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Biography of Bharat Ratna “Chakravarty Rajagopalachari” complete biography for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Chakravarty Rajagopalachari


Chakravarty Rajagopalachari, better known as Rajaji and more briefly as C. R. belonged to a Vaishnavite Brahmin family. He was born on 10 December 1878 in Salem District in the then Madras Presidency. His father was a village Munsif (Judicial Officer) in Thorapotti, Salem District. Some of his family members were pandits in the royal court of Mysore. Rajaji was the youngest of three sons.

Educated at Bangalore and Madras, he graduated at the age of eighteen and then took a degree in Law and started practising as a lawyer. He was married in 1900, but lost his wife early in 1917.

R. read widely from English Classics as well as Indian. He had read the works of such authors as Shakespeare, Walter Scott, Tolstoy and Thoreau when a boy. As a young man he was powerfully influenced by Dadabhai Naoroji, Tait, C. Vijayaraghavachariar, Annie Besant and Sarojini Naidu as well as the political activities in Bengal, Maharashtra and South India itself. Mahatma Gandhi became his political leader although at times he differed from Gandhiji openly. In the wake of Rowlatt Act and the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre he joined the freedom movement.

His whole career was a brilliant one. He had been Chairman of the Salem Municipality, Secretary of the Prohibition League of India and Member Incharge of the Indian National Congress’ anti-drink campaign. Later, as Chief Minister of Madras, he was to introduce prohibition in his State. His period of political apprenticeship, however, was prolonged. For over a decade after. World War I, he was content to devote his energies to Gandhi’s constructive programme, espousing in addition the cult of the spinning wheel and the removal of untouchability.

The Prince of Wales visited India on November 17, 1921. The nation observed a complete hartal on that day. The Government banned political meetings and also the volunteer organisations of the Congress and Khilafat in different parts of the country. Rajaji delivered a speech before a huge gathering on December 14, 1921, and was arrested on the next morning. He was awarded three months’ imprisonment and lodged in a solitary cell in Vellore Central Jail on December 21, 1921. Rajaji maintained a diary in jail and later published it as Jail Diary. He was released from prison on February 13, 1922. R. organised a Flag Satyagraha in Nagpur in 1923. He also became a staunch supporter of Khadi. In February 1925, he set up an Ashram at Tiruchengode to boost up khadi work.

He led the Salt Satyagraha March in Tamil Nadu from Trichy to Vedaranyam on April 13, 1930 (April 13-28). This March galvanized political activity in South India. Rajaji was arrested and sentenced to six months imprisonment plus a fine of Rs.200 or another three months. He was released on January 25. Earlier (1921-22), he was General Secretary of the A.I.C.C., a Member of the Congress Working Committee and President of its Provincial Committee for many years. During 1937-39 he was the first Chief Minister of Madras Presidency. Behind Gandhi’s success at the Round Table Conference and, earlier, in the Gandhi-Irwin Pact, there is strong evidence of C.R.’s quiet work and dogged persistence. In 1937 he was responsible for evolving the Formula that led the Congress to accept office in the provinces in which it has won a majority.

Rajaji pleaded strongly for the social and economic reform of Indian society, especially the removal of untouchability. As Chief Minister of Madras he was responsible for the Madras Temple Entry Act (1939). It is observed that Madras, under him was well ahead of all other provinces. He was opposed to the Congress abdicating responsibility in the provinces on the outbreak of World War II.

At the Allahabad meeting of the Congress Working Committee (July 1942), Rajaji came out with the bold suggestion that the party accept the principle of partition as the basis for an understanding with the Muslim League. He held the ‘Quit India’ policy to be misguided and detrimental to India’s long-term interests. The ‘C.R. Formula’ which formed the basis of the 1944 Gandhi-Jinnah Talks, relied on the premise, implicit in the formula itself, of a treaty of separation which would provide for the efficient and satisfactory administration of foreign affairs, defence, customs, commerce and the like which must necessarily continue to be matters of common interest between the concluding parties. It is important to note that neither Gandhi nor Rajaji, contemplated an abrupt separation. In the establishment of Pakistan as a sovereign, independent state, an essential feature, from his point of view, was the treaty of separation to provide for a difficult period of transition.

In March-April 1942, Rajagopalachari was among a small minority of Congress leaders who favoured acceptance of proposals by the Cripps Mission with a view to breaking the existing political deadlock. Four years la ter, he advised acceptance of the Muslim League’s demand for Pakistan as the price which had to be paid for independence. Having criticized the Congress for rejecting the Cripps Mission proposals, he refused to join the Quit India Movement that came in its wake. With the Japanese poised for a frontal assault, the Movement seemed to him to reflect an attitude of neutrality towards the Axis powers. Not for the first time, was he thus to strike a discordant note that, he knew, would almost completely isolate him from the mainstream of the nationalist movement.

He believed a compromise with the Muslims was essential and the ‘C. R. Formula’ was intended to provide the Muslims a choice either to join a federated India, a confederation of free units or carve out a separate sovereign state. When the Congress endorsed the Quit India call he resigned (1942) from its Working Committee and expressed the hope that Britain would win the War and establish a democratic government in India.

After the War, he was a member of the Governor-General’s Executive Council (1946-7); Governor of West Bengal (August-November 1947) and Governor-General of India (1948-50). When the new constitution was adopted on January 26,1950, Dr. Rajendra Prasad became the first President of India and C. R. relinquished the post of Governor-General. Rajaji left for Madras on January 27, 1950. Jawaharlal Nehru requested him to come and join hisCabi net as Minister Without Portfolio so he became Minister Without Portfolio (May-December, 1950). But soon when Sardar Patel who was then the Home Minister, expired and Rajaji was made the Minister for Home Affairs in the Central Cabinet (November 1951). He was once more Chief Minister of Madras during 1952-54. Thereafter, he gradually drifted away from the „ Congress mainstream and was instrumental in the formation of the pronouncedly rightist and anti-Congress Swatantra Party. Rajaji fell ill in November 1972 and breathed his last in Madras on December 25, 1972.

He played a prominent role in the international movement against the nuclear bomb and was strong advocate of religious instruction in public schools. In 1962 he led a three member mission for world peace to the United States. Rajaji had written on varied subjects and his writings reveal depth and scholarship. His important and valuable publications include : Ramayana, Mahabharata, Upanishads and Bhaja Govindam in English language. Mahabharata and Ramayana are published in Many editions and translated into many Indian and foreign languages. Rajaji was awarded by the Sahitya Akademi for his Tamil book on Ramayana.

Known for his mordant wit, C. R. pleaded for the retention of English as :he lingua franca of India. He wrote a small tract, Mudiyuma, to establish that even Tamil could be used as a medium for scientific ideas and underlined that Hindi should not be imposed on the South. He told one of his biographers: ‘I don’t want any (office). I have held and finished with the highest offices open to anyone. I have received honours and tokens of utmost regard and affection, for all of which I am grateful. I have kept my record clean and have led life honestly throughout. 1 say that I feel and what appears to be just and right.’ General Chatterjee, his principal staff officer during his tenure as the first Indian Governor of Bengal and later as the last Governor-General, has noted that C. R. was a ‘multi-faceted genius of sparkling intellect, deep erudition, transparent honesty, bubbling humour, intense humanism, bold conventions and an unceasing zest for living a full life..This rare combination of age and ardour, catholicity and conservatism, volubility and taciturnity, serenity and pugnacity, his detachment in the midst of power, his religiosity mingled with a latitudinarian outlook. . . A pious soul of staggering moral heights, he was still practising all that he preached.’

The nation conferred its highest honour Bharat Ratna on him in 1954 as a mark of recognition of his services.


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