IMPORTANT NATIONAL LEADERS & FREEDOM FIGHTERS
Annie Besant (1847 – 1933)
- Born : October 1, 1847, Clapham, London, United Kingdom
- Died : September 20, 1933, Adyar, Karnataka, India
- In 1893, she left for India having been influenced by the Indian culture and civilization. She was famous as a social worker, educationalist and journalist.
- She became a staunch supporter of Indian Independence Movement and her contribution to India’s freedom struggle was remarkable.
- She founded the Home-Rule League. She revived the Theosophical Society.
- In 1915, she chaired the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress.
- She also edited ‘New India’. She established Indian Boy Scouts Association.
- She received a prestigious award for her work for scouts.
- She also studied Hinduism. India is indebted to Annie Besant for her immeasurable work for freedom struggle, educational advancements and social reforms.
R. Ambedkar (1891 – 1956)
- Born : April 14, 1891, Mhow, Madhya Pradesh
- Died : December 6, 1956, Delhi
- Full name: Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar
- He was a jurist, a statesman, a social reformer and a leader of the depressed classes.
- He was born in Mahar caste in Mahu (M.P) in 1891. He went for higher studies to England and America. He was the first graduate of Mahar caste.
- He participated in all the three Round Table Conferences. He signed Poona Pact with Gandhiji in 1932.
- From 1942 to 1946, he was in the Executive Council of the Governor General. He organized the Indian Labour Party, Scheduled Caste Federation and People’s Education Society.
- He was the chairman of the Drafting Committee of our Constitution.
- He also piloted the Hindu Code through the Indian Legislature.
- From 1947 to 1951, he was a law minister in Nehru’s cabinet.
- Towards the end of his life he embraced Buddhism.
Baji Rout (1925 – 1938)
- Born : October 5, 1926, Dhenkanal district
- Died : October 11, 1938, Bhuban
- He is the youngest martyr of India. This 12 yr old boat boy was shot dead by British police when he courageously denied to ferry them across the Brahmani River on the night of 11th October 1938.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856 – 1920)
- Born : July 23, 1856, Chikhli, Maharashtra
- Died : August 1, 1920, Mumbai
- Full name : Keshav Gangadhar Tilak
- Bal Gangadhar Tilak, 1856–1920, Indian nationalist leader. He was a journalist in Pune, and in his newspapers, the Marathi-language Kesari [lion] and the English-language Mahratta, he set forth his nationalist ideals.
- He sought a Hindu revival based on Maratha traditions and independence [swaraj] from Britain.
- After the Indian National Congress was founded (1885), Tilak became the acknowledged leader of the extreme wing.
- He fought the moderate measures of Gopal Krishna Gokhale and advocated resistance to British rule; he was arrested (1897) by the British and imprisoned for 18 months.
- In 1907 a split took place in the Congress, and Tilak led his extremist wing out of the party.
- The next year he was again imprisoned, this time for six years. Unlike Mohandas Gandhi, he welcomed the Montagu-Chelmsford Report (1918), which conceded a substantial measure of self-rule.
Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay (1838 – 1894)
- Born : June 27, 1838, Naihati, West Bengal, India
- Died : April 8, 1894, Kolkata
- He was one of the active nationalist, greatest novelists and poets of India. He is famous as author of Vande Mataram, the national song of India.
- His first Bengali romance Durgeshnandini was published in 1865.
- His famous novels are Kapalkundala (1866), Mrinalini (1869), Vishbriksha (1873), Chandrasekhar (1877), Rajani (1877), Rajsimha (1881), and DeviChaudhurani (1884).
- His famous novel was Anand Math (1882). Anand Math contained the song Bande Mataram (Hail to thee, Mother), which was later adopted as National Song.
Bhagat Singh (1907 – 1931)
- Born : September 28, 1907, Khatkar Kalan, Banga, Punjab, India.
- Died : March 23, 1931, Lahore, Pakistan
- He was also known as Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh.
- He was a revolutionary and martyr, the second son of Kishan Singh and Vidya Vati. He is the symbol of the heroism of the youth of India.
- He gave a new direction to revolutionary movement in India, formed ‘Naujavan Bharat Sabha’ to spread the message of revolution in Punjab, formed ‘Hindustan Samajvadi Prajatantra Sangha’ along with Chandrasekhar Azad to establish a republic in India, assassinated police official Saunders to avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai
- On April 8 1929 Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt threw a bomb onto the corridors of the assembly and shouted ‘Inquilab Zindabad!’ The bomb was not meant to kill or injure anyone and therefore it was thrown away from the crowded place. Following the blasts both Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt courted arrest.
- The British authority, while interrogating them, came to know about their involvement in the murder of J. P. Saunders. Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev were charged with the murder. Singh admitted to the murder and made statements against the British rule during the trial.
- As a protest, he along with some fellow prisoners declared to “go on hunger strike”. The strike continued for over a month and finally the British had to accept before their conditions.
- Bhagat Singh along with other revolutionaries found responsible for the Assembly bombing and murder of Saunders. On March 23, 1931, Bhagat Singh was hanged in Lahore with his fellow comrades Rajguru and Sukhdev. Singh was cremated at Hussainiwala on banks of Sutlej River.
Bipin Chandra Pal (1858 – 1932)
- Born : November 7, 1858, Habiganj, Sylhet region, British India (now Bangladesh)
- Died : 20 May 1932 (aged 73), Kolkata
- He is known as the ‘Father of Revolutionary Thoughts’ in India. He was also an eminent radical of his time.
- He was the one of the three famous leaders called “Lal Bal Pal” who comprised the extremist wing of the Indian National Congress.
- By his contributions to various newspapers and through speaking tours, he popularized the concepts of swadeshi (exclusive use of Indian-made goods) and swaraj (independence).
- In later years Pal allied himself with fellow Bengali nationalists who resented the cult of personality surrounding Mahatma Gandhi, the most popular nationalist leader. Pal’s overriding concern in his writings from 1912 to 1920 was to achieve confederation of the different regions and different communities within India.
Chakravarti Rajagopalachari (1878 – 1972)
- Born : 10 December 1878 Thorapalli, Madras Presidency, British India (now in Tamil Nadu, India)
- Died : 25 December 1972 (aged 94), Madras, Tamil Nadu, India (now Chennai)
- Rajagopalachari was an Indian lawyer, independence activist, politician and writer.
- He was the first and last Indian Governor General of India after Lord Mountbatten left India in 1948.
- He is popularly known as ‘Rajaji’ or ‘CR’.
- He actively participated in Home League Rule under Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Later in 1919 and being influenced by Gandhi he joined in the freedom struggle. Later, in 1937 he was selected as the Chief Minister of Madras.
- In 1957, he found the Swatantra Party.
- He also published a highly regarded, abridged edition of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, that was translated from Sanskrit to Tamil and then to Hindi.
Chandra Shekhar Azad (1906 – 1931)
- Born : Chandra Shekhar Tiwari, 23 July 1906, Bhavra, Alirajpur, Central India Agency
- Died : 27 February 1931 (aged 24), Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India
- He was a daring freedom fighter and a fearless revolutionary, involved in incidents such as Kakori Train Robbery, Assembly Bomb incident and the shooting of Saunders at Lahore, to avenge the killing of Lala Lajpat Rai, he was the face of revolutionary India.
- He got involved in revolutionary activities at a very young age.
- He joined the non-cooperation movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi.
- He remained a terror for the British Government as long as he was alive.
- On 27 February 1931, betrayed by one of the associates, he was besieged by the British police in Alfred Park, Allahabad. He fought valiantly but seeing no other way he shot himself and fulfilled his resolve to die a ‘free man’ or ‘Azad’.
Dadabhai Naoroji (1825 – 1917)
- Born : 4 September 1825, Bombay, British India
- Died : 30 June 1917 (aged 91)
- He is known as the Grand Old Man of India, was a Parsi intellectual, educator, cotton trader, and an early Indian political and social leader.
- He was a member of parliament (MP) in the United Kingdom House of Commons between 1892 and 1895, and the first Asian to be a British MP.
- Naoroji is also credited with the founding of the Indian National Congress, along with A.O. Hume and Dinshaw Edulji Wacha.
- His book Poverty and Un-British Rule in India brought attention to the draining of India’s wealth into Britain. He was also member of the Second International along with Kautsky and Plekhanov.
- First to demand ‘Swaraj’ from the INC Platform (Calcutta session, 1906).
- Selected to ‘House of Commons’ on Liberal Party ticket (First Indian to do so).
Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1886 – 1915)
- Born : 9 May 1866, Kothluk, Ratnagiri Dist., Bombay Presidency, British India
- Died : 19 February 1915 (aged 48), Bombay, Bombay Presidency, British India
- Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866-1915) was an Indian nationalist leader. President of the Indian National Congress, he also served in the Imperial Legislative Council and founded the famed Servants of India Society.
- On May 9, 1866, Gopal Krishna Gokhale was born in the Ratnagiri District of the Bombay Presidency into a poor but eminently respectable Chitapavan Brahmin family. At age 18 he secured a bachelor’s degree from Elphinstone College and joined the illustrious Deccan Education Society. At 22 Gokhale became secretary of the famous Sarvajanik Sabha, the leading political organization of Bombay. He also became a professor at Fergusson College and, in 1891, secretary of the Deccan Education Society.
- In 1895 Gokhale was chosen secretary to the Indian National Congress. In the same year he was elected to the senate of Bombay University. He was 29 years old. From 1898 to 1906 Gokhale was a member of the Poona Municipality and served as its president in 1902 and 1905. Under his leadership the municipal government was effectively reformed and democratized. In 1899 he was elected to the Bombay Legislative Council, in which he played a prominent role until his election to the Imperial Legislative Council in 1902.
- In 1912 Gokhale visited South Africa, where he met Mohandas Gandhi in connection with Gandhi’s campaign for rights for Indians. Gokhale also met with Gen. Jan Smuts to assist in securing a satisfactory agreement regarding the position of Indians. His involvement in so wide a range of public and legislative bodies and his strenuous commitment to the advancement of education had, however, worn him out, and he died in Poona on Feb. 15, 1915.
Jawaharlal Nehru (1889 – 1964)
- Born : November 14, 1889, Allahabad
- Died : May 27, 1964, New Delhi
- He was the first Prime Minister of Independent India and is known as the architect of Modern India.
- He was born in Allahabad on Nov 14, 1889.
- In 1928, he became the General Secretary of the INC and in 1929 its President. At the Lahore session, under his President ship was passed the Independence resolution.
- He was the Prime Minister of India from 1947 to 1964.
- He was the author of the Doctrine of Panchsheel, and believed in the policy of non – alignment.
- He was an author of international fame.
- His works include The Discovery of India, Glimpses of World Histoty, A Bunch of Old Letters, The Unity of India, Independence and After, India and the World, etc. His autobiography, entitied Autobiography, is one of his most famous works.
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1890 – 1988)
- Born : February 6, 1890, Utmanzai, Charsadda, Pakistan
- Died : January 20, 1988, Peshawar, Pakistan
- Popularly known as Frontier Gandhi, Badshah Khan or Sarhadi Gandhi.
- Founded an organization Khudai Khidmatgars. It was an organization of non – violent revolutionaries which was also known as ‘Red Shirts’.
- He also published a newspaper, Pakhtoon.
- Ghaffar Khan vehemently opposed partition.
- He was awarded Bharat Ratna in 1987 by the Government of India.
Lal Bahadur Shastri (1904 – 1966)
- Born : Lal Bahadur Shrivastava, 2 October 1904, Mughalsarai Varanasi, United Provinces, British Raj (now in Uttar Pradesh, India)
- Died : 11 January 1966 (aged 61), Tashkent, Uzbek SSR, Soviet Union (now in Uzbekistan)
- Shastri joined the Indian independence movement in the 1920s. Deeply impressed and influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, he became a loyal follower, first of Gandhi, and then of Jawaharlal Nehru.
- Following independence in 1947, he joined the latter’s government and became one of Prime Minister Nehru’s principal lieutenants, first as Railways Minister (1951–56), and then in a variety of other functions, including Home Minister.
- Lal Bahadur Shastri was the second Prime Minister of independent India in 1964.
- He coined a slogan ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisaan’ to bring unity within the country. He died on 10 January 1966 at Tashkent after he had signed the Joint Declaration with President Agha Khan of Pakistan.
Lala Lajpat Rai (1865 – 1928)
- Born : 28 January 1865, Dhudike, Punjab, British India
- Died : 17 November 1928 (aged 63), Lahore, Punjab, British India
- He founded the Indian Home League Society of America; became Congress President in 1920.
- He was one of the foremost leaders who fought against British rule in India.
- He was popularly known as Punjab Kesari (Lion of the Punjab).
- Lalaji was arrested on May 3, 1907 for creating “turmoil” in Rawalpindi. He was put in Mandalay jail for six months and was released on November 11, 1907.
- He founded the Indian Home League Society of America and wrote a book called “Young India”.
Madan Mohan Malviya (1861 – 1946)
- Born : 25 December 1861, Allahabad, India
- Died : 12 November 1946 (aged 84), Varanasi
- He became the Indian National Congress President four times. He is remembered in the world as the founder of Asia’s largest residential university at Varanasi, the Banaras Hindu University in 1916.
- The University has around 12,000 students all across the field such as the arts, sciences, engineering and technology. He was the Vice Chancellor of BHU from 1919 to 1938.
- He was also the founders of Scouting in India as well as a highly influential English newspaper, “The Leader” which was published from Allahabad in 1909.
- Malaviya was a delegate at the First Round Table Conference in 1930. He was also the Chairman of Hindustan Times from 1924 to 1946. He died in 1946.
- A freedom fighter and educationist, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, has been nominated to get awarded with the highest civilian award of the India, the Bharat Ratna. It has been announced by the Indian President, Pranab Mukherjee, on 24th of December 2014 to award Bharat Ratna to the Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya.
Mahtma Gandhi (1869 – 1948)
- Born : Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 2 October 1869, Porbandar, Kathiawar Agency, British India
- Died : 30 January 1948 (aged 78), New Delhi, Delhi, India
- The honorific Mahatma (Sanskrit: “high-souled”, “venerable”) – applied to him first in 1914 in South Africa, is now used worldwide. He is also called Bapu (Gujarati: endearment for father) in India.
- Born and raised in a Hindu merchant caste family in coastal Gujarat, western India, and trained in law at the Inner Temple, London, Gandhi first employed nonviolent civil disobedience as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa, in the resident Indian community’s struggle for civil rights.
- After his return to India in 1915, he set about organising peasants, farmers, and urban labourers to protest against excessive land-tax and discrimination.
- Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for easing poverty, expanding women’s rights, building religious and ethnic amity, ending untouchability, but above all for achieving Swaraj or self-rule.
- Gandhi famously led Indians in challenging the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km (250 mi) Dandi Salt March in 1930, and later in calling for the British to Quit India in 1942.
- Gandhi’s vision of a free India based on religious pluralism, however, was challenged in the early 1940s by a new Muslim nationalism which was demanding a separate Muslim homeland carved out of India.
- Eventually, in August 1947, Britain granted independence, but the British Indian Empire was partitioned into two dominions, a Hindu-majority India and Muslim Pakistan.
- On 12 January 1948 at age 78, also had the indirect goal of pressuring India to pay out some cash assets owed to Pakistan.
- Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist, assassinated Gandhi on 30 January 1948 by firing three bullets into his chest at point-blank range.
- Indians widely describe Gandhi as the father of the nation. His birthday, 2 October, is commemorated as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday, and world-wide as the International Day of Nonviolence.
Mangal Pandey (1827 – 1857)
- Born : 19 July 1827, Nagwa, Ballia district, Uttar Pradesh, India
- Died : 8 April 1857 (aged 29), Barrackpore, Calcutta, West Bengal, India
- He sparked off the First War of Indian Independence or as the British termed it, the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.
- He was the first freedom fighter and martyr of 1857. He revolted against the British atrocities against Indians in the British Army.
- At Barrackpore near Kolkata on 29 March 1857, Pandey attacked and injured his British sergeant, besides wounding an adjutant. A native soldier prevented him from killing the adjutant and the sergeant-major. He was arrested and sentenced to death. He was hanged on 8 April 1857.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (1888 – 1958)
- Born : November 11, 1888, Mecca, Saudi Arabia
- Died : February 22, 1958, Delhi
- He was bora in Mecca in 1890. For higher education he went to the Al Azhar University at Cairo.
- He joined the INC during the Swadeshi movement.
- He began two weeklies, Al Hilaland Al – Balagh.
- He was made the President of the Khilafat Committee in 1920. He became the President of the Congress session of 1923 at Delhi.
- He led the Congress delegation during the Shimla Conference in 1945. He also led the delegation during the Cabinet Mission Plan.
- He was elected the member of the Constituent Assembly in 1946. He was the Education Minister in the Interim Government and also Independent India’s first Education Minister.
- He was also instrumental in the foundation of U.G.C. and IIT – Kharagpur.
- His book India Wins Freedom evoked much controversy.
Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941)
- Born : 7 May 1861, Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India
- Died : 7 August 1941 (aged 80), Calcutta
- He was a leader of the Brahmo Samaj, which was a new religious sect in nineteenth-century Bengal and which attempted a revival of the ultimate monistic basis of Hinduism as laid down in the Upanishads.
- Tagore was knighted by the ruling British Government in 1915, but within a few years he resigned the honour as a protest against British policies in India.
- At age of 16, he released his first substantial poems under the pseudonym Bhānusiṃha (“Sun Lion”), which were seized upon by literary authorities as long-lost classics.
- He composed the music and lyrics for India’s national anthem “Jana-Gana-Mana” (Thou Art the Ruler of All Minds) and when Bangladesh became independent in 1971 they chose Tagore’s song “Amar Sonar Bangla” (My Golden Bengal) as its national anthem.
- The original song of Sri Lanka’s National Anthem was also written and tuned by Tagore.
- He was Asia’s first Nobel Prize winner. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913 for his book Gitanjali.
Rajendra Prasad (1884 – 1963)
- Born : 3 December 1884, Ziradei, Bengal Presidency, British India (now in Bihar)
- Died : 28 February 1963 (aged 78), Patna, Bihar, India
- He was the first President of free India in 1950.
- He was actively involved in the Non Cooperation movement, Salt Satyagraha and Champaran Agrarian Agitation.
- He was elected as the President of Indian National Congress in 1934.
- He was honoured with the Bharat Ratna Award in 1954.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (1875 – 1950)
- Born : Vallabhai Jhaverbhai Patel, 31 October 1875, Nadiad, Gujarat, Bombay Presidency, British India
- Died : 15 December 1950 (aged 75), Bombay, Bombay State, India
- He is popularly known as a ‘Man of Steel’.
- Inspired by the work and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, he joined India’s struggle for independence.
- He was also involved in Salt Satyagraha in Nagpur and Quit India Movement in 1942.
- He was elected as the President of Indian National Congress in 1931.
- After India’s independence, he became the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India.
Sarojini Naidu (1879 – 1949)
- Born : Sarojini Chattopadhyay, 13 February 1879, Hyderabad, Hyderabad State, British India, (now in Telangana, India)
- Died : 2 March 1949 (aged 70), Lucknow, United Provinces, India (now in Uttar Pradesh, India)
- She was known as Nightingale of India.
- The play “Maher Muneer”, written by Naidu at an early age, fetched a scholarship to study abroad.
- In 1905, a collection of poems, she had composed, was published under the title of “Golden Threshold”.
- Sarojini Naidu joined the Indian national movement in the wake of partition of Bengal in 1905. She came into contact with Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Rabindranath Tagore, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Annie Besant, C.P. Rama Swami Iyer, Gandhiji and Jawaharlal Nehru. She awakened the women of India.
- In 1925, she presided over the annual session of Indian National Congress and later participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement.
- In 1942, Sarojini Naidu was arrested during the “Quit India” movement and was jailed for 21 months with Gandhiji.
- She was the first Indian woman to become the President of Indian National Congress was also the first Indian woman to become the Governor of the state, Uttar Pradesh.
Subhash Chandra Bose (1897 – 1945)
- Born: January 23, 1897, Cuttack
- Died: August 18, 1945, Taihoku Prefecture
- Popularly known as Netaji, was born on Jan 23, 1897 at Cuttack.
- He passed the Indian Civil Services Examination in 1920, but left it on the Gandhiji’s call of Non – Cooperation Movement.
- He founded the Independence for India League with Jawahar Lai Nehru.
- In 1938, he was elected the President of the INC ai its Ilaripura session and in 1939, he was elected President of its Tripuri session. But he had to resign from Tripuri due to differences with Gandhiji.
- He founded the Forward Block in 1939.
- In 1941, he escaped to Berlin and met Hitler. In 1943, he took charge of Indian National Army in Singapore and set up the Indian Provisional Government there. He gave the war cry of ‘Dilli Chalo’.
- He addressed Mahatma Gandhi as the Father of the Nation; He gave the slogan of ‘Jai Hind’. He wrote his autobiography ‘The Indian Struggle’.
- He supposedly died in a plane crash on Aug 18, 1945.
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