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Rajendra Prasad

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Dr. Rajendra Prasad
Dr. Rajendra Prasad
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Dr. Rajendra Prasad
Date of Birth: December 3, 1884
Date of Death: February 28, 1963
Place of Birth: Zeradei, Bihar
Wife: Rajvanshi Devi
President of India
Tenure Order: 1st President
Took Office: 26 January 1950
Left Office: 13 May 1962
Predecessor: None (Dominion,
under C. Rajagopalachari)
Successor: Dr. S Radhakrishnan

Dr. Rajendra Prasad (December 3, 1884February 28, 1963) was the first President of India.

Prasad was born in Zeradei, Bihar. His father, Mahadev Sahay, was a Persian and Sanskrit language scholar; his mother, Kamleshwari Devi, was a devout lady who would tell stories from the Ramayana to her son. At the age of 5, the young Rajendra Prasad was sent to a Maulavi for learning Persian. After that he was sent to Chapra Zilla School for further primary studies. He was married at the age of 12 to Rajvanshi Devi. He then went on to study at R.K. Ghosh's Academy in Patna to be with his older brother Mahendra Prasad. Soon afterward, however, he rejoined the Chapra Zilla School, and it was from there that he passed the entrance examination of Calcutta University, at the age of 18. He stood first in the first division of that examination.

He then joined the Presidency College, Calcutta. He lived with his brother in the Eden Hindu Hostel. A plaque still commemorates his stay in that room. He had been initiated into the Swadeshi movement by his brother. He then joined the Dawn Society run by Satish Chandra Mukherjee, and Sister Nivedita.

In 1911, he joined the A.I.C.C. However, his family estate was in bad condition. He was looked upon as the saviour. But he sought permission from his brother in a letter to join the Indian freedom movement. He said, "Ambitions I have none, except to be of some service to the Motherland". The shock of his brother, however, held him to the family. In 1916, Rajendra Prasad joined the High Court of Bihar, and Orissa. Such was his intellect and his integrity, that often when his adversary failed to cite a precedent, the judges asked Rajendra Prasad to cite a precedent against himself.

After meeting Gandhiji, he quit as a Senator of the University, much to the regret of the British Vice-Chancellor. He wrote articles for Searchlight and the Desh and collected funds for these papers. He toured a lot, explaining, lecturing and exhorting. When the earthquake of Bihar occurred on January 15, 1934, Rajendra Prasad was in jail. He was released two days later. He set himself for the task of raising funds. The Viceroy has also raised a fund. However, while Rajendra Prasad's fund collected over 38 Lakhs, the Viceroy could only manage one-third of that amount. The way relief was organized left nothing to be desired. Nationalist India expressed its admiration by electing him to the President of the Bombay session of the Indian National Congress.

After India became independent he was made the President of India. As President, he used his moderating influence so silently and unobtrusively that he neither reigned nor ruled. His sister Bhagwati Devi passed away on the night of 25 January, 1960. She doted on her dearly-loved younger brother. It must have taken Rajendra Prasad all his will power to have taken the Republic Day salute as usual, on the following day. It was only on return from the parade that he set about the task of cremation. In 1962, after 12 years as President, he announced his decision to retire. He was subsequently awarded the Bharat Ratna, the nation's highest civilian award.

Within months of his retirement, early in September 1962, his wife Rajvanshi Devi passed away. In a letter written a month before his death to one devoted to him, he said, "I have a feeling that the end is near, end of the energy to do, end of my very existence". He died on 28 February, 1963 with 'Ram Ram' on his lips.

His legacy is being ably carried by his great grandson Ashoka Jahnavi-Prasad a psychiatrist and a scientist of international fame who introduced sodium valproate as a treatment for bipolar disorders.

External links

hi:राजेन्द्र प्रसाद sa:राजेन्द्र प्रसाद

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