Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Prime Minister who died Poor.... Lal Bahadur Shastri !!!

"There comes a time in the life of every nation when it stands at the cross-roads of history and must choose which way to go. But for us there need be no difficulty or hesitation, no looking to right or left. Our way is straight and clear—the building up of a socialist democracy at home with freedom and prosperity for all, and the maintenance of world peace and friendship with all nations."
These are the words of Lal Bahadur Shastri - a man forgotten in time!

It is easy to remember leaders whose flamboyant pictures flash through our history books and the newspapers... But Shastriji... you rarely find any picture of his where he has flanked a pose, or is dressed up candidly.

He is a man who could not(and did not want to) "buy" a place in history.

But we the people of India, how could we have been so foolish to take away even the place that he deserved.. There is so much to learn from his life.. and so much to ask about Shastriji's death.

Today if you ask Indian teenagers, they might not even identify a photo of Lal Bahadur Shastri.

Most of us know that 
Lal Bahadur Shastri, the second prime minister of India, died in Tashkent(former USSR, now in modern Uzbekistan) after supposedly two massive heart-attacks and that he is the only Indian Prime Minister who died abroad while in office.

Sadly, these are the only widely known facts about one of the Greatest Leaders our nation ever had.. and may not again have in centuries to come. 

This is all we know about a Man, who dedicated his life for our Nation. This is all we remember about a  life which could actually inspire Indians to take this country on a progressive path.. 

His stature has obviously been sidelined by today's people and more specifically politicians, who decide the our history curriculum.. because they cannot live up to his level of simplicity, austerity and nobleness.

Lal Bahadur Shastri Working in flight while Travelling with his wife
Working even while travelling with his wife
Following is a short bullet-point list of facts about this great man :
  •  While in Varanasi, Shastriji once went with his friends to see a fair on the other bank of the Ganges. On the way back he had no money for the boat fare. Instead of borrowing from his friends, he jumped into the river and swam to the other bank.
  • He also dropped his surname Srivastava as it indicated his caste and he was against the caste system.
  • During the independence movement, while he was in prison, one of his daughters had fallen seriously ill. He sought permission and was released for fifteen days, provided that he would not take part in the freedom movement activities. Unfortunately, his daughter passed away even before he could reach home. After performing the funeral rites, he voluntarily returned to prison, even before the expiration of the period. (Many of us think it foolish to do so... but that, my friends, is called HONESTY... Keeping word is difficult.. and had it been a leader of present India.. or even you and me, we would have undoubtedly acted otherwise)
    A year later, he again asked for permission to go home for a week, as his son was ill.  The British people would obviously grant it, given his previous conduct. However, his son could not recover during his 1 week stay at home.He kept his promise to the jail officers and returned to the prison nevertheless.
  • Although he handled the Railway portfolio very well, when he was the Railway Minister in 1956, 144 passengers died in an accident that took place near Ariyalur in Tamil Nadu. Just three months before this, an accident had occurred at Mehboob Nagar in which 112 people died. Lal Bahadur was in no way responsible for these accidents. Yet he could not escape the moral responsibility for them. He had submitted his resignation letter to Pandit Nehru when the Mehboob Nagar accident took place. But Nehru had not accepted it. But when the Ariyalur accident took place Shastriji insisted on leaving his post as the Railway minister (just think of today's govt., they seldom take moral responsibility, and don't step down even if the opposition demands.)
  • People used to call him the homeless Home Minister because he did not own a house of his own.  Even when he was a minister, he used to stay in a rented house when he went to Allahabad. After a few days the owner of the house let it out to another family. When he resigned as a minister, he vacated the government quarters and he did not have a house to stay!!!
What I have listed above are a few documented parts of his simplicity. He was a great leader and a tough Prime Minister too. Unlike Nehru, he dealt with Pakistan in a very effective manner.
Lal Bahadur Shastri made the Pakistani Army to retreat from Rann of Kutch in 1965. Addressing the nation on 13th August 1965 Shastriji referred to Pakistan's threats and said, 
"Force will be met with force." 
Two days later, during the celebration of Independence day, he declared from the ramparts of the Red Fort: 
"It does not matter if we are destroyed. We will fight to the last to maintain the high honor of the Indian nation and its flag."
When China Intimidated India on basis of false allegations, Shastriji said : 
"China's allegation is untrue. If China attacks India it is our firm resolve to fight for our freedom. The might of China will not deter us from defending our territorial integrity."
Lal Bahadur Shastri Signing The Treaty at Tashkent
Shastriji Signing the treaty at Tashkent.... one of his last photographs

After the declaration of ceasefire with Pakistan, Shastri and Pakistani President Muhammad Ayub Khan attended a summit in Tashkent. 

Shastri never saw his homeland again. 
What came back to Mother India, was the shocking news of the death of its most devoted, humble and precious son...
....A son, the likeness of whom, She will probably never find again in the millions that are born on her soil.
There indeed is much more to Shastriji's life (and also his death) then I could describe here.
 Salutes to the Great Hero... !!!

Sources :


Jag said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vishant Pachisia said...

Your posts are genuinely nice.
I love the theme of this blog. It makes you re-think of all the patriots who've been there and died for our country.
Amazing work. :)

priyanka said...

thank you Vishant for the encouraging remark... :)

Seema said...

wonderful post,thanks for sharing.

Priyanka Garg said...

Thank you Seema... We hope that the nation learns from Shastriji's life.. and we see many more leaders like him...