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Babu Jagjivan Ram
File:Jagjivan Ram.jpg
4th Deputy Prime Minister of India

In office
24 March 1977 – 28 July 1979
Serving with Charan Singh
Prime Minister Morarji Desai
Preceded by Morarji Desai
Succeeded by Yashwantrao Chavan
Minister of Defence

In office
24 March 1977 – 1 July 1978
Prime Minister Morarji Desai
Preceded by Sardar Swaran Singh
Succeeded by Sardar Swaran Singh

In office
27 June 1970 – 10 October 1974
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi
Preceded by Bansi Lal
Succeeded by Chidambaram Subramaniam
Personal details
Born (1908-04-05)5 April 1908
Chandwa, Bhojpur, Bihar, British India
Died 6 July 1986(1986-07-06) (aged 78)
Political party Indian National Congress-Jagjivan (1981–1986)
Other political
Indian National Congress (Before 1977)
Congress for Democracy (1977)
Janata Party (1977–1981)
Spouse(s) Indrani Devi (1935-1986)
Children Suresh Kumar
Ashok Ram
Meira Kumar
Alma mater Banaras Hindu University
University of Calcutta

Jagjivan Ram (5 April 1908 – 6 July 1986), known popularly as Babuji, was an Indian independence activist and politician from Bihar. 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. His contribution to the Green Revolution in India and modernising Indian agriculture, during his two tenures as Union Agriculture Minister are still remembered, especial during 1974 drought when he was asked to hold the additional portfolio to tide over the food crisis.[1][2]

Though he supported Prime Minister Indira Gandhi during the Emergency (1975–77), he left Congress in 1977 and joined the Janata Party alliance, along with his Congress for Democracy. He later served as the Deputy Prime Minister of India (1977–79), then in 1980, he formed Congress (J).[3]

Early life and education

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, and being skilled in calligraphy, illustrated many books for the sect that were distributed locally.[4][5]

Young Jagjivan attended a local school in January 1914. Upon the premature death of his father, Jagjivan and his mother Vasanti Devi were left in a harsh economic situation. 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. Jagjivan drank water from the Hindu pot, and because he was from an untouchable class, the matter was reported to the Principal, who placed a third pot for "untouchables" in the school. Jagjivan broke this pot twice in protest, until the Principal decided against placing the third pot.[4][5] A turning point in his life came in 1925, when Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya visited his school, and impressed by his welcome address, invited him to join the Banaras Hindu University.[citation needed]

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.[6] As a Dalit student, he was denied basic services like meals in his hostel and haircuts by local barbers. A Dalit barber would arrive occasionally to trim his hair. Eventually, Jagjivan left BHU and continued his education at Calcutta University. The incidents in BHU turned him into an atheist. In 2007, the BHU set up a Babu Jagjivan Ram Chair in its faculty of social sciences to study caste discrimination and economic backwardness.[7][8]

He received a B. Sc. degree from the University of Calcutta in 1931, where again he organised conferences to draw attention toward issues of discrimination, and also participated in the anti-untouchability movement started by Mahatma Gandhi.[6]

Early career

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. When the devastating 1934 Nepal–Bihar earthquake occurred he got actively involved in the relief work and his efforts were appreciated.[9] When popular rule was introduced under the 1935 Act and the scheduled castes were given representation in the legislatures, both the nationalists and the British loyalists sought him because of his first-hand knowledge of the social and economic situation in Bihar, Jagjivan Ram was nominated to the Bihar Council. 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 B. R. Ambedkar; he was elected to the Bihar assembly in 1937. However, he resigned his membership on the issue of irrigation cess.[10]

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.[2] 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.[11]

Parliamentary career

In 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.[12] 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,[13] his chief political mentor and also the then head of the delegation, and few days later he was elected President of the ILO.[14] He served as Labour minister until 1952.He was member of the Constituent assembly that drafted India's constitution.Ram also served in the interim national government of 1946.[15] Later, he held several ministerial posts in Nehru's Cabinet – Communications (1952–56), Transport and Railways (1956–62), and Transport and Communications (1962–63)ref>Haqqi,, Anwarul Haque ,Indian Political Science Association (1986). Indian Democracy at the Crossroads I. New Delhi: Mittal Publications. pp. 122. </ref>.

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.[2][16][17] 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, Minister for Agriculture and Irrigation (1974–77). 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.

A few days before the elections, on a Sunday, Jagjivan Ram addressed an Opposition rally at the famous Ram Lila Grounds in Delhi. The national broadcaster Doordarshan allegedly attempted to stop crowds from participating in the demonstration by telecasting the blockbuster movie Bobby. The rally still drew large crowds, and a newspaper headline the next day ran "Babu beats Bobby" .[18] He was the Deputy Prime Minister of India when Morarji Desai was the prime minister, from 1977 to 1979, though initially reluctant to join the cabinet, and was not present at the oath-taking ceremony on 27 March 1977; he eventually did so at the behest of Jai Prakash Narayan, who insisted that his presence for necessary, "not just as an individual but as a political and social force" and took oath later on.[19] However, he was once again given the defence portfolio. His last position in government was as Deputy Prime Minister of India in the Janata Party government of 1977-1979,[20][21][22] Disillusioned with the Janata party he formed his own party, the Congress (J). He remained a member of Parliament till his death in 1986, after over forty years as a parliamentarian. He was elected from Sasaram parliament constituency in Bihar. His uninterrupted representation in the Parliament from 1936 to 1986 is a world record.

Positions held

  • He holds the record for being the longest-serving cabinet minister in India for 30 years. (Ref. Kendriya Mantripraishad 1947–2004, published by Loksabha Secretriate)
  • Union Minister of Labour, 1946–1952.
  • Union Minister for Communications, 1952–1956.
  • Union Minister for Transport and Railways, 1956–1962.
  • Union Minister for Transport and Communications, 1962–1963.
  • Union Minister for Labour, Employment and Rehabilitation, 1966–1967.
  • Union Minister for Food and Agriculture, 1967–1970.
  • Union Minister of Defence, 1970–1974, 1977–1979.
  • Union Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, 1974–1977.
  • Founding Member, Congress for Democracy party (aligned with Janata Party), 1977.
  • Deputy Prime Minister of India, 23 March 1977 – 22 August 1979.
  • Founder, Congress (J).
  • He served as President of the Bharat Scouts and Guides from September 1976 to April 1983.[23]

Personal life

In August 1933, his first wife died after a brief illness. In June 1935, he married Indrani Devi, a daughter of Dr. Birbal, a well-known social worker of Kanpur. The couple had two children, Suresh Kumar who was infamously reported in Menaka Gandhi's Surya newspaper, having marital relationship with a 21-year-old woman.[24][25] and Meira Kumar, a five-time Member of Parliament, who won from his former seat Sasaram in both 2004 and 2009, and became the first woman Speaker of Lok Sabha in 2009.


The place of his cremation has been turned into a memorial, Samata Sthal, and his birth anniversary is observed as Samata Diwas., (Equality Day) in India. His birth centenary celebrations were held all over the nation in 2008. Demands for awarding him a posthumous Bharat Ratna have been raised from time to time Hyderabad.[26][27] Andhra University which had conferred an honorary doctorate on him in 1973, and in 2009 on the occasion of his 101st birth anniversary, his statue was unveiled on the university premises .[28]

To propagate his ideologies, the 'Babu Jagjivan Ram National Foundation', has been set up by Ministry of Social Justice, Govt. of India in Delhi.[29]

The training academy for Railway Protection Force officers is named after Jagjivan Ram.

The first indigenously built electric locomotive, a WAM-1 model, was named after him and was recently restored by the Eastern Railway.

In 2015, the Babu Jagjeevan Ram English Medium Secondary School was established in Mahatma Gandhi Nagar, Yerawada, Pune. As of March 2016, the school serves 125 7th and 8th graders from Yerawada. The school honours Babuji and his advocacy of education and opportunity for all people of lower castes by being the first Pune Municipal Corporation public school to offer education past the 7th grade.[30]


  1. M. S. Swaminathan (7 February 2008). "Jagjivan Ram & inclusive agricultural growth". The Hindu. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Prez, PM call for a second green revolution". The Times of India. 6 April 2008. Retrieved 27 August 2009. 
  3. "Jagjivan Ram". 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Profile Jagjivan Ram:Early life Archived 9 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Bakshi, S. R. (1992). Jagjivan Ram: The Harijan Leader. Anmol Publications PVT. LTD.. pp. 1–2. ISBN 81-7041-496-2. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Jagjivan ram Research Reference and Training Div., Ministry of I & B, Govt. of India.
  7. "Denied table, given Chair". The Telegraph (Kolkata). 1 November 2007. Retrieved 25 August 2009. 
  8. "BHU News: A chair for late Jagjivan Ram inaugurated". IT-BHU. August 2007. 
  9. "Valedictory Centenary Lecture by President of India on Jagjivan Ram Centenary Function". President of India website. 5 April 2008. 
  10. Past Presidents Archived 5 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Indian National Congress INC Official website.
  11. "Jagjivan Ram an example of development politics". The Hindu. 6 April 2007. 
  12. Kohli, Atul (Editor) (2001). The success of India's democracy. Cambridge [u.a.]: Cambridge University Press. p. 37. ISBN 978-0521805308. Retrieved 12 September 2017. 
  13. Kamat. "Biography: Anugrah Narayan Sinha". Kamat's archive. Retrieved 2006-06-25. 
  14. Nehru, Jawaharlal (1984). Selected works of Jawaharlal Nehru, Volume 14, Part 2. Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund. p. 340. 
  15. Sharma, Jagdish Chandra (2002). Indian prime ministership : a comprehensive study. New Delhi: Concept. p. 19. ISBN 9788170229247. Retrieved 12 September 2017. 
  16. Brass, Paul R. (1994). The Politics of India since Independence (The new Cambridge history of India.) (2. ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. p. 249. ISBN 978-0521453622. 
  17. "Babu Jagjivan Ram Bhavan to be built". The Hindu. 6 April 2007. 
  18. "Emergency: Memories of the dark midnight". The Hindu, Business Line. 25 June 2005. 
  19. Mirchandani, G.G. (2003). 320 Million Judges. Abhinav Publications. p. 178. ISBN 81-7017-061-3. 
  20. Sharma, Jagdish Chandra (2002). Indian prime ministership : a comprehensive study. New Delhi: Concept. pp. 39–40. ISBN 9788170229247. 
  21. Mirchandani, G.G. (2003). 320 Million Judges. Abhinav Publications. pp. 95–96. ISBN 9788170170617. Retrieved 11 September 2017. 
  22. "deputy PM Jagjivan Ram". 
  23. Bharat Souts and Guides
  24. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 July 2006. Retrieved 2006-06-14. 
  26. "Confer Bharat Ratna on Jagjivan Ram: Naidu". The Hindu. 6 April 2006. 
  27. "Tributes paid to Jagjivan Ram". The Hindu. 6 April 2007. 
  28. "Jagjivan Ram's services recalled". The Hindu. 6 April 2009. 
  29. "A brief on Babu Jagjivan Ram National Foundation". 
  30. "The Need at iTeach Schools". 

Further reading and bibliography

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Bansi Lal
Minister of Defence
Succeeded by
Chidambaram Subramaniam
Preceded by
Morarji Desai
Deputy Prime Minister of India
Served alongside: Charan Singh
Succeeded by
Yashwantrao Chavan
Preceded by
Sardar Swaran Singh
Minister of Defence
Succeeded by
Sardar Swaran Singh
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Dharma Vira
President of the Bharat Scouts and Guides
Succeeded by
Shankarrao Chavan

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