The Oxford India Nehru

Item Code: IDK298
Author: Uma Iyengar
Publisher: Oxford University Press, New Delhi
Edition: 2007
ISBN: 0195686705
Pages: 758 (18 B/W Illus :)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.8" X 5.8"
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Book Description

From the Jacket

An outstanding personality of twentieth-century Indian history, Jawaharlal Nehru was a pivotal figure in India's independence movement and the country's first Prime Minister. An active politician for most of his life, Nehru was also a renowned writer and scholar.

The Oxford India Nehru, part of the prestigious Oxford India collection, draws from the entire range of Nehru's writings and speeches, and brings together more than 200 letters, articles, book extracts, political statements, prison diary entries, and early personal correspondence. Covering a wide variety of subjects-be it marriage feasts, the annexation of Tibet, monsoon clouds, the Suez Canal, the responsibility of scientists, the betrayal of Czechoslovakia, fundamentals of social behaviour, or honey-the writings reflect the phenomenal range of Nehru's interests and activities.

The first section 'Culture and Society' reveals Nehru's belief that for future progress, knowledge of our past culture and civilization is essential. Nehru's intense admiration for Gandhi and the unique relationship they shared is reflected in the section on Gandhi. 'Congress' and 'Toward Freedom' reveal how closely Congress work and the Independence movement were linked in the struggle for freedom. 'Independent Years' covers seventeen years of Nehru's life as Prime Minister. The section 'India and Beyond' reflects his active involvement in world affairs. While the 'Personal' section provides glimpses of Nehru's private life, the writings in the 'General' section bring out the extraordinary breadth of his interests.

With rare photographs complementing the text, The Oxford India Nehru is a collector's item that will appeal both to readers of Jawaharlal Nehru's writings as also students and scholars of Indian history, literature, and culture.

Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964), statesman, first Prime Minister of independent India. From 1947 till his death, Nehru oversaw major national programmes of agrarian and land reforms, industrialization, and energy development, including atomic energy. Some of his works like Glimpses of 'World History (1934) and Discovery of India (1946) are acknowledged classics. So far 54 volumes of his writings have been published in the Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru series.

Uma Iyengar is founder-editor, The Book Reviews. She was the co-editor of the two-volume The Essential Writings of Jawaharlal Nehru (OUP, 2003).


Jawaharlal Nehru's legacy and his life have been analysed from every conceivable position by the unbiased scholar and selective ideologue alike. As an anthologist I can only provide a reflection of the man through his works.

Any anthology by its very nature must exclude a great deal of material. Sifting and selecting from the gargantuan corpus of Nehru's written and spoken words is made difficult by the fact that he was an enormously influential participant in the events of his time, as well as insightful observer of the world around him. This is borne out by the variety of themes that he addressed in thought and action, be it marriage feasts, the annexation of Tibet, Agha Khan's bath water, war aims and peace aims, monsoon clouds, Suez Canal, responsibility of scientists, betrayal of Czechoslovakia, fundamentals of social behaviour, world power equilibrium, or honey.

The striking feature of Nehru's communication is a balance between reflection and action, participation and observation. It is perhaps a truism that Nehru was both a historian-albeit a conventional one, to quote Dr Romila Thapar-and a history-maker. But in equal measure, and throughout his life, he was also a great communicator and a lover of words. While often characterized as a man of grand visions or a builder of castles in the air, his attention to, and love of detail was no less significant, whether in matters of governance and economics, or relating to topics as homely as the design of brooms. Two passages quoted below bring out this contrast. The first is from The Discovery of India.

We have to make our own all the achievements of the human race and join up with others in the exciting adventure of man, more exciting today perhaps than the earlier ages, realizing that this has ceased to be governed by national boundaries or old divisions and is common to the race of man everywhere. We have to revive the passion for truth and beauty and freedom which gives meaning to life, and develop afresh that dynamic outlook and spirit of adventure which distinguished those of our race who, in ages past, built our houses on those strong and enduring foundations. Old as we are, with memories stretching back to the early dawns of human history and endeavour, we have to grow young again, in tune with our present time, with the irresistible spirit and joy of youth in the present and its faith in the future.

Prime Minister Nehru wrote regular letters to the Chief Ministers of the states every fortnight till 1960, in 'a unique experiment in political education'. Every topic-national and international-was discussed. It happened that once he was struck by the simplicity of the arrangements made by the Hindustani Talimi Sangh for a conference of 1000 delegates. He comments :

Nehru's range and depth of knowledge, though remarkable, were perhaps not the most important aspect of his communication. In a fundamental sense, his actions were a consequence of reasoned conviction, a thought process that developed over time from a very early stage in his political career. For him :

Many key policies and attitudes that were to characterize Nehru as Prime Minister were conceived of and worked upon at a time when independence seemed distant. Consider, for example, his thoughts as early as 1927 about India's role in the world, and the shape of its society. He wrote in an article from Montana, Switzerland, in September 1927 :

Again, long before independence became a reality, he gave deep thought to the country's economic foundation :

These 'reasoned conviction's in spheres as complex as international relations, politics, and economics, were based on extensive reading, experience, and reflection. They were works-in-progress of a process of thought that he embarked on very early in his career as a public figure. I use the phrase 'works-in-progress' for a specific reason. It would not be true to say that Nehru was an impractical dreamer with no cognizance of reality. He believed there was a natural progression from imagining a desirable state to attaining it and that the world could be changed with persistence to reflect ideals. He did not see the two attitudes-realism and idealism-as being contradictory. In Nehru' words.

Any attempt to understand Nehru's life has to examine how his thinking developed over time and how it affected his action. A simplistic chronological ordering-of his life or his works-would not reflect this, in Norman Cousins' words, 'He was not a man but a procession of men. In him you witnessed a national hero, statesman, philosopher, author, and educator.' With this in mind, the matter has been arranged into eight sections in an attempt to present a composite picture of this complex man in his turbulent times.

For Jawaharlal Nehru knowledge of our past culture and civilization was but a step toward understanding the present reality and progressing forward. This thinking resonates throughout the first section, 'Culture and Society'.

By Nehru's own admittance Gandhi and Motilal Nehru were the two major influences in his life. While Gandhi's religious and traditional approach in the struggle for independence irked him, he had intense admiration and emotional attachment for Gandhi and firmly believed that it was his leadership that would take the country to freedom. Writings and speeches in the section on Gandhi have been chosen to reflect this unique relationship.

Just as Gandhi's and Nehru's roles in the struggle for freedom were intertwined, so also were Congress work and the Independence movement. The Party mirrored the hopes and desires and the urge to freedom of the Indian masses. Nehru drafted in elegant language most of the important Congress resolutions and election manifestos.

In 'Independent Years' the endeavour has been to cover the many activities that were part of his life as Prime Minister for seventeen years. 'India and Beyond' reflects his roles as Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, his active involvement in world affairs, while implementing the nonalignment policy which was intended to give primacy to national interests.

A perspective of Nehru's wide range of interests is given in the section, 'General'. The 'Personal' section provides but a glimpse of the man for, beneath the surface, there was always the formal gentleman holding back from displays of private emotion. This self-styled 'practising politician found 'magic in making friends with good books'. What he missed most in jail was children's laughter and women's voices. He was inordinately proud of his good health and took great pleasure in standing upside down, and is said to have received Yehudi Menuhim while doing shirshasana !


Jawaharlal Nehru: A Chronologyxix
The Panorama of India Past 3, The Basis of Society 6, The Quest of Man 9, Fascination of History 11, The Role of women 17, The Past and the Present 19, On Translation 24, Before India is Reborn 28, Hindu and Muslim Cultures 37, The Content of Social Welfare 40, Can Indians Get Together? 43, Out of Tune with the Elements 48, Aiming at a Democratic India 52, The Function of Language 56, Culture and Wisdom 59, A Hindu Rashtra 64, Communalism and Casteism 65, Amir Khusrau-Symbol of India's Composite Culture 67, Synthesis is Our Tradition 69, History in Perspective 74
Home Rule 79, Rai Bareli Tragedy 80, Statement at Trial 82, Noncooperation 86, Intolerance 93, Psychology of Indian Nationalism 95, Resolution on Independence 106, They Have Dared 107, The Dandi March 109, Whither India?, 110, Reality and Myth 114, Britain and India, 119, The Choice Before Us 130, Congress Resolution on India and the War 134, The Answer 138, Twenty Years 142, The Art of Adaptation 144, Which Way? What Means? 145, Planning for the Future 147, Nonviolence and the State 149, Individual Satyagraha 153, The Indian Situation 157, Insatiable Appetite for Freedom 163, A Vote of NO-Confidence 165, The Shape of Things to Come 168, Fear Complex 169, Jai Hind 173, British Policy and India 176, Colonialism must Go 181, On the Cabinet Mission Statement 184, Appeal to Caesar 188, The Call of Destiny 190, Retention of British Troops 191, Objectives of the Constituent Assembly 193, On the Constitutional Proposals 197 the Unavoidability of Partition 199, Resolution on the National Flag 202, Cow Slaughter 206, A Tryst with Destiny 207, The Appointed Day 209
The Congress Becomes Democratic 213, Politics and Religion 217, An Agrarian Programme for the Congress 219, Defining Congress Attitude 221, Forces that Shape Events 225, Election Manifesto 231, The Evolution of the Congress 236, congress and Communalism 239, Resolution on the War 242, Quit India Resolution 246, Strengthening the Party 247, Setting the Standards 249, Choice of Candidates 255, Congress and Socialism 258
And Ten Gandhi Came 263, Aftermath of Madras Congress 266, Disagreement 271, The Great Peasant 273, Gandhi, Nehru, and Religion 275, Sanatanists 279, Reaction to Gandhi's Fast 282, Spiritual Isolation 285, Impasse 289, Hindu-Muslim Riot 291, The Light has Gone Out 293, A Glory that is No More 295
Partition Riots 301, Muslim Population in India 303, Broadcast on Kashmir 306, Economic Policy 313, The role of the Prime Minister 320, Aftermath of Gandhi's Assassination 323, The Hirakud Dam 326, Pakistan and the India State 328, Socialist Party 333, Frontier Province 335, Objectives Resolution and the Draft Constitution 337, Separate Provinces for Sikhs 342, Relief and Rehabilitation 345, Formation of New Provinces 347, Horse Breeding 351, Reservations for Backward Groups 353, Arbitration on Kashmir Issue 356, At the Edge of a Precipice 359, Planning for the Future 364, Indo-Pak Situation 370, Police and Students 375, Hindu Code Bill 377, Moulding Our Destiny 379, State Visits 386, Measuring Backwardness 388, Lessening Flagrant Inequalities 390, Question of Minority Groups 397, Students and Violence 399, Divorce 403, Women's Education 404, Basic Education 405, Goa, 407, Prohibition Policy 408, Foreign Tours 409, Mob Violence 410, The Concept of Panchsheel 412, Kashmir Issue 413, The Hindu Succession Bill 417, States Reorganization 421, Mob Violence and the Police 423, Communalism and Freedom of Press 427, Public Health 429, The Basic Approach 431, Food and Education 436, Minorities and the Services 439, Fundamentals of Social Behaviour 442, Family Planning 443, Disruptive Tendencies 444, Emotional Integration 449, the Chinese Aggression 450, The Proclamation of Emergency 454, Town Planning 457, Communal Harmony 458, Last Press Conference 459
A Foreign Policy for India 471, Danger of War 476, Fascination of Russia 478, India and the World 479, World Events 485, The Hoax 489, Spain 492, Quatorze Juilliet 493, A Crumbling World 495, India's Day of Reckoning 498, Policy Towards Burma 507, A United Asia 511, Sympathy for Jews 516, Basic Principles 519, Role of the United Nations 524, The Problem of Burma 528, Relations with the Soviet Union 535, An Agreement in India's Interest 537, Ends and Means 539, World Affairs 545, Annexation of Tibet 549, Japanese Peace Treaty 552, Nonviolent Struggle in South Africa 555, New Spirit of Asia 556, Formosa 559, World Peace and Cooperation 561, Talks with Mohammad Ali 570, Abolition of War 573, Saudi Arabia 580, Suez Crisis 582, Non-aggression and Non-interference 584, A Creeping Sickness 587, Weapons of Destruction 590, Disarmament 591, Struggling World 595, Solving World Problems 600
Vicarious Charity 611, Politicians 612, Proscription of Books 615, Strikes 617, Two Mosques 619, Providence and Human Failing 625, Shirshasana 626, Indian Marriage 627, Trade Unions 628, The Functions of a Municipality 628, The Progress of Science 630, Famine 633, Freedom of the Press 634, Ganga 637, Note on Defence 639, The INA 642, National Anthem 643, Ostentation and Taste 644, Ascent of Everest 646, Amending the Copyright Law 647, Employment of Communists 648, Planning for Delhi 649, The Way of the Buddha 650, Wildlife 655, Tribal Affairs 656, Indian Women 658, Brooms 660, Future of English in India 661
Cambridge 667, Imprisonment 668, Lathi Charges 671, Death of Motilal Nehru 675, Back in Prison 676, Analysing Himself 679, Kamala 681, Family Ties 683, A Solitary Traveller 686, A Hundred Pictures 688, Rashtrapati 694, Kashmir 698, A Report on His Own Tour 700, Taking Decisions 702, Perceptions 707, Mountains and Rivers 709, Stray Notes 710, Mental Perturbation 712, Life 714, In Conversation with Norman Cousins 716, Human Relations 734, Giving Up Office 736, A Lovely Experience 739, Will and Testament 741
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