Do you remember the story of “Nanhe” who used to swim across a river every day to reach his school? Yes, you got it right – I am talking about the story of India’s second Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri which was taught to us in school. This is perhaps the only story we know about Shastri Ji and the next thing we remember is, he gave us the slogan “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan”. Though, Shastri Ji is one of the strongest PM with the highest level of honesty, sincerity, and passion to serve the country India has ever got; his remembrance has been muted to the nation.
While the entire nation is celebrating and remembering Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary on 2nd October 2019; we have forgotten to remember the 115th birth anniversary of one of the most deserving sons of India “Lal Bahadur Shastri” today who was also an ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi and was highly influenced by his ideologies.
Shastri Ji’s greatness as a person as well as a prime minister is unquestionable but may-be the reason behind this ignorance is that he was the second prime minister of India and we have a habit of remembering those who come first in their field not the second. However, Shastri Ji’s works as a Prime Minister in rebuilding India’s development strategy can never be forgotten.
On the occasion of the 115th birth anniversary of Lal Bahadur Shastri, Scribbes take this opportunity to remember this legendary son of India by looking into his personal and political life.
Shastri Ji’s early days
Born on 2nd October 1904 to in Mughalsarai in a Kayastha Hindu family, Shastriji’s father, Shri. Sharada Prasad Srivastava was a school while his mother, Smt. Ramdulari Devi was the daughter of Munshi Hazari Lal, the headmaster and English teacher at a railway school in Mughalsarai. He was married to Lalita Devi on 16 May 1928.
Shastri Ji was a firm believer of facts and reality and believed in tackling them with practical solutions. During his short tenure as Prime Minister (1964–66), he worked for India’s economic reformation and promoted the White Revolution to increase the production and supply of milk in India. In addition to that, he also promoted the Green Revolution to boost India’s food production.
Lal Bahadur Shastri: The leader of the masses
Lal Bahadur Shastri was known for his quiet and calm persona and his ability to take momentous decisions, which always worked for the betterment of the nation whether it be during war against Pakistan in 1965, motivating the people of the nation to overcome the state of humiliation after facing defeat against China in the 1960s or inspiring people to take collective efforts to tackle an alarming food shortage in the 1960s.
During the food shortage, the former Prime Minister went live on air to appeal to the people of India to skip a meal a week which received an overwhelming response. Many restaurants and eateries put their shutters down on Monday evening to support the movement and many parts of the country observed the “Shastri Vrat”. He himself started growing food grains by plowing the lawn in his residence to motivate the people.
During the Madras anti-Hindi agitation of 1965, Shastri Ji, in order to restore harmony among the people, came forward and gave assurances that English would remain as the official language.
Shastri Ji: The strong-willed decision-maker
Shashtri Ji was a true leader and strong politician of humble origins who rose to startling heights by sheer hard work and determination to serve his country. He was mild-mannered and soft-spoken and once said:
“Perhaps due to my being small in size and soft of the tongue, people are apt to believe that I am not able to be very firm”
Shastri Ji was appointed as the Minister of Police and Transport of Uttar Pradesh on 15 August 1947 and he became the first minister to appoint women conductors. During his tenure as police minister (currently called Home Minister), he successfully curbing of communal riots in 1947, avoid mass migration and resettlement of refugees.
Shastri was appointed as Minister of Railways in First Cabinet of Republic of India on 13 May 1952 but he stepped down from the role in 1956, after a devastating accident which led to the death of more than 150 people in Tamil Nadu. This shows his understanding of responsibility and consciousness toward his works. After the first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru died on 27 May 1964 Shastri Ji was appointed as the 2nd Prime Minister of India on 9 June.
Lal Bahadur Shastri: Man of high moral values
In his personal life, Shastri Ji was a true gentleman and man of values. He believed in living a simple life and didn’t like wastage of resources for personal luxury. His philosophy of “Sada Jeevan Ucch Vichaar” can be understood from the fact that, as the All-India Congress Committee’s general secretary, he used to offer a monthly allowance of Rs 40 to his wife. However, when he came to know that Lalitaji, his wife, managed to save Rs. 10 from the monthly expenditure; he reduced Rs. 10 from the allowance thinking that the amount is overpaid.
Forgotten too soon
Shastri Ji, died a mysterious death on 11 January 1966 at Tashkent; a day after signing the Tashkent Agreement. Though the cause of his death was reported to be a cardiac arrest his family was not satisfied with it and his mysterious death is still a matter of dispute.
A truly deserving tribute of Lal Bahadur Shastri by us as a responsible citizen of India would be to educate the coming generation all over India about Shastri Ji and make them learn that October 2nd is not only Gandhi Jayanti but also Lal Bahadur Shastri Jayanti who was also a ‘Tyagi’ son of India.