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Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision for a just and equitable post-colonial world, with India leading the way

Wikimedia Commons, CC BY

Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision for a just and equitable post-colonial world, with India leading the way

Wikimedia Commons, CC BY

Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision for a just and equitable post-colonial world, with India leading the way

Wikimedia Commons, CC BY

Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision for a just and equitable post-colonial world, with India leading the way

Wikimedia Commons, CC BY

Jawaharlal Nehru was not just the architect of modern India and the country’s first prime minister. He also played a central role in the discrediting of European imperialism and gave a voice to people across Asia and Africa struggling for self-determination and racial equality.

Wikimedia Commons, CC BY

Ian Hall, Griffith University

This piece is part of a new series in collaboration with the ABC’s Saturday Extra program. Each week, the show will have a “who am I” quiz for listeners about influential figures who helped shape the 20th century, and we will publish profiles for each one. You can read the other pieces in the series here.

Jawaharlal Nehru was not just the architect of modern India and the country’s first prime minister. He also played a central role in the discrediting of European imperialism and gave a voice to people across Asia and Africa struggling for self-determination and racial equality.

An unlikely revolutionary, Nehru was born in 1889 into wealth and privilege. His father was a Kashmiri, a high caste Brahmin and a successful barrister, able to fund the best education for the young Jawaharlal the British system could offer.

After attending Harrow School and Cambridge University, Nehru, too, became a lawyer and could easily have settled into a comfortable life.

Instead, Nehru was swept by the enigmatic Mahatma Gandhi into the campaign against British rule in India. For the next 25 years, he dressed in homespun cotton, endured long terms in prison and campaigned relentlessly for the cause.

Jawaharlal Nehru (left) sharing a joke with Mahatma Gandhi during a meeting of the All India Congress in 1946. Wikimedia Commonsoriginal article.

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