06 July 1986
Death of Jagjivan Ram
Freedom fighter Babu Jagjivan Ram passed away on 6th July 1986. He was a Dalit rights champion and union minister after independence. His birth anniversary of 5th April is observed as ‘Samata Diwas’ or ‘Equality Day’ in India.
- Jagjivan Ram was born on 5th April 1908 in Chandwa, Bihar into a Dalit family.
- He went to school at nearby Arrah where he faced discrimination for the first time on account of being a Dalit. He protested when he was given a separate pot of water to drink from and the school principal relented and stopped the practice of giving water in a separate pot.
- Jagjivan Ram met nationalist leader Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya in 1925 and went to study at the Banaras Hindu University at his invitation.
- The discrimination Jagjivan Ram faced at the university inspired him to take up the cause of the scheduled castes. He organised protests against injustice towards the Depressed Classes while at college.
- After BHU, he went to the Calcutta University and acquired a B.Sc. degree in the year 1931.
- In 1935, he aided in the formation of the All-India Depressed Classes League. He also joined the Congress Party and became a stellar spokesperson for the scheduled castes.
- In 1935, he suggested to the Hindu Mahasabha that temples and wells of drinking water be open to all people including untouchables.
- He was also a freedom fighter and was imprisoned during the Quit India Movement.
- Jagjivan Ram was the youngest minister in Jawaharlal Nehru’s provisional government in 1946. After independence, he was appointed the Minister of Labour.
- He was the minister of various portfolios during the later periods including the minister for defence, irrigation, communications, food and agriculture, transport and railways. He served as the Minister for Defence during the 1971 war with Pakistan.
- In 1977, he resigned from the Cabinet during the Emergency and formed another party which allied with the opposition.
- Jagjivan Ram holds two records to his credit namely of being the longest-serving cabinet minister in India (for 30 years) and of being a parliamentarian uninterrupted for 50 years (from 1936 to 1986).
- Jagjivan Ram passed away on 6th July 1986. The memorial at the place of his cremation is named ‘Samata Sthal’.
Also on this day
1837: Birth of orientalist scholar and social reformer R. G. Bhandarkar. 1901: Birth of veteran politician Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee.
See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.