Kamaraj Life History for Students:
Kamaraj was born 15 July, 1903, to Kumarasamy Nadar and Sivakami Ammal at Virudhunagar near Madurai in Tamil Nadu. His parents were from a trading family. His real name was Kamakshi Kumaraswamy, but was affectionately shortened to Raja by his mother, Sivakami Ammal. His father, Kumarswamy Nadar, was a coconut merchant. Kamaraj was enrolled at the local elementary school, the Enadhy Nayanar Vidyalaya, but was later shifted to the high school Kshatriya Vidyalaya. Unfortunately his father died within a year of Kamaraj's enrollment in school. Kamaraj's mother sold all jewelry except her earrings and deposited the money with a local merchant and cared for the entire family on the monthly interest that the money earned.
Kamaraj dropped out of school when he was in the sixth grade. When he entered mainstream public life he felt handicapped and realized the importance of a good education. He educated himself during his periods of imprisonment.
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Kamaraj joined as an apprentice in his maternal uncle Karuppiah's cloth shop after dropping out of school. At the age of 16, Kamaraj enrolled himself as full-time worker of the Congress. 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. 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 Madurai. Nine months later, upon his release, 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 once more 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.
On April 13, 1954, K. Kamaraj reluctantly 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. Kamaraj removed the family vocation based Hereditary Education Policy introduced by Rajaji. He reopened the 6000 schools closed by previous 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 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 Mid - Day Meal Scheme to provide at least one meal per day to the lakhs of poor school children (first time in the whole world). He introduced free school uniforms to weed out caste, creed and class distinctions among young minds. Kamaraj remained Chief Minister for three consecutive terms. On October 2, 1963, he resigned from the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Post.
In 1963 he suggested to Nehru that senior Congress leaders should leave ministerial posts to take up organisational work. This suggestion came to be known as the ‘Kamaraj Plan’, which was designed primarily to dispel from the minds of Congressmen the lure for power. Kamaraj was elected President, Indian National Congress, on October 9, 1963. Well impressed by the achievements and acumen of Kamraj, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru felt that his services were needed more at the national level. In a swift move he brought Kamaraj to Delhi as the President of the Indian National Congress. Nehru realised that if he had wide learning and vision, Kamaraj possessed enormous common sense and pragmatism.
On October 2, 1975, Gandhi Jayanti day, K. Kamaraj died in his sleep. He was honoured with the highest civilian honour, the 'Bharat Ratna' posthumously in 1976.