Biography of Chakravarti Rajagopalachari – Former Governor-General of India

Chakravarti Rajagopalachari is one of the individuals whose personality and patriotism has made India a modern, powerful country.

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Biography of Chakravarti Rajagopalachari

Biography of Chakravarti Rajagopalachari

Table of Contents

NameChakravarti Rajagopalachari[1]
Date of BirthDecember 9,1878
Place of BirthThorapalli Village, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu
Father’s NameChakravarti Venkataryan
Mother’s NameChakravarti Singaraama
Education1/ R V. Government Boys Higher Secondary School
2/ Central College, Bangalore,
3/ Presidency College, Madras
Awards1/ Bharat Ratna,1954
2/ Sahitya Akademi Award,1958
DiedDecember 25,1972

Early Life of Chakravarti Rajagopalachari

Chakravarti Rajagopalachari was born on December 9,1878 in Thorapalli village in Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu. His father’s name is Chakravarti Venkataryan and his mother’s name is Chakravarty Singaramma. He was born in a Hindu Tamil Brahmin family. It may be recalled that he started his primary education at his village educational institution. But at the age of five he moved with his family to Hosur where Gopalachari enrolled at Hosur R.V. Government Boys in Higher Secondary School and from there he passed the matriculation examination in 1891. He later graduated in arts from Central College in Bangalore in 1894. Rajagopalachari enrolled in Presidency College, Madras for law studies after graduating and received a law degree in 1897. In the same year he got married to Alamelu Mangalamma in 1897 when she was ten years old, and they have three sons and two daughters.

Also Read : Biography of Chaudhary Charan Singh

Political Career of Rajagopalachari

He joined the Indian National Congress at the age of 28 after starting law practice in Salem in 1900. Rajagopalachari later participated in the Calcutta session in 1906 as a Congress representative and also attended the Surat session in 1907.

It may be recalled that Rajagopalachari was elected as a member of Salem municipality in 1911. He was subsequently elected chairman of the municipality in 1917 and served from 1917 to 1919. Significantly, in 1917, he defended Indian independence activist P. Varadarajulu Naidu from being freed from grief by making his arguments as a lawyer in court against the charges of sedition.

Importantly, after Mahatma Gandhi joined the Indian Independence Movement in 1919, Rajagopalachari became one of his followers. Rajagopalachari subsequently actively participated in the agitation against the Rowlatt Act. Rajagopalachari quit his legal profession in 1920-22 to actively participate in the non-cooperation movement against the British led by Mahatma Gandhi. He was elected to the Congress Working Committee in 1921 and served as general secretary of the Congress party.

Chakravarti Rajagopalachari actively participated in the Vaikom Satyagraha, which started against untouchability in 1924-25. It may be recalled that he had made efforts to cure untouchability even after making a statement in the public meeting committee.

Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, who emerged as one of the chief leaders of the Tamil Nadu Congress in the early 1930s, supported the Dandi March which began in 1930 under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. When Gandhiji organised the Dandi March in 1930, Rajagopalachari broke the Salt laws at Vedaranyam, near Nagapattinam, along with Indian independence activist Sardar Vedaratnam. For which the British government sent Rajagopalachari to Trichinopoly Central Prison and sentenced him to six months rigorous imprisonment.

Chakraborti Rajagopalachari was later elected president of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee. It may be recalled that Rajagopalachari played an important role in participating in the 1937 general elections for the Indian National Congress.

After the 1937 elections, the Congress party came to power in the Madras Presidency and Chakravarti Rajagopalachari took over as the Premier of the Madras Presidency. It may be recalled that as the Premier of the Madras Presidency, he played an important role in the entry of Dalits into temples by enacting Temple Entry Authorization and Indemnity Act 1939. He also introduced the Agricultural Debt Relief Act in 1938 to reduce farmers’ loans.

Importantly, after Viceroy’s decision to declare war on Germany in 1940 without India’s consent after the outbreak of World War II, Congress ministers, including Rajagopalachari, resigned as premier along with other members of his cabinet in protest at the declaration of war. But as per Defence of India rules, Rajagopalachari was arrested and sentenced to one year in prison in December 1940 for protesting against the declaration of war.

Importantly Chakravarti Rajagopalachari also opposed the Quit India Movement. Instead of the movement, he advocated dialogue with the British. Rajagopalachari also advocated talks with the Muslim League demanding partition of India. It was for these reasons that the proposal subsequently adopted by the Madras Congress Legislature Party and the madras provincial Congress leader K Kamaraj was at variance and he subsequently resigned from the party and the assembly.

Elections were held in the Madras Presidency in 1946 after the end of World War II in 1945. In the last year of the war, K Kamaraj was requested by Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad to make Rajagopalachari the head of the Madras Presidency. Rajagopalachari however did not contest the elections. Importantly, Jawaharlal Nehru in his interim government entrusted Rajagopalachari as minister of industry, supply, education and finance from 1946 to 1947.

It may be recalled that as soon as India and Pakistan gained independence, Bengal was divided into two parts. And Rajagopalachari took over as the first Governor of West Bengal.  Rajagopalachari as governor, while dealing with both Hindu and Muslim sides impartially and firmly, emphasized the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the state. He strongly opposed the proposal to include some areas of Odisha and Bihar in West Bengal.

Importantly, Rajagopalachari served as acting Governor General of India in the absence of Governor General Lord Mountbatten from November 10 to November 24,1947. It may be recalled that Rajagopalachari had a very simple life while serving as governor general, washing his own clothes and polishing his shoes himself. Which is why Mountbatten made Rajagopalachari the second choice after Vallabhbhai Patel to be his successor.

It may be recalled that Rajagopalachari, who left India in June 1948, served as the last Governor General of India. He held the post from June 1948 to January 26, 1950. Importantly, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari is the only Indian to hold the governor general.

Rajagopalachari was subsequently elected to the Constituent Assembly from Madras.  It may be recalled that  in 1950 Jawaharlal Nehru invited Rajagopalachari to join his cabinet. Rajagopalachari did not act as a minister of any portfolio in the initial period but took over as home minister after the subsequent achievement of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. But after assuming charge, Rajagopalachari resigned and returned to Madras due to differences with Jawaharlal Nehru on various issues.

Importantly, after the elections held in Madras in 1952, no party won a majority and the then Governor Sri Prakasa appointed Rajagopalachari as chief minister. But on April 13, 1954, Rajagopalachari resigned as chief minister due to various political instability, diplomatic inaction.

Significantly, in January 1957, Rajagopalachari resigned from the Indian National Congress and formed another political party called Congress Reform Committee (CRC). The newly formed political party led by Rajagopalachari emerged as the second largest party in Madras by contesting the state assembly elections and winning 13 seats.

Conclusion

Apart from being an active politician, Rajagopalachari was a skilled writer in both his mother tongue Tamil as well as in English as the founder of Salem Literary Society. He published Siraiyil Tavam (Meditation in jail) in 1922. He also played an important role in setting up Tamil Scientific Terms Society. He translated the Ramayana in 1957 after writing Mahabharata in English in 1951. He also translated Bhagwat, Gita and Upanishads into English as well as wrote books on Socrates and  Marcus Aurelius  in Tamil.  Importantly, in 1958, he was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for various literary works offered in Tamil.

Rajagopalachari, who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of literature along with active politics for a long period of time died on December 25, 1972 at the age of 94.

FAQ

1. When and where was Rajagopalachari born?

Ans: Chakravarti Rajagopalachari was born on December 9,1878 in Thorapalli village in Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu.

2. Who is C. Rajagopalachari?

Ans: Rajagopalachari who is popularly known as Rajaji or C.R. was an Indian statesman, writer, lawyer, and independence activist. Rajagopalachari was the last Governor-General of India and also the first Indian born governor genreral, as all previous holders of the post were British nationals.

3. Name the political party formed by Rajagopalachari.

Ans: The newly formed political party by Rajagopalachari is Congress Reform Committee (CRC).

4. Who was the first Governor-General of independent India?

Ans: Chakravarti Rajagopalachari became the only governor-general of independent India.

5. Who is the last Governor General of India?

Ans: Rajagopalachari is the last governor general of India.

6. When Rajagopalachari was awarded with Bharat Ratna?

Ans: He was awarded with Bharat Ratna in1954.

7. When Rajagopalachari was awarded with Sahitya Akademi Award?

Ans: He was awarded with Sahitya Akademi Award in 1958.

8. When did Chakravarti Rajagopalachari died?

Ans: Rajagopalachari died on December 25,1972 at the age of 94.

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