Ludhiana’s tryst with Shastri

Industry in Ludhiana was booming when the nation was mourning the demise of its first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964. Then came Lal Bahadur Shastri,who consoled the nation with his manners and simplicity.

Written by Goyal Divya | Ludhiana | Updated: March 14, 2014 12:34:09 pm

Industry in Ludhiana was booming when the nation was mourning the demise of its first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964. Then came Lal Bahadur Shastri,who consoled the nation with his manners and simplicity.

While Shastri’s love for farmers and army was well known,his wish to see Indian industry rising like a star were visible to two young men from Ludhiana in 1965.

Shastri agreed to visit the woollen textile industry of the late Raj Soni and Jagdish Behal,now 88 years old,in Industrial Area.

Behal was the first to enter into collaboration with Japan-based Yamaha for manufacturing two-wheelers and Fukushima woollen textile machineries.

“When I told him about our collaborations with Japanese companies,he was very happy and said the future of nation depends on industrialists,” says Behal,who along with his deceased partner hosted Shastri’s visit in 1965.

Shastri’s two-hour visit became the talk of the town. “We were worried about how a PM should be hosted but his simplicity bowled us over,” recalls Behal today,Shastri’s birth anniversary.

Behal and Soni started their industry in Ludhiana in 1952. “We ended our partnership in 1959 but our friendship was so strong that he told me to show his unit to Shastri Ji as he had to leave for an emergency. Shastri Ji told me how hardworking Punjab is and how the industrial future of India depends on the booming industry of Ludhiana. He predicted the future of Ludhiana as an industrial capital,” says Behal.

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