In last fortnight, I saw the name of Sher Shah mentioned many times, though in different contexts. Lalu Prasad compared Sonia with Sher Shah. What a sycophancy! But I excuse Lalu for his statement, as I don’t expect anything better. Lalu and for that matter all politicians must get some intensive tuition at home after getting elected. Another mention of Sher Shah came from JD (U) general secretary Shivanand Tiwary, who was once sycophant of Lalu and now, has come in Nitish camp: “Nitish is similar to Sher Shah as he has build infrastructure in his state.” Tiwary has gone a step ahead and compares Lalu Prasad with Shah Jahan: “Lalu has groomed his wife, a political rookie, to rule the state and has developed the Indian Railways around her Selarkala village. Thus, he is our Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal to immortalize his wife Mumtaz.” Is this digestible by the people of Bihar? I am sure both the gentlemen and some other politician will bring the name of other great sons of Bihar to compare their godfathers and godmothers.
However, Amertya Sen also referred to Sher Shah while addressing the intellectuals and administrators of Bihar in Patna recently when he had visited Nalanda as mentor of Nalanda International University. “Bihar led the country in many areas including spreading the idea of democracy during the Ashoka period when the concept of democracy was not known in other parts of the world. Furthermore, it was Sher Shah in Bihar and Bengal that first embarked on the massive project of building roads and bridges to connect large cities.” However, interestingly and very rightly Dr. Sen warned people to not continue to dwell in the past but to use it to learn lessons from it.
Let me provide certain basic historical information.
Sher Shah could rule the nation for a very short spell of five years. He ascended the throne of Delhi in 1540 AD after driving away Humayun, the Mughal emperor and ruled till he met an accidental death in the fort of Kalinjar on 10th day of Rabi’ul Awwal, A.H. 952 or the 13th May 1545 AD.
Sher Shah’s most brilliant achievements were in administrative reforms. He carried out extensive agrarian and administrative restructuring laying the foundation for the administration which helped Akbar.
To check undue influence of the officers in their respective jurisdictions, the Sher Shah devised the plan of transferring them every two or three years.
Sher Shah also instituted the Subcontinent’s first effective law and order force. It is said about his rule that “a woman could travel with all her jewelry in his empire without being afraid of getting looted.”
Sher Shah’s greatest legacy is the modern Grand Trunk road which ran from Bengal to Attock. However some claim it ran right up to Kabul with “Baulis” and “Sarais”, the equivalent of Modern day Service stations all along the road. According to some, ‘Sher Shah only restored the old imperial road from Calcutta to Peshawar, built a road from Agra to Jodhpur and Chittor linking up with the road to Gujrat seaports and a third road from Lahore to Multan, the window for caravans going to West and Central Asia.’
However, Sher Shah was a brave and valiant soldier. He kept on expanding the empire by defeating smaller rulers to integrate the country. He died while leading from front. Will Lalu and even Nitish show some acts of brave and aggressive decisions that pull up the governance and get all the projects of the state implemented in time? We will expect them to fight with a ‘sher’ to save the weak and deprived. They can surely cut down the CAT force that keeps them guarded and engage them against criminals.
Sher Shah’s performance is to be emulated by all the administrators who keep on living on false promises by announcing projects or laying foundation stones. Sher did everything in five years (granted by the Almighty) and left an ever lasting impression on the Indian history for the posterity to judge. Why can’t the present politicians when in chair promise only what they can do in the five years granted to them by the constitution and facilitated by the people of India?