In 1965, the Prime Minister of India Lal Bahadur Shastri bought a Fiat car after taking a loan of Rs 5,000 from Punjab National Bank. When his loan was approved early, Shastri told the bank, “The common man should have the same privilege”.
He died at Tashkent in 1966 before he could repay the loan. The Bank wrote to his widow Lalita Shastri for repayment of the loan of Rs 5,000 which her husband owed. The lady promised to pay back in instalments from her family pension. She repaid every Rupee of the Rs 5,000. The fiat car still stands at his home, reminding of the era of a different breed of men.
Incidently, when his son was given an out of turn promotion by a department, Shastri immediately had it reversed.
When Shastri filled the form for admission of his son to St Stephen’s college, in the column about himself he wrote, “Government Servant”. During his Prime Ministership, his son once stood in line with other unemployed to register for a job at the Employment Exchange. The clerk enquired as to what was his father. The son replied, “Prime Minister of India”.
Lal Bahadur was a strong man. When Pakistan sent infiltrators in Kashmir, he said in his speech from the Red Fort; “हम ईंट का जवाब पत्थर से देंगे” (Hum eent ka jawab pathar se denge)
General Ayub told his generals, “यह छोटा क्या करेगा?” (Yeh chota kya karega?). His patton tank division invaded Jammu region and raced to cut off India’s road lifeline to Kashmir.
Lal Bahadur ordered a full counter attack on Pakistan. The Indian Army and IAF crossed the International border.