A commemorative postage stamp on the Birth Centenary of Pandit Motilal Nehru, founder patriarch of the Nehru–Gandhi family :
Issued by India
Issued on May 6, 1961
Issued for : On the occasion of the birth centenary of Motilal Nehru, the great national leader and patriot, the Posts and Telegraphs Department has the privilege of issuing a special stamp commemorating the event.
Design :The stamp, which is based on a photograph, has been executed by the India Security Press, Nasik.
Type : Stamp, Postal Used
Colour : Chestnut and Raw Sienna
Denomination : 15 nP.
Size : 3.34 x 2.88 cms.
Perforation : 13½ x 14
Watermark : All over multiple “Lion Capital of Asoka“
Number Printed : 2.5 million
Set : 42 stamps per issue sheet
Printing Process : Photogravure
Name : Motilal Nehru
Born on May 6, 1861 at Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India
Died on Feb 6, 1931 at Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
- “His burning patriotism, his great sacrifice and his unsurpassable love for the children, whom also he gave to the service of the Motherland, ought to be as patent to you as they were to me….It is….in the fitness of things that you should have before your eyes the portrait of such a great patriot, so that you may be constantly reminded of his sterling qualities and try to assimilate them in your own lives.“ [Gandhiji, on the occasion of the unveiling of a portrait in 1933.]
- The Great Rising of 1857 changed the fortunes of many individuals and families, especially those associated with the Mughal dynasty. The Nehru family of Delhi was one of its victims, being compelled to seek refuge in Agra. Here, on 6th May, 1861, was born Motilal Nehru, a posthumous child. The family later moved on to Allahabad, a city with which the Nehrus, both Motilal and his son Jawaharlal, the future Prime Minister of free India, were to have intimate and historic associations.
- Young Motilal grew up in a culturally rich atmosphere; his Muslim Maktab education gave him a good grounding of Persian and Urdu. He was fond of games and exercise. In 1882-83, he passed Law, standing at the top of the list. After practising in the District court at Kanpur, he shifted to Allahabad, where he soon made his mark. Among the many doyens of the Bar, Motilal became conspicuous for his painstaking study of briefs, lucid exposition of facts and brilliant advocacy. He won laurels in the Courts of Allahabad, Lucknow and in the neighbouring districts of Pratapgarh, Sultanpur and Rae Bareli.
- Professional preoccupations and an innate aristocratic exclusiveness of outlook and temperament prevented him from mixing easily with politicians of his time. His first entry into politics was in 1907, when he was prevailed upon to preside at the U.P. Political Conference at Allahabad. Late in 1909, he became a member of the first U.P. Legislative Council after the Minto-Morley Reforms. The same year he founded The Leader, which henceforward became the mouth-piece of advanced political opinion in U.P. until the split with the Moderates, in 1919. The moderation of Motilal‘s political approach in the early days, while somewhat alien to his explosive temper, incisive intellect, high individualism and emotional fervour, was born of his own constitutionalist background and legalistic attitude to problems. These, however, suffered a shock during the British Government’s repressive measures in India, in the wake of the first World War, which culminated in, among other things, the internment of Mrs. Annie Besant. Of the Home Rule League which she founded Motilal Nehru became a distinguished member. But, soon thereafter, he was to chalk for himself a line of politics more advanced than that of his erstwhile Moderate friends. The Rowlatt Bills agitation and the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy served to rouse him further to be true to his real self; for, beneath his constitutionalism were an intense patriotic fervour and profound emotional susceptibility. But it was only when he came under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi that he cast aside constitutionalism and took the creed of militant non-cooperation and Satyagraha. After this step, he never looked back. The national movement was to benefit substantially from his dynamic leadership, large-hearted devotion, princely sacrifice and great qualities of organization and inspiration. His classical poise and stature commanding voice and superb advocacy of the new gospel of the Congress invested the movement with a power and an influence which were distinct and decisive. His vision and purpose in journalism, as represented by his paper, The Independent, founded in 1919, were clear. The credo inter alia stood for “…striving to press home the eternal truth that while, on the one hand, natural rights of mankind cannot be withheld to be doled out in little bits with a consciousness of high–minded generosity and a benignly benevolent purpose, those rights cannot, on the other hand, thrive in an atmosphere of religious cleavage and racial antagonism.” His leadership of the national movement reflected this.
- The bureaucracy launched an all-out offensive against the nationalists, and Motilal Nehru was arrested on 6th December, 1921. His health, however, broke down and he was released in June 1922. The non-cooperation movement was called off after the Chauri–Chaura incident; Gandhiji was incarcerated. Motilal Nehru, however, stepped into the breach and toured the country in support of the constructive programme of the Congress. When, later, there developed a powerful and pronounced trend in support of carrying on the freedom fight from within the legislatures and the Swarajist Party became an acknowledged limb of the freedom movement, Motilal Nehru became its chief executive arm. Under his stewardship the Swarajist party contested the elections in 1923 and won remarkable success. In his new parliamentary role, he found free and full scope for his genius, which excelled in debate and contention, tactics and strategy. The seven years of his parliamentary career saw a signal contribution to the making of the laws of the land and a keen, relentless fight for the nation’s demands.
- But these were also the years which witnessed a great effort for the achievement of Hindu-Muslim unity on which Motilal Nehru laid much stress. The culmination of this effort was the issue of an All-Party mandate, in 1928, for drawing up a Swaraj constitution and for meeting the challenge of an all-white Simon Commission which was appointed for reporting on Indian constitutional advance and against which there were countrywide demonstrations. The result of Motilal Nehru‘s great and patient labours as Chairman of the Committee was the Nehru Report which secured a striking measure of support and unanimity in the country. The Report, however, lapsed when the British Government showed no inclination to concede the national demand as voiced at the Congress session of 1928 over which Motilal Nehru presided. This inevitably led to the demand for complete independence, backed by a determined movement of civil disobedience. Though weak in health, Motilal Nehru took charge of it and worked so hard and with such unsparing energy and devotion for its victory that the authorities were compelled to arrest him in June 1930. The unremitting labours of previous months and the rigours of prison life told on his constitution. He was subsequently released, but even from his sick-bed he continued to guide the movement. He braved ill-health with singular resolution and for a time, his ailment seemed to relent under the impact of his sheer will. A short sea voyage that was undertaken provided a brief respite from his arduous labours, but the news of his daughter-in-law Kamala Nehru‘s conviction shattered his already poor health and he could rest no longer. In the meantime, events had led to the Gandhi-Irwin Pact and truce. But only a few days were left to the doughty fighter for freedom. One of his last acts was to launch from his sick-bed, on 26th January, 1931, a country-wide observance of Martyrs’ Remembrance Day. The flame of life flickered on for a few days longer, but was finally extinguished on 6th February, 1931, at Lucknow.
- One of the most fitting tributes paid to him said: “Eminent as a Lawyer, eminent as a speaker and in the first rank as a political leader, he could not but take the foremost place wherever he might be“. This maker of modern India, as C. F. Andrews called him, had once observed: “Our highest ambition is to be buried in the foundations of a Free India, and then sink into obscurity, to be thought of no more.“ To the laying of those foundations he had himself contributed in no small measure. The dawn of Freedom ultimately came 16 years later. Carved on the pages of India‘s history, the name of Motilal Nehru stands for all time, both an example and an inspiration.
- Text : P. Subbarayan, Minister of Transport and Communications, Government of India, New Delhi.
- “….The centenary of his birth will serve to remind generations of our countrymen of a generous and fearless personality, and of a life of nobility and patriotism, service and sacrifice.“ – S. Radhakrishnan.