Jawaharlal Nehru 1950-1964

Planning commission

Then Jawaharlal Nehru took up two important jobs. One is to feed Indian people. to compensate the loss of food producing Punjab area to Pakistan. And to make India industrially strong by adopting a policy of Import Substitution Industrial development. Heavy industries were established by the Government with the technological help from foreign countries/companies. Nehru could get the technology from both the worlds of Communists and Capitalists. And he followed the Soviet model of planned development. Actually National Planning committee was established and headed by Jawahar lal Nehru in 1938. And first Planning commission was established in 1950.

Here I will try to list out some of his works for which India is proud of now.

Irrigation, Hydel projects

Various multipurpose irrigation projects were established as first priority and to make India self-sufficient in Food grain production. Technically these projects are called as HYDEL projects. These Hydro Electric projects are capable of producing electric power in addition to irrigation of farm fields. (His dream ultimately came into reality by late 1970s.) However, foundations were laid by Nehru only. He founded Bhakra Nangal (in1948) Dams, Hirakud project (in 1948), Nagarjuna Sagar dam (in 1955), Sardar Sarovar dam (in 1961), which irrigate millions of hectares of farm lands across India.  And at these projects millions of Units of Electric power are generated with minimum cost.

Heavy Industries

And on the industrial front, Bhilai steel plant with the help of the USSR and Rourkela Steel plant with the help of Germans were established in 1955 and were commissioned in 1959. Durgapur steel plant in 1955 was established in west Bengal. Hindustan Steel Private Limited was set up on January 19, 1954. Bhilai and Rourkela Steel Plants started functioning fully by the end of December 1961.

Integral Coach Factory (ICF) was established in 1952 for manufacture of rail coaches at Chennai. It is owned and operated by the Indian Railways.

Chittaranjan locomotives factory was founded in 1950.

Diesel Locomotive works was founded in 1961 at Varanasi, the DLW rolled out its first locomotive three years later, on 3 January 1964. 

Starting with the manufacture of a few communication equipment in 1956, BEL (Bharat Electronics limited) started producing receiving valves in 1961, germanium semiconductors in 1962 and radio transmitters for AIR in 1964.


The Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) was established in the tenure of Jawaharlal Nehru under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) in 1962, under the aegis of scientist Vikram Sarabhai recognizing the need in space research. INCOSPAR grew and became ISRO in 1969. ISRO built India’s first satellite, Aryabhata, and it was launched by the Soviet Union on 19 April 1975.

Nehru envisioned the development of nuclear weapons and established the Department of Scientific Research on 10 August 1948. Nehru also called in Dr. Homi J. Bhabha, a nuclear physicist, and entrusted him with complete authority over all nuclear-related affairs and programs and answerable only to Nehru himself. Indian nuclear policy was setup by unwritten personal understanding between Nehru and Bhabha. Nehru famously said to Bhabha, “Professor Bhabha take care of Physics, leave international relations to me”

Nehru also told Bhabha, (this is as was told by Bhabha to Raja Rammanna) that: “We must have the (nuclear) capability. We should first prove ourselves and then talk of Gandhi, non-violence and a world without nuclear weapons.”

This kind of leadership quality is called as statesmanship. So we have to understand that Nehru was not simply a politician but a statesman and a visionary. And have the guts to do what he believed is right without fear. Nehru never deviated from his principles and lived up to his convictions whatever may be the consequences just like Gandhi ji. This might be the reason for Gandhi to say that Nehru was his de facto heir.

The Atomic Energy Commission is the governing body of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Government of India. The DAE is under the direct charge of the Prime Minister.

A resolution passed by the Government of India later replaced the commission by “Atomic Energy Commission of India” on 1 March 1958 under the name of Department of Atomic Energy with more financial and executive powers.

The Government of India created the Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay (AEET) on 3 January 1954.

And ‘Rare Minerals Survey Unit’ started functioning from New Delhi on 10 August 1948. It was renamed first as ‘Raw Materials Division’ and then as ‘Atomic Minerals Division’ in 1958, it was shifted to Hyderabad in 1974.  

The DRDO was established in 1958 by amalgamating the Defense Science Organization and some other technical development establishments.  

DRDO started its first major project in surface-to-air missiles (SAM) known as Project Indigo in 1960s.  

Hindustan Machine tools factory, Sindri Fertilizer factory, Indian telephone industry were established during Nehru’s tenure.

ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas commission) was set up in 1956. And Indian Oil Corporation was established in 1959.

The Life Insurance Corporation of India was founded in 1956 when the Parliament of India passed the Life Insurance of India Act that nationalized the insurance industry in India. Thus over 245 insurance companies and provident societies were merged in to create the state-owned Life Insurance Corporation of India.

Unit Trust of India (UTI) was established in 1963 by an Act of Parliament, athe principal financial institution for providing credit and other facilities for developing industries and institutions. 

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In order to gear up India to take on technological front,

Five Indian Institutes of Technology were established between 1951 and 1961 at Delhi, Khargpur, Madras, Kanpur and Bombay. ( At present 23 IITs are there now in India ). In addition 13 Regional Engineering colleges were established between 1961 and 1964. Presently these colleges are called as National Institutes of Technology.

Nehru could achieve all this progress by following the principle of planned development and of course because of his clear cut vision and self-imposed commitment for National good and development. He adopted the Soviet style of Five Year Plans to effect even development of India.

Five Year Plans

First Five year Plan with a budget of Rs. 23,777 million concentrated on development of Agriculture, Irrigation and electric Power generation. Industrial development was left to private entrepreneurs. However, modest beginning is made in the establishment of key industries like Iron and Steel, Heavy electrical and chemical industries.

During the first five year plan 6 million acres were added with irrigation facilities and 10 million acres were aided with minor irrigation works.

Gross National income increased to 18% from Rs. 91,100 million to Rs. 108,000 million between 1951and 1955.

Industrial production rose to 39%.

II Five year PLAN

Second five year plan aimed at increasing National income and to raise standard of living and to generate Employment opportunities. Priority was given to Industrialization viz., basic and heavy industries. Public sector was allotted Rs. 48,000 million and Rs. 24,000 million for private sector. As a result, National income increased by 34% to Rs. 1,45,000 million by 1960. Food grains production increased by 46%.

III Five year PLAN

Third five year plan could not achieve its targets because of Wars and drought conditions prevailed in the country. In this plan Public sector was allotted Rs. 75,000 million Private sector Rs. 41,000 million. This plan envisaged 5% increase p a in National income, Self-sufficiency in food grains production and Establishment of Industries.

In all, as a result of planned development, 380 Irrigation projects were completed by 1971 increasing irrigated land from 0.90 M hectares in 1951 to 11.50 m hectares in 1971. Number of Tractors in use for agriculture was 9000 in 1951 and number of tractors increased to 31,000 by 1961. Food grains production increased from 55 million tonnes to 82 million tonnes by 1960-61. Food grain output increased from 522 Kg per hectare in 1951 to 858 Kg per hectare by 1971. Fertilizer consumption increased from 55,000 tonnes in 1951 to 3,06,000 tonnes in 1961.

Production of Steel ingots increased from 1.40 million tonnes in 1950 to 3.42 million tonnes by 1962. Production of Sugar increased from 1.12 m tonnes to 3.02 m t. Cement production from 2.70 m t to 7.97 m t. Aluminum from 3700 tonnes to 18300 tonnes. Bicycles production increased from 90,000 in 1951 to 10,71,000 by 1962.

Literacy rate increased from 18% in 1951 to 28% by 1961. But Population growth was enormous, population increased to 43 crores by 1965. In addition India had to rehabilitate about 8.50 million people who had migrated to India during partition.   

And because of the impetus given to production of manufactures the volume of exports went up at an annual rate of 2.9 per cent in 1951–1960 to 7.6 per cent in 1971–1980. Actually 1500 villages were electrified by 1947. This number increased to 10,000 by 1955. Production of electric power increased from 2.30 million Units in 1951 to 3.20 m units by 1955 and 5.70 m units by 1960.

On external affairs front Nehru made India as an alternative power center in relation to the US and USSR blocks. He championed the principle of Non Aligned Movement by joining hands with Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia, Nasar of Egypt and Sukarno of Indonesia.

India under Nehru granted asylum to Dalai Lama, spiritual Guru and head of Tibetan State in 1959. As a consequence China invaded India in 1962, of course China withdrew on its own retaining some part in Aksai chin region with them. However, Nehru did not budge and did not handover Dalai Lama to China.

And Nehru authorized the Indian Army to invade Portuguese-controlled Goa in 1961 and integrated it into Indian Union.

India played a key role in the resolution of Korean crisis and Suez Canal crisis under the aegis of Indian Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru.

Sukarno, the Prime minister of Indonesia praised Nehru as “Light of Asia”, actually this phrase or epithet was used to refer to Lord Buddha. Indians adore Nehru as the Architect of Modern India. I call Nehru as Nehru the Great.

Some people and some organizations try to talk disparagingly about Nehru and try to paint Nehru as a failure and incapable. But we have seen above how Nehru succeeded in implanting Democratic polity in India and how much he strived to develop India, and how Nehru placed Indian Nation in the galaxy of prominent Nations in the world.

And it should be noted that forgetting Nehru and distancing from Nehru’s legacy began with the advent of Late Rajiv Gandhi itself. I remember Nehru’s photo not appearing in the Congress hoardings since 1986. Even today Congress seldom retaliate Nehru bashing by others.

For the last few years Nehru is getting denigrated and vilified with a purpose. But destroying Nehru they must be attempting to destroy Democracy and Republicanism. And it is astonishing to see that Nehru’s name is avoided while discussing any issue by non-rightist intellectuals also.

Nehru imbibed principles of Democratic and Republican form of polity during his visit to London. And also after reading about American and French revolutions. Of course Russian revolution also. But Nehru did not follow the principle of Armed revolts occurred there. But accepted Gandhi’s Non Violence and Satyagraha principles and did not deviate from that till the goals are reached. And successfully installed democratic institutions in India by adopting a written Constitution. He stuck to his principles till end.

He lived as a Republican and died as Republican. When Congress party made his daughter Indira Gandhi, President of the party, Nehru admonished those who made that move. Nehru did not give her a Cabinet berth and rejected the suggestion. And during his last days when asked to nominate his Heir to the office of Prime Minister he responded like this, I have created democratic institutions. And Constitution would look after that matter. So Nehru lived up to his convictions just like Gandhi and never compromised his ideals.

In this context let us know the truth about Indira’s marriage problem. Indira proposed to marry Mr Firoz Khan. Many people still think that he was a Muslim by knowing that his name contain Khan. But he was a Parsi. Nehru did not agree for the proposal because he was Parsi. Then Gandhi intervened and suggested that he would adopt him and after adoption by conducting necessary rituals Firoz Khan became a Hindu. Thereafter Nehru married Indira to Firoz Khan Gandhi. This episode clarifies that either Nehru or Indira or Firoz all were Hindus.

Kashmir problem

And Nehru is blamed by his political opponents for the Kashmir problem. Let us dispel these false notions spread about Nehru on Kashmir debacle. Actually Kingdom of Maharaja Harisingh consisted of Kashmir valley, Jammu, Aksaichin area, Ladakh, Gilgit and Baltistan. Gilgit and Baltisatan area was under lease with the British at that time. Maharaja cancelled that lease before his accession to India. Instead of vacating British handed over Gilgit Baltistan to Pakistan. British had no right to do so. And China occupied Aksai chin area in 1952. India was caught unawares. And some areas which are now called as Azad Kashmir are occupied by Pakistan under the guise of tribal rides. So that only 60% of the land area of erstwhile Kashmiri Kingdom is now forming part of India.

Gilgit Baltistan comprises of 25% land area of the then Kashmir Kingdom. And the so called azad kashmir forms 15% of the erstwhile Kashmiri kingdom. 

At present 90 percent of people in Kashmir valley belong to Muslim communities. Muslims constitute 30 % of population of Jammu. 46 % of Ladakh are Muslims mainly belonging to Shia sect. and 50% of people of Ladakh practice Buddhism. Overall 70% of population the erstwhile Kashmir Kingdom now lives in Indian side of Kashmir, Jammu and Leh.

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It is interesting to note that Pakistan does not denote Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir as its provinces. But administers the areas through military occupation. Because it is illegal for Pakistan to integrate these areas into Pakistan, for Maharaja of Kashmir did not acceded these areas to Pakistan.

Now, let us know what happened in Kashmir while Maharaja was acceding to India.  

In fact Maharaja Hari Singh decided to stay independent because he thought that the State’s Muslims would be unhappy if he accedes to India, and Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Shias of Kargil would become vulnerable if he joined Pakistan. So he wanted to continue as Sovereign King of Kashmir.

At that time agents of Muslim League of Pakistan clandestinely worked in Poonch to encourage the local Muslims to take up armed revolt, exploiting an internal unrest regarding economic grievances. The authorities in Pakistani Punjab waged a ‘private war’ by obstructing supplies of fuel and essential commodities to the State.

Communal riots began in The Jammu division of the state during the turmoil of Partition, as migrants from Rawalpindi and Sialkot areas arrived into Jammu carrying with them the news of atrocities occurred against Hindus. Hindus of Jammu conducted riots against Muslims. RSS was active in the region.

Then Muslims of Western Kashmir formed into a rebel force under the leadership of Ibrahim of Muslim conference and declared Azad Kashmir in October, 1946.   

In 1946, the National Conference launched the ‘Quit Kashmir’ movement, asking the Maharaja to hand over the reins of power to the people of Kashmir. Muslim Conference opposed National Conference. By 22 July 1947, the Muslim Conference started calling for the state’s accession to Pakistan.

Both Abdullah and Abbas were imprisoned by Maharaja. 

Trouble was brewing in Jammu as well. Prem Nath Dogra organized Dogra Hindus of Jammu under the banner of All Jammu and Kashmir Rajya Hindu Sabha. Prem Nath Dogra was also the chairman (sanghchalak) of the RSS in Jammu. In 1942, Balraj Madhok arrived in the state as a pracharak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He established branches of the RSS in Jammu and later in the Kashmir Valley. In May 1947, following the Partition plan, the Hindu Sabha supported Maharaja to stay independence. In November 1947, shortly after the state’s accession to India, the Hindu leaders launched the Jammu Praja Parishad with the objective of achieving the “full integration” of Jammu and Kashmir with India, calling Sheikh Abdullahs Government as communist. So there was no consistency in the stands taken by these Hindu parties.

Maharaja sent a message to Nehru and Patel in Delhi on 19 September, requesting essential supplies to Kashmir as Pakistan has blockaded the transport routes and by the way expressed his willingness to accede to India. Nehru, however, demanded that Sheikh Abdullah be released from prison and democratic institutions should begin to work in Kahsmir. Only then would he allow the state to accede. Accordingly, Maharaja released Sheikh Abdullah from Jail on 29 September. In the meantime Pakistani pushed its soldiers under the guise of tribal raids to march towards Shrinagar. Then Maharaja of Kashmir sent an SOS to India asking for military assistance.

It should be noted that at that time Pakistan, India and Kashmir are three Sovereign Countries/States. Technically neither India nor Pakistan can send troops to Kashmir. That’s why Pakistan terms entry of its troops as Tribal rides. Moreover Maharaja of Kahsmir already signed a standstill agreement with Pakistan in order to prevent any pre-emptive action from Pakistan. That is why, Nehru insisted signing of Instrument of Accession by Maharaja before India can send its troops to Kashmir.

Then the Maharaja signed the instrument of accession on 26 October 1947 and thus Kashmir became part of India and as a corollary to this Pakistan’s presence in Kashmir was being treated as illegal.

It is interesting to note that RSS first batted for Independent Kashmir under Dogras. Later it changed its cant and it asked for full integration of Kashmir with India. Rajah wanted to stay independent and ultimately accepted accession to India. And Sheik Abdulla wanted Kashmir to be independent but without Maharaja. Later he agreed for accession to India. All the parties have vacillated and were without a fixed opinion of the future of Kashmir.  

But Nehru all along stood for his principles that Kashmiri people should endorse accession of Kashmir by Maharaja. Ultimately Kashmiri Constituent Assembly ratified accession of Maharaja in 1956. Constitution of Kashmir states that Kashmir (Jammu & Kashmir ) was inalienable part of India and accession to India was fianl.

But Sheik Abdulla was not a party to this resolution. He was put in Jail at that time.  

Actually Sheikh Abdullah took oath as Prime Minister of the state on 17 March 1948. Karan Singh, son of Maharajah Hari Singh was made the Sadr-i-Riyasat (Constitutional Head of State) and the Governor of the state. And in October 1951, Jammu & Kashmir National Conference formed the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir to formulate the Constitution of the state.

Earlier in 1949Sheikh Abdulla’s Government passed ‘Landed Estates Abolition Act. Enabling the Government to take over lands from the Landlords without compensation. Actually at that time all governments in Indian Provinces did passed similar acts. Jammu Praja Parishad agitated against Sheikh’s land reforms and argued that the Act was against the fundamental rights granted by Indian Constitution especially Right to Property. (It is interesting to note that Bharatiya Jana Sangh which ruled India between 1977-80 removed the clause pertaining to Fundamental Right to Property for whole of India by joining hands with Communists.) Praja Parishad called for the full integration with India hoping that if Kashmir was fully integrated with India Sheik’s land reforms would become invalid as all Land reforms bills passed by several Provinces were stalled by Courts in India. (But Nehru issued the First Government Order abolishing Zamindaris in 1952.)

And on 15 January 1952, students staged a demonstration against the hoisting of the state flag alongside the Indian Union flag in Jammu.  

In order to break the constitutional deadlock, Nehru invited the National Conference to send a delegation to Delhi. The ‘1952 Delhi Agreement’ was formulated to settle the extent of applicability of the Indian Constitution to the Jammu and Kashmir and the relation between the State and Centre. It was reached between Nehru and Abdullah on 24 July 1952. Following this, the Constituent Assembly abolished the monarchy in Kashmir, and adopted an elected Head of State (Sadr-i Riyasat). However, the Assembly under Abdullah was reluctant to implement the remaining measures agreed to in the Delhi Agreement.

And Sheikh Abdullah started drifting away from his previous commitment to endorse accession of Maharaja to India and began clamouring for self-determination of Kashmiris. Then Nehru got Sheikh arrested and replaced him with Bakshi Mohammad.

The Praja Parishad undertook a civil disobedience campaign for a third time in November 1952, which again led to repression by the state government. The Parishad accused Abdullah of communalism (sectarianism), favouring the Muslim interests in the state and sacrificing the interests of the others. The Jana Sangh joined hands with the Hindu Mahasabha and Ram Rajya Parishad to launch a parallel agitation in Delhi. In May 1953, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, founder of Bharatiya Jana Sangh under the advice of Golwalkar made a bid to enter Jammu and Kashmir and refused to take a permit from State Government to enter, citing his rights as an Indian citizen to visit any part of the country. Abdullah prohibited his entry and arrested him. Unfortunately, Mukherjee died in detention on 23 June 1953 due to ill health. He was reportedly suffered from dry pleurisy before 1945 itself. And I think this ailment resurfaced in Kashmir’s cold climate. When he suffered heart attack he was shifted to Shrinagar Hospital. One day later he died there. I do not see any conspiracy in this episode.

Bakshi Mohammad who took over as PM of Kashmir implemented all the measures of the ‘1952 Delhi Agreement’. In May 1954, The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954, was issued by the President of India under Article 370, with the concurrence of the Government of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. In that order, the Article 35A is added to the Constitution of India to empower the Jammu and Kashmir state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents. (Similar Articles like 371, A to E were also enacted and are still in force in the Indian Constitution to safeguard interests of locals in several States even today. Some areas in Gujarat also governed under these section provisions. It should be noted that laws pertaining to protection of rights of locals were made in 1920s in several Kingdoms including Kashmir and Hyderabad.)

And on 15 February 1954, the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir ratified the state’s accession to India declaring that accession to India was irrevocable and Kashmir is inalienable part of India.  On 17 November 1956, the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir was adopted by the Assembly and it came into full effect on 26 January 1957.

However, on 24 January 1957, the UN passed a resolution stating that the decisions of the Constituent Assembly would not constitute a final disposition of the State, which needs to be carried out by a free and impartial plebiscite. Nehru opposed this kind of gestures from the UN by stating that UN is taking a biased stand and hence not binding on India.

After Sheikh Abdullah was jailed, his lieutenant Mirza Afzal Beg formed the Plebiscite Front on 9 August 1955 to fight for the plebiscite demand and the unconditional release of Sheikh Abdullah. The activities of the Plebiscite Front eventually led to the infamous Kashmir Conspiracy Case in 1958 and two other cases. On 8 August 1958, Abdullah was again arrested on the charges of these cases.

After the mass unrest due to missing of holy relic from the Hazratbal Shrine on 27 December 1963, the State Government dropped all charges in the Kashmir Conspiracy Case as a diplomatic decision, on 8 April 1964. Sheikh Abdullah was released and returned to Srinagar.

On 21 November 1964, the Articles 356 and 357 of the Indian Constitution were extended to the state, by virtue of which the Central Government can assume the governance of the State and exercise its legislative powers. On 24 November 1964, the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly was made to pass a constitutional amendment changing the elected post of Sadr-i-Riyasat to a centrally-nominated post of “Governor” and renaming “Prime Minister” to “Chief Minister”, which is regarded as the “end of the road” for the Article 370, and the Constitutional autonomy guaranteed by it. On 3 January 1965, prior to 1967 Assembly elections, the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference dissolved itself and merged into the Indian National Congress, as a marked centralizing strategy.

Earlier in January 1951 Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies suggested that a Commonwealth force be stationed in Kashmir. The United States and Britain proposed that if the two (Pakistan and India) could not reach an agreement then arbitration would be considered. Pakistan agreed but Nehru said he would not allow a third person to decide the fate of four million people of J & K. And India rejected the UN-appointed plebiscite administrator Nimitz because India felt a pro-Pakistan bias on America’s part.

The USA in February 1954 announced that it wanted to provide military aid to Pakistan. The US signed a military pact with Pakistan in May by which Pakistan would receive military equipment and training. (at present USA have several Military bases in Pakistan.) The US President tried to alleviate India’s concerns by offering similar weaponry to India. But India rejected the offer. And hence Nehru rejected UN or US brokered Plebiscite and declared that the status quo was the only remaining option.

From the foregoing discussions we have learnt what is what of the Kashmir problem for India. And we have understood that Nehru was a Democrat, Constitutionalist and Republican. He strived his level best that Democracy prevails in Kashmir. He did not allow replacement of Maharaja with another King Sheikh Abdullah. And did not accept secession of Kashmir once it became part of India because Maharaja have signed the Instrument of Accession and subsequently Constituent assembly of Kashmir ratified the accession.

Nehru did not allow the foul play of RSS and Hindu Mahasabha in Jammu and Kashmir. And with regard to Article 370 we have to know that this article was prepared by Sardar Vallabha Bhai Patel and Krishna Swamy Aiyyangar and took approval of Nehru before it was included in the Constitution of India. Patel himself wrote to Nehru stating that he was successful in convincing all the members and ready for Nehru’s Approval. People may say that Nehru insisted and entrusted the job to Patel so he did it. If that was the case why can’t these critics accept the fact that Patel successfully integrated numerous princely States into India at the behest of Nehru?