Remembering Jawaharlal Nehru

R C Mody


R C Mody

R. C. Mody has an M.A. in Economics and is a Certificated Associate of the Indian Institute of Bankers. He studied at Raj Rishi College (Alwar), Agra College (Agra), and Forman Christian College (Lahore). For over 35 years, he worked for the Reserve Bank of India, retiring as the head of an all-India department. He was also Principal of the RBI's Staff College. Now (in 2019), in his 93rd year, he is engaged in social work, reading, and writing. He lives in New Delhi with his wife. His email address is

In 1912, the 23-year-old Jawaharlal Nehru returned to India after seven years as a student in England, where he was first a schoolboy at Harrow, then an undergraduate at the University of Cambridge, and lastly at the Inner Temple in London for his bar-at-law. His father, Motilal, a towering leader of the Allahabad bar with a flourishing practice, expected that the young and western-educated Jawaharlal would start as his apprentice and eventually emerge as a barrister of national fame.

But Jawaharlal's life took an altogether different turn. He found law uninteresting and the atmosphere of law chambers boring. There is no record of the number of briefs he took up or of how much he earned as a lawyer. All that we know is that he didn't stay long in the profession.

Memories of the 1950s

Reginald Masssey


Reginald Massey

Reginald was born in Lahore before Partition. He writes books on various subjects pertaining to South Asia. A former London journalist, he now lives in Mid Wales with his actor wife Jamila. His latest book is Shaheed Bhagat Singh and the Forgotten Indian Martyrs, Abhinav Publications, New Delhi. A member of the Society of Authors, he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

In the 1950s, India suffered as Nehru initiated his Socialist Five Year Plans on the Soviet model.

Food production declined as did industrial production. Nehru wanted to make India a modern secular state with nuclear power stations, vast dams, steel mills and fertilizer factories. He memorably declared: “These dams, steel mills and fertilizer factories are our new temples.”

The common man, however, bore the burden of what came to be known as the Licence Raj. I remember that nothing could be imported. Refrigerators were rare as were radio sets. Pakistan had TV stations and television sets. They had Cadillacs and Fords. India had no TV, and the rich had to make do with the Hindustan Ambassador, a Birla version of the outdated Morris Oxford. However, thanks to Nehru, India eventually became a major industrial power, able to stand up on its own two feet.

Memories of Pandit Nehru – 1946

Pramod Wanchoo


Dr. Pramod Wanchoo, born 1938, studied in Happy School, Alwar and Royal High School, Edinburgh. He got his medical degrees from SMS Medical College, Jaipur. He retired as the Senior Professor and Head of Department Surgery, SMS Medical College, and then shifted to private practice in Jaipur. He retired in 2012, and shifted to Gurgaon to be near his children. Likes to spend time reading and writing, and is active on Facebook..

I lived in Jaipur for 57 years from 1955-2012, when I shifted to Gurgaon, to be nearer my children. During that period I came in contact with a delightful person , Mr. G. L. Mehta of the IAS, first as his doctor, and later, when he started taking a paternal interest in me, as a friend. It helped that we were both Anglophiles. He once told me an interesting story.

He was posted in Udaipur in 1946, when Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru came there, as Vice President in the Interim government, and Mr. Mehta was asked to accompany him. Mr. Nehru was smoking a cigarette in a contemplative mood in the Sahelion -ki-Bari, and Mr. Mehta went up to Mr. H V R Iyengar ICS, Nehru's Secretary, and asked him if could ask Pandit Nehru to autograph his book, The Discovery of India, which Nehru wrote in Ahmednagar Prison.  Mr. Iyengar said, "Young man, that is a risk , we all have to take. " Mr. Mehta went up to Jawaharlal Nehru and asked him to sign the book. Nehru came out of his contemplative mood, asked if he had read it. When Mr. Mehta nodded, Nehru signed it.

The Day Prime Minister Nehru Died

Various authors


Editor's note: Several people have written their memories of the day Prime Minister Nehru died in May 1964. If you have memories of that day, please contribute your memories.


Kamakshi Balasubramanian

Vijay Padaki

Vinod Puri

Meenakshi Hooja

Mira Purohit

Raja Ramanathan

Chandra Chari

Anand Barve

R. C. Mody

Subhash Mathur

Remembering Nehru

Kamakshi Balasubramanian is a retired educator living in Mysore. She is an occasional writer. Her interests include cinema, popular culture, travel (particularly within India), and sewing by hand. Kamakshi received her higher education in India, the erstwhile U.S.S.R., and the U.S.A. She speaks Tamil, English, and Russian fluently, and knows Hindi.

The news reached us in the late afternoon. The radio was playing mournful music, and our summer holiday spirit ended abruptly. I had just finished high school.

Nehru's death was the first major national loss I experienced. We knew he was ailing. But you don't wish for a family member's death, at least not when you are very young and can't know that death is sometimes a deliverance. Not one of us siblings was ready to hear that he was gone.

With Mountbatten and Nehru on 15 August 1947

Ashok Khanna

Ashok Khanna has a B.Sc. (Econ) from London University, an MBA and PhD from Stanford. He has worked with Deloitte Touche (London, New York), taught at New York University's Stern Graduate School of Business, and worked for more than 25 years for the World Bank. He got his first chance to travel out of India when he was seventeen and has not stopped traveling since. In 1998, he began to sporadically write travelogues for friends. These essays increased over time as he traveled more after retiring, and also cover other interests.  Bloomsbury will publish his book on Emperor Ashoka in India in 2019.

I was eight years old, on 15 August 1947, India's independence day. My family had an invitation to the flag-changing ceremony, where Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last British Viceroy of India and the uncle of Prince Philip, the current Duke of Edinburgh, lowered the Union Jack and Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister, raised the Indian flag in its place. We got this prized invitation because my father was an executive in a British company.

Our seats were near the steps that ascended to the platform with the flagpole, at the epicentre of a crowd of one or two million assembled at the edge of Old Delhi, with Jama Masjid visible in the distance. As I had never been in such a huge crowd before, I remember feeling uneasy, but my mother and sister were excited, and their energy infected me as well, though I did not grasp the full significance of the day.

1931: Death and Dance

GBK Hooja
GBK Hooja

Editor's note: The following is an extract from the prologue of Shahdaynama, a book written by GBK Hooja. The book is currently out of print. A new edition is expected to be published in 2020.

Bhupi (my younger brother Bhupendra Hooja) also desired that I should write a note on how Bhagat Singh became Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

As I sat mulling over the question, old memories appeared on my mind's screen. The painful memories of the manhoos (inauspicious) night of 23 March, 1931 comes back to me, as I type these lines. I was a resident student of D.A.V. College, Lahore, and a member of Naujawan Bharat Sabha. As the news of the execution of the three heroes came in, the D.A.V. College Hostel was plunged in hushed silence and grief. The boarders decided to march or cycle to the Central Jail. On the way, they were met by several other such columns. The mansions and multi storied buildings of Lahore appeared to be quivering as though hit by an earthquake.

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