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Jawaharlal Nehru Phase In India (PART-2)

Emergence of Electoral Politics | Jawaharlal Nehru Phase In India (PART-2)

  • Nehru believed in the power of democracy. He pushed forward the system of parliamentary governance based on universal adult franchise and secret ballot. He made elections the norm not exception. His firm commitment to democracy, civil liberties, free speech and press, independent judiciary are what made India into a vibrant democracy.
  • His aim was to turn the country into a self governing institution. He believed that people would realise their power and soon push reforms that would end social inequality. The political party would merely implement popular mandate or be swept away.
  • After adoption of constitution on January 26, 1950, It was necessary to install the first democratically elected government of the country. The election commission of India was set up in January 1950 with a constitutional provision to conduct free and fair elections. Sukumar Sen became the first Chief Election Commissioner [then ECI was single member body, unlike today’s multi member body].
  • India has adopted universal adult franchise model of democracy where any person with prescribed condition of age, could vote without any form of discriminations. Election commission soon realized that it was an uphill task to conduct a free and fair election in a country of India’s size. Holding an election required delimitation or drawing the boundaries of electoral rolls. Election commission faced difficult situation. Nearly 40 lakh woman registered themselves as wife or daughter of somebody rather registering themselves by their names. The election commission refused to accept these entries and ordered a revision if possible and deletion if necessary.

Mixed Economy Model (Socialism)

  • Post Independence, apart from extreme poverty, illiteracy, a ruined agriculture and industry, the structural distortions created by colonialism in Indian economy and society made the future transition to self sustained growth much more difficult.
  • Ensuring well being and economic development were the important challenges for the Indian leadership and to pursue these goals, they had two model of economic development, the liberal – capitalist model followed in U.S.A. and Europe, another was the socialist model followed in U.S.S.R. During the debate of model of economic development, Almost everyone agreed that the development of India means economic growth and social and economic justice. Hence very few people supported the American style of capitalist development.
  • Nehruji was attracted by Socialism and wanted it to be in India. However he didn’t want the Soviet version of socialism but the idea behind socialism like a society free from inequalities, class distinction, having equal income distribution, just and humane society.
  • He favored co-operative ownership of means of production rather than the capitalist view of profit making. But he knew that equitable distribution can be of riches not poverty so a country should have tremendous economic growth.

Nehru’s Foreign Policy | Jawaharlal Nehru Phase In India (PART-2)

  • During Nehru’s era, a basic objective of India’s foreign policy was extending support to colonial and ex colonial countries in their struggle against colonialism. Another objective was that of promoting peace. Nehru constantly emphasized that peaceful co-existence of countries with different ideologies, differing systems, was a necessity and believed that nobody had a monopoly on the truth and pluralism was a fact of life. In this context, he outlined five principles which were called “Panchsheel” of India’s Foreign Policy; these were
    • Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,
    • Nonaggression,
    • Non-interference in each other’s internal affairs,
    • Equality and mutual benefit, and
    • Peaceful co-existence.
  • Major function of Indian foreign policy was to promote and protect Indian economic interests. Nehru played a crucial role in setting the national agenda. He was his own foreign minister hence, both as the Prime Minister

Relations with Pakistan

  • Maharaja of Kashmir had sought one year time to make up his mind whether to join either country or to remain independent. Both the countries agreed for this term. However, fearing the tide against Pakistan, the leadership of Pakistan initiated a proxy war by sending some tribesmen from the Frontier Province. India accepted the demand of help by Kashmiri ruler and sent its troops to drive out these tribesmen. Meanwhile Ruler of Kashmir had to sign the instrument of Accession and became a part of India.
  • At the same time after the end of this proxy war, India lodged the complaint against Pakistan for their illegal action in UN. Instead of getting justice at UNs, Western powers backed Pakistan. India also accepted the UN resolution on ceasefire in spite of its advantageous position and agreed for plebiscite in Kashmir, which laid down two conditions for holding plebiscite:–
    • Pak should withdraw its forces from the state of J&K.
    • The authority of the Srinagar administration should be restored over the whole state.
  • Above mentioned first conditions was never fulfilled, so there was no plebiscite there. Meanwhile J&K participated in India’s general elections and then the talk of plebiscite remained irrelevant.
  • The Kashmir conflict didn’t prevent cooperation between the government of India and Pak. Both the government worked together to restore the abducted women to their original families, a long term dispute of river water sharing was resolved –with world Bank’s mediation and India-Pakistan Indus Water Treaty was signed by Nehru and General Ayub Khan in 1960.
  • 1965 War
    • The Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 initiated following the culmination of skirmishes that took place since April 1965.
    • Pakistan’s Operation Gibraltar was launched to infiltrate forces into Jammu and Kashmir to hasten insurgency against India.
    • India retaliated by launching a full-scale military attack on West Pakistan.
    • This war resulted in thousands of causalities on both sides and witnessed the largest engagement of armoured vehicles and the largest tank battle since World War II.
    • The war ended after an UN-mandated ceasefire was declared following diplomatic intervention by the USSR and the US, and the US, and the subsequent issuance of the Tashkent Declaration.
  • 1971 War
    • The internal crisis of Pakistan after the verdict of their general elections turned violent. The ruling party of Zulfikar Bhutto emerged as winner in West Pakistan while in their Eastern Part Sheikh Mujib-Ur Rahman’s Awani League won the seats with great margins. However, strong and powerful western establishment ignored the democratic verdict and didn’t accept the League’s demand for federation. Instead of responding to their demands and verdict positively, Pak army arrested Rahman and unleashed brutal terror activities and suppressed their voices. To end this menace permanently, people of Eastern Pak started liberation struggle of Bangladesh from Pak. Due to the huge influence of refugees from Eastern Pak, India deliberated much and later extended its support to people’s cause materially and morally, which was frowned by Western Pak as Indian conspiracy to break of Pakistan.
    • The support to Western Pak came from the USA & China to quash the people’s movement. To ensure its safety from the attacks of American and Chinese backed Pak, India signed 20 year Treaty of Peace and Friendship with the Soviet Union. Even after much diplomatic deliberations it could not achieve concrete results, and full scale war broke out in December 1971 on both the western and Eastern front. With the support of local population in the form of “Mukti Bahini” Indian army made rapid progress and compelled the Pakistani troops to surrender in 10 days only. With emergence of Bangladesh as an independent country, India declared a unilateral ceasefire.
    • Later Shimla Agreement of 1972 (July 03) between Indira Gandhi & Zulfikar Bhutto brought back the peace between two nations.
  • Kargil War
    • During the winter of 1998-99, the Indian army vacated its posts at high peaks in Kargil Sector in Kashmir as it used to do every year.
    • Pakistan Army made use of this opportunity to move across the line of control and occupied the vacant posts.
    • The Indian army discovered this in May 1999, when the snow thawed. This led to intense fighting between Indian and Pakistani forces.
    • Backed by the Indian Air Force, the Indian Army regained many of the posts that Pakistan had earlier occupied.
    • Pakistan later withdrew from the remaining portion because of the international pressure and high causalities.

Relations with China | Jawaharlal Nehru Phase In India (PART-2)

  • India adopted a policy of friendship towards China since the beginning. India was the first to recognize the new
  • People’s Republic of China on January 01, 1950. Nehru also supported the representation of China in U.N.S.C.
  • When Nehru and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai signed “Panchsheel “Treaty, at the same time India recognized
  • China’s right over disputed territory of Tibet and approved the Chinese control over it.
  • 1962 War
    • Relations of India with China turned soured in 1962 when Chinese forces attached the Thagla ridge and dislodged troops, which was initial spark for ensuing massive attack. In October 1962, the Chinese army launched a massive attack and overran India posts in the eastern sector in NEFA [now Arunachal]. India army commander in NEFA fled without resistance and left behind open door for Chinese personnel to attack India.
    • In western sector, Chinese captured 13 posts in the Galwan Valley and the Chushul airstrip was threatened. India was apprehensive of such move by China and sought American and British help later, However Chinese themselves declared a unilateral withdrawal but soured the relationship between the two nations.

Economic Issues

  • A combination of recession, growing unemployment rampant inflation and scarcity of food grains created a serious economic crisis. India support to Bangladesh’s liberation, materially, caused serious repercussion on India’s foreign exchange reserves it got drained and more resources were diverted to defence. Consecutive monsoon failure in 1972 & 73 affected India food grains availability and fuelled prices.
  • Large scale unemployment and economic recession led to industrial unrest and wave of strikes in different parts of country culminated in All India railway strike in May 1974.

J.P. Movement | Jawaharlal Nehru Phase In India (PART-2)

  • The students of Gujarat protested immensely in January 1974 against the rise in prices of food-grains, cooking oil and other essential commodities, which was later joined by the political parties too.
  • The police administration replied with excessive force, indiscriminate arrests and used lathi charge. Later union government dissolved the assembly and announced now elections to the assembly.
  • Inspired by the efforts and success by Gujarat student’s movement, similar agitation was initiated in Bihar by students in March 1974. Jayaprakash Narayan came out of his political retirement and provided the perfect leadership to these students. He gave a call for “Sampooran Kranti” (Total Revolution) against the immense corruption, to defend democracy from authorisation personality of Indira Gandhi.
  • During the JP Movement, people set up parallel governments all over the state, didn’t pay the taxes etc. The J.P. Movement attracted wide support from students, middle classes, traders, and a section of the intelligentsia.
  • The J.P. Movement also got the backing of nearly all the non left political parties. However, by the end of 1974, The JP Movements fervor got down because of absence of organizational structures of the movement. Most of his student followers resumed their classes. The movement had failed to attract the rural and urban poor both in Gujarat and Bihar.

Naxalite Movement | Jawaharlal Nehru Phase In India (PART-2)

  • The first non congress United Front (UF) government came to power in West Bengal, comprising the CPI, CPM and Bangla Congress [a breakaway faction of the Congress]. This new government decided to expedite the implementation of land reforms.
  • The then land revenue minister Hare Krishna Konar announced a programme of quick distribution of surplus land among landless and an end to eviction of share croppers. But this process was slow and time consuming because issue of distribution of surplus land went to the court and was under litigation. Therefore, the local leader Charu Majumdar from Naxalbari area of Darjeeling district argued that this democratic process of distribution of land and democracy in India is Sham and decided to adopt a strategy of protracted guerrilla warfare in order to lead a revolution.
  • This Naxalite Movement under Majumdar’s leadership used force to snatch land from the rich landowners and to distribute it among the poor and the landless. Its supporters advocated the use of violent means to achieve their political goals. Even though the then government and the subsequent governments strived to control the naxalite menace, it didn’t succeeds rather it spread to many other parts of the country. It had lots of splintered groups but then joined together in early 2000’s and formed unified CPI (Maoist).
  • Currently, about 75 districts in nine states are affected by Naxalite violence Most of these are resource rich very backward areas inhabited by Adivasis. In these areas the sharecroppers, tenants and small cultivators were denied their basic rights with regard to security of tenure or their share in produce, payment of fair wages etc. Forced labour, expropriation of resources by outsiders and exploitation by moneylenders are also common in these areas. These harsh conditions lead to the growth of the Naxalite Movement.

Communalism | Jawaharlal Nehru Phase In India (PART-2)

  • The problem of communalism begins when a religion is seen as the basis of the national unity and identity. The problem becomes more sharp when religion is expressed in exclusive and partisan terms, when one followers of a particular religion is pitted against another.
  • Communal politics is based on the idea that religion is the principal basis of social community. The most common expression of communalism is in everyday beliefs which routinely involve religious prejudices, stereotypes of religious communities and belief in the superiority of one’s religion over other religions. Although Nehru was himself a Nationalist and secular person he couldn’t launch a crusade against communal forces. His policy of firm faith in secularism and democracy was right but also suffered from weaknesses. He failed to use the Congress against communal forces and had to compromise on his principles when Congress allied with Muslim and Christian communal forces in Kerela. He also failed to ensure States took steps in the administration to crush communalism. Riots on religion also occurred during his last years.


  • With these socio-economic-political contributions, Jawaharlal Nehru can be rightfully called the maker of modern India.
  • Moreover, the recent developments such as emergence of a new era of the Cold War between the US and China, failure of neo-liberal economic policies-which can reflected in rising inequalities, growing intolerance and disharmony within Indian society, need for development of scientific temperament, etc. marks the relevance of Nehruvian ideology in present times also.




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