Watch: BBC shares first TV interview of India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru

The impromptu session took place in 1953 when the late leader visited London to attend the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II



By Web Desk

Published: Tue 16 Aug 2022, 7:32 PM

Last updated: Tue 16 Aug 2022, 7:41 PM

As India celebrated its 76th Independence Day, BBC Archives shared a video of the country’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru’s first television interview on social media.

“Yes, this is the first time I’m facing this ordeal,” the late leader says at the start of the interview that took place in June 1953.

“In fact, I know very little about television, except what I’ve heard about it,” he adds.

The show’s anchor William Clark introduces Nehru to the audience while a panel of prominent journalists from that era, including Kinsley Martin, the editor of The New Statesman and Nation and HV Hodson, the editor of The Sunday Times and Donald Mclachlan, foreign editor of The Economist, wait to question him.

Mclachlan goes first in the impromptu Q&A session. He asks the leader about Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II (the leader and his daughter Indira Gandhi attended the event): “It was very impressive in many ways. The most impressive thing to me was apart from it being a great spectacle were the crowds here and the way they behaved and one begins to like more and more the London crowds. There was criticism when I came and there will be no doubt when I go back but I don’t think it will amount to much.”

Martin then asks Nehru why there wasn’t much resentment in India towards the British taking into consideration their past. “Well, partly we don’t, I suppose, hate for long or intensively, but chiefly I think because the background that Gandhi gave us during all these past decades,” Nehru quickly responds.

When asked about his views on democracy, Nehru says, “There is a tendency, if I may say so, for leading statesmen in Europe and America to look at the world from Europe and America. Well, if we look at the same world with the same principles, from lets us say Delhi or Karachi, the world looks slightly different.”

“Geography counts. Take the question of China. China is a distant country to most people in Europe and America. China, the country, having a 2,000-mile frontier with India, well it’s a different picture to us immediately,” he adds.

Nehru spent 16 years in prison during the country's freedom struggle. The leader said that he did not to have any resentment about being in jail. "I think it's a good thing for a person to go to prison, for a short while," he quips.

The late leader was a firm believer in democracy, and wanted the country to develop through the process, “We have advanced the unity of the country. We have put an end to all princely states. We have had these general elections which were remarkable on a tremendous scale and we have built up a good democratic structure.”

"I believe we have made progress. I should like the progress to be much faster, ” he adds.

In the end, Nehru thanks the panel, while telling the audience who would listen to the interview later on, “Goodnight”.


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