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Lal Bahadur Shastri Phase in India

Lal Bahadur Shastri Phase in India

Introduction  [Lal Bahadur Shastri Phase in India]

  • Lal Bahadur Shastri was a senior leader of the Indian National Congress, a key figure in the Indian Independence movement, and India’s second Prime Minister.
  • He succeeded Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964, after the latter’s sudden demise. He is remembered for leading India though the Indo-Pakistan War in 1965, being relatively new to the high office.
  • He realised the need for self-sustenance and self-reliance in India, and raised the slogan ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ which he is remembered for even today. (Lal Bahadur Shastri Phase in India)

About Lal Bahadur Shastri

  • Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri was born on October 2, 1904 at Mughalsarai, a small railway town seven miles from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. His father was a school teacher who died when Lal Bahadur Shastri was only a year and half old. His mother, still in her twenties, took her three children to her father’s house and settled down there.
  • Lal Bahadur Shastri joined the Kashi Vidya Peeth in Varanasi, one of the many national institutions set up in defiance of the British rule. There, he came under the influence of the greatest intellectuals, and nationalists of the country. ‘Shastri’ was the bachelor’s degree awarded to him by the Vidya Peeth but has stuck in the minds of the people as part of his name.
  • During Shastri’s brief Prime Ministership, the country faced two major challenges. While India was still recovering from the economic implications of the war with China (1962), failed monsoons, drought and serious food crisis presented a grave challenge. The country also faced a war with Pakistan in 1965.
  • After the declaration of ceasefire, Shastri and Pakistani President Muhammad Ayub Khan attended a summit in Tashkent (former USSR, now in modern Uzbekistan), organised by Kosygin. On 10 January 1966, Shastri and Khan signed the Tashkent Declaration.   (Lal Bahadur Shastri Phase in India)
  • The next day Shastri, who had suffered two heart attacks earlier, died supposedly of a heart attack at 1:32AM. He was the only Indian Prime Minister, and indeed probably one of the few heads of government, to have died in office overseas. (Lal Bahadur Shastri Phase in India)

Role After Independence [Lal Bahadur Shastri Phase in India]

  • When the Congress came to power after Independence, the sterling worth of the apparently meek and unassuming Lal Bahadur Shastri had already been recognised by the leader of the national struggle.
  • When the Congress Government was formed in 1946, this ‘little dynamo of a man’ was called upon to play a constructive role in the governance of the country.  (Lal Bahadur Shastri Phase in India)
  • He was appointed Parliamentary Secretary in his home State of Uttar Pradesh and soon rose to the position of Home Minister. His capacity for hard work and his efficiency became a byeword in Uttar Pradesh.
  • He moved to New Delhi in 1951 and held several portfolios in the Union Cabinet – Minister for Railways; Minister for Transport and Communications; Minister for Commerce and Industry; Home Minister; and during Nehru’s illness Minister without portfolio. He was growing in stature constantly.
  • He resigned his post as Minister for Railways because he felt responsible for a railway accident in which many lives were lost. The unprecedented gesture was greatly appreciated by Parliament and the country.
  • Following Jawaharlal Nehru’s death on May 26th 1964, Shastri was appointed as his successor on June 9th in the same year. His Prime Ministership came as a result of the efforts of the then Congress party chief Minister K. Kamaraj.   (Lal Bahadur Shastri Phase in India)

Lal Bahadur Shastri As Second PM Of India (1964-66)

  • Shastri worked by his natural characteristics to obtain compromises between opposing viewpoints, but in his short tenure he was ineffectual in dealing with the economic crisis and food shortage in the nation.
  • However, he commanded a great deal of respect in the Indian populace, and he used it to gain advantage in pushing the Green Revolution in India; which directly led to India becoming a food-surplus nation, although he did not live to see it. During the 22-day war with Pakistan, Lal Bahadur Shastri created the slogan of “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan” (“Hail the soldier, Hail the farmer”), underlining the need to boost India’s food production.
  • Apart from emphasizing the Green Revolution, he was instrumental in promoting the White Revolution. Greatly impressed by a visit to the Kaira district in October 1964, he urged the rest of the country to learn from the successful experiment at Anand. (Lal Bahadur Shastri Phase in India)
  • The National Dairy Development Board was formed in 1965 during his tenure as Prime Minister.
  • Though he was Socialist, Shastri stated that India cannot have a regimented type of economy. During his tenure as Prime Minister, he visited Russia, Yugoslavia, England, Canada and Burma in 1965.

White Revolution [Lal Bahadur Shastri Phase in India]

  • A significant section of India’s population are largely agrarian, with dependencies on agricultural produce and cattle milk production for their livelihoods. The milk industry, according to Dr. Verghese Kurian, is the only industry that allows a marginalised family to earn a small amount of cash everyday; requiring a small amount of investment in purchasing a milch cow, and providing nutritional supplement to the children of the house.
  • Under the leadership of Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, Dr. Kurien set up the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) or the Amul Dairy Co-operation, in 1965.  (Lal Bahadur Shastri Phase in India)
  • The White Revolution eventually gave rise to ‘Operation Flood‘, a project by NDDB, which became the world’s largest dairy development program. It transformed India from a milk-deficient nation to the world’s largest producer of milk, surpassing USA in 1998. In 30 years, the milk production per person doubled making dairy farming India’s largest self-sustainable rural employment generator. As of 2010-2011, India accounted for 17% of the global output in milk production.

Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan – Green Revolution

  • Food shortage was one of the biggest problems for India, following the exit of colonial rulers. Lal Bahadur Shastri’s tenure as PM was characterised by acute food shortages, with  imports of food touching 10 million tonnes which helped avoid a famine. He appealed for a one-day fast every week to reduce the demand for food.
  • At the time that Shastri ascended to the role of Prime Minister, India was attacked by Pakistan. This period, as mentioned earlier, saw a scarcity in food grain production in the country. He raised the slogan ‘Jai Kisan, Jai Jawan’ (Hail the Soldier, Hail the Farmer) slogan in a big to boost the morale of the Indian Army, and to encourage the farmers to do their best to increase food production of grains for reducing imports.
  • At the time of his Prime Ministership, C. Subramaniam was the elected Minister of Food and Agriculture. Subramaniam and Shastri worked together to increase food production via increased government support. Taking recommendation of the Foodgrains Prices Committee offer incentive prices for grains that are higher than procurement and market costs. Subramaniam also favoured increasing government reserves of grains buy purchasing them in the open market on incentive prices.
  • Subramaniam published the ‘Agricultural Production in the Fourth Five-Year Plan: Strategy and Plan’ in 1965, which marked the government’s commitment towards the ensuing Green Revolution.

Sirima-Shastra Pact [Lal Bahadur Shastri Phase in India]

  • The Sirima-Shastri Pact was bilateral agreement signed between India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) which focused on the citizenship of Indian workers in Ceylon. The pact was signed by Ceylon’s Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri on October 30th, 1964.
  • The objectives of this pact was to recognise all people of Indian-origin in Ceylon who weren’t citizens of either India or Ceylon; should become citizens of either India or Ceylon. The Indian government would accept repatriations of persons within a period of 15 days. Ceylon agreed to allow those people who were employed during the signing of this pact, to continue with their jobs until the date of their repatriation.

Indo-Pakistan War and Tashkent Agreement [Lal Bahadur Shastri Phase in India]

  • The Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 highlighted one of Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s greatest moments as leader of the nation. The war was initiatied when Pakistan laid claim to half of the Kutch Peninsular in a skirmish against the Indian Army.  ( Lal Bahadur Shastri Phase in India)
  • The war with Pakistan went on for 5 months, between April and September of 1965, and resulted in around casualties of about 3000 to 4000 people on both sides.
  • On September 23rd, 1965, the United Nations mandated a ceasefire resulting with the war ending between India and Pakistan. After the declaration of the ceasefire with Pakistan in 1965, Prime Minister Shastri and the then President of Pakistan, Ayub Khan, entered an agreement in Tashkent (formerly of USSR, now part of Uzbekistan), mediated by Premier Alexei Kosygin.
  • The Tashkent Declaration was signed between India and Pakistan on January 10th 1966- to give away the conquered regions of each other by both parties, and return to the 1949 ceasefire line in Kashmir.

Some Interesting Facts About Lal Bahadur Shastri

  • He was the first person to be posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna.
  • He had to swim across the Ganges with his books tied to his head to attend school, as he had no money to pay for a boat ride.  ( Lal Bahadur Shastri Phase in India)
  • As Transport Minister, he introduced a provision for woman drivers and conductors in public transport.
  • As Home Minister, he introduced the committee on Prevention of Corruption.
  • He signed the Tashkent Declaration on January 10, 1966 with Pakistan’s President, Muhammad Ayub Khan, to end the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War.
  • He was a highly disciplined person with high self-esteem and morals. He did not even own a car after becoming a Prime Minister.

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