Jagjivan Ram, an Indian politician

OV Digital Desk

Jagjivan Ram (5 April 1908 – 6 July 1986), was an Indian independence activist, politician and Dalit leader.

Early Life

He was born on 5 April 1908, Bihar, India. His father Sobhi Ram was with the British Indian Army but resigned after some issues and bought a farm in Chandwa, his native village. In 1922, he realized discrimination against Dalits was still rampant when he joined Arrah Town School. He protested against the school’s shocking decision to have separate pitchers of water for so-called ‘untouchable’ students.

He was inspired later when he met Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, who had been visiting the school.

In 1927, he joined the prestigious Banaras Hindu University. Where he organized the scheduled castes in protest against social discrimination. As a Dalit student, he wasn’t allowed to have meals in his dorm or haircuts by the barbers. Occasionally, a Dalit barber came to cut his hair. He left BHU and joined Calcutta University and finished his education there.

He received a B. Sc. Degree from the University of Calcutta in 1931, where he conducted conferences to draw attention to discrimination issues, and also taking part in Mahatma Gandhi’s anti-untouchability campaign.

Political Career

Jagjivan Ram came to the attention of Subhas Chandra Bose after organizing a workers’ rally in Calcutta. When the Bihar earthquake hit in 1934, Jagjivan helped with relief work. He was elected to the Bihar Council in 1935. Then he joined the Congress.

As part of the Quit India Movement, he was jailed during the 1940s. During the provisional union cabinet, he was a minister a year before independence. Then he served as labour minister in Jawaharlal Nehru‘s first union cabinet in independent India.

Later on, he held other cabinet posts, like communications and transport & railways.

When Indira Gandhi became PM, he held several posts, including labour, employment, and rehabilitation; food and agriculture; and defence. The Green Revolution began when he was agriculture minister. He led India to victory in the 1971 war with Pakistan.

In 1975, he supported Prime Minister Indira Gandhi‘s declaration of a state of emergency.

He left Indian National Congress, and joined the Janata Dal Party alliance, a coalition that successfully attacked Indira Gandhi and the Congress Party in the 1977 Lok Sabha elections. He once again accepted the defense minister position in two JP governments (1977-1979). Until his death, he was a Lok Sabha member.


Babu Jagjivan Ram Chair was set up at BHU in 2007 to study caste discrimination and economic backwardness.

The Mumbai Central Area of Mumbai has a hospital named after him – Jagjivan Ram Hospital.

Government of India’s Ministry of Social Justice created the Babu Jagjivan Ram National Foundation to promote his ideology.

There’s an academy for the Railway Protection Force named after Jagjivan Ram.

An electric locomotive named after him, the WAM-1, was recently restored by the Eastern Railway.


He died on 6 July 1986, in India.

Read More; 5 April in Indian and World History