Kamala Nehru

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Kamala Nehru
Kamala Kaul Nehru
Kamala Kaul

(1899-08-01)1 August 1899
Died28 February 1936(1936-02-28) (aged 36)
Lausanne, Switzerland
(m. 1916⁠–⁠1936)
ChildrenIndira Nehru

Kamala Kaul Nehru (About this soundpronunciation , 1 August 1899 – 28 February 1936) was an Indian independence activist and the wife of Jawaharlal Nehru (the leader of the Indian National Congress (INC) and later the first Prime Minister of India). Her daughter Indira also served later as Prime Minister of India.

Early life[edit]

Kamala was born on 1 August 1899 to Rajpati and Jawahar Mull Atal-Kaul who were from a Kashmiri Pandit family of Old Delhi.[1] She was the eldest child and had two brothers, Chand Bahadur Kaul and the botanist, Kailas Nath Kaul, and a sister, Swaroop Kathju.


Jawaharlal and Kamala Nehru on their wedding day, 8 February 1916

Kamala married Jawaharlal Nehru at the age of 16.[1] Her husband went to a trip in the Himalayas shortly after their marriage.[2] In his autobiography, Jawaharlal Nehru, referring to his wife, stated "I almost overlooked her."[2] Kamala gave birth to a girl child in November 1917, Indira Priyadarshini, who later succeeded her father as prime minister and head of the Congress party. Kamala gave birth to a boy in November 1924, but he lived for only a week.[2]

Contribution to the Indian Independence Movement[edit]

Kamala was involved with the Nehrus in the national movement, that she emerged into the forefront. In the Non Cooperation movement of 1921, she organized groups of women in Allahabad and picketed shops selling foreign cloth and liquor. When her husband was arrested to prevent him delivering a "seditious" public speech, she went in his place to read it out. The British soon realized the threat that Kamala Nehru posed to them and how popular she had become with women's groups all over India. She was thus arrested on two occasions for involvement in Independence struggle activities, along with Sarojini Naidu, Nehru's mother and other women of the Indian freedom struggle.[3][4] During this period she started a dispensary in her house Swaraj Bhawan, converting few rooms into a Congress Dispensary to treat wounded activists, their families, and other residents of Allahabad(now Prayagraj). After her death, Mahatma Gandhi with the help of other prominent leaders converted this dispensary into a proper hospital known as Kamla Nehru Memorial Hospital in her memory.[citation needed]


Kamala Nehru spent some time at Gandhi's ashram with Kasturba Gandhi where she built a close friendship with Prabhavati Devi – the wife of freedom fighter Jayaprakash Narayan.[5] They were also freedom fighters for Indian freedom from the British.


Kamala died from tuberculosis in Lausanne, Switzerland on 28 February 1936, with her daughter and mother-in-law by her side. During her last few years, Kamala was frequently ill and taken to a sanatorium in Switzerland for treatment, though she returned to India as she got well. In early 1935, as Kamala's health again deteriorated, she was taken to Badenweiler (Southern Germany) by Subhash Chandra Bose and admitted to a sanatorium for treatment. Her husband (Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru) was in prison in India at that time. As her health worsened, Nehru was released from prison and rushed to Germany in October 1935. While Kamala's health improved initially, it started to deteriorate again in 1936, and she died in February. In the prologue to his autobiography, in a chapter added after Kamala's death, Nehru recounts that he was devastated and remained mourning for a few months.[6]


Kamala Nehru on a 1974 stamp of India

A number of institutions in India, such as Kamala Nehru Memorial Hospital & Regional Cancer Centre, Kamla Nehru Prani Sangrahalay (Indore), Kamala Nehru College, University of Delhi, Kamala Nehru Degree Evening College (Bangalore), Kamla Nehru College for Women, Jodhpur, Kamala Nehru Park (Pune), Kamla Nehru Institute of Technology (Sultanpur), Kamla Nehru College, Korba, Kamala Nehru Women's College (Bhubaneswar), Kamala Nehru Polytechnic (Hyderabad), Shri Ramdeobaba Kamala Nehru Engineering college (Nagpur), Kamala Nehru Memorial Vocational Higher Secondary School Vatanappally (Kerala), andShaskiya Kamla Nehru Girls Higher Secondary School (Bhopal) are named after her.

In Pakistan, Karachi has a road named after Kamla Nehru.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Jayakar, Pupul (1995). Indira Gandhi, a biography (Rev. ed.). New Delhi, India: Penguin. pp. 9–11. ISBN 978-0140114621.
  2. ^ a b c "From years 1916 to 1964...The man and the times". The Windsor Star. 27 May 1964. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  3. ^ Nehru, Jawaharlal (26 January 1936). An Autobiography. London: Bodley Head.
  4. ^ "Kamala Nehru Biography". Iloveindia. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  5. ^ Jayakar, Pupul (1995). Indira Gandhi, a biography (Rev. ed.). New Delhi, India: Penguin. pp. 90–92. ISBN 978-0140114621.
  6. ^ Nehru, Jawaharlal (1940). An Autobiography (2nd ed.). London: Bodell Head.
  7. ^ "Blog: Finding Kamala Nehru in Pakistan, Jinnah in Guntur". NDTV.com. 20 May 2015.