Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964), a Statesman and politician, was the Prime Minister of India from 1947 to 1964. He was an outstanding global leader of his time.
Nehru described the Nilgiris as, ‘second England’ and did much for the its post independence development with far reaching schemes like the Kundah hydro electric project and the Hindustan Photo Films. He also planned a paper industry which did not materialize.
Nehru visited the district no less than five times.Nehru first came to the Nilgiris in May 1948, barely three months after Gandhiji’s murder, to inaugurate the conference of the Third UN Economic Commission for Asia and Far East at Ooty. During his visit he also met philosopher J. Krishnamurthi who was here. The two met at Raj Bhavan for one and half hour discussing forces of good and evil operating in the country, how the former could win over the latter.
Nehru’s second visit was in February 1958 to interact with the Defense Services Staff College and the Madras Regimental Centre, Wellington.
The third visit came just a month later, specifically to acquaint himself with the work of Pasteur Institute at Coonoor. The visit paved the way for the much need financial support to the Institute to carry on its crucial research work.
Nehru’s fourth visit was in June 1959 to inaugurate the AICC Sub-Committee Seminar on Planning at Ooty. His fifth and last visit was in March 1960 to inaugurate Powerhouse No 1 of the Kundah Hydro-Electric Project. Nehru described the project as an ‘outstanding symbol and example of international cooperation’. He had the dam inaugurated by a mason. When Price Peter of Greece and Denmark, who had researched the Todas in 1949 personally sought Nehru’s intervention to save the Toda race which was facing a serious health crisis, he personally arranged for special medical attention and also appointed a local Toda lady as a health worker to take care of her community.
He was also instrumental in encouraging Dr. Narasimhan to found g the Nilgiri Adivasi Welfare Association.
During all the visits Nehru made it a point to spend some time with Ms. Anna Ornsholt, the Danish Governess of Indira Gandhi, who had settled down in Kotagiri. – Nilgiris Discovery Center