Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan: Memorable Slogan, But What Does It Mean?

Why Lal Bahadur Shastri’s ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’ will never die in this alliteration-driven slogan-a-day era.

2 min read
Hindi Female

(The following article has been republished from The Quint’s archives to mark Lal Bahadur Shashtri's death anniversary, taking a look into one of his most prominent slogan ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ in the backdrop of the farmers’ protest in India. The piece was originally published on 11 January 2016.)

‘Start up India’, ‘Stand Up India’, ‘Make in India’ – which one of these do you reckon could define our political history like ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’ did?

Coined by Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri during a public rally at Ramlila Maidan in 1965, the slogan struck a chord with an India that was fighting Pakistan at the border (Jai Jawan) and battling a severe food scarcity at home (Jai Kisan).

Jai Jawan

The humiliating defeat against China in the 1962 war called for some serious action. By retaining YB Chavan, his predecessor Jawaharlal Nehru’s choice for the new Defence Minister, Lal Bahadur Shatri allowed for drastic changes in defense procurement. Chavan dumped the obsolete Soviet equipment and chose to do business with the Western Bloc. So when Pakistan went on the offensive in 1965, India was better prepared and better equipped.

Why Lal Bahadur Shastri’s ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’ will never die in this alliteration-driven slogan-a-day era.
Captured Sherman Tank of the Pakistani Army (Photo Courtesy: Indian Defence News)

Not just that, on September 6, when the Indian Army found itself pinned down by Pakistani forces in the Akhnoor Sector, it is Shastri’s decisive leadership that helped India gain the upper hand. He ordered the bold move to invade West Pakistan.

The BBC reported that Indian troops had crossed into West Pakistan, “crossing the border at three points in an attack that appeared to be aimed mainly at the city of Lahore”.

Jai Kisan

Remember Rahul Gandhi fumbling for words to stake credit for Amul? The boast was made possible by the foresight and efforts of Shastri who was at the helm of affairs when India was hit by two monster droughts in 1965 and 1966. When food grain production was reduced by 1/5th, food aid saved India from mass starvation. To overcome this shortage, Shastri asked experts to devise long-term strategies. He was instrumental in guiding both the Green Revolution and the White Revolution.

Why Lal Bahadur Shastri’s ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’ will never die in this alliteration-driven slogan-a-day era.
Source: January 7, 1966 report in American newspaper Toledo Blade

Part of Shastri’s initiatives was to the move Minister of Steel C Subramaniam to the Agriculture Ministry. Subramaniam came from a farming background and had first-hand knowledge of the problems faced by the Indian farmers. He helped establish the Indian Council of Agriculture Research and experimented with hybrid seeds to increase crop productivity.

It’s uncertain how Shatri died, but what one can be certain of, is that the country’s second Prime Minister lived up to his slogan.

Jai Jawan Jai Kisan!

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