General Knowledge


Independence and Partition


The 1945-1946 Elections

In the elections to the Central and Provincial Legislatures held in 1945-1946, the Congress won the general seats and the Muslim League, the Muslim ones (except in the NWFP). The League formed governments in Bengal and Sind, but was defeated in the key province of Punjab. In 1937, the league had won only 25% of the Muslim seats while in 1946, it captured almost 90% of the seats, Jinnah had campaigned to secure a mandate for Pakistan and was successful. The situation was well summed up by BR Ambedkar, who stated, ‘the elections have well established the Muslim League as the only mouthpiece of the Muslims. They are decided upon a divided India and this question must be tackled first. The British Parliamentary delegation, which arrived in Delhi in early January, 1946 also reported back to the British cabinet that India must be immediately guaranteed her national freedom and sovereign rights.

Revolt of RIN Ratings

On February 18, 1946, the ratings of the RIN in Bombay openly revolted. The Indian sailors, complaining of bad food and racial discrimination, hoisted the Congress and League flags on their ships. By February 22, the strike had spread to naval bases all over the country, involving 20,000 ratings. The demands of the elected Naval Central Strike Committee covered service conditions and political demands like release of INA and other political prisoners withdrawal of Indian troops from Indonesia, and acceptance of Indian officers as superiors. The men hesitated, however, on border line of peaceful strike and determined mutiny. They obeyed orders on the afternoon of February 20 to return to their respective ships and barracks, only to find themselves surrounded by armed guards. Fighting broke out next morning at Castle barracks when the ratings tried to break the cordon. On February 22, the Bombay working classes, already agitated over recent ration cuts, called for a general strike, and city transport. The Hindu and Muslim students and workers also demonstrated their support to he naval mutiny. There was violent street fighting on February 22 and 23. Serious clashes took place at Karachi throughout February. There was considerable unrest in the airforce and army too.

Sardar Patel, helped for once by Jinnah, managed to persuade the ratings to end their strike on February 23. The Strikes Committee issued a bulletin to say that they had surrendered to their national leaders and to the Governments.

Cabinet Mission Plan

The Cabinet Mission comprising three members- Lord Pathick-Lawrence (Secretary of State for India) Sir Stafford Cripps ( President of the Board of Trade) and AV Alexandor (First Lord of the Admiralty),  came to India on March 19, 1946. It could not reach any agreement about the formation of an interim Government and the machinery for formulating the Constitution, after discussion with the congress and Muslim League. Thereupon, the Cabinet Mission issued a statement on May 16, 1946 formulating a plan for the future Government of India. According to it, there was to be a Union of India, embracing both British India and the Indian States, with control over foreign affairs, defence, and communications, and the power to raise the money required for such purpose. All other subjects were to be vested in the Provinces and the States, but the provinces were to be free to form groups for common action. India was to be divided into three groups of provinces – Group A consisting of Madras, Bombay, Central Provinces, United provinces, Bihar, and Orissa; Group B of the North-West Frontier Province, the Punjab, Sind, and Baluchistan; and Group C comprising Bengal and Assam.

The  Cabinet Mission also recommended a scheme for formulating constitution which provided that Union Constitution was to be framed by a Constituent Assembly, the members of which were to be elected on a communal basis by the Provincial Legislative Assemblies and the representatives of the States Joining the Union. The Constitution of the Provinces in each group was to be drawn up by the representatives of the three Groups of Provinces meeting separately. The Cabinet Mission further suggested the establishment of an interim Government having the support of the major political parties by a re-constitution of the Viceroy’s Executive Council, in which all the portfolios including that of War Member’ were to be held by Indian leaders enjoying full confidence of the people.

The Cabinet Mission Plan was not considered satisfactory by any section of the Indian people, but all of them sought to utilize it for their own interests. The Muslim League accepted it on June 6, 1946 inasmuch as the basis and foundation o f Pakistan were inherent in the Mission’s Plan by virtue of the compulsory groupings of the six Muslim majority provinces in Groups B and C. The Congress on June 25 decided to join the framing the constitution, but did not agree on the proposal for an interim Government. The Cabinet Mission left India on June 29, and the Viceroy formed a caretaker Government comprising nine officials.

Direct Action Day and Interim Government  

The elections to the Constituent Assembly were held in the month of July, 1946. It resulted in an overwhelming majority of the Congress, which Jinnah described as a ‘brute majority’. The Muslim League withdrew its asset to the Cabinet Mission Plan and expressed its determination ‘to resort to direct action to achieve Pakistan’ as and when necessary. This did not take long to come. On August 16, fixed as Direct action day by the Muslim League, a communal frenzy was whipped up in Calcutta by the battle cry  ‘Lekar rahenge Pakistan, Larke lenge Pakistan.’ Hindu communal groups retaliated in equal measure. Five thousand lives were lost. The British authorities were worried that they had lost control over the ‘Frankenstein monster’ they had helped to create, but felt it was too late to tame it.

From Calcutta, the communal frenzy spread to East Bengal, Bihar and Punjab. Meanwhile, the Viceroy was busy trying to form the interim Government. On the Muslim League’s refusal to cooperate, the interim Government of 12 members, with Jawaharlal Nehru as its Vice President, took office on September 2,  1946.

By a subtle move, the Viceroy made a change in the interim Government. After his discussions with Jinnah, he told Jawaharlal Nehru that the Muslim league had agreed to join the Constituent Assembly, and five Muslim League nominees were added to the interim Government on October 2, 1946. Jinnah had realized that it was fatal to leave the administration in  Congress’ hands and had sought a foothold in the Government to fight for Pakistan. For him, the interim Government was the continuation of civil war by other means. Their disruptionist tactics convinced Congress leaders of the futility of the interim Government as an exercise in Congress – League cooperation.

The political situation was becoming more and more complicated.

Constituent Assembly

The Muslims League refused to join the Constituent Assembly, stating that it had never agreed to do so. The Constituent Assembly met on December 9, 1946. The elected members of the Muslims League absented themselves from it though representatives of different provinces and communities participated in its work. The Constituent Assembly met again in the third week of January, 1947 with Dr Rajendra Prasad as its President, when it passed Jawaharlal Nehru’s resolution on the declaration of objectives and appointed Committee to draft several parts of the constitution. Meeting at Karachi on January 31, 1947, the Working committee of the Muslim League, however, repudiated the proceedings and decisions of the Constituent assembly.

Attlee’s Announcement

This was the immediate context of Attlee’s famous speech in Parliament on February 20. 1947. The date for British withdrawal from India was fixed as June 30, 1984 and the appointed of a new Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten was announced. Even if Indian politicians could not agree by that date on a Constitution, the British would relinquish power ‘whether as a whole to some form of Central government for British India, or in some areas to the existing provincial governments or in such other way as may seem most reasonable and in the best interest of the Indian people’. British powers and obligations vis-à-vis the Princely States would also end with transfer of power but these would not be transferred to any successor government in British India. The hint of partition and possibly even Balkanization into numerous States was very clear, but the bait of complete transfer of power by a definite and fairly early date proved too tempting to be refused. To the Congress, it meant that the existing Assembly could go ahead and frame a Constitution for the areas represented in it. It offered a way out of the existing deadlock, in which the League not only refused to join the Constituent Assembly but demanded that it be dissolved.

Jinnah saw victory in sight and made a desperate attempt to secure control over the provinces with a Muslim majority. A frenzy of riots broke out in Calcutta, Assam, Punjab, and the NWFP. It seemed to the Congress that partition was the only alternative to civil war and wanton destruction of human life. The League launched civil disobedience in Punjab and brought down the Unionist Akali Congress coalition ministry, led by Khizr Hyatt Khan. This was the situation in which Mountbatten came to India as a Viceroy.

Mountbatten's Plan

Mountbatten, when he came to India, had already been informally given much greater powers than the previous Viceroy like Wavell to decide things on the spot. Behind this lay the firm decision to quit an the earliest because ‘an irreversible decline of government authority had taken place’ (Wavell).

After a series of interviews with political leaders between March 24-May 26, Mountbatten decided that the Cabinet Mission framework had become untenable. He formulated an alternative with the appropriate code name of Plan Balkan. This envisaged transfer of power to separate provinces (or to confederations, if formed before the transfer ), with the Bengal and the Punjab Assemblies being given the option to vote for partition of their provinces. The various units thus formed along with the Princely States, rendered independent by with the lapse of the paramountcy, would have the choice of joining India, Pakistan, or remaining independent. The Plan was, however, quickly abandoned when Nehru reacted violently against it after Mountbatten privately informed him about it in Simla on May 10. Then, VP Menon and Patel suggested a transfer to two Central Governments, India and Pakistan, on the basis of grant of Dominion status (with a right of secession), thus obviating the need to wait for an agreement in the Constituent Assembly on the new political structure. This was accepted by the Congress, even though formally it meant a retreat from the Lahore resolution of 1929, since Dominion status would ensure a peaceful an quick transfer of power, win for India’s influential friends in Britain, and allow for some continuity in the bureaucracy and army. The League and Sikh leaders accepted the plan on June 2 and it was announced the next day. This became the basis of the India Independence Act which was ratified by the British Parliament and Crown on July 18 and implemented on August 15, 1947. Mountbatten was responsible to a considerable extent for the breakneck speed at which the whole process of transfer of power was carried out, but this very fact left many anomalies in arranging partition details. It also totally failed to prevent the Punjab massacre.


The partition was to be effected in the following manner if the member of Legislative Assemblies of Bengal and Punjab were to decide in favour of partition by a simple majority, a Boundary Commission, set up by the Viceroy, would demarcate the appropriate boundaries. Sind and Baluchistan would decide which Constituent Assembly to join. In the NWFP, there was to be a referendum to ascertain whether it would join Pakistan or not. The muslim-majority district of Sylhet was also to decide by referendum whether it would join East Bengal or would remain Assam. The British Parliament would undertake legislation to transfer power before the end of 1947 to one or two successor authorities on a Dominion status basis. This was to be done without any prejudice to the final decision of the Constituent Assembly on whether to stay in the Commonwealth or not.

The Muslim League accepted the Plan within a week and so did the Congress. The Congress has no alternative, according to Muslim Azad, but to accept the plan. It was important to arrest the drift towards anarchy and chaos. The lesser evil had to be chosen. Partition was better than murder of the hapless citizens. Gandhi who had till now stead fastly opposed the division of India, also supported the resolution, which was carried by 157 to 29 with 32 members remaining neutral.

The task was enormous but time was running out. Punjab and Bengal were divided by two boundary commission with Sir Cyril Radcliffe as the Chairman of both. East Bengal, West Punjab, Sind, and Baluchistan opted for Pakistan while West Bengal and East Punjab opted for India. Sylhet threw its lot with Pakistan. In the NWFP, Abdul Gaffar Khan and the Red Shirts demanded and independent Pakhtoonistan. This was found to be unacceptable. The Red Shirts did not participate in the plebiscite which went if favour of joining Pakistan.

Integration of Princely States

The Indian Independence Act, 1947 declared that British paramountcy over the Indian States was to lapse on August 15, 1947. The states were allowed to join either India of Pakistan. A keen completion took place between the Pakistani and Indian leaders for securing the accession of the Princely States to their respective dominions.

Sardar Patel, who took charge of the States Department in July 1947, tackled the situation with great statesmanship, ably assisted by VP Menon. Appealing to the patriotic and nationalist sentiments of the Princes. Patel asked them to join the Indian Constituent Assembly. He asked them to hand over authority only in three areas- (i) External Affairs, (ii) Defence and  (iii) Communications to the Indian Dominion, pointing out that during the British rule, they had exercised little authority in these three subjects. There were to be no changes in internal political structures. Mountbatten also urged the Princes to accept the Congress’ generous offer of accession, as it was likely that after August 15, they would be facing rebellious subjects. By August 15, the rulers of all the 562 states, with the exception of Junagarh, Kashmir and Hyderabad, had signed the Instrument of accession.

The Nawab of Junagarh, a small state on the coast of Kathiawar, announced accession to Pakistan even though the people of the state desired to join in India. In the end, Indian troops occupied the state anda plebiscite was held, which went in favor of joining India. The Nizam of Hyderabad made an attempt to claim and independent status but was forced broke out in its Telangana area and the Indian troops marched into Hyderabad. The Maharaja of Kashmir also delayed accession to India in October, 1947 after raiders from Pakistan invaded the States.

The much more difficult process of integration of the States with the neighboring Provinces or into new units like Kathiawar Union, Vindhya and Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan or Himachal Pradesh, along with the internal constitutional changes in states which for some years Mysore, Travancore – Cochin), was also accomplished  within the remarkably short period of little more than a year. Here, the principal bait offered was that of generous privy purses, while some princes were made Governors or Rajpramukhs. The rapid unification of India is certainly Sardar Patel’s greatest achievement.



Sessions of Congress (From 1885 to 1947)








W C Bonnerji

Attended by 72 delegates



Dadabhai Naoroji

Number of delegates increased to 436



Syed Badruddin Tyabji

First Muslim president



George Yule

First English president



Sir William Wedderburn

Number of delegates rose to 1889



Sir Pherozeshah Mehta








W C Bonnerji




Dadabhai Naoroji




A Webb




Surendranath Banerji




M Rahimtullah Sayani




C Sankaran Nair




Anandamohan Bose




Romesh Chandra Dutt




 N G Chandravarkar




E Dinsha Wacha




Surendranath Banerji




Lalmohan Ghosh




Sir Henry Cotton




G K Ghokhale




Dadabhai Naoroji

The word swaraj used for the first time by the president



Rashbehari Ghosh

Congress split and session broke up.



Rashbehari Ghosh

A constitution for the Congress



Madanmohan Malviya




Sir William Wedderburn




Bishan Narayan Dhar




R N Mudhalkar




Syed Mohomed Bahadur




Bhupendranath Bose




Sir S P Sinha




A C Majumdar

Congress merger & pact with Muslim League



Mrs. Majumdar

First Woman President


Bombay (special)

Syed Hassan Imarn




Madanmohan Malaviya

Resignation of moderates like S N Banerji



Pandit Motilal Nehru



Calcutta (special)

Lala Lajpat Rai




C Vijaya Raghavachariyar

Change in the constitution of the Congress



Hakim Ajmal Khan (acting president)

President C R Das was in prison



C R Das

Formation of Swaraj Party



Maulana Muhammad Ali

Youngest president



Mahatma Gandhi

The only session president by Gandhiji



Mrs. Sarojini Naidu

First Indian woman president



Srinivas Ayangar




M A Ansari

Independence Resolution passed for the first time at the insistence of J L Nehru



Mohilal Nehru

First All India Youth Congress



Jawaharlal Nehru

Pooma Swaraj Resolution


No session

But J L Nehru continued as the President.




Vallabhbhai Patel

Resolution of Fundamental Rights and National Economic Policy



R D Amritlal




Mrs. Nellie Sengupta




Rajendra Prasad

Formation of Congress Socialist Party


No session

But R Prasad continued as the President




Jawaharlal Nehru




Jawaharlal Nehru

First session to be held in a village.



Subhas Chandra Bose




Subhas Chandra Bose

Resignation of Bose (Rajendra Prasad took over) and formation of Forward Bloc



Abul Kalam Azad



No session

But Azad continued to be the president




J B Kripalani




Rajendra Prasad





Eminient Personalities in Indian History (Part 3)

Alphabate (E, F, G, H)

  • Edourd Goubert (1894-1979): A French Indian born in Pondicherry, tried to negotiate a special status for French enclaves in India giving them autonomy from both. Later, he led a movement in French enclaves to join Indian Union.
  • EMS Namboodripad (1909-1998): Headed the first communist government in India in Kerela in 1957. It was also the first communist government in the world which came to power through democratic elections.
  • Eknath: Revived the bhakti Vaishnava spirit in Maharashtra. He was a mystic who showed how one could aspire for the deepest experience of religion within the ordinary framework of life. He was free of caste prejudice.
  • E.V. Ramaswamy Naiker (1879-1973): Also known as "Periyar", worked selflessly for the upliftment of lower castes, started Self Respect Movement in 1925 which rejected brahminical domination among Hindus, brought out a journal "Kudi Arasu"
  • Fa hein: A Chinese Buddhist traveler who visited India during the reign of Chandra Gupta. visited holy places related to Buddhism and Studied many aspects of Buddhist philosophy. 
  • Francis Bernier: He was Frnch traveler who visited India during the regin of Shahjahan and gave a detailed account of India in his memoris.
  • Fazli-i-Hussian Khan (1877-1936): Founded the Unionist Party in Punjab in 1920. He sympathized with the interest of British Indian Government. Towards the end of his life, he lost faith in communal politics and worked for communal unity
  • F.N. Souza: Produced imaginative figures which show his individuality. His paintings depict a highly personal subject matter which chiefly centres on sex and religion showing influence of cubism, expressionism and abstractionism.
  • G. Subramanya Aiyar: Founded 'The Hindu' as a weekly to influence public opinion in South India. Subsequently started 'Swadesh Mitran' for spreading nationalist ideas among the Tamils.
  • Ganesh Shankar Vidarthi: Published newsweekly 'Pratap' from kanpur. He had a secular approach and wrote in the interest of peasants and working class.
  • Gopabandhu Das (1877-1928): A nationalist and educationist from Orissa, he set uyp an English medium high school at Sakhigopal (Orissa) which attracted many future patriots. He worked towards uniting Oriya speaking areas under one adminis-tration. Launched a monthly journal 'Satyabadi' and a daily 'Samaj' to arouse nationalist sentiments.
  • Ganesh Vasudeo Mavalankar (1888-1956): He gave up his lucrative law practice and joined the freedom struggle taking part in all the major national movements for which he was arrested many times. Even in jails, he worked to reform hardened criminals. He was elected the President of Central Legislative Assembly in 1946. In free India, he was elected as the first Speaker of Lok Sabha.
  • Gorage Yule: An ICS officer, he was the 1st English President of the Congress session. Presided  over the fourth Conference of Indian national Congress in 1888 at Allahabad.
  • Govind Ballabh Pant (1889-1961): Prepared the 'Pant Report' on reforming agrarian set up of U.P. formed the Congress Ministry in UP (1937) and became its first Chief Minister of independent India. He was awarded Bharat Ratna.
  • Gopinath Bardoloi: One of the builders of modern Assam, the first Chief Minister of Assam largely responsible for setting up of Medical, Agricultural and Vetinary Colleges and the Guwahati University. For his contribution he was awarded the Bharat Ratna.
  • Gulzari Lal Nanda (1898-1995): Joined Non Cooperation Movement and participated in latr movements such as Civil Disobedience Management and Quit India Movement for which he was jailed, twice elected to Lok Sabha and joined Nehru's Cabinet. Nanda was twice asked to fill the post Prime Minister during moments of transition.
  • Gopal Hari Deshmukh "Lokahi-tawadi" (1823-1892): Advocated the reorganization fo Indian society on rational principles and modern, secular, humanistic values. Founded "Punarvivah Mandal" in Ahmedabad to encourage widow remarriage, edited Marathi newspaper "Lokhitawad".
  • Guru Ram Sing: Started Namdhari Movement as a reaction to the moral degradation of the Khalsa, abolished all the caste distinction and allowed widow remarriage, denounced the practice of sati, child marriage, infanticide, dowry system and drinking. His followers are known as 'Kukas'.
  • Gopal Ganesh Agarkar (1856-1895): A social reformer, journalist and a educationist, along with Tilak started the journals 'Maharatha' and 'Kesari'. Launched his own weekly 'Sudharak' also founded Fergusan College, Pune.
  • Gananendra Nath Tagore: Moving spirit behind the Indian Society of Oriental Art, an adventurist painter who experimented with light and shade and through his politically motivated cartoons, displayed humanism and social awareness.
  • Gosals: A monk, was a contemporary of Buddha and Mahavira. He founded the Ajivika sect which survived till the early years of Pre Mauryan period.
  • Hakim Ajmal Khan (1868-1927): A Unani Physician of worldwide fame, conferred with the title 'Hafiz-ul-Mulk' and Kaiser-i-Hind'  for his contribution to medicine, the 1st Muslim Chairman of Hindu Mahasabha reception committee and founder of Jamia Millia in Aligarh (1920).
  • Hafiz Abdur Rahim (1854-1926): A descendant of a 15th century saint, Hazrat Makhdum Shah Nasirul Haq criticized the 'divide and rule' policy of the British when they attempted to give special rights to Muslims. He gave up his legal practive and joined the Non-Cooperation Movement
  • Hemchandra Kanungo: A revolutionary, he denounced the then prevalent religiosity in the various organizations, during antipartition movement. He undertook military training in Paris
  • Har Bilas Sarda (1867-1955): Arya Samajist, played a pioneering role in initiating legislative along in the social sphere. It was largely due to his efforts, child Marriage Restraint Act 1930 (Sarda Act) came into being.
  • Henry Vivian Derozio (1809-1831): prominent Anglo Indian introduced western attitude into Indian intellectual life. Perhaps was the first nationalist poet of modern India, edited 'Hespersus' and 'The Calcutta Library Gazette'.
  • Hemachandra: One of the greatest Jain scholars of the 12th century A.D. who flourished in the court of Kumarapala, the Chalukyan king of Gujarat.
  • Huen Tsang: A famous Chinese Buddhist monk who visit India durin the reign of Harsha. He stayed in India for many years and studied at the university of Nalanda.

Eminient Personalities in Indian History (Part 2)

(Alphabate- B,C and D)


  • Badruddin Taiyabjee (1844-1906): He was the first Indian Barrister in Bombay and rose to become the 2nd Indian Chief justice of Bombay Presidency. His deep spirited nationalism drew him towards active political participation. He became the first Muslim President of Congress.
  • Bhulabhai Desai: He joined Home Rule League and then Congress in 1930, established Swadeshi Sabha and offered Individual Satyagraha in 1940, and negotiated Liaqat-Desai Pact in 1944 which was a measure to solve the Indian COnstitutional deadlock between the Congress and the League. he also led the team of lawers defending INA accused.
  • Bidhan Chandra Roy: A close associate of CR Das, he entered politics when he was elected to Bengal Legislative Assembly by defeating the veteran Surendranath Banerjee.
  • B.G. Kher: Responding to the call of Mahatma Gandhi joined the national movement during Civil Disobedience Mangage-ment. He played a notable part in drafting the Constitution and was the Chairman of Official Language Commission 1955.
  • Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Established Poona New English School (1885) and launched two newspapers 'Kesari' and 'Marhatta', established anti-cow killing societies, akharas, lathi clubs and organized the Ganapati festival to ignite nationalist passion; started Home Rule League in 1916.
  • Bipin Chandra Pal: Discarded Orthodox Hindusim and entered Brahmo Samaj, chief architect of Bengal renaissance movement, led the Swadeshi Movement in Bengal and rallied the extremists of Punjab, Maharashtra and Bengal.
  • Begum Safia Abdul Wajid: She got involved with Congress work and had to lose her Lecturer's job during Quit India Movement. After Independence she continued to work for emancipation of masses and was elected to UP Assembly twice.
  • Bhagat Singh: A revolutionary, he killed police officer Saunders to avenge Lala Lajpat Rai's death. He also threw a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly protesting against two government bills, for which was arrested, tried in Lahore conspiracy case and scentenced to death.
  • Bahadur Shah Zafar: Last Mughal emperor of India. During the 1857 revolt, the sepoys gathered under his name. He was deported by the British to Rangoon after quelling the revolt.
  • Bakht Khan: He led the sepoy revolt in Barelly. After reaching Delhi, he took the leadership of revolt in his hands also organized the sepoy court and gathered local support for the sepoys.
  • Begum Hazrat Mahal: Wife of deposed ruler of Lucknow. She actively took part in the revolt against the Doctrine of Lapse under which Dalhousie wanted her to surrender Lucknow. She gave a stiff resistance after the fall of Lucknow and escaped to Kathmandu.
  • B.M. Malabari (1853-1912): Age of Consent Act 1891 was enacted due to his efforts, he raised voices against casteism, child marriage and supported widow remarriage, founded Seva Sadan.
  • Baliram Keshavrao hedgewar (1899-1940): Associated with the Congress as well as Tilak's Home rule Movement, Came to limelight after he established Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1925.
  • Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (1891-1956): A leader of depressed classes, founded Depressed Classes Institute and Samaj Samta Sangh. Drafted the Indian Consitution and become the first Law Minister after Independence.
  • Biren De: Known as a tantrist painter who tries to discover the true nature of things, of self-realization and identification with nature. His paintings possesses a visionary quality in terms of a transdental concept of light.
  • B.C. Sanyal: Belongs to Delhi school and is famous for his landscape paintings. He symbolizes the merging of tradition and modernity. He was instrumental in establishing Lahore College.
  • Bidhan Chandra Roy (1882-1962): Renowned physicist of Calcutta, enthusiastic supporter of Swaraj Party, made history by defeating the veteran moderate leader Surendra Nath Banerjee in the Bengal Assembly election of 1923. He was the first Chief Minister of West Bengal.
  • Bhabani Bhattacharya: An Indian writer in English who contributed to Indian and foreign magazines. He won the Sahitya Academy Award for his novel "shadow from Ladakh.
  • Bankim Chandra Chatterjee (1838-1894): Composer of the hymn "Bande Mataram" that inspired love for the motherland in millions of Indian hearts, a great writer, rationalist thinker and philosopher, whose contribution to the Indian freedom struggle cannot be traced in terms of mere outward achievement.
  • Bharatendu Harishchandra (1850-1885): Contributed to the development of Hindi prose and poetry. His writings represent the agonies of people, the unrest of middle class and the country's progress.
  • Birsa Munda (1874-1902): A revolutionary and a tribal leader, came to be regarded as 'Bhagwan' by the Mundas. He led organized attacks on zamindars, missionaries and policemant. He was captured and he died of cholera in Jail.
  • Birbal: A Brahman courtier, who became a close friend of Emperor Akbar, who gave him the title 'Kavipriya'. He joined Akbar's Din-i-llahi, died fighting against a tribe in northwest frontier.
  • Brahmagupta: An Indian astronomer and math-ematician. He was the head of the astronomical observatory at Ujjain. He wrote 'Brahma Sputa Siddhanta' and "khandokhadyaka".
  • Banabhatta: He was patronized by Harshvardhana, the Maukhari King. Banabhatta gave a vivid account of the reign of his master in Harshacharita. His other work is "Kadambari".
  • Bahauddin Zakariya (1182-1262): A sufi and founder of Suharwadi silsial, had very good relations with sultanate rulers, unlike chisti's, took part in worldly matters. IItumish conferred the title 'Shaikh-ul-islam' on him.
  • Bhavabhuti: Probably the only Sanskrit dramatist who could match the mastery of Kalidasa. he was in the court of Yasovarman of Kannauj. His works are Maltimadhav, Mahavircharita and Uttarramacharita.
  • Baji Rao I: The second Peshwa, he succeded his father Balaji Viswanath. Baji Rao-I thought of establishing a Hindu empire (Hindu-Pad-Padshahi) in place of the Muslim Mughal empire.
  • Banda Bahadur: He became the leader of the Sikhs after the assassination of Guru Govind Singh. His was captured and cruelly executed by the Mughal emperor Farrukhsiyar.
  • Baz Bahadur: The ruler of Malwa who was defeated by Akbar's force in 1561-62. His love for Rupamati has passed into legend. He later on entered into the service of Akbar and won great fame as a Musician.
  • Bebadal Khan: A famous and excellent Jeweler of Agra, supervised the making of the Peacock Throne by the order of Emperor Shah Jahan.
  • Bhartihari: A famous Sanskrit poet, who flourished in the seventh century. His famous work Bhaktikavyam exhibits his multifaceted talent as a poet, grammarian and philosopher all roused into one.
  • Bhim Sen: A Hindu historian, flourished in the reign of Auragzeb and wrote in Persian a historian work-'Nushka-i-Dilkusha'.
  • Bhoja parmar: Distinguished himself from his con-temporary by profound scholarship and patronage of learning, authored many works including "Samaran-gasutradhar" a work on architecture.
  • Bairam Khan: He was the Persian tutor of Akbar who accompanied Humayun to India. After Humayun's death he consolidated the administration of the reconqured region as Akbar's Vakil (regent).
  • Bihari Lal: Next to Tulasi Das he was the most eminent Hindi poet of the seventeenth century. He completed the poetical work Satsai in 1662.
  • Badarayana: An ancient Brahmanical Dharmasutra writer. His work Brahmasutra was one of the fundamental books on which sankaracharya based his Vedantic philosophy.
  • Bahlol Lodi: He was the first Afghan Sultan of Delhi and the founder of the Lodhi dynasty. He ruled from 1451-1489. It was during his reign when Jaunpur was reintegrated with the Sultanate. The Afghan monarch also invited many of his fellow countrymen to settle in India.
  • Bhadrabahu: Last of the Jain Saints known as the Shrutakevalin. He was also associated with the Maurya King Chandragupta who converted to Jainism under his influence. He had effected the introduction of Jainism in South India.
  • Bhasha: A early Sanskrit dramatist. He composed 13 dramas like, Charudatta, Swapna Vasavadatta etc. His narration and story telling techiniques influenced the dramatic style of India and it is still being followed.
  • Bhaskaracharya: The most celebrated Indian astronomer and mathematician, was born in A.D. 1114. He wrote Siddhanta Shiromani.
  • Bhavabhuti: Sanskrit poet and dramatist and author of the Uttaramcharita and Maltimadhva. He was the court poet of Yashovarman of Kannauj.
  • Bilhana: He was the court poet of the Chalukyan king Vikrmaditya VI of Kalyani. He wrote Vikramanka Charita to eulogise his patron.
  • Balaputradeva: A king of the Sailendra dynasty of Swarnadvipa built a monastery at Nalanda and sent an embassy to king Devapala of Magaha asking for te grant of five villages for the maintenance of his monastery.
  • Bulleh Shah: Bulleh Shah was a great Sufi saint of Punjab. He was a fierce critic of the Quran and all other scriptures, and neither the Hindu nor the Muslim theologians could excel him in debates.
  • Basava: He founded the Ligayats or Virashiva movement in Karnataka in around 12th century. His followers considered him to the reincarnation of Shiva. Virashivas were against caste system and other esoteric practices amongst Hindus.
  • C.Y. Chintamani (1880-1941): Founder member of Liberal Party and represented it at Round Table Conference. Also, a well known journalist and editor of pre-independent India, associated with several newspapers such as 'The Leader. 'The Indian People', 'The Hindustan Review'.
  • Chitranjan Das (1870-1925): Also known as 'Deshbandhu', gained prominence through his successful defense of Aurobindo Ghosh in Alipore conspiracy case (1908), joined Indian National Congress in 1917, left his practice during Non-Cooperation Movement. After the withdrawal of Non Cooperation Movement he along with Motilal Nehru and others formed the Swaraj Party.
  • Chittu Pandey: A nationalist Gandhian leader Who during Quit India Movement established a parallel Government in Bareily
  • .C.Sankaran Nair: An ardent social reformer, Congress leader, journalist and educationist, was appointed the first Indian Advocate General of Madras. Owing to his disapproval of Gandhi's political programme he discontinued his connection with Congress.
  • Chakravati Vijiraghavachari (1852-1944): In 1882 was the first Indian leader to suffer jail term. One of the founding members of INC, he was the President of 1920 Congress session, that adopted Non Co-operation.
  • Conjeevaram Natarajan Annadurai: A scholar, social reformer and a political leader, became a member of Justice Party. Edited 'Kudi Arasu' and 'Viduthalai', started his own weekly 'Dravida Nadu'. Later he organized DMK and became the Chief Minister of Madras.
  • C. Raja Gopalachari (1879-1972): Led a salt march from Trichinopoly to Vedaranniyam during Civil Disobedience Movement. He along with Bhulbhai Desai was in favour of recognizing the rights of Muslim majority provinces to secede. Became the first Indian Governor General of India.
  • C.Y. Chintamani (1880-1941): A founding member of Liberal Party and represented it at the Round Table Conference. He worked as an editor for the leader', 'The Indian People' and 'The Hindustan Review'. 
  • Chandra Shekar Azad: A revolutionary leader took part in the Kakori train robbery. Become a leader of Hindustan Socialist Republican Army, heading its military division. Shot himself at Alfred Park, Allahabad.
  • Chapekar Brothers: Ramakrishna, Damodar and Vasudev Chapekar. They organized a society for imparting military training for overthrowing British rule. Committed the first political murder by killing plague officer Mr. Rand.
  • Dr. Champakraman Pillai (1891-1934): Organised International pro-India Committee at Zurich, and the Indian National Volunteer Corps in Germany. Also, founded Indian National Party at Berlin. Also, involed in a conflict with Adolf Hitler for his anti-India remarks.
  • Charles Freer Andrews: Popularly known as 'Deenabandhu' devoted to the cause of India's educational, social and political advancement, responsible for the abolition of indentured labour in 'Fiji', Adored Gandhiji and followed his constructive programme. 
  • C. Vikram Sarabhai (1919-1971): The Father of India's space programme, developed India's rocket and space technology and gave a fillup to the atomic energy programme for capacity building from uranium to the buildings of atomic power stations.
  • Charak: A renowned physician of Ayurveda. Authored Charaksamhita in 1st century AD. It contained teachings on cures for many diseases.
  • Chaitanya (1485-1533): Viswambar Mishra or Chaitanya was the initiator of a very broad movement which involved an organized sect, a theology and a broad-based popular cult. The Chaitanya movement was a Vaishnava Bhakti movement and disregarded the Veda and Vedantis.
  • Chand Bardai: He was the court poet of Prithviraj Chauhan III of Delhi. He wrote the epic bardic tale Chanda Raisa or Prithviraja Raso. This work glorifies his patron and his for love for samyukta.
  • Chakrapani: A renowned Sanskrit scholar and an expert on medical knowledge during the eleventh century Bengal. He wrote Commentaries on Charaka and Sushruta.
  • Charvaka: He was an exponent of the Materialistic School (Lokayata) of Indian philosophy. He discarded the authority of the Vedas, the existence of soul and expounded a philosophy which asked men to eat, drink and make merry, to enjoy life to its fullest as they did not believe in life after death.
  • Dattatreya Balkrishana Kalelkar (1885-1981): He made principal contribution to Gandhi's constructive work and was head of Sabarmati school where the scheme of Basic education was evolved. He later became the member of Constituent Assembly. Popularly known as 'Kakasaheb Kalelkar', he headed the first Backward Classes Commission formed in 1952.
  • Dinshaw Wacha (1844-1936): Close associate of Dadabhai Naoraji, was one of the founder of INC. In 1897 he appeared before the Welby Commission and gave a masterly exposition of the finances of the country.
  • Durgabai Deshmukh (1909-1981): Known as Iron lady she was a dedicated social worker and a freedom fighter. She became a member of Constituent Assembly, in social sphere, she founded Andhra Mahila Sabha in 1941 and edited 'Andhra Mahila'.
  • David Hare (1775-1842): A Scotsman who played a pioneering role in introducing western education in India, associated himself with 'Young Bengal movement' to inspire a spirit of rationalism and liberty among the youth of Bengal.
  • Devendra Nath Tagore: Founded "Tatwabodhini Sabha", joined Brahmo Samaj and established a Brahmo school in Calcutta. He started Tatwa Bodhini Patrika.
  • Dayanand Saraswati: Founded Arya Samaj, gave the call 'Go back to the Vedas' started Sangathan and Shuddi movement. Advocated equal status for women denounced untouchalibility.
  • D.K. Karve (1858-1962): Fondly called 'Anna Saheb Maharishi Karve',  dedicated his life for upliftment of widows. He founded India's first women University in 1916. For his contribution was awarded Padma Vibhushan and Bharat Ratna.
  • Dinabandhu Mitra (1830-1873): Noted Bengali writer whose play 'Neel Darpan Natakam' brought to light the hardships faces by Indigo cultivators due to the policies of European planters. The play initiated a movement to protest against oppression of Indigo cultivators.
  • Dhanga: He was the most powerful king of the Chandella Dynasty. The grand temples of Khajuraho were built by him.
  • Dadu: The most famous of the followers of Kabir's ideal. The great dream of his life was to unite all the divergent faiths in one bond of love and comradeship and he founded the Brahma-Sampradaya to propagate his ideals.
  • Dhoyi: He was the court poet of king Lakshamana Sena of Bengal. Inspired from 'Meghadutam' of Kalidasa he wrote 'Pavandutam' which describes the adventure of Lakshamana Sena as prince.
  • Dhanananda:  The last of the Nanda kings who ruled in Magadha when Alexander the Great invaded India. He was defeated and killed by Chandragupta Maurya who established the Maurya dynasty.
  • David Octerlony: Faught against Marathas and led the only successful campaign of the Anglo-Nepal war, credited with the bringing of Gorkha Soldiers into Indian army.
  • Dadabhai Naoroji  (1825-1917): Father of Indian Nationalism, dedicated his life and wealth to the cause of freedom. He was the first Indian to claim Self Government for his people. His work 'Poverty and Unbritish rule in India' exposed the true nature of British Colonialism and gave the ideological base for the leaders to build on

Eminient Personalities in Indian History (Part 1)

(Alphabate "A")

  • Allan Octavian Hume (1829-1912): He was a British Civil Servant who supported the cause of Indian Independence. After retiring in 1882, he began mobilizing Indian intellectuals and formed the Indian National Union in 1885 and later Indian National Congress. He remained its General Secretary till 1892 and launched a journal 'India' in Britian.
  • Abul Kalam Azad (1888-1958): Youngest President of INC (1923), head of the Khilafat Committee, propagated nationalist ideas through weeklies 'Al-Hilal' and 'Al-Balagh'. He was a member of the Constituent Assembly became the first Education Minister of Independent India.
  • Asaf Ali (1888-1953): He obtained his Law degree from Lincoln Inn, London and returned to India in 1914. He gave up his practice during Non Cooperation Movement, remained member of Legislative Assembly from 1935-1947. After Independence was appointed the first Ambassador in USA.
  • Achyut Patwardhan (1905-1971): Founder member of Congress Socialist Party. During the Quit India Movement (QIM) he played an active role in keeping the popular morale high. He was involved in underground activities in Maharashtra. After independence he kept away from politics.
  • Acharya Narendra Dev (1889-1956): Educationist, patriot and a socialist, he was the founder member of Congress Socialist Party (CSP). He was one of the most prominent fighters in India's struggle for freedom.
  • Aurobindo Ghost (1872-1950): Passed I.C.S. exam with record marks, worked for secret societies, started a weekly 'Bengali' and a daily 'Yugantar', involved in Maniktala conspiracy. Finally retired to the life of 'Yoga' at Pondicherry.
  • Ashwini Kumar Dutta: A leading figure in Swadeshi Movement, promoted cottage industry and launched a lifelong battle against untouchability, prostitution and drinking habit.
  • A.K. Fazlul Haq (1873-1962): One of the founder of All India Muslim League, represented the League at the round Table Conference (1931-33). Later formed Krishak Praja Party and became Prime Minister of Bengal after 1937 election.
  • A.K. Gopalan: A Congress Socialist leader from Malabar, joined CPI in 1940, was arrested after independence,but moved a Habeas Corpus petition, this secured his release and legal recognition of CPI.
  • Annie Besant (1847-1933): Social reformer and head of Theosophical society in India, worked for women's right and equality of dalits set up Home Rule League in September 1915. Started two magaz-ines New India and Commonweal to spread her ideas.
  • Aruna Asif Ali: A radical nationalist she was a member of Congress Socialist Party. During Quit India Movement she went underground and became a fiery heroine. She was the first mayor of Delhi.
  • Alluri Sitarama Raju (1897-1924): Played Key role in merging tribal demand with the principles of Non-Cooperation movement. Organized tribals for armed rebellion "Rampa Revolt" against colonial rulers.
  • Anand Laxman Karkare: A member of Abhinav Bharat Society, who threw the bomb on Jackson, the District Magistrate fo Nasik.
  •  Asur Singh: A revolutionary who killed policeman and sabotaged railway lines credited with a vital role in Delhi conspiracy case.
  • Ajay Kumar Ghosh: Associated with revolutionary activities in U.P. and Punjab involved in Lahore conspiracy, worked for workers right. A well known Marxist who contributed to the communist movement in India.
  • Ajit Singh: A revolutionary leader was deported to Mandalay in 1907 for anti-British activities. After being released founded Bharat Mata Society and Journal 'Peshwa'.
  • Ashfaqullah Khan: Joined Non-Cooperation movement became disillusioned by its withdrawal and then joined Hindustan Socialist republican Army, was a secular and patriot, took part in Kakori train robbery.
  • Azimulla Khan: Nana Saheb's agent. He went to England to plead for Nana's pension case. On his return journey he visited France and Crimea. Played a prominent role in organizing the 1857 revolt at Kanpur.
  • Ashutosh Chaudhuri (1864-1924): Great educationist who favoured a technology oriented educational system that would ultimately help in the industrial development of the country, helped in the setting up of the National Council of Education in 1906.
  • Amir Chand (1869-1915): Advocated widow remarriage, national education, etc. helped spread of Swadeshi Movement, later drawn towards revolutionary group, involved in Delhi and Lahore conspiracy case.
  • Ashutosh Mukopadyaya (1864-1924): A well known educationist was appointed the Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University and remained so for more than 10 years, also founded the Calcutta mathematical Society.
  • Atmaram Pandurang: A socio religious reformer from Maharashtra, established Prathna Samaj worked for widow remarriage,women education and raising the age of marriage and opposed the caste system.
  • Abanindra Nath Tagore: One of the greatest artist India has produced whose paintings synthesi-zed Indian and western styles i.e. paintings on krishnaleela, propagated national aesthetic ideal and emphasized on Indian approach to art.
  • Arpita Sen: Her paintings reflect an uncomplicated tapestry. An artist who had a decorative inclination under her canvas for various motifs.
  • Anjolee Ela Menon: A mystical painter who brings intense creativity and imagination on the canvas, used real life images and threads them into her paintings. Her paintings have a very static, calm and serene look. The passive drawings are illuminated by the symbolic depiction of female figurines.
  • Amrita Sher Gill (1913-1941): Renowned painter whose work shows influence of Ajanta Paintings, a discernible fusion of eastern and western style is seen in her works. She used real models and monochromatic colours for her paintings.
  • A. Ramachandran: The figurative painter who was influenced by the murals of Kerala temples and tribal art. He used light and shade technique.
  • Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy (1877-1947): Influenced educated opinion on India through his teachings and writings in U.S.A authored some two hundred titles in which he explored the aesthetic, historical, metaphysical, and symbolic content of traditional Indian civilization
  • Aswagosha: Contemporary of Kushana ruler Kanishka, wrote 'Sariputraprakaran", 'Buddhacharita', assisted Vasumira the President of 4th Buddist council held in Kashmir.
  • Aryabhatta: An astrologer and mathematician of 4th century A.D. He wrote 'Aryabhattiyam' and 'Suryasiddhantam'. He was first to say that the earth was spherical and that is rotated on its axis.
  • Abul Fazi: Closely associated with Akbar's policy of religious toleration, known for his work "Akbarnama" which is a primary soucr of Akbar's period.
  • Al Beruni: An astronomer, mathematician, philosopher and author, he studied Indian knowledge and wrote a penetrating work into its condition in the 11th century. In his book "Alberuni's India".
  • Ajita Kesakambalin: A contemporary of Buddha and the earliest known teacher of materialism. He also founded a sect of monks.
  • Amuktamalyada: It is a book on government in Telugu written by the Vijaynagar ruler Krihsnadeva Raya. It is a primary source for understanding the governance of Vijaynagar empire.
  • Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khana: He was the son of Bairam Khan. He rose high in Akbar's service and became the Khan-i-Khana or premier nobleman in court. He translated 'Baburanama' into Persian.
  • Abdus Samad: He was Akbar's drawing master who was later given the charge of mint also.He had a great fame as an artist. Akbar loved his ork and gave him the title of 'Shirin Qalam'.
  • Ahilya Bai: She was the widowed daughter-in-law of Malhar Rao Holkar. On the latter's death, she became the Holkar ruler with Indore as its capital. Administering it with great success, she died in 1795.
  • Alauddin Khilji: Sultan of Delhi (1296-1316), was the nephew and son-in-law of Jalaluddin Khilji the founder of Khilji dynasty. Alauddin led the first Muslim invasion into the deccan in 1295.
  • Anantvarman Choda Ganga: The Most notable king belonging to the Eastern Ganga dynasty, ruled over Kalinga for seventy one years. He built the temple of Jagannath of Puri as well as Konark Sun temple.
  • Alvar: South Indian devotional Saint, poets who popularized the Vaishnava concept of love and devotion between the 6th and 9th centuries A.D.
  • Asanga: He was renounced Buddhist scholar, saint and author, who flourished in the Gupta period. He authored the 'Yogachara Bhumishastra'. A treatise on the Yogachara school of Buddhist philosophy.
  • Asvalayana: An ancient author whose Grihasutra is a storehouse of information about religious rituals and social customs of the early Brahmanical Hindus.
  • Abdul Qadir Badayuni: He was the contemporary of Akbar, a part of the radical Ulerna, he criticized the liberal policies of Akbar accusing him to be unislamic. Wrote Muntakab-ul-Tawarikh'.
  • Amir Khusro: A famous, poet, musician and historian of 13th and 14th century A.D. He was first to use Hindavi style in writing. He loved India and wrote many verses in its praise. His main works are Khaijan-ul-futuh, Tuglaghnama etc.
  • Aga Khan: Co-founder of Muslim League and served as its President (1906-1913), supported modern education for Indian muslims and successfully pressed for separate electorate.

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