Amarnath Vidyalankar

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Amarnath Vidyalankar
Amarnath Vidyalankar.jpg
Member of Parliament of India, 5th Lok Sabha
In office
15 March 1971 – 18 January 1977
Member of Parliament of India, 3rd Lok Sabha
In office
2 April 1962 – 3 March 1967
Minister Punjab Legislative Assembly
In office
1957–1962
Member of Parliament of India, 1st Lok Sabha
In office
15 April 1952 – 4 April 1957
Personal details
Born(1901-12-08)8 December 1901
Bhera, Punjab, British India
Died21 September 1985(1985-09-21) (aged 83)
New Delhi, Delhi, India
NationalityIndian
Political partyIndian National Congress
Spouse(s)Shanta Devi
RelationsRo Khanna (grandson)
Alma materGurukul Kangri Vishwavidyalaya

Amarnath Vidyalankar (8 December 1901 – 21 September 1985) was an Indian freedom fighter, journalist, social worker and member of Parliament. He was involved in the Indian independence movement and a member of the Indian National Congress since before independence. After independence, Vidyalankar was Minister of Education, Labor and Languages in the Punjabi government from 1957 to 1962 and a member of the First (1952–56), Third (1962-67) and Fifth (1971-1977) Lok Sabhas.[1]

Early life[edit]

Vidylankar was born in Bhera, Shahpur District (now Sargodha District), in pre-partition India on 8 December 1901. The only son of Aruri Mal urf-Parmanand, he was born into a lower-middle-class family. Vidylankar's father was involved in the Arya Samaj movement, frequently attending lectures of Arya Samaj leaders such as Lala Lajpat Rai.

Vidyalankar was educated at Gurukul Kangri Vishwavidyalaya, an Arya Samaj educational institution, for 14 years. Courses in Sanskrit, Hindi, the Vedas, Upanishads and Indian philosophy, English-language instruction to Punjab university standards, history and science were compulsory, with the school emphasizing a broad education. Vidyalankar later said that his education gave him "a very comprehensive insight into the realities of the universe".[citation needed]

His school influenced by Mahatma Munshiram, later known as Swami Shraddhanand. Munshiram, a political progressive, was a follower of Dayananda Saraswati and believed in a free India. Many revolutionaries from Bengal and Punjab were sheltered at Vidyalankar's school, influencing the students. When Viceroy Chelmsford visited the school, a condition of his visit (after the Delhi bomb case) was that no officers accompanying him could be armed; according to Vidyalankar, the students were proud of their insistence on nonviolence.

They were also influenced by Lokmanya Tilak and the Indian National Congress freedom fighters. According to Vidyalankar, Munshiram kept in touch with his students and influenced their character and behavior. Leaders such as Swami Shraddhanand, Lala Lajpat Rai, Madan Mohan Malaviya and Mahatma Gandhi maintained relationships with young students and were interested in developing their lives and character.

Indian independence movement[edit]

After Vidyalankar completed his education, his parents encouraged him to enter a relative's textile business. At this time Gandhi was organizing a boycott of foreign cloth, and protesters were collecting foreign cloth to burn it; Vidyalankar could not, in good conscience, continue selling foreign cloth.

Lala Lajpat Rai issued a call to young men in his English weekly People[2] telling them that even if they advanced according to British rules in commerce and business, they would still bear the stigma of citizenship of a slave nation; their first duty was to free the motherland. He founded the Servants of the People Society, whose members pledged to work for the country for five years.

Lal Bahadur Shastri, Balwantrai Mehta, Harihar Nath Shastri, Purushottam Das Tandon and about 20 others, including Vidyalankar, became life members of the society. He worked in the organization from 1926 to 1946, when it was announced that India would become independent in August 1947. Lala Lajpat Rai gave Vidyalankar the job of teaching history at Lahore National College. In this position he came to know Bhagat Singh and his young associates, most of whom were graduates of the college. According to Vidyalankar, "Sardar Bhagat Singh was full of humor, and his heart was pulsating with the anxiety to serve India at all costs. He wanted to do something tangible to arouse the sentiments of the patriotic youth".[citation needed] Others, including Sukhdev Thapar and Yashpal, founded Naujawan Bharat Sabha to further the cause of Indian independence.

After the National College closed Vidyalankar worked with the Harijan, and Lala Lajpat Rai sent him to Hissar in the state of Haryana for six months to assist famine victims in remote areas. In Haryana he worked in the labour movement, edited the Hindi weekly Punjab Kesari and in 1931 was sentenced to two years in jail for his editorial on the failure of the Round Table Conferences. Two years before Lala Lajpat Rai's death Vidyalankar was his secretary, helping him revise some of his works (particularly his history books) and witnessing the baton charge by a British sergeant which may have contributed to his death.

During the Hindu-Muslim clashes of the post-independence period, Vidyalankar was general secretary of the district congress in Amritsar. With other Congress Party workers, he organized rescue squads of Hindus and Muslims for people of both communities and organized refugee camps.

For a number of years Vidyalankar was president of the Punjab branch of the Indian National Trade Union Congress, organizing industrial and agricultural workers in Lahore and Amritsar. In Amritsar he organized Kissan schools, study circles and seminars. Vidyalankar was jailed three times: in 1931–32, 1941–42 and 1942-1945 (when he, Gandhi and others were arrested on 9 August, launching the Quit India Movement).

Post-independence political career[edit]

In 1949, Vidyalankar was appointed by Rajendra Prasad (later the first President of India) permanent secretary in the All India Congress Committee (AICC) office in Delhi. After a little more than a year, Vallabhbhai Patel asked him to run for the Punjab Assembly. Winning the seat by a large margin, Vidyalankar resigned as AICC permanent secretary.

Vidyalankar and Indira Gandhi, standing and smiling
Vidyalankar with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, 1975

In 1951 he stood in the first Indian parliamentary election as the Indian National Congress candidate from Jullundur against Shiromani Akali Dal candidate Ajit Singh Sarhaddi, winning by a wide margin.[3] In 1956 Vidyalankar won the Punjab Legislative Assembly from Jagadhri, and was asked to serve as a minister.[4] From 1957 to 1962, he was Minister of Education, Labor and Languages and Health for the State of Punjab under Chief Minister Pratap Singh Kairon.

In 1957 the central government sent Vidyalankar to an international labor conference in Geneva as chairman of the Indian delegation, and he chaired a goodwill mission to Yugoslavia. In 1961, he went to Afghanistan as chairman of the Indian goodwill mission during the country's national celebration. Vidyalankar was invited by the All India Federation of Educational Associations to deliver addresses to their annual sessions.

In 1962, he won the parliamentary election from Hoshiarpur.[5] As a member of parliament, with the approval of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and guidance from Labor Minister Gulzari Lal Nanda, Vidyalankar organized the Congress Forum for Socialist Action. After the death of Prime Minister Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri, when Indira Gandhi became Prime Minister, the Socialist Forum support Mrs. Gandhi’s progressive policies and played a significant role in the election of President V.V. Giri. At this time, he edited the Congress Forum magazine.

In 1971, Vidyalankar stood for parliament from Chandigarh and was elected for a third time.[6] During this period, he chaired three parliamentary committees appointed by the government: committees to study and improve the Information and Broadcasting Department and the Department of Supply and Disposal and a committee to study the national library in Calcutta. Vidyalankar was a member of the Public Accounts Committee, the Estimates Committee and the Committee on Public Undertakings.

In 1977, he decided not to continue in the legislature and informed Indira Gandhi that he no longer wished to pursue elected office due to the death of his eldest son in a plane crash and his need to care for his family and business. Vidyalankar was active in the Indian National Congress until his death in 1985.

Writings[edit]

During his imprisonment during the 1930s and 1940s, Vidyalankar led worker study circles on political, social and economic subjects. He believed that workers should develop an Indian national feeling, regarding every Indian (regardless of caste, creed, language or ethnicity) as a brother. While he was in jail, he wrote four books in Hindi (Aaj Ki Duniya, Aaj Ka Manav Sansar,[7] Bharat Ka Naya Itihas and Manav Sangharsh) and one in English (Evolution and Progress of the Human Race). Vidyalankar later wrote National Integration and the Teaching of History.[8][9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Bioprofile of Amarnath Vidyalankar". Fifth Lok Sabha Member's Bioprofile. Archived from the original on 5 November 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  2. ^ "Lala Lajpat Rai as a journalist". Sarcajc.com. Archived from the original on 19 February 2014. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  3. ^ "Detailed Results of 1951 General Election" (PDF). Election Commission of India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  4. ^ "Detailed Results of 1956 Punjab Legislative Assembly Election 1956" (PDF). Election Commission of India. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  5. ^ "Detailed Results of 1962 General Election" (PDF). Election Commission of India. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  6. ^ "Detailed Results of 1971 General Election" (PDF). Election Commission of India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 July 2014. Retrieved 9 June 2013.
  7. ^ Vidyalankar, Amarnath, Aaj Ka Manav Sansar, Chandra Gupt Vidyalankar Asha Niketan, 12A Tap Road, Lahore, November 1941
  8. ^ "National Integration and the Teaching of History". Sampradayikta Virodhi Committee,1968.
  9. ^ "Publications of Amarnath Vidyalankar". WorldCat.org. Retrieved 9 June 2013.

External links[edit]