Lal Bahadur Shastri: The Forgotten Gandhian

Lal Bahadur Shastri

Every year, India celebrates 2nd October in shape of the birth anniversary of the two great personalities – Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri – who have an irrefutable contribution to the independence of our country from colonial power. We often less remind the birth anniversary of Shri Lal Bahadur as this date is profoundly chosen to remind our beloved “Father of Nation” – Mahatma Gandhi. Lal Bahadur Shastri – the Second Prime Minister of India – who himself was one of the strongest devotees of Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas. From an early age to the end of his life at Tashkent in 1966, he never missed the opportunity to remind ‘Gandhi’ that signifies his zenith of inspiration. Therefore, Lallan Prasad Singh categorically describes Shastri Ji as “A Quintessential Gandhian”.

By following the path of Mahatma Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri tried to make all possible efforts to navigate the country for having glorious days in the future. In the present scenario, however, India is spawning suspicions on its historic personalities, distorting their image, and subsequently seems to failure in vindicating the history of India based on the ideology of Gandhi and his followers.

Commemorating his slogan “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan”

Jai Jawan Jai Kisan (“Hail the Soldier, Hail the Farmer) was one of the historic slogans given by Lal Bahadur Shastri during his tenure of Prime Minister of India. This Slogan is not only immortalized the name of him but also holds his position in the directory of the governance of the country. This slogan symbolizes the two pillared strategies of ‘self-sustenance’ and ‘self-reliance’ that has proved crucial for India to get worldly recognition and position among all the countries. For this ethos of India, on the moments of “Tashkent Agreement”, he gave tribute to Gandhi by saying that “it would be a negation of the values that the Mahatma stood for if he did not work towards creating an environment to foster peace, harmony, and non-violence”.

The slogan also holds a peculiarity in terms of flourishing the importance of two vital personalities – the soldiers and the farmers of the country – for reasserting the national sovereignty by defeating its immediate external forces at the international level and the nation-building, national integrity, and solidarity at the domestic level. By this Slogan, Shastri Ji didn’t only make these two personalities of the utmost importance but established a complementary relationship between them for the desired future of India.

If we take the first personality of the Slogan, the importance of ‘Jawan’ can be analyzed in a way that I could able to write this article, people would able to read this article, and more precisely governmental and non-governmental institutions are able to discharge their function because of the Soldiers who stand on the borders relentlessly and assure the safety and security of the country and its citizens to enjoying the democratic values. However, the country’s political machinery has not yet repaid for the contribution made by the bravest soldiers of India. In the last two decades, without even a single war we have lost the lives of many thousands of soldiers because of the lack of many essential facilities. For example, the demands of ‘Bulletproof’ jackets have been made for a long time but still, we are in the process of giving them. The Soldiers have also been noticed for making the grievance regarding not fulfilling various basic needs, poor facility including foods, and more shockingly “treated like slaves”. In addition, the government was also alleged for politicizing the army of the country for sustaining its power. The tragic part of this, the soldiers who came out with such complaint had to face punishment instead of taking considerable steps about complaint.

The Indian government has been continuously made an increase in the budget of defence in which a huge amount of money used for purchasing the strategic weapons for strengthening the army of the country. These kinds of weapons, of course, are the need of the country but the government should also be serious for satisfying the immediate needs – the Bullet Proof Jacket – which, undoubtedly, a matter of safety of the soldiers. After all, they are not ‘Robots’. They are also human beings like other citizens of the country and they must facilitate by the government extravagantly for their precious and venerated contribution to our country.

The condition of latter personality – the farmers of India – of the slogan is even more shocking and disgraceful than the previous one. Lal Bahadur Shastri, who was also one of the great contributors in mapping the “Green Revolution” in India, showed his keen interest for empowering the Indian farmers in order to trigger development and make India prosperous. Nevertheless, for the last few decades, India has been lamented for a huge number of farmers ‘suicides. According to latest data given by National Crime Bureau of India, about 3 lakhs suicides have committed by farmers in our country. However, the Crime Bureau also alleges for twisting the date and reported less number of suicides than the actual figure. Despite the conformity of the data, the real question is about the degree of deterioration of the importance of farmers. The debt has always remained a major cause behind most of the suicides committed by Indian farmers. In response to this acknowledged reason for the suicides of Indian farmers, the government, whether represented by Indian National Congress (INC) or Bhartiya Janta party (BJP), has not been made sincere efforts in order to break the continuity of suicides.

The farmers have been made innumerable attempts, in shape of making demonstrations, protests, rallies, and strikes, and most deplorable among them was that farmers had to drink their urine and put rats in their mouth, to call the government to intervene, remove the plight and restore the favourable condition for their farming and agricultural practices in India. The government, on the other hand, just assures for waiving the loans of the farmers but it remains in the rhetoric and election manifesto of the political parties, and the loan waiving policy or program from the side of the government is still beyond the proper implementation. One more important thing is that Lal Bahadur Shastri, by following Gandhian style, tried to establish the relationship of love and compassion between the government and citizens of the country when he commanded the police for using “water-jets” instead of charging lathis on the people who perform their dissent towards the policies and actions of the government. His second hero – the farmers – were ruthlessly beaten by the lathis of the Indian Police and arrested when they were marching to Delhi – the national capital of the country – for realizing the promises committed by the government. Instead of relaxation from the government, they had to come back with the wounds and injuries.

To sum up

The glorification of the soldier and farmer was necessarily craved for keeping in mind the immediate demands of the newly independent country. Indeed, it would not incorrect to say that the contribution of the Farmers and Soldiers is undeniable for incarnate India as having one of the mightiest armies and the fastest growing economies of the world. However, the picture of two declared heroes – the soldier and farmer – in the Slogan framed by Lal Bahadur Shastri, in current Indian scenario, does not match with the envision and expectation for which it was formed. It shows that neither the ideas of Gandhi nor Gandhians are being entertained in the formation of ‘New India’.

Research Scholar,
D/o Political Science
Aligarh Muslim University,




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