Dr Manmohan Singh, India’s 14th Prime Minister, presided over a decade of phenomenal growth and development. Under Dr Singh’s stewardship, India witnessed the highest growth rate in its history, averaging at 7.7% to become a nearly two trillion-dollar economy. India was catapulted from tenth position when Dr Singh took over into the world’s third largest economy by 2014, raising the living standard of millions.
At the core of Dr Singh’s idea of India was the belief in not just high growth but inclusive growth and of a tide that would raise all boats. This belief was enshrined in the passage of bills that ensured citizens the legal Right to Food, Right to Education, Right to Work and the Right to Information. Dr Singh’s rights-based revolution created a new era in Indian politics.
At 41, Rajiv Gandhi was the youngest Prime Minister of India and perhaps one of the youngest elected heads of Government in the world. His mother, Indira Gandhi, was eight years older when she first became Prime Minister in 1966. His illustrious grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, was 58 when he started his 17 year long innings as free India’s first Prime Minister.
Besides being the harbinger of a generational change in the country, Mr. Gandhi received the biggest mandate in the nation’s history. In the elections to the Lok Sabha, which he ordered as soon as the mourning for his slain mother was over, the Congress party got a much higher proportion of the popular vote than in the preceding seven general elections and captured a record 401 seats out of 508.
Smt. Indira Gandhi saw herself as a latter day Joan of Arc—such was her ardour and faith in herself as a patriot. Like the “The Maid of Orléans”, she too died as a martyr for the unity of her country.
She had said before her tragic death: “Every drop of my blood will contribute to the growth of this nation and make it strong and dynamic.”
She was a woman of courage and admired people with fighting spirit, people who triumphed over handicaps. For instance, Helen Keller and Douglas Bader.
In her childhood, her father was a source of inspiration to her. The letters Pt Nehru wrote to Indira Priyadarshini became a part of “Glimpses of World History”.
Today is a day of poignant memories for us and for the entire nation. We meet here to pay homage to the memory of our late Prime Minister, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri, who a year ago laid down his life in the service of the country. Shastriji was a man of quiet greatness, who lived for India and for peace, and who died for India and for peace. He was identified with the Indian people. He was imbued with the spirit of service, and he thought always of the welfare of the people. He led our country at a time of severe trial, and helped India demonstrate both unity and determination.
Shastriji was a great product of the Gandhian era. The basic teaching of Gandhiji was that all men are brothers and differences among them should be settled non-violently. Non-violence to Gandhiji did not mean the mere absence of violence. It was not a negative concept; it was a positive quality of always seeking friendship and reconciliation, of believing that people can evolve towards a higher level of living only in, and through, peace.
Kumaraswami Kamaraj played a leading role in shaping India’s destiny after the passing away of Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964, to the Congress split in 1969.
He was born humble and poor in a backward area of Tamil Nadu on July 15, 1903. He was a Nadar, one of the most depressed castes of Hindu society. His schooling lasted only six years. At the age of twelve, he was already working as a shop assistant. He was barely fifteen when he heard of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre which was the turning point in his life.
Jagjivan Ram, popularly known as Babuji was a national leader, a freedom fighter, a crusader of social justice, a champion of depressed classes, an outstanding Parliamentarian, a true democrat, a distinguished Union Minister, an able administrator and an exceptionally gifted orator. He had a towering personality and played a long inning, spanning over half a century in Indian politics with commitment, dedication and devotion. Babuji was married to Indrani Devi in June 1935. Indrani Devi was herself a freedom fighter and an educationist. Her father Dr. Birbal, a renowned medical practitioner, had been in the British army and had been awarded the Victoria Medal by the then Viceroy, Lord Lansdowne for his services in the Chin-Lushai Expedition of 1889-90. A son, Suresh Kumar was born to them on 17 July, 1938, and a daughter Meira on 31 March, 1945. Suresh Kumar passed away on 21 May, 1985, leaving his parents completely heart-broken.
MR. SPEAKER, SIR: It has fallen to my lot often to refer in this House to the death of a colleague or a great man. I have to perform that sad duty again today in regard to one who was with us a few days ago and who passed away rather suddenly, producing a sense of deep sorrow and grief not only to his colleagues in Parliament but to innumerable people all over the country.
It has become almost commonplace, when a prominent person passes away, to say that he is irreplaceable. That is often true; yet I believe that it is literally and absolutely true in regard to the passing away of Maulana Azad. We have had great men and we will have great men, but I do submit that the peculiar and special type of greatness which Maulana Azad represented is not likely to be reproduced in India or anywhere else.
Many of us assembled here today knew Netaji well, and on this occasion we are overwhelmed by the memory of one who gave us the slogan Dilli Chalo. He is not with us. But his sword—which we have the privilege to receive here today—reminds us of his powerful and beautiful presence. Netaji was truly a symbol of India’s bravery.I still remember how thrilled we used to get as children by just looking into his fiery eyes. It was this fire, this patriotic fervour in him that led him to create the Indian National Army which brought many brave fighters for freedom, men and women alike, together, and which gave, a new impetus to our struggle for independence.
The struggle for India’s independence was a long struggle; it was sustained by the sacrifices of millions of Indians. Among those who sacrificed their all in this struggle, the name of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose takes a high place. He will always retain a place of affection and honour in every Indian heart.
Netaji’s entry into political life gave a new turn to India’s struggle. A new wave of enthusiasm swept the country.
It takes courage to break free from the shackles of social inequality. It takes enormous amounts of courage to believe that things can change. It takes a leader to fight these inequalities and establish a new social order. Babasaheb Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was a scholar, a social reformer and a leader who dedicated his life to eradicating social inequality in India. He established an India of equals, a country which provided greater opportunities for people who were historically disadvantaged.
Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel, one of the six children of Jhaverbhai Patel and Ladba, was born in Nadiad, Gujarat. There is no record of his date of birth. The generally accepted date, October 31, 1875, of which the source is his Matriculation certificate, was chosen by Vallabhbhai himself while filling in a form.
Vallabhbhai’s childhood was spent away from books, in the ancestral fields at Karamsad. He was already in his late teens when he passed out from the Middle School at Karamsad and went to the High School at Nadiad, from where he matriculated in 1897.