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Biography of Bharat Ratna “Marudur Gopalan Ramachandran MGR” complete biography for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Marudur Gopalan Ramachandran MGR

(1917-1987)

Leader of the masses, and the founder leader of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), Marudur Gopalan Ramactiandran, MGR, as he was lovingly and popularly known to millions of people, was a man of the masses. He began his career in films even when he was a young boy and, till he retired from the celluloid world on assumption of office as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in 1977, MGR was the uncrowned king of Tamil films. Doing the role of good samaritan, he had captured the hearts of millions of people. The Government of India gave him the ‘Bharat’ award for best actor.

MGR was associated with the DMK, a regional party of Tamil Nadu from the beginning and he was close to the founder leader, the late C. N. Annadurai. Annadurai died and M. Karunanidhi took over as Chief Minister in 1969. Three years later, M.G. Ramachandran broke away from the DMK and founded the AIADMK which came to power in June 1977. He ruled the State for a decade and through his social welfare measures, especially the noon-meals scheme which covered over eight million school children, he won the hearts of the poor and downtrodden.

A staunch nationalist and lover of peace, MGR was instrumental in ‘aping the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord in an effort to bring peace to tic:: strife-torn Tamils in that country.

Born on January 17, 1917, in Kandy, the second son of Gopala Menon, an ethnic-Indian Sri Lanka Magistrate. MGR lost his father very early in his life and moved to Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu with his mother Sathyabhama and elder brother M.G. Chakrapani, to put together what remained of the family fortune. But sheer poverty drove him, while he was barely seven years of age, to a career on the stage in the then famous Original Boys Dramatic Troupe of Kandaswami Mudaliar. Privation and misery kept chasing him for years as he went knocking at one cinema-studio door after another until finally he got a break with a minor role in a Tamil film (“Sati Leelavathi”) in 1936. He had to wait for another eleven years before landing a lead role (in “Raja Kumari”) in 1947, though there was an earlier film (“Chaya”) that portrayed him as hero but was not released. After this MGR never looked back. And even if some of his hundred and forty films were bolstered up by powerful stories and dialogues from the strong pens of the leaders of the Dravidian Movement like Anna and Karunanidhi, a very distinct stamp came to be associated with his roles and style of acting which could send his millions of fans into screaming ecstasy. He was the first Tamil artist to win a National best-actor (Bharat) award for his role in “Rickshankaran” in 1971, the only Indian actor about whom the prestigious British Royal Asiatic Review ran a sumptuous article and one of the earliest recipients of a presidential citation (for his movie “Malaikallan”) in 1954. A man blessed with charming features, golden complexion and if the, well-kept figure, his habits were clean and regular; he never touched liqour or narcotics and was always choosy about the quality and quantity of his dietary preferences. His admirers would quickly react to the sight of his dainty figure dressed in a spotless white dhoti (with the red-black border of his party colours), adorned with a Tight-fitting cream-coloured full-hand silk shirt, sporting a fur cap, a pair of dark spectacles and a broad wrist watch worn prominently over his shirt-sleeve; and then all carefully made arrangements would go haywire as the emotion-ridden masses surged forward for just a glimpse of their “Idaya Deivam” (God of their hearts). None of MGR’s sartorial paraphernalia was removed when he was finally laid to rest on Christmas Day of 1987 on the Marina Beach, Madras, to the south of the Samadhi of his close friend and mentor C.N. Annadurai, himself a former Chief Minister of the State of Tamil Nadu. The President, the Vice-President and the Prime Minister of

India flew in specially to offer condolences and the funeral itself was attended by State Chief Ministers, State and Central Ministers, Governors besides of course an estimated four million completely bewildered and heart-broken followers. The whole country observed State mourning, an unprecedented gesture shown by the Government of India to a State leader and this was inspired not so much by political exigencies as by genuine respect for a patriotic citizen who did so much for so many. MGR took ill in 1984 and underwent a kidney transplant. Because of his extraordinary will power he had a remarkable recovery and administered the State till December 24, 1987, when he died of a heart attack in Madras.

MGR was inspired by the dravidian social and political movement initiated by E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker (professedly an atheist) and ably championed by C. N. Annaduari; but he was also a very pious man, a conformist in many ways and a genuine protector of all minorities including the non-Tamil domiciles of Tamil Nadu and some much maligned groups among the forward communities. He was a generous patron of classical culture as well as folk art and spent considerable resources for preserving traditional institutions, religious places, archeological treasures, adivasi monuments and picturesque spots in Tamil Nadu.

MGR was powerfully attracted by the oratory and ideology of C.N. Annaditrai with whom he built up a deeply abiding and mutually helpful association. When Anna died in 1969, MGR promoted the cause of DMK strongman M. Karunanidhi for Chief Ministership, keeping himself away from active politics. But in 1971, cracks developed in the ruling DMK party structure and a year later MGR broke away to found his own political party, the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, later rechristened All India ADMK to uncoil it from the stigma of a regional party. Within six months the new party inflicted a crushing defeat on the DMK and the Indian National Congress in a by-election. Five years later in 1977, the AIADMK was swept to power at State level and the “Puratchi Thalaivar” (Revolutionary Leader) became Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu to start an almost uninterrupted decade of stewardship till the moment he died in harness. However in 1980, after an unexpected collapse of his party in the elections to the Parliament, his Government was dismissed, but a short while thereafter he was voted back to power with a much larger majority. MGR repeated the miracle of capturing power with a massive mandate for the third time in 1984 while he was lying ill in a Brooklyn Hospital in U.S.A. and could not therefore campaign in person. When MGR returned to India, he began to cultivate close links with the Central Government and the two could forge strong and enduring ties by hammering out solutions to different problems. One such was the plight of ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka which hurt the psyche of Indian Tamils quite deeply. A strong protagonist of national integration, MGR saw in the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement all the elements needed for national security as well as dignified living for the Sri Lankan Tamils. Casting aside his earlier inhibitions and suspicions, MGR instituted firm measures for implementing the Agreement. This may have earned for him a few political brickbats, but it certainly raised his stature as a sagacious and pragmatic national level statesman.

As an administrator, he largely kept his pledge to the people”to wipe every tear from every eye, to feed every hungry stomach”. He realised that children raised in slums and on pavements could never avail themselves of government’s scheme of free education unless somebody fed them and so introduced the mammoth noon meal scheme for school children, later extended to all destitute and senior citizens. There were derisive remarks at that time, particularly because the high-cost welfare scheme resulted in the dilution of the prohibition policy (to which also MGR was committed). But today, this scheme is held out as a model for the whole of the developing world and has received gratuitous commendation from WHO and the World Bank. Some other schemes like distribution of free foot-wear and tooth-powder to the poor, free electricity to slum dwellings and old age pensions, may appear trivial, but the abiding concern that these small acts represent and the boost they give to the sunken spirits of the down-trodden, must be seen to be believed. Only brash cynics and political operators will see them as gimmicks; MGR was far too entrenched in the bodies and souls of the poor to require such supportive exercises.

Ramachandran was a shrewd politician who never let anyone know his mind, even in such an important matter as succession. His balancing acts, when someone in the party or administration got too big for his shoes, left everyone gasping for breath, but their effect was to keep all functionaries in tight leash and prevent arrogant stances being taken by anybody.

The nation paid its homage to the leader of the masses by conferring on him posthumously Bharat Ratna. the highest award of the land in 1988.

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