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Legacy of first Prez being forgotten: followers

india Updated: Sep 06, 2009 14:49 IST

Even as the country marks the 125th birth anniversary of Dr Rajendra Prasad, first President of free India, his followers believe that the nation has forgotten his contribution to the freedom struggle.

At a quiz competition for schoolchildren in Patna, Prasad's granddaughter Tara Sinha said she was sorry to notice that students failed to identify India's first President, who was also conferred with Bharat Ratna, when shown his photograph.

Sinha, who has written a book detailing the multiple facets of Prasad's personality, however believes it is the fault of her generation, which has failed to make children aware of Prasad's achievements.

"I don't think the year is being commemorated the way it should be. There is no exhibition to showcase his contribution, no stamp as a symbolic gesture and no national holiday," Sinha, who was in Delhi recently to release her book, told PTI.

"How many people know that as President of India he never drew his full salary and at the time of his retirement he was drawing only Rs 1,900 (when the prescribed salary was Rs 10,000)?" she asked.

The book titled Deshratna Rajendra Prasad -- Bahuayami Vyaktitva, is a compilation of 10 articles on Prasad written by Sinha over a period of time.

Sinha, a professor of English in Patna, who spent a major period of her teenage with Prasad at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, said: "In writing this book, I drew heavily from my own memories and that of my close relatives, besides the autobiography of my grandfather."

The book touches both personal and historical aspects of the life of Prasad, who was President from 1950-62.

"We need people to write about him to remind Indians who have forgotten his contributions," said Bimal Prasad, Director of the Rajendra Prasad Academy, which is also planning an international seminar on Prasad in November this year.

Prasad was a highly successful lawyer in Patna, when he left his career to take part in the non-cooperation movement in 1920. "When he retired in 1962, he did not have a permanent residence or a car. He returned to his ashram in Patna and whatever memorabilia he had, he gave it to the Patna museum, who did not preserve it the way it should have," Sinha said.

He retired at the time of Chinese aggression in 1962, and he went about appealing to people to donate for the country.

In her book, Sinha has highlighted certain unknown but fascinating instances of Prasad's life.

"After he appeared for one of his examinations, the checked answer sheet he received carried the remark the 'examinee is better than the examiner'," she said, adding that there are many such interesting facts about him, which might interest the young generation.