Daily Recco, January 11: Exploring Lal Bahadur Shastri in politics and beyond
Short in stature with a very tall legacy, India's second Prime Minister needs to stay in the country's cognisance. Sandeep Shastri's book is the right step in that direction.
- Total Shares
There was once an Indian politician, who though was short in stature, did tall deeds for our country. However, his legacy has been obscured. Lal Bahadur Shastri, the second Prime Minister of India, passed on this day in Tashkent, Uzbekistan 55 years ago, after signing the historic peace treaty to end the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War.
The man may have been obscured by the politico-historians, but the conspiracy theories behind his death are far from obscurity. In fact, these theories have always managed to hog the limelight whenever brought to the fore.
However, not all political commentators and historians have ignored him. In fact, psephologist and political commentator Sandeep Shastri says that exclusivity of projecting the leaders from the Nehru-Gandhi family has resulted in Lal Bahadur Shastri not being accorded the well-deserved position and prominence in history and the country’s memory.
Sandeep Shastri’s book — Lal Bahadur Shastri: Politics and Beyond — is a biographical account filled with anecdotes that attempt to bring his life into the limelight. The author relies on the anecdotes narrated by those who were politically and personally close to the former PM. He does a great job of tapping into almost all aspects of the late Prime Minister’s life — from his modest beginnings to meeting Gandhi as an 11-year-old (that shaped his politics, austerity, frugality and life as a whole), to his pioneering the White and the Green Revolutions, to his slogan of “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan”.
So much so, that the author even brings out shades of Gandhism from the last days of PM Shastri’s life. Citing ICS officer Lallan Prasad Singh (considered close to Shastri), the book narrates how Shastri had told Singh over breakfast on the morning of signing the agreement that India (and by that order, Shastri himself) had chosen to seek peaceful relations with Pakistan "to keep faith with the most precious legacy that the country had had from Mahatma Gandhi". And that was his last breakfast. Nothing could be truer than Singh’s words to describe Shastri: “A Quintessential Gandhian”.
Men are forgotten but their messages live on. On this day when one of the bravest PMs that the country has had breathed his last on foreign soil seeking peace between India and Pakistan, read the Lal Bahadur Shastri: Politics and Beyond to remember the man as much as we need to internalise his ideals of peace and humility.