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When Lal Bahadur Shastri took a loan from PNB

SNS | New Delhi |


Banks have all kinds of customers. There are some customers who obtain loans amounting to thousands of crores of rupees but fail to pay the loan back. Then there are others who take very small loans – probably a few thousands of rupees – but pay the entire amount back.

Those in the latter category set examples of greatness and are remembered long after they are gone. And this is exactly what is bringing Lal Bahadur Shastri even more respect from the people of India.

As the heat over the Rs 11,300 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam involving diamantaire Nirav Modi continues to singe the economy (and the aam aadmi) of the country, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Thursday, 20 February, shared a post containing a picture of a green Fiat car. The car belonged to the late prime minister.

The accompanying text on the photo gives every Indian a lesson to learn from and an example of a “different breed of men”. It proves why people still hold Shastri with a kind of respect reserved for a few.

Here is what the post reads:

“In 1965, the Prime Minister of India Lal Bahadur Shastri bought a Fiat car after taking a loan of Rs 5,000 from Punjab National Bank. When his loan was approved early, Shastri told the bank, “The common man should have the same privilege.”

He died at Tashkent in 1966 before he could repay the loan. The Bank wrote to his widow Lalita Shastri for repayment of the loan of Rs 5,000 which her husband owed. The lady promised to pay back in instalments from her family pension. She repaid every Rupee of the Rs 5,000.

The Fiat car still stands at his home, reminding of the era of a “different breed of men”.


Shastri, who was the second Prime Minister of India, is hailed as one of the tallest leaders in the history of independent India. He died in Tashkent on 11 January 1966, a day after signing the Tashkent Agreement. The official version of his death says that he died of a heart attack. Yet many continue to believe that he was poisoned.