A robust patriot
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
Lakshmi Bai, the pious wife of Damodar Pant, an erudite scholar of Sanskrit, gave birth to a son on May 28, 1883 at Bhagpur village of Nasik, in Maharashtra.This second son of Damodar Pant is Vinayak Savarkar, while Ganesh Savarkar was his elder brother and the younger one, Narain Savarkar.
Their only sister was Meera Bai.This family of Chitpawan Brahmins consisted of six persons,hailing from a family of forefathers, reputed for their Sanskrit culture.
Vinayak Savarkar, as a child was habituated to listening historical stories of Chatrapati Shivaji and Peshwas from his father and Dharmic stories from his mother at bed time. As a child of five years, he used to read out Ramayana and Mahabharata to his mother.This paved the way for him to cultivate the habit of reading and writing,enabling him to exhibit the traits of a budding scholar, poet and leader,even before he attained the age of ten.At this point of time — that is, when he was about ten — one of his poems was published in the daily Maratha, which won him wide acclaim in Maharashtra.
No sooner Vinayak‘s Primary education was over in his village school, he was sent to Nasik,along with his elder brother, to execute his high school career.
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, shortly known as VDSavarkar was a born revolutionary.While at school, he organised ‘Mitra Mela,’ comprising of a group of students.He presided over the Mitra Mela meetings,where he recited poems composed by himself.This not only provoked the patriotic feelings, emotions,instincts and sentiments of his compatriot student friends but also boosted their national pride and courage for action. It was during this period of his high school career, a devastating plague spread in Bombay,where lakhs of people died due to gross negligence by the officials of the Municipal Corporation. Dead bodies were deserted and decaying corpses emanated foul air. Mitra Mela, under the captaincy of young Vinayak swung into action.They did yeoman service by cremating the dead and serving the bereaved families.Voluntary services performed by Mitra Mandal volunteers, Powda songs (patriotic songs in Marathi) composed by Vinayak Savarkar coupled with his oratorical skills, skyrocketed his popularity among the populace. In 1894, Hindu Dharma Rakshni Saba organised by Chapekar brothers instigated the people of Maharashtra against the callous attitude of the British authorities towards public health and welfare.Inspite of Bal Gangadhar Lokamanya Tilak warning the government about the restlessness of the people in this regard, the army suppressed the public rising with a heavy hand and tortured the people.Publie anger knew no bounds,finally resulting in the Chapekar brothers shooting down the Plague Commissioner Rand and another colleague of Rand. The government leveled charges of instigation against Tilak for publishing a letter in Kesari and arrested him. Adding insult to injury, on April 18, 1898, Dravid brothers,who were involved in a case, were imprisoned and hanged.The youth of the country were seething with anger and resentment.This time, the Chapekar brothers shot down another companion of Rand, as a measure of revenge,for which they were arrested and finally hanged in May 1899.
During this period, when all these kalidoscopic changes were taking place in the political scenario of the country, Vinayak Savarkar had an attack of small-pox and was shifted to his native village Bhagpur.When Savarkar became aware of the fate of Chapekar brothers through news papers,from his sick bed, where he was lying with small-pox and fever, he was highly perturbed. He visited the temple of their family deity Ashtabhuja Durga and took a solemn oath to drive out the British from our holy land.The same night, the poet in Savarkar made him write one more inspiring Powada titled ‘Hutatma Chapekar’. Sometime later, he wrote an article captioned ‘The Pride of Hindustan‘,in Nasik Gaurav, a daily news paper.The forceful writings of Savarkar attracted the attentions of his friends,students, teachers,elders and intellectuals like Ranade,Paranjape and Tilak. Savarkar‘s father and uncle, both stricken with plague, expired in 1899.
During these years also Savarkar continued to be active in Mitra Mela where he came in contact with two revolutionary minded youths — Mahaskar and Page — in 1900.Their participation in and contribution to Mitra Mela helped it to assume the stature of a reputed society called Abhinav Bharat (in 1904) , which latter emerged as the famous Ghadar Party that spread its tentacles wide abroad.
Savarkar got married, shortly before his Matriculation Examination.He completed his matriculation in 1901. By this time he was barely 18! Mitra Mela founded by Savarkar served as an institution to produce poets, orators, leaders, patriots and martyrs that were needed to throw out the foreign rule from Hindustan. By the time Savarkar entered Ferguson College in 1902, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was already a noted personality. He was an inspiring leader, a melodious poet, a devastating orator, an eminent writer and above all a patriot in a true sense.
The country will be celebrating Veer Savarkar‘s 130th birth anniversary on May 28, 2013.
Meghnad Saha was born on 6 October, 1893 in a village near Dhaka in Bangladesh. His father Jagannath Saha had a grocery shop in the village. His family’s financial condition was very bad. He studied in the village primary school while attending the family shop during free time. He got admitted into a middle school which was seven miles away from his village. He stayed in a doctor’s house near the school and had to work in that house to meet the cost of living. He was ranked first in the Dhaka middle school test and got admitted into Dhaka Collegiate School.
He graduated from Presidency College with Mathematics as a major subject and got second rank in the University of Calcutta whereas the first one was taken by Satyendra Nath Bose, another great scientist of India. In 1915, both SN Bose and Meghnad ranked first in M.Sc. exam, Meghnad in Applied Mathematics and Bose in Pure Mathematics. Meghnad decided to do research in Physics and Applied Mathematics. While in college, he got involved with the freedom struggle and came in contact with great leaders of his time like Subhas Chandra Bose and Bagha Jatin.
Meghnad Saha made remarkable contribution to the field of Astrophysics. He went abroad and stayed for two years in London and Germany. In 1927, Meghad Saha was elected as a fellow of London’s Royal Society.
Saha got interested in Nuclear Physics. In 1947, he established the Institute of Nuclear Physics which later was named after him as Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics. Other than being a scientist, he was also elected as a Member of the Parliament. Besides, Saha’s work relating to reform of Indian calendar was very significant. He was the chairman of the Calendar Reform Committee appointed by the Government of India in 1952. It was Saha’s effort which led to the formation of the Committee. The task before the Committee was to prepare an accurate calendar based on scientific study, which could be adopted uniformly throughout India. It was a mammoth task, but he did it successfully. (FOC)