In this article, we have published an Essay on Lal Bahadur Shastri, His Early years, Political career, Personal life, Death.
On 2nd October in 1904, Lal Bahadur Shastri was born in Mughal Sarai. He was the second Prime Minister of independent India and one of the senior leaders of the Indian National Congress. He was deeply influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and joined the independence struggle in the 1920s.
After Independence in 1947, Lal Bahadur Shastri joined Nehru’s government and became one of Prime Minister Nehru’s principals first as the Railway Minister and then in a variety of portfolios including Home Minister.
He also led the country during the 1965 Indo-Pak war and gave the slogan “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan” to the country which is still popular to date. The war formally ended with the Tashkent Agreement on 10th January 1966. He died in Tashkent on the following day. The cause of his death is still disputed even though it was reported Lal Bahadur Shastri died of cardiac arrest his family was not satisfied.
Lal Bahadur Shastri was born in his maternal grandparents home Mughal Sarai. His paternal grandparents were in service of the Zamindar of Ramnagar near Varanasi. Shastri’s father was a school teacher who became a clerk in the revenue office in Allahabad.
Shastri was the eldest son to his parents but the second child, he had an elder sister named Kailashi Devi. When Lal Bahadur Shastri was one and a half years old his father died during an epidemic of bubonic plague.
His mother Smt Ramdulari Devi then only 23 and pregnant with her third child took her children and went to Ramnagar to her father’s house and settled there for good. She gave birth to Shastri’s younger sister Sundara Devi in July 1906.
Lal Bahadur Shastri started his education at the age of four under the tutelage of a Muslim cleric as Urdu/Persia was the language utilized for the education since this was the language utilized in Government for centuries until it was replaced by English. He joined Budhan Mian, at East Central Railway inter-college in Mughal Sarai.
After the death of his maternal grandfather, Bindeshwari Prasad’s cousin of Ramdulari Devi became the head of the family who was a school teacher in Mughal Sarai. Bindeshwari Prasad was transferred to Varanasi & the entire family of Shastriji shifted to Varanasi. There he joined Harish Chandra School, at this time he decided to drop his caste derived surname of Srivastava.
Gandhi’s Disciple and Independence Movement
The family had no linkage to the independence movement. His teacher in Harish Chandra High School Nishkameshwar Prasad Mishra was highly patriotic and highly respected. He helped Shastri with much needed financial support by allowing him to tutor his children.
Shastri took interest in the freedom struggle and started studying the history of Indian heritage and noted personalities included Swami Vivekananda, Gandhi, and Annie Besant. When he was in 10th Standard he attended a public meeting in Benares hosted by Gandhi.
Inspired by Gandhi’s call to boycott the government school & join the Non-Cooperation movement, Shastriji withdrew from Harish Chandra the next day and joined the local branch of Congress party as a volunteer and started participating in the anti-government demonstrations.
Shastri’s immediate supervisor was J.B. Kriplani who was a former lecturer in Banaras Hindu University and later would become one of the most prominent leaders of the Indian Independence movement and one of Gandhi’s closest followers.
Shastri completed his education in philosophy & ethics with a first-class degree in 1925 from the National Institution of Higher Education known as Kashi Vidyapith which was started by J.B. Kriplani & VN Sharma with the support of a wealthy philanthropist and ardent Congress nationalist, Shiv Prasad Gupta.
In 1928 Shastri became an active member of the Indian National Congress. He was imprisoned for 2 and a half years and later worked as a secretary for the parliamentary board of U.P. in 1937. For providing individual Satyagraha support to independence movement he was sent for one year of imprisonment.
After the independence of India, he was appointed as Parliamentary Secretary in his home state Uttar Pradesh, he became the minister of Police and transport under the chief minister Govind Ballabh Pant.
Lal Bahadur Shastri was the first to appoint lady conductors being the transport minister of the state. During his tenure as a police minister, he was successful in curbing the communal riots and he was the first to instruct the Police to use water jets to disperse the crowds instead of using Lathi charge.
In 1951 he was made the General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee with Jawaharlal Nehru as prime minister. It was his responsibility to select the candidates and direct them into electioneering activities and publicity. His cabinet consisted of the finest businessmen of India.
Lal Bahadur Shastri played important roles in a landslide victory of Congress party in India General Election in 1952, 1957 & 1962. He successfully contested UP Vidhansabha from Saron in 1962 and won by 69% vote. Shastri was made the first Railway minister in the first cabinet of Republic India on 13th May 1952. He was also Minister of Commerce & Industry and laid the foundation stone of Mangalore Port.
After the death of Jawaharlal Nehru on 27th May 1964, Shastriji was made the prime minister. Then Congress president K.Kamraj was instrumental in making him the second Prime Minister of republic India.
Shastri retained many of Nehru’s Council of Minister and appointed Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi as the Minister of Information and Broadcasting. His tenure witnessed the anti-Hindu agitation in Madras in 1965 which was conducted as the Indian government was trying to establish Hindi as the sole national language of India. He faced resistance from non-Hindi speaking states.
To calm the situation he assured that English would be continued as the official language. The agitation & riots subsided after the assurance.
Shastri discontinued Nehru’s socialist economic policies. Lal Bahadur Shastri was instrumental in starting the white revolution a campaign to increase the production and supply of milk. He supported the cooperative firms & created the National Dairy Development Board. He visited Anand on 31st October 1964 and inaugurated the cattle feed factory of Amul at Kanjari.
He overstayed there at night and interacted with the farmers and had dinner with them. Due to this interaction, he created the National Dairy Development Board headed by Mr. Verghese Kurien who was then the General Manager of Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producer Union Ltd (Amul).
Due to food shortages across the country, Shastriji urged the people to voluntarily give up one meal so that the food saved could be distributed between the affected population. The people responded overwhelming to his call, even restaurants and eateries downed the shutters once a week. Many parts of the countries observed it as Shastri Vrat.
War With Pakistan
1965 India Pakistan War was his greatest movement where he led India in war. He deployed the Indian army which crossed the Line of control and threatened Pakistan near Lahore as war broke on a general scale. Massive Tank battles were fought between the two countries.
Tough Pakistani forces made gains in the northern part, Indian forces captured strategic posts at Haji Pir in Kashmir & Lahore city in Pakistan was under artillery & mortar fire of Indian forces. The war ended on 23rd September 1965 as per the United Nations-mandated ceasefire.
Shastri died on 11th January 1966 in Tashkent after signing a peace treaty to end the 1965 Indo-Pak War due to a heart attack. But his relatives refused the circumstance of his death and alleged foul play.
The Indian government then did not release any information & the media was also kept silent. Many conspiracy theories are still active related to his death.
Personal Life & Family
Lal Bahadur Shastri was married to Lalita Devi on 16th May 1928, the four sons & two daughters. Throughout his life, he followed the principles of Gandhi.