1884 – Advocate’s Day. Eminent Lawyer, freedom fighter and the first President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was born. The only President in the history of India to serve two terms, Dr. Prasad was also President of the Constituent Assembly of India that drafted the Constitution. Dr. Prasad was a bright student and it is said that once he received a remark on his answer sheet that read – ‘examinee is better than examiner’. He passed his M.A. in Law with a gold medal and then went on to complete his Doctorate in Law. He gave up his career as a lawyer to ensure full-time participation in the Independence Movement. In 1911, he joined the Indian National Congress and was elected President during the Bombay Session in 1934. Dr. Prasad was the Minister of Food and Agriculture in the Interim Government led by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. After serving incessantly as the President of India, he retired in 1962. In the same year he was honoured with India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna .
1889 – The first Indian hero to hurl a bomb at the British,one of the youngest Indian revolutionaries Khudiram Bose was born. Young Khudiram was a brave kid. He enrolled in secret revolutionary groups and attended planning sessions. In 1905, he became a part of ‘Jugantar’- one of the two prominent revolutionary groups that operated in Bengal. In 1908,Khudiram Bose along with Profulla Chaki had decided to assassinate Magistrate Kingsford who was known for giving cruel verdicts against Indian revolutionaries in order to crush uprisings against the British.
On the evening of 30th April 1908,Bose and Chaki waited in front of the gate of European Club in Muzzafarpur for a carriage that carried Kingsford. When the carriage emerged out of the compound Khudiram Bose hurled the bomb in its direction which blew up the carriage.However, Kingsford was not among the occupants of the carriage. Instead the daughter and wife of Barrister Pringle Kennedy,a leading pleader in Muzzafarpur bar, were killed.
Bose and Chaki were full of regret when they realized that not Kingsford but two innocent women were killed.Khudiram Bose was later arrested at a railway station called ‘Oyaini’ while Profulla Chaki chose to end his life when the police cornered him at the Samastipur Railway Station.Bose,just 18 years and 7 months old, was tried and sentenced to death.It was the sacrifices that the two brave men made which ignited the ‘Agni Yuga’ or the ‘fiery-age’ of revolution.
Here’s a short animated film on the life of Khudiram Bose:
1979 – ‘Hockey Ka Jadugar’ or ‘The Wizard of Hockey’ Major Dhyan Chand passed away. One of the greatest players of all time, Dhyan Chand mesmerised sports-lovers around the world with his hockey stick netting more than 1000 goals from 1926 to 1948.
As a child Dhyan Chand had an inclination towards wrestling. It was after joining the army, at the age of 16, that young Dhyan Chand held a hockey stick. He participated in army tournaments where his abilities with the stick got noticed and he was selected in the Indian Army team that was to tour New Zealand. The team performed brilliantly as they won 18 of 21 matches. Dhyan Chand also sparkled in the Inter-Provincial Tournament held by the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) to select a team to Amsterdam to participate in Olympics 1928. Dhyan Chand played a major role in India’s runaway success in hockey at Amsterdam where he scored 14 goals in 5 matches ending up as the leading scorer of the tournament. It gave India her first ever Olympic Gold. The Olympics at Los Angeles in 1932 saw Dhyan Chand representing the country with his brother Roop Singh under Lal Shah Bokhari. Together, Dhyan Chand and Roop Singh scored 25 out of a total of 35 goals that helped India repeat their Amsterdam success story. They beat the United States in the final as the scoreline read an astounding 24-1. However, it was the 1936 Berlin Olympics that tested the Indian team. They had lost to Germany in a practice match and it was the same opposition that they had to face in the final. It is said that the entire team was nervous and felt pressure. It was evident from their show in the first half. However, India came back strongly in the second half and scored 7 goals. The final score was 8-1 with the wizard scoring 3 goals.Impressed by Dhyan Chand’s heroics with the stick, Adolf Hitler offered him German citizenship and the rank of Colonel though Dhyan Chand turned it down. India had won yet another gold in Olympic hockey. Dhyan Chand toured around the world with the team especially Europe and amassed goals regularly contributing to the team’s success. Dhyan Chand was admired not only in India but all over the world. There stands a statue of his with four hands and sticks in Vienna, Austria while a tube station has been named after him in London. There are lots of stories and legends revolving around him that highlight his mastery with the stick and control over the ball. In 1956 the Government of India bestowed the Padma Bhushan upon him. In 2002, the National Stadium in New Delhi was renamed Dhyan Chand National Stadium. In 1952, Sport and Pastime published ‘Goal’, Dhyan Chand’s autobiography.
1971 – The Pakistani Air Force launched an air-strike on the forward airfields and radar stations of the Indian Air Force codenamed ‘Operation Chengiz Khan’. The assault was held as a declaration of war against India as the IAF responded with a counter-attack.
1984 – Bhopal Gas Tragedy. ‘One of the worst industrial disasters’, the Bhopal disaster happened on the night of 2-3 December when approximately 30 metric tons of Methyl Isocyanate escaped out of a holding tank of the Union Carbide India Limited’s pesticide plant. Toxic gas clouds blew over the city of Bhopal that lay fast asleep and inhaled the deadly air. It is estimated that till 2009 more than 22,000 people lost their lives (according to a report of the Indian Council of Medical Research) and around 5,50,000 have suffered temporary or permanent injuries.
2000 – Dia Mirza won the Miss Asia Pacific title at Manila, Phillipines
2011 – Eminent Actor, Director, Producer and Writer, regarded as the ‘Evergreen Hero of Indian Cinema’ Dharam Dev Pishorimal Anand better known as Dev Anand or ‘Dev Saab’ passed away. In a career spanning over seven decades, Dev Saab acted in 114 films including 104 films as the lead. He made his debut with Prabhat Films’ ‘Hum ek Hain'(1946). He emerged as ‘Romance Hero’ and acted in several successful films like ‘Manzil’, ‘Tere Ghar Ke Saamne’, ‘Kinaare Kinaare’, ‘Maya’, ‘Teen Deviyaan’ etc.
The 1965 release ‘Guide’ with Waheeda Rahman was highly acclaimed. He received the Filmfare Award on four occasions. In 1959, ‘Kalapani’ won him the Best Actor Award while in 1967 he won another award in the same category for ‘Guide’ which had also won the Best Film Award. In 1991, Filmfare honoured him with the Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2002, he received India’s highest award for excellence in cinema, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award. In 2010, the Dadasaheb Phalke Academy presented him with the Phalke Ratna Award. In 2001, he awarded India’s third highest civilian honour, the Padma Bhushan, by the Government of India.