Know our first ever Union Cabinet of Independent India

Have you ever thought of the size and dimension of the first ever Indian union cabinet of free India? The role of Pt. Nehru in selecting his team members and any suggestion given by Mahatma Gandhi would always figure when we give a serious thought on it. Have a look at this article a to know who were the members of the first union cabinet of India, their portfolios and the reforms and policies undertaken by the various Ministers.


It was the finest moment in the annals of Indian history. At the stroke 12.00 Hrs in the mid-night of 14th Aug'1947 i.e., the change of calendar 15th Aug., 1947, India got liberated from British and Pt.Jawaharlal Nehru sworn in as the Prime Minister of India. The sacrifices of all the freedom fighters proved to be not a waste and those people who lost their kith and kin in the service of their mother land got justice on this day of India's freedom.

Have you ever thought of the size and dimension of the first ever Indian union cabinet of free India? The role of Pt. Nehru in selecting his team members and any suggestion given by Mahatma Gandhi would always figure when we give a serious thought of it. The great freedom fighters of India – Had they sought any positions for their contribution in achieving Swaraj? Had there been any dissent while formulating a new team of ministers for independent India? Some people today have a serious doubt.

The first union cabinet of free India

It was a nice representation of various leaders irrespective o their party affiliations and it was Gandhiji who suggested to Nehru to induct leaders who contributed for liberation of the country from British and those who were outstanding and most qualified persons. The put aside the differences among them and worked together to work for the nation. Representatives of parties apart from the Congress such as B R Ambedkar who established the Republican Party, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee who founded Jan Sangh, Shanmukham Chetty of the Justice Party, C Rajagopalachari of the Swatantra Party, and Rafi A Kidwai from the Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party were included in Nehru's cabinet.

  1. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964)– Prime Minister, External Affairs, Commonwealth Affairs & Science

  2. Saradar Vallabhai Patel (1875-1950) - Deputy Prime Minister, Home Affairs, Information & Broadcasting

    We don't need separate introduction for this great leader and he was the person responsible for the unification of India after Independence and merging the princely states like Hyderabad and Bastar by force. Unfortunately the country lost him within three years of achieving Independence.

  3. Dr.Rajendra Prasad (1884-1963) - Food and Agriculture

    Dr.Rajendra Prasad was also the Chairman of Constituent Assembly which drafted the Indian Constitution.

    After the approval Indian Constitution that came into force with effect from 26th Jan., 1950, India became Republic and Dr.Rajendra Prasad became the first President of India.

    As a Minister for Food and Agriculture, he took all efforts to take care of the welfare of the farmers and agricultural labourers. The Food Corporation of India took shape because of his vision.

  4. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (1988-1958) – Education

    He served as the President of the Congress party twice in 1923 and again in 1940–46. Also, one of the leaders responsible for negotiating with the British for settlement of issues while granting Independence. He opposed partition of India and advocated for unity of both Hindus and Muslims. As a Minister for Education in the Nehru's cabinet, he took initiatives in promoting the Primary education in rural India. He was also the author of his autobiography - India Wins Freedom. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award in 1992.

  5. First Union Cabinet of India
    (Image courtesy:

  6. Dr. John Mathai (1886-1959) - Railways & Transport

    He was the first Railway Minister of the free India and tried to sort out the issues related Indian Railways. But his assignment was short lived. John Mathai was an economist and was much involved in setting economic reforms after independence who served as he subsequently became India's Finance Minister, after the presentation of India's first Budget, in 1948.

  7. Sardar Baldev Singh (1902-1961) - Defence

    A dynamic leader from the Sikh community, Baldev Singh fought for the cause of Sikhs at the time of partition and well handled the situation aftermath of the partition of Pakistan and India causing mass killings. He personally monitored to ensure restoring of peace as a Defence Minister. He actively participated in freedom movement.

  8. Jagjivan Ram (1908–1986) - Labour

    A tall Dalit leader from Bihar and the youngest Minister in the First cabinet. He served the country in different capacities and became Deputy Prime Minister in 1979 during the Janata government regime.

  9. C H Bhabha (1910-1956) - Commerce

    Cooverji Hormusji Bhabha popularly known as C. H. Bhabha was the first Commerce Minister of India. He was a Parsi businessman. he had no political affiliations but served as diretor of the Oriental Insurance Company.

  10. R A Kidwai (1894-1954 - Communications

    He represented the Muslim community and wanted non-partition of the country. He tried for Hindu-Muslim unity. He was given the portfolio of Communications initially and latter shifted to Food and Agriculture after Dr.Rajendra Prasad was elevated to the post of President of India. he was responsible for establishment of ICAR in 1956.

  11. Rajkumari Amrit Kaur (1889-1964)- Health

    A graduate from Harward University, she was associated with Red Cross and St.John Ambulance. A Gandhian by principles, the princess from Punjab dedicated her life for freedom struggle. She served for ten years in the capacity as Health Minister. responsible for creation of AIIMS at New Delhi. She was also a member of the Constituent Assembly, the body that framed the constitution of India.

  12. Dr. B R Ambedkar (1891-1956)- Law

    Babasaheb Ambedkar was the first the Union Law Minister and was also assigned withe responsibility of drafting the Constitution for India . Thus he became the Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee. it was his effort that the Indian Constitution which is termed as the first and foremost a social document by many foreigners. He was responsible for introducing a system of reservations of jobs for members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in the civil services, schools and colleges with an aim to uplift the downtrodden people through centuries.

  13. R K Shanmugham Shetty (1892-1953) - Finance

    He was a lawyer by profession,and an economist. As first finance minister from 1947 to 1949 he present the first budget of Independent India in 1948. He was the President of India's Central Legislative Assembly from 1933 to 1935 and Diwan of Cochin kingdom from 1935 to 1941.

  14. S P Mukharjee (1901-1953) - Industries & Supplies

    He was the founder of Hindu Mahasabha and fought for the cause of mother India and joined the freedom struggle. He was the first Indian Industries Minister and took initiatives for the growth of Industries in the country. Because of his differences with Nehru, he resigned from the cabinet in 1951 and floated a new party Bhartiya Jansangh which is the present BJP.

  15. N V Gadgil (1896-1966) - Works, Mines and Power

    He belonged to Maharastra and associated with the social reforms in the 1930s. As a cabinet minister in Nehru"s first cabinet, he was responsible building the road for Defence purpose from Pathankot to Srinagar via Jammu in Kashmir to meet the challenges posed by the proxy Indo-Pak war in the 1947 . Country's most important development projects like Bhakra, Koyna, and Hirakund dams took shape at his instance. He also served as member of the Congress Working Committee during 1952–55 and as the governor of Punjab from 1958 to 1962. He was also the vice-chancellor of Poona University during 1964 -1966.

Wrap up

Face is the index of the mind. The team which took oath along with Pt.Nehru on 15 th Aug.,1947 was really had a tough task and were path finders for the development and growth of new India. "We must make our political democracy a social democracy as well. Political democracy cannot last unless there lies in the base of its social democracy" a quote by B R Ambedkar, the then minister for Law and Justice gives a different meaning to the importance of the first cabinet and speaks for itself.

Article by Jagdish Patro
Jagdish Patro is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to ISC and other websites. Fond of reading books, novels and spends his leisure time by listening to music. He did his B.Sc in Applied Chemistry and his M.Sc in Resource Development Technology. He edited and published an in-house monthly journal by name ‘Srujana’ during 2009-2011 which was totally a private circulation.

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