Ananda Mohan Bose

President: 1847-1906 (Madras, 1898)

India's first Wrangler, leader of the Brahmo Samaj, pioneer of the freedom movement, educationist and social reformer, Ananda Mohan Bose was born on 23 September 1847 in Mymensingh, Bengal in an upper middle class family.

After his schooling he left for England and enrolled himself as a student of Higher Mathematics at Christ Church College, Cambridge. Simultaneously, he was called to the Bar in 1874.

On returning home, he plunged into his public career alongside Surendranath Banerjea and Sivanath Sastri. During this time he came also under the influence of Devendranath Tagore and Keshab Chandra Sen, for both of whom he entertained the highest regard.

Bose’s interest in the political scene in India may be dated from 1871 when he first met Surendranath Banerjea in England. On his return to India in 1874 and right up to the days of the Swadeshi movement in 1905, the two were closely associated in all their political enterprises.

With Surendranath as his mentor and through his own organisational ability, Ananda Mohan Bose set up a number of pioneering institutions. The Calcutta Students Association was the earliest attempt made to organise students for constructive political work. The Indian Association was the first political organisation at an All - India level to institute a vigorous constitutional agitation for rights and privileges of the Indian citizens.

One of it's by - products was the convening of the, first National Conference in 1883 which became a precursor of the Indian National Congress (1885). Bose was associated with the Congress since its inauguration and was elected President of its Madras Session in 1898.

As a social reformer, his services for the upliftment of women and the illiterate masses, his crusade against social vices and the work he did to promote temperance are still remembered with gratitude. Under his enlightened direction, the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj, of which he was a joint founder (1878) not only became a church and a congregation but also an active centre for the spread of education and social uplift.

A moderate and a constitutionalist in his political outlook, Bose was progressive and one of the earliest to have pleaded for large scale technical education and industrialisation. He is remembered in particular for the last speech that he made on 16 October 1905 at a public meeting organised in Calcutta to protest against the partition of Bengal.

What he said then might sound almost ironical in the context of what happened in 1947 when the Province of Bengal was sundered once again 'by an official fiat'. Carried practically from his sickbed to preside over the foundation of the Federation Hall, Bose described the meeting as a great and historic occasion, which will live in the annals of Bengal, and mark an epoch in its history.

He added: “. . . this Federation Hall, the foundation stone of which is being laid today, not only on this spot of land but on our moistened and tearful hearts, is the visible symbol of this spirit of union, the memorial to future generations yet unborn of this unhappy day and of the unhappy policy which has attempted to separate us into two parts.” Shortly after this crowning act of his career, he passed away in Calcutta on 20 August 1906 at the somewhat premature age of 59.

“I will tell you what they have done. They have dared to think for themselves; and not only for themselves, but for millions of poor ignorant people who compose our Indian Empire. They have been content to sacrifice their own interests and to brave the displeasure of Government in order to lend a helping hand to those poor people.”

From the Presidential Address - Ananda Mohan Bose I.N.C. Session, 1898, Madras