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Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
1888 - 1975

 

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was the first Vice-President of India and the second President of India.

 

Early life:

Born on 5 September 1888 at Tiruttani in Tamil Nadu, he graduated in 1906 from the Madras Christian College at the age of 17 with a master's degree in Philosophy. He held various academic positions between 1909 and 1948 including Professor of Philosophy at the University of Mysore, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Calcutta, a lecturer at Harris Manchester College, Vice-Chancellor of Andhra University, Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at the University of Oxford, and Vice-Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University.

As a distinguished academic, his political career started in 1931 when he was nominated to the League of Nations Committee for Intellectual Cooperation.Radhakrishnan was not an active participant in the Freedom Movement; however, he was a firm defender of the Hindu culture against Western criticism for which he was dubbed as the “politician in shadow.”

 

Contribution to Constitution Making:

In the Constituent Assembly, he spoke against State institutions imparting denominational religious instruction as it was against the secular vision of the Indian State. He believed that a multi-religious State has a duty to be impartial and give uniform treatment to the different religions, and permitting religious instruction of a denominational kind by the State would be in volition of the first principle of the Constitution. He stressed the need for a distinction between those institutions which are maintained by the State and those which are merely aided by State funds.

 

Later Contributions:

He served as the ambassador of India at UNESCOfrom 1946 to 1952 and to the Soviet Union from 1949 to 1952. He became the Vice-President of India in 1952 and the President of India in 1962.He was also President of the UNESCO from 1952-54. From 1962 to 1967 Radhakrishnan was president of India.

 

Awards and Honours:

In 1931, he was knighted by George V for his services to education.He ceased to use that title after India attained independence.  He was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1954. His birthday in September is observed as 'Teachers' Day' as a tribute to his close association with the cause of teachers.

 

Writings:

His commentaries on the Prasthana Trayi, the Bhagavadgita, the Upanishads and Brahma Sutra are well known.His political writings have been collected and published as President Radhakrishnan's Speeches and Writings. The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore (1918), Indian Philosophy (1923), The Hindu View of Life (1926), Religion, Science & Culture (1968) are some of his best-known works.

 

Radhakrishnan died on April 17, 1975, in Madras, India. The Indian Government ordered a week-long state of mourning.