Lal Bahadur Shastri, the second Prime Minister of India, born on 2nd October 1904 (same birthday as Mahatma Gandhi), took over office at a crucial and precarious time for India. With the blow of 1962 Indo-China war exposing India’s then weak defenses and Pakistan making advances in Kashmir with the latest tanks, Shastri had a difficult job in hand but he proved to be the best person to handle it. Unlike his predecessor, Shastri was not hesitant in applying force and aggressive tactics to deal with the hostilities.
Honesty, integrity, hard work, determination, persistence and strong leadership defined Lal Bahadur Shastri and that is reflected in some historical facts about him:
- As a young man, once he swam across a river to go back home instead of borrowing money for boat fare.
- Voluntary returned to prison (during Independence struggle) after performing last rites of his daughter’s death.
- He refused dowry defying a strong tradition of one in 1920s and 1930s.
- Some historians say he started working at 5:30 in the morning and finish at mid night.
- Taking moral responsibility of a train accident, Shastri resigned from the post of Railway Minister.
- At the time of his death, his total assets were an old car that he purchased on installments.
His famous quotes
“If Pakistan has any ideas of annexing any part of our territories by force, she should think afresh. I want to state categorically that force will be met with force and aggression against us will never be allowed to succeed.”
To motivate farmers and soldiers at the time of food shortage and war:
“Jai Jawan Jai Kisan” (Hail the solider, hail the farmer)
What can our current political leaders learn from him?
(Some consider Shastri the 3rd Prime Minister of India because Nanda served as the interim PM after Nehru’s death while Congress can decide the PM )
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