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Jan Nayak Karpoori Thakur  |

Jan Nayak Karpoori Thakur 

Context:

∙ Recently, the Government of India conferred ‘Bharat Ratna’ (India’s highest civilian award) to Karpoori Thakur (posthumously) on his 100th birth anniversary.

About Jan Nayak Karpoori Thakur Before Independence of India:

∙ Karpoori Thakur was greatly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and Satyanarayan Sinha.

∙ He joined the All India Students Federation (AISF), the oldest student organisation in India, during his schooling days.

∙ He was inspired by Indian nationalistic thought, and left his graduation studies to join the Quit India Movement, a massive mobilisation started by Mahatma Gandhi in 1942 to force the colonial British rulers to leave India.

After Independence:

∙ He initially started working as a teacher in his village.

∙ He returned to active politics with a victory in the Bihar Legislative Assembly election in 1952 from Tajpur constituency, and soon represented the Socialist Party.

∙ He became a legend because of his successful fights for the rights of the workers and thus pushed for reservations for backward classes.

∙ He started his fast-unto-death agitation for the cause of the labourers in Telco in the year 1970, and was arrested for leading worker strikes.

∙ His life revolved around the twin pillars of simplicity and social justice.

Contributions made by Karpoori Thakur

∙ Social Justice: Thakur’s political journey was marked by monumental efforts to create a society where resources were distributed fairly and everyone, regardless of their social standing, had access to opportunities.

∙ He wanted to address the systemic inequalities that plagued Indian society.

∙ OBC Politics: He is known as the pioneer of OBC politics in Bihar. He implemented quotas for backward classes in the state, a move that was pivotal in setting the stage for the implementation of the Mandal Commission recommendations.

∙ He appointed the Mungeri Lal Commission in 1970, that identified the 128 ‘backward’ and 94 ‘most backward’ communities.

∙ It paved the way for 26% reservation of which OBCs got a 12% share, the economically backward classes among the OBCs got 8%, women got 3%, and the poor from the ‘upper castes’ got 3%.

∙ Affirmative Action: One of Thakur’s most significant contributions to India was his role in strengthening the affirmative action apparatus for the backward classes.

∙ He hoped that they would be given the representation and opportunities they deserved.

∙ Selflessness: During his tenure as the Chief Minister of Bihar, a decision was taken to build a colony for political leaders, but he himself did not take any land or money from the scheme.

∙ Alcohol Ban: Thakur is notably recognized in Bihar for implementing a complete ban on alcohol in 1970.

∙ Education: He was instrumental in establishing numerous schools and colleges, particularly in the underdeveloped regions of Bihar, ensuring that education became accessible to those who had been historically marginalised.

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