"No weapon can cleave him; nor the fire burn him, no waters can make him wet, nor the wind dry him up."
Biography of Dr. Shyamaprasad Ashutosh Mookerjee
1901- July 6. Born at 77 Russa Road(presently Asutosh Mookerjee Road, Kolkata) to Sir Asutosh Mookerjee and Lady Mookerjee
1906- 23rd July. Joined Mitra Institution, Bhawanipore Branch, in class II
1917- Passed Matriculation Examination from Mitra Institution with Merit scholarship of Rs. 10/- per month
1919- Passed Intermediate Examination in Arts in first division from Presidency College, Calcutta
1921- Passed B.A., First Class First in English Honours,Presidency College, Calcutta
1922- April 16. Married Smt. Sudha Debi, daughter of Dr. Benimadhav Chakravarty
1923- Passed M.A., First Class First in Bengali Language and Literature from Calcutta University.
Syamaprasad,though a brilliant student of English language and literature,had to take up his M.A degree in Bengali at the insistance of his father Sir Asutosh Mookerjee,who had been struggling to give Indian vernaculars including Bengali,their rightful place in the University curricula, for which there was no respectful place in the University campus. To set an example himself, Sir Asutosh did not hesitate to allow his son, a brilliant student in English, to opt for mother-tongue in place of English; for the M.A degree.It is an unique example of ‘‘Õ±Âó¿ò Õ±äÂ¿õþ ñ÷Ç ÂóËõþËõþ ¿úà±ûþ¼’’
A BOLT FROM THE BLUE: ASUTOSH PASSES AWAY
1924 Death of father Sir Asutosh Mookerjee on 25 May at Patna, Bihar. It was a bolt from the blue. It was sudden,unexpected and untimely too. Syamaprasad expressed his shock and feelings in the following words. "My life changed its course on 25th May,1924.All the mirth and joy disappeared from my life. A new chapter had began and it continues to this day."
Life started as an educationist:
IN THE SERVICE OF THE UNIVERSITY
Syamaprasad was elected Fellow of the Calcutta University at the age of 23. He was apointed member of the Syndicate of the Calcutta University,in the place fallen vacant due to the death of Sir Asutosh. And very soon it became apparant that the mantle of his illustrious father had fallen upon his broad soulders in educational sphere. He made the University his own,even as his distinguished father had done before him,serving it with single minded devotion for more than two decades in various capacities and making unparalled contributions to the cause of advancement of learning- its declared motto.
IN THE PRECINCT OF THE COURT OF LAW
1926- Left for England to study for the Bar; joined Lincoln’s Inn. Represented Calcutta University at the Conference of Universities of the British Empire.
1927- Called to the Bar. Syamaprasad joined the legal profession in his early manhood, first as a Vakil and then as a member of the English Bar, but fortunately for the country as a whole, he did not take his career at the Calcutta High Court very seriously.
IN THE POLITICAL ARENA
1929- Syamaprasad started his political career in a small way in 1929, when he entered the Bengal Legislative Council as a Congress candidate representing Calcutta University.
1930- Resigned from the Council when the Congress decided to boycott the Legislatures. Re-elected to the Council as an independent candidate; since then he was never dependent on anybody in any field in his life.
FAMILY DISASTER: DEATH OF WIFE
1933- Death of his wife Sudha Devi- leaving four minor children- two sons and two daughters. His sister-in-law Tara Debi,wife of Justice Ramaprasad Mookerjee,took the children in her arms and brought them up along with her own children.
IN THE SEAT OF THE VICE-CHANCELLOR
1934- Vice Chancellor, University of Calcutta, for two successive terms- 1934-38. President, Post- graduate Councils in Arts and Science for successive years. Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Member and then Chairman, Inter-University Board.
During the four years of his service as the Vice-Chancellor, Syamaprasad did not spare time,energy, health,convenience or anything worth having in life; where they stood in the way of the performance of what he considered his duty and this he did against the advice of his doc- tors. He initiated certain new departments and courses and developed and improved existing ones. His activities as Vice-Chancellor may be summed up as hereunder:-
(I) without any encouragement from the Government of the day he put into effect a scheme for agricultural education and introduced the diploma course in Argiculture. He was deeply interested in women’s education and implemented noteworthy scheme with the endowment of late Viharilal Mitra.
(II) the organisation of the Teacher’s Training Department and the introduction of short term training courses including a vacation course to provide trained teachers for our schools; the establishment of Chinese and Tibetan studies; the foundation of the Asutosh Museum of Indian Art and Fine Arts Gallery; the work of archaeological excavtaions undertaken by the University; the establishment of the Appointment and Information Board: the construction of the new Central Library Hall with research and reading room facilities on modern lines; the
introduction of Hindi in the B.A course and of Honours courses in Bengali,Hindi and Urdu as second languages-- these were some of his achievements.
(III) at his instance,a Bengali Paribhasa of scientific terms was prepared and published and a special scheme for training students for public services examination was put through.
(IV) a special series of Bengali publications in different branches of knowledge was undertaken.The series was intended for the benefit of students and general readers. Bengali spellings were standardised on his initiative.
(V) the college code was formulated for the first time during his Vice-Chancellorship and the new Matriculation Regulations were framed and the age restriction of students was abolished.
(VI) the systems of compartmental examinations and concessions to failed students for appear- ing at examinations without getting themselves admitted into colleges, were introduced during the tenure of his office.
(VII) the question of giving military training to students engaged his serious attention and in spite of discouraging factors, he succeeded in initiating military training course in our scheme of studies. This was no mean achievement in the days when he was Vice-Chancellor.
(VIII)the welfare of the younger generation and of the country at large was the ideal he set before himself and with single-minded devotion he laboured hard to attain it. To this end he took step to improve and expand the Student’s Welfare Department for the promotion of the physical health of our pupils and abolished hostels reserved for students coming from the so called backward class providing accommodation for them in the general hostels and messes attached to colleges. Primarily intended to create the spirit of brotherhood among them. Syamaprasad saw the special reduced seat-rents were charged from them.
(IX) it was during his Vice-Chancellorship that the University Foundation Day (i.e. January 24) was celebrated every year. Students of different colleges attended the ceremony with banners and badges and teachers of colleges and schools also attended it. This was an attempt at bringing teachers and students into closer personal relationship.
(X) during his time, a scheme was initiated in the Applied Chemistry department for imparting training in large-scale production of certain industiral goods.
(XI) invited Rabindranath Tagore to give Convocation Address in Bengali in 1937, for the first time.
ACADEMIC DISTINCTION & RECOGNITION
1935 Member of the Court and Council of the Indian Institute of Science,Bangalore.Took active interest in its development and smooth running of the Institute.
Delivered Convocation Address of the Bombay University.
1937 Elected to the Bengal Legislative Assembly under the reformed constitution from the University constituency. Began to take active interest in Bengal politics.
ENTRY INTO BENGAL POLITIS: REASONS THERFOR
In active politics: Joined Hindu Mahasabha
Syamaprasad gradually drifted into the fold of the Hindu Mahasabha,which he galvanised into new life as an instrument for the service of the country in general and the Hindus in particular.
1938 D.Litt (Honoris Causa) conferred by the Calcutta University and LL.D(Honoris Causa) by the Benares Hindu University.
Nominated to the Committee of Intellectual Co-operations of the League of Nation as India’s representative.
1939- Took a prominent part in the 21st session of the All-India Hindu Mahasabha at Calcutta under the presidentship of V.D Savarkar.
1940- Working President of All-India Hindu Mahasabha, 1940-44, also President of the Hindu Mahasabha,Bengal.Syamaprasad’s association with the Hindu Mahasabha was the outcome of his strong reaction to the communal politics of the Muslim League and the anti-national and disrup- tive forces let loose by it.
1941- SHYAMA-HAQ MINISTRY:LAST ATIEMPT FOR HINDU-MUSLIM UNITY.
With the fall of the Muslim League government in Bengal in 1941, Syamaprasad joined hands with Mr. Fazlul Haq and formed the Progressive Coolition Government with Mr.Haq as the Prime Minister, with the object of fighting the communal menace then stalking the lated,propagated by the Muslim League. It was the first and last Hindu-Muslim joint ministry in Bengal, and his earnest effort to get Bengal rid of communal administration peursued by the Muslim League Ministry.
Syamaprasad joined the misnisty as Finance Minister, Bengal, and served theProgressive Coalition Ministry from 11.12.41 to 20.11.42
Entry into all India political scene
Bhagalpur session of the Hindu Mahasabha was banned by the then Government of Bihar. Dr. Mookerjee,as President,proceeded to Bhagalpur to defy the ban, was arrested and detained under the Defence of India Rules and later released.
Took part in Cripps Mission deliberations. First amongest the political parties to reject Cripps offer which gave support to Muslim League’s demand for partition of India on communal basis.
1942- Syamaprasad resigned from the Ministry of Bengal as a protest against the Governor’s policy of repression in Midnapore and elsewhere in connection with August,1942 movement.
Wrote to Lord Linlithgo, the then Viceroy,outlining tentative proposals for an Indo-British settlement and attempted to interview Mahatma Gandhi in jail but was refused permission.
In the service of the distressed & destitultes
Bengal Famine of 1943:50 lakhs people died of hunger.
1943- Organised large scale relief work during the famine of Bengal.Presided over the Amritsar session of the All-India Hindu Mahasabha.
President of the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal from 1943 to1945.
1944- Founded an English daily,"Nationalist." Presided over the Bilaspur session of the All-India Hindu Mahasabha. Met Mr.M.A Jinnah to find out a solution of Hindu-Muslim problems but in vain. Jinnah’s one point programme was division of India and creation of Pakistan which Syamaprasad opposed tooth and nail.
1945- Played an important part in guiding the students when they clashed with the Government in Calcutta during observance of the I.N.A day on 23rd November. A serious crisis averted. Taken seriously ill soon after.
1946- Elected to the Bengal Legislative Assembly from the University cpnstituency.
Journey to Delhi
Took part in the Cabinet Mission deliberations. Elected a member of the Constituent Assembly from Bengal.
16.08.1946 THE GREAT CALCUTTA KILLING : NOKHALI RIOT FROM 10.10.46
On the failure of the Cabinet Mission to solve the problem relating to transfer of power to Indian leaders, the Muslim League under the instruction of Jinnah and guidance of Mr. H.S.Suhrawardy, launched "direct action" against the Hindus in Calcutta on 16th August,1946.Rampant looting, killing & aron went on for 4 days, Syamaprasad stood firmly behind the people during the great Calcutta killing raping and widespread communal riots organised by the Moslem League in Nookhali district under the leadershp of Suhrawardy. Formed the Hindusthan National Guard to save the affected people during the communal disturbances.
1947-CREATION OF WEST BENGAL: HIS CONTRIBUTION
Al though he was an ardent believer in the integrity of the country that he loved so much, when he found that the division of India had become imminent and the emergence of Pakistan inevitable,he joined with similarl-minded leaders in demanding division of Bengal on the same analogy of division of India. Thus a portion of Bengal,now named as West Bengal, was saved from the clutches of the Muslim League, and remained with Indian Union.
Organised a movement which led to the retention of pohtion of Bengal in the Indian Union.
In nation building job.
JOINED THE NEW NATIONAL GOVERNMENT FORMED AFTER INDEPENDENCE
1947- Joined the Cabinet of the National Government formed by Pt.Nehru and took over the portfolio of Industries and Supplies.
Framed first Industrial policy of the new Government of India after independence.He proved to be an able administrator and according to many,there is at least some justification for the view that he was primarily responsible for the adoption by India Government of the policy of mixed economy in the industrial field.
1948- President of the Reception Committee of Nikhil Bharat Banga Sahitya Sammelan, held in New Delhi in 1948
President of the Mahabodhi Society of India
1949 As the President of the Mahabodhi Society of India he received at Calcutta the relics of Sariputta & Moggalana disciples of lord Buddha
1950- Resignation in protest of Inaction
MASSACRE OF EAST BENGAL HINDUS: INACTION ON THE PART OF GOVERNMENT: SYAMAPRASAD RESIGNED
In the beginning of 1950 there were general MASSACRE of Hindus in erstwhile East pakistan (now Bangladesh). More than 50 lakhs of Hindus left their herth and home and came over India for ever. Syamaprasad urged strong action against Pakistan, but Prime Minister J.L Nehru signed a pact with Mr. Liaqut Ali Khan,--Pakistan’s Prime Minister.
1950- On 8th April,he resigned from the Central Cabinet as a protest against the Nehru-Liaquat Ali pact.Devoted himself whole-heartedly to the cause of the refugees and made extensive tours for relief and rehabilitation of the refugees.
Syamaprasad was not made of the staff that would agree to compromise with one’s convictions for love of self-interest or power. He was not the sort to succumb to the lure of office. He had, therefore, no hesitation in resigning from the Cabinet when he found himself unable to subscribe to the policy, which resulted in the Nehru-Liaquat Ali Agreement in connection with the Hindu genocide of 1950 in East Pakistan.
IN THE ROLE OF OPPOSITION LEADER
Founded Bharatiya Janasangha: later re-named Bharatiya Janata Party(B.J.P)
1951- Organised a new political party called Peoples’s Party.
Founded an English weekly "The People"
In October in Delhi an All India political party "The Bharatiya Jana Sangha" was formed under his Presidentship which drew adherents from all parts of the country.
Delivered the Convocation Address at the Golden Jubilee Celebration of Sri Aurovinda Memo rial Convention held in Pondicherry on 24-25 April,1951.
FIGHTER FOR PERSONAL FREEDOM & DEMOCRACY.
Dr. Mookerjee was a democrat and fighter for individual liberty and freedom of expression and movement to the core of his heart
Vehemently opposed in Parliament the Indian Constitution amending Bill restricting fundamental rights: particularly detention without trial. Historic Speech in Parliament,on Security Act.
1952- Elected to the First Loksabha: Face to Face with Nehru
Bharatiya Jana Sangha- as an infant party of 6 months old fought the first General Election under the leadership of Dr. Mukherjee. He was elected to the Parliament in the General Election from South Calcutta Constituency defeating booth the Congress and the Communist candidates. Pressed firmly and vehemently in and outside the Parliament for a strong policy towards Pakistan. He formed National Democratic block in the Parliament including some opposition members and became the leader of the opposition block in the Lok Sabha.
Presided over the 1st Annual Conference of Bharatiya Jana Sangha at Kanpur.
POLITICAL & CULTURAL ACTIVITIES SIDE BY SIDE
Although he was fully absorbed in political activities,his connection with literary,social and religious organisations and associations did not cease.
He presided over the Nikhil Bharat Banga Sahitya Sammelan at Cuttack.
In November joined the celebrations of Sanchi where the relics of Sariputta and Moggalana, disciples of Budha,were finally reposed.
Visited Burma, Cambodia and other Buddhist countries of South East Asia as the President of Mahabodhi Society of India.
1953- Shed Life for Kashmir:End of the journey
LONE FIOHTER FOR FULL INTEGRATION OF JAMMU & KASHMIR:
DEATH IN DETENTION: UNTIMELY END OF AN EVENTFUL CAREER
1953- Frequent clashe with the Government for lending his support to the movement of the Praja Parishad in Jammu for full integration of the State of Jammu and Kashmir with the Indian Union. Arrested in Delhi in March for alleged violation of a ban on procession in Chandni Chowk and detained. but released by the orders of the Supreme Court on a Habeas Corpus petition.
Gave a clarion call to the nation to observe" Kashmir Day" on the 5th May in support of the movement of the Praja Parishad.
Left Delhi on the 8th May on way to Kashmir.
Entered Kashmir on the 11th May and was arrested and put under detention at Srinagar along with Guru Dutt Vaid and Tekchand Sharma.
Attacked with "dry pleurisy and coronary troubles" on the 19th June.
Fell seriously ill on the 22nd June and at 12 noon admitted to a Nursing Home.
Passed away on the 23rd June,at 2.30 A.M while under detention.
Syamaprasad will be regarded as having died a martyr’s death in Kashmir. It is a grim tragedy that a great patriot of his stature should have died a premature death while in detention without trial; none of his near and dear one being present at the time of his death.
Syamaprasad will be regarded as having died a martyr’s death in Kashmir. It is a grim tragedy that a great patriot of his stature should have died a premature death while in detention without trial-none of his near and dear ones being present beiside him at the home of his death.
Symaprased , in order to foil the evil design of Sheikh Abdulla the self proclaimed Premir of Jammu and Kashmir,not only gave up his precious life for the sake of the country but forced the Government of India to accept that there must be "One Nation,One Nishan One Bidhan and One Pradhan in India.
Family Tree of Dr. Shyamaprasad Ashutosh Mookerjee
Sir Ashutosh Mookerjee
Photo Album of Dr. Shyamaprasad Ashutosh Mookerjee