Jagjivan Ram (1908-1986)
| Jagjivan Ram was
born into a low class Hindu family at Chandwa near Arrah. He was among the
first of his caste to receive a higher education. He attended Benares Hindu
University and Calcutta University (B.Sc., 1931), becoming a member of
Mohandas K. Gandhi
's Congress Party in 1931. He played a role in the founding of the All-India
Depressed Classes League in 1935, an organization dedicated to attaining equality
for untouchables. During the late 1930s he also was elected to a position
in the Bihar government and helped organize a rural labour movement
During the days of freedom struggle as other leaders he too was jailed
twice in the early 1940's for his political activities. Jagjivan Ram was
the youngest minister in the Nehru
provisional government. Till 1952 he was in-charge of Labour Ministry.
Thereafter he held the posts of minister for communications (1952-56), for
transport and railways (1956-62), and for transport and communications (1962-63)
Ram was a staunch supporter of the congress. When Mrs.
's bid for office, and, when in 1966 she succeeded
Lal Bahadur Shastri
to the office of Prime Minister, Ram was appointed minister for labour.
He served as minister for food and agriculture (1967-70), and in 1970 he was
made minister of defense. During his tenure in that office, India helped to
establish the independent state of Bangladesh. From 1974-77 Ram was minister
for agriculture and irrigation. Although he initially supported Prime Minister
Gandhi's declaration (1975) of a state of emergency, in 1977 Ram and five
other politicians resigned from the Cabinet and formed a new political party.
Disappointed that he was not chosen Prime Minister, Ram once again accepted
the post of minister of defense (1977-79). He remained a Member of Parliament
until his death.