Lal Bahadur Shastri
|Lal Bahadur Shastri|
|Prime Minister of India|
9 June 1964 – 11 January 1966
|Preceded by||Jawaharlal Nehru|
|Succeeded by||Gulzarilal Nanda|
|Minister of External Affairs|
9 June 1964 – 18 July 1964
|Preceded by||Gulzarilal Nanda|
|Succeeded by||Sardar Swaran Singh|
|Minister of Home Affairs|
4 April 1961 – 29 August 1963
|Prime Minister||Jawaharlal Nehru|
|Preceded by||Govind Ballabh Pant|
|Succeeded by||Gulzarilal Nanda|
|Born||Lal Bahadur Shrivastava
2 October 1904
Varanasi, United Provinces,British Raj
(now in Uttar Pradesh, India)
|Died||11 January 1966 (aged 61)
Tashkent, Soviet Union
(now in Uzbekistan)
|Political party||Indian National Congress|
|Residence||10 Janpath, New Delhi|
|Alma mater||Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth|
|Awards||Bharat Ratna 1966 (Posthumous)|
Lal Bahadur Shastri (Hindustani: [laːl bəˈɦaːd̪ʊr ˈʃaːst̪ri], listen (help·info), 2 October 1904 – 11 January 1966) was the Prime Minister of the Republic of India and a leader of the Indian National Congress party.
Shastri joined the Indian independence movement in the 1920s. Deeply impressed and influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, he became a loyal follower, first of Gandhi, and then of Jawaharlal Nehru. Following independence in 1947, he joined the latter’s government and became one of Prime Minister Nehru’s principal lieutenants, first as Railways Minister (1951–56), and then in a variety of other functions, including Home Minister. Shastri was chosen as Nehru’s successor owing to his adherence to Nehruvian socialism after Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi turned down Congress PresidentK. Kamaraj‘s offer of premiership.
Shastri as Prime Minister continued Nehru’s policies of non-alignment and socialism. He led the country during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965. His slogan of “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan” (“Hail the soldier, Hail the farmer”) became very popular during the war and is remembered even today. The war formally ended with the Tashkent Agreement of 10 January 1966; he died of heart attack the following day, still in Tashkent. The cause of death has been a subject of conspiracy theories.
- 1 Early years (1904-1917)
- 2 The young satyagrahi (1921-1945)
- 3 Political career (1947-64)
- 4 Prime minister of India (1964-66)
- 5 Mystery behind Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death
- 6 Family and Descendants
- 7 Legacy
- 8 Citations
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
Early years (1904-1917)
Shastri was born at Mughalsarai, Varanasi as Lal Bahadur Varma., and had traditionally been employed as minor civil servants and school teachers. Shastri’s paternal ancestors had been in the service of thezamindar of Ramnagar, Varanasi. Shastri’s father, Sharada Prasad Varma, was a school teacher who later became a clerk in the revenue Office at Allahabad, while his mother, Ramdulari Devi, was the daughter of Munshi Hazari Lal, the headmaster and English teacher at a railway school in Mughalsarai. Shastri was the second child and first-born son in his family; he also had an elder sister, Kailashi Devi (b. 1900). In April 1906, Sharada Prasad contacted bubonic plague, which was epidemic at the time, and died when Shastri was only a year old; Sharada Prasad had just been promoted to the post of deputy tahsildar. Shastri’s mother Ramdulari Devi, then only 23 and pregnant, took him and his elder sister to her father Hazari Lal’s house and settled there, where she gave birth to a daughter, Sundari Devi, in July 1906. After Hazari Lal’s death from a stroke in mid-1908, the family were looked after by his brother (Shastri’s great-uncle) Darbari Lal, who was the head clerk in the opium regulation department at Ghazipur, and by his son Bindeshwari Prasad, a school teacher in Mughalsarai.
In Shastri’s maternal family, as with many Kayastha families, it was the custom for the children to receive an education in the Urdu language and culture. Accordingly, Shastri began his education at the age of four under the tutelage of a maulvi, Budhan Mian, at the East Central Railway Inter college in Mughalsarai, where he studied until the sixth standard. In 1917, aged 12, he decided to drop his caste-derived surname of “Varma”, and in that year, he, his mother and his sisters moved to Varanasi after Bindeshwari Prasad was transferred there. They lived in Benares with the family of one of Ramdulari Devi’s cousins, with Shastri joining the seventh standard at Harish Chandra High School.
The young satyagrahi (1921-1945)
While Shastri’s family had no links to the independence movement then taking shape, among his teachers at Harish Chandra High School was an intensely patriotic and highly respected teacher named Nishkameshwar Misra, who gave Shastri much-needed financial support by allowing him to tutor his children. Inspired by Misra’s patriotism, Shastri took a deep interest in the freedom struggle, and began to study its history and the works of several of its noted personalities, including those of Swami Vivekananda, Tilak, Gandhi and Annie Besant. In January 1921, when Shastri was in the 10 standard and three months from sitting the final examinations, he attended a public meeting in Benares hosted by Gandhi and Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya. Inspired by the Mahatma’s call for students to withdraw from government schools and join the non-cooperation movement, Shastri withdrew from Harish Chadra the next day and joined the local branch of the Congress Party as a volunteer, actively participating in picketing and anti-government demonstrations. He was soon arrested and jailed, but was then let off as he was still a minor. Shastri’s immediate supervisor was a former Benares Hindu University lecturer named J.B. Kripalani, who would become one of the most prominent leaders of the Indian independence movement and among Gandhi’s closest followers. Recognising the need for the younger volunteers to continue their educations, Kripalani and a friend, V.N. Sharma, had founded an informal school centered around “nationalist education” to educate the young activists in their nation’s heritage. With the support of a wealthy philanthropist and ardent Congress nationalist, Shiv Prasad Gupta, the Kashi Vidyapith was inaugurated by Gandhi in Benares as a national institution of higher education on 10 February 1921. Among the first students of the new institution, Shastri graduated with a first-class degree in philosophy and ethics from the Vidyapith in 1925. He was given the title Shastri (“scholar”). The title was a bachelor’s degree awarded by the Vidyapith, but it stuck as part of his name.
Shastri enrolled himself as a life member of the Servants of the People Society (Lok Sevak Mandal), founded by Lala Lajpat Rai, and began to work for the betterment of the Harijans under Gandhi’s direction at Muzaffarpur. Later he became the President of the Society.
Shastri participated in the Salt Satyagraha in 1930. He was imprisoned for two and a half years. Later, he worked as the Organizing Secretary of the Parliamentary Board of U.P. in 1937. In 1940, he was sent to prison for one year, for offering individualSatyagraha support to the independence movement.
On 8 August 1942, Mahatma Gandhi issued the Quit India speech at Gowalia Tank in Mumbai, demanding that the British leave India. Shastri, who had just then come out after a year in prison, travelled to Allahabad. For a week, he sent instructions to the independence activists from Jawaharlal Nehru’s home, Anand Bhavan. A few days later, he was arrested and imprisoned until 1946. Shastri spent almost nine years in jail in total. During his stay in prison, he spent time reading books and became familiar with the works of western philosophers, revolutionaries and social reformers.
Political career (1947-64)
Following India’s independence, Shastri was appointed Parliamentary Secretary in his home state, Uttar Pradesh. He became the Minister of Police and Transport under Govind Ballabh Pant‘s Chief Ministership on 15 August 1947 following Rafi Ahmed Kidwai‘s departure to become minister at centre. As the Transport Minister, he was the first to appoint women conductors. As the minister in charge of the Police Department, he ordered that police use jets of water instead of lathis to disperse unruly crowds. His tenure as police minister (As Home Minister was called prior to 1950) saw successful curbing of communal riots in 1947, mass migration and resettlement of refugees.
In 1951, Shastri was made the General Secretary of the All-India Congress Committee with Jawaharlal Nehru as the Prime Minister. He was directly responsible for the selection of candidates and the direction of publicity and electioneering activities. He played an important role in the landslide successes of the Congress Party in the Indian General Elections of 1952, 1957 and 1962. In 1952, he successfully contested UP Vidhansabha from Soraon North cum Phulpur West seat and won getting over 69% of vote. He was believed to be retained as home minister of UP, but in a surprise move was called to Centre as minister by Nehru.
He was elected to Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh w.e.f. 3 April 1952. He served as the Minister of Railways and Transport in the Central Cabinet from 13 May 1952 to 7 December 1956. In September 1956, he offered his resignation after a railway accident atMahbubnagar that led to 112 deaths. However, Nehru did not accept his resignation. Three months later, he resigned accepting moral and constitutional responsibility for a railway accident at Ariyalur in Tamil Nadu that resulted in 144 deaths. While speaking in Parliament on the incident, Nehru stated that he was accepting the resignation because it would set an example in constitutional propriety and not because Shastri was in any way responsible for the accident.
As the Railway Minister Shastri installed the 1st Machine at Integral Coach Factory ICF Chennai on 20.02.1955.
In 1957, Shastri returned to the Cabinet following the General Elections, first as the Minister for Transport and Communications, and then as the Minister of Commerce and Industry. In 1961, he became Home Minister. As Union Home Minister, he was instrumental in appointing the Committee on Prevention of Corruption under the Chairmanship of K. Santhanam. During his tenure as Home Minister he created the famous “Shastri Formula” to contain the language agitations in the states of Assam and Punjab acceptable to all section of people. He handled well the Hazrathbal Mosque sacred missing relic incident in Jammu and Kashmir and the crises between the Chief Minister and his deputy in the state government of Kerala in 1962.
Prime minister of India (1964-66)
Jawaharlal Nehru died in office on 27 May 1964 and left a void. Then Congress Party President K. Kamaraj was instrumental in making Shastri Prime Minister on 9 June. Shastri, though mild-mannered and soft-spoken, was a Nehruvian socialist and thus held appeal to those wishing to prevent the ascent of conservative right-winger Morarji Desai.
In his first broadcast as Prime Minister, on 11 June 1964, Shastri stated:
“There comes a time in the life of every nation when it stands at the cross-roads of history and must choose which way to go. But for us there need be no difficulty or hesitation, no looking to right or left. Our way is straight and clear—the building up of a socialist democracy at home with freedom and prosperity for all, and the maintenance of world peace and friendship with all nations.”
Shastri retained many members of Nehru’s Council of Ministers. T. T. Krishnamachari was retained as the Finance Minister of India, as was Defence MinisterYashwantrao Chavan. He appointed Swaran Singh to succeed him as External Affairs Minister. He also appointed Indira Gandhi, daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru and former Congress President, as the Minister of Information and Broadcasting. Gulzarilal Nanda continued as the Minister of Home Affairs.
Shastri’s tenure witnessed the Madras anti-Hindi agitation of 1965. The government of India had for a long time made an effort to establish Hindi as the sole national language of India. This was resisted by the non-Hindi speaking states particularly Madras State. To calm the situation, Shastri gave assurances that English would continue to be used as the official language as long the non-Hindi speaking states wanted. The riots subsided after Shastri’s assurance, as did the student agitation.
Shastri continued Nehru’s socialist economic policies with central planning. He promoted the White Revolution – a national campaign to increase the production and supply of milk – by supporting the Amul milk co-operative of Anand, Gujarat and creating theNational Dairy Development Board.
He visited Anand on 31 October 1964 for inauguration of the Cattle Feed Factory of Amul at Kanjari. As he was keenly interested in knowing the success of this co-operative, he stayed overnight with farmers in a village, and even had dinner with a farmer’s family. He discussed his wish with Mr Verghese Kurien, then the General Manager of Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union Ltd (Amul) to replicate this model to other parts of the country for improving the socio-economic conditions of farmers. As a result of this visit, the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) was established at Anand in 1965
While speaking on the chronic food shortages across the country, Shastri urged people to voluntarily give up one meal so that the food saved could be distributed to the affected populace. However he ensured that he first implemented the system in his own family before appealing to the country. He went on air to appeal to his countrymen to skip a meal a week. The response to his appeal was overwhelming. Even restaurants and eateries downed the shutters on Monday evenings. Many parts of the country observed the “Shastri Vrat”. He motivated the country to maximize the cultivation of food grains by ploughing the lawn himself, at his official residence in New Delhi.
During the 22-day war with Pakistan in 1965, On 19 October 1965, Shastri gave the seminal ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kishan’ (“Hail the soldier, Hail the farmer”)slogan at Urwa in Allahabad that became a national slogan.
The Food Corporation of India was set up under the Food Corporation’s Act 1964. Also The National Agricultural Products Board Act.
Jai Jawan Jai Kisan
Former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri was one of those great Indians who has left an indelible impression on our collective life. Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri’s contribution to our public life were unique in that they were made in the closest proximity to the life of the common man in India. Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri was looked upon by Indians as one of their own, one who shared their ideals, hopes and aspirations. His achievements were looked upon not as the isolated achievements of an individual but of our society collectively.
Under his leadership India faced and repulsed the Pakistani invasion of 1965. It is not only a matter of pride for the Indian Army but also for every citizen of the country. Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri’s slogan Jai Jawan! Jai Kishan!! reverberates even today through the length and breadth of the country. Underlying this is the inner-most sentiments ‘Jai Hind’. The war of 1965 was fought and won for our self-respect and our national prestige. For using our Defence Forces with such admirable skill, the nation remains beholden to Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri. He will be remembered for all times to come for his large heartedness and public service.
Shastri continued Nehr policy of non-alignment but also built closer relations with the Soviet Union. In the aftermath of the Sino-Indian War of 1962 and the formation of military ties between the Chinese People’s Republic and Pakistan, Shastri’s government decided to expand the defence budget of India’s armed forces.
In 1964, Shastri signed an accord with the Sri Lankan Prime minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike regarding the status of Indian Tamils in the then Ceylon. This agreement is also known as the Sirima-Shastri Pact or the Bandaranaike-Shastri pact.
Under the terms of this agreement, 600,000 Indian Tamils were to be repatriated, while 375,000 were to be granted Sri Lankan citizenship. This settlement was to be done by 31 October 1981. However, after Shastri’s death, by 1981, India had taken only 300,000 Tamils as repatriates, while Sri Lanka had granted citizenship to only 185,000 citizens (plus another 62,000 born after 1964). Later, India declined to consider any further applications for citizenship, stating that the 1964 agreement had lapsed.
India’s relationship with Burma had been strained after the 1962 Military coup followed by the repatriation of many Indian families in 1964 by Burma. While the central government in New Delhi monitored the overall process of repatriation and arranged for identification and transportation of the Indian returnees from Burma, it fell under the responsibilities of local governments to provide adequate facilities to shelter the repatriates upon disembarkation on Indian soil. Particularly in the Madras State the Chief Minister during that time Mr. Minjur K. Bhaktavatsalam showed great care in rehabilitation of the returnees. In December 1965 Lal Bahadur Shastri made an official visit with his Family to Rangoon, Burma and re-established cordial relations with the country’s military government of General Ne Win.
War with Pakistan
Shastri’s greatest moment came when he led India in the 1965 Indo-Pak War.
In the utilization of our limited resources, we have always given primacy to plans and projects for economic development. It would, therefore, be obvious for anyone who is prepared to look at things objectively that India can have no possible interest in provoking border incidents or in building up an atmosphere of strife… In these circumstances, the duty of Government is quite clear and this duty will be discharged fully and effectively… We would prefer to live in poverty for as long as necessary but we shall not allow our freedom to be subverted.
Under a scheme proposed in June 1965 by British Prime MinisterHarold Wilson, Pakistan obtained 10%, in place of their original claim of 50% of the territory. But Pakistan’s aggressive intentions were also focused on Kashmir. When armed infiltrators from Pakistan began entering the State of Jammu and Kashmir, Shastri made it clear to Pakistan that force would be met with force. In September 1965, major incursions of militants and Pakistani soldiers began, hoping not only to break down the government but incite a sympathetic revolt. The revolt did not happen, and India sent its forces across the Ceasefire Line (now Line of Control) and threatened Pakistan by crossing the International Border near Lahore as war broke out on a general scale. Massive tank battles occurred in the Punjab, and while the Pakistani forces made some gains, Indian forces captured the key post at Haji Pir, in Kashmir, and brought the Pakistani city of Lahore under artillery and mortar fire.
On 17 September 1965, while the Indo-Pak war was on, India received a letter from China alleging that the Indian army had set up army equipment in Chinese territory, and India would face China’s wrath, unless the equipment was pulled down. In spite of the threat of aggression from China, Shastri declared “China’s allegation is untrue. If China attacks India it is our firm resolve to fight for our freedom. The might of China will not deter us from defending our territorial integrity.” The Chinese did not respond, but the Indo-Pak war resulted in some 3–4,000 casualties on each side and significant loss of material.
The Indo-Pak war ended on 23 September 1965 with a United Nations-mandated ceasefire. By that time, India had inflicted a crushing defeat on Pakistan. In a broadcast to the nation on the day the of ceasefire, Shastri stated:
“While the conflict between the armed forces of the two countries has come to an end, the more important thing for the United Nations and all those who stand for peace is to bring to an end the deeper conflict…. How can this be brought about? In our view, the only answer lies in peaceful coexistence. India has stood for the principle of coexistence and championed it all over the world. Peaceful coexistence is possible among nations no matter how deep the differences between them, how far apart they are in their political and economic systems, no matter how intense the issues that divide them.”
During his tenure as Prime Minister, Shastri visited many countries including Russia, Yugoslavia, England, Canada, Nepal, Egypt and Burma. Incidentally while returning from the Non Alliance Conference in Cairo on the invitation of then President of the Pakistan Ayub Khan to have lunch with him, Shastri made a stop over at Karachi Airport for few hours and breaking from the protocol Mr.Ayub Khan personally received him at the Airport and had an informal meeting during October 1964. After the declaration of ceasefire with Pakistan in 1965, Shastri and Pakistani President Muhammad Ayub Khan attended a summit in Tashkent (former USSR, now in modern Uzbekistan), organized by Alexei Kosygin. On 10 January 1966, Shastri and Khan signed the Tashkent Declaration.
Prime Minister Shastri died in Tashkent, at 2 AM on the day after signing the Tashkent Declaration, reportedly due to a heart attack, but people allege conspiracy behind the death. He was the first Prime Minister of India to die overseas. He was eulogised as a national hero and the Vijay Ghat memorial established in his memory. Upon his death, Gulzarilal Nanda once again assumed the role of Acting Prime Minister until the Congress Parliamentary Party elected Indira Gandhi over Morarji Desai to officially succeed Shastri.
Mystery behind Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death
Shastri’s sudden death immediately after signing the Tashkent Pact with Pakistan raised many questions in the minds of Indian citizens. The Prime Minister of India going to Tashkent for a pact and never coming back has not been accepted easily by Indian citizens. His health was fit as per his personal physician, Dr. R. N. Chugh, and he had no sign of heart trouble before.
Shastri’s sudden death has led to persistent conspiracy theories that he was poisoned. The first inquiry into his death, conducted by the Raj Narain Inquiry, as it came to be known, however did not come up with any conclusions, and today no record of this inquiry exists with the Indian Parliament’s library. It was alleged that no post-mortem was done on Shastri, but the Indian government in 2009, claimed it did have a report of a medical investigation conducted by Shastri’s personal physician, Dr. R. N. Chugh, and some Russian doctors. Furthermore, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) revealed that there was no record of any destruction or loss of documents in the PMO having a bearing on Shastri’s death. The Russian butler attending on Shastri at the time of his death was arrested for suspected poisoning but released later as per the news source. It was maintained that Shastri had died of cardiac arrest but his family insisted he was poisoned.
After Shastri’s death, aged 62, in Tashkent, USSR, on 11 January 1966, soon after signing the Tashkent Pact with Pakistan, his wife Lalita Shastri had alleged he was poisoned. An epic poetry book in Hindi titled Lalita Ke Aansoo written by Krant M. L. Verma was published in 1978. In this book, the tragic story about the death of Shastri has been narrated by his wife Lalita Shastri. There are still serious doubts surrounding the nature of his death. His son, Sunil Shastri, asked the government to unravel the mystery behind Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death. Raising doubts about the dark blue spots and cut marks on the abdomen of his father’s body after his death in 1966, Sunil asked how the cut marks appeared if a post-mortem had not been conducted.
When Shastri went to the USSR for the Tashkent talks, he wanted a promise from Ayub Khan that Pakistan would never use force in the future. But the talks did not proceed. What followed the next day was Shastri’s Death. The Indian Government released no information about his death, and the media then was kept silent. The possible existence of a conspiracy was covered in India by the Outlook magazine. A query was later posed by Anuj Dhar, author of CIA’s Eye on South Asia, under the Right to Information Act to declassify a document supposedly related to Shastri’s death, but the Prime Minister’s Office refused to oblige, reportedly citing that this could lead to harming of foreign relations, cause disruption in the country and cause breach of parliamentary privileges.Another RTI plea by Kuldip Nayar was also declined, as PMO cited exemption from disclosure on the plea. The home ministry is yet to respond to queries whether India conducted a post-mortem on Shastri, and if the government had investigated allegations of foul play. The Delhi Police in their reply to an RTI application said they do not have any record pertaining to Shastri’s death. The Ministry of External Affairs has already said no post-mortem was conducted in the USSR. The Central Public Information Officer of Delhi Police in his reply dated 29 July said, “No such record related to the death of the former Prime Minister of India Lal Bahadur Shastri is available in this district… Hence the requisite information pertaining to New Delhi district may please be treated as nil.” This has created more doubts.
The PMO answered only two questions of the RTI application, saying it has only one classified document pertaining to the death of Shastri, which is exempted from disclosure under the RTI Act. It sent the rest of the questions to the Ministry of External Affairs and Home Ministry to answer. The MEA said the only document from the erstwhile Soviet Government is “the report of the Joint Medical Investigation conducted by a team comprising Dr. R. N. Chugh, Doctor in-Attendance to the PM and some Russian doctors” and added no post-mortem was conducted in the USSR. The Home Ministry referred the matter to Delhi Police and National Archives for the response pertaining to any post-mortem conducted on the body of Shastri in India. Sunil Shastri, son of the former Prime Minister, called the transferring of application as “absurd” and “silly joke”. “He (Lal Bahadur Shastri) died as sitting Prime Minister. It sounds very silly that MHA is referring the matter of death of second Prime Minister of India to a district level police.” He also demanded that “It should be looked into by highest authorities like President, Prime Minister and home minister.”
Later, Gregory Douglas, a journalist who interviewed former CIA operative, Robert Crowley, over a period of 4 years, recorded their telephonic conversations and published its transcribe in a book titled, “Conversations with the Crow”. In the book, Crowley claimed that CIA was responsible for eliminating Dr. Homi Bhabha, Indian nuclear scientist whose plane crashed into Alps, when he was going to attend a conference in Vienna and Lal Bahadur Shastri, who died at Tashkent summit in 1966. Crowley said that USA was wary of India’s rigid stand on nuclear policy and then PM Lal Bahadur Shastri, who wanted to go ahead with nuclear tests. He also said that agency was more worried about collective domination of Indo-Russian over the region, for which a strong deterrent was required.
Family and Descendants
On 16 May 1928, Shastri married Lalita Devi of Mirzapur. He had six children, namely 1) Kusum Shastri, the eldest daughter, 2) Hari Krishna Shastri who was married to Vibha Shastri, 3) Suman Shastri, married to Vijay Nath Singh, 4) Anil Shastri who is married to Manju Shastri, 5) Sunil Shastri who is married to Meera Shastri. 6) Ashok Shastri was his youngest son who was in the corporate world and was married to Neera Shastri, a BJP politician. Unfortunately, the family lost him at an early age of 37. His sons Anil Shastri and Sunil Shastri are part of the Congress Party and BJP respectively. Shastriji’s grandson Siddharth Nath Singh (son of Suman Shastri) is an influential leader in BJP, as of 2014. Lal Bahadur Shastri’s grandson, Adarsh Shastri, used to work at Apple till 2013. He relinquished this job and contested the Indian General elections in 2014 from Allahabad for AAP (Aam Aadmi Party). Shastriji’s youngest grandson and senior BJP leader Neera Shastri’s son, Sameep Shastri is also a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Ramachandra Guha argued that Shastri shared little in common with his predecessor Jawaharlal Nehru. While Shastri preferred peace with Pakistan, writing to a friend after the Indo-Pakistani War in 1965 that the problems between both countries should be settled amicably, he had previously displayed a knack for taking quick and decisive actions during the war. He swiftly took the advice of his commanders, and ordered a strike across the Punjab border. This was in stark contrast to Nehru who in a similar situation in 1962, had refused to call in the air force to relieve the pressure on the ground troops. At the end of the conflict, Shastri flamboyantly posed for a photograph on top of a captured US-supplied Pakistani M48 Patton tank.
However, in common with Nehru, Shastri was a secularist who refused to mix religion with politics. In a public meeting held at the Ram Lila grounds in Delhi, a few days after the ceasefire, he complained against a BBC report which claimed that Shastri’s identity as a Hindu meant that he was ready for a war with Pakistan. He stated:
“While I am a Hindu, Mir Mushtaq who is presiding over this meeting is a Muslim. Mr. Frank Anthony who has addressed you is a Christian. There are also Sikhs and Parsis here. 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. Whereas Pakistan proclaims herself to be an Islamic State and uses religion as a political factor, we Indians have the freedom to follow whatever religion we may choose, and worship in any way we please. So far as politics is concerned, each of us is as much an Indian as the other.”
Kuldip Nayar, Shastri’s media advisor from 1960 to 1964, recalls that, during the Quit India Movement, his daughter was ill and he was released on parole from jail. However, he could not save her life because doctors had prescribed costly drugs. Later on in 1963, on the day when he was dropped from the cabinet, he was sitting in his home in the dark, without a light. When asked about the reason, he said as he no longer is a minister, all expenses will have to be paid by himself and that as a MP and minister he didn’t earn enough to save for time of need.
Although Shastri had been a cabinet minister for many years in the 1950s, he was poor when he died. All he owned at the end was an old car, which he had bought in instalments from the government and for which he still owed money. He was a member of Servants of India society (which included Gandhi, Lala Lajpat Rai, Gopal Krishna Gokhle) which asked all its members to shun accumulation of private property and remain in public life as servants of people. He was the first railway minister who resigned from office following a major train accident as he felt moral responsibility.
He inaugurated the Central Institute of Technology Campus at Tharamani, Chennai, in November 1964.
He inaugurated the Plutonium Reprocessing Plant at Trombay in 1965. As suggested by Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha, Shastri authorized the development of nuclear explosives. Bhabha initiated the effort by setting up the nuclear explosive design group Study of Nuclear Explosions for Peaceful Purposes (SNEPP).
He inaugurated the Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University at Hyderabad on 20 March 1965 which renamed as Acharya N. G. Ranga Agricultural University in 1996 and renamed again in July 2014 as Professor. Jayashanker Agricultural University and National Institute of Technology, Allahabad.
Lal Bahadur Shastri inaugurated the Jawahar Dock of the Chennai Port Trust & starts the construction work of Tuticorin Port (Now VOC Port Trust) in November 1964.
He inaugurated Sainik School Balachadi, in State of Gujarat. He laid the foundation stone of Almatti dam during the year ——– . Now the commissioned dam bears his name.
Several educational institutes, Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (Mussorie, Uttarakhand) is after his name.
Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management was established in Delhi by the ‘Lal Bahadur Shastri Educational Trust’ in 1995 as is one of the top business schools in India.
The Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute was named after Shastri due to his role in promoting scholarly activity between India and Canada.
In 2011, on Shastri’s 45th death anniversary, Uttar Pradesh Government announced to renovate Shastri’s ancestral house at Ramnagar in Varanasi and declared plans to convert it into a biographical museum.
The Almatti Dam is renamed as Lal Bahadur Shastri Sagar in Northern Karnataka built across the River Krishna. The foundation stone was laid by him.
MV Lal Bahadur Shastri a Cargo Ship is named after him.
RBI released coins in the denomination of Rs.5 during his birth century celebrations.
All India Lal Bahadur Shastri Hockey tournament is held every year since 1991 an major tournament in the field of Hockey.
The Left Bank Canal form the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam in AP is named Lal Bahadur Shastri Canal which is 295 km in Length.
Life size statues of Shastri are erected at Mumbai,Bangalore(Vidhana Soudha),New Delhi(CGO Complex),Almatti Dam Site,Ramnagar-UP, Hisar, Vizagapattinam,Nagarjuna Dam site.
Life size bust of Shastri are erected at Thiruvandram,Pune,Varanasi(Airport),Ahmedabad (lake side),Khrushetra,Shimla,Kasargod,Indore,Jalandar,Mhow,Uran.
Some Major Roads in the Cities of New Delhi,Mumbai,Pune,Puduchery,Lucknow and Allahabad bearing the name of the Legend.
Lal Bahadur Shastri Biography
Died: January 10, 1966
Achievements: Played a leading role in Indian freedom struggle; became Parliamentary Secretary of Pandit Govind Vallabh Pant, the then chief minister of Uttar Pradesh; became the Minister of Police and Transport in Pant’s Cabinet; appointed as the Railways and Transport Minister in the Central Cabinet; also held the portfolios of Transport & Communications, Commerce and Industry, and Home Ministry in the Central cabinet; became Prime Minister of India in 1964; led India to victory over Pakistan in 1965 war.
Lal Bahadur Shastri was the second Prime Minister of independent India. Though diminutive in physical stature he was a man of great courage and will. He successfully led country during the 1965 war with Pakistan. To mobilize the support of country during the war he coined the slogan of “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan”. Lal Bahadur Sastri also played a key role in India’s freedom struggle. He led his life with great simplicity and honesty and was a great source of inspiration for all the countrymen.
Lal Bahadur Shastri was born on October 2, 1904 at Mughalsarai, Uttar Pradesh. His parents were Sharada Prasad and Ramdulari Devi. Lal Bahadur’s surname was Srivastava but he dropped it as he did not want to indicate his caste. Lal Bahadur’s father was a school teacher and later on he became a clerk in the Revenue Office at Allahabad. Though Sharada Prasad was poor, he lived a life of honesty and integrity. Lal Bahadur lost his father when he was only one. Ramdulari Devi raised Lal Bahadur and her two daughters at her father’s house.
There is a very famous incident regarding Lal Bahadur Shastri’s childhood which took place when he was six years old. One day, while returning from school, Lal Bahadur and his friends went to an orchard that was on the way to home. Lal Bahadur Shastri was standing below while his friends climbed the trees to pluck mangoes. Meanwhile, the gardener came and caught hold of Lalbahadur Shastri. He scolded Lal Bahadur Shastri and started beating him. Lal Bahadur Shastri pleaded to gardener to leave him as he was orphan. Taking pity on Lal Bahadur, the gardener said, “Because you are an orphan, it is all the more important that you must learn better behavior.” These words left a deep imprint on Lal Bahadur Shastri and he swore to behave better in the future.
Lal Bahadur stayed at his grandfather’s house till he was ten. By that time he had passed the sixth standard examination. He went to Varanasi for higher education. In 1921 when Mahatma Gandhi launched the non-cooperation movement against British Government, Lal Bahadur Shastri, was only seventeen years old. When Mahatma Gandhi gave a call to the youth to come out of Government schools and colleges, offices and courts and to sacrifice everything for the sake of freedom, Lal Bahadur came out of his school. Though his mother and relatives advised him not to do so, he was firm in his decision. Lal Bahadur was arrested during the Non-cooperation movement but as he was too young he was let off.
After his release Lal Bahadur joined Kashi Vidya Peeth and for four years he studied philosophy. In 1926, Lal Bahadur earned the degree of “Shastri” After leaving Kashi Vidya Peeth, Lal Bahadur Shastri joined “The Servants of the People Society”, which Lala Lajpat Rai had started in 1921. The aim of the Society was to train youths that were prepared to dedicate their lives in the service of the country. In 1927, Lal Bahadur Shastri married Lalitha Devi. The marriage ceremony was very simple and Shastriji took only a charkha (spinning wheel) and few yards of Khadi in dowry.
In 1930, Gandhiji gave the call for Civil Disobedience Movement. Lal Bahadur Shastri joined the movement and encouraged people not to pay land revenue and taxes to the government. He was arrested and put in jail for two and a half years. In jail Shastriji became familiar with the works of western philosophers, revolutionaries and social reformers. Lal Bahadur Shastri had great self respect. Once when he was in prison, one of his daughters fell seriously ill. The officers agreed to release him out for a short time but on condition that he should agree in writing not to take part in the freedom ‘movement during this period. Lal Bahadur did not wish to participate in the freedom movement during his temporary release from prison; but he said that he would not give it in writing. He thought that it was against his self-respect to give it in writing.
After Second World War started in 1939, Congress launched “Individual Satyagraha” in 1940 to demand freedom. Lal Bahadur Shastri was arrested during Individual Satyagraha and released after one year. On August 8, 1942, Gandhiji gave the call for Quit India Movement. Lal Bahadur actively participated in the movement. He went underground but was later arrested. Lal Bahadur Shastri was released in 1945 along with other major leaders. He earned the praise of Pandit Govind Vallabh Pant by his hard work during the 1946 provincial elections. Lal Bahadur’s administrative ability and organization skills came to the fore during this time. When Govind Vallabh Pant became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, he appointed Lal Bahadur Shastri as his Parliamentary Secretary. In 1947, Lal Bahadur Shastri became the Minister of Police and Transport in Pant’s Cabinet.
Lal Bahadur Sastri was the General Secretary of the Congress Party when the first general elections were held after India became Republic. Congress Party returned to power with a huge majority. In 1952, Jawahar Lal Nehru appointed Lal Bahadur Shastri as the Railways and Transport Minister in the Central Cabinet. Lal Bahadur Shastri’s contribution in providing more facilities to travelers in third class compartments cannot be forgotten. He reduced the vast disparity between the first class and third class in the Railways. Lal Bahadur Shastri resigned from Railways in 1956, owning moral responsibility for a railway accident. Jawaharlal Nehru tried to persuade Shastriji but Lal Bahadur Shastri refused to budge from his stand. By his action Lal Bahadur Shastri set new standards of morality in public life.
In the next general elections when Congress returned to power, Lal Bahadur Shastri became the Minister for Transport and Communications and later the Minister for Commerce and Industry. He became the Home Minister in 1961, after the death of Govind Vallabh Pant. In the 1962 India-China war Shastriji played a key role in maintaining internal security of the country.
After the death of Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964, Lal Bahadur Shastri was unanimously elected as the Prime Minister of India. It was a difficult time and the country was facing huge challenges. There was food shortage in the country and on the security front Pakistan was creating problems. In 1965, Pakistan tried to take advantage of India’s vulnerability and attacked India. Mild-mannered Lal Bahadur Shastri rose to the occasion and led the country ably. To enthuse soldiers and farmers he coined the slogan of “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan”. Pakistan lost the war and Shastriji’s leadership was praised all over the world.
In January 1966, to broker peace between India and Pakistan, Russia mediated a meeting between Lal Bahadur Shastri and Ayub Khan in Tashkent, Russia. India and Pakistan signed the joint declaration under Russian mediation. Under the treaty India agreed to return to Pakistan all the territories occupied by it during the war. The joint declaration was signed on January 10, 1966 and Lal Bahadur Shastri died of heart attack on the same night.
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