C. Rajagopalachari – Biography, Contributions, Literary Works

C. Rajagopalachari upsc notes

C. Rajagopalachari, fondly known as Rajaji, was a prominent Indian statesman, lawyer, writer, and independence activist who played a crucial role in the Indian freedom struggle. As a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, he was instrumental in shaping the course of the Indian National Congress and contributed significantly to the formation of modern India.

Rajaji was a versatile leader, known not only for his political acumen but also for his literary prowess. He held key positions in the Indian government, including the first Indian Governor-General and the Chief Minister of Madras State. His life and work continue to inspire generations of Indians, leaving an indelible mark on the nation’s history and culture.

This topic of “C. Rajagopalachari – Biography, Contributions, Literary Works” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.

Early Life and Education

Birth and family background: Chakravarti Rajagopalachari was born on December 10, 1878, in the town of Thorapalli, in the then Madras Presidency, British India (present-day Tamil Nadu). Hailing from a Brahmin family, he was exposed to traditional values and religious teachings from an early age. His father, Chakravarti Venkatarya Iyengar, was a prominent lawyer, and his mother, Singaramma, was a deeply religious woman. Rajaji was the youngest of four sons, and the family’s intellectual and spiritual environment played a significant role in shaping his worldview.

Education and early career as a lawyer: Rajagopalachari received his primary education at the Municipal High School in Hosur, followed by higher education at Central College, Bangalore, and later at the prestigious Presidency College, Madras. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1897 and went on to study law at the Madras Law College. After completing his legal studies in 1900, Rajaji started practicing as a lawyer in Salem, where he quickly gained a reputation for his sharp intellect and eloquent arguments. His legal career not only laid the foundation for his future political endeavors but also introduced him to the harsh realities of British colonial rule, which would eventually inspire him to join the fight for India’s independence.

Entry into Politics and Role in the Indian National Congress

Association with the Indian National Congress: Rajagopalachari’s journey in politics began when he joined the Indian National Congress in 1911. His legal background and keen intellect made him an invaluable asset to the party. Rajaji quickly rose through the ranks, and his passion for India’s independence and advocacy for self-rule resonated with the party’s goals.

Influence of Mahatma Gandhi and commitment to non-violence: Rajagopalachari’s political ideology was significantly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, whom he met in 1919. Inspired by Gandhi’s principles of non-violence and civil disobedience, Rajaji became a staunch advocate of these methods in the fight for India’s independence. He participated in various non-violent movements and was a firm believer in the power of peaceful protest to bring about social and political change.

Key positions held within the party: Over the years, Rajagopalachari held several important positions within the Indian National Congress, including General Secretary and later, President. As a key member of the party’s Working Committee, he played a pivotal role in shaping its policies and strategies. His leadership abilities and diplomatic skills helped the party navigate through some of the most challenging periods in India’s struggle for freedom.

Role in the Civil Disobedience Movement: Rajaji was an active participant in the Civil Disobedience Movement, a non-violent campaign led by Mahatma Gandhi against the British salt tax. In 1930, he played a significant role in organizing the Salt Satyagraha in the then Madras Presidency. His involvement in the movement not only highlighted his unwavering commitment to India’s freedom struggle but also showcased his exceptional organizational and leadership skills.

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Literary Contributions

Overview of his works: Apart from his political achievements, Rajagopalachari was a prolific writer and made significant contributions to Indian literature. His body of work spans various genres, including books, essays, and letters. Rajaji’s writings often touched upon themes of patriotism, social justice, and spirituality, reflecting his deep understanding of Indian culture and his commitment to the nation’s progress.

Focus on his famous works: Among Rajaji’s numerous literary works, two stand out as particularly influential: Chakravarti Rajagopalachari’s Mahabharata and Chakravarti Rajagopalachari’s Ramayana. These two books are retellings of the Indian epics, Mahabharata and Ramayana, in simple and engaging language, making the complex stories accessible to a wider audience. Rajaji’s ability to capture the essence of these timeless tales while infusing them with his unique insights made these works immensely popular and enduring. His other notable works include Satyam Eva Jayate, Hinduism: Doctrine and Way of Life, Bhaja Govindam, Siraiyil Tavam.

Influence of his writings on Indian culture and politics: Rajagopalachari’s writings had a profound impact on Indian culture and politics. His literary works not only promoted the understanding and appreciation of India’s rich cultural heritage but also served as a vehicle for conveying his political ideals and vision for the country. Rajaji’s thought-provoking essays and letters inspired many to join the struggle for independence and contributed to shaping the values and principles of modern India.

Governorship and Chief Ministership

First Indian Governor-General of India: In 1948, Rajagopalachari was appointed as the Governor-General of India, becoming the first Indian to hold this position. He served in this role for only a year but made significant contributions to the development of the nation during his tenure. As Governor-General, Rajaji was instrumental in resolving the Kashmir issue, which had been a long-standing dispute between India and Pakistan.

Tenure as the Chief Minister of Madras State: After his term as Governor-General ended, Rajagopalachari returned to his home state of Madras (present-day Tamil Nadu), where he was elected as the Chief Minister in 1952. As Chief Minister, he introduced several pioneering measures, including the introduction of the mid-day meal scheme for school children and the abolition of agricultural taxes. His tenure was also marked by several controversies, including the imposition of Hindi as a compulsory language in schools, which sparked protests across the state.

Key achievements and controversies during his tenures: Rajaji’s tenures as Governor-General and Chief Minister were marked by both achievements and controversies. As Governor-General, he played a crucial role in resolving the Kashmir issue, which had threatened to escalate into a full-fledged war between India and Pakistan. He also championed the cause of religious and communal harmony and worked towards improving the standard of living for the rural poor.

As Chief Minister, Rajagopalachari introduced several innovative measures aimed at improving the lives of the common people. These included the introduction of the mid-day meal scheme for school children and the abolition of agricultural taxes. However, his decision to impose Hindi as a compulsory language in schools was met with widespread protests and opposition, which eventually forced him to withdraw the proposal.

Overall, Rajagopalachari’s tenure as Governor-General and Chief Minister was characterized by his commitment to progressive ideals and his vision for a modern, democratic India. Despite the controversies that marked his tenures, Rajaji remains a respected figure in Indian politics and a source of inspiration for generations to come.

Founding of the Swatantra Party

Reasons for the formation of the party: In 1959, C. Rajagopalachari, along with a group of like-minded individuals, founded the Swatantra Party. The party was formed in response to what its founders saw as the growing trend of socialism and centralization in Indian politics. Rajaji believed that the government’s increasing control over the economy was detrimental to India’s progress and that a free-market system was essential for the country’s growth and development.

Ideology and core principles: The Swatantra Party was founded on the principles of individual liberty, free enterprise, and decentralized governance. The party’s ideology was rooted in classical liberal thought, emphasizing the importance of limited government and economic freedom. The party advocated for the dismantling of state controls and regulations, promoting private enterprise and entrepreneurship as the key drivers of economic growth. The Swatantra Party also championed the cause of federalism, calling for greater autonomy and decision-making power for the states.

Influence on Indian politics: The Swatantra Party emerged as a significant force in Indian politics in the 1960s, challenging the dominance of the Congress Party. The party’s emphasis on individual freedom and economic liberalism struck a chord with many Indians who were disillusioned with the socialist policies of the Congress Party. The Swatantra Party won a significant number of seats in the 1967 general elections, becoming the principal opposition party in some states.

Although the Swatantra Party was short-lived and eventually merged with the Janata Party in 1974, it played a crucial role in shaping the political discourse in India. The party’s advocacy for economic freedom and decentralization of power challenged the prevailing socialist and centralizing trends in Indian politics and inspired a new generation of political leaders committed to the principles of classical liberalism.

Legacy and Impact

Contributions to India’s independence struggle and nation-building: C. Rajagopalachari was one of the most prominent leaders of the Indian independence movement and played a crucial role in the nation-building process after independence. He worked closely with Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders to mobilize public opinion and rally support for the cause of independence. After independence, Rajaji held several important positions in the government, including Governor-General and Chief Minister, and introduced several pioneering measures aimed at improving the lives of the common people.

Influence on Indian politics and policy-making: Rajaji’s legacy is also reflected in his lasting impact on Indian politics and policy-making. He was a staunch advocate of individual liberty, free enterprise, and decentralized governance, and his ideas continue to shape the political discourse in India today. Rajaji’s advocacy for economic freedom and limited government has inspired generations of political leaders committed to promoting economic growth and development through private enterprise and entrepreneurship.

Recognitions and honors received: Rajaji’s contributions to Indian politics and society have been widely recognized, both in India and abroad. He was awarded India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, in 1954, in recognition of his service to the nation. Rajaji’s legacy also lives on through various institutions and organizations that he helped establish, such as the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, an educational institution dedicated to promoting Indian culture and values.

Overall, C. Rajagopalachari’s legacy as a leader, thinker, and writer continues to inspire people around the world. His commitment to promoting individual freedom and economic growth, his vision for a modern, democratic India, and his contributions to the independence struggle and nation-building process have earned him a revered place in Indian history and culture.


C. Rajagopalachari was a towering figure in Indian politics and society, whose contributions to the independence struggle, nation-building process, and promotion of individual freedom and economic growth continue to inspire people around the world. Rajaji’s legacy as a leader, thinker, and writer reflects his unwavering commitment to the principles of democracy, economic liberalism, and social justice. His vision for a modern, prosperous India, his advocacy for limited government, and his pioneering measures aimed at improving the lives of the common people have earned him a revered place in Indian history and culture.

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