The Centre announced on 23 January, Tuesday, that it would confer Bharat Ratna on Karpoori Thakur posthumously for his “lifelong dedication to the upliftment of the underprivileged sections of society and his relentless fight for social justice.”
Karpoori was a key figure of OBC politics in Bihar. Known as Jan Nayak, the people’s hero, he remains a figure of immense respect and admiration.
Who was Karpoori Thakur?
He was the leader who revolutionized politics in Bihar and changed the political scenario with his ‘unique’ policies. Thakur was a socialist leader dedicated to the upliftment of the underprivileged and fought for social justice, eventually becoming the leader of the backward classes. He served as Deputy Chief Minister once and Chief Minister of Bihar twice.
Early Life & Education
Born into a Nai (Barber) family in Pitaunjia village in the Samastipur district of Bihar. Thakur’s journey from a barber’s son to one of the tallest leaders in Bihar was nothing short of magical. After completing his schooling, he graduated from CM College Darbhanga. Thakur was a freedom fighter working in the Quit India Movement as a student activist and spent 26 months as a prisoner during the Indian Independence Movement.
|Date of birth
|24 January 1924
|Freedom fighter, Teacher, Politician
|Socialist Party(1952-1973), Bhartiya Kranti Dal(1973-77), Janata Party(1977-79)
|Bharat Ratna (2024)
- Bihar secretary of Socialist Party(1948-52)
- Elected MLA from Tajpur (1952)
- Education Minister of Bihar(1967-68)
- Deputy CM of Bihar(1969)
- Chief Minister of Bihar twice (1970-71), (1977-79)
- Elected MLA from Sonbarsa constituency(1985)
Thakur was employed as a teacher at his village’s school after India gained independence. He was an advocate of the Hindi language, and while serving as Bihar’s education minister, he eliminated English as a compulsory subject in the matriculation curriculum. Furthermore, he imposed a complete ban on alcohol in Bihar. During his tenure, several schools and colleges were established in his honor in the underprivileged regions of Bihar.
In 1977, the Mungeri Lal Commission report recommended reclassifying backward classes into extremely backward classes and backward classes, including weaker sections of Muslims. This report was implemented in 1978, recognizing and addressing the needs of the most deprived backward classes.
The impact of Karpoori Thakur’s policies and initiatives can be seen in the rise of backward politics in Bihar. His work laid the foundation for the empowerment of backward classes, which later influenced the formation of regional parties like the Janata Dal (United) or JD(U) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal.
Karpoori Thakur, who is commonly known as ‘Jan Nayak’ or the people’s hero, is held in high regard and widely respected.
It was announced on Tuesday, 23 January 2024, that the highest civilian award would be given to the late socialist leader. The government stated that by honoring Shri Thakur, they acknowledge his contribution as a symbol of democracy and social justice and his significant impact as a source of inspiration for marginalized communities. His life and work embody the principles of the Indian Constitution, which advocate for equality, brotherhood, and justice for all.