Biography of K. Santhanam
Shri Kasturiranga Santhanam also known as Kumitithadai Santhanam (born 1895 – died February 28, 1980) was an Indian politician.
Santhanam attained his academic excellence as a student of mathematics and later as a distinguished attorney from the Law College of Madras, now known as Chennai. He obtained a Master of Arts degree in mathematics from the University of Madras (St. Joseph’s College, Trichy).
Owing to his mathematical background and keen intellect, he was attributed to possess exceptional analytical ability as a politician and economic adviser. Mr. Santhanam maintained a high reputation for honesty, integrity, simplicity and loyalty. He was more a public servant than a politician in the style of Mahatma Gandhi. He had served the Indian government in various capacities after India obtained freedom.
K. Santhanam was the governor of Madhya Bharat or Vindhya Pradesh for a term, lieutenant governor of Himachal Pradesh when the state was formed, and was the Union Railway minister in the Nehru administration.
He was instrumental for some of the major developments in the Indian railways including significant increases in coverages, domains, distances and areas, and more importantly making train travel more easy and economical.
The Indian railways bore the imprint of Mr. Sanathanam’s sterling contributions to their rapid expansion programs. At the first call of Mahatma Gandhi, a 25 year-old Santhanam plunged into the freedom struggle, abandoning his personal assets and professional life. During this period, while serving a jail term with Nehru, Santhanam lost his wife in Gandhi Ashram.
From 1937 to 1942, he was a member of the Imperial Legislative Assembly, and from 1946 was a member of the Constituent Assembly, from 1948 serving as Union Minister for Railways and Transport in Jawaharlal Nehru’s cabinet.
K. Santhanam stood as a Congress candidate for the House of the People from Mayuram in Tanjore district, but lost to a Communist. In February 1952, he was appointed as the Governor of Vindhya Pradesh.
In 1963, Lal Bahadur Sastri appointed Santhanam to preside over the corruption committee. Because of its thorough investigative work and recommendations, the Committee earned a reputation as Santhanam’s Committee on Corruption. He was also instrumental in shaping the politics in post-Independence Tamil Nadu, through his close association with Rajaji and Kamaraj.
Santhanam was endowed with great penmanship. He served as the first editor of the Indian Express (1933-1940) and later worked as the joint editor of the Hindustan Times (1943-1948). He was well-versed in Tamil, Sanskrit, and English.
K. Santhanam literary contributions are many. Most of Santhanam’s work was published by Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan, including An Anthology of Indian Literature (1969), Gospel of Gandhi (1967), and British Imperialism and Indian Nationalism (1972). Santhanam also translated Kālidāsa’s Shakuntala and Bhavabuti’s Uttara Rama Charitam, both from Sanskrit.
K. Santhanam scholarship in English, Sanskrit and Tamil were profound, reflecting a unique combination of mathematical skills and knowledge in various humanities areas as well.
When he died in 1980, Santhanam left behind a legacy of selfless service to a modern India. Two of his sons were well known all over the country. Dr. K.S. Rajagopalan was a renowned international expert on electro-chemistry, corrosion theory and corrosion control, and was a prominent research director at the Central Electrochemical Research Institute, Karaikudi, Tamil Nadu.
Another famous son of his was Shri. K.S. Ramanujan, who was a well known journalist serving as Associate Editor for Times of India, and a close friend of the great industrialist, Sri Ghanshyam Das Birla.
His grandson, Dr. N. Rangaprasad, is a reputed chemical engineer and chief executive officer of Protech Consultants, T.T. Krishnamachari Road (formerly Mowbrays Road), Alwarpet, Madras, India.
Shri Santhanam was considered to be one of the most brilliant minds in Indian politics whose main concern was a spirit of sacrifice and public service in the Mahatma Gandhi tradition.