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Lal Bahadur Shastri


India's second Prime Minister, he assumed office at a time of turmoil in the country. Pandit Nehru had just expired and Pakistan's hostility towards the Indians led to a war in 1965. The country was under heavy pressure due to drought and other internal problems. Quite a tough task for a new Prime Minister to handle.

But as he had been tempered by the freedom struggle and had served in Nehru's cabinet, he took it all in his stride.
 

His Role In The Freedom Struggle

At the age of 17, he was very impressed with Gandhiji's call for freedom through non - violence and so took part in the Non - co-operation Movement of 1921. He courted arrest but was let off because of his age. But he was not so lucky when he followed Gandhiji in the Satyagraha Movement and spent approximately 8 years in jail over a period of time. Even though he was made to undergo tremendous hardships, he survived with the help of his prayers and physical exercises. He spent this time reading different authors like Hegel, Kant, Marx, Russell and Lenin. He also did some translations and wrote about the Quit India Movement.
 

Post Independence

He served the Congress in various positions before becoming Prime Minister. He was First General Secretary, and then Home-Minister. In U.P. he made some progressive reforms in the police department, and in 1962, Pandit Nehru invited him to join the Union cabinet as a Minister for railways. A post from which he resigned after taking responsibility for a railway mishap, that happened during his tenure.

Lal Bahadur Shastri showed remarkable abilities of oratorship and courage during the Indo - Pakistan War. He inspired his people through his leadership and offered them a slogan that has been passed down the ages - 'Jai Jawan Jai Kisan'. The Indo - Pak war would have continued, but fortunately, the Russian Government intervened and both India and Pakistan were forced to sign the 'Tashkent Agreement' on January 11, 1966. A day that saw the passing away of this great leader, just a few hours after signing this historic agreement. 

He was awarded the 'Bharat Ratna' posthumously, in light of the services rendered to the country. His memorial 'Vijayghat' in delhi is a constant reminder of a great administrator and a fantastic human being.
 


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