Dr Rajendra Prasad – Biography, Contributions, Literary Works

Dr rajendra prasad upsc

I. Introduction

Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India, played a pivotal role in shaping the country’s history. Born in Bihar in 1884, he was an accomplished scholar and a dedicated freedom fighter, actively participating in India’s struggle for independence. As a prominent leader in the Indian Nationalist Movement, he worked alongside key figures like Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, and Lal Bahadur Shastri. His contributions to the country extend beyond his presidency, as he was actively involved in humanitarian efforts and authored several books. Studying his life and accomplishments is essential to understanding the foundations of the Republic of India and the values of patriotism and selflessness.

II. Early Life and Education

A. Birth and family background

Dr. Rajendra Prasad was born on December 3, 1884, in Ziradei, Siwan district, Bihar, India. His father, Mahadev Sahai Srivastava, was a scholar of Sanskrit and Persian languages, while his mother, Kamleshwari Devi, was a religious woman.

B. Mother’s influence and his siblings

Kamleshwari Devi played a significant role in shaping young Rajendra Prasad’s character by instilling values through stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Prasad had one elder brother, Mahendra Prasad, and three elder sisters, with his mother passing away during his childhood. His older sister, Bhagwati Devi, raised him.

C. Early education

  1. Persian language, Hindi, and arithmetic classes

At the age of five, Rajendra Prasad’s parents enrolled him in classes taught by a Maulavi, an accomplished Muslim scholar, where he learned the Persian language, Hindi, and arithmetic.

  1. Chapra District School

After completing his elementary education, Prasad attended the Chapra District School.

  1. T.K. Ghosh’s Academy in Patna

Rajendra Prasad later joined T.K. Ghosh’s Academy in Patna, where he studied with his elder brother, Mahendra Prasad, for two years.

D. Higher education

  1. Presidency College in Calcutta

In 1902, Rajendra Prasad enrolled at Presidency College in Calcutta as a science undergraduate. He secured first place in the University of Calcutta’s entrance exam, which earned him a scholarship of Rs. 30 per month.

  1. M.A. in Economics from the University of Calcutta

In March 1904, Prasad passed the F.A. at the University of Calcutta, and in March 1905, he graduated with a first division. He later shifted his focus to the study of arts, obtaining a first division M.A. in Economics from the University of Calcutta in December 1907. While pursuing his degree, Prasad lived with his brother in the Eden Hindu Hostel and actively participated in The Dawn Society.

  1. Law studies and obtaining a gold medal

Rajendra Prasad pursued law at the University of Calcutta’s Department of Law, where he took the Masters of Law examination in 1915, passed it, and received a gold medal for his achievements.

  1. Doctorate in law from Allahabad University

In 1937, Rajendra Prasad earned his doctorate in law from Allahabad University, further solidifying his academic prowess.

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III. Personal Life

A. Marriage to Rajavanshi Devi

Dr. Rajendra Prasad’s personal life was marked by his early marriage to Rajavanshi Devi in June 1896, at the tender age of 12. This union was arranged according to the traditions of that time in India.

B. One son, Mrityunjaya Prasad

Rajendra Prasad and Rajavanshi Devi had one child together, a son named Mrityunjaya Prasad. Following in his father’s footsteps, Mrityunjaya Prasad also chose a career in politics, furthering the family’s involvement in the Indian political landscape.

IV. Professional Life

A. Career as a Teacher

Before embarking on his illustrious political journey, Dr. Rajendra Prasad had a successful career as an educator. After completing his M.A. in economics, he joined Langat Singh College in Muzaffarpur, Bihar as a professor of English and later became the principal. However, he decided to leave his position at the college to pursue legal studies at Ripon College in Calcutta. While studying law in Kolkata, he also served as a Professor of Economics at Calcutta City College in 1909, further expanding his expertise in the field of education.

B. Career as a Lawyer

Dr. Rajendra Prasad’s legal career began in 1916 when he was appointed to the High Court of Bihar and Odisha. His legal acumen was quickly recognized, and in 1917, he was elected as one of the first members of the Patna University Senate and Syndicate. This involvement in the university’s administration showcased his dedication to both law and education. In addition to his work at the High Court and Patna University, Dr. Prasad also practiced law in Bhagalpur, Bihar, a well-known silk city. His career as a lawyer laid the foundation for his future political endeavors and provided him with the skills necessary to become a prominent leader in the Indian Independence Movement.

V. Involvement in the Indian Independence Movement

A. Introduction to the Indian National Congress

Dr. Rajendra Prasad’s foray into the Indian Independence Movement began when he was introduced to the Indian National Congress during its 1906 annual session held in Calcutta, which he attended as a volunteer. He officially joined the organization in 1911 when the annual session was once again held in Calcutta.

B. Meeting Mahatma Gandhi

In 1916, Dr. Prasad met Mahatma Gandhi at the Indian National Congress’s Lucknow Session. Gandhi invited him to join one of his fact-finding missions in Champaran, which would prove to be a transformative experience for Dr. Prasad.

C. Joining the Noncooperation Movement

Dr. Rajendra Prasad was deeply inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s determination, bravery, and conviction. When the Indian National Congress passed the motion of non-cooperation in 1920, he left his lucrative legal profession and university duties to wholeheartedly support the movement. In response to Gandhi’s call for a boycott of Western educational institutions, he advised his son, Mrityunjaya Prasad, to leave school and enroll in Bihar Vidyapeeth, an institution he and his colleagues established based on the traditional Indian model.

D. Role in the Indian National Congress

  1. Throughout his involvement in the Indian National Congress, Dr. Prasad held several leadership positions. He was first elected as President in 1934 during the Bombay session. When Subhash Chandra Bose resigned in 1939, he was re-elected as President. After J.B. Kripalani resigned, Dr. Prasad became Congress President for the third time in 1947.
  2. Dr. Prasad played a crucial role in the Quit India Resolution, which was passed by Congress in Bombay on August 8, 1942. This resolution led to the arrest of many Indian leaders, including Dr. Prasad. He was taken into custody and sent to Bankipur Central Jail in Patna’s Sadaqat Ashram, where he remained imprisoned for nearly three years until his release on June 15, 1945.

E. Interim Government and Constituent Assembly

  1. After the establishment of an Interim Government of 12 nominated ministers led by Jawaharlal Nehru on September 2, 1946, Dr. Prasad was assigned the Food and Agriculture Department. His administrative experience proved invaluable in this new role.
  2. On December 11, 1946, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the President of the Constituent Assembly. In this capacity, he played a pivotal role in the drafting and adoption of India’s Constitution, which ultimately led to the establishment of the Republic of India.

VI. Humanitarian Services

Dr. Rajendra Prasad was known not only for his political leadership but also for his dedication to humanitarian causes. Throughout his life, he was deeply involved in relief efforts during natural disasters, demonstrating his commitment to the welfare of the people.

A. Relief Efforts During Natural Disasters

  1. In 1914, when a devastating flood struck Bengal and Bihar, Dr. Prasad organized relief work for the affected population. He raised funds and gathered resources to help the people in need, showcasing his compassion and leadership skills.
  2. In 1934, Bihar faced a catastrophic earthquake that claimed thousands of lives and left countless people homeless. Dr. Prasad stepped up to manage the relief work and reconstruction efforts, personally visiting the affected areas to assess the damage and provide assistance. He also played a crucial role in the establishment of the Bihar Central Relief Committee to streamline aid and recovery work.
  3. When the city of Quetta was hit by a disastrous earthquake in 1935, Dr. Prasad’s empathy extended beyond the borders of his own country. He collected funds and resources for the victims, showcasing his humanitarian spirit and commitment to helping those in need, regardless of nationality or borders.

VII. Presidency of India

Dr. Rajendra Prasad’s journey led him to become a central figure in India’s history, as he was elected as the nation’s first President following the adoption of the Constitution in 1950. His tenure as President was marked by dedication, diplomacy, and a commitment to the welfare of the nation.

A. Election as the First President of India

On January 26, 1950, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the first President of India, marking the beginning of his constitutional role in the newly independent nation.

B. Independent and Non-partisan Role

As President, Dr. Prasad acted independently of any political party, fulfilling the constitutionally mandated role and ensuring impartiality in his decisions and actions.

C. Diplomatic Relations and Foreign Travel

During his tenure, Dr. Prasad worked to establish diplomatic relations with foreign countries, traveling widely as India’s ambassador and representing the nation on the global stage.

D. Re-election in 1952 and 1957

Dr. Prasad’s leadership and dedication to the country earned him two consecutive re-elections in 1952 and 1957, making him the first two-term president of India.

E. Mughal Gardens at the Rashtrapati Bhavan

Under his presidency, the Mughal Gardens at the Rashtrapati Bhavan were opened to the public for the first time, becoming a major tourist attraction in Delhi and offering a glimpse into the beauty and history of the presidential residence.

F. Involvement in State Affairs and the Hindu Code Bill

Towards the end of his tenure, Dr. Prasad became more involved in state affairs, particularly in the context of the contentious Hindu Code Bill. His engagement in this issue demonstrated his commitment to the well-being of the nation and its people.

G. Retirement in 1962

After serving as President for twelve years, Dr. Rajendra Prasad announced his retirement in 1962. Following his retirement, he returned to Patna, opting to live on the Bihar Vidyapeeth campus, where he spent the remainder of his life.

VIII. Death and Legacy

Dr. Rajendra Prasad’s impactful life came to an end on February 28, 1963, in Patna. His legacy continues to inspire generations of Indians and serves as a reminder of his unwavering commitment to the nation and its people.

A. Death in Patna on February 28, 1963

Dr. Rajendra Prasad passed away in Patna on February 28, 1963, after a lifetime of selfless service to the country. His death was a great loss to the nation, marking the end of an era.

B. Wife’s Death on September 9, 1962

Dr. Prasad’s wife, Rajavanshi Devi, predeceased him by a few months, passing away on September 9, 1962. The couple’s unwavering support for each other throughout their lives was a testament to their enduring bond.

C. Burial at Mahaprayan Ghat, Patna

In accordance with his wishes, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was laid to rest at Mahaprayan Ghat in Patna. His final resting place is a site of pilgrimage for many who wish to pay their respects to this great leader.

D. Rajendra Smriti Sangrahalaya in Patna

To preserve his memory and share his life story with future generations, the Rajendra Smriti Sangrahalaya was established in Patna. This museum contains numerous artifacts and personal belongings that offer a glimpse into the life and times of India’s first President, ensuring that his legacy continues to inspire and inform future generations.

IX. Awards and Scholarly Contributions

Dr. Rajendra Prasad’s outstanding service to the nation was recognized through numerous awards and accolades, including the prestigious Bharat Ratna in 1962. In addition to his public service, he also made significant contributions to the fields of literature, history, and politics through his numerous authored works.

A. Bharat Ratna in 1962

Dr. Rajendra Prasad was awarded India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, in 1962. This recognition was a testament to his lifelong dedication to the cause of India’s independence, the drafting of the Constitution, and his service as the first President of the nation.

B. List of books authored by Rajendra Prasad

Dr. Prasad was also an accomplished writer, penning several books on various subjects. Some of his notable works include:

  1. Satyagraha at Champaran (1922): This book chronicles the historic Champaran Satyagraha led by Mahatma Gandhi, in which Dr. Prasad played a significant role.
  2. Division of India (1946): In this work, Dr. Prasad discusses the events leading up to the partition of India and the challenges it presented.
  3. Atmakatha (Autobiography): Dr. Prasad’s autobiography offers a detailed account of his life and experiences in the freedom struggle.
  4. Mahatma Gandhi and Bihar, Some Reminiscences (1949): This book recounts Dr. Prasad’s personal experiences with Mahatma Gandhi, particularly during their time together in Bihar.
  5. Bapu Ke Kadmon Mein (1954): This book serves as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and highlights his influence on Dr. Prasad’s life.
  6. Since Independence (1960): In this work, Dr. Prasad shares his thoughts on India’s journey since gaining independence and the challenges it faced in building a new nation.
  7. Bharatiya Shiksha: This book delves into the Indian education system and Dr. Prasad’s vision for its development.
  8. At the Feet of Mahatma Gandhi: This book further explores Dr. Prasad’s relationship with Mahatma Gandhi and the profound impact Gandhi had on his life and career.

X. Conclusion

In conclusion, Dr. Rajendra Prasad’s life was marked by unwavering dedication to India’s struggle for independence, the drafting of its Constitution, and his service as the nation’s first President. His remarkable accomplishments, both personal and professional, have left an indelible mark on India’s history. As an author, scholar, and humanitarian, Dr. Prasad’s legacy continues to inspire generations of Indians to contribute to the betterment of the nation and uphold the values enshrined in the Constitution.

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It good than I thought