Important Personalities in Indian History

Important Personalities in Indian History

Table of contents

Mahatma Gandhi

He was an anti-colonial nationalist and political ethicist whose non-violent resistance led the successful campaign for India's independence from British Rule.

In Africa

  • Natal Indian Congress
  • Indian Opinion newspaper


Removal of Untouchability

  • He argued that, 'shastras did not sanction untouchability and, even if they did, they should be ignored since truth cannot be confined within the covers of a book'.
  • Set up All India Anti-Untouchablity League (1932)
  • Weekly Harijan (Jan 1933)
  • Harijan tour of the Country starting from Wardha (Nov 1933 to July 1934)
  • Harijan Sevak Sangh (Earlier Name: Depressed Classes League)
  • Supported opening of temples for Dalits
  • Supported Varna System (so opposed inter-marriage and inter-dining)


  • He was instrumental in involving women in freedom struggle
  • Patriarchal


  • Opposed English system of education. Advocated free education to all boys-girls in age 7-14. Morality has to be the part of an education
  • Nai Talim


  • For Gandhiji, there is not only diversity of religions but also diversity within them.


  • Decentralization of power. More powers to local bodies
  • For Gandhiji, independence was not absence of external rule, but a deep link between political independence and personal Empowerment

Economic Views

  • Village Sarvodaya, Gram-Swaraj (self-sufficient villages)
  • Promoting Labour intensive industries
  • Subsistence economy


  • Against the wasteful use of natural resources


  • Truth - Their is no religion above truth
  • Non-violence
  • Internationalism
  • Gandhiji was a staunch vegetarian but he never stopped anyone from consuming meat. To inflict new diet upon someone who was habituated to meat at every meal was, in Gandhi's thinking, form of violence.

Doctrine of trusteeship

Gandhism - Weapon against the western imperialism

Gandhi vs. Ambedkar

  • Symbolic actions (burning of cloths/manusmruti; Salt/mahad)
  • Social transformation through democratic and peaceful means
  • Believed in limited sovereign power of the state
    • ultimate sovereignty should lie with the people.
Purity of Means
Purity of Ends
Gandhi believed freedom was never to be bestowed but to be wrestled from authorities
Ambedkar expected bestowing of freedom by imperial rulers
Little respect for Parliamentary System of Government
Advocated Parliamentary System of Government
Flexible principles (except non-violence)
Rigid principles
Gandhian politics tried to show the aspect of Indian Unity
Ambedkar's politics tried to show the aspect of Indian disunity
Indian unity from ancient times
believed that Indian unity was a by-product of imperialism
Village democracy, Gramraj
Village denied equality, fraternity and liberty
Reforms in Hinduism, Removal of Untouchability, Supported varna system
Annihilation of Caste
Center of Religion between man and god
Center of Religion between man and man
Accepted Vedas
Denounced Vedas and other Hindu Scriptures
Never approved the separation of religion and state
Believed in freedom of religion, free citizenship, separation of state and religion.
Opposed Mechanisation
Spoke in Plain vernacular local 
  • Untouchables part of Hinduism
    • it was one of many problems in India
    • Considered it a moral stigma and wanted it to be erased through atonement

  • Regarded them as religious minority, preferred to call them political minority or minority by force
    • major problem that caught his sole attention
    • wanted to remove it through laws and constitutional methods
disobey laws to make them more just
observance of law and constitutionality in political process

Bhagat Singh

  • Established Punjab Naujawan Bharat Sabha (1926)
    • Formulated on the socialist principles
    • to carry out political work among the youth, peasants and workers
  • Organised Lahore Students' Union along with Sukhdev for open, legal work among students.
  • Killed Saunders in Lahore (along with Azad and Rajguru) (Dec 1928)
  • Threw bomb in Central Legislative Assembly (along with Batukeshwar datta) (April 1929)
  • Fully and consciously secular person
  • Later, Bhagat Singh had moved away from belief in terrorism and individual heroic action to Marxism and the belief that a popular broad-based movement alone could lead to a successful revolution.
  • Tried in Lahore Conspiracy Case (killing of Saunders)
  • Hanged on March 23, 1931

Subhash Chandra Bose

  • Opposed Nehru report. Ardent supporter of complete independence
  • Formed Independence League
  • Man of action and radical ideas.
  • Instrumental in setting National Planning Committe
  • Congress president for 1938-39. Resigned in April 1939 over the ideological differences from Gandhi
  • Formed Forward Bloc (at Makur, Unnao) in May 1939 as a new party within congress
  • Believed in Upanishadic teachings
  • Wanted Industrial India on socialist lines
  • Passed Indian Civil Service Examination
  • Mayor of Calcutta (1923)
  • Political Guru: Chittaranjan Das
  • He conveyed Anti-Compromise Conference at Ramgarh in March 1940- So as to oppose British War Efforts
  • Freedom Army (Mukti Sena): With the help of Hitler; consisting of Indian PoW captured by Germany and Italy
  • Free India Center (Germany): Gave Slogan Jai Hind
  • Began regular broadcast from Berlin Radio (Jan 1942)
  • People of Germany called him Netaji
  • Became Supreme Commander of INA (Aug 25, 1943)
  • Oct., 21, 1943- Formed Provincial government of free India at Singapore (H.C Chatterjee: Finance) (M.A. Aiyar: Broadcasting) (Laxmi Swaminathan: Women dept)
  • INA HQ shifted to Rangoon-- "Delhi Chalo!" (Jan 1944)
  • July 6, 1944: Called Gandhi Father of Nation from Azad Hind Radio

Rasbehari Bose

  • Bomb attack on Viceroy Hardinge along with Sachin Sanyal (1912)
  • Leading figure in Gadr Revolution
  • Zimmerman Plan along with Bagha Jatin (1913)- failed!
  • Fled from India to Tokyo in 1915
  • Founded India Club at Tokyo
  • Created Indian Independence League (Tokyo, 1942)
  • INA placed under Indian Independence League (Chairman: Rasbehari Bose)
  • Transferred leadership of Indian Independence League and INA to Subhash Bose (July 1943)

Sachin Sanyal

  • Dec. 1912: Bomb attack on Viceroy Hardinge along with Rasbehari Bose
    • Delhi Conspiracy Case
  • Formed Hindustan Republic Association/Army along with Ramprasad Bismil, Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee (1924)

Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833)

A religious, social, and educational reformer; widely considered the father of modern India.

Social Reforms

  • Criticised idol worship and empty superstitions
  • Advocated a monotheistic Hinduism in which “reason” guides an individual
  • Published his first book Tuhfat-ul-Muwahhidin (A Gift to Monotheism) in 1803
  • Sought a philosophical basis for his religious beliefs in the Vedas and the Upanishads, translatingthose ancient Sanskrit treatises into Bengali, Hindi, and English and writing summaries on them
  • Published Precepts of Jesus, the Guide to Peace and Happiness (1820), ethical teachings of Christ
  • Denounced the caste system and child marriage
  • Attacked the custom of sati –> played a leading role in its prohibition in 1829
  • Campaigned for rights for women, including the right for widows to remarry, and the right forwomen to hold property


  • Founded Atmiya Sabha (1815) to propagate his doctrines of monotheistic Hinduism
  • Instrumental in the establishment of Hindu College in Calcutta in 1817
  • Founded the Anglo-Hindu School (1822), based on English education
  • Established the Vedanta College (1826) in order to teach his Hindu monotheistic doctrines
  • Formed Brahmo Samaj (1828) to reform Hinduism
  • Helped establish the Scottish Church College in 1830

Political Reforms

  • Advocated for freedom of speech and religion
  • First to apply the fundamental social and political ideas of the French and American revolutions
  • Started Sambad Koumudi in 1821; the first Bengali language weekly newspaper –> advocatedreading habits, the importance of discussion as well as the need for education for all
  • Published a Persian journal, Mirat-ul-Akbar (1822)


  • Traveled widely outside Bengal
  • Mastered several languages: Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, and English, in addition to Bengali and Hindi
  • Contributed to the popularisation of the Bengali language
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