Shri Motilal Nehru (6th May, 1861 - 6th
February, 1931) was one of the most eminent figures
of modern India. He was associated with the Indian
National Congress in its early years and after he
was elected to the Provincial Legislative Council in
1910 his sphere of public activity both inside and
outside the legislature increased considerably.
He supported the Home Rule Movement started by Smt.
Annie Besant and was elected President of the
Allahabad branch of the Home Rule League.
Shri Motilal Nehru was appointed a member of the
Congress Enquiry Committee to enquire into the
events of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. This
brought him into close contact with Mahatma Gandhi.
He made a forceful Presidential address before the
annual session of the Indian National Congress held
in Amritsar in 1919 highlighting the Jallianwala
He played a prominent role in the non-cooperation
movement led by Mahatma Gandhi in 1921. The decision
to participate in the movement brought about a
radical change in the lifestyle of Shri Motilal
Nehru and he totally gave up the western way of
living and started wearing simple khadi clothes
which had become the symbol of Gandhian nationalism
in India. He also gave up his legal practice at the
call of the Mahatma.
Shri Motilal Nehru was a member of the committee
which prepared the report on the national situation
after the suspension of the non-cooperation movement
and this report is a detailed and illuminating
account of the non-cooperation movement and the
manner in which the British Government sought to
crush it. It is a valuable record of a very
significant phase of the freedom movement in India.
With the collapse of the non-cooperation movement in
1922, it was necessary that a new direction be given
to the popular desire for freedom from the British
rule. Shri Motilal Nehru, in association with Shri
C.R. Das and other nationalist leaders, met this
need by organising the Swaraj Party.
Shri Motilal Nehru made a pioneering attempt to
draft a Constitution for free India, with the
provision of adult franchise.Â
The report prepared on the initiative of a
sub-committee under the chairmanship of Shri Motilal
Nehru constituted by the All Parties Conference came
to be known as the Nehru Report which was released
by the All India Congress Committee in 1928. This
Report represented a pioneering effort by the
nationalist leadership under the able guidance of
Shri Motilal Nehru to create a constitutional design
for an independent and democratic India and it
anticipated the key features of the Constitution
prepared in 1950 after the Independence of India.
Shri Motilal Nehru presided over the Calcutta
Congress in December 1928 and his presidential
speech was a clarion call for unity among the
different nationalist groups and this Congress gave
one year to the British to accept the demand of
Dominion Status. His role in institution building
â€“ as Congress President in 1928 and as an elected
legislator - are especially relevant in todayâ€™s
multi-party parliamentary democracy.
The years 1929-1931 saw a very crucial phase of the
Indian freedom struggle in which Shri Motilal Nehru
played a significant role. The Indian National
Congress passed the Complete Independence resolution
at its Lahore session in December 1929 followed by a
mass Civil Disobedience Movement. Despite his ill
health Shri Motilal Nehru travelled to Jambusar in
Gujarat to demonstrate his moral support for the
salt satyagraha initiated by Gandhiji. The popular
movement spread all over the country. As a result,
most Congress leaders and workers were put in jail.
Shri Motilal Nehru had to shoulder the
responsibility of the Congress President till he was
also arrested on 30 June and jailed. His health
further deteriorated in jail.Â
In view of his ill health he was released on
8 September 1930, a few months before he passed away
on 6 February 1931.
Shri Motilal Nehru did not live to see the day when
India became free but the leading role which he
played in the national politics during the early
stages of the Gandhian movement ensured that British
rule over India would come to an end before long. He
had grown up as an admirer of British values and
institutions but as the exploitative character of
the British rule unfolded before his eyes he became
a strong adversary of the Raj. He plunged into the
struggle for freedom with a rare sense of commitment
and love for his country. Shri Motilal Nehru,
occupies a very special place in the history of the
struggle for freedom in India.
He was a stalwart of the freedom struggle in more
ways than one. As draftsman of the Nehru Report of
1928 he laid the foundation stone for a democratic
system with adult suffrage, cultural and religious
rights for all. In celebrating his memory we also
rededicate ourselves to a common legacy created
through a selfless public life.
On the Occasion of 150th Birth
Anniversary of Motilal Nehru.
*Deputy Director (Media & Communication)