Remembering Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya on His Birth Anniversary

Malviya was conferred with India’s top civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, on 30 March 2015.

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(This story was first published on 30 March 2015. It has been republished from The Quint’s archives on the birth anniversary of Madan Mohan Malaviya.)

President Pranab Mukherjee conferred India’s top civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, on freedom fighter and educationist Madan Mohan Malviya on 30 March 2015.

On his 69th death anniversary, The Quint remembers this astute statesman.

A Statesman

Malaviya was a tall freedom fighter and is regarded as one of the finest statesmen in pre-independence India.

Not only was Malaviya elected President of the Indian National Congress twice, he also helped establish the far right party, Hindu Mahasabha in 1906, which brought diverse local Hindu nationalist movements together.

Mahatma Gandhi called him ‘Mahamana’ (the noble minded) and regarded him highly for his universal public acceptability across a spectrum of political leanings.

When I returned to my Country, I first went to Lokamanya Tilak. He appeared tall like the Himalayas. I thought it was not possible for me to scale the heights and returned. Then I went to Deshbandhu Gokhale. He appeared deep like the ocean. I saw that it was not possible for me to gauge the depth and returned. Finally, I went to Mahamana Malaviya and he appeared like the pure flow of Ganga. I saw it was possible to take bath in the sacred flow.
Mahatma Gandhi

Malviya, often called ‘silver tongued’, possessed fine oratory skills. It was his visionary and powerful speech at the Second Congress Session in Calcutta, in 1886, that catapulted him into national politics.

Malviya was conferred with India’s top civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, on 30 March 2015.
PM Narendra Modi paying floral tribute to Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya’s statue in Varanasi. (File Photo: PTI)

Demand for conferring Bharat Ratna to Mahamana Malaviya was long standing.

Malaviya remained a part of the Congress for almost 50 years and worked with several Congress Presidents, retiring from active politics in 1937.

Of all Indian leaders I love Malaviyaji the most, though I respect Gandhiji the best. That I think is a fair distribution of honour.
Lala Lajpat Rai

In his politics, Malaviya walked the middle path between the Liberals and the Nationalists, the moderates and the extremists.

A Journalist

Malaviya also founded an influential English newspaper, The Leader in 1909 and later became the Chairman of Hindustan Times from 1924 to 1946.

Born in a Brahmin family in Allahabad on December 25, 1861, Malaviya’s ultimate ambition was to become a Katha Vachak (Hindu priest) like his father. But poverty pushed him to become a school teacher, and later a journalist.

An Educationist

He was passionate about education reforms. It is said he went door-to-door to collect funds to build a University in educationally backward eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Malviya was conferred with India’s top civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, on 30 March 2015.
Banaras Hindu University was founded in 1916.

His efforts resulted in the foundation of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Varanasi in 1916.

Madan Mohan Malaviya served as BHU’s Vice-Chancellor for nearly two decades and remained active at the University right until his death at the age of 84 in 1946.

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