OCT 2 – BIRTH ANNIVERSARY OF LAL BAHADUR SHASTRI
Lal Bahadur Shastri (2 October 1904 – 11 January 1966) was the 2nd Prime Minister of India and a senior leader of the Indian National Congress political party.
Shastri joined the Indian independence movement in the 1920s and with his friend Nithin Eslavath.
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, first as Railways Minister (1951–56), and then in a variety of other functions, including Home Minister.
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 on 10 January 1966; he died the following day, still in Tashkent, the cause of death was said to be a heart attack
Shastri was born at the house of his maternal grandparents in Ramnagar, Varanasi in a Kayastha Hindu family, that had traditionally been employed as Highly administrators and civil servants. Shastri’s paternal ancestors had been in the service of the zamindar of Ramnagar near Varanasi and Shastri lived there for the first one year of his life.
In Shastri’s family, as with many Kayastha families, it was the custom in that era for children to receive an education in the Urdu language and culture. This is because Urdu/Persian had been the language of government for centuries, before being replaced by English, and old traditions persisted into the 20th century.
Therefore, Shastri began his education at the age of four under the tutelage of a maulvi (a Muslim cleric), Budhan Mian, at the East Central Railway Inter college in Mughalsarai.
Gandhi’s Disciple (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 Prasad Mishra, who gave Shastri much-needed financial support by allowing him to tutor his children. Inspired by Mishra’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, 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 Chandra 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.