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Babuji's Biography
 

Babu Jagjivan Ram had the unique distinction of serving as a Member of the Central Legislature uninterruptedly for over four decades. Till his last breath, he was a sitting member of the Lok Sabha- his Eighth term- consecutively since the First General Election. Babuji has had the distinction of being the longest-serving Minister in the Government of India. Jagjivan Ram was known for his apt handling of Parliamentary business. His oratory skill was well-acknowledged and admired in Parliament. As a Union Minister, he introduced numerous Bills in the Lok Sabha and piloted their passage in Parliament.

In post-independent India, Babuji's contribution to nation-building has left an indelible mark. He was the Minister of Labour during 1946-52, a portfolio he held again in 1966-67. Besides the Labour Ministry, the other Ministries he held were Communications (1952-56), Railways (1956-62), Transport and Communications (1962-63), Food and Agriculture (1967-70), Defence (1970-74), and Agriculture and Irrigation (1974-77). When the Janata Party Government, headed by Morarji Desai was formed in 1977, Jagjivan Ram joined it as a Cabinet Minister, holding the Defence portfolio. He also became the Deputy Prime Minister and held the Defence portfolio from 24 January 1979 to 28 July 1979.

As Labour Minister, he introduced time-tested policies and laws for labour welfare. He was instrumental in enacting some of the landmark legislations for labour, viz. the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947; the Minimum Wages Act, 1948; the Indian Trade Union (Amendment) Act, 1960; the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, etc. He laid the foundation of social security by way of enacting two important Acts, namely, the Employees State Insurance Act, 1948 and the Provident Fund Act, 1952.

As Minister of Communications, he nationalized the private airlines and spread postal facilities to the remote villages. Babuji, while holding the portfolio of the Transport and Communication Ministry was successful in enacting the Air Corporation Act, 1953 which substantially strengthened the civil aviation sector and resulted in the genesis of Air India and Indian Airlines as a national air carrier. Realising the huge potential of the shipping sector, Jagjivan Ram emphasized the expansion of its fleet to cover all the important trade routes of the world, which ultimately resulted in a substantial increase in the total cargo shipment and in turn gave a boost to foreign trade and an increase in the foreign exchange reserves.

As Railway Minister, he modernized Railways and took innumerable welfare measures for Railway employees and set a record by not allowing any increase in passenger fares for five years. It is worth recalling that during the tenure of Babuji as Railway Minister, Brahmaputra bridge was built, which is a unique example of engineering excellence. With the construction of the bridge, Assam and other North-East bordering States got connected with the mainland of the country and it paved the way for full development of that region. Apart from being an important means of national unity and integration, strategic importance of this bridge further increased, keeping in view the security-related challenges being faced by the North-East bordering States. This is an excellent example of Babuji's farsightedness.

As Food and Agriculture Minister, he pulled the country out of the clutches of a severe drought, heralded the Green Revolution and for the first time made India self-sufficient in food. He also organized the Public Distribution System to ensure that the food is made available to the masses at a reasonable price.

Babu Jagjivan Ram's inspiring leadership as Defence Minister galvanized the entire nation and the Armed Forces to deal with the crisis in East Pakistan. It was indeed a saga of unparalleled valour, as nearly one lakh soldiers of Pakistan Army laid down their arms before the Indian Army. In fact the creation of a new nation, Bangladesh brought about a watershed in the geo-politics of the South Asian region. The historic and decisive victory of 1971 bears testimony to the confidence, patience and immense courage of Babuji. It was during his tenure as the Defence Minister that India entered into the Indo-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation.

Babu Jagjivan Ram symbolized the dawn of a new era of assertion, equality and empowerment for the depressed classes. As a member of the Constituent Assembly, he played an active role in formulating the provision for State intervention for the advancement of socially backward classes by way of reservation in public employment and reservation of seats in legislatures for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. He was instrumental in the making of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955. For his unwavering support and relentless struggle for the cause of the downtrodden, he has been rightly called the 'Messiah of Dalits'.

Leaving behind the message of equality, Babuji breathed his last on 6 July 1986 at New Delhi. As a national leader who shared his political career with many generations, from Mahatma Gandhi to Rajiv Gandhi, he has left the legacy of a sincere and dedicated political leader, a committed public servant, freedom fighter, social reformist, revolutionary and true humanist.

A more detailed profile is available at "Babu Jagjivan Ram Profile"

 
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