Lal Bahadur Shastri: The Man of Values
Er. Prabhat Kishore
Every person in the world has a desire to perform extraordinary work in his life time and his achievements are hailed when he succeeds in his effort at a crucial juncture through his merit and passion. Such personality was the second Prime Minister of India– Lal Bahadur Shastri, who is considered as a golden and great legend of Indian history.
Born on 2nd October 1904 at Deendayalnagar (Uttar Pradesh), Shastriji was really a precious Prime Minister of India. His father was a school teacher, who died when child Lal Bahadur Srivastava alias Nanhe was just 2-year-old. He was brought to his maternal grandfather, where he completed his elementary education.
His early days of childhood were poverty ridden and he faced numerous challenges with due allegiance and commitment. He completed his secondary education from Harishchandra high school, Varanasi. When he was just 17-year-old, he was attracted towards Indian freedom movement.
Amidst the fiery freedom struggle movement, he occasioned to join “Kashi Vidyapeeth”, from where he graduated in Sanskrit and secured “Shastri degree” in 1926. He replaced his parental cast title “Srivastava” with “Shastri”, which in later stage became a part and parcel of his name and fame. He was married to Smt. Lalita Devi of Mirjapur in year 1928.
Shastriji jumped wholeheartedly into the freedom struggle and actively took part in various movements under the leadership of Gandhiji. On most of the occasions, he was arrested alongwith other freedom fighters. After independence, he was inducted as Police and transport minister in Uttar Pradesh government. As police minister he instructed to use water jets on processionals in place of lathi; whereas as transport minister, he made provision to recruit women conductors in State Roadways’ buses encouraging gender empowerment.
On 23rd May 1952, Shastriji was inducted as Rail minister in Union government. He left an ineradicable print in the Indian history when in 1956; he voluntarily resigned on moral ground because of a “Rail-accident”, causing causality. This reflects that Shastriji has rarest of rare quality which perhaps none of his contemporaries ever possessed. In 1958, he became Commerce and Industry Minister and he served as Home Minister since 4th April 1961 to 29th August 1961.
Under Kamraj Yojana of the Congress, he resigned from Union cabinet; but was inducted as minister without portfolio to assist the PM, when Nehru’s health deteriorated. In 1964, on the demise of Nehruji, Shastriji was unanimously elected Parliamentary leader of Congress to succeed Nehru as the second PM of India and during his shorter spell of PMship, he led India on the path of development. For him work was worship and rest, the rust. He worked tirelessly to achieve his aims, with due dedication and devotion. He was a dynamic leader and he tackled multifarious critical problems meticulously and skillfully.
Shastriji will always be remembered by Indian masses for two stellar movements, the “Green revolution” and “White revolution”, through which lives of numerous people were uplifted. He established himself as one of the principal figures to lead India towards self-sustenance and self-reliance.
In 1965, Pakistan invaded India. Shastriji provided full power to army to retaliate. Indian army fought bravely at all fronts capturing 1840 square KM of Pak occupied territory as against 540 square KM of Indian territory by Pak. The handling of successful operation proved his boldness in dealing the adverse situations.
Shastriji mobilize the entire nation with the slogan of “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan” in 1965, when India was fighting simultaneously at two fronts – one against enemy at border and second against hunger due to food crisis. He enshrined “Jawan” and “Kisan” as the fountain-heads of the motherland upon which rests the foundation of the nation.
Despite strong opposition from Indian military, India bowed down to growing international diplomatic pressure from USSR, USA and United nation and accepted proposed ceasefire. After great deal of deliberations, Shastriji was made to sign the ‘Tashkent agreement” to the effect that the Indian forces who had occupied Pak territory be withdrawn.
This agreement was not in the interest of India and there was great resentment in the country. On 11th January 1966, i.e. after one day of signing the agreement, he was found dead in the hotel at Tashkent. Although it is said that he suffered heart attack in the night of signing the agreement, but neither his family nor general public accept this myth and his untimely death remains a mystery.
The sudden and untimely demise of Shastriji shook and utterly shocked the nation as a whole and holocaustic scenario pervaded over Indian horizon. He was the extraordinary personality who never ever yielded to power or pelf. His name & fame shall remain in the history of India till the sun shines, moon soothes and stars remain glittering in cosmos. His legacy will continue to inspire generations for the service to our motherland.
(The author is a technocrat and academician. He holds Master in Engineering from M.N. Regional Engineering College, Allahabad/Prayagraj)