Lala Lajpat Rai was popularly known as Punjab Kesari meaning The Lion of Punjab also known as “Sher-E- Punjab” in Hindi. He was also associated with activities of Punjab National Bank and Lakshmi Insurance Company in their early stages. He was part of the Lal Bal Pal trio. The word ‘Lala‘ is an honorific, applied to prominent men of the time.
Lajpat Rai was born in Dhudike which is now in Moga district, Punjab on 28 January 1865. His father, Radha Krishan, was an Urdu teacher. He was a devotee of Arya Samaj and was editor of Arya Gazette, which he set up during his student time.
He advocated the Swadeshi movement involving theboycott of all imported items and the use of Indian-made goods in 1907.
The last years of the nineteenth century, saw a radical sensibility emerge among some Indian Intellectuals. This position burst onto the national all-India scene in 1905 with the Swadeshi movement – the term is usually rendered as “self reliance” or “self sufficiency”.
He sustained serious injuries by the police when leading a non-violent protest againstthe Simon Commission and died less than three weeks later. His death anniversary (November 17) is one of several days celebrated as Martyrs’ Day in India.
He initiated the discussion on the partition of Punjab. Writing in The Tribune in November-December 1924, he penned,
“My suggestion is that the Punjab should be partitioned into two provinces, the Western Punjab with a large Muslim majority to be [a] Muslim-governed province; the Eastern Punjab with a large Hindu-Sikh majority to be [a] non-Muslim-governed province.”
He also proposed Muslim provinces to be set up in the North West Frontier Province, Sindh and East Bengal.
‘The Lala Lajpat Rai Trust’ was formed in 1959 on the eve of his Centenary Birth Celebration, to promote education. The trust was founded by a group of Punjabi philanthropists (including R.P Gupta and B.M Grover) who have settled and prospered in the Indian State of Maharashtra.
The Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary & Animal Sciences, in Hisar, Haryana, is a state university was created in memory of Lajpat Rai. A statue of Lajpat Rai stands at the central square in Shimla, India (having been originally erected in Lahore and moved to Shimla in 1948).
Lala Lajpat Rai Hall of Residence at Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) in Kanpur and Kharagpur; as well as the Lala Lajpat Rai Institute of Engineering and Technology(LLRIET), Moga, are named in his honor. Also many institutes, schools and libraries in his hometown of Jagraon, district Ludhiana are named after him.
The bus terminus in Jagraon, Punjab, India is named after Lala Lajpat Rai. Lala Lajpat Rai Hospital, Kanpur is also named in his honor. The Lala Lajpat Rai Institute of Management is a business school in Mumbai.