On October 2, 1904, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri was born in Mughalsarai, a small railway town that is situated seven miles away from the holy city of Varanasi in the state of Uttar Pradesh. His father, a school teacher, passed away when Lal Bahadur Shastri was only eighteen months old. Despite her young age, his mother relocated her three children to her father's house, where they would stay and settle down. Despite being surrounded by poverty, Lal Bahadur still was able to have a fairly content childhood, even though his schooling in a small town was not particularly noteworthy.
In order to attend high school, he was sent to live with his uncle in the city of Varanasi. Nanhe, a nickname meaning 'little one' that was given to him in his home, endured long walks to school without shoes, even when the scorching summer heat made the streets unbearable. As he aged, Lal Bahadur Shastri's passion for India's quest for freedom from its foreign oppressors grew more and more intense.
He was greatly moved and inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's firm condemnation of the Indian Princes for their backing of the British rule in India. Although Lal Bahadur Sashtri was only eleven years old at the time, he had already started the process which would ultimately lead him to the national spotlight.
Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri (June 9, 1964 - January 11, 1966 )
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At the tender age of sixteen, Lal Bahadur Shastri was encouraged by Mahatma Gandhi to join the Non-Cooperation Movement. Upon hearing the Mahatma’s call, he made the hasty decision to discontinue his studies. His mother's dreams and aspirations were completely destroyed by his decision. No matter how hard the family tried to discourage him from his course of action, he was adamant that it was the right thing to do, even though they believed it would be disastrous.
However, Lal Bahadur had thoroughly prepared himself and was determined to go through with his plan. Everyone who knew him well was aware that he had a very strong will and once his mind was made up, it was impossible to change it, despite his gentle demeanor.
Lal Bahadur Shastri became a member of Kashi Vidya Peeth in Varanasi, an educational institution that was established in order to challenge the oppressive British rule. During his time there, he was exposed to the country's most renowned intellectuals and passionate nationalists. On the 16th of May in 1928, he married the Lalitha Devi of Mirzapur and as a wedding gift, he received a spinning wheel and a few yards of Khadi cloth.
He resided with his grandfather until the age of ten and had successfully completed the 6th standard. After much dedication and hard work, he has successfully achieved his higher education from Varanasi. At the age of seventeen, he became a part of the non-cooperation movement against the British Government in 1921, which was spearheaded by Mahatma Gandhi. Despite being arrested during the movement, he remained committed and unwavering in his decision. Despite the advice that he had received from his mother and relatives, he still decided to become involved in that movement.
The Servants of the People Society
After his release, he began his philosophy studies at the renowned Kashi Vidya Peeth. In 1926, he obtained his degree and then decided to become part of the “The Servants of the People Society”, founded by Lala Lajpat Rai in 1921, after graduating from Kashi Vidya Peeth. The primary goal of "The Servants of the People Society" was to educate the youth about their responsibilities and obligations towards their country.
Civil Disobedience Movement
When Gandhi Ji called upon him in 1930, he answered by joining the Civil Disobedience Movement. He was asked to join that movement as a way to encourage people to resist the payment of land profits and taxes to the government. He was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. His time in jail was spent in the pursuit of becoming acquainted with the works of renowned western philosophers, revolutionaries, and social reformers.
Following the Second World War in 1939, the Congress began promoting individual Satyagraha, a nonviolent resistance movement to push for independence. During the Individual Satyagraha, he was arrested and kept in prison for a year. On August 8, 1942, Mahatma Gandhi once more contacted him and requested him to join the Quit India Movement. He was very actively involved and ended up being arrested for an extended period of time.
He had the chance to meet with Pandit Govind Vallabh Pant, who gave very complimentary remarks regarding his dedication and hard work throughout the 1946 provincial elections. He was appointed to the position of Parliamentary Secretary when Pandit Govind Vallabh Pant was selected as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. In 1947, he was appointed to the position of Police and Transport Minister in Pant's Cabinet.
When India declared itself a Republic, he was appointed as the General Secretary of the Congress Party. In 1952, Jawahar Lal Nehru re-appointed him as the Minister of Railways and Transport in the Central Cabinet. His lasting impact on travellers in third class compartments was immense due to the significant decrease of the gap in price between the Railways first class and third class. Due to a railway accident occurring in 1956, he resigned from Railways.
After Congress was in power, he was given the responsibility of serving as the Transport and Communications Minister, eventually becoming the Commerce and Industry Minister. Following the death of Govind Vallabh Pant in 1961, he was appointed as the Home Minister. His efforts in ensuring the internal security of the country during the India-China War in 1962 were commendable.
- State Minister- Following India's independence, he was selected to serve as the Parliamentary Secretary in his home state of Uttar Pradesh. On the 15th of August in 1947, he was appointed to the position of Minister of Police and Transport under the leadership of Govind Ballabh Pant as Chief Minister. He was the first Transport Minister to ever employ female conductors and Minister of Police to order the use of jets of water to disperse public crowds instead of lathis.
- Cabinet Minister- In 1951, when Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister, he was selected to take on the role of General Secretary of the All-India Congress Committee. His role as the General Secretary included the responsibility of selecting the candidates and managing all of the activities related to the election. On April 3rd 1952, he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha from the state of Uttar Pradesh, and then, from May 13th 1952 to December 7th 1956, he was appointed as the Railways and Transport Minister in the Central Cabinet. In September 1956, after a railway accident occurred in Mahbubnagar, he tendered his resignation from the post of Railways and Transport Minister, which was declined by Jawaharlal Nehru. As a result of yet another railway accident in Ariyalur, Tamil Nadu, he resigned once more from his post as Minister of Railways and Transport. In 1957 he rejoined the Cabinet as the Minister for Transport and Communications and then moved on to become the Minister of Commerce and Industry. In 1961 he was appointed to the role of Union Home Minister and devoted himself to tackling the problem of corruption in India.
- Prime Minister of India- After Jawaharlal Nehru passed away in 1964, he was designated as the second Prime Minister of India and he managed to guide India to a successful outcome in the 1965 war against Pakistan. The nation was going through an exceptionally difficult period and individuals were encountering immense impediments. India was in a food deficit when Pakistan initiated an attack against them. He was a man of remarkable courage and fortitude and he gave a rallying cry of "Jai Jawan Jai Kisan" in order to garner the support of the nation during the war. People around the world held admiration for his leadership skills. His life was an exemplary example of immense simplicity and truthfulness, motivating the entire Indian population.
Resolving Madras Anti-hindi Agitation
In 1965, he was deeply involved in solving the Madras anti-Hindi agitations. There was some opposition to Hindi being declared the official national language of India due to the fact that many Indian states spoke non-Hindi languages such as English. He came to the conclusion that continuing to use English as an official language by the states that didn't speak Hindi was the best way to handle the situation during his meeting with Indira Gandhi. After he confidently reassured the people, the rioting ceased, and peace was restored.
Contribution to White and Green Revolution
Throughout the time in which he held the office of Prime Minister, he was engaged in sustaining and improving the Indian economy by means of his superior policies. He formulated his own strategies to improve the Indian economy, while at the same time, continuing with the socialist economic policies of the former prime minister.
His immense contribution to the nation was the famous national campaign to increase the production and supply of milk, known as the White Revolution. This was achieved through his support for a number of dairy companies, such as Amul milk co-operative of Anand in Gujarat, and the formation of the National Dairy Development Board.
His invaluable contributions towards the management of chronic food shortages across India will never be forgotten. He humbly requested of the Indian people to voluntarily forego one of their daily meals in order to provide sustenance to those in the region ridden by food scarcity. He was determined to help combat the food shortage India was facing during the 22 days of the 1965 Indo-Pak war, so he created the slogan “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan” and promoted the Green Revolution campaign all over the India.
Contribution to Foreign Policies
His involvement in the foreign policies was quite significant, as he sought to strengthen the country's defense budget by increasing the closer relationship with the Soviet Union following the disastrous Sino-Indian War of 1962. Taking into consideration the military ties of Chinese People's Republic and Pakistan, he had decided to increase the defense budget of the armed forces of the country.
In 1964, he signed the Srimavo-Shastri Pact (Bandaranaike-Shastri pact) with Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka in order to ensure the status of Indian Tamils in the then Ceylon was taken into account. During this agreement, a major resolution was reached between India and Sri Lanka, which resulted in the liberation of around 600,000 Indian Tamils and the granting of citizenship to around 375,000 of them in Sri Lanka.
However, due to the unfortunate passing of Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri on October 31, 1981, India ceased its repatriation agreement, with only 300,000 Indian Tamils being repatriated and only 185,000 being granted citizenship by Sri Lanka.
He was a formidable leader who was instrumental in India gaining victory in the 1965 Indo-Pak War. After a lengthy period, the war between India and Pakistan concluded on September 23rd, 1965, with the assistance of the United Nations to achieve a peaceful co-existence through a ceasefire. Following the conclusion of the war between India and Pakistan, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Pakistani President Muhammad Ayub Khan met in Tashkent and signed the Tashkent Declaration on the 10th of January 1966.
Shortly after he had signed a treaty between India and Pakistan on the tenth day of January in the year 1966, he tragically suffered a fatal heart attack; the treaty was an agreement to not interfere with each other's internal affairs, and to not use force to settle any disputes between them, but to always resort to peaceful means. On the 11th day of January in the year 1966, he sadly passed away. He was a star that illuminated Indian history with his brilliance and dazzled all who saw him. As a posthumous honor, the President of India awarded him the highest recognition of “Bharat Ratna”.
- “We believe in peace and peaceful development, not only for ourselves but for people all over the world.”
- “The basic idea of governance, as I see it, is to hold the society together so that it can develop and march towards certain goals.”
- “India will have to hang down her head in shame if even one person is left who is said in any way to be untouchable.”
- “We can win respect in the world only if we are strong internally and can banish poverty and unemployment from our country.”
- “The unique thing about our country is that we have Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, and people of all other religions. We have temples and mosques, gurdwaras and churches. But we do not bring all this into politics... This is the difference between India and Pakistan.”
Lal Bahadur Shastri was a highly respected political leader in Indian history, renowned for his commitment to the people of India, his ethical standards, and his simple lifestyle. His life and influence continue to be felt by people all over India and beyond, standing as an emblem of the values of democracy, social justice, and self-reliance.
The biography examines Shastri's character and the manner in which he exercised leadership. His commitment to the welfare and betterment of the Indian people, his modesty and humbleness, and his strong dedication to the principles of democracy, peace, and social justice are all exemplified by this.
The legacy of Shastri is deeply embedded in India's political and social history, and his contributions to India's society and democracy are still highly relevant in today's world. His view of an autonomous India, which would be free from poverty, hunger, and injustice, still motivates generations of Indians, and his commitment to world peace and nonviolence is still a significant model for the rest of the world.
Taking into account all the facts, the biography of Lal Bahadur Shastri is an appropriate tribute to a remarkable leader and statesman from India and his legacies, accomplishments and life are still inspiring and influencing people. This account provides a thorough overview of his life, his accomplishments, and his values, emphasizing how he had a deep impact on the political and social structures of India. Shastri's legacy, which is deeply rooted in India's political and social heritage, will be held in high regard and his invaluable contributions to both India and the world will be remembered by future generations.