Occupation : PRESIDENT OF INDIA (1950-1962)
Born : December 3, 1884 – Ziradei, Siwan, Bihar
Location : Zeradei, India
DIED : February 28, 1963 Patna, Bihar (aged 78)
POLITICAL AFFILIATION : Indian National Congress
Spouse/Ex-: Rajvanshi Devi
Father: Mahadev Sahai
Mother: Kamleshwari Dev
Children: Mrityunjaya Prasad
Who is Rajendra Prasad?
Relationship with Gandhi
Raised in a landowning family of modest means, Prasad was a graduate of the Calcutta Law College. He practiced at the Calcutta High Court and in 1916 transferred to the Patna High Court and founded the Bihar Law Weekly. In 1917 he was recruited by Gandhi to help in a campaign to improve conditions for peasants exploited by British indigo planters in Bihar.
Like many of his contemporaries, the political consciousness of Dr. Rajendra Prasad was greatly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi. He was deeply impressed by how Gandhi took up the cause of people and gave them his all. His interactions with the Mahatma led him to alter his views on untouchability. Following his example, Dr. Prasad embraced an austere and simplified life. He readily gave up on luxuries like servants and riches. He renounced his pride and ego, even started performing household chores like sweeping, washing and cooking.
He gave up his law practice in 1920 to join the noncooperation movement. Becoming an active journalist in the nationalist interest, he wrote for Searchlight in English, founded and edited the Hindi weekly Desh (“Country”), and started his lifelong campaign to establish Hindi as the national language.
Imprisoned several times by the British for noncooperation activities, he served nearly three years (August 1942–June 1945) in jail with the Congress Party’s Working Committee.
Dr Rajendra Prasad was the first president of independent India. His life has been truly inspiring for all Indians. A lawyer by training and an active Indian political leader, Prasad’s interest in Indian politics began as early as in 1911 when he the Indian National Congress. Despite having a contention for the Gandhian principles in the beginning, he later imbibed the true spirit of Gandhi by adopting him as his mentor, practicing self-discipline and working relentlessly in the non-cooperation movement. He toured many parts of the country, spreading the ideals and beliefs of Mahatma Gnadhi. Blessed with remarkable organisational capacity and leadership qualities, he thrice headed the Indian National Congress. When India finally gained independence from the British rule, he took over as a cabinet minister, slowly making his way to the chair of the President of the Constituent Assembly and later taking up the office of India’s President for two terms. Other than his political activities, he made several literary contributions as well. His most significant works are ‘India Divided’, ‘Satyagraha at Champaran’, ‘Atmakatha’ and ‘Since Independence’.
Childhood & Early Life
Rajendra Prasad was born to Mahadev Sahai and Kamleshwari Devi at Zeradei, in the Siwan district of Bihar on December 3, 1884. He was the youngest kid of the family.
While his father, a scholar of Persian and Sanskrit language, was a dawning influence on young Prasad’s life and career, his mother took care of the moral upbringing, teaching him Indian mythology.
A meritorious student, he received his early education from Moulavi, an accomplished Muslim scholar, who taught him Persian, Hindi and arithmetic.
He later studied at the Chapra District School and T.K. Ghosh’s Academy in Patna. For higher education, he moved to Calcutta where he secured a scholarship at the Presidency College, for a degree in science.
It was while in college that he first became acquainted with The Dawn Society and he became an active member of the same. In 1906, he played a crucial role in the formation of the Bihari Students Conference.
- Completing his education, he took up the job of a professor of English at the Langat Singh College in Muzaffarpur and was soon was promoted as the principal.
In 1908, he left his chair of the principal to pursue a degree in law at the Calcutta City College, where he doubled up as a professor of Economics. In 1915, he graduated with honors with a Masters degree in Law, winning a gold medal. In 1937, he completed his Doctorate in Law from Allahabad University
- Meanwhile in 1911, joined the Indian National Congress.
The Ordinary Life Story Of India’s Extraordinary First President, Dr Rajendra Prasad
He actively participated in the non-cooperation movement, touring states, holding public meetings, collecting funds and inciting people for boycotting everything western – from schools, colleges to even government offices. As part of the movement, he urged people to give up on western clothes and adopt khadi.
Unlike others in the Indian Congress who misjudged Gandhiji’s suspension of the civil disobedience movement due to the violent route that it had taken, he stood by his mentor. He even replicated Gandhi’s Salt Satyagraha in Bihar for which he was imprisoned.
In 1934, he was elected the President of the Indian National Congress during the Bombay session. After the resignation of Subhash Chandra Bose as President of the INC in 1939, he again took up the responsibility. His main aim then was to mend the rift created in the Indian Congress due to the ideological differences between Bose and Gandhi.
In 1942, upon Congress’s authorization of the Quit India Movement, numerous Indian leaders were imprisoned and he was one amongst them. He stayed imprisoned at the Bankipur Central Jail for three years until his release on June 15, 1945.
After India’s independence from the British-Raj, he served as one of the cabinet ministers of the Interim Government, taking charge of the Food and Agriculture Department.
In December 1946, he was elected as the President of Constituent Assembly, which was established to frame the Constitution of India.
H. E. Mr. Firoz Khan Noon, Prime Minister of Pakistan and his wife with President Dr. Rajendra Prasad at Rashtrapati Bhavan
On January 26, 1950, when the Constitution of Indian was adopted, he was elected as India’s first President. He served in the position for two terms until 1962, thus becoming the first and the only President of India to have been twice in the office.
During his role as the President of India, he adhered to the Presidential duties and acted independently of politics as expected by the President of India as per the Constitution. He played an active role in state affairs.
During his presidency, he toured numerous countries on mission of goodwill such as Japan, Ceylon, USSR, Indo-China, Malaya and Indonesia. He looked forward to establishing peaceful relations with other countries.
In 1962, after serving for twelve years as the President of India, he relinquished his duties as the President and moved to Patna where he stayed at the campus of Bihar Vidyapeeth. He spent his last years of retirement at the Sadaqat Ashram in Patna.
Awards & Achievements
For his unconditional contribution as a leader of the Indian National Congress and as the President of India, he was conferred with India’s highest civilian award – Bharat Ratna.
Personal Life & Legacy
He was married to Rajavanshi Devi at the age of twelve. The couple was blessed with a son – Mrityunjaya Prasad.
- He breathed his last on February 28, 1963 at the Sadaqat Ashram in Patna.
10 Amazing Facts About Rajendra Prasad
10. Introduction of Early Life
Dr Prasad was born on 3rd December 1884 in a Kayastha family in Zeradai village of Siwan district in Bihar. He was the meritorious student and love all religions equally. Therefore, he mixed up with both his Hindu and Muslims friends easily. He was married in his early age with Rajvanshi Devi when he was just 12 years old due to old traditions of villages at that time.
9. Academic Intelligence
Rajendra Prasad was a brilliant student during his school and college time. He stood first in the Calcutta University examination. Due to this, he got a scholarship of Rs 30 per month and joined famous Calcutta Presidency College in the year 1902. He was so intellectual that once in an exam, examiner commented on his sheet that “Examinee is better than the Examiner”.
8. Scarification for family and Education
He sacrificed a lot in his life for family and education. In the year 1905, he called by Gopal Krishna Gokhale to joined Indian Society but due to his commitment and responsibilities towards his family and education, he politely refused albeit painfully. Dr Prasad called it as a miserable situation and due to this first time his performance degraded in academia and he just passed his law exams.
7. Public engagement
He was actively involved in various Public engagements. In the year 1906, he was very instrumental in the formation of Students Conference for Biharis. This was one of the different and unique group of its kind and give some prominent leaders to the society from Bihar like Sri Krishna Sinha, Dr Anugrah Narayan etc. He was also the key member of Dawn Society and President of Bihar Chahatra Samelan in the year 1913.
6. Role in Champaran Movement
He was the strong follower and deeply inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. He was little skeptical initially but when he saw that a simple man Gandhi ji was helping people of Champaran village in Bihar without any vested interest, he did not stop himself to jump in this movement. He gives full support to Gandhi ji in the famous Champaran movement.
5. Philanthropic Nature and Service to Nation
Dr Prasad was very humanitarian and kind hearted person. He volunteered actively during the floods in Bengal and Bihar in the year 1914. Similarly, after the earthquake and flood in Bihar in the year 1934, malaria spread, he actively involved himself in distributing clothes, medicines, and food to the victims.
4. Impact of Gandhiji in his life
Gandhiji had a deep and profound effect on Dr Prasad life. He was the strong follower of his views on untouchability and caste. He was so much inspired by Mahatma Gandhi that he cut short his staff to 1 and did his tasks by own like Floor cleaning etc. Gandhi was the main factor of Dr Prasad involvement in Indian freedom struggle.
3. Role in Salt Satyagraha Movement
Dr Rajendra Prasad was the active member during the Salt Satyagraha movement launched in the year 1930. He was made the head of Bihar state for this movement and raise funds by sold salt. He was arrested faced imprisonment for 6 months for breaking the law and order.
2. Involvement in Indian National Congress
He was served as president of Indian National Congress (INC) from 1934 to 1935. He chaired the 1934 Bombay session and 1939 Jabalpur session of INC when Subhas Chandra Bose left. He worked hard to remove the rift between Mahatma Gandhi and Subhas Bose.
1. Contribution in Indian independence and post-independence
His contribution in Indian independence, as well as post-independence, was immense. In the year 1946, he served as Minister of Food and Agriculture. Post independence, he was elected as the President of Indian Constituent assembly. During his tenure, he visited various foreign countries to build a good and strong nation rapport of India.
- A Bharat Ratna recipient, he was the first President of free India and the only one to serve for two terms in the office of the President.
In September 1962, Dr. Prasad’s wife Rajavanshi Devi passed away. The incident led to deterioration of his health and Dr. Prasad retired from public life. He resigned from office and returned to Patna on May 14, 1962. He spent the last few months of his life in retirement at the Sadaqat Ashram in Patna. He was awarded the “Bharat Ratna”, the nation’s highest civilian award, in 1962.
Dr. Prasad passed away, after suffering from brief illness for around six months, on February 28, 1963.