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k.kamaraj
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>>k.kamaraj<<

Kamraj was born on July 15, 1903, in a family of traders at Virudunagar. His real name was Kamakshi Kumaraswamy Nader but was affectionately shortened to Raja by his mother, Sivakami Ammal. His father, Kumarswamy Nader, was a coconut merchant. Kamaraj was enrolled at the local elementary school, the Nayanar Vidyalaya but was later shifted to the high school Kshatriya Vidyalaya.
Unfortunately his father died within a year of Kamaraj's enrollment in school. Kamaraj's mother sold all jewelry except her earrings and deposited the money with a local merchant and cared for the entire family on the monthly interest that the money earned.



Kamaraj was not a good student in school and dropped out when he was in the sixth grade. When he entered mainstream public life he felt handicapped and realized the importance of a good education. He educated himself during his periods of imprisonment and even learned English from his co-worker.

Kamaraj joined as an apprentice in his maternal uncle Karuppiah's cloth shop after dropping out of school. He would slip out from the shop to join processions and attend public meetings addressed by orators like Dr. Varadarajulu Naidu and George Joseph. His relatives frowned upon Kamaraj 's budding interest in politics. They sent him to Thiruvananthapuram to work at another uncle's timer shop. Even there Kamaraj participated in the Vaikom Satyagraha led by George Joseph, of the Congress, against the atrocities of the higher caste Hindus on the Harijans. His elders had him called back home and pressured him to marry. Kamaraj resolutely refused to bow to the dictates of his elders.

At the age of 16, Kamaraj enrolled himself as full-time worker of the Congress. He participated in inviting speakers, organizing meetings and collecting funds for the party. He also participated in the march to Vedaranyam led by Rajagopalachari as part of the Salt Satyagraha of March 1930.

Kamaraj was arrested and sent to Alipore Jail for two years. He was twenty seven at the time of arrest and was released in 1931 following the Gandhi-Iriwn Pact. Kamaraj was implicated in the Virudhunagar Bomb Case two years later. Dr. Varadarajulu Naidu and George Joseph argued on Kamaraj's behalf and proved the charges to be baseless. Kamaraj was arrested again in 1940 and sent to Vellore Jail while he was on his way to Wardha to get Gandhiji's approval for a list of satyagrahis.

While still in jail, Kamaraj was elected Chairman to the Municipal Council. Nine months later upon his release, Kamaraj went straight to the Municipality and tendered his resignation from his post. He felt that "one should not accept any post to which one could not do full justice."

Kamaraj was arrested once more in 1942 and sentenced to three years in the Amaravathi prison for spreading propaganda material for Quit India movement initiated by Gandhiji. While in prison, Kamaraj read books and continued his self-education.

Kamaraj's political guru and inspiration was S. Satyamurti, orator and parliamentarian. Satyamurti found in Kamaraj "an efficient, loyal, indefatigable worker and skillful organizer (p. 147, Pakshirajan)." Both developed a deep friendship and complemented each others' skills. In 1936, Satyamurti was elected President of the Provincial Congress and he appointed Kamaraj the General Secretary. Four years later they swapped positions. The party base was strengthened under their leadership. So deep was Kamaraj's devotion for Satyamurti that when India gained independence, he first went to Satyamurti's house and hoisted the Indian flag there. On his election as Chief Minister, Kamaraj went to Satyamurti's house and garlanded his photo and paid his respects to the leader's widow.



On April 13, 1954, K. Kamaraj reluctantly became the Chief Minister of Madras. To everyone's surprise, Kamaraj nominated C. Subramaniam and M. Bhakthavatsalam, who had contested his leadership, to the newly formed cabinet. Kamaraj gave simple advice to his ministers, "Face the problem. Don't evade it. Find a solution, however small... . People will be satisfied if you do something." The State made immense strides in education and trade. New schools were opened, better facilities were added to existing ones. No village remained without a primary school and no panchayat without a high school. Kamaraj strove to eradicate illiteracy by introducing free and compulsory education upto eleventh standard. He introduced the Midday Meals Scheme to provide at least one meal per day to the lakhs of poor children. He introduced free school uniforms to weed out caste, creed and class distinctions among young minds.

Under Kamaraj's administration, a number of irrigation schemes were completed in record time. The Land Ceiling Act and the Tenancy Protection Act benefited small farmers and saved them from being exploited by landlords. Medium and small scale industries prospered in the midst of large industries making Madras one of the leaders in industrialization. Nehru complimented Kamaraj for making Madras (later renamed State of Tamil Nadu) the best administered State in India."

Kamaraj remained Chief Minister for three consecutive terms. On October 2, 1963, he resigned to serve a greater purpose. Kamaraj noticed that the Congress party was slowly losing its vigor . He came up with a plan which was called the "Kamaraj Plan." He proposed that all senior Congress leaders should resign form their posts and devote all their energy to the re-vitalization of the Congress. A number of Central and State ministers like Lal Bahadur Shastri, Jagjivan Ram, Morarji Desai and S.K. Patil followed suite and resigned from their posts. In 1964, Kamaraj was elected the President of the All India Congress and he successfully navigated the nation through the stormy years following Nehru's death.

On October 2, 1975, Gandhi Jayanti, Kamaraj awoke from his afternoon nap feeling uneasy. His housekeeper, Vairavan, rang up his physician. While he was on his way out, Kamaraj said, "Vairavan, put out the lights when you go out." K. Kamaraj died that day. He was honored with the highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, posthumously in 1976




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