Rajendra Prasad

president of India from 1950 to 1962

Dr Rajendra Prasad (December 3, 1884February 28, 1963) was the first President of the Republic of India. An Indian political leader, lawyer by training, Prasad joined the Indian National Congress during the Indian independence movement and became a major leader from the region of Bihar.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad

Quotes edit

  • Rajendra Prasad has frankly exposed the double standards adopted by the critics of Swami Shraddhananda : “‘The Shuddhi movement of Swami Shraddhananda has come in for a great deal of criticism both from the nationalists and Mussalmans. Whatever one may have to say about its opportuneness as that particular moment, it is difficult to understand how Christians and Mussalmans can object to it on merits. They are constantly engaged in proselytising mission and converting Hindus to their own faiths. Ifthe Hindus on their side also start converting non-Hindus to their faith, it is no business of non-Hindus, specially if they are themselves engaged in the work of con- version, to object. The Hindus must have the same right of propagating their faith as others have.’’

1930s edit

  • In his reply to the above, dated 22 November, 1937, Dr. Rajendra Prasad wrote: “I entirely agree with you that no history is worth the name which suppresses or distorts facts. A historian who purposely does so under the impression that he thereby does good to his native country really harms it in the end. Much more so in the case of a country like ours which has suffered much on account of its national defects, and which must know and under- stand them to be able to remedy them.”
    • Quoted in R.C. Majumdar, The History and Culture of the Indian People, Vol. 7, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay, 1984,

1940s edit

  • Honourable Members...I ask you, Members, to stand in your places to pay our tribute of respect to Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who by his grim determination and stead fast devotion was able to carve out and found Pakistan and whose passing away at this moment is an irreparable loss to all.
    • Dr. Rajendra Prasad addressing the Constituent Assembly of India on Thursday, 4 November 1948. Constituent Assembly Debates, Book No. 2, Volume VII: 4 November 1948—8 January 1949: Lok Sabha Secretariat, 1999

1950s edit

  • Today, for the first time in our long and chequered history, we find the whole of this vast land... brought together under the jurisdiction of one constitution and one union which takes over responsibility for the welfare of more than 320 million men and women who inhabit it.
  • Today, with the weapons of mass destruction at man’s disposal, the human race itself is in imminent danger of being destroyed. It is a far cry from vegetarianism to atomic or hydrogen bomb, but if you look at it, there is no escape from vegetarianism ultimately if we want to escape from the hydrogen bomb. Any integrated view of life as a whole will reveal to us the connection between the individual’s food and his behaviour towards others, and through a process of ratiocination which is not fantastic, we cannot but arrive at the conclusion that the only means of escaping the hydrogen bomb is to escape the mentality which has produced it, and the only way to escape that mentality is to cultivate respect for all life, life in all forms, under all conditions. It is only another name for vegetarianism.
    • "Spiritualism, Morality and Eating Habits" (Inaugural speech at the International Vegetarian Congress at Bombay on November 9, 1957), in Speeches Of Dr. Rajendra Prasad, President Of India, 1957-58, p. 96.
  • Brothers and sisters, our religious books have mentioned Somnath Mandir as one of the twelve Jyotirlingas (the radiant representation of Lord Shiv). Hence, this temple happened to be the centre of religion, culture and wealth in ancient India and was known all around the world. However, although a centre of faith and worship can be demolished, its source can never wither away. And this is the reason why the flame of worship remained illuminated in the hearts of the Indian people despite the temple being vandalised. The dream of those people is now being met as the PRAN-PRATISTHA is being carried out in the presence of people who have come from different parts of the country. The Somnath temple stands today with its head held high proclaiming that one who is loved by the people, and for whom people carry faith and belief in their hearts can never be destroyed by anyone in this world. Come what may, this temple will stand erect till the time people carry faith for this temple in their heart. Today on this sacred and historic day, it is essential for us to understand this significant element of religion to understand further that there are many paths which can take one to the almighty. Unfortunately, this aspect of faith was not correctly recognised in many castes, cultures and communities which led to massive destructions and wars in the name of religion. History has taught us that religious intolerance only spreads hatred and disharmony. It is imperative for every person of this country to understand that we as a nation should always be tolerant of any caste, culture community or ideology and every religion should be properly respected. Keeping these objectives in mind, we have shaped our nation into a secular nation and have guaranteed equality to every religion of the country. On this holy day, we should learn from the PRAN-PRATISHTA of this Somnath Mandir, and all of us should vouch for the re-establishment of the dominance of India in terms of prosperity in the world. Our country was the industrial pioneer in ancient times, the products which were made here were exported all over the world. Our export was higher than the import, and thus India became a land of wealth. The gold and silver which are stored in the treasury of the developed nations were once stored in the temples of India. An example of which is the temple of Somnath. I think that this PRAN-PRATISHTA will only be completed on the day, we reclaim that dominance and do justice to the Somnath Mandir. Moreover, we should also strive to achieve the level of cultural brilliance which we had in the ancient times so that when people judge us by today's culture, they should know that we are still far better than them. Sardar Vallabhai Patel started this work of re-establishment. He played a vital role in uniting the fragmented states of India and wished in his heart that with that re-establishment, we should also re-establish this ancient heritage of India. God has fulfilled his dream today, but his vision will only be completed when India achieves the cultural glory which it had in the primitive era. LONG LIVE INDIA”
  • Apart from what I have said, I have been worried by your suggestion that I should send for you and speak to you if I have anything to communicate rather than write. I am afraid this will stultify me in performing my constitutional duty to bring to the notice of the Government any matter which I desire to communicate to it in the way I consider best. I am afraid it may well begin a convention regarding the method of communication which will embarrass not only me but also my successors. I hope you will not mind my frankly expressing this fear which has been weighing on my mind and is responsible for the delay in replying to your letter.
    • Letter to J. Nehru. 18th December 1959.  Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Correspondence and Select Documents, Volume 19, Valmiki Chaudhary, (ed.), Allied, New Delhi, 1993, pp. 172ff and in Arun Shourie - Self-Deception _ India's China Policies_ Origins, Premises, Lessons-Harper Collins (2013)

Presidents of India, 1950-2003 edit

There is no resting place for a nation or a people on their onward march.

In: Janak Raj Jai Presidents of India, 1950-2003, Daya Books, 1 January 2003

  • There is no resting place for a nation or a people on their onward march.
  • Our constitution is comparatively a new constitution. It is based largely on the model of the British Constitution. As such it has history if not ancestry, which may well go back to centuries. It is being worked I venture to presume, successfully and to the satisfaction of all concerned although within the short period of 10 years, it has had to undergo not less than 7 amendments...The constitution is largely founded on the British Constitution. There are certain differences which are obvious. The British Constitution is a unitary constitution in which the Parliament is supreme, having no other authority sharing its power of legislation except such as may be delegated. Our constitution is a federal constitution in which the powers and functions of the Union Parliament and the State Legislatures are clearly defined and the one has no power or right to encroach upon the rights and powers reserved to the other.
    • From his speech given on 28 November 1960 at laying the foundation-stone of the building of the Law Institute of India, in: p. 14
  • The Head of the State in the British Constitution is a Monarch and the Crown descends according to the rules of heredity. In India the Head of the State is an elected President who holds office for a term and can be removed for misconduct in accordance with the procedure laid down in the Constitution.
    • From his speech given on 28 November 1960 at laying the foundation-stone of the building of the Law Institute of India, in: p. 15
  • The executive power of the Union is vested in the President and shall be exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinate to him in accordance with the Constitution. The Supreme Command of the Defence forces of the Union is also vested in him and the exercise thereof shall be regulated by law.
    • From his speech given on 28 November 1960 at laying the foundation-stone of the building of the Law Institute of India, in: p. 15
  • We have got used to relying on precedents of England to such an extent that it seems almost sacrilegious to have a different interpretation even if our conditions and circumstances might seem to require a different interpretation.
    • From his speech given on 28 November 1960 at laying the foundation-stone of the building of the Law Institute of India, in: p. 16

About Rajendra Prasad edit

  • Nehru had advised Prasad against going to Somnath. He felt that this would be against the tenets of secularism.
    • Former Indian bureaucrat, Madhav Godbole writes in his book, “The God who failed : An assessment of Jawaharlal Nehru’s leadership
  • When it was announced that Rajendra Prasad was attending the inauguration of the Somnath Temple, Jawaharlal vehemently protested against his going to Somnath. But Rajendra Prasad kept his promise.
    • RNP Singh’s book – “Nehru, a troubled legacy,” on page 53.

Presidents of India, 1950-2003 edit

Janak Raj Jai Presidents of India, 1950-2003, Daya Books, 1 January 2003

  • He was the first President of India after country attained [[Indiasfreedom. He was considered the saint president of our country.
    • In: p. 1
  • He had a very rich background and belonged to a scholarly family.
    • In: p. 1
  • He had been an outstanding student throughout his academic career…the qualities of leadership were very much visible from his earlier career as a student, when he established the Bihar Students Conference, which kept on holding its activities until the beginning of the non-cooperation movement.
    • In: P.2
  • He got very good opportunity to groom himself in various fields, and that too with rare distinction. Right from the beginning the destiny had been preparing him slowly and steadily for the highest office of the President of the Indian Republic – which he genuinely deserved.
    • In: p. 1
  • Four years after his historic meeting with Mahatma Gandhi in 1916 at the historic Lucknow Session of the Indian National Congress, he left his legal practice, resigned from the Senate and Syndicate of the Patna University and joined the historic non-cooperation movement.
    • In: P.3
  • He organized the much talked about Salt Satyagraha in the state of Bihar.
    • In: p. 4
  • All through his political career he held coveted positions.
    • In: P.6
  • He was a versatile personality. He was a great thinker, a philosopher, and a political activist
    • In: p. 12
  • There is at least one man who would not hesitate to take a poison cup from my hands, he is Rajendra Prasad.
    • Mahatma Gandhi’s observations when he [Rajendra Prasad]] volunteered to voluntarily reduce his salary as President of India from Rs 10,000 to Rs 2500; was the first highest functionary of India to do so quoted in: p. 13
  • He [Rajan Babu] and Brij Kishore Babu were a matchless pair. Their devotion made it impossible for me to take a single step without their help.
  • He was a simple person, a soft spoken personality, with a reserved temperament. He summed up about his own life work himself 'from a lawyer I became a law breaker, and finally a law maker'.
    • In: p. 13
We often commit mistakes. Our steps falter, our tongues falter and slip and [but] he who had no occasion to withdraw what he once said or was undone what he once did. -Pandit Nehru.
  • We often commit mistakes. Our steps falter, our tongues falter and slip and [but] he who had no occasion to withdraw what he once said or was undone what he once did.
  • He is like an X-Ray plant
    • Comment of Sardar Patel at the Ramgarh Session of Congress in 1940 in: p. 13
  • He was simple living follower of Gandhi who spent many years in British jails fighting non-violently for Indians freedom. He had a big walrus like mustache and his magnificent face always seemed to be holding back a smile at the strange twist of history which took him from the British viceroy’s jail into the Viceroy’s own palace with the Viceroy’s own bodyguard. He was such a warm and unostentatious person that the great long halls and chambers must have seemed oppressive and unnatural.

First Citizen edit

Siddharth Gambhirwala in: First Citizen, Indiatogether.org

  • Gandhiji's influence greatly altered many of his views, most importantly on caste and untouchability. Gandhiji made him realize that the nation, working for a common cause, "became of one caste, namely co-workers"
  • Whenever the people suffered, he was present to help reduce the pain.
  • He called for non-cooperation in Bihar as part of Gandhiji's non-cooperation movement. He gave up his law practice and started a National College near Patna, in 1921, which was later shifted to Sadaqat Ashram on the banks of the Ganga. The non-cooperation movement in Bihar spread like wildfire as he toured the state, holding public meetings, collecting funds and galvanizing the nation for a complete boycott of all schools, colleges and Government offices. He urged the people to take to spinning and wear only khadi. Bihar and the entire nation was taken by storm, the people responded to the leaders' call. The machinery of the mighty British Raj was coming to a grinding halt
  • I feel assured in my mind that your personality will help to soothe the injured souls and bring peace and unity into an atmosphere of mistrust and chaos.
  • As the freedom struggle progressed, communalism steadily grew and to his dismay communal riots began spontaneously burst all over the nation and in Bihar. He rushed from one scene to another to control the riots, with Independence fast approaching, there was the prospect of partition. He had such fond memories of playing with his Hindu and Muslim friends in Zeradei, now he had the misfortune of witnessing the nation being ripped into two.
In July 1946, with the establishment of theConstituent_Assembly frame the Constitution of India, he was elected its President....
  • In July 1946, with the establishment of theConstituent_Assembly frame the Constitution of India, he was elected its President. Two and a half years after independence, on 26 January 1950, the Constitution of independent India was ratified. He was elected the nation's first President. He transformed the imperial splendor of Rashtrapati Bhavan into an elegant "Indian" home. He sought to establish and nourish new relationships. He stressed the need for peace in a nuclear age.
  • The most vital point on which the difference between the Prime Minister and the First President of India, came to surface in a very big way was the passage of Hindu Code Bill. Before the Hindu Code Bill was to be discussed in the Parliament he had made it clear to the Prime Minister Jawharlal Nehru, that he was not in favour of the Hindu Code Bill. He also told Nehru that the present cabinet had not been elected by the people; they had no right to pass the Hindu Code Bill without the consent of the people. There had been long correspondence between the President and the Prime Minister on this very vital point of grave public importance.
    • In: p. 16
    • After lot of exchange of letters with the political people concerned, the issue did not come up before the Parliament, in 1960, in p. 21

Dr. Rajendra Prasad: Correspondence and Select Documents : Presidency Period edit

Rajendra Prasad in :Dr. Rajendra Prasad: Correspondence and Select Documents : Presidency Period, Allied Publishers, 1 May 1992

  • It is a matter of genuine pleasure for us to know that during the period of incarceration in the jail your mind was directed towards enriching the literary wealth of the country. The Pathshala Press as you are aware is serving the cause of the Pathshala and the community. It has therefore its first claim on you, and I am confident you will honour us by allowing it the privilege of printing and publishing your works
    • P.Mohan in: p,3
  • The national government will be formed if not today some time later. You and other members of the Working Committee and Maulana Azad as its President and Mahatma Gandhi as controller have given the best possible lead and placed the country on a sound footing in every respect. The truth about the Congress position and the Muslim League claim has been made known not only to Britain but also to the whole world.

External links edit

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