Friday, July 30, 2021

Remembering Syama Prasad Mookerjee, on his 120th birth anniversary

Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee made a mark for himself, not just in national politics, but in the hearts and minds of the countrymen in a fleeting life, that spanned for 52 years.

Today, on his 120th birth anniversary, let us reminisce the life and ideals of the political stalwart and selfless nationalist.

“Whatever you undertake, do it seriously, thoroughly, and well; never leave it half-done or undone, never feel satisfied unless and until you have given it your very best. Cultivate the habits of discipline & toleration. Surrender not the convictions you hold dear but learn to appreciate the points of view of your opponents.”   

– Syama Prasad Mookerjee

Who was Syama Prasad Mookerjee?

Syama Prasad Mookerjee was born on 6 July 1901 in Calcutta, in a Bengali Brahmin family.
It was his grandfather Ganga Prasad Mookerjee, who planned to settle in Calcutta. His father, Ashutosh Mookerjee was a judge at the Calcutta High Court and the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calcutta.

Syama Prasad Mookerjee inherited the rich tradition of erudite scholarship, fervent nationalism, and fearlessness from his father. He was destined to be great. It was as much in his blood as he worked towards achieving it.

Early life & Education:

In 1906, Syama Prasad Mookerjee took admission in Bhawanipur’s Mitra Institution. He passed matriculation, in 1914 and got admission into the prestigious Presidency College. Known to be a meritorious student, he stood seventeenth in the Inter-Arts Examination in 1916 & secured the first position in English honors in 1921.

He enrolled as an advocate in Calcutta High Court, post his father’s death in 1924. For further studies, he left for England in 1926 to study in Lincoln`s Inn. He became a barrister in 1927.

Entry into politics:

Syama Prasad Mookerjee’s entry into politics came at a very difficult time. However, that never got reflected in his conduct. And, that is what made him so great!

In the words of Anirban Ganguly, the founder of the Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation (SPMRF), the Congress was powerful in politics in the western part of the state of Bengal in the 1940s, yet hesitant to voice the rights of the Hindus. It often bowed down to the Muslim League pressure tactics. Thus, Syama Prasad Mookerjee emerged as a torch-bearer of alternative politics in Bengal and as an eminent opposition leader at the center.

The role of personalities like N.C. Chatterjee (father of former Lok Sabha Speaker, Somnath Chatterjee), himself a well-known barrister at the Calcutta High Court, Ashutosh Lahiri, Justice Manmatha Nath Mookerjee, and Swami Pranavananda (Founder of the Bharat Sevashram Sangha) was imminent in Dr. Mookerjee’s entry into politics.

Formation of Jana Sangh:

The Jana Sangh was established by Syama Prasad Mookerjee in the year 1951.

The association later went on to become the parent body of one of India’s prominent political parties, the Bhartiya Janata Party. It advocated the rebuilding of a strong, secular, and unified India.

Views on article-370 & 35-A:

“Ek desh mein do vidhaan, do pradhan aur do nishan nahi chalenge” – Syama Prasad Mookerjee

Syama Prasad Mukherjee was an ardent critic of Articles 370 and 35-A. He raised questions like why Jammu and Kashmir were kept out of the President’s jurisdiction and why a special permit was needed to enter J&K.

He coined the slogan- “Ek desh mein do Vidhan, do Pradhan aur do Nishan nahi chalenge” [There cannot be two Constitutions, two Prime Ministers and two flags in one nation], after J&K’s merger into the Indian Union was passed.

Role as a humanitarian:

Syama Prasad Mookerjee played a vital role during the 1943 Bengal famine. The people of Bengal can never forget the efforts of Dr. Mookerjee in organizing a large-scale relief drive for the famine-stricken people. He invited leading politicians, businessmen, and philanthropists to devise ways and means to provide relief to the needy and the distressed.

As a result of his relentless efforts, the Bengal Relief Committee and the Hindu Mahasabha Relief Committee were formed.

Legacy:

Syama Prasad Mookerjee breathed his last on 23rd June 1953. Until his last breath, he championed the cause of J&K’s complete integration with the union of India. On 11th May 1953, he was detained at Jammu for crossing the border without an entry pass. He died 40-days after his arrest, under detention of the Kashmir Police.

In a life spanning for a brief period of 52 years, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee (1901-1953) worked as a statesman, educationist, and political revolutionist. He had become the Vice-Chancellor of the Calcutta University at a young age of 33 years, independent India’s first Industry Minister, the founder of the Jana Sangh, and a political stalwart.

His life is exemplary of how much one can achieve if driven by an unalloyed determination to serve India. Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee worked relentlessly and wholeheartedly for the progress, unity, and well-being of his motherland. His contributions to nation-building and India’s freedom movement are unparalleled. And, his memory shall forever remain etched in the hearts of the countrymen.

PM Modi remembers the remarkable intellectual:

PM Modi remembered and paid his heartfelt tribute to Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee on his birth anniversary, today.

He took to Twitter to express his admiration for the remarkable personality and said “I bow to Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee on his Jayanti. His lofty ideals motivate millions across our nation. Dr. Mookerjee devoted his life towards India’s unity and progress. He also distinguished himself as a remarkable scholar and intellectual.”

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