10th August 1894
India’s fourth President V V Giri was born
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On 10th August 1894, Varahagiri Venkata Giri, the fourth President of India and one of the patriarchs of the country’s trade union movement was born in Berhampur, Odisha.
V.V. Giri – Biography
- Born into a Telugu-speaking family, Giri’s parents were political activists in the independence movement.
- He studied law in Ireland and while there, he took part in Indian and Irish politics.
- While a student in Ireland, he and others produced a pamphlet that documented the ill-treatment of Indians in South Africa.
- His suspected association with the leaders of the Irish Uprising of 1916 caused him to be served a legal notice to leave Ireland.
- After returning to India, he started practising law in Madras.
- He joined the Indian National Congress. He also participated in Annie Besant’s Home Rule League.
- He gave up his successful legal career and plunged into the freedom movement during the non-cooperation movement led by M K Gandhi in 1922.
- In the same year, he was arrested for demonstrating against liquor shops.
- Giri was known for his role in the labour movement in India.
- He was one of the founding members and a General Secretary of the All India Railwaymen’s Federation in 1923.
- He became the President of the All India Trade Union Congress in 1926 for the first time.
- He also founded the Bengal Nagpur Railway Association. In 1928, he led a peaceful strike of the workers of the Bengal Nagpur Railway for the rights of retrenched workers. This was a landmark labour movement in India and the government had to concede to the workers’ demands in the end.
- Giri was also President of the Indian Trade Union Federation (ITUF), which he had co-founded with N M Joshi and others in 1929.
- Giri represented the workers in the Indian delegation that was sent to the International Labour Conference of the International Labour Organisation in 1927.
- He also represented workers in the Second Round Table Conference.
- Giri was a member of the Imperial Legislative Council from 1934 to 1937.
- He was also a member of the Madras Legislative Assembly.
- He was the Labour & Industry Minister in the C Rajagopalachari-led provincial Congress government during 1937-39.
- Giri took part in the Quit India agitation and was imprisoned for three years.
- After independence, V V Giri served in various capacities in the government. He was the High Commissioner to Ceylon, the Union Minister for Labour and the governor of Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka.
- He was elected the Vice President of the country in 1967 till 1969 when he became the Acting President upon the death of the then President Zakir Hussain.
- He contested as an independent candidate in the presidential elections of 1969 which he won. Thus, he became India’s fourth president.
- He was the President of India from 1969 to 1974.
- After the end of his term, he was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1975.
- Giri died in 1980 in Chennai aged 85.
Also on This Day ______________________________________________________________________________ 1581: Mughal Emperor Akbar won Kabul. 1930: Guntur Magistrate prohibited people in and around a 5-mile radius of Guntur from wearing Gandhi caps in the famous Gandhi Cap Case. 2000: Parliament approved bill which would lead to the creation of Uttaranchal.
See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.
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