Today, we are independent because of the leaders of the Indian independence movement. Therefore their contribution can never be forgotten. These 17 leaders contributed a lot in Indian independence. So let’s go about them–
Allan Octavian Hume (1829-1912)
A retired English member of the Indian Civil Services who sympathised with the Indian cause and propagated the ideals of the Congress in Britain. He founded the Indian National Congress in 1885 and was its first General Secretary.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856-1920)
An aggressive freedom fighter is popularly known as ‘The Father of Indian Unrest’. His political career began in 1896 during the famine in the Deccan. His followers along with him preached the relevant sections of the Famine Relief Code and motivated the people to be bold and fearless in demanding their rights. He was the first Indian leader to give the slogan “Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it”. He is the author of Gita-Rahasaya through which he taught the people to fight against oppression and unrighteousness. He started two well-known newspapers: Kesari (Marathi) and Maratha (English) to rouse national sentiments. The three leaders: Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal are known in the history of Indian freedom movement as ‘Lal, Bal, Pal’.
Bipin Chandra Pal (1858-1932)
One of the extremist leaders of the freedom struggle and an ardent supporter of the boycott of foreign goods, the Swadeshi movement and national education. He did not believe in Dominion Status and wanted full-fledged independence. Achieved national stature after the partition of Bengal. In the 1907 Surat Congress session, he fought for Tilak’s candidature for presidentship.
Dadabhai Naoroji (1824-1917)
Also known as the ‘Grand Old Man of India’, he was a prominent Congress leader and worked for Swaraj in England which was the centre of his political activities. He was the first Indian to be elected member of the House of Commons from a London county. He authored Poverty and Un-British Rule in India.
Surendranath Bannerji (1848-1925)
He entered the Indian Civil Services in 1869 but was dismissed for a minor irregularity. He then established the Rippon College of which he remained the Principal for several years. Surendranath Bannerji started a daily newspaper ‘Bengal’ which was published in English. He was the president of Indian National Congress twice (1895 and 1902).
Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866-1915)
Started as a maths teacher and rose to the position of Principal of the well-known Ferguson College, Pune. He played a commendable role in the Imperial Legislative Council of which he was a member in 1902. He founded ‘The Servants of India Society’ and served as President of the Indian National Congress in 1907.
Ms. Annie Besant (1847-1933)
Also known as the ‘Grand Old Lady of Indian Nationalism’. She became a member of the Theosophical Society in 1889 and became its President in 1907. She settled in India and worked for the social upliftment of the people. Ms. Annie Besant joined the Congress and in 1916 inaugurated the All India ‘Home Rule League’ in Madras. She played a prominent role in uniting militant and moderate leaders at the Congress session in Lucknow in 1920. Later she left the Congress but continued to serve India. She translated the Bhagavad Gita into English.
Lala Lajpat Rai (1865-1928)
A dedicated social worker educationist, he joined the Indian National Congress in 1888. He supported the extremist leaders in the 1907 Congress split-along with Tilak. Lal Lajpat Rai started and edited a newspaper Young India, presided over the 1920 Congress Session and became a member of the Indian Legislative Assembly in 1923. In 1920 he led the non-cooperation movement in Punjab and was sent to jail. On a visit to Lahore on October 30, 1928, he suffered severe lathi blows in a police attack and later died of injuries. He is also called ‘Sher-e-Punjab’ and ‘Punjab Kesri’.
C. R. Das (1870-1925)
Also known as ‘Deshbandhu’, a lawyer in the Calcutta Bar he entered politics in 1920. He presided over the Gaya Congress session and along with Motilal Nehru and Hakim Ajmal Khan launched the ‘Swaraj Party’ in 1923.
Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (1861-1946)
He joined the Congress in 1886 and was twice elected President of the Indian National Congress. He represented the Hindu community at the Round Table Conference and founded the Nationalist Party to protect rights of the Hindu community.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)
Known as ‘Father of the Nation’ and ‘Bapu’, he was a true believer of non-violence. He led the Indian National Movement from 1920 to 1947. He worked for Hindu-Muslim unity but was assassinated in 1948.
Subhash Chandra Bose (1897)
Also known as ‘Netaji’, he resigned from the Indian Civil Service in 1921 and supported the non-cooperation movement led by Gandhiji. He was elected president of the Congress in 1938 but left the Congress in 1939 and formed the ‘Forward Black’ party. Subhash Chandra Bose was arrested during World War II but escaped from India and went to Japan where he formed the Indian National Army (INA) to fight the British but was unsuccessful due to Japan’s surrender after the war. It was Netaji’s wish to unfurl the national-flag at the Red Fort in Delhi. It is thus in his remembrance that the National Flag is unfurled every year at Red Fort on August 15. He also gave the slogan ‘Jai Hind’ to the nation. He is believed to have died in an air-crash in 1945.
Motilal Nehru (1861-1931)
A national leader of the Gandhian era; a noted lawyer of the Allahabad High Court, Motilal Nehru joined the Home Rule League in 1917 and was elected president of the Indian National Congress in 1930. He founded the Swaraj Party and donated his palatial house ‘Anand Bhawan’ (later known as Swaraj Bhawan) to the Congress.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (1875-1950)
Also known as the ‘Iron Man of India’ Sardar Patel was Home Minister in independent India’s cabinet during which time he worked tirelessly for the integration of the Indian princely states.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (1888-1958)
A great national leader who believed in communal harmony, he was elected President of the Indian National Congress in 1923 and was a close associate of Gandhiji. He remained Union Minister of Education from January 1947 till his death on February 22,1958.
Dr Rajendra Prasad (1884-1963)
Joined the Congress in 1911. He also edited a Hindi weekly called Desh. He is said to have changed the whole base of Indian politics after the 1920 Nagpur session of the Congress by deciding to involve the masses in the freedom movement. He remained Food and Agriculture Minister in the interim ministry and was elected President of the Constituent Assembly in 1947. He later took over as President of India between 1952 and 1962.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964)
A leading member of the Indian National Congress. As Congress President at the 1929 Lahore Session he declared that complete independence was the aim of the Congress. Jawaharlal Nehru remained PM of India from 1947 till his death. He pronounced the doctrine of Panchsheel which is based on the ideology of peaceful co-existence and non-alignment. He authored Discovery of India and Glimpses of World History, among other books.