Friday, December 3, 2010

A floral tribute to Dr. Rajendra Prasad as flashed by me on the f.b. on Dec. 4,2010.

Bishwa Nath Singh :
There are many reminisces that I treasure in my heart when I had privileged to stay with Dr. Rajendra Prasad in his house at Chhajubagh for three days sharing room adjacent to him after he had come to Patna on relinquishing his high office of President ship of India as how great he was having towering personality with... full of passion and wisdom known for his hospitality. Let me join all of our country men & women to pay our floral tribute to him and pay our humble obeisance's to his lotus feet on belated Rajendra Jayanti that the grateful nation had celebrated yesterday on the 3rd of December with gaiety!

(Photo of Dr. Rajendra Prasad)

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Bishwa Nath Singh :
Dr. Rajendra Prasad stood first in the entrance examination of the University of Calcutta and was awarded a Rs. 30 per month scholarship. It was first time that a student from Bihar had excelled. He joined the Calcutta Presidency College in... 1902.The partition of Bengal in 1905 fueled the swadeshi and boycott movements. The movements had a deep effect on students in Calcutta. One day, residents of his hostel created a bonfire of all the foreign clothings they had. When Rajen went through his belongings he could not find a single item of foreign clothing. Gopal Krishna Gokhale had started the Servants of India Society in 1905 and asked Rajen to join. So strong was his sense of duty toward his family and education that he, after much deliberation, refused Gokhale, one of the greatest nationalists of the time. Rajen recalled, "I was miserable" and for the first time in his life he barely got through his B.L. examinations. In 1915, Rajen passed the Masters in Law examination with honors, winning a gold medal. He then completed his Doctorate in Law to attain the title, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. While Gandhiji was on a fact finding mission in Chamaparan district of Bihar, he called on Rajendra Prasad to come to Champaran with volunteers. Dr. Prasad rushed to Champaran. Initially he was not impressed with Gandhiji's appearance or conversation. That night, while Gandhiji sat up writing letters to the Viceroy, and Indian leaders. While he prepared his court statement he asked Dr. Prasad and his followers what they would do if Gandhiji was arrested and put in prison. A volunteer jokingly said that they would all just have to go home! Dr. Prasad was deeply moved by the dedication, conviction and courage that Gandhiji displayed. Here was a man alien of the parts, who had made the cause of the people of Champaran his cause. A court notice was served to Gandhiji. He declared that he had disobeyed the order to leave Champaran in obedience to the highest law he knew, "the voice of conscience." The case against Gandhiji was dropped. He, along with his volunteers was allowed to complete their inquiry and the Governments of Bihar and Orissa passed an Act to alleviate the burden on the peasant based on the report compiled by Gandhiji and his volunteers. From that point onward, Dr. Prasad became Gandhiji's dedicated follower. Gandhiji's influence greatly altered many of Dr. Prasad's views, most importantly, on untouchability. Gandhiji made Dr. Prasad realize that when the nation was working for a common cause, they "became of one caste, namely the caste of co-workers." Dr. Prasad immediately simplified his already simple life. He reduced the number of servants he had to one. He no longer felt shame in sweeping the floor, or washing his own utensils. Whenever the people suffered, he was present to help reduce the pain. In the year 1914 floods ravaged Bihar and Bengal. he became a volunteer distributing food and cloth to the flood victims In 1934, Bihar was shaken by an earthquake. The quake caused immense damage and loss of property. The quake was followed by floods and an outbreak of malaria. He dove right in with relief work, collecting food, clothes and medicine. In 1935, an earthquake hit Quetta. He was not allowed to lend a hand because of Government restrictions. He did not rest. He set up relief committees in Sind and Punjab for the homeless victims that flocked there.He was very much pained and shocked by the British Government atrocities at Jallianwalla Bagh. He called for non-cooperation in Bihar as part of Gandhiji's non-cooperation movement. Dr. Prasad gave up his law practice and started a National College near Patna, 1921. The college was later shifted to Sadaqat Ashram on the banks of the Ganges. The non-cooperation movement in Bihar spread like wildfire. Dr. Prasad toured the state, holding public meeting after another, collecting funds and galvanizing the nation for a complete boycott of all schools, colleges and Government offices. He urged the people to take to spinning and wear only khadi. Bihar and the entire nation was taken by storm, the people responded to the leaders' call. The machinery of the mighty British Raj was coming to a grinding halt. The Government utilized the one and only option at its disposal-force. Mass arrests were made. Lala Lajpat Rai, Jawaharlal Nehru, Deshbandhu Chittranjan Das and Maulana Azad were arrested. Then it happened. Peaceful non- cooperation turned to violence in Chauri Chaura, Uttar Pradesh. In light of the events at Chauri Chaura, Gandhiji suspended the civil disobedience movement. The entire nation was hushed. A murmur of dissent began within the brass of the Congress. Gandhiji was criticized for what was called the "Bardoli retreat." He had rightly stood by his mentor, seeing the wisdom behind Gandhiji's actions. Gandhiji did not want to set a precedent of violence for free India. In March 1930, Gandhiji launched the Salt Satyagraha. He planned to march from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi seashore to break the salt laws. A salt satyagraha was launched in Bihar under Dr. Prasad. Nakhas Pond in Patna was chosen as the site of the satyagraha. Batch after batch of volunteers courted arrest while making salt. Many volunteers were injured. He called for more volunteers. Public opinion forced the Government to retract the police and allow the volunteers to make salt. He sold the manufactured salt to raise funds. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment. In 1934, His elder brother, Mahendra Prasad died. He was deeply affected and shocked and preferred the Gita to seek solace. He had presided over the Bombay session of the Indian National Congress in October 1934. Following the resignation of Subhash Chandra Bose as the President of the Congress in April 1939, Dr. Prasad was elected President. He did his best to heal the rifts created between the incompatible ideology of Subhash Chandra Bose and Gandhiji. As the freedom struggle progressed, the dark shadow of communalism which had always lurked in the background, steadily grew. To his dismay communal riots began spontaneously burst all over the nation and in Bihar. . On August 15, 1947 India became independent. Earlier, a Constituent Assembly was formed in July 1946, to frame the Constitution of India and Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected its President. On November 26, 1946 the Constitution of India was completed and accepted by the people of India. On January 26, 1950, the Constitution was ratified and Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected the first President of India. Dr. Prasad transformed the regal splendor of Rashtrapati Bhavan into an elegant "Indian" home. Dr. Prasad visited many countries on missions of goodwill. He stressed for peace in a nuclear age. In 1962, after 12 years as President, Dr. Prasad retired. He remained as the President of India from January 26,1950 to May 13,1962.He was awarded the highest civilian award of India, the Bharat Ratna. He had authored many books including his autobiography After relinquishing the high office of the President ship of India,he had preferred to stay at Patna when I had the privileged to stay with him for three days in his Chhajubagh residence at Patna along with his grand son Arunodaya Prakash who was my good friend & college mate and enjoyed his hospitality filled in with his fondled love and affection bestowed on me that I cherish richly even today.He had spent the last few months of his life at the Sadaqat Ashram in Patna. He died on February 28, 1963 at the age of seventy eight.Such person rarely comes on this worldly earth.Let us pay our floral tribute to him and offer our humble obeisances to his lotus feet!

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