Born: 25 December 1861 in Allahabad
Died: 12 November 1946 in Varanasi
Award: Bharat Ratna in 2014
Known for: Role in Indian independence movement, President of Indian National Congress, Founder of Banaras Hindu University (BHU), One of the founders of Scouting in India, Founders of English-newspaper ‘The Leader’
Profession: Educationist, Journalist, Lawyer, Politician, Freedom Activist.
Born in a family of six brothers and two sisters. His grandfather Pt Premdhar and father Pt Baijnath were Sanskrit scholars. His father, Pt Baijnath, was also an excellent Kathavacak (narrator of the stories from Bhagawat). After initial training in Sanskrit, Malaviyaji joined the Saraswati School for study in English. He passed his B.A. from Muir Central College in 1884. He was married in 1878 to Kumari Devi of Mirzapur.
Initially, Malaviya wanted to be a good Kathavacak like his father. However, due to poverty in the house, he was forced to join the government school as a teacher. After completing his graduation and the job of a teacher in 1884, he pursued his education from 1889 and passed the LLB course in 1891. He practiced in the district court and then in the High Court. He was the Congress President for a record of four times- in 1909 (Lahore), in 1918 (Delhi), in 1930 (Delhi) and in 1932 (Calcutta). He was catapulted into the political arena immediately after his first moving speech at the second Congress session held in Kolkata in 1886.
An educationist with a vision, Malaviya's main achievement was the establishment of the Banaras Hindu University. Today, Malaviya is most remembered as the founder of the university, the largest residential university in Asia and one of the largest in the world, having over 12,000 students across arts, sciences, engineering and technology at Varanasi in 1916. Malaviya is also remembered for his stellar role in the Independence movement and his espousal of Hindu nationalism. He was one of the initial leaders of the right-wing Hindu Mahasabha.
Malaviya was an important figure in the non-cooperation movement, but he was opposed to Congress' participation in the Khilafat movement. In April 1932, he was arrested along with 450 other Congress volunteers in Delhi while participating in the civil disobedience movement. In the same year, he also initiated a manifesto urging the "Buy Indian" movement in India.However, a disenchanted Malaviya then left the Congress party to form the Congress Nationalist Party along with Madhav Shrihari Aney. The party contested the 1934 elections to the central legislature and won 12 seats. He bid farewell to active politics in 1937.
Malaviya has also worked towards the eradication of the caste system, and for this he was temporarily expelled from the Shi Gaud Brahmin samaj. He even organised a mass of 200 Dalit people, including the Dalit leader PN Rajbhoj to demand entry into the Kalaram Temple on a Rath Yatra day. Malviya was one of the founders of Scouting in India. He was also the founder of the highly influential English newspaper, The Leader, which was published from Allahabad in 1909. He was also the Chairman of Hindustan Times from 1924 to 1946. His efforts resulted in the launch of its Hindi edition in 1936.
Incidentally, Malaviya's grandson, J Girdhar Malviya, was one of the proposers of Narendra Modi's candidature from Varanasi during the Lok Sabha elections. Soon after Modi became prime minister, Malaviya's Varanasi-based relatives had thanked Modi for considering to confer the Bharat Ratna on him.