Lal Bahadur Shastri was a prominent Indian politician and the second Prime Minister of India. He was born on October 2, 1904, in Mughalsarai, Uttar Pradesh, India, and he passed away on January 11, 1966, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
His Childhood life
His father, Sharada Prasad Srivastava, was a school teacher. He passed away when Lal Bahadur Shastri was very young, leaving his mother to raise him and his siblings. In his early years, Shastri faced money problems, but he stayed determined to go to school and get an education. Despite facing poverty, Lal Bahadur Shastri had a happy childhood. He had to walk barefoot for long distances to attend school, even in scorching heat. He adopted the surname “Shastri” after completing his graduation from Kashi Vidya Peeth in honor of his scholarly achievements.
Shastri became actively involved in the Indian independence movement during his college years. As he grew older, he became passionate about India’s struggle for freedom from British rule, inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. He joined Mahatma Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement in the 1920s and participated in various protests and agitations against British rule. Shastri played a crucial role in the Salt Satyagraha and was arrested by the British authorities multiple times.
After India gained independence in 1947, Shastri held various ministerial positions in the government of India. He actively served as the Minister of Police and Transport in Uttar Pradesh and later assumed the role of the Minister of Railways and Transport in the central government. Shastri’s simplicity, integrity, and dedication to public service were well-known.
Lal Bahadur Shastri became the Prime Minister of India on June 9, 1964, following the sudden death of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. His tenure as Prime Minister was marked by several challenges, including the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. Shastri’s leadership during the war earned him the respect and admiration of the Indian populace. Shastri is best remembered for coining the slogan “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan” (Hail the Soldier, Hail the Farmer) during the 1965 war, which captured the spirit of the nation. He also initiated the “White Revolution” in India, focusing on increasing milk production and making the country self-sufficient in dairy products. His leadership during the 1965 Indo-Pak War and the subsequent Tashkent Agreement is considered one of his most significant achievements.
Honors and Tributes
In honor of his contributions to the nation, several institutions, roads, and public spaces have been named after Lal Bahadur Shastri across India. The Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, is a renowned institution for training Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers. The Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, founded in his memory, promotes academic and cultural exchange between India and Canada Every year on October 2nd, Lal Bahadur Shastri’s birth anniversary, the nation pays homage to him, with leaders and citizens remembering his contributions. The Shastri Jayanti is celebrated with various events and programs across India. His memorial, Vijay Ghat, in New Delhi, is a place of reverence for people from all walks of life.
Shastri characterized his foreign policy with non-alignment and actively worked to maintain India’s neutral stance during the Cold War. His diplomatic efforts, including the signing of the Tashkent Agreement, aimed at resolving conflicts peacefully and promoting peace and stability in the region. Apart from his political career, Shastri was a prolific writer and a poet. He wrote in Hindi and Urdu under the pseudonym “Vijay.” His writings often reflected his thoughts on social issues, patriotism, and the need for self-reliance.
Tragically, Lal Bahadur Shastri passed away on January 11, 1966, in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, shortly after signing the Tashkent Agreement with Pakistani President Ayub Khan, which brought an end to the 1965 war. The cause of his death remains a subject of speculation and controversy.