There were so many leading lights in India’s freedom struggle. India’s fight for independence was a united cause in which thousands of people participated and sacrificed their lives. Indian history is rich with such heroes who made incomparable contributions to the country’s freedom. Some of them are still remembered by us even after 60 plus years of achieving freedom. One such legendary fighter was Shaheed Bhagat Singh. He is credited to shape the grand nationalist movement of the country. He was a prominent revolutionary whose role in the freedom struggle of India cannot be measured with words. Born on September 27, 1907 at Banga in Lyallpur district to Kishan Singh and Vidya Vati, Bhagat Singh had patriotism in his blood. His father and uncle, both were great Indian freedom fighters who also served terms in prison for their active participation.

During his school days, Bhagat Singh had actively followed the Non-Cooperation Movement called by Mahatma Gandhi. He was ardent follower of Gandhi Ji’s philosophy until Bapu withdrew the movement in protest to Chauri Chaura incidents. Bhagat Singh was not convinced with this decision and aligned himself with Young Revolutionary Movement. Bhagat Singh flatly refused to marry to the girl of his family choice citing his passion for India’s freedom struggle. He joined various radical and revolutionary groups like Hindustan Republican Association, Kirti Kisan Party and Naujawan Bharat Sabha.

To avenge the death of leading freedom fighter Lala lajpat rai, he planned assassination of Scott, the Superintendent of Police who had ordered lathi charge that led to Lala Ji’s death. He mistook J.P.Saunders as Scott and killed him instead. He fled to Lahore and to hide his identity, he shaved his beard and cut his hair, against the tenets of Sikhism. After the formulation of Defence of India Act, he and his party members conspired to explode bombs inside the assembly premises. He along with Batukeshwar Dutt threw a bomb in the corridors of the assembly and shouted ‘Inquilab Zindabad’.

Bhagat Singh along with Rajguru and Sukhdev was charged with the murder. Singh was asked to tender apology but he refused and made strong statements against the British rule. Bhagat Singh was finally sentenced to death and was hanged in Lahore on March 23, 1931. He was regarded as a Shaheed (Martyr) by his supporters and followers. Indian film industry has made several wonderful films based on the eventful life of Bhagat Singh.

Mahatma Gandhi& Jawaharlal Nehru
Today as we freely move around in our country without anyone questioning or imposing any kinds of restrictions on us we feel satisfied and contended. But this satisfaction is due to the efforts taken by our freedom fighters to free our country from the British rule. Its because of our freedom fighters that today we are enjoying are freedom. Their satyagrahas, sacrifices, and tortures have resulted in the freedom that we enjoy today in our motherland India. Jawaharlal Nehru is one of the most important people in the list of Indian freedom fighters. After independence, Jawaharlal Nehru became the first prime minister of free India. He was also the author of the famous book “panchsheela” Nehru was extremely fond of children. They simply loved and adored him. With his death, India lost a peerless leader of outstanding merits, rare gifts and great qualities of head and heart.

Mahatma Gandhi – the leader of all Indian leaders was born at porbander in Gujarat on 2nd October. He gave the people the weapon of non-violent struggle to fight injustice. He won freedom for India on 15th august 1947. He died on 30th January 1948. He is rightly known as the father of the nation. His full name was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. His father was a dewan of a princely state and his mother, a god fearing pious lady. Gandhiji is respected all over the world today. He shall never be forgotten.

Another famous Indian freedom fighter is Bal Gangadhar Tilak (Lokmanya Tilak) who was born in ratnagiri, a port in Maharashtra. His father was a teacher and a scholar. He was a brave boy and always fought for freedom, swarajya and self-rule. He also started two newspapers “Maratha” and “Kesari” due to which he was sent into prison. He wanted to spread the message of swarajya through his newspaper. He said, “swaraj is my birth right and I shall have it”. He died on 1st august. People loved him and accepted him as their leaders and so he was called Lokmanya Tilak.

Who could forget Acharya Vinoba Bhave when reminded of freedom fighters? He was born on 11th September 1895 in raigad district. His mothers name was rukmini and his fathers name was narhari bhave. He knew 22 languages. He died on 15th November at the age of 87 that was a great loss to the nation.

Annie Besant
“So long as I can serve India, I shall continue to do so. I love the Indian people as I love none other”, so wrote Annie Besant, in her paper ‘New India’. Born of Irish parents in London on October 1, 1847, Annie Besant made India her home since the day in November, 1893, when she landed at Tuticorin in Tamilnadu. Mahatma Gandhi once said about her that she awakened India from her deep slumber.

Few women of her generation had done so much to change people’s minds, beliefs, and attitudes. Till her 46th year when she came to India, Dr. Besant passed through several phases of life including, housewife, and propagator of atheism, trade unionist, feminist leader and Fabian socialist. By 1889, there was scarcely any modern reform in England for which she had not written, spoken, worked, and suffered. In 1908 Annie Besant became President of the Theosophical Society and began to steer the society away from Buddhism and towards Hinduism.

Once in India she totally involved herself with the country’s problem. With the theosophical society at Adyar in Madras (now Chennai) as her headquarters, she worked with tireless zeal for the freedom of the country. She named her movement ‘Home Rule’. She started a paper called ‘New India’ for carrying on her furious agendas. She attended for the first time the 1914 session of the Indian national congress and later on became its first woman president in 1917. In the meantime she launched the home rule league but failed to get the support of Balgangadher Tilak who has also started his own home rule league. She was opposed to the Satyagraha movement of Gandhiji as she was a constitutionalist.

Dr. Besant was associated with the scouts, movement from 1917 and the women’s Indian association from the same year. She started many educational institutions including the national college at Madanappalli and Hindu college at Banaras. She delivered the kamala lectures of the Calcutta University in 1925.

“She tried to follow truth”, she wanted these words to be her epitaph. With her passing away on September 21, 1933 the life of a great political leader, a social reformer and a standard- bearer of Indian culture came to an end.

Rani Lakshmibai
If we have to name one freedom fighter who was an epitome of courage and bravery then it must be Rani Lakshmibai. She was a leading warrior who left an indelible mark on the history of Indian freedom movement. Rani Lakshmibai was an inspiration for following women freedom fighters. She successfully redefined the role of women in Indian society. A symbol of generosity, patriotism, resistance, perseverance and self-respect, Rani Lakshmibai sacrificed her life on the altar of Indian freedom struggle. British rulers feared her and Indians revered her valour. She was also known as ‘Rani Lakshmi Bai or Rani of Jhansi’.

Rani Laxmibai was born on November 19, 1828 in a high class Brahmin family. Her initial name was Manikarnika or Manu as her family members affectionately used to call her. Along with her formal education, she also took training in adventurous skills like horse riding, fencing and shooting. At the age of 16, she got married to the Maharaja of Jhansi, Raja Gangadhar Rao. Rani Lakshmi Bai gave birth to a child who unfortunately did not survive for long. Soon, Raja Gangadhar Rao fell sick and they decided to adopt Damodar Rao as their son. But the king did not survive for long and died on November 21, 1853. It shows the courage of Rani that she survived so many deaths at such a young age. Yet, she kept going and gradually took over all the responsibilities.

As soon as the Raja Gangadhar Rao died, the British Governor General Lord Dalhousie planned to take over Jhansi on the pretext that it did not have any legal heir. Damodar Rao, the adopted son was not considered as the legal heir of Jhansi and that set the ball rolling. Rani was asked to leave the fort and settle somewhere else. Rani Lakshmibai refused to surrender to British and called for an armed forces battle. She formed an army that had men warrior as well as women who were provided military training. During the battle in March 1858, she fought bravely for the Jhansi but finally British prevailed. She moved to Gwalior and Kalpi where she met Tantya Tope. But her battle did not last long and she lost her life in the battle of Gwalior. She breathed her last on June 18, 1958. The story of Rani Lakshmibai inspired generations of freedom fighters.

Bhikaji Cama
Bhikaji Cama is also known as Madam Cama and is considered as the mother of Indian revolution because of her contributions to Indian freedom struggle. Madam Cama holds an important place in the annals of Indian freedom movement. Her name symbolised courage, integrity and perseverance. Fearlessness was the hallmark of her personality. She gave it all so that India could secure its freedom. She was one of the initial freedom fighters. Born on September 24, 1861 in a rich Parsi family at Bombay, Bhikaji Cama received her formal education from Alexandra native Girl’s English Institution. She was a bright student and mastered many languages.

After her marriage to British lawyer Rustom Cama did not work as she had wanted, she devoted herself to various social activities and worked tirelessly for the upliftment of weaker sections of society. Madam Cama did great many socially relevant works and her contributions to Indian society have become a subject of legends. She was also a passionate nationalist. A turning point in her life came when Bombay Presidency was hit by deadly Plague in 1896. She rose to the occasion and devoted herself to the services of plague victims. Her involvement was so complete that she herself fell victim to this dreadful disease. Her condition deteriorated badly and she was advised to go to England for rest and further treatment. She reluctantly left for Britain in 1902. Even in an alien land, Madam Cama worked for promoting India’s freedom struggle. She also worked as a private secretary to great Indian nationalist Dadabhai Navaroji. She learned a lot from the legend and that further made her resolver stronger to work for the welfare of the people.

Bhikaji Cama soon became very popular in Britain. The rulers became so scared of her effects on people that they planned her assassination but she survived that and escaped to France. Her efforts did not slow down in France and in fact, she became a leading inspiration for revolutionaries. She sheltered several freedom fighters and kept sending help in form of cash and materials across the sea. British came to know of her movements and asked French Government for her extradition but France refused. Madam Cama is also credited with designing India’s first tricolour flag with green, saffron and red stripes bearing the immortal words – Vande Matram. After fighting tirelessly for India’s freedom struggle on foreign land for several years, she came back to India and left for heavenly abode on August 13, 1936.

Mangal Pandey
Mangal Pandey literally fuelled the fire of Indian freedom struggle. He gave rise to armed revolution against the British rule. His biggest contributions to Indian freedom struggle is that he gave belief to fellow fighters that British can be revolted against and they can be defeated as well. He led the first mass movement against the cruel British rulers. Not much is known about the childhood of Mangal Pandey. According to historians he was born on July 19, 1827 in the Nagwa village in the Ballia district of Uttar Pradesh. Though, this fact is often debated by the historians for its authenticity. Mangal Pandey was a sepoy working under the British East India Company. He instigated the famous Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 which is also referred to as the India’s First War of Independence. Mangal Pandey was an extremely courageous revolutionary who fought for a cause. The main cause of the mutiny was the rumour that cartridges used by Indian sepoys were greased with the fat of pig and cow. This led to turbulence in religious belief of Hindu and Muslims sepoys. Mangal Pandey could not stand the injustice and attacked his senior British officers.

Till the date, the history books refer Mangal pandey as Shaheed Mangal Pandey. The word Shaheed is basically an Urdu word meaning martyr. He was a member of the 34th Regiment of the Bengal native infantry of the East India Company. He woke up the Indian masses to fight for the nation and against the injustice caused by British army. Mangal Pandey was a devout Hindu. The cartridges as rumoured were greased with tallow and lard. The sepoys were asked to bite off these cartridges to remove the cover prior to use. This affected the religious sentiments of Hindus and Muslims alike. On the other hand, it was believed that British officers had made this greasing mandatory in order to hurt the religious sentiments. Mangal Pandey could not stand this and fired the first salvo of revolution.

Mangal pandey attacked the British Sergeant on the parade ground. The native soldiers stood beside his actions. But soon, he was captured by the British army and sentenced to death on April 8, 1857. However, Mangal pandey ensured that Indians kept the flame of freedom struggle alive.

Lal Bahadur Shastri
Born on October 2, 1904, Lal Bahadur Shastri was the son of Sharada Prasad Shrivastava and Ramdulari Devi. His birth place was Mughalsarai in Uttar Pradesh. His father was a teacher and a man of integrity and honesty. The fact that, Lal Bahadur Shastri dropped his surname ‘Shrivastava’ as a symbolic gesture of protest against the prevailing caste system, says a lot about his beliefs and principles. Interestingly, the surname ‘Shastri’ was given to him as an award when he completed his graduation from kasha Vidyapeeth, Varanasi. The title ‘Shastri’ means a scholar. Shastri Ji lost his father when he was just one. His mother took care of Lal Bahadur and his two sisters.

Lal Bahadur Shastri’s foray into Indian freedom happened because of his fascination for inspiring stories and speeches of the national leaders. He was an avid reader and used to read books by Karl Marx and Lenin etc. This influenced his life in a major way and he decided to join the Indian Nationalist movement. He actively participated in Non-Cooperation Movement and was arrested for it. But the authorities had to release him because he was a minor. Later on, he joined the Congress party and became the president of Allahabad congress committee.

In the meantime, he got married to Lalita Devi without accepting anything in dowry and presented an example to the society. Lal Bahadur Shastri was a man of honour and honesty. He played a very active role in Salt movement and for that he spent nine years in prison. He made a valuable contribution to Quit India Movement. After the independence of India, he served in various positions. Initially, he was a member of Uttar Pradesh state cabinet. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru invited Lal Bahadur Shastri to join the Union Cabinet and he was assigned the crucial portfolio of Railways. After a train accident where more than 150 people lost their lives, he offered his resignation accepting the moral responsibility for the incident. That shows his ethics and morality.

He served in several cabinet positions before succeeding Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru as India’s second Prime Minister. He aptly handled crucial issues like food shortage, unemployment and poverty. He was instrumental in initiating “Green Revolution” and “White Revolution”. Lal Bahadur Shastri showed exemplary courage and decision making skills when Pakistan attacked India during his tenure. He had said, “Force will be met with force” and crushed Pakistan comprehensively. After the war, he had gone to USSR to sign the Tashkent Declaration where he breathed his last. Lal Bahadur Shastri was the first person to be posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna.

Sarojini Naidu
Sarojini Naidu was one of the front rank leaders of the freedom struggle. She knew no fear as a person and as a patriot. Presiding over the 41st session of the Indian National Congress, she had said that, “in the battle for liberty, fear is the one unforgivable treachery and despair, the one unforgivable sin”. That one statement tells us a lot about one of the most reputed women leader of Indian freedom struggle.

Born to Aghornath Chattopadhyaya and Barada Sundari Devi in Hyderabad on February 13, 1879, Sarojini matriculated with distinction at an early age of 12. She continued her education in England, at the King’s college, London and Girton College, Cambridge. Before she could complete her education, she returned to India to married the person she loved. The chance encounter with Gopal Krishna Gokhale in Calcutta changed her life forever. Initially she joined Annie Besant’s Home Rule League and later joined the congress. By 1919 she had emerged as a strong political leader in her own right. Leaders across the political spectrum used to look at her with respect and awe.

Sarojini Naidu met Gandhiji in London in 1914. After returning from London she went round the country lecturing on welfare of youth, dignity of labour, women’s emancipation and nationalism. She presided over the Indian National Congress in 1925 and courted imprisonment during the salt Satyagraha in 1930. She was jailed again in 1942 when the Quit India movement was launched. She presided over the Asian Relations Conference in1947 and made one of her most memorable speeches.

Sarojini Naidu was also a wonderful poetess. As a poetess, she belonged to the romantic school. Her poems appeared in four collections, ‘The Golden Threshold’, The bird of Time, The Broken Wing, all collected under the title ”The Sceptred Flute”, and The Feather of Dawn. She was indeed a poet of freedom, love, and beauty. She was multilingual and she was equally proficient in Persian, Urdu, English, Bengali and Telugu.

After independence, Sarojini Naidu was made the Governor of Utter Pradesh. It was a well thought decision. But soon, she passed away suddenly on March 2, 1949 at the age of 70.

Chandrasekhar Azad
Chandrasekhar Azad was one of the most famous Indian revolutionaries. He was a firebrand revolutionary who terrorised British with his bravery and guerrilla tactics. Chandrasekhar Azad was a contemporary to another fierce warrior, Bhagat Singh. Azad, as he was fondly known among his fellow freedom fighters, inspired generations of young Indians to fight for country’s independence. He was a crucial cog in the wheel of national movement for freedom. Chandrasekhar Azad was born to Pandit Sita Ram Tiwari and Jagrani Devi on July 23, 1906 in Badarka (Unnao). Chandrasekhar Tiwari was his original name.

After receiving his early education in Bhavra District in Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh, Chandrasekhar Azad went to the Sanskrit Pathashala at Varanasi for further studies. The turning point in his life came during the Jalianwalabagh massacre in Amritsar in 1919. This incident left him shell-shocked and filled his heart with anger and hatred for English rulers. His first foray into the revolutionary activities took place when he was merely 15 years of age. He also participated in Non-Cooperation Movement for which he was sentenced to whiplashes by the court. There is an interesting anecdote of how he came to own ‘Azad’ as his surname.

When he was caught by British police and was presented to magistrate, he was asked his name. In response, he said ‘Azad’ meaning independence. Since that day, Chandrashekhar assumed the title of Azad and was known as Chandrashekhar Azad. Withdrawal of Non-Cooperation movement by Mahatma Gandhi alienated Azad and Bhagat Singh from Gandhi Ji’s policies and they decided to follow armed revolutionary way. He was fascinated by violent revolutionary ideals and means. Chandrasekhar Azad carried out several attacks on British officials including the famous Kakori Train Robbery in 1926 and assassination of J.P Saunders in 1928.

Azad became the most wanted freedom fighter for British police but he kept evading them. Such as his terror that British police wanted him dead or alive. One unfortunate day, Azad was betrayed by a close associate of his and was surrounded by heavily armed British officials at Alfred Park, Allahabad. He was asked to surrender but he kept fighting courageously and killed three policemen. But his ammunition soon got exhausted and he shot himself in the head with his last bullet. He preferred to die than being caught by the British.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak

Patriot and scholar, Bal Gangadhar Tilak knew no religion but believed in the unity of the country. His life was a saga of suffering and sacrifice for the sake of his country. He knew no respite from the lifelong battle he waged against the foreign ruler. He had famously declared, “Swaraj is my birth-right and I will have it”. This one statement had a ripple effect on the collective subconscious of Indian people.

Lokmanya Tilak was born on July 23, 1856 in Ratnagiri. He was the son of Gangadhar Pant and Parvatibai. ‘Bal’ was the loving name given to him by his mother that remained with him. He had his early education at Poona (Pune) city school and then, Deccan College. He also received the L.L.B. degree in 1879. In the meantime, he got married to Tapibaiin in 1871.

Tilak’s public life began as a teacher at New English School, Pune. The school was started by himself along with Vishnu Shastri. Lokmanya Tilak soon turned to Journalism and in 1881 started the English weekly Mahratta and Marathi weekly Kesari which he edited jointly with Agarkar. He was extremely proficient in subjects like religion, law and politics. His open and direct writing did not go down well with British authorities who sentenced him to a jail term on charge of defamation.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak started an arts college following the formation of Deccan Education society in 1885. Tilak attended the Bombay session of the Congress in 1889 as a representative of Pune. It was at this session that the trio, Lokmanya Tilak, Lajpat Rai, and B.C.Pal, popularly known as trio of Lal-Bal-Pal met. He attended the subsequent sessions of the Congress until the split between the moderates and extremists at the Surat session took place in 1907. Meanwhile he was also elected to the Bombay legislative Council in 1885 and 1887.

Tilak was arrested for sedition again, the main charge being that he attempted to excite feelings of disaffection to the government established by law in British India. He was sent to Mandalay jail in Burma, where he wrote his immortal commentary ‘Gita Rahasya’ on the Bhagvad Gita. In 1916, he started Home Rule League, which sought self rule. He also wrote ‘Arctic Home in the Vedas’ in 1903.

Lokmanya Tilak is credited to popularize Ganesha worship and Shivaji Jayanti as a social festival to unite the countrymen. He opposed the Age Of Consent Bill, terming it an act of interference with the Hinduism although he personally was against the child marriage. Tilak left for London to fight his case against Sir Valentine Chirol for defamation in his book ‘Indian Unrest’.

Tilak was chosen for the Presidentship of Congress in 1920. On July 28, 1920, Gandhiji announced the launching of the non-cooperation movement. On the same day the movement was to begin, Tilak passed away after a severe attack of Malaria. Among the bearers of the bier that carried this great son of India in his final journey, were Gandhiji, Maulana Shaukat Ali and Dr. Kitchlew.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad

Dr. Rajendra Prasad has the unique distinction of being the first President of independent India. He played a very influential role in the freedom struggle of India. Dr. Rajendra Prasad was one of the foremost disciples of Mahatma Gandhi. His contribution as a freedom fighter and as a president was truly remarkable. Born on December 3, 1884 in the Ziradei village in the Siwan district of Bihar, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was a brilliant student throughout his academic career. He was born to Mahadev Sahay and Kamleshwari Devi. His father was a Sanskrit and Persian language scholar. Dr. Prasad was very attached to his elder brother Mahendra Prasad.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad’s first brush of education came under the guidance of a Maulavi. He learned Persian, Hindi and arithmetic. Right from his childhood, Dr. Prasad was a bright student. He topped in the matriculation examination and later on joined prestigious Presidency College in Calcutta. There also, he continued his excellent academic performance and completed his M.A and Masters in Law. In the meantime, his brother introduced him to the Swadeshi movement that proved to be a life-altering moment for him.

As he delved deeper into the freedom movements, he came into the contact of Mahatma Gandhi. Thereafter, Dr. Rajendra Prasad had just one dream and that was of seeing an independent India. He devoted himself to the services of the nation and considered Gandhi Ji as his political and spiritual guru. Rajendra Prasad was man of courage, dedication, conviction and utmost sincerity. His name symbolised honesty and modesty. He was an active participant in crucial freedom movements like Non Cooperation Movement, Salt Satyagraha and Champaran Agrarian Agitation. Dr. Rajendra Prasad is still remembered for his legendary contribution in raising funds for earthquake victims in 1934.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected congress president several times. Once the British left the country, he was unanimously elected as the President of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the Constitution. In 1950, he was elected as the first President of the Republic of India. Dr. Rajendra Prasad served the country for twelve years. He relinquished the post in 1962. He was also honoured with the nation’s highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna. Dr. Prasad breathed his last on February 28, 1963.

Subhas Chandra Bose

Subhas Chandra Bose was one of the most fearsome names among the British Rulers in pre-independence India. A legend and a great freedom fighter, Subhas Chandra Bose was popularly known as ‘Neta Ji (respected leader)’ because of his leadership qualities and almost religious devotion to India’s freedom struggle. Neta Ji’s entire life is punctuated with great deeds and exceptional freedom endeavours. Born on January 23, 1897 in Cuttack, Orissa, Neta Ji Subhas Chandra Bose was the ninth child of a famous lawyer Janaki Nath Bose and Prabhavati Devi. He was a brilliant student right from his childhood. He was a topper in the Matriculation examination from Calcutta province and graduated with First class. Later on, he went to England in 1919 and appeared for prestigious Indian Civil Service Examination and achieved fourth place on merit. But Jalianwalla massacre affected him deeply and he left his Civil services apprenticeship midway.

Neta ji came back to India in 1921 with a resolve to throw the British out of the country. He joined Indian National Congress and expressed his desire to serve the nation to Mahatma Gandhi. On instructions of Gandhi Ji, he joined Deshbandhu Chittaranjan das in Calcutta. He considered Deshbandhu as his political guru. Soon enough, Subhas Chandra Bose started to show his leadership skills and became a vital part of Congress party. He was an active participant in Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930 and was sent to prison for his participation. After the suspension of the movement, he was released from the prison.

Neta Ji Subhas Chandra Bose was not convinced with Mahatma Gandhi’s method of achieving independence. He firmly believed that only way to attain independence was through armed revolution and by shedding blood. He formed his own party, Independence League and later on Forward Bloc. He quit Congress in protest to liberal policies of the party and started his own movement. Neta Ji was imprisoned several times because of his various revolutionary activities.

Life of Subash Chandra Bose was truly eventful. He approached Hitler for help against the British. Neta Ji organised Indian National Army and sought the help of Japan for military assistance. He famously said, “Tum mujhe khoon do, mein tumhe azadi dunga” (Give me your blood and I will give you freedom). He hosted the Indian National Flag in Kohima, Assam and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. But the defeat of Japan and Germany in Second World War forced Indian National Army to retreat. According to official details, Subash Chandra Bose was killed in a plane crash over Taiwan while flying to Tokyo on August 17, 1945 but not much information could be found about him afterwards.

Indira Gandhi

Indira Gandhi played a major role in defining the destiny of India. She was one of strongest women leaders of last century. Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister of India, and daughter of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Born on November 19, 1917 in Allahabad, she was also known as Indira Nehru Gandhi. She was born in a family of freedom fighters. Her father Jawaharlal Nehru was the first prime ministers of India and we all know how important a role he played in the freedom movement of India. Her grandfather Motilal Nehru was a legend in his own rights. Her childhood was greatly influenced by political movements taking place in his household. Indira Gandhi completed her study at a series of Indian schools and at non-British schools in Europe. Her education experience involved, Pune University, Shantiniketan formed by Rabindranath Tagore and prestigious Oxford University. She also had a number of private tutorials.

Indira Gandhi returned to India in 1941. Because of her strong family lineage, she was also expected to join politics and make a name for herself like her father and grandfather did. Her exposure to politics since childhood made a big difference in the way she perceived and learned the nitty-gritty of politics. Indira Gandhi was hugely influenced by life and works of Mahatma Gandhi who was a frequent visitor to her house. She married to Feroz Gandhi and gave birth to two sons named, Rajiv Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi.

Indira Gandhi was very close to his father. The bond between them further strengthened during the time Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru spent in prison. He exchanged letters with his daughter that made her aware of the current political condition of the country. The letters also helped her in developing perspective and vision about her country. Indira Gandhi actively participated in Quit India Movement in 1942 for which she was imprisoned.

Indira Gandhi was the third Prime Minister of independent India. She also became the first woman Prime Minister of the country. She was a lady with strong will power and tremendous self-belief. She ruled India for 16 years and her tenure at the top ensured India never lacked in courage and developmental policies. Indira Gandhi showed her true mettle during the Indo-Pak war in 1971. She was truly an Iron lady. Indira Gandhi was assassinated on October 31, 1984.

Lala Lajpat Rai

Lala Lajpat Rai was born on January 28, 1865. He was fondly known as Lala ji among the people. Lala Lajpat Rai was one of the foremost freedom fighters in India. Born in village Dhudike in the present day Moga district of Punjab, Lala ji was designated the title of Punjab Kesari (Lion of the Punjab) which tells a lot about his contributions and efforts in the Indian freedom struggle. Born in a family of traders, he inherited strong moral and ethical values from his loving parents. His first brush with the freedom struggle occurred during the time when he joined the Government College at Lahore to study Law. He came in contact with people like Lala Hans Raj and Pandit Guru Dutt who had revolutionary thoughts about the freedom movement taking place in the country at that time.

Lala Lajpat Rai soon joined the ‘Arya Samaj’ founded by legendary figure, Swami Daya Nand Saraswati. After the completion of his law course, he started to practice law and at the same time, was active in congress activities. Lala ji was a part of famous trio of Lal-Bal-Pal who were considered as the three most prominent Hindi Nationalist members of that era. The other two members were Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal. Actually, these three important members of the congress party represented aggressive side of the freedom movement.

Lala Lajpat Rai was a staunch believer of ‘Swadeshi’. He campaigned aggressively against the partition of Bengal. British government put him in prison for six months in 1907 for his aggressive campaign. He was a strong believer of organizing propaganda in foreign countries against the British rule. He travelled to Britain and USA for this purpose but got stuck during the First World War. He also wrote a book called ‘young India’ in which Lala Ji had vehemently attacked the British rule. The book was banned even before its release. He also established Indian Home League Society of America.

After his return to India in 1920, he admirably led the protest against British rule for Jalianwala Bagh Massacre. Lala Lajpat Rai used to differ with Gandhi ji’s suspension of Non-Cooperation Movement. He formed his own party named Congress Independence Party. When British government decided to send Simon Commission to India for constitutional reforms, he led the protest against the committee because it had no Indian members. During the protest rally, brutal lathicharge was ordered by the authorities in which Lala ji suffered fatal head injuries and finally he succumbed to it on November17, 1928.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is popularly known as a ‘Man of Steel’ and ‘Iron Man of India’ because of his great deeds and contributions to the Indian freedom struggle and independent India. Truly a man of substance, Sardar patel was born on October 31, 1875 at Nadiad, Gujarat. His father, Jhaverbhai was a farmer and mother Laad Bai was a housewife. The early education of Sardar Vallabhai took place in Karamsad and he completed his high school in 1896. A brilliant student throughout his academic life, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel went on to become a lawyer and started legal practice in Godhra, Gujarat. He went to England for further studies and came back to India in 1913. Vallabhbhai Patel soon established his name as a top notch lawyer but destiny had some other things planned for him.

Sardar Patel got heavily influenced by the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi. Soon the call of the nation made him join the freedom struggle. His works started with peasant movement in Kheda, Bardoli and other parts of Gujarat. He was also an active participant in the non-violent Civil Disobedience Movement against the payment of raised taxes. Government had to surrender to this revolt and since then he was known as the Sardar Patel. His involvement in the freedom movement saw him participating in Salt Satyagraha in Nagpur and Quit India Movement in 1942. Vallabhbhai Patel was also elected as the President of Indian National Congress in the year 1931.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel made historical contribution of gigantic proportions in post-independent India. After India was declared an independent country, he was appointed as the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Home Ministry in free India. During the time of freedom, India was divided into 565 princely states with their own Nawabs, Maharajas and rulers. Many of them wanted to become independent rulers and the task of uniting a divided India fell back on Sardar Patel’s battle hardened shoulders. He managed to convince majority of the rulers about the potential pitfalls and problems in case they try to act as sovereign rulers. He invoked the patriotism of India’s monarchs and ultimately managed to persuade almost all of them barring few exceptions. He also tackled the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Nawab of Junagarh who initially did not want to join India. The successful completion of this task got him great respect from all classes of Indian population. Sardar Patel died of cardiac arrest on December 15, 1950. Vallabhbhai Patel was conferred with Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1991 for his great services to the nation.

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