IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 2nd Oct 2020
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
EDITORIAL HUNT #168 :“Unremembered Prime Minister | Lal Bahadur Shastri | UPSC“
Unremembered Prime Minister | Lal Bahadur Shastri | UPSC
Rakesh Ankit is Lecturer in history at Loughborough University, U.K.
The Prime Minister India almost forgot
Lal Bahadur Shastri’s political life has lessons, but it is his sudden passing that vitiates his public recall and his history
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 1 : Personality
Political life of Lal Bahadur Shastri has many lessons and challenges. Throw light on Administrative skills and efficacy of Shastri’s office. -(GS 1)
- Lal Bahadur Shastri – Introduction
- Administrative Challenges
- Handling Pakistan.
- CONTRIBUTIONS : His climb atop the greasy pole of politics was preceded by nearly 40 years of participation in the freedom movements of the Indian National Congress and independent governments.
- OVERSHADOWED OFFICE : However, his untimely demise led him to be overshadowed by his long-serving predecessor and successor.
- POLITICAL GAME : Historical appropriation from colonial and post-colonial India, both his life and death have found an echo in print and on screen.
- PRIME MINISTERSHIP : Shastri’s prime ministership and its major preoccupations of the language movement, the lack of food, war and peace and economic crises are easy to either forget or fabricate.
SETTING THE BAR
- RESIGNATIONS : As the Minister who resigned twice, assuming moral responsibility for railway accidents in 1956 (Mahbubnagar, Andhra Pradesh and Ariyalur, Tamil Nadu) .
- SETTING STANDARDS : As an early standard, Shastri was one of six who left their cabinet posts in 1963 to work in the party organisation under the Kamaraj Plan.
- NEHRU’S SUCCESSOR : He was the only one though who was recalled by an ailing Prime Minister, within six months, was unanimously elevated as Nehru’s successor, upon his death.
- PUBLIC OPINION : In between, in a poll conducted by the Indian Institute of Public Opinion, he had received almost half the votes to fill the role.
QUIET CHANGE ON MANY FRONTS
- CHALLENGING TENURE : It began amid a renewed bout of food scarcity and resultant price rise which can be taken back, albeit in a broken line, to the days of the Second World War .
- DEFICIT ZONE : It caused a forex crisis from food procurement and a provincial friction between surplus and deficit zones.
- GREEN REVOLUTION : The piecemeal rationing as well as the construction of the Food Corporation of India was on the way to an eventual ‘Green Revolution’.
- SELF-CORRECTING MECHANISM : Shastri’s selection as Prime Minister was itself an affirmation of the party’s organisation , notwithstanding its moral ambiguities and patronage politics.
- WEIGHING DOWN CORRUPTION : Shastri would weigh down on the corruption-induced departures of stalwarts such as Punjab’s Chief Minister Partap Singh Kairon,Union Finance Minister T.T. Krishnamachari.Etc.
- PARTY FACTIONALISM : The party’s factionalism and its contrasting framing of him as either a leader of too much discussion and indecision, or of too little consultation and consensus.
REPORT CARD OF NATIONAL CHALLENGES
- The language violence in Tamil Nadu
- Youth challenges in Orissa
- Returning President’s rule in Kerala
- Persisting feuds in Uttar Pradesh
- Enduring demand for a Punjabi suba and continuing farce in Kashmir
- Question marks at the cross-section of nation
- Region and institution for the Prime Minister.
REPORT CARD OF INTERNATIONAL CHALLENGES
- Shastri had to navigate between a subdued Non-Aligned Movement
- The now-nuclear challenge of China
- A change in the Soviet leadership
- A new leader in Pakistan (Ayub Khan)
- Shastri’s diplomacy was the agreement with then-Ceylon on persons of Indian origin there — an endorsement of the importance of neighbourhood.
- BOUNDARY ISSUES : First, in spring-summer was the Rann of Kutch dispute with Pakistan, where a combination of its remoteness, reciprocal military situation on the ground.
- UNFINISHED BUSINESS: It was in August, 18 years from their Independence and Partition, that India and Pakistan came to their first, declared war over that unfinished business from 1947.
JAI JAWAN JAI KISAN
- Clashes around the then-Ceasefire Line broadened to battles across the international border in Punjab in the first week of September 1965.
- He remained firm through the retreats in one sector and the advances in another in the war’s widening arc, and rallied the country with his call of ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’ to become his epitaph.
- In the end, he accepted the Soviet offer for mediation and set about the road to Tashkent.
- Where an agreement was signed with his Pakistani counterpart, President Muhammad Ayub Khan in January 1966, more or less restoring the status quo.
- It was there that he died, within hours of their declared denouement to war.
- QUIET ASCENT AND LOUD ACTIONS : His quiet ascent to prime ministership and his loud actions as Prime Minister fell through the cracks between the Nehruvian era and Indira’s India.
- THE RISE : He rose humbly from the provinces in national politics, and carried his convictions from his faith in people, their constitution and representation.
- MODESTY AT OFFICE : Crucially, he remained modest in both his personal probity and policy making and was not invested solely in his occupancy of his office.
Indeed, clichés abound, when it comes to Shastri’s past and present: small man, stopgap, original accidental premier, cardboard nationalist.
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Unremembered Prime Minister | Lal Bahadur Shastri | UPSC