Magdalene College Cambridge Notes: S.S.Nehru (1905-8)

Shri Shridhar Nehru was a student at Magdalene College Cambridge from 1905 to 1908, overlapping with his cousin Jawaharlal Nehru, later first prime minister of independent India, who was at Trinity from 1907 to 1910.

Jawaharlal's father Motilal and Shridhar's father Bansi Dhar were brothers, and their families seem to have been reasonably close. When Bansi Dhar travelled to Europe for six months in 1896, Shridhar (who was then seven years old) was left in Motilal's care.[1] The cousins were evidently in contact, especially during the years when both were in England. S.S. Nehru joined the Indian Civil Service in 1913 and, as will be suggested, by 1922 the increasing political activism of his uncle and cousin seem to have complicated the family connection.

            S.S. Nehru was a few weeks short of his seventeenth birthday when he entered Magdalene on 9 October 1905.[2] He was already a double graduate of the University of Allahabad, holding both a BA and BSc. He was admitted as an affiliated student, an arrangement by which graduates of overseas (mainly Empire) universities could proceed to a Cambridge BA in two years, although S.S. Nehru in fact studied for three years, probably because he switched subjects after Part I of the Tripos. (The affiliated category combined a welcome degree of openness to overseas students with a massive condescension that assumed their existing qualifications were equal to first-year study on the banks of the Cam.)  There seems to have been no special reason for the selection of Magdalene, beyond perhaps a wish to ensure that Indians were spread around the University. The College was emerging – but only just emerging – from its late-Victorian academic and financial doldrums, and offered few special advantages to intending students. One of its few assets was its mathematics don, A.S. Ramsey, whose "gifts as a teacher of mathematics on the highest level were exceptional"[3] – sufficient, at least, steer S.S. Nehru to Second Class Honours. It is difficult to reconstruct anything about Shridhar Nehru's Magdalene experience: paucity of records makes it impossible to answer even a basic question: did he have rooms in College or was he located in lodgings? The absence of any subsequent allusion to the relationship, either by the student or the institution itself, suggests that he felt little sense of identification with the place. It is unlikely that S.S. Nehru's tutor, A.G. Peskett, made much impact upon him. In the Cambridge system, the tutor's role involved general supervision of a student's welfare, and Peskett had responsibility for around ninety students. A classics don, Peskett was notorious for his taciturnity, and undergraduates regarded him as "something of a friendly mystery."[4] Magdalene's best-known Fellow, A.C. Benson, made a point of asking undergraduates to lunch, and S.S. Nehru is known to have been one his guests. It would be interesting to know of the conversation between the teenager from India and the author, three years earlier, of the words to the imperial hymn, "Land of Hope and Glory", but Benson's extensive diary apparently supplies no details.[5]

            In 1906, a correspondent of The Times, who signed himself "M.A. Cantab.", noted that at Cambridge, unlike Oxford, "there was no mixed 'society' of Europeans and Indians". Coupled with the fact that Cambridge had more than twice as many Indian students as Oxford, "the tendency for this large body of men ... is for them to keep a good deal to themselves, losing the benefits which ought to be gained by intercourse with the ordinary British undergraduate." The writer was suspicious of the University's Indian society, the Majlis: "if report is correct, the sentiments sometimes expressed there are anything but loyal. ... Something should be done to counteract the visits of agitators, whose sole object is to inculcate a spirit of opposition to the British Government in India." There was a danger to the Raj in "the systematic secret propaganda of disloyalty carried on amongst the Indian students".[6] S.S. Nehru was probably a member of the Majlis, although even this cannot be established beyond doubt. His cousin, Jawaharlal, was to find it a very tame body, with a heavy emphasis upon parliamentary posturing at its meetings.[7] And, as even The Times correspondent conceded, not all Indian visitors were dangerous agitators. Congress President G.K. Gokhale spoke on Indian self-government at the Cambridge Union Society on October 1905, just three weeks after S.S. Nehru had arrived. Again, there is no indication whether he attended the debate. It is probable that the Indian students would have organised a welcome for so distinguished a personality, but no description of Gokhale's visit has been traced.[8] The most that can be said is that S.S. Nehru's subsequent career reflected, either consciously or accidentally, Gokhale's philosophy of working with the British to achieve practical reform and increase Indian participation in government.

The Nehru family believed that Shridhar achieved First Class Honours at Cambridge, but this may have referred either to a College examination, or to the University's Previous Examination, an undemanding hurdle known as the Little-Go, which functioned as a retrospective entrance test.[9] In 2007, he passed Part I of the Mathematical Tripos as a Senior Optime, a Cambridge term for Second Class Honours. Candidates were ranked in order of achievement, and "S.S. Nehru (Magd)" was placed half way among his cohort.[10] This seems a solid if not an outstanding performance. For his third year, he switched to Natural Sciences, sharing some lectures with his freshman cousin, who was also reading for a Science degree, although somewhat less energetically. "He has had very little time to prepare his subjects and I don't think he'll get a first," Jawaharlal reported to his father as his cousin's Tripos examination loomed.[11] The prediction was all too well-founded: Shridhar emerged with a Third.

            Despite this disappointing outcome, there could be no doubt that S.S. Nehru was a terrifying diligent student. In December 1906, he decided to spend his Christmas vacation at Dieppe, presumably with the intention of learning French at the closest and cheapest available centre.[12] Jawaharlal, by contrast, proved to be something of a playboy during his freshman year at Cambridge, and was even obliged to appeal, without success, to his cousin for financial assistance when he could not pay his lodging-house bill.[13] From Allahabad, his worried parents held up Shridhar as an exemplar. Writing in Hindi to his mother, Jawaharlal tried to defend himself, claiming, for instance, that he had been urged by Motilal himself to take part in sports. It was true that Shridhar studied hard, and that he did not take part in games. "But to be exactly like him is rather difficult for me even if I had wanted to."[14] In his autobiography, Jawaharlal did not refer to his cousin – by the time it was written, in 1936, it was perhaps more tactful not to advertise the relationship – but he did comment that, at Cambridge, "Indian students often used the most extreme language when discussing Indian politics. ... Later I was to find that these very persons were to become members of the Indian Civil Service, High Court judges, very staid and sober lawyers, and the like. Few of these parlour-firebrands took any effective part in Indian political movements subsequently."[15] If the comment implies estrangement between the cousins, it apparently did not materialise for some years.

            On graduating from Cambridge, S.S. Nehru transferred to Heidelberg to work for a doctorate. Family tradition states that he studied under Phillip von Lenard, who had won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1905 for his work on cathode rays. Shridhar's Cambridge Third was probably no obstacle to his acceptance: von Lenard had contempt for what he called "English physics". Later, he would extend this to dismissal of "Jewish physics", advising Hitler to ignore as fraudulent the work of Einstein on relativity. Jawaharlal was keen to visit his cousin in Germany, but Shridhar may have had reservations about taking in his financially feckless relative. "Shridhar and I have at last come to an understanding," Jawaharlal informed his father in March 1909, "and I shall go to Heidelberg soon after going down."[16] Writing to his daughter Indira from prison in 1935, he recalled the visit. Shridhar was living in a pension run by an octogenarian professor. "That professor's one consuming passion was hatred for England and I believe he died during the war years through very excess of anger and hatred."[17] The cousins travelled around central Europe, and Jawaharlal Nehru recalled the Austrian capital. "It was pre-war Vienna, charming and graceful, full of beauty and historic associations. ... The Viennese were a peculiar and very happy mixture of the Germans and the Italians."[18]

            In 1910, Shridhar sat the entrance examinations for the Indian Civil Service. Modelled on Britain's elite civil service, the ICS was open to candidates from India, although the requirement for an advanced Western education, not to mention the fact that the examinations were held in London – Shridhar would have had to travel back from Germany – obviously favoured British applicants.  Motilal Nehru was furious when his nephew failed to secure entrance, a rejection that he attributed to prejudice.[19] The episode may have helped shape Jawaharlal's future too. There had been some discussion of the possibility that he too would go for the ICS. In his autobiography, Nehru claimed that the idea had been abandoned for various reasons. If successful, he would be posted to some distant part of the sub-continent. In any case, he graduated at the age of twenty, but the minimum entry age was twenty-two: his parents "were a little tired of my ling stay in England and wanted me back soon." But he did remain in England, enrolling the Inner Temple to read for the Bar after taking his degree, which looked like a holding operation to keep the ICS option alive. (Initially, at least, he did not regard the Law with enormous enthusiasm.) "It is curious that in spite of my growing extremism in politics," Nehru reflected in 1936, "I did not then view with any strong disfavour the idea of joining the I.C.S. and thus becoming a cog in the British Government's administrative machine in India. Such an idea in later years would have been repellent to me."[20] It is always dangerous for historians to talk about periods of transition, since every segment of the past mutates in multiple and complex ways into its successor. But British-Indian relations in the early twentieth century were certainly in a fluid phase: it was apparent that there would be a greater Indian involvement in the running of the sub-continent without much clarity about the forms through which that participation would operate. The Nehru cousins were to tread alternative paths: Jawaharlal's would have the effect of speeding the process of political change, leaving Shridhar in the ambiguous role of serving rather than supplanting a declining imperial power. But Jawaharlal himself might well have taken the alternative road, and it may have been Shridhar's initial setback – undoubtedly shocking to a family who regarded their young Heidelberger as a paragon – that closed the option for his less committed cousin.

            The Heidelberg doctorate was acquired through a combination of examinations and thesis. Although Shridhar confided in his cousin that he thought he had done badly in his former, he achieved his PhD in 1911. His thesis was entitled (in German) "On the flow of gases through tubes and the resistance of small balls and cylinders in moving gases".[21] By 1932, he had also acquired "an advanced degree in economics from Paris, and a doctorate in jurisprudence from Brussels."[22] He probably began these studies in 1911, although the simple demands of time suggest that they may not have been completed until after the First World War. Perhaps remarkably for somebody who had earned three postgraduate degrees, he did trouble at some stage to take the Cambridge MA, the anomalous conversion of his bachelor degree which required a simple payment of fees, a distinction that he included on the title page of his 1936 book on Japan. Qualifications listed there also included a Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts.

In October 1913, on a further attempt, "Nehru, Shri Shridhara" (the latter being a slightly more formal version of his usual forename, as used in the Magdalene College Admissions Register) passed into the Indian Civil Service, ranking fortieth out of forty-seven successful applicants. "Seven of the candidates appear by their names to be of Eastern descent," observed The Times. Although it was initially reported that S.S. Nehru was to be assigned to Upper Bengal, it is apparent that he was quickly switched to the more congenial United Provinces. He later told a Nehru family biographer that he shared a room with his cousin in Motilal's hospitable Allahabad home from 1913 to 1915, and "that Jawaharlal's dinner often went cold while he was poring over his law books."[23]

            S.S. Nehru was perhaps using Motilal's house as a base while working in remoter districts. A family source states that in 1914 he married Raj Dulari Kitchlu, daughter of a man mysteriously described as "the first Indian to become the director of instructions at Allahabad".[24] Their marriage was evidently close, with Raj Dulari Nehru accompanying her husband on his later international travels. When he was invited to speak at a legal conference in Texas in 1952, it was made clear that she intended to be an active participant as well. They had no children.

            By 1921, Motilal and Jawaharlal Nehru were becoming increasingly prominent in the activist wing of the Congress movement. Father and so may have been slow to appreciate the pressures they were placing upon their kinsman. Shridhar was based at Almora, a small town in the hill country of the United Provinces. In 1921, Motilal was his guest. An enthusiastic crowd gathered demanding a speech. Motilal obliged, and his remarks aroused cheering excitement. "Shridhar looked very uncomfortable each time a lusty jai [hurrah] was sent up by the crowd," his uncle reported.[25] It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Motilal had strained the conventions of hospitality. In December 1921, Jawaharlal served his first, relatively brief, 88-day prison sentence for civil disobedience. In May 1922, he began a longer period of incarceration, after defiantly repudiating his English education in a statement from the Allahabad dock.[26] Even so, he hoped to maintain links with his European-educated cousin. From behind bars in Lucknow in August, he wrote: "I have absolutely no news of Shridhar since I came to jail. How is he and where is he?"[27] On learning that his cousin had been ill, Jawaharlal was "very sorry", adding "I hope you will send my love to him." He even hoped that Shridhar might be allowed to visit him in prison.[28] One biographer notes that S.S. Nehru served as "a collector, magistrate, and commissioner in the United Provinces, where his first cousin spent so many years behind British prison bars while Shridhar held the keys in his pocket."[29] The irony of the situation may have struck the participants as less amusing. Of course, cousins do tend to drift apart as their lives move into separate grooves, and there is no evidence of a specific breakdown in relations. Reminiscing in 1935 to his daughter about Heidelberg, Jawaharlal referred to "Shridhar chacha" (Uncle Shridhar), which suggests that basic family courtesies were maintained.[30] But there could be no disguising that the cousins had chosen to tread diverging paths. If, as it is conventionally portrayed, the Nehru family saga became synonymous with the quest for independence, there was no place for Shridhar in their tryst with destiny.

            My attempt to sketch a wider picture of S.S. Nehru is necessarily restricted because it is conducted from a computer terminal in Ireland. Indian newspapers are not available on line, and anyone familiar with keyword searching will surely appreciate the problems of trying to find a Nehru in a haystack. This section is based largely on listed titles from the British Library catalogue, with some supplementary information from Worldcat, plus occasional more specific items of information.[31] As will be apparent, I have not read S.S. Nehru's books, nor (in most cases) would I be remotely qualified to assess them if I had. It is enough to contend that he was a person of exceptional ability, demonstrated in remarkable breadth. Some of his attempts to build bridges between different forms of knowledge and variant Western and Oriental ways of looking at the world may seem eccentric, but he should at least be given the credit of thinking across a broad spectrum.

An early example of the breadth and depth of S.S. Nehru's thinking was an article on the death penalty in the Allahabad Law Journal, written in the classic civil-service mode of ostensibly neutral enquiry which was in fact designed to steer discussion in a specific direction – in this case, towards abolition. He argued that the context of world war provided an opportunity to question the utility of capital punishment. "To the economist's conception of penology each execution is a failure for it betokens the state's inability to utilise so much productive power.... The noose, the garrotte, the guillotine and the chair decidedly have their terrors and uses. But the terrors in each individual case are short-lived, and their uses bordering on abuse." These arguments no doubt drew on his Brussels LLD, although his conclusion was more elusively philosophical: "what can be more galling than work without wage for a day without tomorrow?" The article was reprinted in the Chicago Legal News.[32] Soon after, he drew upon his physics background to publish a textbook on radiology and practical physics for Indian students. It appeared in 1918, very early in the development of X-ray technology in the sub-continent.[33] As part of his ICS responsibilities, he produced a training manual for junior officers in 1928.

The work that perhaps made the most impact on the wider world was his 1932 study, Credit and Caste in a Rural Area. This was based on a survey of agrarian conditions in the Rae Bareli district, a densely populated area on the north bank of the Ganges, midway between Agra and Allahabad, where poverty and harsh landlords created a breeding ground for agitation in which Jawaharlal played an active role.[34] After some patronising allusions to the book's insignificant physical appearance, a reviewer in the American Journal of Sociology became almost breathless with admiration, calling S.S. Nehru's analysis "a Durkheimian type of study without the elusive metaphysics of this French school."[35] In some respects, the study confirmed the obvious, that peasants from the lower castes were trapped in poverty, unable to build up reserves of food as a defence against poor harvests. But, it seems, he also demonstrated a more subtle interpretation of local cultures, exploring how the lower castes used indebtedness to survive. (One European ICS colleague felt that S.S. Nehru's analysis was almost immediately undermined by the impact of the world depression, which deprived farmers of even their most basic securities.[36])

            S.S. Nehru's interest in economics extended to the international scene. His 1935 work, Money and Men in Muscovy, is subject-classified by the British Library catalogue as (inter alia)  a work of travel. It was followed a year later by Money, Men and Women in Japan, the opening pages of which have been helpfully digitised on the website. Shridhar and Raj Dulari Nehru travelled to Tokyo, where he delivered formal lectures at Keio University and the Tokyo Imperial University. The book's Contents list suggests that travelogue tended to push aside monetary theory, and one can only wonder what his ICS masters thought of an intriguing chapter entitled "An Indo-Japanese Concordance". The Nehrus appear to have travelled onward to San Francisco as part of this tour, which perhaps suggests a desire on the part of the authorities to get him out of India at a difficult time. 

            S.S. Nehru's ICS responsibilities included the promotion of rural development. The Governor of the United Provinces, Sir Malcolm Hailey, backed a "rural uplift" policy. Nehru was his director of publicity, assembled the governor's speeches for publication in 1932-3, and produced under his own name a practical guide called Rural Life in the Village.[37] Later, in 1937, he published an account of rural uplift in the UP town of Mainpuri. Despite its Gandhian overtones, rural uplift was intended by Hailey to involve landlords, and hence legitimise landlordism. Some time before 1936, S.S. Nehru had served as President of the Agriculture section of the Indian Science Congress. Five of his publications, from the nineteen-thirties, deal with "electrofarming", especially in relation to the use of electricity for fruit-growing. As rural electrification had not advanced very far in this period, these publications would repay further enquiry.

            In addition to his professional activities, S.S. Nehru was interested in aspects of Indian culture. In 1933 he published Doctor and Saint: A Passion of West and East, which brought together themes from Goethe's Faust and the work of Urdu playwright (and Muslim) Agha Hashar Kashmiri. Perhaps there was some personal identification here: the Nehru clan hailed from Kashmir, and Shridhar may have identified with Faust, the possessor of a German doctorate who had made a bad bargain in life?

            After a truly remarkable record of publication productivity in the mid-nineteen-thirties, S.S. Nehru appears to have fallen silent for a decade, and I cannot trace him through the traumatic years of the Second World War and the crisis of Partition. However, he reappears immediately after Independence.  In August 1948, he delivered a paper at the Tenth International Congress of Philosophy, held in Amsterdam, although S.S. Nehru himself is described in the published proceedings as based in New York. I am bound to say that I do understand his contribution, "A Practical Philosophy of Cosmic Energy", which argued for a revision of the concept of karma. An interweaving of physics – emphasising the power of electricity and nuclear radiation – with Hindu mysticism, the paper postulated a "bold departure from the conventional, fatalistic standpoint of karma or kismet or the passivity of despair of resignation and death".[38]

            In 1949, S.S. Nehru published a life of Gandhi, in German:  Mahatma Gandhi: sein Leben und Werk, which appears to have been his only (and retrospective) contribution to an explicitly Nationalist culture. (It was reissued in 1983.) The same year saw the publication of a drama, Bhakt Surdas Blind Saint, about a fifteenth-century Hindu holy man and minstrel. This was apparently a reissue of his 1933 work, Doctor and Saint, although whether it had been revised is not clear (S.S. Nehru was described as the "arranger" of the work). At the time of publication, S.S. Nehru was described as president of the National Union of Lawyers and honorary president of the International Union of Lawyers. He was also identified as Jawaharlal Nehru's cousin.[39]

            In April 1952, the American Bar Association Journal reported that S.S. Nehru was an invited speaker to the annual Lawyers' Week at the Southwestern Legal Center, part of the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He was described as president of the International Association of Advocates and "a former member of the Supreme Court of India". (The American Bar Association was unlikely to have been wrongly informed on the latter point, but I have not been able to find confirmation: the Supreme Court had only been established in 1950.) "Dr Nehru, a cousin of Pandit Nehru, will speak on 'Asia and Communism'. As a qualified expert, he will give a dramatic account of the fight being made against Communism in India."[40]

            In December 1952, S.S. Nehru hosted and headed a goodwill mission of the International Association of Advocates which travelled across India for ten days. In 1954, he published an account of the visit, in French. This is the last public activity that I have traced. He died on 22 May 1965 at Kisauli, a small town in Himachal Pradesh. It has not been possible to establish whether he had retired to this former British hill station, or whether he was there for health reasons or on holiday. S.S. Nehru's passing does not seem to have been noted by India's major newspapers: my inability to trace an informed obituary partially explains the tentative nature of many of the statements in this essay. The fact that he died in a remote location hardly explains the failure of reporting: after all, one of the modernising technologies that underpinned Indian unity was the telegraph. It is more likely that, in death as well as in life, Shridhar was overshadowed by his more famous cousin. Jawaharlal had died almost exactly twelve months earlier, on 27 May 1964. At just the moment when journalists might have offered an informed and reflective assessment of the career of S.S. Nehru, the country's media was overwhelmed in first-anniversary commemorations of India's founding prime minister, a mixture of mourning and celebration.[41] There was simply no space to honour the Nehru who had taken a different path. Family tradition recalls that Shridhar "died a frustrated man", a "victim of political circumstances" who felt that he "was never in the good books of the British." He could be forgiven, too, had this talented and driven person felt some resentment towards the cousin who had reshaped his world so that "he could not achieve something big in life" that would match Jawaharlal's achievement.[42]

            It is customary jargon among academics to assess the scope of an unexplored topic by saying "there's a PhD thesis in it". Unfortunately, in the case of Shridhar Nehru, the PhD student would             not only require unusual diligence even to locate his published works, but also an exceptional breadth of talents to assess his career. We may start with the matter of language competence. In addition to his native Hindi, S.S. Nehru was at home in Urdu and Sanskrit (the latter revealed in his 1948 philosophy paper, based on the Vedas). If the 1913 report that the ICS intended to post him to Bengal was accurate, he had presumably passed an examination in Bengali. It might be pointed out that these four languages are closely related, but we can add to the portfolio three modern European languages – English, French and German – while Cambridge required basic competence in both Latin and Greek. Not only did he master his European languages sufficiently to earn three degrees through English, two through French and one through German, but he undoubtedly absorbed much of their poetry and rhythm as if he were a native speaker. The alliterative title of his book on Russia, Money and Men in Muscovy, is one example of the inwardness of his fluency in English, while it took a wry knowledge of the language to entitle a 1937 book on social progress Futilities & Utilities. In addition, he embraced the lush adjectival potential of French, in his 1954 account of the legal goodwill mission styling India "fantastique, épique, romantique, démocratique".

            Probably the most appropriate approach to an understanding of S.S. Nehru's career would be through a colloquium would, encouraging specialist contributions on his education and ideas, placing his ICS career in a wider context. Such an approach, focusing on the concept of the way not chosen, would also throw broader light on the better-known founders of the Nehru political dynasty. If such a gathering has ever taken place, it has left no trace. When Shridhar Nehru joined the Indian Civil Service in 1913, he was adopting a strategy that would logically, albeit slowly, render the British presence in India irrelevant, as the sub-continent's own natural leaders gently supplanted their imperial masters in control of their administrative machine. In the event, he found himself working, to quote his own phrase of 1916, for "a day without tomorrow ". A century later, perhaps it is time to look at him in some detail – not afresh but, substantially, for the first time. I hope the Internet publication of this essay, with all its inadequacies, may encourage interest in this remarkable personality.



This essay is an introductory and incomplete account of the career of Dr S.S. Nehru, limited by my lack of access to sources. Items marked with a triple asterisk (***) were consulted on line in January 2017.


[1] ***B.R. Nanda, The Nehrus: Motilal and Jawaharlal (New York, 1965, ed.), 63. Family tradition states that Shridhar was born on 17 November 1888. ***"A Legal Person with a Spiritual Mind: Pandit Bansi Dhar Nehru" ( 

[2] "9 October 1905. Shri Shridhara Nehru, born 17 November 1888, son of Pandit Bansi Nehru, retired subjudge, of Agra, educated at the University of Allahabad of which he is a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science, is admitted pensioner, as an affiliated student of the University of Cambridge. Tutor: A.G. Peskett." Magdalene College Admissions Register, B/425, p. 30, copy kindly supplied by Dr Ronald Hyam.  A "pensioner" simply indicated a fee-paying student who was not in receipt of financial support (e.g. a scholarship or exhibition). "Shridhara" was the formal version of S.S. Nehru's forename.

[3] The Times, 3 January 1955.

[4] The Times, 28 July 1931.

[5] D. Newsome, On the Edge of Paradise. A.C. Benson: The Diarist (London, 1980), 211. I am grateful to Dr Ronald Hyam for information about the Benson diary. Benson does not seem to have been at ease with Indian students, finding their English difficult to comprehend. P. Lubbock, ed., The Diary of Arthur Christopher Benson (London, 1926), 207 (entry for 4 May 1911).  Arthur Grimble, later British resident commissioner in the Gilbert Islands (Kiribati) and author of A Pattern of Islands, overlapped with S.S. Nehru at Magdalene for one year. A fellow freshman in Magdalene's 1905 intake would also have an enduring connection with India: George Mallory was killed on Everest in 1924.

[6] The Times, 28 November 1906. By 1911, Cambridge had an East and West Club, which met at Fitzwilliam Hall (later Fitzwilliam House, and later still Fitzwilliam College). Benson, who addressed a meeting, though it "a well-meant plan ... but friendliness which springs from a sense of duty and not from personal liking is rather a priggish thing, and it is hard to eliminate a sense of patronage from it." Lubbock, ed., Diary of Benson, 207. I have not established whether the East and West Club functioned during S.S. Nehru's time at Cambridge.

[7] "I failed to discover anything very reprehensible in it," Jawaharlal wrote of his first visit to a meeting of the Majlis. "It is curious how the Cambridge Indians have got a very bad name on account of the doings of a very small number of gentlemen."  Jawaharlal's comment, made within a few weeks of his arrival in Cambridge, suggests that his cousin, a third-year man, might have warned him against too close an association with other Indian students. As Jawaharlal reported to his father, "they have got a bad reputation and it is hard to get rid of it." The "bad reputation" apparently referred to political extremism.  ***S. Gopal, ed, Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, i, 36 (quotation from letter of 31 October 1907). This multi-volume source published from 1972, is available on line through the Nehru Portal, and cited as SWJN. Jawaharlal also checked out the possibility of joining a Native Club, but discovered that it was dedicated to the consumption of oysters.

[8] The debate was briefly reported in Cambridge Independent Press, 3 November 1905, and in Annual Report of the Cambridge Union, 1905-1906, 42.  Gokhale proposed a motion "That this House would welcome the introduction in India of Government on more popular lines." Two Indian members of the University spoke in support: Syed Ali Bilgrami, who was Lecturer in Marathi, and Dewan Badri Nath, who was at Trinity 1904-7. A recent ex-President of the Union, J.M. Keynes, also supported Gokhale. The vote, of 161 to 62 for the motion, may have reflected undergraduate courtesy: visiting speakers were rare in that era, and it was customary to support them out of politeness. However, a similar motion on 5 November 1907 was also passed, by 96 votes to 65. On that occasion, the sole Indian speaker was Praphulla K.umar Chakrabarti of Christ's. A graduate of the University of Calcutta, he took  a First in Moral Sciences in 1909 and was called to the Bar from Gray's Inn in 1911, before returning to Calcutta (Kolkata). J. Peile, comp., Biographical Register of Christ's College ..., ii (Cambridge, 1912), 887. There is no indication that S.S. Nehru attended Union debates. An exact contemporary at Cambridge was Shripad Lakshman Ajrekar, a Non-Collegiate student, who won the University's Brotherton Sanskrit Prize in 1908.

[9] S. Wolpert, Nehru: A Tryst with Destiny (Oxford, 1996), 19.

[10] ***J.R. Tanner, Historical Register of the University of Cambridge (Cambridge, 1917), 596.

[11] SWJN, i, 55, 57 (quotation from letter of 21 May 1908).

[12] SWJN, i, 15.

[13] SWJN, i, 44.

[14] SWJN, i, 49-50, letter to his mother, 5 April 1908 (translated).

[15] J. Nehru, An Autobiography (Bombay, 1962 ed., first published 1936), 22.

[16] SWJN, i, 65 (March 1909).

[17] SWJN, vi, letter of 5 July 1935.

[18] SWJN, viii, letter of 26 May 1935.

[19] Nanda, The Nehrus, 104.

[20] Nehru, An Autobiography, 24-5; Wolpert, Nehru, 20-1.

[21] SWJN, i, 91 (JN's letter to Motilal, 10 August 1911); "A Legal Person ...". S. S. Nehru's thesis is listed on the Worldcat website. The title has been translated through Google.

[22] Review in the American Journal of Sociology, xl (1934), 133-4. S.S. Nehru's degrees are listed on the title page of his 1936 book, Money, Men and Women in Japan, digitised on the website, but without information about subject or date of acquisition.

[23] Nanda, The Nehrus, 123.

[24] "A Legal Person ...". She died in 1991.

[25] Nanda, The Nehrus, 193, quoting a family letter from Motilal.

[26] "Less than ten years ago I returned from England after a lengthy stay there. I had passed through the usual course of public school and university. I had imbibed most of the prejudices of Harrow and Cambridge and in my likes and dislikes I was perhaps more an Englishman than an Indian. I looked upon the world almost from an Englishman's stand-point. And so I returned to India as much prejudiced in favour of England and the English as it was possible for an Indian to be." SWJN, i, 252-3., also reported in The Times, 20 May 1922.

[27] SWJN, i, 330 (letter to Motilal, 17 August 1922).

[28] SWJN, i, 332 (letter to Motilal, 1 September 1922).

[29] Wolpert, Nehru, 19.

[30] SWJN, vi, 387.

[31] I have failed to trace any works by S.S. Nehru in the on-line catalogue of the National Library of India.

[32]  ***"Some Aspects of the Sentence of Death", Chicago Legal News, xlviii (1916), 215-16.

[33] The Lady Hardinge Hospital in New Delhi installed its first X-ray machine in 1918. , consulted 17 January 2017.

[34] G. Pandey, "A Rural Base for Congress..." in D.A. Low, ed., Congress and the Raj... (London, 1977), 199-223.

[35] ***American Journal of Sociology, xl (1934), 133-4. I have not the faintest idea what this comment means.

[36] Pandey, "A Rural Base for Congress...", 202.

[37] P.D. Reeves, "Landlords and Party Politics..."in D.A. Low, ed., Soundings in South Asian History (Berkeley, 1968), 282, 284.

[38]*** Pandit S.S. Nehru, "A Practical Philosophy of Cosmic Energy", Proceedings of the Tenth International Congress of Philosophy, i (1949), 261-2.


[40] ***American Bar Association Journal, xxxviii (April 1952), 295.

[41] I am grateful to Professor Robin Jeffrey for checking newspaper sources, and for drawing the anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru's death to my attention.

[42] ***"A Legal Person with a Spiritual Mind". But a younger cousin, B.K. Nehru, had a successful career in independent India, although he too had served in the ICS. 

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