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Indian History

C Rajagopalachari

  • 10 Dec 2021
  • 5 min read

Why in News

Recently, C. Rajagopalachari is remembered on his 143rd birth anniversary.

  • He is remembered for his contributions to the freedom struggle, administrative and intellectual prowess. 

Key Points

  • About:
    • Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, popularly known as Rajaji, was born on December 10th in 1878.
    • He studied law from the Presidency College in Madras (now Chennai), and began practice in Salem in the year 1900.
    • In 1916, he formed the Tamil Scientific Terms Society, an organisation that translated scientific terms of chemistry, physics, mathematics, astronomy and biology into simple Tamil words.
    • He became the chairperson of the municipality of Salem in 1917 and served there for two years.
    • In 1955, he was honoured with India’s highest civilian award Bharat Ratna.
    • He died on 25th December, 1972.
  • Political Career:
    • Pre-independence:
      • He joined the Indian National Congress and acted as a legal advisor.
      • He defended Indian Independence activist, P. Varadarajulu Naidu against charges of sedition in 1917.
      • He was elected as the first premier of the Madras Presidency in 1937.
      • In 1939, Rajagopalachari took a step to abolish untouchability and caste prejudice and issued the Madras Temple Entry Authorisation and Indemnity Act.
        • After the Madras Temple Entry Authorisation Dalits were allowed to enter inside temples.
      • At the time of Partition, he was appointed as the Governor of West Bengal.
      • In 1947, during the absence of Lord Mountbatten, the last British viceroy and independent India’s first Governor General, Rajagopalachari was temporarily chosen to hold the office.
        • Therefore he was the last governor general of India.
    • Post-independence:
      • Rajagopalachari took over as the chief minister of Madras in April 1952.
      • During his tenure as the chief minister of Madras, he actively participated in reforming the education system and bringing changes in the society.
        • He also made Hindi a compulsory language in Tamil schools.
        • His move led to protests against him, following which Rajagopalachari resigned as the CM.
      • He was a social conservative but advocated a free market economy.
        • He wanted to reintroduce the Varna system into society.
        • He believed in the significance of religion for society.
      • Rajagopalachari was made Home Affairs Minister after the death of Sardar Patel in 1950.
      • In 1959, he resigned from the Indian National Congress and founded the Swatantra Party.
  • Role in Freedom Struggle:
    • Non-Cooperation Movement: He met Mahatma Gandhi for the first time in 1919 in Madras (now Chennai) and participated in Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement.
      • He was also jailed for two years in Vellore in 1920.
      • After his release, he opened his own ashram to promote Gandhi’s principles of Hindu-Muslim harmony and the abolition of untouchability.
      • He was also a proponent of khadi.
    • Vaikom Satyagraha: He was also involved in the Vaikom Satyagraha movement against untouchability
    • Dandi March: When Gandhi led the Dandi March to break the salt law in 1930, Rajagopalachari carried out a similar march at Vedaranyam in the Madras Presidency.
      • He also became the editor of Gandhi’s newspaper, Young India.
    • Quit India Movement: During the Quit India Movement, Rajagopalachari opposed Gandhi.
      • He was of the view that the British were going to leave the country eventually, so launching another Satyagraha was not a good decision.
  • Literary Contributions:
    • He wrote a Tamil translation of the Ramayana, which was later published as Chakravarthi Thirumagan.

Source: TH

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