Purushottam Das Tandon was born on September 5, 1885 in Patna. He was a famous Indian politician, economist and freedom fighter, who transformed the economics of India with his work as a part of the Round Table Conference that resulted in the eventual British withdrawal from India.”
Before moving to politics and economics, he graduated from Patna Law College at age 19. The young Purushottam started his career by teaching law at Presidency College until 1903 when he left for England to attend Cambridge University.
About Purushottam Das Tandon
Purushottam’s study of economics began with the works of David Ricardo, James Mill and John Stuart Mill. He was greatly influenced by the works and teachings of Cambridge economists such as Alfred Marshall, Arthur Pigou and John Maynard Keynes. He was awarded a degree in Economics at Cambridge University. He returned to India in 1912 after completing his education at Cambridge University.
On his return to India, Purushottam joined the freedom movement and served as a member of the Indian legislative council for 25 years (1919–44). Not only that, he also had a great role in drafting India’s constitution from 1930–48.
Life of Purushottam
Purushottam Das Tandon was born in September 1885 in Patna, India in a Brahmin family. His father, Shri Rameshwar Das was a follower of the philosophies of Arya Samaj and Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak. He had three brothers – Prabhudatt, Shyama Krishna and Bipin Chandra Das (noted Indian freedom fighter), as well as one sister. All his siblings were involved with politics at some point in their lives. In 1897, he joined Maharaja College in Patna for high school and completed his graduation with first class with college records for best performance in English Literature.
After completing his high school from Maharaja College in Patna, Purushottam joined Presidency College in Kolkata in 1902. While studying at Presidency College, he met Mahatma Gandhi, who would later become one of his close friends. He was also inspired by the works of Gunanand Goenka‘s newspaper Swaraj (Independence). In 1903, he left Presidency College to join the University of Calcutta and completed his Bachelor’s degree in Economics.
He moved to England after this and studied further at Cambridge University. He graduated with a degree in economics with first class honors. He was also awarded the prestigious Morrell Prize for Economics during his course at Cambridge University.
His personal life
He married Mrs. Ragini Devi, the daughter of renowned educationist Sir Rameshwar Dayal. He had two sons, Bhagwat Sharan Tandon and Suresh Tandon; and one daughter, Mala Tandon. His wife died in 1948 at the age of 69.
Tandon and the freedom movement
Although he had a very successful career in politics and economics after his return to India in 1912, he was deeply involved with India’s freedom struggle from the start. Purushottam Das joined Mahatma Gandhi’s Swaraj (Independence) Party in 1915.
He joined the Indian Freedom Movement in Agra, India when he was 21 years old. He was a member of the All India Congress Committee from 1920-24 and served as a member of East Punjab Public Service Commission for three years (1947–50).
In 1919, Tandon became a member of the Council of the Governor General and served as a member of the Central Legislative Assembly from 1920-48. He was nominated to the Viceroy’s Executive Council in 1935 by Lord Willingdon, but resigned after a few months because he believed that Willingdon’s policies did not favor India. In 1944 he became Acting President of the Executive Council after Lord Wavell vacated that post.
Tandon and the Round Table Conference
Tandon’s most famous work came in 1945, when he represented the Congress Party of India at the British Cabinet Mission to India led by Sir Stafford Cripps. The conference was a part of the efforts of Britain to transfer power to Indian leaders about two years before independence. It was during this conference that Tandon famously said, “The British Quit India”. This phrase created such a strong impression that it is still remembered today even after 70 years of freedom from British rule.
His other famous work came in 1948 when he played an active role in drafting the Indian constitution. Because of his deep understanding of economics, Tandon drafted the article on economic principles in the constitution.
After Indian Independence in 1947, Tandon was elected as a member of Parliament to the Constituent Assembly and worked steadily to ensure that the process of creating the new constitution was completed.
In April 1950, he was elected as Minister for Food and Agriculture in the Government of India under Prime Minister Nehru. He held this post until 1952 when he resigned from all government posts and retired from politics. After that, he served briefly as a member on the Board of Visitors to Andaman Prison.
Awards and Honours
The Indian government awarded him Bharat Ratna in the year 1959. He was also awarded Padma Vibhushan in 1954 and Padma Bhushan in 1954.