By Harshmeet Singh
One of the biggest figures of the India Independence movement, Lala Lajpat Rai was instrumental in awakening the masses towards the goal of Swaraj. An integral part of the famous Lal Bal Pal trio, Lala Lajpat Rai’s contribution towards Indian National movement was unparalleled. As the nation gets ready to celebrate his 151st birthday today, NewsGram brings forth five relatively lesser known facts about the leader fondly known as ‘Punjab Kesari’.
1. Punjab National Bank
Lala Lajpat Rai had a big hand in the setting up of Punjab National Bank, which is today’s India’s third largest Bank in terms of the asset size. He was an integral part of the Bank’s leadership in its first decade of operation.
2. The original brain behind ‘Make In India’
Though the Modi government is taking all the credit for coming up with the ‘Make in India’ initiative, it was Rai, who first designed the Swadeshi movement along with Gandhi, Tilak, Aurobindo Ghosh and Bipin Chandra Pal.
3. ‘Punjab Kesari’
Though a number of people think that he was given the name ‘Punjab Kesari’ (the Lion of Punjab) inspired by the famous Punjabi newspaper, the fact is that he was given this name before the newspaper ever came into existence! This name was given after he played an instrumental role in the non-cooperation movement started to protest against the draconian Rowlatt Act.
4. Arya Samaj connection
Rai was much influenced by Swami Dayananda Saraswati, the well known socialist reformer. He came out in strong support of the Arya Samaj movement in Punjab state. He also went on to teach in the Anglo-Vedic College, which was operated by Arya Samaj.
5. “Every blow aimed at me is a nail in the coffin of British imperialism”
One of the most historic quotes during the Indian Independence movement was given by Rai. Lala Lajpat Rai, along with Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, led a non-violent procession against the Simon Commission. It was during this procession, that he became the target of a merciless lathi charge led by British police.
Despite being severely injured, he attended a meeting the same evening and said, “Every blow aimed at me is a nail in the coffin of British imperialism”. He further added, “I do not know whether I shall remain, but you should never worry. My spirit after me will go on exhorting you to make more sacrifices for liberty.”