Bharat Ratna Jawaharlal Nehru (November 14, 1889 - May 27, 1964), was a leader of the (moderately) socialist wing of the Indian National Congress during and after India's struggle for independence from the British Empire. He became the first Prime Minister of India at independence on August 15, 1947, holding the office until his death.
The son of prominent Congress leader Motilal Nehru, he returned from education in England to practise law before following his father into politics, emerging as a protege of Mahatma Gandhi and entering the first rank in Indian nationalist politics as president of Congress (an annual post) for the first time in 1929.
Imprisoned for 32 months after the Quit India movement of 1942, Nehru formed the country's first Indian government in July 1946 in the face of mounting opposition from the All-India Muslim League, whose campaign for a separate state led to the creation of a separate Pakistan in 1947.
As prime minister, Nehru pursued a foreign policy of non-alignment while pusuing India's claim to Kashmir in the face of Pakistani opposition, resulting in the First Kashmir War (1947-49). Though professing distaste for armed force, he used India's army to secure the territories of Hyderabad (September 1948) and Portuguese-ruled Goa (December 1961). Military defeat at the hands of China in October 1962 brought strong criticism of military unpreparedness and Nehru's policy of friendship with India's mighty neighbour.
Nehru's letters to his daughter Indira during successive periods of imprisonment in 1930-34 were later compiled into a book called The Glimpses of World History. His 1942-45 incarceration produced The Discovery of India. Nehru's famous "Tryst with Destiny" speech on the eve of Indian Independence can be found here.
Nehru's reported love affair with Edwina Mountbatten (wife of Lord Mountbatten, first Governor-General of independent India) is alleged by some to have placed him under undue political influence on the part of Lord Mountbatten in 1947-48. No evidence exists for the latter accusation.