Dr. Rajendra Prasad Biography – India’s First President
Born: December 3, 1884
Place of Birth: Ziradei village, Siwan district, Bihar
Parents: Mahadev Sahay (Father) and Kamleshwari Devi (Mother)
Wife: Rajvanshi Devi
Children: Mrityunjay Prasad
Education: Chhapra Zilla School, Chhapra; Presidency College, Calcutta
Association: Indian National Congress
Movement: Indian Freedom Movement
Political Ideology: Liberalism; Right-winged
Religious views: Hinduism
Publications: Atmakatha (1946); Satyagraha at Champaran (1922); India Divided (1946); Mahatma Gandhi and Bihar, Some Reminisences (1949); Bapu ke Kadmon Mein (1954)
Passed Away: February 28, 1963
Memorial: Mahaprayan Ghat, Patna
Dr. Rajendra Prasad Biography – India’s first president of independent India, was known to be one of the greatest political leaders as well as social reformers. Dr. Prasad was one of the chief architects in shaping the Republic of India. Rajendra Prasad was born on 3rd December, 1884, in Zeradai in Siwan district of Bihar.
At the age of 5, he was placed under the guidance of a Moulavi to learn Persian, Hindi and arithmetic. He was one of the prominent leaders of the Indian Nationalist Movement alongside Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel and Lal Bahadur Shastri. His early schooling was in India and at the age of 15 he went to England to attend the Harrow School. Later he joined Trinity College to study natural science. He was not in the favor of dominion status for India within the British Empire, as recommended by his father. He strongly criticized the Nehru report prepared by his father Motilal Nehru.
Early Life and Education
From an age of five, young Rajendra Prasad was placed under the tutelage of a Maulvi to learn Persian, Hindi and Mathematics. Later he was transferred to the Chhapra Zilla School and went on to study at R.K. Ghosh’s Academy in Patna along with elder brother Mahendra Prasad. At the age of 12, Rajendra Prasad was married to Rajavanshi Devi. The couple had one son, Mrityunjay.He was awarded a scholarship of Rs.30 per month and he joined the Presidency College in 1902. In 1907, Rajendra Prasad passed with a Gold medal in the Masters degree in Economics from University of Calcutta.
Rajendra Prasad played an instrumental role in forming the Bihari Students Conference at the hall of Patna College in 1906. After this he joined Inner Temple in London to train himself as a barrister. He returned to India in 1912 and joined Allahabad High Court Bar, Uttar Pradesh.
Dr. Prasad entered the political arena in a quiet, light-footed manner. He attended as a volunteer in the 1906 Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress and formally joined the party in 1911. He was subsequently elected to the AICC.
He was strongly influenced by the Gandhian views and was the supporter of Mahatma Gandhi in freedom struggle. Under the influence of Gandhi he, along with his family, abandoned his western possessions and lifestyle and started using ‘Swadeshi’. He was a very good orator and a prominent organizer. Soon he became one of the popular political leaders of north India
Influence of Gandhiji and nationalist activities
While he was a student in Calcutta, Prasad was an active member of the Dawn Society founded by S. Mukherjee. After coming into contact with Gandhiji, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, immersed himself fully into the freedom struggle. However, his life took a complete turn towards the Freedom Struggle of India when he met Gandhiji in 1917 and was deeply impressed by his ideologies.
Prasad joined the Congress and worked actively for the party. By 1920, he was elected the President of Bihar Congress. In the 1930s Prasad joined the Civil Disobedience movement and was arrested. In 1934, he worked a lot to collect funds for the sufferers of the Bihar earthquake and managed to impress several senior leaders of the Congress. This led to his being elected the President of the National Congress in the same year in Mumbai. Prasad was so influenced with Gandhiji that he responded to his mission of boycotting Western culture by asking his son to leave university and join Bihar Vidyapeeth.
In July 1946, when the Constituent Assembly was established to frame the Constitution of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected its President. Two and a half years after independence, on January 26, 1950, the Constitution of independent India was ratified and Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as India’s first President. As a President, he used his moderating influence silently and unobtrusively and set a healthy precedent for others to follow. During his tenure as President he visited many countries on missions of goodwill and sought to establish and nourish new relationships.
In 1962, after 12 years as President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad retired, and was subsequently awarded the Desh Ratna, the nation’s highest civilian award. He spent the last few months of his life in retirement at the Sadaqat Ashram in Patna. Dr. Rajendra Prasad died on February 28, 1963.
Life and Death
In September 1962, Dr. Prasad’s wife Rajavanshi Devi passed away. The incident led to deterioration of his health. For his unparalleled contribution to Indian independence, Prasad was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1962, with his retirement in the same year. His notable literary works include Satyagraha in Champaran (1922), Atmakatha(1946) which was his autobiography, and Bapu ke Kadmon Mein (1954). He spent the last few months of his life in the Sadaqat Ashram of Patna and breathed his last on 28 February 1963.