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Sharad Pawar: A veteran statesman

Sharad Pawar's political career has been marked by resilience, leadership, and a deep commitment to public service. As a seasoned politician, administrator, and statesman, he continues to play a pivotal role in shaping the political landscape of Maharashtra and India. Sharad Pawar's journey is a testament to the enduring impact that a dedicated and visionary leader can have on the nation's political fabric. Born on December 12, 1940, in Baramati, Maharashtra, Pawar has had a long and illustrious career in politics, serving in various capacities and playing a crucial role in shaping the political narrative in the state of Maharashtra and at the national level. Sharad Pawar's political journey began at a young age when he joined the Youth Congress in the 1960s. His early involvement in politics marked the beginning of a career that would span decades and leave an indelible mark on Indian politics. Pawar's charisma, strategic acumen, and ability to connect with people quickly propelled him through the ranks of the political hierarchy. In 1967, Sharad Pawar won his first election to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly as a candidate of the Congress party. This victory marked the beginning of his legislative career, and over the years, he continued to win elections and build a strong political base in the state. His leadership qualities soon caught the attention of the party's top brass. In 1978, Pawar became the Chief Minister of Maharashtra for the first time, showcasing his administrative skills and commitment to the welfare of the state. However, his tenure was short-lived, but it laid the foundation for his subsequent political endeavors. Also read: Maharashtra: Our stand of not going with BJP was always very clear, says Sharad Pawar Over the years, Sharad Pawar became a central figure in Maharashtra politics, serving as the Chief Minister multiple times. His political influence extended beyond the state, and he played a crucial role in national politics. Pawar's understanding of coalition politics and his ability to build alliances with diverse political parties made him a significant player at the national level. One of the defining moments in Sharad Pawar's political career was the formation of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in 1999. The NCP was formed after a split from the Indian National Congress, and it quickly emerged as a key player in Maharashtra politics. Pawar's leadership skills were instrumental in establishing the NCP as a formidable political force. In the years that followed, Sharad Pawar held several key ministerial portfolios at the national level. He served as the Minister of Defence, Minister of Agriculture, and Minister of Food and Civil Supplies, showcasing his versatility and commitment to public service. Pawar's political journey has not been without controversies. He has faced criticism and scrutiny on various occasions, but his ability to navigate through challenges and remain a relevant political figure has been noteworthy. His pragmatism and political astuteness have allowed him to maintain alliances with different political parties over the years. Sharad Pawar's legacy extends beyond politics. He is also known for his contributions to agriculture and rural development. His efforts to address issues related to farmers and agriculture have earned him respect across different sections of society.

06 December,2023 08:42 PM IST | Mumbai | mid-day online correspondent
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Commemorating LGBTQIA community's contribution to fight HIV/AIDS

Every year on December 1, the world observes World AIDS Day to raise awareness, remember those who have died as a result of the disease, support those living with HIV/AIDS, and celebrate the progress made in combating the epidemic. This significant day allows us to reflect on advancements in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and support, while also recognising the enormous contributions of various communities, particularly the LGBTQIA+ community, in combating this public health crisis. The selection of December 1 as World AIDS Day is not by chance. The World Health Organisation (WHO) established it in 1988 to draw attention to the rapidly growing AIDS epidemic worldwide. December 1st was chosen to unite people worldwide in the fight against HIV/AIDS and to remember those who died as a result of AIDS-related illnesses. From the beginning, the LGBTQIA+ community has played a critical role in the fight against HIV/AIDS. When AIDS first emerged as a global health crisis in the 1980s, the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly gay men and transgender people, was at the forefront of the fight. The community faced stigma, discrimination, and neglect from authorities and healthcare providers during this time, prompting them to organise grassroots movements to educate, support, and care for those affected. Fear, misinformation, and societal stigma characterised the early years of the AIDS epidemic. The LGBTQIA+ community responded by forming support groups, creating safe spaces, and disseminating accurate HIV/AIDS information. AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) and Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) organised advocacy campaigns, pushed for better treatment options, and demanded increased government funding for research and healthcare services. Furthermore, the LGBTQIA+ community was a forerunner in safe sex education, emphasising the importance of condoms, needle exchange programmes, and harm reduction strategies. Their efforts made a significant contribution to promoting safer sexual practices and reducing HIV/AIDS transmission. Despite significant progress in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, challenges remain. Access to healthcare, stigma, discrimination, and disparities in healthcare services continue to be barriers to disease eradication. The LGBTQIA+ community is still fighting for equal access to healthcare, comprehensive sex education, and policies that protect marginalised communities. World AIDS Day serves as a reminder of the importance of solidarity, compassion, and continued efforts to achieve an AIDS-free world. It is an opportunity to show solidarity with those affected by HIV/AIDS, advocate for inclusive healthcare policies, and reaffirm our commitment to putting an end to the epidemic. The theme for this year is "End inequalities. End AIDS. End pandemics," emphasising the importance of addressing social disparities and inequities to effectively combat HIV/AIDS. Let us remember the lives lost on World AIDS Day, support those affected, and renew our commitment to achieving an HIV/AIDS-free world. We can ensure that everyone, regardless of identity or background, receives the care, support, and respect they deserve in the fight against HIV/AIDS if we work together in solidarity and collective action.

01 December,2023 10:48 AM IST | Mumbai | mid-day online correspondent
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Tulsi Vivah 2023: The marriage is reverred element of Dev Diwali celebrations

Tulsi Vivah 2023 will be observed on November 24, Friday. The vivah is part of Dev Diwali, which literally translates to Festival of the Gods. It is pertinent to understand what is Dev Diwali before knowing why Tulsi Vivah is part of the festivities of Dev Diwali.  Dev Diwali holds a significant place in Hindu traditions and is celebrated with immense fervour and reverence across India. The auspicious day on which Dev Diwali is observed on the full moon day of the Hindu month of Kartik (October-November), marks the culmination of Diwali festivities. It is characterised by many rituals that honour the divine entities of Hinduism. It's a time when devotees express gratitude and pay homage to the gods and goddesses, celebrating their presence and blessings. Tulsi Vivah forms an integral observance of Dev Diwali. The Tulsi Vivah celebrates a ritualistic union between the sacred plant Tulsi (holy basil) and Lord Vishnu who get tied in a matrimonial bond. The wedding ceremony between Tulsi and Lord Vishnu commemorates a deep spiritual connection between the divine and the earthly.  Hailed in Hinduism for its medicinal properties and purity, tulsi is considered sacred. The plant is revered and seen as a symbol of devotion and the embodiment of the goddess Lakshmi. During the Dev Diwali, Tulsi Vivah is performed with elaborate rituals mirroring that of a typical wedding. The Tulsi plant is beautifully adorned, often in the form of a deity, and placed in areas decorated with rangoli. Devotees engage in prayers, hymns, and rituals, seeking blessings for harmony, prosperity, and well-being from Lord Vishnu and Tulsi. Beyond its religious significance, Tulsi Vivah on Dev Diwali holds great significance. It highlights the value of spirituality, nature, and the enduring bond between the divine and people. Drawing comparisons between the divine union of Tulsi and Lord Vishnu and the sanctity of marriage, the ritual serves as a reminder of the values of commitment, fidelity, and the sanctity of relationships.

24 November,2023 11:31 AM IST | Mumbai | mid-day online correspondent
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Tulsi Vivah 2023: Importance of festival & how its celebrated throughout India

Tulsi Vivah 2023 will be observed with great pomp after subdued festivities due to Covid-19. An important Hindu festival, Tulsi Vivah, commemorates the ritual marriage of Lord Vishnu and the holy plant Tulsi (holy basil). This religiously driven, auspicious day is widely commemorated throughout India and is of considerable cultural significance. Tulsi Vivah 2023 will be observed on November 24, Friday.  Traditionally, the Tulsi Vivah ritual is performed in October or November, during the Hindu month of Kartik. It has a particular place in the hearts of devotees and represents the beginning of the Indian wedding season. According to Hindu mythology, Tulsi, who is renowned for her chastity and devotion, was wed to Lord Vishnu in the guise of his Saligram, a sacred stone depiction. This is the story of Tulsi Vivah. This marriage represents the eternal connection between the spiritual and material worlds and symbolises spirituality and respect for the natural world. Beginning with the preparation of the sacred wedding rituals, Tulsi Vivah ceremonies take place. Often shaped like a goddess, a Tulsi plant is exquisitely decorated with vibrant garments, flowers, and other accessories. Seeking the blessings of Lord Vishnu and Tulsi for marital peace and happiness, devotees fast, offer prayers, and recite hymns honouring them. Priests perform intricate rites that resemble a typical Hindu marriage throughout the spectacle that is the wedding ceremony. Family and neighbourhood members join in the chanting of Vedic hymns when the plant is given to Lord Vishnu. Tulsi Vivah is observed with varying traditions and enthusiasm in various parts of India. It's celebrated in a big way in certain places and more quietly in homes in others. To commemorate this auspicious occasion, communities arrange processions, cultural events, and the distribution of prasad, or spiritual offerings. Beyond its religious setting, Tulsi Vivah holds great value. Reknown for its therapeutic qualities, tulsi is cherished for its restorative qualities and is thought to cleanse the surrounding area. Because of this, the event also honours the plant's therapeutic qualities and encourages domestic growth and use. Additionally, the Tulsi Vivah ceremonies uphold the principles of harmony, loyalty, and dedication in interpersonal relationships. By drawing comparisons between the heavenly union of Tulsi and Lord Vishnu and the matrimonial partnership, it highlights the sanctity of marriage and the bond shared between couples. To put it simply, Tulsi Vivah is a celebration that blends spirituality, cultural values, and respect for the natural world rather than only being a religious event. 

23 November,2023 04:19 PM IST | Mumbai | mid-day online correspondent
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Tulsi Vivah 2023: All you need to know about the festival

Tulsi Vivah, a sacred Hindu festival. It holds a special place for the devotees, marking the ceremonial marriage of the Tulsi plant (holy basil) to Lord Vishnu. The unique celebration, steeped in religious significance, brings communities together to partake in rituals and festivities. Tulsi Vivah is typically observed on the 11th day of the bright half of the lunar month Kartik, is rooted in Hindu mythology. Legend has it that the marriage of Tulsi to Lord Vishnu symbolizes the merging of the divine with the earthly, signifying the onset of the wedding season in Hindu culture. Leading up to Tulsi Vivah, devotees prepare for the ceremony by adorning the Tulsi plant with ornate decorations, including colorful sarees, flowers, and traditional jewelry. The marriage ceremony involves intricate rituals, with priests chanting mantras and conducting the sacred union, often performed in homes and temples. The devotees fast on this auspicious day and participate in the ceremonial wedding proceedings. The marriage is followed by the offering of various delicacies to the deity, emphasizing the importance of sacred union and marital bliss. The Tulsi Vivah is celebrated with diverse customs and traditions across different regions of India. In some areas, processions and cultural events add a festive flair to the occasion, while in others, the focus remains on familial ceremonies within homes. Beyond its religious importance, Tulsi Vivah has cultural significance. The festival not only celebrates the union of Tulsi and Lord Vishnu but also serves as a reminder of the sacred bond between plants and human life, promoting environmental consciousness. Tulsi Vivah fosters a sense of community and togetherness. Families come together to participate in the rituals, exchange greetings, and share the joy of the festive season. It is a time for reflection, gratitude, and spiritual introspection.

21 November,2023 07:40 PM IST | Mumbai | mid-day online correspondent
Chhath Puja/ File Photo

Chhath Puja 2023: Everything you need to know why this festival is celebrated

An ancient Hindu festival known as Chhath Puja is celebrated mostly in the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and some parts of Nepal. It is a colourful representation of the veneration of the Sun God, Surya, and the celebration of life's essential forces. This four-day celebration, which has deep cultural roots, is a passionate tribute to the cosmic force that keeps life on Earth alive. Deep spiritual importance surrounds this festival, which normally takes place in October or November during the Hindu lunar month of Kartik. It entails complex rites carried out by devoted followers who have unflinching faith. Hailed as the festival of purity, Chhath Puja begins with believers immersing themselves in rivers, especially the sacred Ganges, as a purifying ritual. Intricate ceremonies are performed along riverbanks or other bodies of water in the days that follow, during which believers make offerings and prayers to the rising and setting sun. The ladies make up the majority of the devoted followers, who practise strict waterless fasts for extended periods of time, exhibiting incredible endurance and commitment. The practises associated with Chhath Puja are a harmonious fusion of appreciation, prayer, and devotion. The passionate chanting, pulsating hymns, and sacrifices of fruits, sugarcane, and "prasad" (offerings) to the Sun God highlight the importance of components that sustain life and the deep connection that exists between humans and the natural world. The celebration is more than just a religious holiday; it's a colourful tapestry woven with cultural history that promotes harmony in the community and ties families together. Families join together to celebrate by cooking customary foods and spreading the festive spirit, which improves relationships between people and makes everyone happy. Chhath Puja also represents the diversity and harmony seen in India's cultural fabric, transcending religious lines. Celebrations are inclusive, as evidenced by the fact that communities of all castes, creeds, and religions frequently participate in them. More than just a religious ceremony, Chhath Puja symbolises a deep regard for the elements of nature and recognises the mutually beneficial link between humans and the environment. Honouring the Sun God emphasises the value of protecting the environment and showing gratitude to nature, while also signifying the source of life and vitality.

18 November,2023 05:07 PM IST | Mumbai | mid-day online correspondent
Indira Gandhi at a Congress Party meeting in New Delhi Pic/AFP

Remembering Indira Gandhi: A formidable political force

In the history of Indian politics, Indira Gandhi is still regarded as a key figure because of her strong leadership and the revolutionary path she set for the country. The socio-political landscape of India was profoundly impacted by her stint as Prime Minister from 1966 to 1977 and then again from 1980 until her untimely death in 1984. Ahead of her death anniversary, November 19, commemorating the formidable force that Gandhi was, people around the world reflect on her enduring legacy and the indelible mark she left on the realms of politics, leadership, and social change. Indira Gandhi's entry into politics seemed inevitable, given her birth into the distinguished Nehru-Gandhi family. Her politics were defined by her leadership style, which was a combination of boldness and pragmatism. Gandhi played a leading role in defining India's international character during his term and was ardently committed to socioeconomic changes. The 1975 declaration of a state of emergency, which many saw as an authoritarian ploy to consolidate control, was one of the most contentious periods of her presidency. During this time, media censorship was implemented, political opponents were imprisoned, and civil freedoms were restricted. It is crucial to remember that throughout this time, policy changes and infrastructure advancements were also implemented, which had a substantial impact on India's development, in spite of the criticisms. The care of the marginalised and the uplift of the oppressed were central to Gandhi's political thought. She promoted rural people's rights and started a number of programmes to reduce poverty and land change that would strengthen the agricultural industry.  To lessen economic inequality and encourage equitable growth, she placed a strong focus on nationalisation, especially in the banking industry and other important industries. During the Cold War, Indira Gandhi also promoted India as a leader in non-alignment on the international front by supporting its independence and sovereignty over major powers. India gained more credibility in international affairs and a stronger voice on international forums because of her adept diplomacy and statesmanship. Beyond her political astuteness, Indira Gandhi left a lasting impact. Her ability to withstand hardships and political upheavals with steadfast strength made her a symbol of resilience. Tensions resulting from Sikh separatists led to her tragic killing in 1984, which rocked the country and irrevocably altered Indian politics. Her legacy and principles are still felt in the Indian National Congress, the party she led for a considerable amount of time. Leaders negotiating the complex world of Indian politics can allude to her persona and political skills. Indira Gandhi is remembered in Indian history as a key figure in shaping the country's future due to her unwavering spirit, forward-thinking policies, and forceful leadership. Though perspectives on her reign may differ, her influence on the political landscape of India continues to be an indisputable aspect of the nation's history.

18 November,2023 05:07 PM IST | Delhi | mid-day online correspondent
Lala Lajpat Rai/ INC

Remembering Lala Lajpat Rai: Towering figure of Indian freedom struggle

Lala Lajpat Rai was a pivotal character in the Indian independence movement who had a profound influence on early Indian literature and journalism in addition to politics. Rai, who died on November 17, 1928, from a brain injury sustained after being batoned at a protest, was vital in influencing India's literary scene and the developing press in the years leading up to independence because of his passionate dedication to the country's advancement. Rai was an ardent supporter of press freedom and founded a number of periodicals and journals that effectively mobilised the populace against British colonial control. His well-known essays in periodicals like "The Tribune" and "The People" demonstrated his unwavering support for political independence, social reform, and education. Rai boldly criticised the repressive practises of the British government using these forums, awakening people's consciences and promoting a sense of nationalism. In addition to his prominent position in the media, Lala Lajpat Rai was a passionate reader. His writings covered a broad range of topics, from socio-political difficulties and the cultural renaissance to patriotism. Rai made numerous contributions to society, such as essays, articles, and speeches that spoke to the nation's desire for independence and self-determination. In addition to inspiring the general public, his writings gave the growing independence cause intellectual vigour. "The Story of My Deportation," one of Rai's most well-known literary works, described his deportation to Mandalay by the British authorities in dramatic detail, illustrating his tenacity and unflinching dedication to the cause of India's freedom movement. Lala Lajpat Rai made numerous contributions to the press and literature that helped to shape the intellectual climate of his day. Through his writings, he dedicated himself to furthering the ideas of liberty, justice, and equality, thereby reviving the spirit of resistance against colonial subjugation. As a writer, journalist, and freedom warrior, Rai's lasting legacy inspires future generations and highlights the critical role that the media and literature play in promoting social change and a sense of national awakening. To conclude, Lala Lajpat Rai's significant influence on the literature and press of the early Indian press is an essential component of India's historical story, highlighting his steadfast dedication to liberty, fairness, and the empowerment of the Indian populace.

16 November,2023 09:19 PM IST | Mumbai | mid-day online correspondent
Indira Gandhi. Pic/INC

Remembering Indira Gandhi: The Iron lady of India

Indira Gandhi, born on November 19, 1917, into the politically influential Nehru family, played a pivotal role in shaping the destiny of India. As the first female Prime Minister of India, she left an indelible mark on the nation's political landscape. Indira Gandhi's leadership, marked by both achievements and controversies, made her a prominent figure in Indian and global history. Indira Gandhi's early years were deeply influenced by the political atmosphere in her family. Her father, Jawaharlal Nehru, was a key figure in the Indian independence movement, and discussions on politics and freedom were common in the Nehru household. Indira grew up amidst the fervor of India's struggle for independence, imbibing the principles of democracy and social justice. Her political journey began in earnest after her marriage to Feroze Gandhi and her association with the Indian National Congress. Indira's leadership abilities did not go unnoticed, and she swiftly rose through the political ranks. In 1966, she assumed the role of Prime Minister, succeeding Lal Bahadur Shastri. Indira Gandhi's tenure as Prime Minister was marked by both remarkable achievements and challenges. One of her notable accomplishments was the decisive victory in the 1971 Indo-Pak War, which led to the creation of Bangladesh. Her leadership during this conflict earned her widespread acclaim and strengthened her political standing. The Green Revolution, initiated during her regime, transformed India's agricultural landscape, significantly increasing food production. However, her policies also faced criticism, particularly during the period of the Emergency (1975-1977). The suspension of democratic processes during this time generated controversy and raised concerns about civil liberties. Also read: Indira Gandhi death anniversary 2023: Legacy of India's pioneering female PM Indira Gandhi's commitment to social justice and economic development was evident in her pursuit of progressive policies. The nationalization of banks and the focus on poverty alleviation reflected her dedication to addressing socio-economic disparities. However, her leadership style was often characterized as authoritative, leading to both admiration and criticism. The latter part of Indira Gandhi's political career saw her facing challenges, including internal strife within the Congress Party and growing opposition from various quarters. In 1984, her government faced a tragic turn of events with Operation Blue Star, an operation to remove Sikh militants from the Golden Temple in Amritsar. The repercussions of this operation included her assassination by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984. Indira Gandhi's legacy is complex and multifaceted. She remains a symbol of leadership, determination, and resilience. Her contributions to India's growth as a nation, especially in the realms of foreign policy and national security, cannot be overlooked. At the same time, the controversies surrounding her rule underscore the challenges that come with wielding political power. Indira Gandhi, the Iron Lady of India, played a crucial role in shaping the nation's destiny during a tumultuous period. Her leadership, marked by both triumphs and controversies, left an enduring impact on Indian politics. As a stateswoman, she navigated India through challenging times, leaving a legacy that continues to be debated and analyzed in the annals of history.

15 November,2023 12:29 PM IST | Mumbai | mid-day online correspondent
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Lala Lajpat Rai: The lion of Punjab

Lala Lajpat Rai Death Anniversary 2023: Lala Lajpat Rai, born on January 28, 1865, in Dhudike, Punjab, India, emerged as one of the stalwart leaders during the Indian independence movement against British colonial rule. His life and contributions to the freedom struggle left an indelible mark on the pages of India's history. Lala Lajpat Rai was a man of exceptional intellect and determination. Educated at Government College in Lahore, he initially began his career as a lawyer but soon found his true calling in the fight against injustice and foreign domination. Alongside Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal, he formed the triumvirate known as Lal Bal Pal, which became the driving force behind India's struggle for freedom. One of Lala Lajpat Rai's notable qualities was his unwavering commitment to the principles of Swaraj, or self-rule. He believed that India should be governed by its people, free from the shackles of colonialism. Rai's vision extended beyond political freedom; he also emphasized the importance of education and social reform in building a strong, independent nation. The turning point in Rai's life came with his active involvement in the non-cooperation movement against British rule. He became a vocal critic of oppressive policies and discriminatory measures imposed by the colonial government. His passionate speeches and writings inspired many to join the cause, and he soon became a symbol of resistance. Also Read: Lala Lajpat Rai death anniversary: All you need to know about this freedom fighter One of the most tragic chapters in Lala Lajpat Rai's life unfolded during the protests against the Simon Commission in 1928. Leading a demonstration in Lahore, Rai faced brutal police action that resulted in severe injuries. Despite the physical trauma, he valiantly continued to protest, but his health deteriorated, leading to his untimely death on November 17, 1928. Lala Lajpat Rai's demise became a rallying point for the Indian independence movement. His sacrifice stirred the hearts of countless Indians, galvanizing them to intensify their efforts against British rule. The popular slogan "Simon Go Back" echoed across the nation, symbolizing the collective will of the people to oust the imperialists. Rai's legacy extends beyond his role in politics. He was a strong advocate for education and worked towards societal reforms, especially in the fields of agriculture and industry. His commitment to uplifting the masses earned him the title "Punjab Kesari" (Lion of Punjab), reflecting the indomitable spirit with which he approached life and the struggle for freedom. Rai was a visionary leader, an eloquent orator, and a fearless freedom fighter who dedicated his life to the cause of India's independence. His contributions to the nation are remembered and celebrated, particularly on his death anniversary. The Lion of Punjab roared against colonial oppression, leaving behind a legacy that continues to inspire generations in the quest for justice, equality, and freedom.

15 November,2023 12:20 PM IST | Mumbai | mid-day online correspondent
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All you need to know about Lala Lajpat Rai

A prominent Indian freedom fighter, Lala Lajpat Rai was a political leader and a freedom fighter who is widely remembered for his role in India's struggle for independence. Lala Lajpat Rai was born on January 28, 1865, in Pakistan's Punjab region. He studied law at the Government College in Lahore and was a member of the Indian National Congress. Lajpat Rai was a vocal advocate for Indian independence. Lajpat Rai was an active member of the Indian National Congress (INC), a leader in the Swadeshi Movement, and a strong supporter of the Non-Cooperation Movement. He was also a vocal opponent of the British Raj and the Indian caste system. Lajpat Rai wrote several books, including The United States of America: A Hindu’s Impression and a Study (1915) and Young India (1917). In the year 1928, Lala Lajpat Rai was a leader in the protests against the Simon Commission, which was sent to India by the British government to examine the constitutional reforms. During the protests against the Simon Commission, a lathi charge was ordered by British police officers, during which Lajpat Rai was severely injured. He died a few weeks later from his injuries. Lala Lajpat Rai is known for his passionate commitment for India's independence and his tireless work for the upliftment of the people. Lala Lajpat Rai is remembered by Indians as a brave leader who fought for the rights of all people.

15 November,2023 11:22 AM IST | Mumbai | mid-day online correspondent
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