O V Alagesan
Born in a family of agriculturists, Mr O V Alagesan was a brilliant student. After his schooling in St. Columbus High School, Chengalpattu, he joined the Presidency College, Madras. Even as a student he was inspired by Gandhiji and fired up by the revolutionary poet Bharathi and his patriotic songs. He gave up his studies and joined the Salt Satyagraha and subsequently suffered the first of many imprisonments, at the age of 18.
He took part in all the programmes announced by Gandhiji such as Civil disobedience, Quit India and many others. He walked, cycled, travelled by bullock cart and used whatever means he could to reach out to the people to follow the Mahatma and join the Freedom Movement.
Self Taught Scholar
Though his formal education was cut short at an early stage, he made it a point to educate himself all the while learning the epics like Ramayana & Mahabharata, among other great literature and poetry in English and Tamil. He also learnt Sanskrit. His eagerness to educate himself and the level he achieved were such that he was able to translate Nehru’s Glimpses of World History in to Tamil. Even today, this stands as the most voluminous translation ever and serves as a reference book for English to Tamil translation in the University of Madras.
Post 1947, he served as member of the Constituent Assembly, Provisional Parliament and the Lok Sabha. He served as a Minister in the Central Government handling portfolios such as Railways, Transport, Shipping, Irrigation & Power, Mines & Fuel, Petroleum & Chemicals. He earned the reputation of an efficient Minister and was instrumental in many developments in each and every department he handled. He was affable in nature, and he earned the goodwill of one and all, including members of the opposition.
He strongly felt that the Nation’s progress was in educating its people and founded the Bhaktavatsalam Educational Trust in 1958. During breaks from his parliamentary life, he set up several institutions under the aegis of the trust. These institutions operate today under the same founding principles – to graduate exemplary human beings equipped with the skills required to add value to the society at large.
A Lifetime in Service
From the moment he dropped out of college to join the freedom struggle, O V Alagesan lived his life with the singular focus of serving the nation. At every stage in his life - from joining the freedom movement, to fighting for the rights of the downtrodden in his village, to his position on the Central Government's language policy, to his frank assessment of the electoral performance of the Congress to the Prime Minister - he had the courage and conviction to speak the truth and stand for what he believed in, unafraid of repercussions to self and family.