This 15th August, the world’s largest democracy walks into its 73rd Independence Day. On this day in 1947, the country marks the end of British rule and established itself as a free nation. At that point in time, we had Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru as the nation’s Prime Minister. Since then, we had around 15 Indian Prime Ministers leading the country as the de facto head. It took us nearly 70 years to get back our former glory, and every Prime Minister had something to offer in this journey.
We, at GrabOn, decided to list out the leaders of our great nation and their achievements during their tenure in office. This Independence Day, don’t just know the leaders of the nation. Also, know what they did for the nation.
1. Jawaharlal Nehru (15th August 1947 to 27th May 1964)
About Jawaharlal Nehru:
The longest-serving Prime Minister, Chacha Nehru (as he is fondly remembered) was a central figure in the Indian politics, both before and after independence. Born on 14 November 1889, his significant focus was to enhance the country’s industrial sector for which he started the ‘five-year plan in 1951’. Besides his famous non-aligned policies in foreign affairs, his other key achievements are:
- Set up premier institutions like IITs, IIMs, AIMMS etc.
- Agricultural Growth – Abolished Giant Landholdings, Undertook irrigation projects
- Helped recover the economy by increasing the GDP & GNP by 4%. World Trade Share decreased by 0.5%
- Helped in social changes by decriminalizing caste-based discrimination, worked towards women rights etc.
- Made primary education available for every child
- Helped India build a good rapport in international politics and pacified domestic struggle
The list can go on. Considering he was India’s first Prime Minister and served for 17 years, it is hardly a surprise.
2. Gulzarilal Nanda (27th May 1964 to 9th June 1964; 11th January to 24th January 1966)
About Gulzarilal Nanda
Serving as the acting Prime Minister after the death of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, Mr. Nanda served the office for two months. Apart from being a politician, he was an economist who worked as a research scholar on labour issues. He also held the post of Union Minister for Labour and Employment. In his brief tenure, he did not sit quietly. Instead, he brought about numerous changes. Later, he was again appointed as the acting Prime Minister after the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri for 13 days. His achievements include:
- He served as the PM during a very critical time, considering the political instability just after the major 1962 Indo-China War and the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War
- Brought Labour Reforms
3. Lal Bahadur Shastri (9th June 1964 to 11th Jan 1966)
About Lal Bahadur Shastri
Considered to be a leader of the masses, Lal Bahadur Shastri also served as the Railway Minister and Home Minister. In his two-year tenure, before his tragic death, he brought in some key achievements. His famous slogan ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ during the 1965 Indo-Pakistan to cheer the soldiers and farmers was extremely popular. His achievements include:
- Brought about the Green Revolution
- Helped the dairy industry produce more, which lead to the 1970 Operation Flood.
- Helped India harness nuclear power
- Maintained International Relations, including the signing of the Tashkent Agreement
4. Indira Gandhi (24th January 1966 to 24 March 1977; 14th January 1980 to 31st October 1984)
About Indira Gandhi
Known as the Iron Lady of India, Indira Gandhi was and till date the only female Prime Minister of India. Before becoming the Prime Minister, she served as the Minister of Information and Broadcasting from 1964 to 1966. Besides serving as the PM of India, she concurrently held various portfolios including Minister of Atomic Energy, Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of External Affairs. A central figure in Indian politics, Indira Gandhi brought in a lot of changes.
Her key achievements are:
- Nationalized banks
- Reduced unemployment
- Introduced equal pay for genders
- Strengthened international and domestic policies
- Increased national security
- Integrated Sikkim as an Indian State in 1975
5. Morarji Desai (24th March 1977- 28th July 1979)
About Morarji Desai
The first Indian PM who was not from the Congress party, Morarji Desai was (and still is) the oldest person to hold the Prime Minister’s office. A renowned independence activist, Desai led the government formed by the Janata Party. Before serving as the PM, he was the 2nd Chief Minister of Bombay state from 1952 to 1956. In his two years in the office as India’s Prime Minister, he brought about some major reforms.
- Banned currency notes worth Rs 1000, Rs 5000 and Rs 10000
- Formally ended the state of emergency called by Indira Gandhi and removed media censorship
- Supported peace activism and initiated peace talks with Pakistan
6. Charan Singh (28th July 1979- 14th January 1980)
About Charan Singh
Considered to be the champion of peasants, Chaudhary Charan Singh enjoyed a brief time in the office. A lawyer by profession, Singh served Uttar Pradesh in various capacities and was known for raising his voice against corruption, nepotism and inefficiency in the administrator. He is also the man behind major land reforms in UP. He was an avid reader and author of several books including ‘Abolition of Zamindari’. During his short tenure, he took the following key decisions.
- Presented novel strategies to deal with India’s development
- Vocal about the upliftment of the backward classes
7. Rajiv Gandhi (31st October 1984- 2nd December 1989)
About Rajiv Gandhi
Part of the Gandhi-Nehru family, Rajiv Gandhi was the son of Indira Gandhi. After his brother, Mr Sanjay Gandhi, died in an aeroplane crash, Rajiv Gandhi decided to enter politics. He was (and still is) the youngest person to hold the post of Prime Minister in India. Having acquired a commercial pilot’s license, Rajiv also worked for Indian Airlines. As a PM, he is often credited with contributing the most towards India’s IT revolution. Below are some of his key achievements.
- Reduced License Raj
- Reforms in Economic Policies
- Improved relations with both USA and USSR
- Helped contribute massively to the IT Revolution
8. Vishwanath Pratap Singh (2nd December 1989- 10th November 1990)
About Vishwanath Pratap Singh
The 7th Prime Minister of India, Vishwanath Pratap Singh started his political journey from the age of 10. Before becoming the PM, he was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. He also held various portfolios in the union cabinet such as Minister of Commerce and Minister of Finance and Defence. Known for the implementation of the Mandal Commission, during his Prime Ministership, Mr V.P Singh’s short tenure of 11 months was full of interesting developments.
- Handled domestic controversies, including the kidnapping of his Home Minister’s daughter
- Stopped Pakistan’s attempt to start a border war with India.
- Apologised for Operation Blue Star and curbed the insurgency in Punjab
9. Chandra Shekhar Singh(10th November 1990- 21st June 1991)
About Chandra Shekhar Singh
The second shortest tenure after Mr. Charan Singh, Chandra Shekhar’s tenure lasted a little over 7 months. He was attracted to politics from a young age and was known for his revolutionary ideas revolving around politics of social change. He also held the post of Minister of Home Affairs during his period in the office of Prime Minister. Due to the political instability at that point, he couldn’t contribute much.
10. P.V Narasimha Rao (21st June 1991-16th May 1996)
About P.V Narasimha Rao
Referred to as the Father of Indian Economic Reforms, Narasimha Rao was instrumental to India’s growth and globalisation. Before becoming the PM of India, he was the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. He also held various portfolios in Andhra Pradesh’s cabinet and was responsible for major reforms in the state. Under his Prime Ministership, India experienced a shift in its economic model; going from a mixed economy to a market economy. Some of his key achievements were:
- Managed India’s economic crisis of 1991
- Abolished License Raj
- Opened Equity Market for foreign investments
- Boosted India’s Nuclear Program
11. Atal Bihari Vajpayee (16th May 1996- 1st June 1996; 19th March 1998- 10th October 1999; 10th October 1999- 22nd May 2004)
About Atal Bihari Vajpayee
One of the most recognised politicians of India, Mr Vajpayee was the first non-Congress Prime Minister to hold office for a full term. He was one of the co-founder and the first President of the currently ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Under his tenure as the PM, India transitioned into a new era and saw a lot of changes. His government made efforts to enhance the digital connectivity in the country and made India a ‘software super power’. His other key achievements include:
- India carried out the Pokhran II nuclear tests
- Encouraged private sector and foreign investments
- Implemented National Highway Development Project
- Implemented Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan
12. Haradanahalli Doddegowda Deve Gowda (1st June 1996- 21st April 1997)-
About Haradanahalli Doddegowda
Holding the post for 10 months, Mr. Gowda was also the head of the United Front Government. In this 10 months of tenure, he was also the Chairman of the Steering Committee of the United Front. This was the highest body which was in charge of all the constituents of the ruling front. During his tenure as the Chief Minister of Karnataka, he successfully led the government by tackling many issues.
13. Inder Kumar Gujral (21st April 1997- 19th March 1998)
About Inder Kumar Gujral
Famous for implementing the Gujral Doctrine, Mr. I.K Gujral was also in office for 10 months. Mr. I.K Gujral held important positions including Minister of External Affairs, Water Resources Minister and Minister of Information and Broadcasting before handling the PM office. Gujral was also a part of India’s freedom struggle and was jailed for taking part in the Quit India Movement.
14. Dr Manmohan Singh (22nd May 2004- 26th May 2014)
About Manmohan Singh
Considered to be India’s best Finance Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh is considered to be one of the best economists in the country. He joined the Indian government as Economic Advisor in the Ministry of Commerce. He also held various portfolios such as Advisor to the Prime Minister, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission and Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. As the Prime Minister of the country, he was in charge of some of the biggest changes in the country.
His wonderful achievements include:
- Highest GDP growth since Independence
- Became the world’s 2nd fastest growing economy
- Launched National Rural Healthcare
- Passed the RTI Act
- Improved diplomatic relations
About Narendra Modi
After coming to power after riding the ‘Modi Wave’, Mr Modi went on to create history by becoming India’s most popular Prime Minister. Currently the 14th Prime Minister of the Country (Gulzarilal Nanda’s tenure was considered to be acting PM), Modi went on to bring massive economic reforms. Before becoming the PM, he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014. In 2019, a UK magazine poll voted Modi as the world’s most powerful leader.
He sits on a list of achievements, including:
- Largest demonetisation in the world to get rid of black money
- Started Make In India and Digital India
- Implemented Goods and Services Tax (GST)
- Improved health policies by launching Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
- Implemented Pradhan Mantri Yojna
- Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan
- Beti Bachao Beti Padhao
- Revocation of Article 370
- Decision to pass the Citizenship Amendment Act
- Pulwama attack and Balakot Air strike
- Announced Rs. 20 lakh crore package to make the country self-reliant during COVID-19 pandemic
- Banned Chinese apps to safeguard India’s for India’s national security
- assed the New Education Policy 2020 which included changes like “No hard separation of arts and science”, “Foreign universities allowed to open campuses in India” and ‘Discontinuation of MPhil’ among others.
So, that’s the country’s history. How well do you know the men who shaped our country?
We wish you a Happy Independence Day this 2020 and hope you actively show interest in the country’s policies. How will this country prosper if the citizens are not active and show an educated opinion when it comes to the country’s welfare!