Pravesh Aggarwal, RGNUL
Editor’s Note: There have been a lot of political leaders and civil servants in the country who have fought for justice. This paper provides a brief history of some of the political leaders and civil servants who have played a pivotal role in Indian Politics.
There have been a galaxies of political leaders and civil servants in the country who have fought for justice but there are only few political leaders, i.e. Prime Ministers like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shashtri, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Presidents like Rajendra Prasad, APJ Abdul Kalam, and Chief Ministers like D. Devraj Urs, Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar who are the pillars in providing justice in every aspect of life, whether political, economic, social , etc. Civil servants like Durga Shakti Nagpal and Ashok Khemka have shown immense courage and upheld the name of the position that they possess and provided justice to the nation by fighting against evil corrupt practices in the Indian Political system.
Pandit Jawaharlal Lal Nehru had been a leading figure in promoting justice in every aspects of life through his pragmatic, assiduous hardwork, sheer dedication and sedulousness shown for aiming a better India for future. He is known for his scientific approach towards the benefit for the nation by discarding and extricating India from the notion of old moral beliefs and customs, thereby bringing the economic and social development in the nation.
His pragmatic views gave rise to the creation of Planning Commission in light of backwardness in the share of modern industries and initiation of Five Year Plan to increase government’s expenditure in agriculture and industry. This laid emphasis on maximizing the output by using the limited resources efficiently and optimally and looks for utilization of the allocations being made, thereby paving the way for sustainable development and focusing more on planned development instead of scattered development. This helped in ensuring economic justice to the people for generations to come.
He implemented policies based on import substitution industrialization which advocated the concept of self-sustenance instead of foreign dependence for imports, thereby increasing internal production of industrialized products and escalating the government expenditure in industries with the formation of public sector enterprises along with private enterprises which made the country to prosper by fulfilling the needs of the nations in those sectors which private individuals could not afford.
One of the achievements of which he was particularly proud was the reform of the ancient Hindu civil code that finally enabled Hindu widows to enjoy equality with men in matters of inheritance and property.[i] The idea of anti-colonialism had been the cornerstone of his foreign policy, which debarred the Portuguese presence over Goa. After first trying persuasion with Portuguese for their exile from Indian land, in August 1955 he had permitted a group of unarmed Indians to march into Portuguese territory in a nonviolent demonstration. Even though the Portuguese had opened fire on the demonstrators thereby killing nearly 30 people, Nehru stayed his hand for six years, appealing meanwhile to Portugal’s Western friends to persuade its government to cede the colony, and finally succeeding in defeating Goa.[ii]
He introduced a series of land reform measures for ensuring equitable distribution of resources and abolishing giant landholdings, which created a sense of common hood and equality among the masses, especially the poor population and he even spread the use of fertilizers for increased agricultural production. The establishment of agricultural universities contributed to the development of the economy.
While encouraging the construction of large dams, irrigation work and the generation of hydro-electricity, Nehru launched India’s programme to harness nuclear energy.[iii]This helped in giving impetus to the agrarian society and to the nuclear technology and thus provided justice to the uncared people engaged in agriculture.
He provided educational justice to the people by overseeing the establishment of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institute of Management (IIMs), which have provided a backbone for the modern educational institution for students pursuing medical, engineering and MBA respectively.
Thus, he is regarded as an icon of justice by negotiating over India’s Independence and opposing the Muslim League’s insistence on the division of India on the basis of religion. He bought social and planned economic development through the commencement of Planning Commission and import substitution industrialization. He was an icon for widowed women by providing them the legal justice through equal status with men on the matter of inheritance and property. Justice was ensured for the Portuguese people by extricating them from the deliberate and hostile clutches of the foreign rule. He provided impetus to the agricultural sector and justice to agriculturalists through a series of land reform measures. Establishing major educational system helped in imparting quality education among the people.
Lal Bahadur Shashtri, who served as the third Prime Minister of India, fulfilled the desire for the spreading of the success of Kaira Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union (Amul) to other parts of India, through the formation of National Dairy Board Commission (NDBC) under his reign, thereby helping the farmers with technological inputs and providing control over the market with burgeoning efficacy of their output.
It was he who advocated the need for Green Revolution, owing to decelerated food production in the country (especially after Bengal Famine and the rapid increase in population) and seeing the success of Norman Borlaug’s high yield variety of wheat crop, because of which Mexico was able to produce more wheat than was needed by its own citizens, leading to its becoming an exporter of wheat by the 1960s.[iv]Hence, he helped in feeding the hungry masses by escalating food production, which decreased the poverty conditions and improved the living standards and provided justice to the people.
In addition, he was the one who pushed the need for Operation Flood which is regarded as one of the world’s largest rural development programme since it provided farmers the control over the milk production by ensuring fair market prices for their production. By not only providing agrarian justice by establishing institutions for improving farmer’s welfare conditions, he even encouraged people to engage in this fair profession for their livelihood.
Hence, through his ideas of NDBC and Green Revolution, he was truly an icon for justice by dealing with the problem of the masses and provided effective means to tackle the problem whose glimpses could be relished even today.
Indira Gandhi can truly be regarded as an implementer rather than a proposer by bringing the ideas of Lal Bahadur Shashtri to come to reality by the commencement of Green Revolution in the country, which increased self-sufficiency among the farmers by increasing production of wheat and reduced our dependence on imports and external support. Rural justice was thus ensured by her by promoting welfare and improving financial justice to the farmers.
India’s involvement in Indo-Pak war resulted from repeated attacks in India through Air strikes and it was Indira Gandhi who declared the commencement of war and finally paved the way to victory for India through her planned skill and strategy, thus ensuring showing the true power of sovereignty and strength that India processes by consolidating Indian Power in Kashmir.
In addition, she signed the Shimla Agreement with President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan, which was much more than a peace treaty seeking to reverse the consequences of the 1971 war (i.e. to bring about withdrawals of troops and an exchange of POWs). It was a comprehensive blue print for good neighborly relations between India and Pakistan, thereby ensuring justice for the people of both countries by reducing conflicts, tensions and ensuring peace and harmony between the nations, considering the extent of grudge that one country held against the other at that time. Moreover, it ensured that people’s wealth and resources was not used for wasteful expenditure and thus forms the basis for economic justice to the people.
Under the Shimla Agreement both countries undertook to abjure conflict and confrontation which had marred relations in the past, and to work towards the establishment of durable peace, friendship and cooperation.[v]This clearly shows that Indira Gandhi brought justice in ensuring peace and reducing tensions and conflicts among the two nations after the brutal phase of Indo-Pak war, which further ensured economic growth ( by not indulging in wasteful expenditure on war products).
Further, most of the banks were privatized during her time which hindered growth as the deposits in these banks were used for channeling the deposits into the private sector’s own companies, and ignoring the priority sector. Furthermore, there was a great resentment against class banking in India, which had left the poor (the majority population) unbanked. So, in an attempt on raising the bank’s loan to more important sectors of economy and ensuring on giving loans equally among the people (regardless of whether poor or rich), Indira Gandhi tackled the problem by nationalizing banks and brought them under government sector.
In the area of administration, Indira Gandhi accepted Alkali’s demand for s separate Punjab state, leading to demarcation of Hindi-speaking southern half of Punjab became a separate state, Haryana, while the Pahari speaking hilly areas in the north east were joined to Himachal Pradesh, which has proved to be fruitful in present times as could be seen in the present economic, military and technological development in the three states.
Indira Gandhi had a major hand in development of nuclear power energy, furthering her father’s dream for making India self-dependent on having its own nuclear weapons and creating its powers through itself. Through this way, Indira Gandhi gave her authority to develop nuclear weapons in the year 1967. She presented the views of her father and former prime minister and told that it is for the security of the country and to compete with other countries. She saw the nuclear powers of China and because of this thing she made this authority to make India superpower country.[vi] Dr. Ramanna reported to Gandhi about the discovery of first nuclear weapon of India and the program got complete in the year 1974. Indira Gandhi at the same time gave verbal authorization for the test of the newly constructed weapon. It was decided to test it in the Army Pokhran Test Range. The name of the operation was Smiling Buddha[vii] which was carried out secretly.
Thus, Indira Gandhi proved as a landmark for justice done to her position as the Prime Minister and to the people by emerging as a strong womanhood figure in promoting peace, stability, development and used her authoritative power up to the brim for nation’s benefit.
Possessed with a bank of political acumen and a sharp intellect, Rajiv Gandhi truly bought justice to his tenure as a Prime Minister and to the people of the nation by expanding telecommunication in the nation which eventually made the lives of its citizen lavish and simpler. In dealing with party affairs, Gandhi showed little tolerance for those members who were incompetent, corrupt, or sycophantic followers of the Gandhi family. He started to streamline the Congress (I) organization by introducing modern managerial techniques and trying to bring younger, more dynamic people into the decision-making process. This ensured administrative justice to the nation by filtering the political system at that time.
With these attempts and his rather gentle, soft-spoken personality, he gained an honorable reputation, although observers often wondered whether he had the political acumen and experience to deal with the knotty problems of state faced by his mother’s administration, such as national integration and economic development[viii], thereby living up to the expectations of the Indian masses.
Gandhi moved swiftly to deal with the Sikh agitation, bringing up justice for the Sikhs which they had long hoped for. In 1985 the Rajiv-Longowal Accord was signed which granted the Sikhs most of their demands. This agreement was also accompanied by accords in Assam and Mizoram. These achievements provided regional justices to the people according to their respective needs.
Gandhi also declared that he would hold party elections and denounced the working of Congress at its centenary session (1985). But perhaps the most significant innovation was the emphasis on modernization of the economy and economic liberalization. This created an access to consumer goods that had been largely denied to Indians under Nehruvian planning.[ix]
In addition, he escalated government support for science and technology by reducing import duties and tariffs on technological based industries like aviation, telecommunication and computer industries. Besides, he announced a National Policy of Education for raising the standard of higher education in India. Educational justice was, therefore, proliferated among the poor masses of the people for whom seeking education seemed to be a distant dream. In a nutshell, he acted as a pyramid for promoting justice.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee is well known for introducing National Highway Development Project, a pioneer project for raising the standards and upgrading, rehabilitating and widening major highways in India to a higher standard, which is managed by National Highway Authority of India. Economic justice was therefor considered a front seat during his time.
In addition, a number of Pokhran nuclear tests were conducted under his leadership, which raised the global standards of world class nuclear products for India and showed its strength in nuclear energy.
He also provided justice to the rural population by introducing Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana which was launched on 25th December 2000 as a fully funded Centrally Sponsored Scheme to provide all weather road connectivity in rural areas of the country. The programme envisages connecting all habitations with a population of 500 persons and above in the plain areas and 250 persons and above in hill States, the tribal and the desert areas.[x]
Moreover, he also expanded ties with People Republic of China and resolved the territorial disputes with it. In addition, it expanded ties with Israel with the hope to combat terrorism. Thus, he not only thought of peace and took steps in ensuring it and hence ensured sovereignty justice by increasing India’s hold and power in the international arena. He promoted justice to the rural people by opening employment and earning opportunities for the poor. He undertook economic justice through the initiation of National Highway Development Projects.
Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India, was a great academician and lawyer. He was a prominent figure in India’s struggle against the Britishers and had a vision of seeing an Independent India for which he took great pains. He was an active member in the Champaran movement led by Mahatma Gandhi for the welfare of Champaran peasants and indirectly instigated a public revolt by all the peasants of the country against the exploitation and injustices, thereby fighting for their justice.
In 1911, he joined Indian National Congress and was subsequently elected to Ache became the Bihar congress’ president in the year of 1920 and after sometime, he was elected as congress party’s General Secretary.[xi] In the year of 1930, he joined civil disobedience movement for which he was put in jail. He even started a campaign to establish Hindi as a National language and in 1934; he collected relief funds for the state of Bihar devastated by the Earthquake. In addition, he joined Quit India Movement owing to the menial attitude of the Britishers for which he was imprisoned in jail. Later, he was chosen as the member of the Constituent Assembly and thus played a very important role in drafting the Constitution of India which shapes the direction of the country even today. Thus, Rajendra Kumar provided legal and sovereign justice to the people of India by playing a major role in ousting the Britishers. Rajendra Prasad even ensured social justice for the Champaran people and economic justice for the people affected by earthquake in Bihar, making him a guardian of providing justice.
APJ Abdul Kalam has always been affectionately known as the People’s President for the wide range of works done for their benefit. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam was the most popular President of India and redefined the role of President by his proactiveness and vision for a developed India. He stoked the imagination of the country with his righteous conduct, his dreams of a future India and his simple lifestyle.
His passion has always been to work with children to make their future better and he did motivate many children who were with us at the inauguration in his trademark earthy style. He inaugurated the Project in relation to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan named “Madras Cosmopolitan Round Table 94” which comprised of building of 55 Classrooms and 22 Toilet blocks in the underprivileged schools under “Freedom through Education”.[xii]
In addition, farmers of Paliganj drew and reaped benefits from Abdul Kalam’s teaching about science of agriculture. The villagers attribute their burgeoning wealth, commensurate with the increase in agricultural yield, to Kalam’s several visits to the village over the years. Between 2003 and 2011, the former President visited the village four times and during each visit he sat with the farmers to teach them how to increase the yield, which eventually resulted in quantitative increase in wheat production from 5 quintal to 12 quintal.[xiii] Kalam also taught farmers the importance of certified seeds, time period required for sowing the seed and proper storage of the crop and also taught them to cultivate medicinal plants in between Rabi and Kharif seasons.
The President of India, in his address to Parliament on 25th February, 2005, proclaimed a major business plan for rebuilding rural India called Bharat Nirman. The Finance Minister in the year 2005 identified Rural Roads as one of the six components of Bharat Nirman and has set a goal to provide connectivity to all habitations with a population of 1000 persons and above (500 persons and above in the case of hilly or tribal areas) with an all-weather road and a total of 59564 habitations are proposed to be provided new connectivity under Bharat Nirman.[xiv]This would involve construction of 1, 46,185 Kms of rural roads and in addition to new connectivity, Bharat Nirman envisages upgradation and renewal of 1, 94,130 Kms of the rural roads.[xv] In addition, he was a notable scientist and a teacher and is regarded as the Missile Man of India for his treacherous work done during his lifetime and is considered a leading progressive and a visionary man of India. Kalam played a pivotal organizational, technical and political role in India’s Pokhran-II nuclear test in 1998, the first ever since the original nuclear test by India in 1974.[xvi]
APJ Abdul Kalam’s views on certain issues have been espoused by him in his book India 2020 where he strongly advocates an action plan to develop India into a knowledge superpower and into a developed nation by the year 2020.[xvii] All this clearly shows the justice mechanism which was followed by APJ Abdul Kalam to all range of people, i.e. form poor to rich and from young to adults. This also ensured social development among the poor and raised their status in the society by increasing their procession over the economic resources and hence bridging the gap between rich and poor. All types of justice, whether political, economic, social, were taken care of during his tenure as the President of India, making him an Icon of Justice.
A guardian of Justice, D. Devaraj Urs was the 8th Chief Minister and is the longest serving CM of Karnataka whose works are remembered and cherished even today. Devaraj Urs was the voice of the poor and downtrodden people living in Karnataka.
Among the contributions of the late Chief Minister was the stress laid on the education of the people belonging to the backward classes and establishment of the backwards and minorities hostels for the students hailing from those sections of society.[xviii]The Minorities Department too was started by him and many works including employing 16,000 graduates in the stipendiary scheme, removing bonded labor and renaming of Mysore as the Karnataka, where some of his contributions for the welfare of minorities and poor people, thereby making him a social reformer. He reduced the inequality between the rich and the poor through land reform measures which introduced the concept of ‘Land to the Tiller’. These achievements show the impeccable hardwork shown by D. Devraj Urs in paving the path for justice and hence regarded as an icon of justice.
Narendra Modi, who recently became the Prime Ministerial candidate from BJP, has been a leading figure for the party and a popular support for the millions of people. Presumably, it is his works and the justice ensured in bringing all forms of developments in Gujarat. Not only India but foreign countries like US have been praising Modi for effective governance in Gujarat. According to the latest report of the Congressional Research Service (CRS), “Perhaps India’s best example of effective governance and impressive development is found in Gujarat, where controversial Chief Minister Narendra Modi has streamlined economic processes, removing red-tape and curtailing corruption in ways that have made the state a key driver of national economic growth.”[xix] Modi has focused much towards infrastructure projects such as road-building and improving the state’s poor energy grid. In one of the articles, it was said by an author in the Forbes India Magazine that “I’ve seen the man in action. He is a visionary. Go to Gujarat and see. He has cleaned up the administration. Investments are flowing. He is transforming the state.”[xx]
Industrial growth has been impeccable with more and more land being given to industrialist at cheaper rates (like those given to Maruti Suzuki Limited, Ford, etc.) and more children are going to school than ever before and agricultural growth has escalated several times the national average. Besides, arable land in the state had increased by many hectares and land covered by micro-irrigation projects alone had increased by a large margin in the decade of his rule. Moreover, Gujarat has been a leading producer in solar power generation with the installed capacity of 824.09 Mega Watts (MW),[xxi] ensuring sustainable development and justice to the future generation by not compromising with their needs and ensuring equitable distribution of resources between the present and future generation. In addition, with companies being increasingly established in Gujarat, it has provided ample jobs for the people and thus retarded the problem of unemployment and poor standard of living. Thus, like an icon of justice, he took no compromise in ensuring economic and administrative justice for the people of Gujarat through the undertaking of numerous developmental programmes by using his administrative skills and turned Gujarat as one of the most prosperous state of the nation.
A shining figure of Bihar with his third term as the Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar proved beyond doubt on how to develop a region from backward to the era of development. Bihar has had a record number of criminal prosecutions through fast track courts under his rule, thereby providing legal justice to the legally injured people. His government did a mandatory weekly meeting with all District Magistrates to keep a regular and a persistent check on the progress at the grassroot level. This made him a pioneer in providing an impetus to legal system of the nation.
He has proved to be an important figure in generating employment in police services and teaching, thereby ensuring justice among them. Bihar recorded burgeoning construction work during his five year mandate which has surpassed the national average. In addition, many health schemes were launched to improve village hospitals and the free medicine distribution system was additionally provided for poor’s benefit. Loan schemes for farmers were improved by involving national banks.
Nitish Kumar government started bicycle and meal programs – the government gave bicycles to girls who stayed and studied in schools – which resulted in increasing admissions of girls into the schools and fall in school drop-out rates.[xxii] Women and extremely backward castes were given 50% reservation in electoral for the first time ever in India. The state witnessed steep hike in GSDP growth, the second highest in the country. Bihar was recently recorded as the highest tax payer state in eastern India, showing the burgeoning economic justice prevailing in the state.
Durga Shakti has been a key bureaucrat in providing justice to the nation by detecting illegal sand mining that was being carried out near the mosque through the destruction of the wall that was to form a part of the mosque and thereby seizing trucks carrying sand .She curtailed illegal mining in Uttar Pradesh, the northern Indian state where she was a local magistrate. It was something heroic on her path to raise questions over the authority for which she was working and the fear of being removed and posted to some other place did not baffle her. She stood firm in what she said and the controversy surrounding the wall, with Akilesh Government saying that the deconstruction of the wall may hurt religious sentiments, was probably made as an excuse to oust Ms. Nagpal for clamping down on Uttar Pradesh’s thriving trade in illegal sand mining, Even her suspension did not change her opinion and her noble cause moved Sonia Gandhi who wrote a letter to Prime Minister to ensure that Nagpal were not treated unfairly. Even the matter was discusses in the Parliament to discuss about politicians using their power to remove and suspend civil servants without giving a probable reason. A day after she met Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, suspended IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal was on Sunday reinstated. She clarified her stand to the CM on demolition of mosque wall.[xxiii]This shows that to grab justice, one should fight for it, which could be seen in Ms. Nagpal’s conduct which raised the nationwide protest about illegal sand mining done by the companies and crony capitalism involved by the politicians and has made the illegal sand mining an open secret.
Ashok Khemka has indeed proved to be a boon for the people by showing them how the crony capitalism has not only affected the poor population by taking away of their land but also broke the trust of millions of Indians on the Indian political system. This is one of the most heroic incidents in the present times with Khemka challenging the son in law of the major political party Congress’ president. Mr. Khemka was Director General, Land Holdings and Land Records and Inspector General of Registration, Haryana, in October 2012 when he decided to set aside the mutation of Mr. Vadra’s property giving effect to the sale deed in favor of DLF.[xxiv]This is the crudest form of decision taken by the Haryana Government by suspending Ashok Khemka who fought for Justice for all the people of the nation whose money are snatched by the Government for their own vested interest and to help big businessman to flourish which they have already done. The cheap sale of land to Robert Vadra by the government is indeed a major concern for the country where many people could not afford three time meal a day and it is Ashok Khemka who brought out this matter for people to see the real face of the government they themselves have chosen and may understand the importance of voting to bring a change in the political scenario in the country.
Edited by Hariharan Kumar
[i] Moraes, Frank R..”Jawahar Lal Nehru”.Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2013.
[ii]Moraes, Frank R..”Jawahar Lal Nehru”.Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2013.
[iii]Thakur, Anil Kumar, and Debes Mukhopadhayay.Economic Philosophy of Jawaharlal Nehru.Deep and Deep Publications. 2010. Print.
[iv]Briney, Amanda.“Green Revolution-History and Overview of the Green Revolution”.About.com, n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2013.
[v]“Simla Agreement July 2, 1972.” Ministry of External Affairs-Government of India, 1972.Web. 27 Sept. 2013.
[vi]“Nuclear Weapon Programme.”Indira Gandhi, n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2013.
[vii]“Nuclear Weapon Programme.”Indira Gandhi, n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2013.
[viii] Gale Group. Encyclopedia of World Biography. New York: Gale Cengage Learning, 1996. Print.
[ix] Kavanagh, Dennis. A Dictionary of Political Biography.Oxford University Press, 1998. Print.
[x]“Introduction.” Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India, n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2013.
[xi]“Biography.” Rajendra Prasad, n.d. Web. 2 Oct. 2013.
[xii] Editor, The Economist. “Farmers of Paliganj reap benefits from APJ Abdul Kalam’s teachings.”The Economic Times: 13 December 2012, 1. Print.
[xiv]“Introduction.” Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India, n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2013.
[xvi] “AP J Abdul Kalam Biography.” n.p., n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2013.
[xviii] Editor, The Hindu. “Devaraj Urs had ushered in a `silent social revolution’.” The Hindu 21 Aug. 2006: 1. Print.
[xix] Editor, The Hindu.“U.S. report lauds Modi, says Gujarat best example of effective governance.” The Hindu 15 Sept. 2011. Print.
[xx]Narayanan, Dinesh. ”Narendra Modi: Role Model of Governance.”Forbes India 24 Sept. 2013: 1-5. Print.
[xxi]IREDA, NVVN, State Agencies and Project Developers.”State-wise solar installed capacity break-up.” mnre.gov.in, 9 March 2013.Web. 28 Sept. 2013.
[xxii] “India’s poorest state: A triumph in Bihar.” Banyan Asia. The Economist, 25 Nov. 2013. Web. 28 Sept. 2013.
[xxiii]Khan, Atik. “Durga Nagpal reinstated.” The Hindu 22 Sept. 2013: 1. Print.
[xxiv] Dogra, Chander Suta. “Ousted after probing land deal, Khemka digs deeper.” The Hindu 11 August 2013: 1. Print.