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Gulzarilal Nanda (4 July 1898 - 15 January 1998) was an Indian politician and an economist with specialization in labor problems. He was the interim Prime Minister of India twice for thirteen days each: the first time after the death of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964, and the second time after the death of Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1966. (Both his terms ended after the ruling Indian National Congress party procedurally elected a new prime minister.) The Government of India honored Nanda with a Bharat Ratna award in 1997.
Nanda was born on 4 July 1898 in Sialkot in the Punjab Province of British India into a Hindu Gujjar family . (After the partition of British India into India and Pakistan in 1947, Sialkot became a part of the Punjab Province of Pakistan.) Nanda received his education in Lahore, Agra, and Allahabad.
Nanda worked as a research scholar on labor problems at Allahabad University (1920-1921), and became a Professor of Economics at National College in Bombay (Mumbai) in 1921. The same year, he joined the Indian Non-Cooperation Movement against the British Raj. In 1922, he became secretary of the Ahmedabad Textile Labour Association where he worked until 1946. He was imprisoned for Satyagraha in 1932, and again from 1942 to 1944.
Member of Bombay Legislative Assembly In the British Raj, Nanda was elected to the Bombay Legislative Assembly in 1937, and served as parliamentary secretary (for Labor and Excise) to the Government of Bombay from 1937 to 1939. As Labour Minister of the Bombay Government during 1946-50, he successfully piloted the Labor Disputes Bill in the state assembly. He served as a Trustee of the Kasturba Memorial Trust. (Kasturba was the wife of Mahatma Gandhi.) He served as secretary of the Hindustan Mazdoor Sevak Sangh (Indian Labor Welfare Organization), and Chairman of the Bombay Housing Board. He was a member of the National Planning Committee. He was largely instrumental in organizing the Indian National Trade Union Congress, and later became its president.
In 1947, Nanda went to Geneva, Switzerland as a government delegate to the International Labor Conference. He worked on The Freedom of Association Committee of the Conference, and visited Sweden, France, Switzerland, Belgium, and the UK to study labor and housing conditions in those countries.
In March 1950, Nanda joined the Indian Planning Commission as its vice-chairman. In September 1951, he was appointed Planning Minister in the Indian Government. He was also given charge of the portfolios of Irrigation and Power. He was elected to the Lok Sabha from Bombay in the general elections of 1952, and was reappointed Minister for Planning, Irrigation, and Power. He led the Indian Delegation to the Plan Consultative Committee held in Singapore in 1955, and the International Labor Conference held in Geneva in 1959.
Nanda was elected to the Lok Sabha in the 1957 elections, and was appointed Union Minister for Labour, Employment and Planning, and later, as Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission. He visited the Federal Republic of Germany, Yugoslavia, and Austria in 1959.
Nanda was re-elected to the Lok Sabha in the 1962 elections from the Sabarkantha constituency in Gujarat. He initiated the Congress Forum for Socialist Action in 1962. He was Union Minister for Labour and Employment during 1962 - 1963, and Minister for Home Affairs during 1963 - 1966.
Interim Prime Minister
Nanda was the interim Prime Minister of India twice for fourteen days each: the first time after the death of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964, and the second time after the death of Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1966. Both his terms were uneventful, yet they were important because of the potential danger to the country following Nehru's death soon after a war with China in 1962, and Shastri's death after a war with Pakistan in 1965.
Personality A principled politician, he found himself out of tune with the changed circumstances. And did not owe any property. He had lived in a rented house in New Delhi's Defence Colony from which he was evicted since he could not pay its rent and moved to Ahmedabad where he lived with his daughter. What sets him apart from almost all the other freedom fighters who held high offices in independent India is his complete insulation from desire material. He had no source of income and would not accept funds from his children or from any well wisher. A friend, Sheel Bhadra Yajee, forced him to sign an application for the freedom fighter's pension of Rs 500 per month.