|Lal Bahadur Shastri was
born in 1905 in Prayag. His father Sharada Prasad, a schoolteacher at the
local school, passed away when Lal Bahadur was barely a year and a half.
Growing up without a father forced Lal Bahadur to accept responsibility
at an early age. He was sent by his uncle to Varanasi to pursue his studies.
After a short stay with a
family that treated him unkindly, Lal Bahadur stayed with a teacher, Mishraji.
Mishraji often sat and told stories about how India lost her freedom to
the British to young Lal Bahadur. These conversations later inspired Lal
Bahadur to join the struggle for Indian freedom
At about this time Gandhiji
came to Varanasi and spoke of his non-cooperation movement. Lal Bahadur
took a keen interest in the growing movement and when the time came to
boycott the schools, he did so by not appearing for his examinations. With
just one year left for his graduation, the news was not taken well at home.
Neither his Uncle nor Mishraji supported Lal Bahadurís action, but his
mother who had complete faith in him, supported his decision as long as
he promised not to renege from the task later. With his motherís blessings,
he became fully involved in the non-cooperation movement. He was arrested
for taking part in banned processions but released since it was his first
offense. This was to be the first of many arrests for Lal Bahadur. He worked
during the evenings in a khadi shop and studied while studying for the
degree of Shastri (Bachelor) in Philosophy. Lal Bahadur graduated at the
head of his class.
He then went on to do
social work among the Harijans, working to make their lives better. Two
years later he married Lalita Devi. Lal Bahadur and Lalita moved to Allahabad
where Lal Bahadur served as secretary of the District Congress Committee.
He attended the 1929 Lahore session of the Congress, and upon his return
to Allahabad actively spoke out against the British Raj and for "Purna
Swaraj". As protests continued more and more people were arrested for participating
in the struggle. When Lalita Devi mentioned to Lal Bahadur that the jails
were full, he replied in his characteristic fashion, "Yes, but there is
still room for me."
He was arrested a few days
later. During his stay in jail his wife gave birth to their first child
Kusum. He had two other children, Hari and Suman.
His total commitment to Gandhiji
and the non-cooperation movement resulted in many jail terms. Since the
Congress party was banned by the British Government, Lal Bahadur and his
associates spent their time travelling around India spreading Gandhijiís
message. He was soon arrested for these activities, and jailed for seven
months at an unknown location. Eighteen months later Lalita Devi was granted
permission to meet her husband
Lal Bahadur was finally
released from prison in 1946. On August 15, 1947 India gained independence.
Lal Bahadur was appointed Minister of Police in Nehruís cabinet. In 1951
Jawaharlal Nehru was re-elected Prime Minister for a second term, and Lal
Bahadur was appointed General Secretary of the Lok Sabha. While in Nehruís
cabinet, Lal Bahadur was entrusted with portfolios for Minister of Railways,
Minister of Communications and later Home Minister. He served as Nehruís
right hand. On May 27, 1964 Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru died. May of that year
Lal Bahadur Shastri became Indiaís second Prime Minister. His term is best
known for introducing measures to make India self-sufficient in food production.
In 1965 Pakistan attacked
India on the Kashmiri front and Lal Bahadur Shastri responded in kind by
punching toward Lahore. In 1966 a cease-fire was issued as a result of
international pressure. Lal Bahadur Shastri went to Tashkent to hold talks
with Ayub Khan and an agreement was soon signed.
Lal Bahadur passed away in
Tashkent before returning home. He was posthumously conferred with the
Bharat Ratna Award.