Died On: 7 March 1961, New Delhi
Political party: Indian National Congress
Awards: Bharat Ratna
Famous As: Freedom Fighter
Father: Manorath Pant
Mother: Govindi Pant
Children: K. C. Pant, Lakshmi and Pushpa
Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant was a renowned Indian freedom fighter and one of the makers of modern India. He served as the Union Home Minister in Jawaharlal Nehru‘s cabinet and tackled the critical issues plaguing the newly independent nation with great elan. Govind Ballabh Pant began his career as a lawyer. His patriotic feelings were ignited after listening to a speech by Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Alongside other notable statesmen like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, he was an important figure in the struggle for India’s Independence. He actively took part in the Non-cooperation movement, the Civil Disobedience movement and the Satyagraha movement and as a result was imprisoned several times. After India’s independence, he became the first Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. He made his mark by abolishing the zamindari system and stabilizing the economic condition of the state. After his nearly five year long stint as the chief minister, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru inducted him in his cabinet as Union Home Minister. As Home Minister, he played a key role in the re-organisation of States along linguistic lines and in establishing Hindi as the official language of India. An effectual public speaker, he could influence his audience by his impressive diction and force of argument. For his services towards the nation, he was honored with the India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna.
Govind Ballabh Pant: Childhood & Early Life
- Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant was born on 10 September 1887, in a village called Khoont near Almora. He was born in a Maharashtrian Brahmin family that had migrated long back. His mother’s name was Govindi Bai and his father was Manorath Pant.
- His father was a government officer and had to move from one place to another frequently. Hence young Govind was brought up by his maternal grandfather, Badri Dutt Joshi, who also shaped his personality and political views.
- Right from childhood, he was an excellent student. He passed Middle School and Matriculation examination from the Samay College, Almora. He then joined the Muir College, Allahabad on scholarship and graduated with Mathematics, English and Politics.
- In 1907, a speech by Gokhale deeply influenced his patriotic feelings. He also read the writings of Bankim Chandra, Dadabhai Naoroji, Dickens, Thackeray, Voltaire et all. He decided to study Law and in two years, he topped his batch and won the Lumsden gold medal.
Govind Ballabh Pant: Career
- In the initial years as a lawyer in Kashipur, Pandit Pant actively campaigned against the British Raj. In 1914, he helped a village council to effectively challenge a law that required locals, known as ‘coolie beggars’, to carry the luggage of travelling British officers for free.
- Having gained popularity as a lawyer, in 1921, he entered politics and was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh.
- Together with Pandit Badri Durr Pande, he started a weekly paper called ‘Shakti‘, highlighting the problems and campaigning for the cause of the Kumaon region.
- In 1930, he was imprisoned for several weeks for arranging a Salt March inspired by Mahatama Gandhi. In 1933, he was arrested again for attending a session of the then outlawed provincial Congress.
- In 1935, the ban was withdrawn and he was elected to the Central Legislative Assembly. He won the respect of the leaders of the Congress with his political skills. Soon, he became deputy leader of the Congress party in the Assembly.
- In the 1937 election, he was elected unchallenged as the leader of the Congress Party in the United Provinces (present day Uttar Pradesh) and became the first Chief Minister of the United Provinces under the Government of India Act, 1935. As Chief Minister, he brought about several necessary reforms in the State.
- In 1939, India was pulled into the Second World War. The Congress ministers, including Pandit Pant, resigned as a mark of protest. He acted as a tiebreaker between Gandhi’s and Bose’s conflicting approaches to the war. In 1940, he took part in Gandhi’s Satyagraha Movement as a result of which he was imprisoned.
- In 1942, he was arrested for signing the Quit India resolution. In March 1945, he was let free after Jawaharlal Nehru pleaded his release on grounds of deteriorating health.
- After the war was over in 1945, the British Labour government held elections to the Provisional legislatures, and he emerged as the leader of the Party in United Provinces once again. He became the Chief Minister of the state for the second time continuing even after India’s independence in 1947.
- He became the first Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and was in the office from 26 January 1950 to 27 December 1954.
- In 1955, he was inducted into Jawaharlal Nehru’s cabinet and was made the Union Home Minister. He served in this position till his death in 1961.
Govind Ballabh Pant: Major Works
- As a young lawyer, Pandit Pant successfully campaigned against the British Raj in 1914, by challenging a law that required locals, known as ‘coolie beggars’ to carry the luggage of British officers for free.
- He played a significant role in the Indian freedom movement He was an active participant in both the Non-Cooperation Movement and the Civil Disobedience Movement.
- After India’s independence, as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, he was successful in stabilizing the economic condition of the state. He abolished the zamindari system, made monogamy compulsory for Hindu men and conferred Hindu women the rights to divorce and inherit ancestral property.
- As Home Minister, he was successful in re-organizing the States along linguistic lines. He also established Hindi as an official language of the central government and a few states.
Awards & Achievements:
- In 1957, he was awarded India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, for his selfless service to the nation.
Personal Life & Legacy:
- In 1960, Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant suffered a heart attack. As the then Home Minister of India, he received the best treatment available but his health deteriorated further. After suffering a cerebral stroke he passed away on 7 March 1961, at the age of 74.
- His son, Krishna Chandra Pant was also a noted politician. His other children were Lakshmi Pant and Pushpa Pant.