Monday, May 3, 2010


Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru

Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru was born in Allabahad on November 14, 1889.

He received his early education at home under private tutors. At the

age of fifteen, he went to England and after two years at Harrow,

joined Cambridge University where he took his tripos in Natural

Sciences. He was later called to the Bar from Inner Temple. He

returned to India in 1912 and plunged straight into politics. Even as

a student, he had been interested in the struggle of all nations who

suffered under foreign domination. He took keen interest in the Sinn

Fein Movement in Ireland. In India, he was inevitably drawn into

the struggle for independence.

In 1912, he attended the Bankipore Congress meet as a delegate,

and became Secretary of the Home Rule League, Allahabad in 1919.

In 1916 he had his first meeting with Mahatma Gandhi and felt

immensely inspired by him. He organised the first Kisan March in Pratapgarh District of

Uttar Pradesh in 1920. He was twice imprisoned in connection with the NonCooperation

Movement of 192022.

Pt. Nehru became the General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee in September

1923. He toured Italy, Switzerland, England, Belgium, Germany and Russia in 1926. In

Belgium, he attended the Congress of Oppressed Nationalities in Brussels as an official

delegate of the Indian National Congress. He also attended the tenth anniversary celebrations

of the October Socialist Revolution in Moscow in 1927. Earlier, in 1926, at the Madras

Congress, Nehru had been instrumental in committing the Congress to the goal of

Independence. While leading a procession against the Simon commission, he was lathicharged

in Lucknow in 1928. On August 29, 1928 he attended the AllParty

Congress and

was one of the signatories to the Nehru Report on Indian Constitutional Reform, named after

his father Shri Motilal Nehru. The same year, he also founded the 'Independence for India

League', which advocated complete severance of the British connection with India, and

became its General Secretary.

In 1929, Pt. Nehru was elected President of the Lahore Session of the Indian National

Congress, where complete independence for the country was adopted as the goal. He was

imprisoned several times during 193035

in connection with the Salt Satyagraha and other

movements launched by the Congress. He completed his 'Autobiography' in Almora Jail on

February 14, 1935. After release, he flew to Switzerland to see his ailing wife and visited

London in FebruaryMarch,

1936. He also visited Spain in July 1938, when the country was

in the throws of Civil War. Just before the courtbreak

of the Second World War, he visited

China too.


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On October 31, 1940 Pt. Nehru was arrested for offering individual Satyagraha to protest

against India's forced participation in war. He was released along with the other leaders in

December 1941. On August 7, 1942 Pt. Nehru moved the historic 'Quit India' resolution at

the A.I.C.C. session in Bombay. On August 8, 1942 he was arrested along with other leaders

and taken to Ahmednagar Fort. This was his longest and also his last detention. In all, he

suffered imprisonment nine times. After his release in January 1945, he organized legal

defence for those officers and men of the INA charged with treason. In March 1946, Pt.

Nehru toured South East Asia. He was elected President of the Congress for the fourth time

on July 6, 1946 and again for three more terms from 1951 to 1954. Jawaharlal Nehru was the

first, and has been the longestserving

Prime Minister of India so far, having served from

1947 to 1964.

Shri Gulzari Lal Nanda

Born on July 4, 1898, in Sialkot (Punjab), Shri Gulzarilal Nanda

was educated at Lahore, Agra and Allahabad. He worked as a

research scholar on labour problems at the University of Allahabad


and became Professor of Economics at the National

College (Bombay) in 1921. He joined the NonCooperation

Movement the same year. In 1922, he becomes Secretary of the

Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association in which he worked until

1946. He was imprisoned for Satyagraha in 1932, and again from

1942 to 44.

Shri Nanda was elected to the Bombay Legislative Assembly in

1937 and was Parliamentary Secretary (Labour and Excise) to the

Government of Bombay from 1937 to 1939. Later, as Labour

Minister of the Bombay Government (194650),

he successfully

piloted the Labour Disputes Bill in the State Assembly. He served as Trustee, Kasturba

Memorial Trust; Secretary, Hindustan Mazdoor Sevak Sangh; and Chairman, Bombay

Housing Board. He was also a Member of the National Planning Committee. He was largely

instrumental in organising the Indian National Trade Union Congress and later became its


In 1947, he went to Geneva as a Government delegate to the International Labour

Conference. He worked on the 'The Freedom of Association Committee' appointed by the

Conference and visited Sweden, France, Switzerland, Belgium and England to study labour

and housing conditions in those countries.

In March 1950, he joined the Planning Commission as its ViceChairman.

In September the

following year, he was appointed Planning Minister in the Union Government. In addition, he

was also given charge of the portfolios of Irrigation and Power. He was elected to the House

of the People from Bombay in the general elections of 1952 and was reappointed


for Planning Irrigation and Power. He led the Indian Delegation to the Plan Consultative

Committee held at Singapore in 1955, and the International Labour Conference held at

Geneva in 1959.


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Shri Nanda was elected to the Lok Sabha in the 1957 general elections, and was appointed

Union Minister for Labour and Employment and Planning and, later, as Deputy Chairman of

the Planning Commission. He visited the Federal Republic of Germany Yugoslavia and

Austria in 1959.

He was reelected

to the Lok Sabha in the 1962 general elections from Sabarkantha

Constituency in Gujarat. He initiated the Congress Forum for Socialist Action in 1962. He

was Union Minister for Labour and Employment in 1962 and 1963 and Minister for Home

Affairs from 1963 to 1966.

Following the death of Pt. Nehru, he was a sworn in as Prime Minister of India on May 27,

1964. Again on January 11, 1966, he was sworn in as Prime Minister following the death of

Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri at Tashkent.

Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri

Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri was born on October 2, 1901 at

Mughalsarai, a small railway town seven miles from Varanasi in

Uttar Pradesh. His father was a school teacher who died when Lal

Bahadur Shastri was only a year and half old. His mother, still in

her twenties, took her three children to her father's house and

settled down there.

Lal Bahadur's small town schooling was not remarkable in any

way but he had a happy enough childhood despite the poverty that

dogged him.

He was sent to live with an uncle in Varanasi so that he could go to

high school. Nanhe, or 'little one' as he was called at home, walked

many miles to school without shoes, even when the streets burned

in the summer's heat.

As he grew up, Lal Bahadur Shastri became more and more interested in the country's

struggle for freedom from foreign yoke. He was greatly impressed by Mahatma Gandhi's

denunciation of Indian Princes for their support of British rule in India. Lal Bahadur Sashtri

was only eleven at the time, but the process that was end day to catapult him to the national

stage had already begun in his mind.

Lal Bahadur Shastri was sixteen when Gandhiji called upon his countrymen to join the NonCooperation

Movement. He decided at once to give up his studies in response to the

Mahatma's call. The decision shattered his mother's hopes. The family could not dissuade

him from what they thought was a disastrous course of action. But Lal Bahadur had made up

his mind. All those who were close to him knew that he would never change his mind once it

was made up, for behind his soft exterior was the firmness of a rock.

Lal Bahadur Shastri joined the Kashi Vidya Peeth in Varanasi, one of the many national

institutions set up in defiance of the British rule. There, he came under the influence of the


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greatest intellectuals, and nationalists of the country. 'Shastri' was the bachelor's degree

awarded to him by the Vidya Peeth but has stuck in the minds of the people as part of his


In 1927, he got married. His wife, Lalita Devi, came from Mirzapur, near his home town. The

wedding was traditional in all senses but one. A spinning wheel and a few yards of handspun

cloth was the entire dowry. The bridegroom would accept nothing more.

In 1930, Mahatma Gandhi marched to the sea beach at Dandi and broke the imperial salt law.

The symbolic gesture set the whole country ablaze. Lal Bahadur Shastri threw himself into

the struggle for freedom with feverish energy. He led many defiant campaigns and spent a

total of seven years in British jails. It was in the fire of this struggle that his steel was

tempered and he grew into maturity.

When the Congress came to power after Independence, the sterling worth of the apparently

meek and unassuming Lal Bahadur Shastri had already been recognised by the leader of the

national struggle. When the Congress Government was formed in 1946, this 'little dynamo of

a man' was called upon to play a constructive role in the governance of the country. He was

appointed Parliamentary Secretary in his home State of Uttar Pradesh and soon rose to the

position of Home Minister. His capacity for hard work and his efficiency became a bye word

in Uttar Pradesh. He moved to New Delhi in 1951 and held several portfolios in the Union

Cabinet Minister

for Railways; Minister for Transport and Communications; Minister for

Commerce and Industry; Home Minister; and during Nehru's illness Minister without

portfolio. He was growing in stature constantly. He resigned his post as Minister for Railways

because he felt responsible for a railway accident in which many lives were lost. The

unprecedented gesture was greatly appreciated by Parliament and the country. The then

Prime Minister, Pt. Nehru, speaking in Parliament on the incident, extolled Lal Bahadur

Shastri's integrity and high ideals. He said he was accepting the resignation because it would

set an example in constitutional propriety and not because Lal Bahadur Shastri was in any

way responsible for what had happened. Replying to the long debate on the Railway accident,

Lal Bahadur Shastri said; "Perhaps due to my being small in size and soft of tongue, people

are apt to believe that I am not able to be very firm. Though not physically strong, I think I

am internally not so weak."

In between his Ministerial assignments, he continued to lavish his organising abilities on the

affairs of the Congress Party. The landslide successes of the Party in the General Elections of

1952, 1957 and 1962 were in a very large measure the result of his complete identification

with the cause and his organisational genius.

More than thirty years of dedicated service were behind Lal Bahadur Shastri. In the course of

this period, he came to be known as a man of great integrity and competence. Humble,

tolerant, with great inner strength and resoluteness, he was a man of the people who

understood their language. He was also a man of vision who led the country towards

progress. Lal Bahadur Shastri was deeply influenced by the political teachings of Mahatma

Gandhi. "Hard work is equal to prayer," he once said, in accents profoundly reminiscent of


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his Master. In the direct tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri represented the

best in Indian culture.

Smt. Indira Gandhi

Born on November 19, 1917 in an illustrious family, Smt. Indira

Gandhi was the daughter of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. Being

academically inclined, she studied at Ecole Nouvelle, Bex

(Switzerland), Ecole Internationale, Geneva, Pupils' Own School,

Poona and Bombay, Badminton School, Bristol, Vishwa Bharati,

Shantiniketan and Somerville College, Oxford. She was conferred

Honorary doctoral degree by a host of Universities such as Andhra,

Agra, Bangalore, Vikram, Punjab, Gurukul, Nagpur, Jamia Milia,

Poona, El Salvador of Buenos Aires, Waseda of Tokyo, Moscow

State, Oxford, Charles of Prague, Mauritius, Baghdad and the

U.S.S.R. With an impressive academic background she also got the

Citation of Distinction from the Columbia University. Smt. Indira

Gandhi was actively involved in the freedom struggle. In her early

childhood she founded the Bal Charkha Sangh and in 1930, the 'Vanar Sena' of children to

help the Congress party during the NonCooperation

Movement. She was imprisoned in

September 1942, and worked in riotaffected

areas of Delhi in 1947 under Gandhiji's

guidance. She got married to Feroze Gandhi on March 26, 1942 and had two sons.

Smt. Gandhi was a Member, Congress Working Committee and Central Election of the party

in 1955; Member, Central Parliamentary Board of Congress, 1958; Chairperson, National

Integration Council of A.I.C.C.; President, All India Youth Congress, 1956 and Women's

Dept. A.I.C.C.; President, Indian National Congress, 195960;

and Indian National Congress

from January 1978.

From 1964 to 66 she was the Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Government of

India. Then she held the highest office as the Prime Minister of India from January 1966 to

March 1977 and again from January 14, 1980. Concurrently, she was the Minister for Atomic

Energy from September 1967 to March 1977; and Minister for Space from June 1972 to

March 1977, and from January 1980 she was Chairperson, Planning Commission. From


she was the President of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research; and

Chairperson, Hindi Salahkar Samiti. She held the additional charge of the Ministry of

External Affairs from September 5, 1967 to February 14, 1969; Ministry of Finance from

July 16, 1969 to June 26, 1970; Ministry of Home Affairs from June 1970 to November

1973; Ministry of Information & Broadcasting from March 1971 for a while; and Ministry of

Defence from January 1980.

Smt. Indira Gandhi was associated with a large number of organisations and institutions,

some of which are: President, Board of Trustees of Kamala Nehru Memorial Hospital;

Trustee, Gandhi Smarak Nidhi and Kasturba Gandhi Memorial Trust; Chairperson, Swaraj

Bhavan Trust; Founder and Chairperson, Bal Sahyog, New Delhi in 1954; Chairperson, Bal

Bhavan Board and Children's National Museum, New Delhi in 1955; Founder and President,


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Kamala Nehru Vidyalaya, Allahabad; Vice Chairperson, Central Social Welfare Board, 195357;


Indian Council for Child Welfare; VicePresident,

International Council of

Child Welfare; Patroninchief,

Indian Council for Affairs, 1960; Patron, Foreign Students

Association in India. She was Chancellor Visva Bharati University; Jawaharlal Nehru

University and NorthEastern

University 196677;

Member, Delhi University Court; Indian

Delegation to UNESCO, 196064;

Member, Executive Board of UNESCO, 196064;

Member, National Defence Council 1962; Executive Committee of National Defence Fund,

1962; Chairperson, Citizen's Central Council 1962; and Sangeet Natak Academy 196574.

She was also a Member, National Integration Council; President, Himalayan Mountaineering

Institute, Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha; Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

Society and Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund; Patron, Indian Society of International Law.

After having held such important positions, she also became a Member, Rajya Sabha, August


1967; Member, Fourth Lok Sabha 196771;

Fifth Lok Sabha 197177;


Sixth Lok Sabha during NovemberDecember

1978. She was elected to the Seventh Lok

Sabha from Rae Bareli (U.P.) and Medak (Andhra Pradesh), January 1980. She chose to

retain the Medak seat and relinquished the Rae Bareli seat. She was chosen as the leader of

the Congress Parliamentary Party in 196777

and for the Congress Parliamentary Party from

January 1980.

She found recreation in whatever she did and equal relaxation in being close to nature, in

different forms of art, in physical activities like hiking in the mountains, or even reading

about an unfamiliar subject.

Interested in a wide array of subjects, she viewed life as an integrated process, where

activities and interests are different facets of the whole, not separated into compartments or

labeled under different heads.

She had many achievements to her credit. She was the recipient of Bharat Ratna, 1972;

Mexican Academy Award for Liberation of Bangladesh 1972; 2 nd Annual Medal, FAO, 1973;

Sahitya Vachaspati (Hindi) by Nagari Pracharini Sabha, 1976. She also received Mothers'

Award, U.S.A., 1953; Islbella d'Este Award of Italy for outstanding work in diplomacy, Yale

University's Howland Memorial Prize; for two consecutive years in 1967 and 1968 was the

woman most admired by the French according to a poll by the French Institute of Public

Opinion. According to a special Gallup Poll Survey in U.S.A. in 1971 she was the most

admired person of the world and Diploma of Honour was conferred by the Argentine Society

in 1971 for the Protection of Animals.

Her famous publications are The Years of Challenge 196669;

The Years of Endeavour 196972;

India (London) 1975; Inde (Lausanne) 1979 and numerous other collections of speeches

and writings. She travelled widely in India and all over the world, paid official visits to many

countries such as: Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Bhutan,

Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burma, Canada, Chile, China, Czechoslovakia, Bolivia, Egypt,

France, German Democratic Republic, Federal Republic of Germany, Guyana, Hungary, Iran,


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Iraq, Italy, Indonesia, Japan, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands


She was the Prime Minister of the Republic of India for three consecutive terms from 1966 to

1977 and for a fourth term from 1980 until her assassination in 1984, a total of fifteen years.

She was India's first and, to date, only female Prime Minister.

Shri Morarji Desai

Shri Morarji Desai was born on February 29, 1896 in Bhadeli

village, now in the Bulsar district of Gujarat. His father was a school

teacher and a strict disciplinarian. From his childhood, young

Morarji learnt from his father the value of hard work and

truthfulness under all circumstances. He was educated at St. Busar

High School and passed his matriculation examination. After

graduating from the Wilson Civil Service of the then Bombay

Province in 1918, he served as a Deputy Collector for twelve years.

In 1930, when India was in the midst of the freedom struggle

launched by Mahatma Gandhi, Shri Desai, having lost his

confidence in the British sense of justice, decided to resign from

Government service and to plunge into the struggle. It was a hard

decision to take but Shri Desai felt that 'when it was a question of the independence of the

country, problems relating to family occupied a subordinate position'.

Shri Desai was imprisoned thrice during the freedom struggle. He became a Member of the

All India Congress Committee in 1931 and was Secretary of the Gujarat Pradesh Congress

Committee until 1937.

When the first Congress Government assumed office in 1937, Shri Desai became Minister for

Revenue, Agriculture, Forest and Cooperatives

in the Ministry headed by Shri B.G. Kher in

the then Bombay Province. The Congress Ministries went out of office in 1939 in protest

against India involvement in the World War without the consent of the people.

Shri Desai was detained in the individual Satyagraha launched by Mahatma Gandhi, released

in October, 1941 and detained again in August, 1942 at the time of the Quit India Movement.

He was released in 1945. After the elections to the State Assemblies in 1946, he became the

Minister for Home and Revenue in Bombay. During his tenure, Shri Desai launched a

number of farreaching

reforms in land revenue by providing security tenancy rights leading

to the 'land to the tiller' proposition. In police administration, he pulled down the barrier

between the people and the police, and the police administration was made more responsive

to the needs of the people in the protection of life and property. In 1952, he became the Chief

Minister of Bombay.


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According to him, unless the poor and the under privileged living in villages and towns enjoy

a decent standard of life; the talk of socialism will not have much meaning. Shri Desai gave

concrete expression to his anxiety by enacting progressive legislations to ameliorate to the

hardships of peasants and tenants. In this, Shri Desai's Government was far ahead of any

other State in the country. And what was more; he implemented the legislation with an

unswerving sincerity earning wide reputation for his administration in Bombay.

After the reorganisation of the States, Shri Desai joined the Union Cabinet as Minister for

Commerce and Industry on November 14, 1956. Later, he took the Finance portfolio on

March 22, 1958.

Shri Desai translated into action what he had professed in matters of economic planning and

fiscal administration. In order to meet the needs of defense and development, he raised large

revenues, reduced wasteful expenditure and promoted austerity in Government expenditure

on administration. He kept deficit financing very low by enforcing financial discipline. He

brought curbs on extravagant living of the privileged section of society.

In 1963, he resigned from the Union Cabinet under the Kamraj Plan. Shri Lal Bahadur

Shastri, who succeeded Pt. Nehru as Prime Minister, pursuaded him to become Chairman of

the Administrative Reforms Commission for restructuring the administrative system. His

long and varied experienced of public life stood him in good stead in his task.

In 1967, Shri Desai joined Smt. Indira Gandhi's cabinet as Deputy Prime Minister and

Minister in charge of Finance. In July, 1969, Smt. Gandhi took away the Finance portfolio

from him. While Shri Desai conceded that the Prime Minister has the prerogative to change

the portfolios of colleagues, he felt that his selfrespect

had been hurt as even the common

courtesy of consulting him had not shown by Smt. Gandhi. He, therefore, felt he had no

alternative but to resign as Deputy Prime Minister of India.

When the Congress Party split in 1969, Shri Desai remained with the Organisation Congress.

He continued to take a leading part the opposition. He was reelected

to Parliament in 1971.

In 1975, he went on an indefinite fast on the question of holding elections to the Gujarat

Assembly which had been dissolved. As a result of his fast, elections were held in June, 1975.

The Janata Front formed by the four opposition parties and Independents supported by it,

secured an absolute majority in the new House. After the judgement of the Allahabad High

Court declaring Smt. Gandhi's election to the Lok Sabha null and void, Shri Desai felt that in

keeping with democratic principles, Smt. Gandhi should have submitted her resignation.

Shri Desai was arrested and detained on June 26, 1975, when Emergency was declared. He

was kept in solitary confinement and was released on January 18, 1977, a little before the

decision to hold elections to the Lok Sabha was announced. He campaigned vigorously

throughout the length and breadth of the country and was largely instrumental in achieving

the resounding

victory of the Janata Party in the General Elections held in March, 1977 for


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the Sixth Lok Sabha. Shri Desai was himself selected to the Lok Sabha from the Surat

Constituency in Gujarat. He was later unanimously elected as Leader of the Janata Party in

Parliament and was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India on March 24, 1977.

As Prime Minister, Shri Desai was keen that the people of India must be helped to become

fearless to an extent where even if the highest in the land commits a wrong, the humblest

should be able to point it out to him. "No one, not even the Prime Minister", he was

repeatedly said "should be above the law of the land".

For him, truth was an article of faith and not expediency. He seldom allowed his principles to

be subordinated to the exigencies of the situation. Even in the most trying circumstances, he

stood by his convictions. As he himself observed, 'one should act in life according to truth

and one's faith'.

Chowdhary Charan Singh

Shri Charan Singh was born in 1902 at Noorpur in Meerut district of

Uttar Pradesh, in a middle class peasant family. He graduated in

science in 1923, and did his postgraduation

from Agra University

in 1925. Also trained in law, he set up practice at Ghaziabad. He

shifted to Meerut in 1929 and later joined the Congress.

He was first elected to the U.P. Legislative Assembly in 1937 from

Chhatrauli, and represented the constituency in 1946, 1952, 1962

and 1967. He became Parliamentary Secretary in Pandit Govind

Ballabh Pant's Government in 1946 and worked in various

departments such as Revenue, Medical and Public Health, Justice,

Information etc. In June 1951, he was appointed Cabinet Minister in

the State and given charge of the Departments of Justice and

Information. Later he took over as the Minister for Revenue and

Agriculture in the Cabinet of Dr. Sampurnanand in 1952. When he resigned in April 1959, he

was holding charge of the Department of Revenue and Transport.

In Shri C.B. Gupta's Ministry he was Minister for Home and Agriculture (1960). Shri Charan

Singh served as Minister for Agriculture and Forests (196263)

in Smt. Sucheta Kripalani's

Ministry. He gave up the Department of Agriculture in 1965 and assumed charge of the Local


department in 1966.

In Shri C.B. Gupta's Ministry he was Minister for Home and Agriculture (1960). Shri Charan

Singh served as Minister for Agriculture and Forests (196263)

in Smt. Sucheta Kripalani's

Ministry. He gave up the Department of Agriculture in 1965 and assumed charge of the Local


department in 1966.


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