By Rahul Singh
Edited by Namita Calibe, Associate Editor, The Indian Economist
Although India is the perpetual home for endless ideological conflicts, there exists a trait that can be attributed to every Indian regardless of his/her ideological inclination and that trait is none other than ‘hero worshiping’. Leftist or right wing fanatic, on national festivals, every Indian remembers the names of freedom fighters and performs various patriotic rituals to experience the blissful feeling of national pride. Such is the indulgence of Indians in adulation that the reason behind it is lost and with the tide of time, the ideology for which that particular hero was worshiped ceases to exist. Before this writer gets accused of being too critical, allow history to come in to back him. Lord Ram, Mahatma Gandhi, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar and the latest being Anna Hazare (his fellow revolutionaries were fasting for Lokpal Bill but few of them were aware of its content). The ideologies of each one of them and perhaps many more have been reduced to merely their names.
Keeping this background in mind, heroes can be classified into many categories. There are heroes who are known by their names, others by their names and ideology both and few others whose names get overshadowed by the ostensible beauty of ‘rosy’ deeds done by their colleagues. But the ideology of these heroes serves as roots of morality. One such hero was born on 2nd October 1904. The second prime minister of India, Lal Bhadur Shastri.
Lal Bahadur Shastri as a person was neither blessed with the charisma of Pandit Nehru nor with the intimidating personality of Indira Gandhi, but with the strength of his determination, he led his country to one of its biggest war victories. His understanding of the significance of ‘jawan’ made him a more practical version of Mahatma Gandhi. Although history remembers him as a shadow of Pandit Nehru, but his style of leading the nation was closer to that of Mahatma Gandhi. He believed in leading by setting examples. There were many incidences when he showed the strength of his character which his predecessor and successors could never have shown. The act of renouncing power by taking moral responsibility of a train accident while he was railway minister, not only showed his ability to accept failure but also showed his indifference for personal political ambition. His selflessness was his fiercest power which he meticulously used by leading a modest life. Those were the days when India imported wheat to fulfill its people’s basic need of food. He urged the people of this nation to fast for once in a week to which people reacted positively not because Lal Bahadur Shastri was saying so but because a man of strong character and selfless nature was doing so.
Lal Bahadur Shastri has been successful as a hero by making his ideologies, rather than his name, immortal. People remember him not as a person but as a character. His name may not be present in the book of Indian political heroes but his character will always serve as a moral benchmark for generations to come. Perhaps he has given a new definition to heroism!
Rahul Singh is a final year engineering student pursuing his B.Tech from VNIT, Nagpur. He loves reading on topics ranging from mythology to political satire. He believes that writing is the most convenient medium of conveying one’s thoughts. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.