Dr. Rajendra Prasad was born on 3 December 1884 in Jiradei, SiwanBihar, British India & died on 28 February 1963, was the youngest son of Mahadev Sahay from the village Ziradei, then the Saran district of Bihar. Dr. Prasad is considered to be one of the architects of the Indian Republic, having drafted its first constitution and serving as the first president of free India.
During the independence movement, he left his law work and joined the Congress Party, playing a prominent role in the Indian Independence Movement. He served as the president of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the first constitution of the Republic, which lasted from 1948 to 1950. He also briefly served as a cabinet minister in the first Government of the Indian Republic.
Dr. Rajendra Prasad, son of Mahadev Sahai, was born in Zeradei village, in the Siwan district of Bihar, on 3 December 1884. He was the youngest in a large family, & was close to his mother and eldest brother. He was known as “Rajen” to his family and friends. His father, Mahadev Sahay, was a scholar of both the Persian and Sanskrit languages, while his mother, Kamleshwari Devi, was a religious woman. Zeradei’s population was diverse, with both Muslims and Hindus living in relative harmony.
When Rajendra Prasad was five years old, his parents put him under a Mawlawi, an accomplished Muslim scholar, to learn the Persian language, followed by Hindi and arithmetic. After the completion of traditional elementary education, Rajendra Prasad was sent to the Chhapra District School. At the age of 12, Rajendra Prasad was married to Rajavanshi Devi. He, along with his elder brother Mahendra Prasad, then went on to study at T.K. Ghosh’s Academy in Patna.
Since childhood, Rajendra Prasad was a brilliant student. He placed first in the entrance examination to the University of Calcutta and was awarded Rs.30 per month as a scholarship. In 1902, Rajendra Prasad joined the Presidency College. He was initially a student of science and his teachers included Jagadish Chandra Bose and Prafulla Chandra Roy. Later he decided to focus on the arts. Prasad lived with his brother in the Eden Hindu Hostel. A plaque still commemorates his stay in that room. Dr. Rajendra Prasad was instrumental in the formation of the Bihari Students’ Conference in 1908. It was the first organization of its kind in the whole of India, which would later produce many of the premier figures of Bihar like Bihar Vibhuti Dr Anugrah Narayan Sinha & Bihar Kesari Sri Krishna Singh.
In 1915, Rajendra Prasad graduated with a Masters in Law, passing his examination with honors. He then went on to complete his Doctorate in Law.
Rajendra Prasad served in various educational institutions as a teacher. After completing his MA in economics, Dr. Prasad joined as a professor at the Bhumihar Brahman College in Muzaffarpur, on July 1908 and later went on to become the principal. However later on he left the college for his legal studies. In Kolkata too he worked as Professor of Economics.
Rajendra Prasad practiced law and pursued studies at Bhagalpur in Bihar and eventually emerged as a popular and eminent figure of the region. In 1916, Rajendra Prasad joined the High Court of Bihar and Orissa. Such was his intellect and his integrity, that often when his adversary failed to cite a precedent, the judges would ask Rajendra Prasad to provide a precedent.
He was elected as the President of Indian National Congress during the Bombay session in October 1934. He again became the president when Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose resigned in 1939.
After India became an independent republic in 1950, he was elected as the first President of India. Prasad acted independently of politics, following the expected role of the president that the constitution set down. Following the tussle over the enactment of the Hindu Code Bill, he took a more active role in the affairs of the nation. He set several important precedents for later presidents to follow.
In 1962, after twelve years as the president, he announced his decision to retire. He was subsequently awarded the Bharat Ratna, the nation’s highest civilian award.
Rajendra Prasad died on 28 February 1963.