Dr. Rajendra Prasad: Bihar’s Legendary Son

I wonder how many know about the academic record of Dr. Rajendra Prasad. Most of the younger generation has forgotten even this first President of India, who could also be the prime minister.

Subhash C Kashyap, the expert of India’s constitution, in one article to celebrate 60 years of India becoming republic writes so correctly in Times of India:

“It will forever remain an intriguing ‘what if’ of history. But I believe that if Jawaharlal Nehru had been India’s first President and Rajendra Prasad its first Prime Minister, our political system would today be more presidential than parliamentary without any change in the Constitution.

As the top two functionaries of a nascent Republic, India’s first PM and President often clashed over their respective powers. Through these conflicts, the polity itself was being determined and the Constitution tested and shaped in practice. And what was settled in each case strengthened the concepts of parliamentary democracy, ministerial responsibility and prime ministerial authority.

There could hardly be two personalities more strikingly different from each other. Nehru was a modernist and a liberal with a commitment to secularism and socialism, while Prasad, a brilliant intellectual himself, was a religious minded man with a traditional and conservative approach.”

I wonder why Dr. Rajendra Prasad doesn’t get his due position in the country by its people. Why are most of the nation’s institutions named after one or the other of Nehru’s descendents? Why in New Delhi one can’t find a memorial dedicated to the first president of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad?

I am not writing this because I also studied for two years in Presidency College that Dr. Rajendra Prasad attended for at least four years or because I had an opportunity to speak with him when he came to Calcutta to attend a function in Presidency College and vested Hindu Hostel too. Dr. Rajendra Prasad is one who must be an icon for the whole of Next Generation of the state to take the state ahead, as he had proved that one needs not be a politician but even an intellectual can get at the top of the nation,

Amazingly, the state capital of Bihar also couldn’t build some memorial to match his stature as the national leader, great intellectual and the first president, though he spent the end of his life in Patna though he could remain in New Delhi. Does not Dr. Prasad deserve one memorial like one built for CM Annadurai or MG Ramchandran on Marina Beach of Chennai that every chief minister and person of Bihar visiting Tamil Nadu would have seen? Unfortunately, the state and particularly its leadership has been so much caste-oriented that it has hardly built any memorial for its great sons suitable to their achievements, be it JP Narayan, or the first chief minister Shri Krishna Sinha. The state treats even its literary intellectuals starting from the ancient India to present era in the same shabby manner. Hardly any in the state today takes pride in remembering its great sons.

The political leaders have kept the people of the state so busy in today’s politics and doing only the things to win the elections that they have forgotten everything else that builds the state and its image.

I have only one request to the present chief minister to get the villages of all the past chief ministers developed as a model village with an institution for higher education, a very good health centre, and a trade school to cater to the population of the hinterland. All these will come to the people there as tribute to those leaders and in the process so many of the villages in the state will get a real gift.

The chief minister has been appealing rather demanding to get a Bharat Ratna for Karpoori Thakur can do the above without any assistance from the centre, and I feel this will be a better tribute to the great man.

On the same line I appeal to some journalists of the state to write in detail about all those villages so that the people of the state can know about them.

Can we expect something to happen on the ground for celebrating the Republic @60 instead of just speeches?

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