The Biography of Famous Personalities of India will tell you about the controversies, the dark sides of a person that you may have never heard of.
Introduction, Birth and Family History of Lal Bahadur Shastri
JAI JAWAN, JAI KISAN
Lal Bahadur Shastri was the second Prime Minister of independent India. He succeeded Jawaharlal Nehru as Prime Minister of India in 1964. He was a significant figure in India’s struggle for independence.
Lal Bahadur Shastri was born in Mughal Sarai on October 2, 1904. His parents were Sharada Prasad Srivastav and Ramdulari Devi. Shastri dropped his caste identity in his early years. His father died when he was only an infant. His mother with the help of her father took care of the children.
He acquired virtues like boldness, love of adventure, patience, self-control, courtesy, and selflessness in his childhood itself.
He abandoned his studies to take part in the Non¬Cooperation movement started by Mahatma Gandhi in 1921.
He was given the title ‘Shastri’ at Kashi Vidyapeeth in 1926. During his four years’ stay there, he was very much influenced by the lectures of Dr. Bhagawandas on philosophy. In his later life, Shastri displayed poise in the midst of conflict and confusion which he learnt from his teachers.
After coming out from Kashi Vidyapeeth, he became the life-member of ‘The Servants of the People Society’ which was founded by Lala Lajpat Rai in 1921. The aim of the society was to train youth who were prepared to dedicate their lives to the service of the country. Shastri earned the love and affection of Lajpat Rai by his earnestness and hard work. Later, he became the President of the society. In 1927, he married Lalita Devi who was from Mirzapur.
Lal Bahadur Shastri took a leading role in ‘Salt Satyagraha’ which was intensified by 1930. He also advised people not to pay land revenue and taxes to the British government. He was sent to prison for two and half years for doing so. From this time onwards, prison became his second home. He was sent to prison seven times and was forced to spend nine long years in various prisons on different occasions.
Going to prison became a blessing in disguise for him. He spent time reading a number of books. He became familiar with the works of western philosophers, revolutionaries, and social reformers. Shastri translated the autobiography of Madam Curie, a French scientist who discovered Radium, into Hindi. He was an ideal prisoner. The greatness of Shastri was that he maintained his self-respect even in prison.
After Independence, he became the Minister of Police in the ministry of Govind Vallabh Pant. In 1951, he was appointed as the General Secretary of Lok Sabha before regaining a ministerial post as Railways Minister. He resigned following a rail disaster near Ariyalur. He returned to the Cabinet following the general elections, first as Minister of Transport, and then in 1961, he became the Home Minister.
Jawaharlal Nehru died in office on May 27, 1964, and left something of a vacuum. Though eclipsed by such stalwarts of the Congress Party as Kamaraj, and Morarji Desai, the Finance Minister in Nehru’s government, Shastri emerged as the concensus candidate in the midst of the party warfare. The ruling Congress Party unanimously elected Shastri as its leader. He became the Prime Minister on June 9, 1964 at a very crucial time in the Indian history.
The first problem he had to face after becoming the Prime Minister was the one caused by Pakistan. After the Chinese aggression in 1962, when India’s confidence in her strength had been shaken, Pakistan was creating trouble along the borders. But Shastri would not yield to the wickedness of Pakistan. He first tried to earn the goodwill and support from other nations for India. He attended a meeting of the non- aligned nations and explained India’s position.
Pakistan was awaiting to swallow Kashmir into its territory. She pushed her forces across the eastern border into the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat in 1965. Shastri faced the problem with great tact. But later there was a large scale invasion of the territory by Pakistani soldiers which led to the break out of war along the ceasefire line on the Kashmir border. Addressing the nation on August 13, 1965, Shastri referred to Pakistan’s threats and announced, “Force will be met with force”.
Some big nations feared that if India won a total victory over Pakistan, it would lower their prestige. The Security Council of the United Nations Organisation called on India and Pakistan to stop war. On the invitation of Kosygin, the Premier of Soviet Russia, Shastri and Ayub Khan met in Tashkent on January 4, 1966. Shastri wished to give one more chance to Pakistan to live in peace and friendship with India so he signed the treaty of friendship.
Lal Bahadur Shastri signed the Joint Declaration on January 10, 1966, and mysteriously died the same night at Tashkent.
He was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna and a memorial was built for him in Delhi. The slogan, ‘Jaijawan, Jai kisan’ is attributed to Shastri. He was a star of great brightness in the history of India.
Birth and Family History
India will have to hang down her head in shame if even one person is left who is said in any way to be untouchable.
Lal Bahadur Shastri was born on October 2, 1904 in Uttar Pradesh at a place known as Mughal Sarai, a very well known city. Lal Bahadur’s father, Shri Sharda Prasad Srivastva was a school teacher. His mother Ram Dulari Devi was a religious lady. Interestingly, Lal Bahadur’s birthday falls on the same day as that of his mentor Mahatma Gandhi.
Srivastava was part of Lal Bahadur’s name. He dropped that part indicating his caste, when he grew up. He did not like such indications of caste. Lal Bahadur’s father, a poor teacher at first, became a clerk in the Revenue Office at Allahabad. Here, too, he earned very little. But, even though he was poor, he never accepted bribes. He lived a life of honesty and integrity. Unfortunately, Lal Bahadur could not have the love and affection of his father since he died prematurely when Lal Bahadur was only one and a half years old. Ram Dulari Devi felt as though the skies had come down on her. Her father gave shelter to her and her three children, a boy and two girls.
Lal Bahadur’s maternal grandfather Hazari Lal’s family was very large. His brothers, their wives and children, besides his own children and grand children, all lived under the same roof. It was like a small world in itself and Hazari Lal was the fountain of love and affection to all of them. He looked after every one in the family with love. He was especially fond of little Lal Bahadur. He always affectionately called him ‘Nanhe’ which means ‘tiny’ or ‘miniature’.
An interesting incident took place when Lal Bahadur was only three months old. The mother went to bathe in the holy Ganga with him. In the milling crowd at the bathing ghat she lost him. He had slipped from his mother’s arms into a cowherd’s basket. The cowherd had no children, so he took him as a gift from God and celebrated the event with great joy.
The mother was lost in grief. A complaint was lodged with the police. They traced him. The foster parents wept bitterly to give back the child. Thus, Lal Bahadur, who was destined to govern the country, narrowly missed the ‘good fortune’ of becoming a cowherd!
An incident, which took place when he was six years old, seems to have left a deep mark on his mind. Once he went to an orchard with his friends. He was standing below while his friends climbed the trees. He plucked a flower from a bush.
The gardener came in the meantime and saw Lal Bahadur. The boys on the trees climbed down and ran away. The gardener caught Lal Bahadur and beaten him severely.
Lal Bahadur wept and said, “I am orphan. Do not beat me.”
The gardener smiled with pity and said, “Because you are an orphan, you must learn better behaviour, my boy.”
The words of the gardener had a great effect on him. He swore to himself, “I shall behave better in future. Because I am an orphan I must learn good behaviour.”
Though short in stature and frail in body he was not timid at school. All boys were friendly with him. He always looked fresh and smiling. Not only during his school days but also in his later life he did not hate anyone.