Though many National leaders rendered their selfless service to our country, one among them to be noted was the Kingmaker Kamaraj. K. Kamaraj, familiarly known as Kamarajar was an independent activist and the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. He was popularly known as the Kingmaker of India during the 1960s. He supported Lal Bahadur Shastri, to be the President of India after the death of Nehru. After the sudden dismissal of Lal Bahadur Shastri, he supported Indira Gandhi to be the President of India. He was a man of simplicity and known for his best leadership in the development of Tamil Nadu. The Midday Meals Scheme introduced by him was very popular in India. He was popularly known as Karmaveerar, KalviKan Thirantha Mudhalvar, etc.
Kamaraj was born on 15th July 1903 at Virudhunagar in TamilNadu to Kumarasamy and Sivagami Ammal. His birth name was Kamatchi and later changed to Kamarajar. He studied primary education in a traditional school and he was to drop out because of his father’s death to support his family. He had a younger sister named Nagammal. He worked in his uncle’s shop and begun to attend political meetings and common meetings related to Home Rule Movement. He developed his interest in politics by reading daily newspapers. In 1920, at the age of 18, he became a very enthusiastic person and joined Indian National Congress. He organized public meetings for leaders in Virudhnagar and was very eager to meet Mahatma Gandhi. As he wished, he met Gandhiji for the first time in the meeting. Kamaraj went to jail for two years for taking part in ‘Salt Sathyagraha’ led by C. Rajagopalachari at Vedaranyam.
At the age of 34, he contested in the Legislative election for the first time and marked his first victory at Sattur in 1937. He stuck by the principle ‘ One should not accept any post/leadership to which one could not do full justice ‘. In 1954, Kamaraj became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Various schemes and deeds introduced by him as a Chief Minister are as follows:
- He removed Hereditary Education Policy introduced by Rajaji.
- He reopened more than 12,000 schools during his leadership as a Chief Minister.
- Education and trade hiked during his period.
- Kamarajar aimed to eradicate illiteracy and introduced compulsory education. The literacy rate was 7% during the British period but during his period, the literacy rate increased to 37%.
- He also introduced the Midday Meals Scheme to provide atleast one healthy meal per day to the poor and needy children. He introduced the uniform scheme to the school children to eradicate the germination of caste-based flaws in young minds.
- He built several irrigation canals during his period. He built nine dams which are appreciated till now and they are as strong as him.
- Huge investment industries such as Neyveli Lignite Corporation, BHEL, etc. were started during his period.
He has been the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for three consecutive terms, by the victory in 1957 and 1962. His ruling period was known as the Golden Age of Tamil Nadu. Kamaraj was a great follower of Mahatma Gandhi, yet to this fact, he died on 2nd October 1975 during his sleep in his native Virudhunagar. He was awarded ‘Bharat Ratna’ posthumously in 1976. The Chennai Airport is named after him as Kamaraj Terminal.
His birthday is celebrated as ‘ Education Development Day ‘ in Tamil Nadu every year. Though he died, his good deeds remain in the hearts of the people.
Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of Education.– K Kamaraj.