Lal Bahadur Shastri, India’s second Prime Minister, is a figure who has always intrigued me. Despite his high societal status, he was a man of profound humility and stayed away from the spotlight. His life is filled with numerous anecdotes that reflect his simplicity and dedication to public service.
A Life of Humility and Service
One such anecdote that stands out is from his time as a freedom fighter[^1^]. Shastri was imprisoned during the freedom struggle. During this time, he was entitled to a pension of Rs. 50. His wife, showing great frugality, managed to save Rs. 10 from this amount. Upon his release and learning about the savings, Shastri chose to return the entire sum to the pension fund set up by Lala Lajpat Rai. This act demonstrated his integrity and commitment to public service, even in the face of personal hardship.
A Leader with a Difference
Shastri’s life and values have left an indelible mark on Indian history. His famous slogan “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan” (“Hail the soldier, Hail the farmer”) during the 1965 India-Pakistan war is a testament to his respect for India’s soldiers and farmers. This slogan resonated with the entire nation and is remembered even today.
An Appreciation for Cinema
Shastri’s influence extended beyond politics. He had a significant impact on the Hindi film industry as well[^4^]. One of the many unconfirmed legends in the industry involves Shastri and actor-filmmaker Manoj Kumar. Shastri was said to have been highly impressed with Manoj Kumar in the role of Bhagat Singh in Shaheed, which was released in 1965, the year of India’s second war with Pakistan. Later, in 1967, Manoj Kumar came up with Upkar, bearing a strong signature of the 1965 war. It was a tribute to Shastri and his slogan Jai jawan, jai kisan.
As I pen down these words, I am reminded of a quote by Shastri: “We believe in peace and peaceful development, not only for ourselves but for people all over the world.” This quote, for me, encapsulates the essence of Shastri’s life and leadership style. His humility, integrity, and dedication to public service continue to inspire me and millions around the world.
In conclusion, Lal Bahadur Shastri was a leader who led by example. His humility, integrity, and dedication to public service continue to inspire millions. As we remember him, let’s strive to imbibe these values in our lives.
[^1^]: Lal Bahadur Shastri: Little Known Stories
[^2^]: 10 lesser-known facts about Lal Bahadur Shastri
[^3^]: When Lal Bahadur Shastri’s salary went to government’s calamity fund
[^4^]: The Plough, The Gun
[^5^]: Prem Chopra on ‘Shaheed’, filming in real prison, meeting death row inmates, Lal Bahadur Shastri