In this Indian name, the name Kumarasami is a patronymic, not a family name, and the person should be referred to by the given name, Kamaraj.
Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) for Nagercoil
Preceded by : A. Nesamony
Succeeded by : Kumari Ananthan
Constituency : Nagercoil
Member of Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly for Sattur (In office)
Preceded by : S. Ramaswamy Naidu
Succeeded by : S. Ramaswamy Naidu
Constituency : Sattur
Member of Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly for Gudiyatham
Preceded by : Rathnaswamy and A. J. Arunachala Mudaliar
Succeeded by : V. K. Kothandaraman and T. Manavalan
Constituency : Gudiyatham
Chief Minister of the Madras State (Tamil Nadu)
Preceded by : C. Rajagopalachari
Succeeded by : M. Bhakthavatsalam
Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) for Srivilliputhur
Preceded by None
Succeeded by : S. S. Natarajan
Constituency : Srivilliputhur
President of the Indian National Congress (Organisation)
Preceded by : None
Succeeded by : Morarji Desai
President of the Indian National Congress
Preceded by : Neelam Sanjiva Reddy
Succeeded by : S. Nijalingappa
President of the Madras Provincial Congress Committee
Born 15 July 1903 : Virudhunagar, Tamil Nadu, India
Died 2 October 1975 (aged 72) : Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Kumarasami Kamaraj (Tamil: குமாரசாமி காமராஜ்) better known as K. Kamaraj (15 July 1903 – 2 October 1975 ) was an Indian politician from Tamil Nadu widely acknowledged as the “Kingmaker” in Indian politics during the 1960s. He was the chief minister of Tamil Nadu during 1954-1963 and a Member of Parliament during 1952-1954 and 1969-1975. He was known for his simplicity and integrity.
He was involved in the Indian independence movement.As a high ranking office bearer of the Indian National Congress, he was instrumental in bringing to power two Prime Ministers, Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1964 and Indira Gandhi in 1966. In Tamil Nadu, his home state, he is still remembered for bringing school education to millions of the rural poor by introducing free education and the free Midday Meal Scheme during his tenure as chief minister. He was awarded India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, posthumously in 1976. The domestic terminal of the Chennai airport is named “Kamaraj Terminal”, Chennai’s Beach Road renamed “Kamarajar Salai”, Bengaluru’s North Parade Road as “K. Kamaraj Rd.” and the Madurai Kamaraj University in his honour
Kamaraj was born on 15 July 1903 to Kumarasamy Nadar and Sivakami Ammal at Virudhunagar in Tamil Nadu. His parents were from a trading family. His father Kumarasamy Nadar, was a coconut merchant. Kamaraj was initially enrolled in the Enadhy Nayanar Vidyalaya elementary school, and later in high school Kshatriya Vidyalaya. Kamaraj’s father died when he was six years old and his mother was forced to support her family by selling her jewellery. In 1914, Kamaraj dropped out of school to support his family.
Start in politics and freedom struggle
kamaraj joined as an apprentice in his maternal uncle Karuppiah’s cloth shop after dropping out of school. He would slip out from the shop to join processions and attend public meetings addressed by orators like Dr. P. Varadarajulu Naidu. His relatives frowned upon Kamaraj’s budding interest in politics. They sent him to Thiruvananthapuram to work at another uncle’s timer shop.
At the age of 16, Kamaraj enrolled himself as full-time worker of the Congress Party. He invited speakers, organized meetings and collected funds for the party. He also participated in the march to Vedaranyam led by C. Rajagopalachari as part of the Salt Satyagraha of March 1930.
Kamaraj was arrested and sent to Alipore Jail in Calcutta for two years. He was 27 at the time of his arrest and was released in 1931 following the Gandhi-Irwin Pact. Kamaraj was implicated in the Virudhunagar bomb case two years later. Dr P. Varadarajulu Naidu and George Joseph argued on Kamaraj’s behalf and proved the charges to be baseless. Kamaraj was arrested again in 1940 and sent to Vellore Central Prison while he was on his way to Wardha to get Gandhiji’s approval for a list of satyagrahis.
While still in jail, Kamaraj was elected Chairman of the Municipal Council of Virudhunagar. Upon his release nine months later Kamaraj went straight to the Municipality and tendered his resignation from his post. He felt that “one should not accept any post to which one could not do full justice.”
Kamaraj was arrested one more time in 1942 and sentenced to three years in the Amaravathi prison for spreading propaganda material for the Quit India movement initiated by Gandhiji. While in prison, Kamaraj read books and continued his self-education.
In 1945 C. Rajagopalachari tried to make a comeback within the Congress organisation in Tamil Nadu. He had the support of Gandhi and Sardar Patel, but the majority of members in the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee opposed him. A conference was held in Tirupparankundram in which the leadership should be elected. Chaos broke about during the conference as warring factions confronted each other. Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar interrupted the disputes and passed a motion re-electing Kamaraj as the TNCC President
On 13 April 1954, K. Kamaraj became the Chief Minister of Madras Province. To everyone’s surprise, Kamaraj nominated C. Subramaniam and M. Bhakthavatsalam, who had contested his leadership, to the newly formed cabinet. Never did Kamaraj aspire for any post in the party or in the administration. For him the posts were like a towel over the shoulder . Without any hesitation he chose to quit posts for the benefit of future generation .
Kamaraj removed the family vocation based Hereditary Education Policy introduced by Rajaji. He reopened the 6000 schools closed by Rajaji government for financial reasons and also added 12000 more schools. The State made immense strides in education and trade. New schools were opened, so that poor rural students were to walk no more than 3 miles (4.8 km) to their nearest school. Better facilities were added to existing ones. No village remained without a primary school and no panchayat without a high school. Kamaraj strove to eradicate illiteracy by introducing free and compulsory education up to the eleventh standard. He introduced the Midday Meal Scheme to provide at least one meal per day to the lakhs of poor school children (first time in the world). He introduced free school uniforms to weed out caste, creed and class distinctions among young minds.
During British regime the education was only 7 percent. But in Kamaraj’s period it was 37% . During Rajaji’s period there were 12000 schools in the state. Whereas it was 27000 in the period of Kamaraj.
Kamaraj Statue in Marina Beach, Chennai depicting his contribution to education in the state.
Apart from increasing number of schools, steps were taken to improve standard of education. To improve the standards number of working day were increased from 180 to 200. Unnecessary holidays were reduced. Syllabus were prepared to give opportunity to various abilities.
Kamaraj and Sri Bishnuram Medhi (Governor) took efforts to start the IIT Madras in 1959.
Major irrigation schemes were planned in Kamaraj’s period . Lower Bhavani, Mani Muthar, Cauvery Delta, Aarani River, Vaigai Dam, Amaravathi, Sathanur, Krishnagiri, Pullambadi, Parambikulam and Neyyaru Dams were among them . The Lower Bhavani Dam in Coimbatore district was constructed with an expenditure of Rs 10/- Crores. 207,000 acres (840 km2) of land are under cultivation.
45,000 acres (180 km2) of land are benefited through Mettur canal of Salem. Another scheme was Krishnagiri in the same district. Vaigai, Sathanur facilitate to cultivate thousands of acres of lands in Madurai and North Arcot districts respectively. Rs 30 crores were planned to spend for Parambikulam River scheme in Kamaraj’s period. This has helped for the development of Coimbatore district in agriculture field.
A number of dams were constructed under his rule:
In 1957-61 1,628 Tanks were de-silted under Small Irrigation Scheme 2000 wells were digged with outlets. Long term loans with 25% subsidy were given to farmers. Apart from farmers who are having dry lands were given oil engines, electric pump sets on installment basis.
150 lakhs of acres of lands were cultivated during Kamaraj’s period. One third of this i.e. 56 lakhs of acres of land got permanent watering facility.
Industries with huge investments in crores of Rupees were started in his period. Neyveli Lignite Scheme, Raw photo film industry at The Nilgiris, Surgical instruments factory at Guindy, Sugar factories, Bi-Carbonates factories, Cement factories, Railway Coach factory at Perambur, Mettur paper industry were started in the period of Kamaraj. These are the back-bone for the development of the nation. Other industries which were started his period are
BHEL, Trichy. Neyveli Lignite Corporation. Manali Refinery Ltd.
Advice to his ministers
Kamaraj gave a simple advice to his ministers, “Face the problem. Don’t evade it. Find a solution, however small. People will be satisfied if you do something.” Followed by him a number of Central and State ministers like Lal Bahadur Shastri, Jagjivan Ram, Satyendra Narayan Sinha, Morarji Desai and S.K. Patil followed suit and resigned from their posts. In 1964, Kamaraj was elected ‘Congress President’ and he successfully navigated the party and the nation through the stormy years following Nehru’s death. Kamaraj’s political maturity came in full view when Nehru died in 1964. How he settled the succession issue for the Prime Ministership was amply proved by his choice of Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi in succession.
On October 2, 1975, Kamaraj died in his sleep. He was awarded India’s highest civilian honour, the ‘Bharat Ratna’ posthumously in 1976. Lose of out Tamilnadu