As was only to be hoped that being a British colony India was slowly gearing to the adoption of English as the national language during the pre-Independent era. Even after the attainment of freedom by India in 1947, Hindi has having a tough time in achieving its due place in the country. Against this backdrop, Purushottam Das Tandon, also known as Rajarshi, is remembered for his yeomen’s service in the achievement by Hindi its due place as the National Language.
Sometimes his enthusiasm for Hindi was resented by some who accused him being communal and chauvinistic. It was by his efforts that Hindi began to be written in Devanagari script.
One of the foremost leaders during India’s struggle for independence, Purushottam Das Tandon was also a journalist, orator and social worker. He was born on 2nd August, 1882, at Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. After receiving his primary education in the local City Anglo Vernacular School, he got a degree in law and started practising in the Allhabad High court.
|(Source: The Times Of India Group)|
During his student days he joined Indian National congress in 1899. After being expelled from Mayor Central College of the Allahabad University for his revolutionary activities, he completed his studies in 1903 from a different college in Allahabad. He was one of the members of Congress Party Committee formed to look into the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Responding to the call of Mahatma Gandhi, he joined the freedom struggle by giving up his law practice in 1921.
In 1946, Purushottam Das Tandon was elected to the Constituent Assembly that drafted the Indian constitution. He served as the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Uttar Pradesh and remained in the post for thirteen years.
Though Tandon contested unsuccessfully against Pattabhi Sitaramayya for the position of the President of Congress in 1948 but was able to defeat Jivatram Bhagwandas Kripalani popularly known as Acharya Kriplani, in 1950 to be the president of Nagpur session. Jawaharlal Nehru was opposed to the candidacy of Tandon and he even threatened to resign. During his tenure there was a lack of co-ordination between the party and the government. Since then it has been the norm in the Congress party to have the same person as the president and head of the government or at least a pliable candidate for the post of either of the two. Purushottam Das Tandon won the Lok Sabha poll in 1952 and went to the Rajya Sabha in 1956.
On 23rd April, 1961, Purushottam Das Tandon was awarded Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award. He breathed his last on 1st July 1962.