10 lesser-known facts about Jawaharlal Nehru

Before immersing himself in India's freedom struggle, Nehru was training to be an advocate like his father, Motilal Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru (DH File photo)

Jawaharlal Nehru was a prominent figure in India's freedom struggle against British rule and played a major role in the implementation of notions such as secularism in the country. He became the first Prime Minister of independent India. Here are 10 lesser-known facts about him on his 130th birth anniversary:

1. Before immersing himself into India's freedom struggle, Nehru was training to be an advocate like his father, Motilal Nehru, and had even enrolled at the Allahabad High Court after graduating from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1910.

2. A socialist by belief, Nehru's ideologies were vastly inspired by the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and his visit to USSR in 1927. When he became India's first Prime Minister after independence, he modeled the country as a 'mixed economy', taking inspiration from his Soviet trip.

3. During the freedom struggle, Nehru spent 3259 days in jail. He used to campaign against Indian oppression by the British in the form of indentured labour and other gross violations of rights.

4. Nehru was among the prominent faces of the Congress's left-wing faction since the 1920s, and it was around that time when he became the first to table the demand for a completely 'independent India' to the British.

5. He became the Indian National Congress president on two occasions -- in 1919 and 1928.

6. In the 60s, he played a key role in the formation and operation of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). NAM was a platform for newly liberated third-world colonies to empower each other during the Cold War while staying away from the two power blocs (Communist and Capitalist).  It opposed "imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression".

7. His birth anniversary is celebrated as 'Children's Day' in India because of his advocacy for the cause of children's education. He was popularly called Chacha Nehru by children.

8. Nehru survived four recorded assassination attempts --  in 1947, 1955, 1956, 1961.

9. Nehru passed away after a massive heart attack on May 27, 1964. It is said that his deteriorating health was an aftermath of the 1962 Sino-India war which shocked him greatly. In 1954, Nehru and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai had signed the Panchsheel agreement (five principles for peaceful co-existence), and the war, prompted by events such as India granting asylum to the Dalai Lama, felt like a 'betrayal of trust' for him.

10.1.5 million people had gathered in the streets of Delhi on the following day to mourn Nehru.

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