Unsung Heroes | History Corner | Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Ministry of Culture, Government of India

Unsung Heroes Detail

Unsung Heroes Detail

C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar

Chennai, Tamil Nadu

November 21, 2022 to November 21, 2023

C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar was an eminent lawyer in the Madras Presidency and an admirer of Gopal Krishna Gokhale and joined the Servants of India Society in Poona. In 1912, he fought on behalf of Jiddu Narayaniah against Annie Besant for the custody of Narayaniah's two sons and won. After this, he became an associate of Annie Besant and collaborated with her in organizing the Home Rule League and served as its vice-president. He published New India, a daily for the Home Rule League. When Dr. Besant was interned by the British government in 1917, C.P. edited New India sitting beneath a tree in his garden, since under the sedition law it could not be printed within the house. In 1912, he argued on behalf of Vanchinathan in the Collector Ashe Murder Case. Subramanya Bharathi was exiled to Pondicherry where he was editing the Tamil Daily Vijaya. However, Bharathi re-entered Madras Presidency near Cuddalore in 1918 and was arrested and taken to the Central Prison in Cuddalore. He was released after the intervention and legal arguments of C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar. C.P. charged no fees for his work to help several Indian defendants against the British government. From 1917-1918, he was the Secretary of the Indian National Congress along with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. He served as a leader of the Indian National Congress in his early days. In 1919, he was elected as a Member of the Legislative Council under the Reformed Constitution from Madras City. In 1920, C.P. was nominated as the Advocate-General of the Madras Presidency and was responsible for the introduction of the City Municipalities Act and the Madras Local Boards Act. In 1923, he was nominated to the Executive Council of the Governor of Madras and was given the Public Works Department, irrigation, ports, and electricity. Between 1926 and 1927 he was the Indian Delegate at the League of Nations in Geneva and Rapporteur of the League of Nations Committee on Public Health, Geneva. In 1927, he inaugurated the Madras Music Academy in the 1927 session of the Indian National Congress. The Academy was established to support and preserve the artistic traditions of India. In 1931, he was a Law Member of the Government of India and a delegate to the First Round Table Conference, and in 1932, he attended the Third Round Table Conference in London. In 1933, he was the sole Indian delegate to the World Economic Conference. In 1936, he became the Dewan of Travancore. His first administrative achievement was the introduction of the Temple Entry Act. This was the first step taken in India to abolish untouchability by direct government action, permitting the entry of all castes into Hindu temples. Mahatma Gandhi expressed great satisfaction and addressed meetings throughout Travancore, praising him. He passed away on September 26, 1966.

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