Jayaprakash Narayan

Jayaprakash Narayan

Jayaprakash Narayan (About this sound listen (help·info); 11 October 1902 – 8 October 1979), popularly referred to as JP or Lok Nayak

(Hindi for The People’s Leader), was an Indian independence activist, theorist and political leader, remembered especially for leading the

mid-1970s opposition against Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, for whose overthrow he called a “total revolution”. His biography, Jayaprakash,

was written by his nationalist friend and an eminent writer of Hindi literature, Ramavriksha Benipuri. In 1999, he was posthumously awarded

the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, in recognition of his social work. Other awards include the Magsaysay award for Public

Service in 1965. The Patna airport is also named after him. The largest hospital run by the Delhi government and the teaching hospital of the

famous Maulana Azad Medical College, Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Hospital, is also named after him. It was formerly called Irwin hospital.

There is also a park in his name, situated on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, in New Delhi, just opposite to Maulana Azad Medical College. On

August 1, 2015, the Chhapra-Delhi-Chhapra Weekly Express was renamed as “Loknayak Express” in his honour.

Early life

Jayprakash Narayan was born on 11 October 1902in the village of Sitabdiara (It was in Chapra district of Bihar when JP was born. At present

it is in Ballia district of Uttar Pradesh, India).Sitabdiara is a large village, straddling two states and three districts—Chhapra and Arrah in Bihar

and Ballia in Uttar Pradesh.His house was near the banks of the flood-prone Ghagra river in Lala Tola, Bihar. Every time the river swelled,

the house would get a little bit damaged, eventually forcing the family to move a few kilometres away to a settlement which is now known as

Jay Prakash Nagar and falls in Uttar Pradesh. He came from a kayastha family. He was the fourth child of Harsu Dayal and Phul Rani Devi.

His father Harsu Dayal was junior official in the Canal Department of the State government and was often touring the region. When Narayan

was 9 years old, he left his village to enroll in 7th class of the collegiate school at Patna. This was his first break from village life. JP stayed

at a student hostel—Saraswati Bhawan—in which most of the boys were a bit older. Among them were some of Bihar’s future leaders including

its first chief minister, Krishna Singh , his deputyAnugrah Narayan Sinha and several others who were to widely become known in politics

and academic world.

In October 1920, 18 year old Narayan got married to Braj Kishore Prasad’s 14 year old daughter Prabhavati Devi, a freedom fighter in her

own right.[9], their ages beign normal marriageable ages at those times. After their wedding, since Narayan was working in Patna and it was

difficult for his wife to stay with him, on the invitation of Gandhi, Prabhavati became an inmate at Sabarmati Ashram (Ahmedabad).

Jayaprakash, along with some friends, went to listen to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad speak about the Non-co-operation movement launched by

Gandhi against the passing of the Rowlatt Act of 1919. The Maulana was a brilliant orator and his call to give up English education was “like

leaves before a storm: Jayaprakash was swept away and momentarily lifted up to the skies. That brief experience of soaring up with the

winds of a great idea left imprints on his inner being”. Jayaprakash took the Maulana’s words to heart and left Patna College with just 20

days remaining for his examinations. Jayaprakash joined the Bihar Vidyapeeth, a college founded by Dr. Rajendra Prasad and became

among the first students of Gandhian Dr. Anugraha Narayan Sinha.
Higher education in the United States

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After exhausting the courses at the Vidyapeeth, Jayaprakash decided to continue studies in the United States.[9] At age 20, Jayaprakash

sailed aboard the cargo ship Janus while Prabhavati remained at Sabarmati. Jayaprakash reached California on 8 October 1922 and was

admitted to Berkeley in January 1923. To pay for his education, Jayaprakash picked grapes, set them out to dry, packed fruits at a canning

factory, washed dishes, worked as a mechanic at a garage and at a slaughter house, sold lotions and taught.[citation needed] All these jobs

gave Jayaprakash an insight into the difficulties of the working class. Jayaprakash was forced to transfer to The University of Iowa when

fees at Berkeley were doubled. He was forced to transfer to many universities thereafter. He pursued his favourite subject, sociology, and

received much help from Professor Edward Ross.

In Wisconsin, Jayaprakash was introduced to Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. News of the success of the Russian revolution of 1917 made

Jayaprakash conclude that Marxism was the way to alleviate the suffering of the masses. He delved into books by Indian intellectual and

Communist theoretician M. N. Roy. His paper on sociology, “Social Variation”, was declared the best of the year.
Politics
Narayan with Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion in Tel Aviv, 1958

Narayan returned from the US to India in late 1929 as a Marxist. He joined the Indian National Congress on the invitation of Jawaharlal

Nehru in 1929; Mahatma Gandhi became his mentor in the Congress. He shared a house at Kadam Kuan in Patna with his close friend and

nationalist Ganga Sharan Singh (Sinha). with whom he shared the most cordial and lasting friendship.

He won particular fame during the Quit India movement.

After being jailed in 1932 for civil disobedience against British rule, Narayan was imprisoned in Nasik Jail, where he met Ram Manohar

Lohia, Minoo Masani, Achyut Patwardhan, Ashok Mehta, Basawon Singh (Sinha), Yusuf Desai, C K Narayanaswami and other national

leaders. After his release, the Congress Socialist Party, or (CSP), a left-wing group within the Congress, was formed with Acharya Narendra

Deva as President and Narayan as General secretary.

When Mahatma Gandhi launched the Quit India Movement in August 1942, Yogendra Shukla scaled the wall of Hazaribagh Central Jail

along with Jayaprakash Narayan, Suraj Narayan Singh, Gulab Chand Gupta, Pandit Ramnandan Mishra, Shaligram Singh and Shyam

Barthwar, with a goal to start an underground movement for freedom. Many young socialist leaders like Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, Chhotubhai

Puranik, Aruna Asaf Ali, etc. took part in underground movement. As Jayaprakash Narayan was ill, Yogendra Shukla walked to Gaya with

Jayaprakash Narayan on his shoulders, a distance of about 124 kilometres. He also served as the Chairman of Anugrah Smarak Nidhi

(Anugrah Narayan Memorial Fund).

Between 1947 and 1953, Jayaprakash Narayan was President of All India Railwaymen’s Federation, the largest labour union in the Indian

Railways.
Bihar Movement and Total Revolution

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Narayan returned to prominence in State politics in the late 1960s. 1974 ushered in a year of high inflation, unemployment and lack of

supplies and essential commodities. Nav Nirman Andolan movement of Gujarat asked Jayaprakash to lead a peaceful agitation. Following

Jayaprakash Narayan’s call for social justice, and a demand for dissolution of the Bihar assembly. The Bihar government used brutal force to

suppress the movement and on March 18th 1974, police fired on unarmed demonstrators and eight people were killed in police firing. The

Indian government at that time was no better than the British government of 1919. On 8 April 1974, aged 72, he led a silent procession at

Patna. The procession was lathi charged. On 5 June 1974, Jayaprakash addressed a large crowd at Gandhi Maidan in Patna. He declared,

“This is a revolution, friends! We are not here merely to see the Vidhan Sabha dissolved. That is only one milestone on our journey. But we

have a long way to go… After 27 years of freedom, people of this country are wracked by hunger, rising prices, corruption… oppressed by

every kind of injustice… it is a Total Revolution we want, nothing less!” In 1974, he led the students’ movement in the state of Bihar which

gradually developed into a popular people’s movement known as the Bihar Movement. It was during this movement that JP gave a call for

peaceful Total Revolution. Together with V. M. Tarkunde, he found the Citizens for Democracy in 1974 and the People’s Union for Civil

Liberties in 1976, both NGOs, to uphold and defend civil liberties.
Emergency

Indira Gandhi was found guilty of violating electoral laws by the Allahabad High Court. Narayan called for Indira and the CMs to resign and

the military and police to disregard unconstitutional and immoral orders. He advocated a program of social transformation which he termed

Sampoorna kraanti, “total revolution”. Immediately afterwords, Gandhi proclaimed a national Emergency on the midnight of 25 June 1975.

Narayan, opposition leaders, and dissenting members of her own party were arrested that day.

Jayaprakash Narayan attracted a gathering of 100,000 people at the Ramlila grounds and thunderously recited Rashtrakavi Ramdhari Singh

‘Dinkar”s wonderfully evocative poetry: Singhasan Khaali Karo Ke Janata Aaati Hai.

Narayan was kept as detenu at Chandigarh even after he asked for one month parole to mobilise relief in flooded parts of Bihar. His health

suddenly deteriorated on 24 October, and he was released on 12 November; diagnosis at Jaslok Hospital, Bombay, revealed kidney failure;

he would be on dialysis for the rest of his life.

In the UK, Surur Hoda launched the “Free JP” campaign chaired by Nobel Peace Prize winner Noel-Baker for the release of Jayaprakash

Narayan.

Indira Gandhi revoked the emergency on 18 January 1977 and announced elections. The Janata Party, a vehicle for the broad spectrum of

the opposition to Indira Gandhi, was formed under JP’s guidance.[citation needed] The Janata Party was voted into power and became the

first non-Congress party to form a government at the Centre.[citation needed] On the call of Narayan, many youngsters joined the JP

movement.
Death

Narayan died in Patna, Bihar, on 8 October 1979, three days before his 77th birthday, due to effects of diabetes and heart ailments. In March

1979, while he was in hospital, his death had been erroneously announced by the Indian prime minister, Morarji Desai, causing a grief wave

of national mourning, including the suspension of parliament and regular radio broadcasting, and the closure of schools and shops. When he

was told about the gaffe a few weeks later, he smiled.
Family
At the age of 18, Jayaprakash was married to Prabhavati Devi, daughter of lawyer and nationalist Brij Kishore Prasad in October 1920.

Prabhavati was very independent and on Gandhi’s invitation, went to stay at his ashram while Jayaprakash continued his studies.Prabhavati

Devi died in 1973 after a long battle with cancer

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