15 July 1903
Birth of K Kamaraj
Veteran INC leader and freedom fighter K Kamaraj was born on 15th July 1903. He was the third Chief Minister of the Madras State (now Tamil Nadu).
- Born to Kumarasamy Nadar and Sivagami Ammal in a town called Virudhunagar in Tamil Nadu, Kamaraj had only a few years of schooling. From the age of twelve, he started working as a shop assistant to support his family. He was fifteen when the Jallianwala Bagh massacre happened.
- That was a turning point in his life. In 1920, aged eighteen, he joined the Indian National Congress to fight foreign rule and liberate the country.
- He organised public meetings of the INC at Virudhunagar for the Congress party. He met Mahatma Gandhi for the first time on 21st September 1921 during Gandhi’s public meeting.
- Kamaraj became an enthusiastic worker for the Congress Party and became a great organiser.
- He took part in the Non-Cooperation Movement, Nagpur Flag Satyagraha and other important events.
- He was imprisoned for two years in 1930 for participating in the Salt Satyagraha at Vedaranyam led by C Rajagopalachari.
- He was again arrested for a year in 1932. In the 1937 provincial elections, he stood for elections and won from Sattur constituency.
- He was arrested again in 1940 and was elected as the Municipal Councillor of Virudhunagar from jail. He later resigned because of his belief in the principle, “One should not accept any post to which one could not do full justice.”
- In 1942, he was once again arrested for participating in the Quit India Movement. After India became independent, he was in the Congress Working Committee from 1947 to 1969.
- He was a member of the Constituent Assembly of India and then a Member of Parliament in 1952.
- In 1954, he became the Chief Minister of Madras State (now Tamil Nadu). His administration was considered good and efficient. He introduced the brilliant concept of mid-day meals in schools to provide free meals to school children hailing from economically backward families. His government is credited with increasing the number of schools in Tamil Nadu.
- Kamaraj became the CM for two more consecutive terms until 1963. That year, he resigned and asked many top Congress leaders to resign from their ministerial posts because there was a need to remove the lure of power in the minds of Congressmen. This came to be called the Kamaraj Plan.
- Kamaraj was elected the President of the INC in 1963.
- After Jawaharlal Nehru’s death, he was instrumental in bringing Lal Bahadur Shastri to the post of the country’s Prime Minister. He also played a big part in bringing Indira Gandhi to the same post.
- Kamaraj died on 2nd October 1975 aged 72 in Chennai.
- He was posthumously honoured with the Bharat Ratna in 1976. He is also called ‘Kalvi Thanthai’, a phrase in Tamil which translates to ‘Father of Education’.
See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.