Early Life of Motilal Nehru
Motilal was born in the family of Kashmiri Pandits from Jammu and Kashmir and settled in the city of Delhi at the start of 18th century. Here Lakshmi Narayan, the grandfather of Motilal, became the first lawyer (Vakil) of East India Companyat the Mughal Imperial Court of Delhi after 1812. Motilal's father - Gangadhar - was a police constable in Delhi in the year 1857 and during the time of Bengal Mutiny when British army began shelling their way into the city, he escaped to Agra along with Jeorani, his wife and four children. He died here four years later, and three months after his death, his youngest son Motilal was born.
Early part of Motilal Nehru's childhood was spent in Khetri which was the second largest thikana estate within the princely Jaipur State, now in the Indian state of Rajasthan, where his senior brother Nandlal was Diwan (Chief Minister). In the year 1870, as Nandlal left his job, qualified as a lawyer and started practicing English law at Agra, the family unit moved with him. Subsequently the High Court shifted base to Allahabad, and the family settled there.
Motilal actually became the first among the young Hindu's to get a complete Western style education. He also passed the matriculation examination from Kanpur, and went on to attend Muir Central College at Allahabad, but failed to appear for the final year Bachelor of Arts examinations. Later he qualified "Bar at law" from University of Cambridge and then enlisted as a lawyer in the English courts. He was honoured with "Proud Past Alumni" in the list of 42 members, from "Allahabad University Alumni Association", NCR.
Career of Motilal Nehru
He became a barrister and settled in Allahabad in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. On February 5, 1919 he launched 'the Independent'. He had a westernized lifestyle. He was one of the wealthy leaders of the Indian National Congress. However under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi he changed his lifestyle. He was married to Swaroop Rani, a Kashmiri Brahmin. He died On February 6, 1931.
Political Life of Motilal Nehru
In the year 1909 he reached the pinnacle of his legal career as he gained the permission to appear in the Privy Council of Great Britain. He also became the first Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Leader, a highly influential newspaper. He served as President of the Congress Party twice, once in Amritsar (1919) and the other in Kolkata (1928). He supported the non-cooperation movement. The Kolkata Congress which was presided by Motilal was the scene of a head-on clash between those who wanted to accept Dominion Status and those who wanted complete independence. During the Non Cooperation Movement he was arrested. He joined the Swaraj Party. He was elected to Central Legislative Assembly and became leader of opposition in 1923.
Nehru demanded a representative conference to draft a constitution that would confer Dominion status on India which would be enacted by the parliament. This was rejected and as a result he left the Assembly and returned to the Congress. Motilal Nehru chaired the Nehru Commission in 1928. His report was the first constitution written by Indians only. It conceived a dominion status for India within the Empire. Though it was endorsed by the Congress Party, it was rejected by radical Indians who wanted complete independence.
Personal Life of Motilal Nehru
Motilal Nehru married Swaroop Rani, a Kashmiri Brahmin. His eldest son Jawaharlal Nehru was born in 1889, followed by two daughters, Sarup (later Vijayalakshmi Pandit) and Krishna (later Krishna Hutheesing) born in 1900 and 1907 respectively.
Later Years of Motilal Nehru
Motilal Nehru's declining health had kept him out of the historic events of 1929-1931. It was the time when the Congress had adopted complete independence as its goal and Mahatma Gandhi had launched Satyagraha. He was arrested but his health gave way and was soon released. He is remembered for being the patriarch of political dynasty which has produced three Prime Ministers.
Works of Motilal Nehru
* The Voice of Freedom: selected speeches of Pandit Motilal Nehru. ed. Kavalam Madhava Panikkar, A. Pershad. Asia Pub. House, 1961
* Motilal Nehru: essays and reflections on his life and times, by Preet Chablani. S. Chand, 1961
* Selected Works of Motilal Nehru (Volume 1-6), ed. Ravinder Kumar, D. N. Panigrahi. Vikas Pub., 1995
(Last Updated on : 30-08-2012)
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