A Eulogy for the Jawan and the Kisan

Politics

A Eulogy for the Jawan and the Kisan

Illustration: Juergen Dsouza

T

his the flavour of the season, so let’s start things off on a patriotic note. Lal Bahadur Shastri was one of our most beloved and well-respected Prime Ministers. His term, which was cut short because of his premature death in 1966, saw him lead the country through the largest war with Pakistan since both countries achieved their independence. The 1965 Indo-Pak War coincided with a scarcity of food grains in the country, creating a compound problem for the Prime Minister to tackle.

Against this backdrop, PM Shastri coined a slogan that mobilised national sentiment in support of the two groups striving to keep the country safe and prosperous: Jai Jawan Jai Kisan! Meant to cheer on soldiers and farmers, it conjures the image of an idyllic nation that honours its agricultural heritage and the sacrifices of its armed forces. The refrain captured the imagination of the population, and persisted in the social consciousness long after the war had ended. In fact, it’s still being used and modified today by speakers looking to drum up nationalistic fervour.

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