ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

Jawaharlal Nehru and the Indian Working Class

A Historical Review

There is surprisingly little work by historians on Jawaharlal Nehru's relations with India's labour movements. This historical survey of his positions, actions and relations vis-à-vis working class politics identifies a clear break in 1947; the earlier Nehru was far more actively engaged with labour issues than the Prime Minister Nehru. The article ends by suggesting possible ways to understand Nehru's engagement with working class issues both before and after independence.

This article is a revised version of the Krishna Bharadwaj Memorial Lecture given in Jawaharlal Nehru University on 9 March 2015.

This year being the 125th birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru, I propose to look at a puzzling historical question: On the one hand a socialistic and pro-labour inclination in Jawaharlal Nehru has often been seen in his rather radical statements and activities in relation to labour–capital relationship in the pre-independence period. And yet there is a widely shared perception that in policymaking, after he became the Prime Minister in 1947, he failed to deliver to the working class what that perception promised. I do not claim that it is possible to answer this conundrum easily, but I will like to place my own findings which are strictly provisional and form a part of a book I am writing on Indian labour history.

Post-1947 Phase

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

Pay INR 50.00

(Readers in India)

Pay $ 6.00

(Readers outside India)

Back to Top