Gandhi and Shastri – Prides of India

Today (2nd October) is the birthday of two great sons of India- Gandhi and Shastri. One was the best leader who made India Independent, while the other was the best leader of an Independent India.

Mr Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, better known as Mahatma Gandhi (02.10.1869-30.01.1948) is also called Bapu or Rashtrapita (The Father of the Nation). He is widely recognised as one of the 20th century’s greatest political and spiritual leaders. He pioneered and practised the principle of Satyagraha – resistance to tyranny through mass non-violent civil disobedience.

Gandhi ji initiated the Swadeshi movement by taking up the charkha (spinning wheel) and ingeniously deployed it as an important tool for political emancipation from the British rule. His greatest achievement was the successful fight for independence of India.

A deceptively simple man overturned the greatest Empire the world has ever seen. Albert Einstein was deeply inspired by Gandhi ji’s principles and called him the most enlightened politician of his time. He had said,
“Generations to come will scarcely believe that such a man as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.”

A lot of things has been written about Mahatma Gandhi. But the lesser known figure is Mr Lal Bahadur Shastri, the second Prime Minister of India, after the legendary Pt Jawaharlal Nehru.

Shastri ji (02.10.1904-11.01.1966) had a very humble background. His father had died in epidemic, when Shastri was hardly two-year old. He had completed his schooling under adverse circumstances. As there was no school in his village at that time, he used to swim the river everyday for attending the school across the river.

Here I would like to give some important aspects of this simple, but great personality of India.

Shastri ji was married in 1928, when the evil system of dowry was in vogue, but he had refused to take dowry. On the insistence of his father-in-law, he took a few meters of khadi cloth and charkha as dowry.

Opposing the caste system, he dropped his surname ‘Srivastava’, and at the tender age of 16, he joined the non-cooperation movement of Gandhiji.

During his tenure as the Minister of Transport after independence, women conductors were appointed for the first time in India.

As Minister of Railways, he resigned from the post owning moral responsibility for a rail accident in which 144 passengers were killed.

When he was the Prime Minister of the country, he bought a car for which he had to take a loan of Rs. 5000 from Punjab National Bank.

During the 1965 war with Pakistan, there was an acute shortage of food. America had also threatened to cut wheat supplies if India did not stop the war. At that time India used to import wheat.

The man with high self-esteem refused to bow down to America. Addressing the nation on All India Radio, he asked the countrymen to go without food at least once a week. Even all the eateries followed his words for the next few weeks.

But before addressing the nation, he asked his own family to skip dinner for a day because he wanted to know how the countrymen would feel about skipping dinner for a day.

Then he coined the famous slogan ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ to honour the two biggest pillars of the country- soldiers and farmers.

The nationwide movement to boost India’s milk and food production brought about a drastic change in the country’s economy. It was a step towards becoming a self-reliant nation. And now India exports foodgrains to other countries, as he promoted both White and Green Revolutions.

He made radical changes in defence procurement. He also aimed to increase the rural economy by encouraging it like industries.

After winning war with Pakistan, he had gone to Tashkent on 10th January 1966 for a peace deal with Pakistan, but he breathed his last within a few hours of signing the agreement under suspicious circumstances. Conspiracy theories appeared within hours of his death, which still remains a mystery.

Both Gandhi ji and Shastri ji established high standards for the society and politics through their moral values and principles. For them, the country and its people were always ahead of their respective families.

The life and ideals of Bapu will continue to inspire all generations to walk on the path of truth and non-violence, while Shastri Ji’s life based on values of honesty and sincerity will always remain a source of inspiration for every Indian.

I salute these two great leaders on this solemn day.

–Kaushal Kishore

40 Comments

  1. Important post Kaushal Ji, presented articulately. Thank you.

    But I thought Shastriji’s mystery came out in the open as one CIA agent spoke about him and H. Bhabha. Also even before this claim i had read pretty extensively about Shastriji’s death(poisoned by his cook)!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Narayan ji for your kind comment. I have also read a lot about his death. I have also seen the movie, “The Tashkent Files”, but there is still no official version. That’s why I didn’t raise this controversial issue here. Thank you for raising the concern that every Indian feels so deeply in the heart.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Kaushal, for continuing to write each year a tribute to those great
    heroes of India. I admire both. I read Gandhi’s works for inspiration, quote him in my blog, and love to hear about the wheel being now used to turn strips of plastic into useful items.
    I still remember the photo of the room of PM Shastri with hardly anything in it except his bed. I love the video as the idea that young school children should be thought their country history in such an imagenative manner is wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Joanna, for summing up the whole post so nicely. Most of Indians feel that had Shastri ji been alive for a few more years, India would have been a different country altogether. You connected the spinning wheel to plastic recycling. I appreciate your memory, and that’s why I call you ready reckoner. Thanks so much again!

      Like

  3. Interesting and informative. I’ve learned something new today. You’re right, I wasn’t aware of the history or imporance of the contribution made by PM Shastri. An interesting man

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Brenda for your kind words! You’re right, Shastri Ji’s tenure as PM lasted only for 19 months, but that was the most challenging phase for India. After losing war to China in 1962, another war was thrust upon us within three years. His leadership not only made us win the war, but gave a solid foundation to alround development of the country.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you sharing this tribute in honor of these two fine leaders in your country’s history. Gandhi is one of my heroes in gaining peace through non-violence. He inspired Dr. Martin Luther King to follow Gandhi’s lead during the civil rights movement. We need more leaders like these two gentlemen.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You’re absolutely right, Mary, we need today more leaders like them. I’m so happy that Gandhi ji is one of your heroes. Thanks so much!

      Like

  5. महात्मा गांधी को एक शुद्ध राजनीतिज्ञ की तरह देखना मुझे सही नहीं लगता. अगर इस दृष्टि से देखा भी जाएँ, तो ऐसे महान राजनीतिज्ञ की परछाईं भारत के हरेक स्त्री, पुरुष, बुजुर्ग और बच्चों सब में दिखाई पड़ती है. उन्होंने लोगों को गुलामी की मानसिकता से आजादी दिलाई.

    शास्त्री की सरलता को देखकर उन्हें गले लगाने का मन करता है. मध्यप्रदेश केंद्रीय शिक्षा बोर्ड, भोपाल की कक्षा 3री की “सामान्य हिंदी” की किताब में “गुदड़ी के लाल” नाम से चित्र सहित एक पाठ छँपा था.

    मम्मी ने अपने पास बिठाकर यह पाठ पढ़कर समझाया था. शास्त्री जी द्वारा ‘गंगा को तैर करके पार करने’ साहस ने मुझे बड़ा प्रभावित किया. उनका मनोबल काफ़ी मजबूत था.

    सामान्य जानकारी और परीक्षा की दृष्टि से इस पोस्ट के लिए मैं आपका आभारी हूं.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. गांधी एक युग पुरुष थे, जिनके व्यक्तित्व और कृतित्व को एक पोस्ट में समेटना नामुमकिन है। दूसरी ओर रामनगर के नन्हे सिर्फ कद और नाम से नन्हे थे, काम और निश्चय में कतई नहीं। मुझे खुशी है कि पोस्ट अच्छा लगा। मेरी ओर से धन्यवाद!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s