Under Shastri, India won the 1965 war with Pakistan and its contributions to Indian agricultural production are remarkable.
Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indian politician, statesman and freedom fighter was born on October 2, 1904 in the Mughalsarai of Uttar Pradesh. A devout secularist, Shastri was India’s second prime minister and even held key ministries like interior and railways in the Jawaharlal Nehru cabinet. Under Shastri, India won the 1965 war with Pakistan and its contributions to Indian agricultural production are remarkable.
On his 118th birthday, here are some facts about Lal Bahadur Shastri
Born Lal Bahadur Shrivastava, Shastri dropped his upper caste surname as he was deeply opposed to caste practices in the country.
Under Shastri’s rule, the White Revolution was promoted which saw the country increase its milk production exponentially within a few years.
Shastri was also instrumental in promoting the Green Revolution in India, the agricultural revolution which saw Indian food production rapidly increase in food producing states.
Deeply influenced by people like Mahatma Gandhi and others in the freedom struggle, Shastri would be frequently arrested and detained. His first arrest took place when he was only 17 years old. He also dropped out of school to participate in the liberation movement.
A devout secularist, Shastri refused to entertain religion with politics in India, even during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War.
Shastri’s social activism also extended to religious and cultural practices. He was deeply against practices like the dowry system, only accepting a small khadi cloth from his father-in-law after repeated requests.
Shastri was also a pragmatic political reformer. As Minister of Uttar Pradesh, he introduced the system of using water cannons to disperse crowds instead of batons. It also allowed women to be bus drivers.
Reputedly frugal, when he became Prime Minister, he had to apply for a bank loan of Rs 5,000 to buy his first car at the insistence of his family. After his loan was approved quickly, he asked if the ordinary person could also expect such fast processing.
He died a day after the signing of the Tashkent Accord, which formally ended the 1965 conflict between India and Pakistan. However, he died the next day and became the first Indian to posthumously receive the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour.
(Edited by : Sudarsanan Mani)