Lal Bahadur Shastri was one of the most stellar leaders, India has ever had. He was the only prime minister of India who emphasized the idea of unity in the country. Lal Bahadur Shastri played a pivotal role in shaping India’s future in external affairs and introduced the famous slogan “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan” (Hail the soldier, hail the farmer).
He was born on October 2 1904 and died on January 11 1966, after the Tashkent agreement was signed between him and the then Pakistan president, Ayub Khan.
Let us acknowledge 10 lesser known facts about Lal Bahadur Shastri on his 53rd Death Anniversary:
- Lal Bahadur Shastri was born as Lal Bahadur Varma. He was a believer of equality and considered caste system a social evil that creates divide. Therefore, Lal Bahadur Shastri gave up his family name at an early age. It was only after joining the Kashi Vidyapeeth and after getting a degree in Philosophy, he received the epithet ‘Shastri’.
- Caste system was not the only social evil Lal Bahadur Shastri was fighting against. He also raised his voice against the dowry system and refused to accept anything from his wife’s family at his wedding. It was only after repeated requests from his father-in-law, he took few meters of Khadi cloth as a wedding gift.
- Shastri promoted the White Revolution, a nationwide campaign for increasing milk production; he also supported the Amul milk cooperative based at Anand, Gujarat and created the National Dairy Development Board.
- Taking inspiration from Mohandas Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lal Bahadur Shastri gave up his studies to join the freedom movement in 1921.
- Shastri alsointegrated the idea of the Green Revolution, a national phenomenon, to boost demand and propel India’s food production.
- Being a part of the freedom movement landed up him in jail quite often which is why he had to be on parole of 15 days when his daughter fell sick. He was there with her when she succumbed to the disease. But, without waiting any longer and even after having some parole time at hand, he went back to jail soon after performing his daughter’s last rites.
- After India’s independence, Govind Ballabh Pant took over as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and he appointed Shastri as the Minister of Police and Transport Control. As the in charge of the transport department, Shastri brought about a meaningful change by appointing women as conductors for the first time. As the in charge of the police department, he replaced the traditional ‘lathis’ with water jets to put crowds under control. He was also successfully able to control communal riots of 1947.
- A man with high self-esteem and morals, Shastri did not own a car even after becoming the Prime Minister of India. After pestering from family members, Shastri finally asked his secretary to find out the price of a Fiat car. The cost turned out to be Rs. 12,000 and Shastri was short of Rs. 5000. As a result, he applied for a car loan which was sanctioned to him in a jiffy. The bank officer was immediately summoned and inquired whether the bank was equally swift in sanctioning of loans to other customers too.
- When Shastri was completing his term in prison, his wife received a pension of Rs. 50 every month. Once, when his wife visited him in the jail and told him that she was able to save Rs. 10 from the pension, he got annoyed and asked the Servants of People’s Society to cut down his pension and give that Rs. 10 to someone needy family.
- He led the country during the tough times of Indo-Pakistani war of 1965; On January 10, 1966, Shastri signed the Tashkent Declaration with the Pakistani president, Muhammad Ayub Khan, to end the 1965 war.
Mystery still looms over the death of India’s second prime minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri.
After 53 years of his Mysterious death, Bollywood is all set to give a true account of the Exemplary Leader’s great life and suspicious death. His biography named “The Tashkent Files” directed by Vivek Agnihotri is all set to be released in the year 2019.
While the movie and mystery are still to unleash, what stands true and clear about Shastri is the Integrity and Thoughtfulness he exhibited as a leader.
Chhattisgarh Times pays its Heartfelt Tribute to one of Mother India’s greatest sons!
Written and Edited by: Avinash Rochwani