Lal Bahadur Shastri: A brave leader with deep concern for common man, the kind of leader country needs today
Shastri took accountability for his actions which is very rare to find in today’s politicians
Lal Bahadur Shastri, the second Prime Minister of India was known for his simple lifestyle and soft nature. He took oath as Prime Minister after the sudden death of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964.
Shastri took accountability for his actions which is very rare to find in today’s ministers and leaders. For instance, when he was the Railway Minister in Nehru’s cabinet, he resigned from the position taking moral responsibility over Ariyali train accident in Tamil Nadu in 1956.
While Shastri was Prime Minister India plunged into famine after a series of countrywide droughts and other external reasons. In 1965, India had to engage in a war with Pakistan. Even as India faced the famine-like situation and was engaged in a full-fledged war with Pakistan, the United States threatened to cut off food supplies to India.
As Shastri had a socialist inclination, he promoted self-reliance rather than importing supplies from other countries. He introduced the concept of kitchen gardens in India. He wanted to grow crops in every piece of unused land. To promote this idea, he even ploughed the Pradhan Mantri Awas lawn.
The idea of conserving food supplies was one of the ways which could control the famine in the country, he felt. Shastri wanted that every family should fast a day in a week or at least skip a meal once a week, but as he was the man who kept the country on top of everything, he wanted to see if his own family could do this.
“Shastri ji one day asked my mother not to provide us any food, because he wanted to see if his children could stay hungry or not. I was merely 14-15 years old then, and had two younger brothers too. That day all three of us stayed hungry. When he was convinced that one can stay hungry for a day, he urged the countrymen to fast for one day every week”, recounts Anil Shastri, son of Lal Bahadur Shastri.
This kind of sentiment lacks in today’s politicians. For example, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Demonetisation in 2016 without taking into consideration how his fellow countrymen would suffer, what challenges a common man would face.
Shastri ji remained a simple man all through his life with deep empathy for his fellow countrymen. Grounded deep in reality, his simple ideas for bigger solutions, his courage to take responsibility for his actions and soft demeanour are what the politicians lack today and what the country misses badly.
Published: 02 Oct 2019, 5:00 PM