Choosing Prime Minister
Jawaharlal Nehru died in office on 27 May 1964. Then Congress Party president K. Kamaraj was instrumental
in making Shastri Prime Minister on 9 June.Shastri, though mild-mannered and soft-spoken, was a Nehruvian
socialist and thus held appeal to those wishing to prevent the ascent of conservative right-winger Morarji
In his first broadcast as Prime Minister, on 11 June 1964, Shastri stated:
There comes a time in the life of every nation when it stands at the cross-roads of history and must
choose which way to go. But for us, there need be no difficulty or hesitation, no looking to right or
left. Our way is straight and clear—the building up of a socialist democracy at home with freedom and
prosperity for all, and the maintenance of world peace and friendship with all nations.
Shastriji's domestic policies
Shastri retained many members of Nehru's Council of Ministers. T. T. Krishnamachari was retained as the
Finance Minister of India, as was Defence Minister Yashwantrao Chavan. He appointed Swaran Singh to
succeed him as External Affairs Minister. He also appointed Indira Gandhi, daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru
and former Congress President, as the Minister of Information and Broadcasting. Gulzarilal Nanda continued
as the Minister of Home Affairs.
Lal Bahadur Shastri's tenure witnessed the Madras anti-Hindi agitation of 1965. The government of India
had for a long time made an effort to establish Hindi as the sole national language of India. This was
resisted by the non-Hindi speaking states particularly Madras State. To calm the situation, Shastri gave
assurances that English would continue to be used as the official language as long the non-Hindi speaking
states wanted. The riots subsided after Shastri's assurance, as did the student agitation.
why Shastriji's continued Nehru's socialist economic
Shastri continued Nehru's socialist economic policies with central planning. He promoted the White
Revolution – a national campaign to increase the production and supply of milk – by supporting the Amul
milk co-operative of Anand, Gujarat and creating the National Dairy Development Board.He visited Anand on
31 October 1964 for inauguration of the Cattle Feed Factory of Amul at Kanjari. As he was keenly
interested in knowing the success of this co-operative, he stayed overnight with farmers in a village, and
even had dinner with a farmer's family. He discussed his wish with Verghese Kurien, then the General
Manager of Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers' Union Ltd (Amul) to replicate this model to other
parts of the country for improving the socio-economic conditions of farmers. As a result of this visit,
the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) was established at Anand in 1965.
While speaking on the chronic food shortages across the country, Shastri urged people to voluntarily give
up one meal so that the food saved could be distributed to the affected populace. However, he ensured that
he first implemented the system in his own family before appealing to the country. He went on air to
appeal to his countrymen to skip a meal a week. The response to his appeal was overwhelming. Even
restaurants and eateries downed the shutters on Monday evenings. Many parts of the country observed the
"Shastri Vrat". He motivated the country to maximize the cultivation of food grains by ploughing the lawn
himself, at his official residence in New Delhi. During the 22-day war with Pakistan in 1965, On 19
October 1965, Shastri gave the seminal 'Jai Jawan Jai Kishan' ("Hail the soldier, Hail the farmer") slogan
at Urwa in Allahabad that became a national slogan. Underlining the need to boost India's food production,
Shastri also promoted the Green Revolution in India in 1965. This led to an increase in food grain
production, especially in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh. Major milestones in this undertaking were
the development of high-yielding varieties of wheat, and rust resistant strains of wheat.
Though he was a socialist, Shastri stated that India cannot have a regimented type of economy. His
government passed the National Agricultural Products Board Act and was responsible for setting up the Food
Corporation of India under the Food Corporation's Act 1964
Expanding Defence Budget
Shastri continued Nehru's policy of non-alignment but also built closer relations with the Soviet Union.
In the aftermath of the Sino-Indian War of 1962 and the formation of military ties between China and
Pakistan, Shastri's government decided to expand the country's defence budget.
In 1964, Shastri signed an accord with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike regarding the
status of Indian Tamils in Sri Lanka, then called Ceylon. This agreement is also known as the
Sirima-Shastri Pact or the Bandaranaike-Shastri Pact.
Under the terms of this agreement, 600,000 Indian Tamils were to be repatriated, while 375,000 were to be
granted Sri Lankan citizenship. This settlement was to be done by 31 October 1981. However, after
Shastri's death, by 1981, India had taken only 300,000 Tamils as repatriates, while Sri Lanka had granted
citizenship to only 185,000 citizens (plus another 62,000 born after 1964). Later, India declined to
consider any further applications for citizenship, stating that the 1964 agreement had lapsed.
India's relationship with Burma had been strained after the 1962 military coup followed by the
repatriation of many Indian families in 1964 by Burma. While the central government in New Delhi monitored
the overall process of repatriation and arranged for identification and transportation of the Indian
returnees from Burma, it fell under the responsibilities of local governments to provide adequate
facilities to shelter the repatriates upon disembarkation on Indian soil. Particularly in the Madras State
the Chief Minister during that time, Minjur K. Bhaktavatsalam, showed care in rehabilitation of the
returnees. In December 1965, Shastri made an official visit with his family to Rangoon, Burma and
re-established cordial relations with the country's military government of General Ne Win.
India-pakistan war(1965)led by Lal Bahadur
Shastri's greatest moment came when he led India in the 1965 Indo-Pak War. Laying claim to half the Kutch
peninsula, the Pakistani army skirmished with Indian forces in August 1965. In his report to the Lok Sabha
on the confrontation in Kutch, Shastri stated;
In the utilization of our limited resources, we have always given primacy to plans and projects for
economic development. It would, therefore, be obvious for anyone who is prepared to look at things
objectively that India can have no possible interest in provoking border incidents or in building up an
atmosphere of strife... In these circumstances, the duty of Government is quite clear and this duty will
be discharged fully and effectively... We would prefer to live in poverty for as long as necessary but we
shall not allow our freedom to be subverted.
On 1 August 1965, major incursions of militants and Pakistani soldiers began, hoping not only to break
down the government but incite a sympathetic revolt. The revolt did not happen, and India sent its forces
across the Ceasefire Line (now Line of Control) and threatened Pakistan by crossing the International
Border near Lahore as war broke out on a general scale. Massive tank battles occurred in the Punjab, and
while the Pakistani forces made gains in the northern part of subcontinent, Indian forces captured the key
post at Haji Pir, in Kashmir, and brought the Pakistani city of Lahore under artillery and mortar fire.
The Indo-Pak war ended on 23 September 1965 with a United Nations-mandated ceasefire. In a broadcast to
the nation on the day of the ceasefire, Shastri stated:
While the conflict between the armed forces of the two countries has come to an end, the more important
thing for the United Nations and all those who stand for peace is to bring to an end the deeper
conflict.... How can this be brought about? In our view, the only answer lies in peaceful coexistence.
India has stood for the principle of coexistence and championed it all over the world. Peaceful
coexistence is possible among nations no matter how deep the differences between them, how far apart they
are in their political and economic systems, no matter how intense the issues that divide them.
During his tenure as Prime Minister, Shastri visited many countries including Soviet Union, Yugoslavia,
England, Canada, Nepal, Egypt and Burma. Incidentally while returning from the Non Alliance Conference in
Cairo on the invitation of then President of the Pakistan, Mohammed Ayub Khan to have lunch with him,
Shastri made a stop over at Karachi Airport for few hours and breaking from the protocol Ayub Khan
personally received him at the Airport and had an informal meeting during October 1964. After the
declaration of ceasefire with Pakistan in 1965, Shastri and Ayub Khan attended a summit in Tashkent
(former USSR, now in modern Uzbekistan), organized by Alexei Kosygin. On 10 January 1966, Shastri and Ayub
Khan signed the Tashkent Declaration.