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Rajaji, a Life The definitive biography of free India s first Head of State Chakravarti Rajagopalachari , popularly called CR or Rajaji, is usually remembered as free India s Governor General, or the first Indian Head of State At one time considered Gandhi s heir, this brilliant lawyer from Salem was regarded in pre independence years as one of the top five leaders of the Congress along with Nehru, Prasad, Patel and Azad This biography written by Rajaji s grandson, the noted historian and biographer Rajmohan Gandhi, highlights Rajaji s role in the events preceding Partition A statesman and conciliator of conflicts between stalwarts, he was perhaps the sole Congress leader in the forties to admit to the likelihood of Partition He prophesied even then that Pakistan might break up in twenty five years Later, CR became a strident critic of Nehru and the Congress As a founder of the Swatantra party in the fifties, he attacked the permit license Raj fearing its potential for corruption and stagnation, even while the tide was in favour of Nehru s socialistic pattern Meticulously researched, using CR s private papers, his contemporaries archives, extensive interviews with eye witnesses and contemporary accounts and newspapers, this intensely personal, yet objective account gives us an unparalleled portrait of one of the outstanding Indians of this century 4 stars 3 for the book , 5 for the man It seems it was not very long ago that extraordinary people strode through the political circles The decay is embarrassing to say the least The book, being a biography is divided chronologically and is thusattractive to the historian rather than the casual reader, who seeks to understand the man as composite whole At a point in time, I was going to abandon the book, but C.R pulled me back in nonetheless A man whose ideas were mostly considered 4 stars 3 for the book , 5 for the man It seems it was not very long ago that extraordinary people strode through the political circles The decay is embarrassing to say the least The book, being a biography is divided chronologically and is thusattractive to the historian rather than the casual reader, who seeks to understand the man as composite whole At a point in time, I was going to abandon the book, but C.R pulled me back in nonetheless A man whose ideas were mostly considered radical because they were so far ahead of time, a man who struggled for what he believed and could persuade public opinion to do the same, a man loved by friends and respected by foes A truly great national leader from the deep south and after the regionalisation of Indian politics it could be that he was also the last Being an atheist,the song that I seek at times of turmoil is kurai ondrum illai.After learning that it was written by Rajaji and further that he wrote from third person s as a harijan would, based on an Hindu archive article , I tried to findabout him online, as usual and ended up getting this book.God, isn t Rajaji the most important person in the New Indian History, also the least studied and under appreciated I didn t realise I roamed the places like vellore whe Being an atheist,the song that I seek at times of turmoil is kurai ondrum illai.After learning that it was written by Rajaji and further that he wrote from third person s as a harijan would, based on an Hindu archive article , I tried to findabout him online, as usual and ended up getting this book.God, isn t Rajaji the most important person in the New Indian History, also the least studied and under appreciated I didn t realise I roamed the places like vellore where Rajaji was once jailed my college was right next to that jail.What level of conviction would it take for a person to give up such a lucrative career and all the luxuries and choose the life of a satyagrahi This book does enough justice that could be done in 400 pages, though it could take few volumes to capture the length and breath of this great Statesman Rajaji is one of the personalities who is constantly portrayed as a villain in many of the biopics on other people like the Film on Periyar One thing everyone in Tamilnadu knows is that he was a castiest bhraminical leader who wanted to bring education system based on Varna system There is no defender for him in the current scheme of things, by opposing Nehru post independence he cut his links with the Congress He was bhraminical so never liked by Dravidian politics So I had very little opin Rajaji is one of the personalities who is constantly portrayed as a villain in many of the biopics on other people like the Film on Periyar One thing everyone in Tamilnadu knows is that he was a castiest bhraminical leader who wanted to bring education system based on Varna system There is no defender for him in the current scheme of things, by opposing Nehru post independence he cut his links with the Congress He was bhraminical so never liked by Dravidian politics So I had very little opinion or idea about this man s life This biography captures the essence of the life of this great man What stood out of Rajaji, 1 IndependentHe is amazingly independent on his thoughts and ideas and till his death was revered as the greatest statesman Even with the congress he dissented during the independence movement.He famously opposed the Quit India movement citing the dangers Fascism offers to the independent world This was suicidal for any leader at that time, and he antagonized the congress cadres base But he stood by his conviction , as like he did many issues in his long cherished life He was ready to battle it all alone if required, like the struggle against the License Permit Quota Raj a line he coined , against the personality worship of Nehru In these fights of course he did mistakes like aligning with the DMK when he started the Swantantra Party to oppose the Congress.But he was not the one bogged down by public opinion, and it made him unpopular, loved and hated at the same time.2 Religious Yet Broad Minded, We have a template in the liberal circles like any one who espouses the Hindu scriptures like Gita, or one who is a practicing hindu has to be a bigot who supports say things like Untouchability and caste system Same happened to Rajaji and his bhraminical background not helped in matters.But in reality he was the first to oppose untouchabilty in tamilnadu He made his life mission to open Indian temples to untouchable He famously defended a case on an untouchable entering the Thiruchanoor temple His ashram inmates comprised of people from different caste backgrounds He totally believed in the horrors of caste system and untouchability but he didn t have the standard liberal So he had to suffer like any independent thinker has to So he wrote major works on Gita, Ramayana and his writings were important to the formation of modern tamil prose.Witty,Rajaji s strength was his witty and memorable one liners with which he won many arguments.He was one of the most successful lawyers of tamilnadu when he decided to quit the profession to participate in the independence movement He was one of the finest parliamentarians India produced, and he provided a demonstration of his witty tongue in these debates.Able AdministratorHe was part of the lost breed of administrator who wanted to do the right think not always the popular one A life long supporter of prohibition of liquor, he changed the lives of poor people through his activities regarding prohibition and khadi Take for instance the much criticized education policy The idea was clear and simple, he wanted to increase the admission in schools, with the current financial constraints it was not possible to openschools neither to increase the teachers Hence he suggested the school time for children will be reduced to 3 hours and the schools can cater to two batches of students in one day He also suggested in the remaining time the children can learn their family work This snowballed into a controversy which was totally uncalled for, and was forced to resign his post He was adamant to such an extent is surprising but he felt it was the right thing to do.Longevity, Funny aspect about Rajaji is introduced as the one with a weak frame in the beginning.He comes about as one who is often sick and tired wanting to retire But curiously he outlived all of the major leaders of independence Gandhi, Patel, Azad, Rajendra Prasad, Nehru In a way he was active in stages of life from the time British Raj was in full force, the independence movement, to around 3 decades in independent India This made him involved with so much of issues in a wide ranging arc He was like the conscious keeper of India for three decades post independence This book is a phenomenal learning on his life

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