Born On: November 11, 1888
Born In: Hyderabad, Sind
Died On: March 19, 1982
Career: Politician, Teacher, Socialist
A passionate freedom fighter, a partisan socialist, a Gandhian by heart, and a competent teacher; these are the terms that are often related to the name that is Acharya Jivatram Bhagwandas Kripalani. Although most remembered for holding the presidency of the Indian National Congress during the turbulent period of 1947, his contribution is much, much more. Getting himself into the strikes during the college days for Indians being called liars; he had given the sign of things to come early. He was an ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi and his philosophies remained exactly that, even when Gandhi’s philosophies were getting adjusted in the background. He actively and passionately participated in Indian Freedom Movement, taught at a few universities, took responsibility of caring for Gandhi’s ashrams, became the president of Indian National Congress, and last but not the least - he contributed his time to a lot of environmental and social causes. A contribution that cannot be forgotten!
Jivatram Bhagwandas Kripalani was born on 11th November, 1888 in Hyderabad, Sind (presently in Pakistan) to an upper middle-class Hindu Kshatriya Amil family. His father, Kaka Bhagwandas was a Tahsildar (revenue and judicial officer) in government service. It was in Sind itself that Jivatram completed his matriculation and moved to Bombay for further education from the Wilson College. As there was a state of unrest within the students due to the partition of Bengal and the troubles created by Jivatram at that time forced him to move to a quieter atmosphere of D.J. Sind College at Karachi. But here too he could not keep himself away from causing a situation when the principal of that college indiscreetly called Indians as Liars. The strike that followed after that comment had Jivatram rusticated from the college. After the incident he couldn’t get admission in any other college in Bombay and had to move to Pune to pursue his studies. It was in 1908 that he completed his B.A from Fergusson College in Pune and later took up M.A in History & Economics. For the following years, he worked as the professor of English and History at the Muzaffarpur College in Bihar, taught at the Benares Hindu University, and also served as the Principal of Gujarat Vidyapeeth founded by Mahatma Gandhi. It was here that the title of Acharya was popularly attached to him.
It was Jivatram’s second meeting with the Mahatma in 1917 during the Champaran Satyagraha that he came to hold Mahatma Gandhi and his ideologies in the highest regards and even converted himself into a Gandhian and remained so till the last breath. Though he had got involved in mild upheavals during his college days, it was in 1920 that his political career took a turn when he participated in the Non-Cooperation Movement led by none other than - Mahatma Gandhi. From there on, he got himself involved in Congress work and actively participated in Salt Satyagraha and Quit India Movement and even went to jail on several occasions. From 1934 to 1945, he served as the General Secretary of Indian National Congress and was made the President of the party in 1946 and looked after the transfer of power during the disruptive period of partition and independence.
After the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948 and because of a prevalent disagreement between Jawaharlal Nehru and Jivatram on the issue whether the congress party should be considered before all decisions or not; Jivatram resigned from the post of President of Indian National Congress, and eventually resigned from the Congress party itself in 1951. He then started a new political party known as Krishak Majdoor Praja Party, which eventually merged with the Socialist Party of India to form the Praja Socialist Party. It was in 1954 that he resigned from the Praja Socialist Party as the rules and obligations of being in a party tested his patience. By then, he had grown into an experienced and well respected parliamentarian and was elected to Lok Sabha in the years 1952, 1957, 1962, and 1967. In 1971, his parliamentary career came to an end when nobody supported him during the elections.
While remaining active in politics, Jivatram started working on social and environmental causes. All this while, he along with Vinoba Bhave remained the last of advocates of Gandhian philosophies. Jivatram also wrote a few books on Gandhian Philosophies; few of them being: “Non Violent Revolution”, “The Gandhian Way”, “The Indian National Congress”, “The Fateful Years”, “The Politics of Chakra”, “The Father of the Congress”, and “The Gandhian Critique”. During 1972-1973, he resented the ever growing authoritarian style of Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi and was first to be arrested during the Emergency that was declared in 1975 following the vocal protest that was started by him. Jivatram was also closely associated to the Janta Party that came to power in 1977.
It was in the year 1936 that Jivatram got married to Sucheta Majumdar and the two shared the most understanding relationship for more than four decades. Sucheta Kripalani also went on to become the first Female Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Though the husband and wife differed on the political ideologies during the post independence period, it did not affect their personal life.
Jivatram Kripalani died on 19th March 1982 at the age of 94.
1888: J.B. Kripalani was born.
1908: Completed his graduation from Fergusson College in Pune.
1912-1917: Worked as a professor of English & History at Muzaffarpur College in Bihar.
1919-1920: Taught at Benares Hindu University.
1920-1927: Served as a Principal of the Gujarat Vidyapeeth.
1934-1945: Served as the General Secretary of Indian National Congress.
1936: Got married to Sucheta Majumdar.
1946-1947: Served as the President of Indian National Congress.
1951: Resigned from the Indian National Congress.
1954: Resigned from the Praja Socialist Party.
1975: Was arrested following the protest he caused against Indira Gandhi’s authoritarian style of leadership.
1982: Jivatram Kripalani died at the age of 94.