Born into a modest family in Uttar Pradesh, Shastri’s life exemplified Gandhian ideals. His political rise was fueled by dedication to public service, evident in his unwavering commitment to India’s freedom struggle. From grassroots activism to leading ministerial roles, Shastri’s quiet resolve earned him widespread respect.
Lal Bahadur Shastri was born on October 2, 1904 at Mughalsarai, a small railway town seven miles from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. His father was a school teacher who died when Lal Bahadur Shastri was only a year and half old. His mother, still in her twenties, took her three children to her father’s house and settled down there.
Lal Bahadur’s small town upbringing was not fascinating in any way but he had a happy enough childhood despite the poverty that tormented his life. As he grew up, Lal Bahadur Shastri became more and more interested in the country’s struggle for freedom from colonial rule. A sixteen year old’s unwavering resolve to give up his studies in response to the Independence’s clarion call shattered his mother’s hopes. He went on to complete his higher studies in Kashi Vidya Peeth in Varanasi which earned him the title of ‘Shastri’ but it has stuck in the minds of the people as part of his name.
After India gained independence, Shastri ji has played a constructive role in development of the country. Later in 1947, Shastri ji joined the government of Jawaharlal Nehru. He held several important portfolios, including Minister of Railways and Transport, Minister of Commerce and Industry, and Minister of Home Affairs. Shastri ji was known for his administrative skills and his ability to get things done. To quote an incident from his life, Shastriji was declared rail minister in the Union government on May 23,1952. However, a rail accident took place that caused casualty and as a result, he resigned from the position on moral grounds. He has many facts attached to his humble and tolerant persona from rejecting privileges as a Prime Minister to accepting a spinning wheel and a few yards of hand spun cloth as wedding gift reflecting the importance of self-reliance even in those times.
The title ‘little dynamo of a man’ matches the stature he showed during the toughest time, India has faced as a nation that is the Indo-China war in 1962 and Indo-Pak war in 1965. His leadership won not just on the battlefield but also ruled people’s hearts for many years after his unfortunate demise. The slogan given by him during Indo-Pak war “Jai Jawan and Jai Kisan” to mobilize Indians will always invoke passion and vigour in times of distress.
His Vision led to important movements of agriculture history of India has ever seen namely the Green revolution and the White revolution to foster growth towards becoming self-reliant in food grain and milk production after facing dejection from western power. The main motive of the Green revolution was to increase the production of food grains especially the cultivation of wheat and rice. The Green revolution was first introduced in 1966-67 thereby spread to other parts of the country in no time. Whereas, the White revolution to increase the production and supply of milk in the country. Tremendous success of his initiative led to the creation of the National Dairy Development Board.
Lal Bahadur Shastri was the Prime Minister of the country for just 19 months. But in these 19 months, he made the world realize India’s power. His death under mysterious circumstances in Tashkent, day after he signed the peace accord with Pakistan to end the war led to the birth of many conspiracy theories around the real cause of his death but none of them could afloat. There has also been no official investigation over the cause of death. Much has been said about the greatness of Shastri ji and his visionary leadership but to imbibe his moral high ground and the integrity he carried as a politician will the best tribute from his countrymen.