[Part 2] Lessons from Indian Thinkers: Jawaharlal Nehru

Jawaharlal Nehru

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru

Nationalism and Internationalism

Nehru was a pioneer nationalist. He is also remembered as an internationalist par excellence. His ideas present a harmonious blend of nationalism and internationalism. He understood the influence and role of nationalism in getting independence to the different colonies, like India. Nationalism binds the masses together, by creating a degree of unity, vigor and vitality. However, he carefully rejected the narrow understanding of nationalism, that are based on fanatic and communal ideas. He also opposed the tendency of jingoism, that sees other nations as enemies.

Nehru realized that national isolation was neither desirable nor possible. Nehru believed that there is a strong urge in the people to come closer. Thus, the contemporary world has been moving closer as a global village. Thus, there is a more pertinent need to cooperate with the international community. India should discard her parochial approach and move towards international cooperation. For such ideas, Nehru has been hailed as a champion internationalist.


Before Independence, Nehru represented the young socialist section of the Congress. He supported the form of ‘democratic socialism‘. However, it was different from the Marxist socialism. His approach was scientific and logical, and aimed at securing an equal distribution of income. He advocated the strategy of planned development, based on the Soviet model.

His ideas of socialism believed that the national resources should be controlled and distributed through the state, in the national interest. He believed that without social freedom and socialistic structures, India would not able be able to expedite the process of industrial development. Thus, the whole model of planned development in India, has been made on the basis of Nehruvian ideas.

Freedom of Press

Nehru understood the role of Press and Media in enlightening the public opinion. The press is an essential tool for a democracy. To hide the facts from the public is an immoral practice in a democracy. Thus, Nehru was against high censorship, and advocated complete freedom for the media personnel to work without fear. He believed that the press is a custodian of the public interest.

At the same time, Nehru dealt strictly with the irresponsible media, which unreasonably attacked the government personnel or the people, or created anti-social comments, encouraging communal rift and hatred.


Nehru is seen as a pioneer of the idea of non-alignment. This idea was given in the greater context of global peace, disarmament, and development and independence of the third world nations. Nehru was a staunch admirer of disarmament and independence of policy making. Non-Alignment meant ‘a policy of acting according to our best judgement’. Such an arrangement would create a democratic model at the international level.

Nehru was also a votary of strong Afro-Asian unity. Since the countries of Africa and Asia have been primarily backward, there is a need to work on the common goal of development.


Nehru believed that war is not a solution for any problem. International conflicts should be resolved peacefully. Nehru discussed with China the mutual concerns, and came up with the five principle of peaceful reconciliation, or Panchsheel. These five principles were-

  • Mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty;
  • Mutual non-aggression;
  • Mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs;
  • Mutual benefit; and,
  • Peaceful co-existence.

Nehru believed that each nation should cooperate with others in the task of establishing world peace and human betterment. Panchsheel was a message of tolerance and peaceful co-existence and cooperation, which India has believed since ages.

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