Born On: July 4, 1898
Born In: Sialkot, Punjab, India
Died On: January 15, 1998
Career: Politician, Economist
Gulzarilal Nanda, known for his stint at the office of the Prime Minister of India for interim periods on two occasions, was a politician and an economist held in high regard all over the world. Gulzarilal Nanda occupied the seat of the Prime Minister of India twice, first after the death of Jawaharlal Nehru and the second time after the demise of Lal Bahadur Shastri. Although he was quite a popular name among the masses in India, the Indian National Congress, the ruling political party during that time, opted to elect another candidate as the Prime Minister of India after the death of Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri. Both of Gulzarilal Lal Nanda's interim terms as the Indian Prime Minister lasted for a period of thirteen days. Although he was an eminent politician, Gulzarilal Nanda led a very simple life, refusing to enjoy the benefits that politicians are always bestowed with during and after their terms in office.
Gulzarilal Nanda was born on the 4th of July, 1898 in the Sialkot region of Punjab. His family was Punjabi Hindus who belonged to the Khatri sect. As a child, Gulzarilal Nanda received education from Lahore, which subsequently became a part of Pakistan after the end of the British rule in India. In fact, after partition was declared, Gulzarilal Nanda's birthplace Sialkot also went under Pakistan jurisdiction. His childhood years were spent spanning several cities from Lahore to Amritsar and Agra to Allahabad. After completing school from Lahore, Amritsar and Agra, Gulzarilal Nanda studied labor problems from Allahabad University and earned his research scholar degree from here. He later joined as a professor of Economics, specializing in labor studies at National College under Bombay University in the year 1921.
Career in Politics
Though Gulzarilal Nanda spent the early years of his life as an educator, politics was to woo him very soon. Like many others in his era, Gulzarilal Nanda was also an ardent follower of the principles of Mahatma Gandhi; he kept a close watch on the progress of the freedom struggle against the British. Even though Gulzarilal Nanda was a professor at the National College and enjoyed a respectable position there, he soon quit his job to join the Non Cooperation Movement organized by Gandhi in 1921. The very next year Gulzarilal Nanda was chosen to be the secretary of the Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association, a post which he held till the year 1946. In between Gulzarilal Nanda joined the group of Satyagrahis under Mahatma Gandhi, also facing imprisonment first in 1932 and then from 1942 to 1944.
Ever since he was inspired by the works of Mahatma Gandhi, Gulzarilal Nanda had become an active member of politics and India's freedom struggle. He took up an important position at the Bombay Legislative Assembly in the year 1937, where Gulzarilal Nanda was elected the parliamentary secretary for Labor and Excise for a period of two years from 1937 to 1939. As a member of the Bombay Legislative Assembly, Gulzarilal Nanda contributed greatly to the betterment of the Bombay city and its government. As Labor Minister from 1946-50, he fought for the realization of the Labor Disputes Bill. He was elected the Chairman of the Bombay Housing Board and also became a trustee of the Kasturba Memorial Trust and the secretary of the Indian Labor Welfare Organization. It was Gulzarilal Nanda's efforts which led to the formation of the Indian National Trade Union Congress.
Months before India's independence from British rule, Gulzarilal Nanda paid a visit to Geneva, Switzerland as part of India's delegation at the International Labor Conference. Already armed with a degree in labor studies, Gulzarilal Nanda was India's natural choice to represent The Freedom of Association Committee, which held conferences in several European countries including Switzerland, France, Belgium, Sweden and the UK. After India became a republic in the year 1950, Gulzarilal Nanda joined the Indian Planning Commission as the vice chairman. A year later, Nanda was elected the Planning Minister of India. In this regard, he took care of the areas of irrigation and power in the Indian government. In 1952, Gulzarilal Nanda stood in the general elections from the Bombay constituency and was elected to the Lok Sabha, holding the portfolio of the Minister for Planning, Irrigation and Power.
Following this, Gulzarilal Nanda visited Singapore and Geneva in the years 1955 and 1959 respectively, first to lead India's delegation at the Plan Consultative Committee and then to preside over the International Labor Conference. He won the Lok Sabha elections again in the year 1957 and took over the portfolio of the Union Minister for Labor, Employment and Planning. The next Lok Sabha elections in the year 1962 saw Gulzarilal Nanda winning from the Sabarkantha constituency in Gujarat. He became the Union Minister for Labor and Employment the same year for a period of one year, following which he was also elected the Minister for Home Affairs from 1963 to 1966.
Interim Prime Minister
This is probably the role that Gulzarilal Nanda is best known for. Gulzarilal Nanda served as interim Prime Minister twice for a period of thirteen days each. The first time that Gulzarilal Nand took over this position was after Jawaharlal Nehru's death in the year 1964. This period was a crucial stage to be in the Prime Minister's seat because of the recently ended China War of 1962. The second thirteen days of interim Prime Ministership came after the death of lal Bahadur Shastri in 1966. Shastri's death also followed the end of the Pakistan War of 1965. Though Gulzarilal Nanda did not have to take any crucial decisions during the 13 days of both his terms, his position was extremely volatile and sensitive.
Gulzarilal Nanda was a man of principles who did not like to exploit his position to benefit himself. Though he was an eminent politician and a respected freedom fighter, Gulzarilal Nanda had no property to his name. He lived with his family in a rented apartment. Even during a stage when he did not have enough to make ends meet, Gulzarilal Nanda never supported the idea of borrowing money from his children. The man had no love for money. Reports claim that Gulzarilal Nanda had no fixed source of income and it was on the insistence of a close friend that he finally agreed to sign an application which would ensure him Rs 500 a month for his contribution as a freedom fighter during the end of his life when he hardly had enough in his hand to survive. Recognizing his dedication to the country, the government of India awarded him with the Bharat Ratna in 1997.
Gulzarilal Nanda died on January 15, 1998. He was 99 years of age at the time of death and was a resident of New Delhi.
1898: Gulzarilal Nanda is born on July 4.
1921: Became a professor of Economics at National College, Bombay.
1921: Joined the Non Cooperation Movement.
1922: Elected secretary of Ahmedabad Textile Labor Organization.
1932: Imprisoned for joining the Satyagraha movement.
1937: Elected to Bombay Legislative Assembly.
1937: Became parliamentary secretary for Labor and Excise.
1942: Again faced imprisonment for being part of freedom struggle.
1944: Imprisoned for the third time.
1946: Became the Labor Minister of the Bombay government.
1947: Attended the International Labor Conference in Switzerland.
1950: Became the vice chairman of Indian Planning Commission.
1951: Became the Planning Minister of India.
1952: Contested Lok Sabha elections and becomes the Minister for Planning, Irrigation and Power.
1955: Visited Singapore to head the Plan Consultative Committee.
1957: Elected the Union Minister for Labor, Employment and Planning after winning Lok Sabha elections.
1959: Lead the International Labor Conference in Geneva.
1962: Contested and wins Lok Sabha elections from Sabarkantha in Gujarat.
1962: Became the Union Minister for Labor and Employment.
1963: Became the Minister for Home Affairs.
1964: Became interim Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Nehru's death.
1966: Became interim Prime Minister for second time after Lal Bahadur Shastri's death.
1997: Awarded the Bharat Ratna.
1998: Died on July 15.