24 November 1881|
Rohtak, Punjab, British India
(now in Haryana, India)
|Died||9 January 1945
Lahore, British India
(now in Punjab, Pakistan)
|Political party||Unionist Party|
Rao Bahadur Sir Chhotu Ram, (24 November 1881 – 9 January 1945) was a prominent politician in British India's Punjab Province, an ideologue of the Jat peasantry and a champion of its interests. He was knighted in 1937 and was a co-founder of the National Unionist Party.
Chhotu Ram was born on 24 November 1881 to a Jat family in Garhi Sampla village, Rohtak district, which lies in the present-day Indian state of Haryana. His parents were Chaudhari Sukhiram Singh Ohlyan and Sarla Devi. His childhood name was Ramrichhpal.
Chhotu Ram joined primary school in January 1891, passing out four years later. He studied for his middle school examination in Jhajjar, 12 miles from his village, then enrolled in the Christian Mission School in Delhi. He passed his intermediate examination in 1903 and proceeded to St Stephen's College, Delhi from where he graduated in 1905 with a distinction in Sanskrit. He gained his LLB from Agra College in 1910 and began his practice as an advocate in 1912. He started the Jat-Anglo Sanskrit School on 26 March 1913 in Rohtak. He joined National Congress in 1916. Chhotu Ram worked as the President of the Rohtak District Congress Committee from 1916 to 1920.
After 1920, Ram tried to create a non-sectarian peasant group consciousness. He formed the Unionist Party (Zamindara League) in 1923, which was a cross-communal alliance of Hindu Jats and Muslim agriculturists. He soon aligned with such Muslim leaders as Fazli Husain.
The Unionist Party won elections in 1935 to form the provincial government in the capital at Lahore. As revenue minister, he brought in changes in the law to stop the practice of usury (charging interest on interest). Among the supporters of the party at this point were such prominent urban Muslims as Abdul Qadir.
Ram initially approved the Bhakhra Dam Scheme . He got an agreement between the Maharaja of Bilaspur, in whose territory the waters of river Sutlej were to be impounded. And the Punjab Government signed only a few weeks before he died on 9 January 1945.
Ram was greatly influenced by the intellectual poetry of Mohammad Iqbal. He studied the Bhagavad Gita and was very much influenced by its philosophy. There are many instances, which represent his value for education and compassion for the poor. A substantial portion of his salary as minister was set aside for scholarships and stipends for economically poor but bright students.
The enactment of two agrarian laws was primarily due to his contribution. These were the Punjab Relief Indebtedness Act of 1934 and the Punjab Debtor's Protection Act of 1936, which emancipated the peasants from the clutches of the moneylenders and restored the right of land to the tiller.
Ram died in Lahore on 9 January 1945. His body was carried back to his home in Rohtak city, where it was cremated at the Jat Heroes Memorial Anglo Sanskrit Senior Secondary School in the presence of thousands of people.
Monuments and memorials
Ram's place of residence in Rohtak was known as "Prem Nivas" and "Nili Kothi" (English: Blue Bungalow). The chowk (road square) nearest to his house is now known as "Chhotu Ram Chowk" and a Dharamshala exists at the same place in his name. A samadhi (tomb) was created in his memory at the school campus where he was cremated, and there people pay homage on his birthday each year.
Chhotu Ram State College of Engineering College in Murthal (Sonepat District), Haryana, is named after him (the name of the college has since been changed to Deenbandhu Chhotu Ram University of Science and Technology abbreviated as DCRUST, after it got the University Status in 2006).
The Indian government issued a commemorative stamp on 9 January 1995.
The Jat-Anglo Sanskrit School was started by him on 26 March 1913 in Rohtak. A Bachelor of Education college at the same campus, is also named after him.
- Sir Chhotu Ram: a biography, pages-8
- Sir Chhotu Ram
- J. Henry Korson. Contemporary Problems of Pakistan. (Brill, 1974) p. 10
- UK Indymedia – Rahabar-i-azam Sir Chhotu Ram – angel for farmer ...
- Guar farmers plan own party in Rajasthan
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 May 2014. Retrieved 2013-10-29.
- K.C.Yadav: The Crisis in India: Reflections of Sir Chhotu Ram, Haryana Historical Society, Kurukshetra, 1996
- Balbir Singh: Sir Chhotu Ram in Thoughts and Deeds, Jat Samaj Sewa Trust (regd.), New Delhi, 1930
- Madan Gopal: Sir Chhotu Ram: A Political Biography, B.R. Publishing Corporation, New Delhi, 1988
- Madan Gopal: Sir Chhotu Ram: The Man and the Vision, Bhagirath Sewa Sansthan, Ghaziabad, 1997 ISBN 81-85083-28-2