Desikottama Dr G Ramachandran, is one of the giants of those who were privileged to be moulded by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi and Rajaji, represented a rare synthesis of the values the great men stood for, all their lives. GR distinguished himself as an authentic interpreter of the first two and set himself up as a practical reformer who sought to harmonize Gandhi and Tagore; in constructive ventures and act as a bridge between the two.
Sri G. Ramachandran met Gandhi at Dilkush in 1921, during Gandhiji’s famous “21 days fast”. He was then a student of Mr. CF Andrews at Santiniketan. The discussions GR was privileged to have with Gandhi on the occasion drew him closer to the Mahatma.
Ramachandran soon became an inmate of Gandhiji’s ashram at Sevagram and under Gandhiji’s direct guidance and supervision plunged himself into the national movement and the Gandhian Constructive Programme. During the Freedom struggle, he courted arrest eleven times and spent seven years in jail. Gandhi chose him as a close disciple and entrusted to him several important missions. He was sent to Jamia Millia Islamia as per the request of Dr Zakhir Hussain where he served a lecturer and taught spinning. Khadi work brought him closer to the common man and the distinguished Rajaji.
He began Khadi work selling Khadi yarn and cotton and became the Chairman of ALL INDIA KHADI AND VILLAGE INDUSTRIES COMMISSION of India. During his tenure as Chairman, he started the People’s Education Programme for poor. His contribution to education, Basic Education & Higher Education, Khadi and community Development, needs special mention. Gandhigram Rural University of which he became the Founder Vice Chancellor is a reflection on GR as an educationist and a constructive thinker.
His experiments in Gandhigram showed us how rural children and women could be provided with facilities for growth and all-round development from birth to higher education. Along with his wife, Dr (Mrs.) Soundram Ramachandran, he founded the “Institute of Rural health and Family planning Centre”‚ institute for ‘Sanitary Inspectors’ Training and Kasturba Hospital, which won recognition and awards at the National level (especially for services in Family planning and women & child-welfare)..
He was a powerful Orator and a brilliant writer. His Autobiography, “Adventuring with life” is a true reflection of his times and the aspirations of the millions who dedicated their lives for their motherland.. The milestones in the eventful life of this multifaceted personality and man of conviction and humour may be summarized as follows:
- Joined Non Cooperation movement in 1920 & participated in theTilak Swaraj Fund.
- Become one of the earliest Honours Graduates of the Visva Bharati in 1924 and joined the SabarmathiAshram
- Took part in the Salt-Satyagraha Revolution in 1930 together with Rajaji at Vedaranyam. Sentenced to imprisonment for one year and a fine of Rs.500/-
- Functioned as the Provincial Secretary of the Harijan Sevak Sangh in Tamil nadu and Kerala and member of the Central Executive Committee of Harijan Sevak Sangh.
- Took active part in the Temple Entry movement in Tamilnad and Kerala (Vaikom) Spent six years as one of the general Secretaries of the Hindustani Tamil Sangh in Sevagram and actively promoted Basic Education in Tamilnadu, Mysore and Andra.
- Was appointed the Chairman of the Basic Education Assessment Committee set up by the Government of India.
- Appointed Educational advisor of Rajaji Government of Madras State.
- Joined the Pattom Tanu Pillai Cabinet (in Travancore) as a Minister.
- Served the Indian Express as an Editor. Along with his wife Dr (Mrs.) Soundram Ramachandran founded Gandhigram in1947 and was its Director for 15 years.
- Was the member of the Rajya Sabha for 6 years.
- Served on the Bal want Ray G Mehta Committee on Community Development.
- General Secretary of the Gandhi Smark Nidhi for 3 years.
- Founder Secretary of the Gandhi Peace Foundation, Editor of Gandhi Marg (English Journal)
- Conferred the Degree of D.Litt by the Kashi Vidya Peeth, title of “Desikottama” by Viswabarathi University and Doctorate by Gandhigram Rural University.
- Traveled widely: lectured in the universities in England, Germany, United States, Soviet Union, Poland Yugoslavia, Ceylon etc. spreading the message of Mahatma Gandhi.
- Was a member of the delegation sent to Moscow by the Gandhi Peace foundation along with the Congress President UN Debar to take the message of peace and to prevent the use of Nuclear weapons.
- Authored Several Books: Thought and Talks, Village Reconstruction Step by Step, The Man Gandhi, A Sheaf of Gandhi Anecdotes, Higher Values of life, Adventuring with Life etc.
- Several Poems, drawings and handicraft-items to his credit.
- Received peace awards from Grambling University, USA and the Soka Gakkai International, Tokyo
- As a last “venture” founded the Madhavimandiram Loka Seva Trust, at the age of 76 bequeathing all his ancestral property (to the Trust) in memory of his mother Smt Madhavi Tankachi. GR Started this The Trust runs Mahatma Gandhi Vidya Peedom and is involved in other activities.
- He gave his last 15 years for this venture which has two wings: social work and educational. Under the educational wing Mahatma Gandhi Vidya Peedom Dr GR Public School is one of the units.