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Children of Midnight Babu Jagjivan Ram: He was a record breaker and stood fast in the rout of Pakistan in 1971!

MAJOR KULBIR SINGH. Dated: 5/18/2017 10:57:05 AM


He was instrumental in foundation of the All-India Depressed Classes League, an organisation dedicated to attaining equality for untouchables, in 1935 and was elected to Bihar Legislative Assembly in 1937, after which he organised the rural labour movement. In 1946, he became the youngest minister in Jawaharlal Nehru’s interim government, the first cabinet of India as a Labour Minister and also a member of Constituent Assembly of India, where he ensured that social justice was enshrined in the Constitution.



Major Kulbir Singh
Jagjivan Ram (5 April 1908 – 6 July 1986), known popularly as Babuji, was an Indian independence activist and politician from Bihar. He was a leader of the Dalit community. He was instrumental in foundation of the All-India Depressed Classes League, an organisation dedicated to attaining equality for untouchables, in 1935 and was elected to Bihar Legislative Assembly in 1937, after which he organised the rural labour movement. In 1946, he became the youngest minister in Jawaharlal Nehru’s interim government, the first cabinet of India as a Labour Minister and also a member of Constituent Assembly of India, where he ensured that social justice was enshrined in the Constitution. He went on to serve as a minister with various portfolios for more than forty years as a member of the Indian National Congress (INC). Most importantly, he was the Defence Minister of India during the Indo-Pak war of 1971, which resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.
Jagjivan Ram was born at Chandwa near Arrah in Bihar. He had an elder brother, Sant Lal, and three sisters. His father Sobhi Ram was with the British Indian Army, posted at Peshawar, but later resigned due to some differences, and bought farming land in his native village Chandwa and settled there. He also became a Mahant of the Shiv Narayani sect, skilled in calligraphy he illustrated many book of the sect and distributed locally. He joined Aggrawal Middle School in Arrah in 1920, where the medium of instruction was English for the first time, and joined Arrah Town School in 1922, it was here that he faced caste discrimination for the first time, yet remained unfazed. An often cited incident occurred in this school; there was a tradition of having two water pots in the school, one for Hindus and another for Muslims, so when Jagjivan drank water from the Hindu pot, while being from an untouchable class, the matter was reported to the Principal, who placed a third pot for “untouchables” in the school, but this pot was broken by him twice. Eventually, the Principal decided against placing the third pot. Jagjivan Ram passed his matriculation in the first division and joined the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in 1927, where he was awarded the Birla scholarship, and passed his Inter Science Examination; while at BHU, he organised the scheduled castes to protest against social discrimination. He received a B. Sc. degree from the University of Calcutta in 1931, here again he organised conferences to draw attention toward issues of discrimination, and also participated in the anti-untouchability movement started by Mahatma Gandhi. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose took notice of him at Kolkata, when in 1928 he organised a Mazdoor Rally at Wellington Square, in which approximately 50,000 people participated. He chose to go with the nationalists and joined Congress, which wanted him not only because he was valued as an able spokesperson for the depressed classes, but also that he could counter Ambedkar; he was elected to the Bihar assembly in 1937. However, he resigned his membership on the issue of irrigation cess. In 1935, he contributed to the establishment of the ‘All-India Depressed Classes League’, an organisation dedicated to attaining equality for untouchables. He was also drawn into the Indian National Congress, in the same year he proposed a resolution in the 1935 session of the Hindu Mahasabha demanding that temples and drinking water wells be opened up to Dalits. and in the early 1940s was imprisoned twice for his active participation in the Satyagraha and the Quit India Movements. He was among the principal leaders who publicly denounced India’s participation in the World War II between the European nations and for which he was imprisoned in 1940.
n 1946, he became the youngest minister in Jawaharlal Nehru’s provisional government and also the subsequent First Indian Cabinet, as a Labour Minister, where he is credited for laying the foundation for several labour welfare policies in India. He was a part of the prestigious high-profile Indian delegation that attended to attend the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s International Labour Conference on 16 August 1947 in Geneva, along with the great Gandhian Bihar Bibhuti Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha, his chief political mentor and also the then head of the delegation, and few days later he was elected President of the ILO. He served as Labour minister until 1952. Later, he held several ministerial posts in Nehru’s Cabinet Communications (1952–56), Transport and Railways (1956–62), and Transport and Communications (1962–63). In Indira Gandhi’s government, he worked as minister for Labour, Employment, and Rehabilitation (1966–67), and Union Minister for Food and Agriculture (1967–70), where he is best remembered for having successfully led the Green Revolution during his tenure. When the Congress Party split in 1969, Jagjivan Ram joined the camp led by Indira Gandhi, and became the president of that faction of Congress.
He worked as the Minister of Defence (1970–74) making him the virtual No. 2 in the cabinet. It was during his tenure as the minister of Defence that the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was fought, and Bangladesh gained independence. While loyal to prime minister Indira Gandhi for most of the Indian Emergency, in 1977 he along with five other politicians resigned from the Cabinet and formed the Congress for Democracy party, within the Janata coalition.

 

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