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Perunthalaivar Kamarajar

Perunthalaivar K. Kamaraj (15 July 1903 – 2 October 1975) was an Indian politician from Tamil Nadu widely acknowledged as the "Kingmaker" in Indian politics during the 1960s. He was the chief minister of Tamil Nadu during 1954-1963 and a Member of Parliament during 1952-1954 and 1969-1975. He was known for his simplicity and integrity.

He was involved in the Indian independence movement. As a high-ranking office bearer of the Indian National Congress, he was instrumental in bringing to power two Prime Ministers, Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1964 and Indira Gandhi in 1966. In Tamil Nadu, his home state, he is still remembered for bringing school education to millions of the rural poor by introducing free education and the free Midday Meal Scheme during his tenure as chief minister. He was awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, posthumously in 1976. The domestic terminal of the Chennai airport is named "Kamaraj Terminal", Chennai's Beach Road renamed "Kamarajar Salai", Bengaluru's North Parade Road as "K. Kamaraj Rd." and the Madurai Kamaraj University in his honour.

Kamaraj was born on 15 July 1903 to Kumarasamy Nadar and Sivakami Ammal at Virudhunagar in Tamil Nadu. His parents were from a trading family. His father Kumarasamy Nadar, was a coconut merchant. Kamaraj was initially enrolled in the Enadhy Nayanar Vidyalaya elementary school, and later in high school Kshatriya Vidyalaya. Kamaraj's father died when he was six years old and his mother was forced to support her family by selling her jewellery. In 1914, Kamaraj dropped out of school to support his family.

On 13 April 1954, K. Kamaraj became the Chief Minister of Madras Province. To everyone's surprise, Kamaraj nominated C. Subramaniam and M. Bhakthavatsalam, who had contested his leadership, to the newly formed cabinet. Never did Kamaraj aspire for any post in the party or in the administration. For him the posts were like a towel over the shoulder . Without any hesitation he chose to quit posts for the benefit of future generation .

 

Education

Kamaraj removed the family vocation based Hereditary Education Policy introduced by Rajaji. He reopened the 6000 schools closed by Rajaji government for financial reasons and also added 12000 more schools. The State made immense strides in education and trade. New schools were opened, so that poor rural students were to walk no more than 3 miles (4.8 km) to their nearest school. Better facilities were added to existing ones. No village remained without a primary school and no panchayat without a high school. Kamaraj strove to eradicate illiteracy by introducing free and compulsory education up to the eleventh standard. He introduced the Midday Meal Scheme to provide at least one meal per day to the lakhs of poor school children (first time in the world). He introduced free school uniforms to weed out caste, creed and class distinctions among young minds.

During British regime the education was only 7 percent. But in Kamaraj's period it was 37% . During Rajaji's period there were 12000 schools in the state. Whereas it was 27000 in the period of Kamaraj.

Kamaraj Statue in Marina Beach, Chennai depicting his contribution to education in the state.

Apart from increasing number of schools, steps were taken to improve standard of education. To improve the standards number of working day were increased from 180 to 200. Unnecessary holidays were reduced. Syllabus were prepared to give opportunity to various abilities.

Kamaraj and Sri Bishnuram Medhi (Governor) took efforts to start the IIT Madras in 1959.

 

Agriculture

Major irrigation schemes were planned in Kamaraj's period . Lower Bhavani, Mani Muthar, Cauvery Delta, Aarani River, Vaigai Dam, Amaravathi, Sathanur, Krishnagiri, Pullambadi, Parambikulam and Neyyaru Dams were among them . The Lower Bhavani Dam in Coimbatore district was constructed with an expenditure of Rs 10/- Crores. 207,000 acres (840 km2) of land are under cultivation.

45,000 acres (180 km2) of land are benefited through Mettur canal of Salem. Another scheme was Krishnagiri in the same district. Vaigai, Sathanur facilitate to cultivate thousands of acres of lands in Madurai and North Arcot districts respectively. Rs 30 crores were planned to spend for Parambikulam River scheme in Kamaraj's period. This has helped for the development of Coimbatore district in agriculture field.

In 1957-61 1,628 Tanks were de-silted under Small Irrigation Scheme 2000 wells were digged with outlets. Long term loans with 25% subsidy were given to farmers. Apart from farmers who are having dry lands were given oil engines, electric pump sets on installment basis.

150 lakhs of acres of lands were cultivated during Kamaraj's period. One third of this i.e. 56 lakhs of acres of land got permanent watering facility.

 

Industrial Development

Industries with huge investments in crores of Rupees were started in his period. Neyveli Lignite Scheme, Raw photo film industry at The Nilgiris, Surgical instruments factory at Guindy, Sugar factories, Bi-Carbonates factories, Cement factories, Railway Coach factory at Perambur, Mettur paper industry were started in the period of Kamaraj. These are the back-bone for the development of the nation.

 

Other

Many schemes were started to generate electricity like Kundah hydro power station, Ooty hydel power station and Neyveli thermal power station. During his period, Tamil Nadu was developing in all fronts.

Kamaraj remained Chief Minister for three consecutive terms, winning elections in 1957 and 1962. Kamaraj noticed that the Congress party was slowly losing its vigor. He came up with a plan which was called the "Kamaraj Plan".

On 2 October 1963, he resigned from the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Post. He proposed that all senior Congress leaders should resign from their posts and devote all their energy to the re-vitalization of the Congress.

In 1963 he suggested to Nehru that senior Congress leaders should leave ministerial posts to take up organisational work. This suggestion came to be known as the Kamaraj Plan, which was designed primarily to dispel from the minds of Congressmen the lure for power, creating in its place a dedicated attachment to the objectives and policies of the organisation. Kamaraj was elected President, Indian National Congress, on 9 October 1963.

Well impressed by the achievements and acumen of Kamraj, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru felt that his services were needed more at the national level. In a swift move he brought Kamaraj to Delhi as the President of the Indian National Congress. Nehru realised that if he had wide learning and vision, Kamaraj possessed enormous common sense and pragmatism.

Some of memorable events in Perunthalaivar Kamaraj Life

 

 

 

 

 

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