UPSC Exam Preparation: This Day in History – Mar 28

28 March 1943

Independence activist S Satyamurti passed away.


What happened?

Sundara Sastri Satyamurti, lawyer, independence activist and brilliant orator passed away in Madras (now Chennai) in the Madras Presidency.

Biography

  • Satyamurti was born at Pudukkottai on 19 August 1887. After graduating from the Madras Christian College with a BA degree, he went on to study law at the Madras Law College. After that, he started his law practice.
  • He forayed into politics at a young age starting from his college elections. He became a prominent leader of the Indian National Congress.
  • In 1919, the Congress sent the then 32-year-old Satyamurti as a delegate in the Joint Parliamentary Committee of the United Kingdom to protest against the Rowlatt Act and the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms.
  • Satyamurti was opposed to the caste system in Hinduism. He was also a firm believer in the constitutional process and was opposed to Mahatma Gandhi’s decision to not take part in the colonial legislature in the 1920s. He was given the epithet ‘Dheerar’.
  • He vouched for a parliamentary democracy for India.
  • He became a leading member of the Swaraj Party along with Motilal Nehru and C R Das. It took great courage to oppose Gandhi who during that time had a sweeping influence over the nation.
  • In 1930, he hoisted the Indian flag atop the Parthasarathy Temple at Chennai and was arrested for that act.
  • He became an influential leader with his brilliance as an orator and it was in large part due to his efforts that the party came to power in Madras in the 1937 provincial elections. However, his frank criticism of the party led to him not being involved in the Rajaji government.
  • He was appointed the Mayor of the city of Madras in 1939. When the city faced acute shortage of water, he urged the British government to build a reservoir for the city. The Poondi reservoir was commissioned within eight months. It was completed in 1944 and sadly, Satyamurti did not live to see his efforts bear fruition. The reservoir is today named Satyamurti Sagar.
  • He took a stance against the removal of Devadasis from temples. He argued that similar demands could be made to remove the priests from the temples as well. His movement to stop the abolition of the Devadasi system failed though.
  • Satyamurti was a patron of the arts and would always be remembered for helping the establishment of the Music Academy of Madras.
  • He was also a mentor to K Kamaraj.
  • He took an active part in the Swadeshi movement and was also arrested for taking part in the individual Satyagraha during the Quit India movement in 1942.
  • After the trial, he was deported to a jail in Nagpur. During the journey to Nagpur he suffered a spinal injury and was hospitalised in Madras.
  • He succumbed to his injury on 28 March 1943. He was 55.
Also on this day

1916: Death of K. Ramakrishna Pillai, veteran journalist and political activist from Kerala. He authored the first ever biography of Karl Marx in any Indian language. 1927: Birth of left-wing activist and women’s rights advocate Vina Mazumdar.

 

See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.