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Biography of Bharat Ratna “Lal Bahadur Shastri” complete biography for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Lal Bahadur Shastri


Lal Bahadur Shastri was one of those few Indian personalities who, born in an ordinary family, gained national recognition by their talents and sacrifice. Shastriji gave of his best to the service of his nation. Rising from the rank of an unknown worker, churning out cyclostyled copies of political leaflets at Anand Bhavan, Allahabad, to the position of highest rank as Prime Minister of India, Lal Bahadur continued to represent the poor and to symbolise the have-nots. Through him the politics of India acquired honour, integrity and dynamism. From nine years in prison to a spell of nineteen months and two days as Prime Minister, it is an unblemished record of personal and public honesty, of ceaseless striving for national interest. Under his leadership and guidance the masses of the country acquired a sense of full and vibrant nationhood.

Shastriji—a man of short stature, but of a magnificent soul—was born in 1904 on the 2nd of October, which is also, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, at Mughalsarai, a railway colony about seven miles from Benares. He was his parents’ first son and they dotted on him. The mother affectionately called him ‘Nanhe’ and ‘Bachva’. His father, Sharda Prasad Srivastava, was a school teacher in Kayastha Pathshala in Allahabad who subsequently became a Clerk in the Revenue Office at Allahabad. It was a lower middle-class Kayastha family of slender means. Lal Bahadur’s father died when he was barely a year and a half old. His widowed mother Ramdulari returned to her parents. f fe stayed at his grandfather’s house till the age of ten, and then came to Benares for his education, where he stayed with his maternal uncle. He studied at Harischandra High School, Benares. He showed promise in English and History but not in Arithmetic. In 1921, Lal Bahadur responded to Gandhiji’s call for Non-Cooperation and gave up his studies. Afterwards, he resumed his studies at the Kashi Vidyapeeth. He secured a first class degree (Shastri) in Philosophy in the year 1926. Among Lal Bahadur’s contemporaries at the Vidyapeeth were Algurai Shastri, Hariharnath Shastri, Balkrishna Keskar, Tribhuvan Narayan Singh, Vibhuti Misra and Rajaram Shastri.

In the year 1927 he was married to Lalita Devi of Mirzapur. As dowry, he refused to accept anything more than a spinning wheel and a little yarn.

Shastri was a true product of the Gandhian era. He was a staunch believer in peace, love, amity and non-violence. The deep influence of Gandhiji created in him the desire, as he himself said, “to rise purely on merit and good-work.” Gandhiji became a model for him to emulate. The principles of Truth and Non-Violence appealed to him most. He was a voracious reader and read all the books that came his way. He specially sought literature on lives of great men and patriots. Books on religion, philosophy and politics influenced him most. While in jail he read Kant, Hegel, Laski, Bertrand Russell, Huxley, Marx and Lenin. He had a passion for Urdu poetry. His interest in science is shown by his translation of the biography of Madame Curie in Hindi. Among his early associates, Tribhuvan Narayan Singh and Jawaharlal Nehru deserve special mention. Singh was his class fellow at school and the Vidyapeeth, and like him, gave up his studies for some time to take part in the Non-Cooperation Movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi in 1921. His association with Jawaharlal Nehru in the Congress organisation work and the Government was a long one. As early as 1929, the young Lal Bahadur had watched Nehru unfurling the flag of Independence on the banks of the Ravi. Earlier, as a schoolboy, he had read the speeches of Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, Lajpat Rai and Gokhale.

Many factors helped to shape the mind and personality of Lal Bahadur Shashi. His early childhood and youth were spent in the holy cities of Benares and Allahabad, which conditioned him for a life of orthodox devotion and moral purity. The early death of his father and the influence of his maternal uncle, Raghunath Prasad, fostered in him the qualities of humility, self-reliance and earnest endeavour, Lal Bahadur must owe to his uncle his devotion to niskam karma. His teacher Nishkameshwar Misra narrated to him the exploits of heroes and patriots like Rana Pratap and Shivaji. Dr. Bhagwandas, the Principal of the Vidyapeeth, inculcated in his mind, through his personal example, the Samanvayavada approach to life, showing how a person could achieve moral and spiritual greatness by simple living and high thinking.

In 1926, Lal Bahadur Shastri enrolled himself as a life member of the Servants of the People Society and began Harijan uplift work at Muzaffarpur. In the thirties he served on the Allahabad Municipal Board for seven years. He worked as the General Secretary of the Allahabad District Congress Committee in 1930 (later its President) as the General Secretary of the U.P. Provincial Congress Committee from 1935 to 1937. In 1936 he became Convener of a Committee appointed to study the question of land reforms in U.P. and he produced a masterly report within three years. In 1937 he was returned to the U.P. Legislative Assembly. Thereafter he worked as the Secretary of the U.P. Parliamentary Board and organised the elections most efficiently. By the year 1946, Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant had recognised his ability. He became the Chief Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary. Next year he was appointed Minister of Police and Transport. Shastriji carried out substantial reforms in both these fields.

From the early fifties, Lal Bahadur Shastri was made to function-from Delhi. In 1951 he was the General Secretary of the A.I.C.C., with Jawaharlal Nehru as the President. From 1951 to 1956 he was Minister of Railways and Transport.

When Shastriji resigned as a Railway Minister holding himself morally responsible for the serious Railway accident near Aryalur in the South, Pandit Nehru paid glowing tributes and praised him as, “A man of highest integrity, loyalty, devoted to ideals, man of conscience and a man of hard work”.

Lal Bahadur Shastri was utterly simple and unassuming in his behaviour, kind and gentle in his dealings and devout in character. He instinctively kept out of factional politics and remained uninvolved throughout. He listened to every point of view and made his own decisions firmly. He was methodical in his work and rarely lost his temper. He was a vegetarian and did not smoke or drink. He was so modest and lovable that he came to be looked upon by the masses as one of them. In his approach to any problem he was frank, clear and direct. He had a logical mind and inspired confidence in all. His genial and sympathetic nature won him friends all around.

From 1957 to 1961 he was again in the Central Cabinet and held several portfolios successively as Minister of Transport and Communications, Minister of Commerce and Industry and Home Minister. In the three Parliamentary elections of 1952, 1957 and 1962 he played a pivotal role in organizing the Congress Party campaign.

In the year 1964, on the death of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Shastri became the Prime Minister of India. He provided inspiring leadership to the nation during the Indo-Pak War of 1965.

On assuming the office of the Prime Minister of India, Lal Bahadur Shastri expressed his views on political, social and economic problems with perfect clarity. He wanted freedom and prosperity for all. He believed in a constant search for areas of agreement in the working of democracy. Pragmatism rather than dogma appeared to be the guiding principle of the Cabinet under his leadership as Prime Minister but one objective was constantly kept in mind. As he himself put it: “Socialism is cur objective.” He was always conscious of the problems of poverty and unemployment. He laid stress on strengthening the defence of the country and in honouring the man behind the plough. He did not want to take national unity and solidarity for granted, or be complacent about this sensitive issue.

Self-reliance was the basic economic philosophy of Shastriji. He looked upon economic development and the priorities connected with it as essential pre-requisites for a state of self-reliant economic growth. From this point of view he was as much a believer in economic planning as the most ardent planners amongst us. But he conceived of economic planning and economic development in terms much more concrete and humane than many of us are apt to do.

Shastriji showed utmost concern for upholding the dignity of office in the different assignments held by him through an exemplary character, proven integrity, honesty and above all, outstanding administrative ability. He continue, to be depicted as a man of towering personality, in spite of his paradoxically frail and short physical stature. It is his personality which made him a worthy successor to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The Nation proved its mettle and its moral strength under his stewardship to withstand the attack from her neighbour. Lal Bahadur Shastri displayed utmost courage in tackling the situation and the glorious victory registered by India, stands as an outstanding achievement of his time.

It was from that elevated level of national leadership that he gave the spontaneous and inspiring slogans “Jai Jawan” and “Jai Kisan” which galvanised the Kisans of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir, Rajasthan, Gujarat on the borders as well as the whole of India and the patriotic personnel of our Defence Forces. It was the Nation’s response to that leadership which broke the phalanxes of Patton Tanks supplied by United States to Pakistan.

Shastriji’s leadership of the country as Prime Minister of India is inscribed in letters of gold. How, under his leadership, India faced and repulsed the Pakistani invasion of 1965 is not a matter of pride for the Indian Army alone but also for every citizen of the country. Shastriji contributed to the nation’s political dictionary a slogan that vibrated throughout its length and breadth ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’. Underlying this inner-most sentiment ‘Jai Hindustan’, the war of 1965 was fought and won for our self-respect and our national prestige. For using our Defence Forces with such admirable skill, the nation remains beholden to Shastriji.

At Tashkent he had proved that while he could be a resolute war leader, he could make a better leader of peace, and that he was prepared to go a very long way to attain a great and noble objective. Lal Bahadur Shastri died at Tashkent on January 11, 1966 after negotiating a settlement with Pakistan. It was really unfortunate that this noble career full of laurels and promise was all on a suden snuffed out of existence at Tashkent on January 11, 1966, at a time, when the country was preparing to accord him a Hero’s welcome. A grief stricken, people bestowed on him, posthumously, the highest honour within their power to give him. President Dr. S. Radkakrishnan in his broadcast to the nation, commiserating with the people on their irreparable loss, announced the award of Bharat Ratna to Lal Bahadur.

He was not only a great son of India but he was also a noble soul. Lal Bahadurji always exhibited great courage of conviction. His policies were based on the highest ethical principles which, therefore, represented the continuation of the moral policy of Jawaharlal Nehru and the true spirit of Mahatma Gandhi.

Lal Bahadur Shastri will be remembered for all times to come for his large-heartedness and public service.


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