Shri Chakravarti Rajagopalachari


Chakravarti Rajagopalachari 10 December 1878 – 25 December 1972), informally called Rajaji or C.R., was an Indian lawyer, independence activist, politician, writer and statesman. Rajagopalachari was the last Governor-General of India. He also served as leader of the Indian National Congress, Premier of the Madras Presidency, Governor of West Bengal, Minister for Home Affairs of the Indian Union and Chief Minister of Madras state. Rajaji founded the Swatantra Party and was one of the first recipients of India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna. He vehemently opposed the use of nuclear weapons and was a proponent of world peace and disarmament. During his lifetime, he also acquired the nickname Mango of Salem.

Rajaji was born in Thorapalli in the then Salem district of Tamil Nadu and educated at Central College, Bangalore and Presidency College, Madras. In 1900 he started a legal practice that in time became prosperous. On entering politics, he became a member and later President of the Salem municipality. He joined the Indian National Congress and participated in the agitations against the Rowlatt Act, the Non-Cooperation movement, the Vaikom Satyagraha and the Civil Disobedience movement. In 1930, Rajaji risked imprisonment when he led the Vedaranyam Salt Satyagraha in response to the Dandi March. In 1937, Rajaji was elected Premier of the Madras Presidency and served until 1940, when he resigned due to Britain's declaration of war on Germany. He later advocated cooperation over Britain's war effort and opposed the Quit India Movement. He favoured talks with both Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the Muslim League and proposed what later came to be known as the C. R. Formula. In 1946, Rajaji was appointed Minister of Industry, Supply, Education and Finance in the Interim Government of India, and then as the Governor of West Bengal from 1947 to 1948, Governor-General of India from 1948 to 1950, Union Home Minister from 1951 to 1952 and as Chief Minister of Madras state from 1952 to 1954. In 1959, he resigned from the Indian National Congress and founded the Swatantra Party, which stood against the Congress in the 1962, 1967 and 1972 elections. Rajaji was instrumental in setting up a united Anti-Congress front in Madras state under C. N. Annadurai, which swept the 1967 elections.

On February 28, 1928, through his experiments on the scattering of light, he discovered the Raman effect. It was instantly clear that this discovery was of huge value. It gave further proof of the quantum nature of light. Raman spectroscopy came to be based on this phenomenon, and Ernest Rutherford referred to it in his presidential address to the Royal Society in 1929. Raman was president of the 16th session of the Indian Science Congress in 1929. He was conferred a knighthood, and medals and honorary doctorates by various universities. Raman was confident of winning the Nobel Prize in Physics as well, and was disappointed when the Nobel Prize went to Richardson in 1928 and to de Broglie in 1929. He was so confident of winning the prize in 1930 that he booked tickets in July, even though the awards were to be announced in November, and would scan each day's newspaper for announcement of the prize, tossing it away if it did not carry the news. He did eventually win the 1930 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his work on the scattering of light and for the discovery of the effect named after him". He was the first Asian and first non-White to receive any Nobel Prize in the sciences. Before him Rabindranath Tagore (also Indian) had received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.

Rajaji was an accomplished writer who made lasting contributions to Indian English literature and is also credited with composition of the song Kurai Onrum Illai set to Carnatic music. He pioneered temperance and temple entry movements in India and advocated Dalit upliftment. He has been criticized for introducing the compulsory study of Hindi and the controversial Madras Scheme of Elementary Education in Madras State. Critics have often attributed his pre-eminence in politics to his standing as a favorite of both Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Rajaji was described by Gandhi as the "keeper of my conscience".

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