A Tribute to Lal Bahadur Shastri on his Birth Anniversary; “Little Dynamo of a Guy”

On October 2, 1904, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri was born in Mughalsarai, Uttar Pradesh, a little railway town seven miles from Varanasi. Lal Bahadur Shastri’s father was a school teacher who died when he was only a year and a half old. His mother, who was still in her twenties, moved to her father’s house with her three children.

Lal Bahadur Shastri’s involvement in the country’s struggle for independence from foreign domination intensified as he grew older. Lal Bahadur Sashtri was only eleven years old at the time, but he had already begun the process that would launch him on the national scene.

Lal Bahadur Shastri was a statesman from India who served as the country’s second Prime Minister. He later also supported the Amul milk cooperative in Anand, Gujarat, and established the Countrywide Dairy Development Board to promote the White Revolution, a national drive to improve milk production and supply.

When Gandhiji called on his countrymen to join the Non-Cooperation Movement, Lal Bahadur Shastri was sixteen years old. In response to the Mahatma’s exhortation, he chose to drop out of school right away. His mother’s aspirations were dashed by the choice. The family was unable to convince him to quit what they believed to be a destructive course of action. Lal Bahadur, on the other hand, had made up his mind. Those who knew him well understood that he would never change his views once he had made up his mind since he had the solidity of rock behind his smooth appearance.

Lal Bahadur Shastri became a member of the Varanasi-based Kashi Vidya Peeth, one of the several national institutes founded in resistance to British authority. There, he was influenced by the country’s most powerful intellectuals and nationalists. The Vidya Peeth awarded him a bachelor’s degree, which has become synonymous with his name.

Mahatma Gandhi defied the imperial salt prohibition by marching to the sea beach at Dandi in 1930. The symbolic gesture enraged the entire country. Lal Bahadur Shastri plunged himself into the fight for independence with ferocious zeal. He spearheaded a number of defiant campaigns and spent seven years in British prisons. His steel was tempered as he grew into manhood in the crucible of this fight.

The apparent humble and quiet Lal Bahadur Shastri’s matchless worth had already been recognised by the leader of the national struggle when the Congress came to power after Independence. This “little dynamo of a guy” was called upon to play a positive role in the country’s governance when the Congress Government was created in 1946. In his home state of Uttar Pradesh, he was named Parliamentary Secretary and climbed quickly to become Home Minister. In Uttar Pradesh, he gained known for his ability to work hard and efficiently.

In 1951, he came to New Delhi and served in the Union Cabinet as Minister for Railways, Minister for Transport and Communications, Minister for Commerce and Industry, Home Minister, and Minister without Portfolio during Nehru’s sickness. He was constantly rising in stature. He resigned as Minister of Railways because he thought he was to blame for a train tragedy that claimed numerous lives. Parliament and the rest of the country were blown away by the unusual gesture.

In a speech to Parliament on the incident, then-Prime Minister Pt. Nehru praised Lal Bahadur Shastri’s integrity and high principles. He said he accepted the resignation because it would set a good example in terms of constitutional propriety, not because Lal Bahadur Shastri was to blame for what had happened. “Perhaps because of my little size and soft tongue, people are likely to feel that I am not able to be particularly firm,” Lal Bahadur Shastri commented in response to the extended debate over the Railway catastrophe. Though I am not physically powerful, I believe I am not as weak on the inside.”

Lal Bahadur Shastri was a man of almost thirty years of committed service. During this time, he earned a reputation for being a trustworthy and capable individual. He was a man of the people who spoke their language, was humble, tolerant, and had immense inner power and resoluteness. He was also a visionary leader who steered the country forward. The political teachings of Mahatma Gandhi affected Lal Bahadur Shastri greatly. He once declared, in an accent eerily similar to his Master’s, that “hard work is comparable to prayer.” Lal Bahadur Shastri embodied the best of Indian culture and will remain an icon to the youths for ages.

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