Lal Bahadur Shastri

Lal Bahadur Shastri was born in Moghalsarai, on October 2, 1904. His parents were Sharada Prasad and Ramdulari Devi. His father died when he was only a year old. His mother with the help of her father took care of the children.

His abandoned his studies to take part in the non-cooperation movement started by Gandhi in 1921. He was given the title "Shastri" at Kashi Vidya Peetha in 1926. During his four years' stay there, he was very much influenced by the lectures of Dr. Bhagawandas on philosophy. After coming out from Kashi Vidya Peeth, he became the life-member of The Servants of the People Society which was started by Lala Lajpat Rai in 1921. The aim of the society was to train youth who were prepared to dedicate their lives to the service of the country. He became the President of the society. In 1927, Shastri married Lalitha Devi who was from Mirzalyur.

Lal Bahadur Shastri took a leading role in "Salt Satyagraha" which was intensified by 1930. He also advised people not to pay land revenue and taxes to the British government. He was sent to prison for two and half years for doing so. He was sent to prison seven times and was forced to spend nine long years in various prisons on different occasions. Going to prison became a blessing in disguise for him. He spent time reading number of books. He became familiar with the works of western philosophers, revolutionaries, and social reformers. He translated the autobiography of Madam Curie, a French scientist who discovered Radium, into Hindi. He was a ideal prisoner. The greatness of Shastri was that he maintained his self-respect even in prison.

After Independence, he became the Minister of police in the ministry of Govind Vallabh Panth. In 1951, he was appointed as the General Secretary of Lok Sabha before regaining a ministerial post as Railways Minister. He resigned following a rail disaster near Ariyalur. He returned to the Cabinet following the general elections, first as Minister of Transport, and then in 1961, he became the Home Minister.

Nehru died in office on May 27, 1964, and left something of a vaccum.Though eclipsed by such stalwarts of the congress party as Kamaraj, and Morarji Desai, the Finance Minister in Nehru's government, Shastri emerged as the consensus candidate in the midst of the party warfare. The ruling congress party Shastri unanimously as its leader. He became the Prime Minister on June 9, 1964.

The first problem he had to face after becoming the P.M was the one caused by Pakistan. After the Chinese aggression, when India's confidence in her strength had been shaken, Pakistan was creating trouble along the borders. But Shastriji would not yield to the wickedness of Pakistan. He first tried to earn the good-will and support from the other nations for India. He attended a meeting of non-aligned nations and explained India's position. Pakistan was awaiting to swallow Kashmir into its territory. She pushed her forces across the eastern border into the Rann of Kuch in Gujarat in 1965. Shastri faced the problem with great tact. But later there was a large scale invasion of the territory by Pakistani soldiers which lead to the break out of war along the cease-fire line on the Kashmir border. Addressing the Nation on 13th August 1965, Shastri referred to Pakistan threats and said, "Force will be met with force".

Some big Nations feared that if India won a total victory over Pakistan, it would lower their prestige. The Security Council of the United Nations Organization called on India and Pakistan to stop fighting. On the invitation of Kosygin, the Premier of Soviet Russia, Shastri and Ayub Khan met in Tashkent on January 4, 1966. Shastri wished to give one more chance to Pakistan to live in peace and friendship with India. So he signed the treaty of friendship.

Shastriji had suffered heart attacks twice before and during the period of Pakistan war and the following days his body had to bear a very heavy strain. He signed the Joint Declaration on 10th January 1966. He died the same night. Gone was the war hero and the messenger of peace, gone was the great statesman who restored to India her honor and self-respect in the assembly of nations.

He was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna and a memorial was built for him in Delhi. The slogan, "Jai jawan, Jai kisan" is attributed to Shastri. Lal Bahadur Shastri was a star of great brightness in the history of India.