Bharat Ratna to Karpoori Thakur

Karpoori Thakur (24 Jan 1924- 17 Feb 1988), known as Jan Nayak was a freedom fighter and 11th Chief Minister of Bihar-first between Dec 1970 to Jun 1971 as a part of Bharatiya Kranti Dal and later between Dec 1977 to Apr 1979 from the Janta Party. On 23 Jan 2024, the Government of India announced that he will be posthumously awarded Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award.

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Biography of Karpoori Thakur-

Karpoori Thakur, born to Gokul Thakur and Ramdulari Devi in Pitaunjhia (now Karpuri Gram) village, Samastipur District, Bihar, belonged to the Nai (barber) community. Influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and Satyanarayan Sinha, he became a student activist and left his graduate college to join the Quit India Movement. His active involvement in the Indian independence movement led to a 26-month imprisonment.

Post-independence, Karpoori Thakur worked as a teacher in his village school. In 1952, he entered the Bihar Vidhan Sabha as a Socialist Party candidate from the Tajpur constituency. As the Education Minister of Bihar, Thakur was a votary of the Hindi language and removed English as a compulsory subject from the matriculation curriculum.

Thakur served as a minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, before becoming the first non-Congress socialist Chief Minister of Bihar in 1970. He also enforced the total prohibition of alcohol in Bihar.

Karpoori Thakur’s impact went beyond his administrative duties. He was a champion for uplifting the Other Backward Classes (OBC). His significant efforts played a crucial role in laying the foundation for implementing the Mandal Commission recommendations, which proposed reservations for OBCs in the 1990s.

In 1977, under Thakur’s leadership as Chief Minister, the Mungeri Lal Commission report recommended the reclassification of backward classes into extremely backward classes and backward classes, encompassing the weaker sections of Muslims. This transformative report was implemented in 1978, representing a significant stride in acknowledging and addressing the needs of the most deprived segments within the backward classes.

Karpoori Thakur’s policies and initiatives left an indelible impact, giving rise to backward politics in Bihar. His efforts laid the foundation for the empowerment of backward classes, a legacy that significantly influenced the formation of regional parties such as the Janata Dal (United) or JD(U) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal.

Karpoori Thakur died of a heart attack on 17 February 1988, when he was 64 years old.

More About Thakur’s Legacy-

  • After Karpoori Thakur’s demise in 1988, his birthplace, Pitaunjhia, was renamed ‘Karpuri Gram’ in his honour.
  • The Jan Nayak Karpuri Thakur Vidhi Mahavidyalaya (Law College) in Buxar is also named in his honour.
  • The Department of Posts released a commemorative stamp in his memory.
  • The Jan Nayak Express is a train service operated by Indian Railways, running between Darbhanga in Bihar and Amritsar.