history.”
His father Motilal Nehru, was a well-known lawyer of Allahabad. He wanted Jawaharlal to be educated in England. So, he got him admitted to the famous public school at Harrow. Then he joined Trinity College, Cambridge from where he took his degree with honours in the Natural Science.
Later on, he joined the Bar in the Inner Temple, London, and got through the Bar examination easily. In the autumn of 1912, he returned to India after a stay of seven years in England.
After coming to India, he devoted himself to the cause of his motherland. He played a very significant role in the national struggle for freedom. He was arrested many times and spent many years of his life in prison. He was in various prisons – at Naini, Bareilly, Dehradun, Almora, Alipore in Calcutta and Ahmednagar. India attained freedom on August 15, 1947, and he became the first Prime Minister of free India. He was in office from 1947 to 1964. He made outstanding contributions to the development of modern India. He was the architect of India’s Foreign Policy. Under his leadership, India made great progress in the field of science and technology. In 1950 under his leadership India’s First Five Year Plan was launched.
Needless to add that he first met Mahatma Gandhi in 1916 during the Lucknow Congress session. Since then both worked together for the sake of the country.
Jawaharlal Nehru was a prolific writer. Some of his famous books are the Discovery of India, An Autobiography, Glimpses of World History. Indira Gandhi says: “My father’s three books, Glimpses of World History, An Autobiography and The Discovery of India, have been my companions through life. It is difficult to be detached about them”. (Glimpses of World History)
The most striking aspects of his life is that he was very hardworking. He worked long hours. He told the people again and again that they were sentenced to hard labour. They had to work hard to build the country. “Aaram Haram Hai”. (Rest is not proper), he often said. Even when he was ill, he thought of nothing but working for his country.
He once said: ‘There is one ambition left in me: that in the few years left to me, I should throw myself, with all the strength and energy left in me, into the work of building up India. I want to do it to the uttermost, till I am exhausted and thrown away as on the scrap-heap. I am not interested in what you or anybody thinks of me afterwards. It is enough for me that I have exhausted myself, my strength and energy, in India’s task.’
He wrote on his writing pad the following lines from a poem by the American poet, Robert Frost :
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep.
And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.
He kept these lines in mind till the last hours of his life.
Nehru never wasted his time, even his life in prison was not wasted. He wrote his three famous books while he was in prison. Apart from it he lived to keep himself in good health, wherever he was. He did physical exercise daily. The habit remained with him throughout his lifetime.
In a nutshell, children may imbibe a lot from Nehru’s life. His life is a role model for them. They should follow him in letter and spirit.
Eminent Journalist M. Chalapathi Rau has rightly said: “Jawaharlal needs no memorial. The whole of modern India is a memorial to him. The story of his life will be told and retold. It is the story of a brave, hard-working, and chivalrous man, who loved his people with all his mind and heart, who worked for them till the end of his life, and who built a hopeful future for them. They cannot forget him. And they know they must carry on his work.”
Dr. Obaidur Rahman Nadwi