Ambedkar, B. R. (1891 – 1956): A leader of the depressed classes throughout his life, he worked for the moral and material progress of the untouchables. He was jurist by profession and equally a great social worker, politician, writer and educationist. He launched a number of movements for securing equal status for the lower castes. He was appointed the Law Minister in the Interim Government and also Chairman of the Constituent Assembly’s Drafting Committee.
Ansari, M.A. (1880 – 1936): Qualified as a physician, he organised the All India Medical Mission of Turkey in 1912-13. Later took a leading part in the Home Rule League agitation. Elected President, Muslim League in 1920. Participated in the Khilafat, the Home Rule and Non-Cooperation Movements. He was the founder of the Nationalist educational institution, Jamia Millia Islamia in 1920.
Azad, Chandra Shekhar (1906 – 31): One of the most famous revolutionaries from the present day Uttar Pradesh. He was arrested during Non-Co-operation movement, and was flogged for ridiculing the court during trial by declaring his name as Azad, his father as Swatantra and his home as prison. From this he became famous as Azad. He shot himself dead with the last bullet he had in his pistol, while fighting alone with the police.
Asaf Ali (1888 – 1953): Started his legal career at Delhi and later joined the Home Rule movement, in 1945, took up the Secretaryship of the INA Committee and he was India’s first Ambassador to Washington.
Badruddin Tyabji (1844 – 1906): First Indian barrister at Bombay High Court.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1857 – 1920): Remembered as Lokmanya, he played a leading part in popularising the cult of patriotism; first nationalist leader who sought close contact with the masses and he was also a forerunner of Gandhiji. He started akharas, lathi clubs, Shivaji and Ganapati festivals to inculcate among the people the spirit of service to the nation, the first congress leader to suffer several terms of imprisonment for the sake of the country. He openly declared, “Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it”.
Bhagat Singh (1907 – 1931): Born in a Sikh Jat family of Lyallpur district, joined the Hindustan Socialist Republician Army in 1925; in 1928 shot and killed Saunders to avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai who received injuries during the anti-Simon Commission agitation at Lahore. He was the main accused and received the death sentence; executed on 23 March, 1931.
Bhulabhai Desai (1877 – 1946): Established the Swadeshi Sabha for promoting the boycott of foreign goods. His last and perhaps the greatest contribution to the national cause was his brilliant defence of the INA prisoners in 1945.
Bipin Chandra Pal (1858 – 1932): Entered into the Brahmo Samaj and founded the English weekly, New India; initially follower of Surendranath in politics; founded Bande Mataram in 1906 and was imprisoned for refusing to give evidence in the Bande Mataram Sedition case in 1907.
Chakravati Rajagopalachari (1878 – 1972): Participated in the anti-Rowlatt Bill Satyagraha in 1919 and gave up his legal profession in 1920, to join the Non-Co-operation Movement; a chief organiser of the Congress in the South; involved a formula for the solution of Indian Constitutional tangle in 1944 and assisted Gandhiji in his negotiations with Jinnah, served the Interim Government as Minister for Industry, Supply, Education and Finance and then as the Governor of West Bengal. In 1948 succeeded Lord Mount Batten as the first Indian Governor General of the Indian Dominion till 26 January 1950 when India became a republic, between 1952 and 1954 Rajaji was the Chief Minister of Madras. Founded the Swatantra Party in 1959.
Dadabhai Naoroji (1825 – 1917): The Grand Old Man of India, associated with the Indian National Congress right from its inception. The Indian to become a Member of the House of Commons on the Liberal Party’s ticket, President of Indian National Congrees thrice, in 1886, 1893 and 1906, first Indian to draw the attention of the Indians as well as the British Public to the drain of wealth from India to great Britain and the resulting poverty of the Indians; “Poverty and un-British rule in India”, a book written by Naoroji was published in 1901, proves his thesis of Drain of wealth.
Gopal Krishna Gokhle (1866 – 1915): A follower of Mahadev Govind Ranade, popularly known as the socrates of Maharashtra; Gandhiji became Gokhle’s political pupil, in 1905 laid the foundation of the ‘Servants of India Society’ for the trainning of national missionaries for the service of India, and to promote, by the constitutional means, the true interest of the Indian people.
Gopinath Bordoloi (1980 – 1950): One of the builders of modern Assam; imprisoned in 1941 and 1942 for taking part in the individual satyagraha and the in the Quit India Movement.
Jatindra Mohan Sen Gupta (1885 – 1933): Renounced his legal practice during the Non-Co-operation Movement, organised the strike of the employees of Assam Bengal Railways, led the Civil Disobedience Movement.
Kamala Nehru (1899 – 1936): She was married to Jawaharlal Nehru in 1916, joined her husband in the Non-Cooperation Movement, and the Civil Disobedience Movement.
Kasturba Gandhi (1869 – 1944): Endearingly married to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in 1882, one of the first of a group of Indian women to be imprisoned in the Transvaal, arrested for participating in the Quit India Movement in 1942, died while serving imprisonment at Poona.
Sarojini Naidu (1879 – 1949): Educated in England, showed a marked flair for literature at an early age which later found expression in beautiful English verses and earned her the title “Nightingale of India”. She joined Home Rule League in 1916; first Indian lady to preside over the Congress, led the salt raid at Dharsana in 1930, at the beginning of the Quit India Movement in 1942 arrested and detained with Gandhiji; the first Indian lady to become the Governor of Uttar Pradesh in free India, fought all her life against poverty, ignorance and social taboos.
Narayan Malhar Joshi (1879 – 1955): He was a member of the Central Pay Commission in 1947, an important leader of the Indian trade union movement; organised creches, dispensaries for women and children and industrial training schools and co-operative societies.
Swami Sahjanand Saraswati (1889 – 1951): He was President of the “All India Kisan Sabha”. He pioneered the peasants cause and became the Founder-President of the Bihar Kisan Sabha in 1927.
Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit (1900 – 1990): Sister of Jawaharlal Nehru, a prominent national leader, was imprisoned thrice in connection with Civil Disobedience Movement in 1932, 1941 and 1942; played an important role as India’s representative in San Francisco during the first meeting in UN where she challenged the might of the British.
Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1890 – 1988): Born in a village of Peshawar district of the British India, joined the national movement at very young age and inculcated the ideas of nationalism into the minds of the Pathans; plunged into the agitation against the Rowlatt laws, the Khilafat, Non-Cooperation and Civil Disobedience movements, never saw eye to eye with the fanatical ideology of the Muslim League and was committed to secularism. He opposed to the Partition of India. He was popularly known as Frontier Gandhi.
Mahadev Desai (1892 – 1942): In 1917 came in close contact with Gandhiji pledged himself into the Champaran Satyagraha, editor of Motilal Nehru’s periodical, Independent.
Ram Manohar Lohia (1910 – 1968): A socialist, in 1934 became a founder member of the Congress Socialist Party and edited its journal’. ‘The Congress Socialist’, in free India. A forceful journalist who promoted the cause of Hindi as national language.
Sachchidananda Sinha (1871 – 1950): A distinguished lawyer, journalist, politician and educationist, joined the Congress in 1899, actively participated in the Home Rule movement, from 1936 to 1944 Vice-Chancellor of Patna University.
Vallabhai Patel (1875 – 1950): Born in an agriculturist family of Nadiad in Gujarat; entered politics by joining the Gujarat Sabha in 1915, of which Gandhi ji was the President; joined the Non-Co-operation Movement; led the famous peasants agitation against in increase in land revenue at Bardoli and won a signal victory; joined the Quit India Movement in 1942; in free India became the Deputy Prime Minister; a man of iron who never allowed personal sentiment to confuse his duties.
Acharya Vinoba Bhave (1895 – 1982) : Close associate of Gandhiji; leader of Sarvodaya and the Bhoodan Andolan; was a staunch advocate of cow protection.
Rajendra Prasad (1884 – 1963): As a student he took interest in the anti-partition agitation in Bengal and established the Bihari Students ‘Conference’ in the fore-front of the salt Satyagraha and the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930 and 1932 and suffered imprisonment; on failure of Cripps Mission undertook a tour of his province and prepared the masses for the Quit India Movment; joined Interim Government as Minister for Food and Agriculture in 1946; the first President of the Constituent Assembly, became the first President of the Indian Republic.
Abdul Kalam Azad (1888 – 1958): Known as the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, born in Mecca where his ancestors had migrated from India during the revolt of 1857; in 1898 accompanied his parents to India and settled in Calcutta, associated himself with the revolutionaries during the Swadeshi Movement; in 1929 he came in close contact with Gandhiji and supported the Non- Cooperation programme; Chief of the Khilafat Committee, elected President of the special session of the Congress at Delhi in 1924, he led the negotiations with British Cabinet Mission (1946), a member of the Constitutent Assembly; joined the Interim Government as Minister of Education and Arts, in free India he became the Education Minister and later took charge of the portfolios of National Resources and Scientific Research, he established the University Grants Commission.
Ghosh, Aurobindo (1872-1950): A leading Bengali revolutionary who later turned yogi. For about ten years, he remained active in the political field, particularly during the partition of Bengal, and was one of the propounders of the programme of Swadeshi and boycott. He expressed the view that political freedom was “the life and breath of our nation”. In 1910, he retired to Pondicherry, where he spent his life in mediation and spiritual pursuits.
Hume, Allan Octavian (A.O.Hume) (1829 – 1922): A British Civil Servant in India, who after his retirement for service in 1882 worked for India’s political claims and is known as the ‘father and founder’ of the INC. Hume was the guiding spirit during the formative years of the INC. He had studied medicine and surgery and was a great naturalist and botanist.
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar (1820 – 1891): He was an upcompromising social reformer and put up a valiant fight for introduction of widow remarriage and stamping out polygamy from society.
Jinnah, Mohammad Ali (1875 – 1948): A leading lawyer, leader of the Muslim League and founder of Pakistan.
Besant, Annie (1847 – 1933): An Irish English woman, who came to India in 1939 to work for the Theosophical society. She ardently worked for India’s independence. In 1915 she founded the Home Rule League to launch the Home Rule Movement and was made President of the Calcutta session of the Congress in 1917.
Bose, Subhash Chandra (1897 – 1945): He was the supreme commander of Azad Hind Fauj (the Indian National Army). In January 1941, he escaped out of India and reached Berlin. He died in a plane crash on August 18, 1945.