Jawaharlal Nehru and India after Independence

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Jawaharlal Nehru was one of the important leaders of the Indian National Congress. He is responsible for bending congress towards the left. Gandhi made him INC’s president in 1936.

He believed Nehru would maintain a balance between the Gandhian and Socialist ideology. For him, modernization of India was the national philosophy with seven objectives.

They were unity, democracy, industrialization, socialism, development of the science, and non-alignment. Nehru looked at India as a parliamentary democracy from the start.

He is often referred to as the architect of liberal democracy in India. He believed that democracy and socialism go hand in hand.

India after Independence

Nehru and Indian Constitution

  • He built a strong Indian nation that accepts equal rights of citizens above all societal divisions.
  • Focused on Objective Resolution that increased the pace of the Constituent Assembly to formulate a constitution.
  • Established parliamentary supremacy over the military that makes India a Democratic Country.
  • Removed the idea of the Princely state ruling the country and made it a part of the Constituent Assembly of Democratic India.
  • He was determined to remove communism from India and believed communism and religion are separate. He started the idea of Unity in Diversity or Secularism.
  • He was keen on driving the country towards modernism. He took many measures regarding the commitment mentioned above. Let’s take a look at Nehru’s Vision of Developed Society –

Social Policy – Nehru’s Socialist Society

As mentioned above, Nehru believed in socialism and equality. He wanted to work for the weaker section of the society and issues like the caste system, literacy, poverty, and more. And he was successful to some extent.

Let’s look at his social policies –

Education and Reservation

He believed for India to progress, education of the young minds was necessary. His government took initiatives to establish several higher secondary institutions in different teams of academics.

This included – All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), Indian Institutes of Management (IIM), and National Institutes of Technology (NIT).

One of his five year plans also promised to provide compulsory primary education to all the children in India. Village Enrollment Programme and Rural Schools Construction were part of this commitment.

In order to educate the adults, vocational institutions opened up in districts and villages. His government also provided free milk and meals to undernourished children.

Another idea was to reserve seats in education and government job institutions for the vulnerable section. This was done to reduce the social inequalities in the country.

This mainly included Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Class. This was to promote religious harmony and increased minority representation.

Hindu Marriage law and Language Policy

His socialism ideology impacted Hindu laws as well. His government made changes to criminalize the caste discrimination and provide support and freedom to women. One such measure that Nehru took was to write Article 44 of the Constitution under the DPSP.

That article speaks about the Uniform Civil Code. This law forms the base of secularism in the country. Though he faced criticism of being partially secular as Muslim marriage law remained the same.

The Special Marriage Act of 1954 allowed individuals to marry outside their personal law. It was applicable throughout the country except Jammu and Kashmir.

The idea of legalizing the process is an extension of this act. These measures were by the Nehru Government to promote secularism in the country.

Language policy was not a particular act but Nehru’s wish to continue with the Hindi Language as the national language.

But many non-Hindi speaking members and states opposed it as they wanted English to continue. But with several efforts, Hindi passed as the official language along with English.

Economic Policies – State Controlled Industrialization

Nehru was a supporter of a mixed economy. By this, he meant to control the public sector coexisting with the private sector. He emphasized on establishment of heavy industries in the country for modernization.

Thus the government under him made a huge investment in the public sector steel, iron, coal, and power industry and supported them with policies and subsidies. This industry saw a growth of 7% from independence to 1965. GDP and GNP grew at an average rate of 3.9 and 4.0% annually.

But he is criticized for his import substitution industrialization which decreased India’s international competition by 1.4%. Another inefficiency in his economic policy was Permit Raj which required heavy tariffs and licenses for every business.

His economic term in short can be attributed to the nationalization of heavy industries and the socialist model of the Indian Economy. This continue till 1991 when the New Economic Policy established in India. The Five Year Plan is an idea from his regime based on Soviet Union Model.

Agriculture Policy

The development of Indian Agriculture under Nehru is also because of his agrarian reforms. The land reform was one such policy to help boost the Indian Agriculture. This policy allowed the abolishment of large landholding in the country.

But the redistribution failed miserably as large landholders joined the right-wing and protested against it. The escort grew in the early 1960s as more land was there for irrigation and cultivation.

Many projects began and got a boost with the establishment of agriculture universities. These universities provided high yielding varieties of grains. But the harvest failed in the coming years because of heavy rainfalls.

Foreign Policy – Nehru and External Affairs

The Commonwealth

In order to maintain good relations with Great Britain, Nehru promised to join the Commonwealth Nations. He signed the London Declaration which committed India’s entry to the commonwealth nations after becoming a republic in 1950.

The extremists of the right-wing and the left-wing of India criticized him for this step. They felt backstabbed for forming an alliance with Britishers.

Non-Aligned Movement of India

Nehru was completely against military actions when it came to international relations. He supported the United Nations Organisation except when they tried to resolve the Kashmir Issue.

The Non-alignment Movement originated from British Colonial rule and India’s non-violent freedom movement. Nehru and other top leaders from different countries formulated the idea of the Non-Aligned Movement to protect their independence.

The nations that were part of the NAM declared their neutrality for the war between the US and the USSR. He initiated the Bandung Conference of 1955 to bring together 25 developing countries in the non-aligned movement.

He discouraged colonialism and imperialism in the world. But the Chinese representative criticized Nehru for forcing down his ideologies on other nations. Though later because of Delhi’s role in signing a peace treaty and forming an alliance with Soviet Union diminished India’s image as non-aligned.

Defence and Nuclear Policy

He laid down the foundation of the National Defense Academy of India in 1949. He also established the Atomic Energy Commission of India in 1948 and had close relations with Homi J Bhabha for funding in ISRO.

He discouraged the use of nuclear weapons and even funded the first study on the effects of nuclear explosions on human health. He continued his policy even after getting nuclear threats from Korea.

Forward Policy – Border Conflict with China

Nehru in order to tackle border tension posted 43 outposts on the border including some areas in China in 1960. This was the forward policy by India. China in return attacked these check posts thus the beginning of the Indo-China War in 1962.

There were some violent firefights on the Himalayan border between the two countries. The Chinese government offered peaceful settlements from 1960-62 and asked India to not forward patrols in Ladakh.

But China lost its temper and became aggressive on 20 October 1962 and captured the Himalayan area ahead of Line of Control. The war mostly took place in the mountain region and did not use aerial and naval weapons from either side.

Moscow stood up with India but the US and Britain refused to send military weapons to India. Nehru had no option but to approach the Soviet Union and this alliance continued after the war as well.

The Chinese were clearly ahead of Indian Troops and captured the eastern and the western theatre gaining more control. The war ended on 21 November 1962 with India losing it and abandoning the forward policy.

The Defence of India Act passed in December 1962 by the government to stay prepared for wars like these. Nehru faced heavy criticism from the citizens and the ministers for his negligence and lack of planning.


This was the scene of India after Independence until 1964. Nehruvian as some call it lasted till his death. His work is praised and criticized by many. This question was part of the UPSC Mains paper where candidates had to elaborate on his policies and its pros and cons.

Thus this topic is important to cover. The articles cover his commitments, his policies in different sectors, and his ideology. It is an important part of the Modern History of India.

Candidates preparing for UPSC Exam should go through this article and read it thoroughly. Many competitive exams like UPSC, RRB, SSC, and more have this topic in their syllabus.

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