Lal Bahadur Shastri, the second Prime Minister of independent India, was a man of exceptional will-power. In 1965, he successfully led India through Indo-Pakistan War. He popularized the slogan ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’. This soft-spoken, yet bold leader who was against the prevailing caste and dowry system, also effectively tackled basic issues like poverty, unemployment and food-shortage.
Lal Bahadur Shastri, (born Oct. 2, 1904, Mughalsarai, India—died Jan. 11, 1966, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, U.S.S.R.) was the second Prime Minister of India. He shares his birthday with Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation. A member of Mahatma Gandhi’s noncooperation movement against British government in India, he was imprisoned by the British. Upon his release from prison, he studied at Kashi Vidyapeeth, Varanasi and was given the title of ‘Shastri’ (“learned in the scriptures”). After completion of his studies, he again flung himself whole-heartedly in India’s freedom struggle and was imprisoned several times. After independence, he was minister for home affairs and transport in Uttar Pradesh and later Minister of Railways at the central. A skillful mediator, he was made the Home Minister in 1961. After Nehru’s demise, he was elected as the Prime Minister of the country. He won great popularity for his role in dealing successfully with Indo-Pakistan War of 1965.
He is also fondly remembered for his famous slogan ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’, recognizing the need for self-sustenance and self-reliance as the pillars to build a strong nation. To deal effectively with the problem of food shortage, he asked experts to devise a long term strategy for country’s self-sufficiency in feeding its exploding population. It was the precursor to the ‘Green Revolution. Also, he had major part to play in the White Revolution as National Dairy Development Board was formed when he was the Prime minister of the country. He died of a heart attack after signing a “no-war” agreement with Pres. Ayub Khan of Pakistan in USSR and was succeeded as prime minister by Indira Gandhi, Nehru’s daughter.
He is the only incumbent Indian Prime Minister to have died overseas. Lal Bahadur Shastri was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award posthumously in 1966.
He was born on 2nd October, 1904, to Sharada Prasad Shrivastava and Ramdulari Devi, in Uttar Pradesh. In 1915, he became interested in the Indian nationalist movement after being inspired by the stories and speeches of national leaders. In 1928, he married Lalita Devi, and they had 6 children.
He became a local unit secretary of the Congress party in 1930, and the president of the Allahabad Congress Committee later. He actively participated in ‘Salt Satyagraha’. In 1942, the British government arrested and confined him. In 1937, he was elected to the UP Legislative Assembly. Before being elected as the PM of India, he served in various positions.
He resigned his PM post in 1956, and returned to the Cabinet in 1957. In 1966, he died a mysterious death abroad. Posthumously, he was awarded the Bharat Ratna award in 1966.