Bharat Ratna award winners in 1954

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan – (1888-1975)

S_radhakrishanDr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was the first Vice President of India and eventually became the second Indian President. He was a statesman and a philosopher as well. Radhakrishnan was one of the leading scholars of comparative religion and philosophy in his days he built a bridge between Eastern and Western thought showing each to be predictable within the terms of the other. He introduced Western idealism into Indian philosophy. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was the first scholar of importance to provide a comprehensive interpretation of India`s religious and philosophical literature to English speaking peoples. He became Vice President of India in 1952 and was elected President of India in 1962; he held the office until 1967. Radhakrishnan was bestowed with Bharat Ratna in the year 1954 and his birthday on September 5th is celebrated as Teacher`s Day in India.

Early Life of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born on 5th September, 1888, to the parents Sarvepalli Veeraswami and Sitamma, at Tiruttani (now in Thiruvallur District), a town in Tamil Nadu, India. Radhakrishnan spent his early years in Tiruttani and Tirupati. He completed his primary education from Gowdie School and higher education from P.M. High School, Gajulamandyam, Renigunta. He also studied at the Hermansburg Evangelical Lutheral Mission School, Tirupati. Later, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was admitted to the Voorhees College in Vellore, but then shifted to the Madras Christian College. He graduated with a Master`s Degree in Philosophy from the University of Madras, in 1906.

Career of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was appointed to the Department of Philosophy at Madras Presidency College in 1909. He became the Professor of Philosophy for the University of Mysore in 1918. He had also written several articles for reputed journals. In 1921, he was appointed as a professor to the most important philosophy chair in India, the King George V Chair of Mental and Moral Science at the University of Calcutta. He represented the Calcutta University at the Congress of the Universities of the British Empire and the International Congress of Philosophy at Harvard University in 1926. In 1929, Radhakrishnan was appointed as the Principal at Harris Manchester College, where he gave lectures to the students of the University of Oxford on Comparative Religion. In 1931, he was knighted by George V. However, he did not prefer to use the title, rather he was known by his academic title of Doctor.

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan worked as the Vice-Chancellor of Andhra University from 1931. In 1936, he was named Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at the University of Oxford, and became a Fellow of All Souls College. After the Indian independence, he represented the country at UNESCO and later was appointed as the Ambassador of India to the Soviet Union (1949-1952). He was also elected to the Constituent Assembly of India. Radhakrishnan was elected as the first Vice President of India in 1952 and subsequently became President of India (1962-1967). Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan also formed the Krishnarpan Charity Trust, along with some social workers.

Philosophical Achievements of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Radhakrishnan argued that Western philosophers, despite all claims to objectivity, were partial towards theological influences from their wider culture. He wrote books on Indian philosophy based on Western academic standards. In his major work, Idealist View of Life, Radhakrishnan made a powerful case for the importance of natural thinking as opposed to purely intellectual forms of thought. He is well known for having commented on the Prasthana Trayi of the Gita, the Upanishads and the Brahma Sutra.

Awards of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was appointed as a Knight Bachelor in the year 1931. He was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy in 1938. He was also awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1954 and the Order of Merit in 1963. A few months before his death, Radhakrishnan received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade and the Templeton Prize in 1975. The Oxford University in his memory initiated the Radhakrishnan Chevening Scholarships and the Radhakrishnan Memorial Award.

Personal Life of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Radhakrishnan married Sivakamu, one of his cousins, when he was only 16 years old. They had a son, Sarvepalli Gopal, and 5 daughters. His wife died in the year 1956 and the couple had been married for almost 51 years. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan died on 17th April, 1975, at the age of 86, in Chennai, India.

C. Rajagopalachari – (1878-1972)

C. RajagopalachariChakravarti Rajagopalachari was born on 10th December 1878 in Thorapalli village of Salem District, Tamilnadu. He was popularly known as C.R. or `Rajaji`. His parents were Venkataraya Iyengar and Singaramma. He received his primary education in Honsur. After that he moved to Karnataka and graduated from Central College of Bangalore. In these days he displayed his ability in politics. He was given the title Gandhi of South India. He obtained a degree in law and started working as an advocate. He was very interested in literature. Later he established himself as an eminent writer in Tamil and English.

Chakravarti Rajagopalachari served as the Chairman of Municipal Council of Salem. During this time he launched a campaign against caste system, and drinking of alcohol. Afterwards he entered into national politics. In 1906 he joined the Surat session of the Indian national Congress. Chakravarti Rajagopalachari was initially the follower of extremist Lokamanya Tilak. During the separation of Indian national Congress he joined the group of extremist and started working with Lokamanya Tilak and Dr. Annie Besant. After few days he started following Gandhiji`s view. He was the member of the Congress Working Committee from 1919 to 1942. In 1921 he became the General Secretary of the Indian national Congress. At that time Chakravarti Rajagopalachari established an intimate relationship with Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, Maulana Azad, Anugrah Narayan Sinha, Rajendra Prasad.Within a short time he became one of the top leaders of the party. In his autobiography Nehru described about Rajaji, “brilliant intellect, selfless character, and penetrating powers of analysis have been a tremendous asset to our cause”. Nehru also said, “Rajaji represents fundamentally the highest type of mind in India.”

In 1932 Chakravarti Rajagopalachari was the acting President of Congress Party and played a crucial role in the Poona Pact with Ambedkar. During the time of provincial election he showed his organizational skill which led congress to get the majority. He actively took part in the Dandi March and inspired the `Satyagrahis`. He was imprisoned by the British Goverment as `Satyagrahi` for five times. During this time he wrote several books He was also the editor of `Young India` during Gandhiji`s incarceration. Chakravarti Rajagopalachari was appointed as the provincial leader of Madras after his jail-term. After Gandhi-Irwin pact and Government of India Act in the year 1935, he served as the premier of Madras Presidency.He also contributed a lot for social reformation. He brought Agriculturists` Debt Relief Act to save the poor debt ridden farmer from the grasp of landlord .For the first time the idea of sales tax was introduced by Rajaji.

Chakravarti Rajagopalachari was selected as the member of the Governor`s Council in 1946.In the interim Government he served as the minister of Education and Arts .He also held the post of Industries and Supply minister and Finance ministerAfter independence he was appointed as the Governor-General of India and served in this post for next three years. Chakravarti Rajagopalachari served as the Home minister of Nehru`s Cabinet. He became the chief minister of Madras in 1952. For the ideological differences with the congress men Chakravarti Rajagopalachari formed the `Swatantra` Party.

He protested against the license-permit Raj. He also criticized the formation of linguistic states and wanted to retain English language as Official language of India. Apart from political career Chakravarti Rajagopalachari was also a well-known writer.He translated the two great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata from Sanskrit to Tamil; and later into English. Chakravarti Rajagopalachari also translated the Upanishada, Bhaja and The Tirukkural-an ancient piece of Tamil literature into English. His interpreted Hinduism, Bhagavad-Gita and Indian Culture in his famous book Hinduism – Doctrine and Way of Life. He also penned some poems, novels and short stories. He was also a great humanist.

Gandhiji praised him as, “the keeper of my conscience”. Chakravarti Rajagopalachari was awarded the Bharat Ratna by Indian Government.He breathed his last in 1972 after a short illness.

C.V Raman – (1888-1970)


Chandrashekhara Venkata Raman or C V Raman, as we popularly know him, was born on 7th Nov. 1888 in Thiruvanaikkaval. He finished school by the age of eleven and by then he had already read the popular lectures of Tyndall, Faraday and Helmoltz. He acquired his BA degree from the Presidency College, Madras, where he carried out original research in the college laboratory, publishing the results in the philosophical magazine. After joining the financial services of the Indian Government at the age of eighteen, he carried out and published extensive research on acoustics and optics in his free time for a decade.

Also around the time he was married to ‘Loksundari’. In 1917 he was offered the ‘PALIT CHAIR’ in physics in Calcutta University by the then Vice Chancellor Ashutosh Mukherjee. In 1921 he delivered a lecture at the oxford conference on the theory of stringed instruments. In 1924 he became ‘FELLOW’ of the Royal society and was eventually knighted by the British Government.

While in Calcutta, he made enormous contributions to vibration, sound, musical instruments, ultrasonics, diffraction, photoelectricity, colloidal particles, X-ray diffraction, magnetron, dielectrics, and the celebrated “RAMAN” effect which fetched him the Noble Prize in 1930. The mood of self-confidence can be gauged from the fact that he had his tickets to Sweden booked before the prize was announced. From 1933 till 1970 (his death) he lived and worked in Bangalore, first at the INDIAN INSTITUTE OF SCEIENCE (IISc) and then his own (Raman Research Institute).

When the Nobel award was announced I saw it as a personal triumph, an achievement for me and my collaborators — a recognition for a very remarkable discovery, for reaching the goal I had pursued for 7 years. But when I sat in that crowded hall and I saw the sea of western faces surrounding me, and I, the only Indian, in my turban and closed coat, it dawned on me that I was really representing my people and my country. I felt truly humble when I received the Prize from King Gustav; it was a moment of great emotion but I could restrain myself. Then I turned round and saw the British Union Jack under which I had been sitting and it was then that I realised that my poor country, India, did not even have a flag of her own – and it was this that triggered off my complete breakdown. – ” C.V. Raman “

Many people know Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman because he was the first Indian Nobel Laureate in science. Till date Raman remains the only Indian to receive a Nobel Prize in science. There are two Indian-born scientists viz., Har Gobind Khorana and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (who became US citizens) got Nobel Prizes in science.

Raman was also the first Asian to get Nobel Prize in science. Raman’s celebrated discovery, the Raman Effect, experimentally demonstrated that the light-quanta and molecules do exchange energy which manifests itself as a change in the colour of the scattered light. However, this phenomenon was earlier predicted theoretically by Hendrik Anthony Kramers (1894-1952) and Werner Heisenberg (1901-76). It was the most convincing proof of quantum theory of light. This does not diminishes the importantce of Raman’s discovery. As Albert Einstein (1879-1955) wrote : “C.V. Raman was the first to recognize and demonstrate that the energy of photon can undergo partial transformation within matter. I still recall vividly the deep impression that this discovery made on all of us….”

On the occasion of awarding the Hughes Medal of the Royal Society of London, Lord Rutherford (1871-1937) commented on Raman’s scientific achievements as follows: “Sir Venkata Raman is one of the leading authorities in optics, in particular on the phenomenon of the scattering of light. In this connexion, about three years ago, he discovered that the light’s colour could be changed by scattering. This had been predicted some time before, but inspite of search the change had not been found. The `Raman effect’ must rank among the best three or four discoveries in experimental physics in the last decade; it has proved and will prove (to be) an instrument of great power in the study of the theory of solids. In addition to important contributions in many fields of knowledge, he (Raman) has developed an active school of research in physical sciences in the University of Calcutta”.