Episode #10 of the course “Most powerful families in history”
As the most prominent family in modern India, the Nehru-Gandhi family has roots in the Kashmir region dating back hundreds of years. Descendants of the Pandit Brahmin tribe, the modern Nehru dynasty began with Gangadhar Nehru in 1827 and continues on today. Gangadhar served as the final kotwal of Delhi before the revolution; his son was a freedom fighter, and his grandson, Jawaharlal Nehru, served as the first Prime Minister of India.
As India struggled for independence from the British, Jawaharlal Nehru played an important role in the establishment of the new government. He was trained as a lawyer at Cambridge University, joined the Indian National Congress in 1919, and became a follower of Mahatma Gandhi. When India was established as an independent republic in 1947, Nehru became the first Prime Minister—an office that he held until his death (heart attack) in 1964.
Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi
Jawaharlal’s daughter, Indira, eventually became the sixth Prime Minister of India, and the first woman to hold the position. The “Gandhi” addition to the dynasty’s surname comes from her marriage to Feroze Khan, who was a family friend and the son of a Muslim woman. Because of the political tensions between Muslims and Hindus in India at the time, one story says that Mahatma Gandhi adopted Feroze and gave the younger man his surname, thereby allowing Feroze to marry Indira without creating a religious political rift. She was assassinated in 1984 by her bodyguards.
Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru
The Nehru-Gandhi family continues to be influential in India today. Devout nationalists, their political influence has been marked by several attempts to strengthen Indian positions in the world and stabilize the Indian economy. Several members are known for their work on political, animal rights, and environmental causes. The Nehru-Gandhi family remains active in the Indian Parliament, Congress, and international business.
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