1858 – Great freedom fighter, teacher, journalist, orator, writer and ‘Pal’ of the trio of patriots ‘Lal-Bal-Pal’, Bipin Chandra Pal was born. He is regarded as the ‘Father of Revolutionary Thoughts’. He was a staunch proponent of Swadeshi, Swaraj and national education which were a part of his programme. He strove hard to eradicate discrimination of all kinds.
Together with Lala Lajpat Rai and Bal Ganagdhar Tilak, he initiated the movement against the British Government’s decision to partition the province of Bengal in 1905. The triumvariate adopted radical means like strikes, lockouts and boycotts to assert their displeasure to the British. Bipin Chandra Pal was even imprisoned for six months for refusing to testify against Sri Aurobindo in the Vande Mataram Sedition case. Sri Aurobindo described him as one of the ‘mightiest prophets of nationalism’.
1888 – Eminent Physicist and Nobel Laureate Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman was born. Sir Raman began college at the age of eleven, learning Physics at the Presidency College, Chennai. He stood first as he completed his B.A. and also won the Gold medal in Physics. He was associated with the IACS at Calcutta and it was here, in 1928, that his experiments on scattering of light led to the discovery of the ‘Raman Effect’. The American Chemical Society and the IACS recognise this event as an ‘International Historic Chemical Landmark’. He won the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physics for the same in 1930 becoming the first Asian and non-white to win the Nobel in the field of science.
In 1943 he founded the CV Chemical and Manufacturing Co. Ltd. which established four factories in South India. In 1947, the Government of India appointed him as the first National Professor. In 1924, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society while he was knighted in 1929. He received the Lenin Peace Prize in 1957. In 1954, the Government of India bestowed the nation’s highest civilian honour, the ‘Bharat Ratna’ upon him. To commemorate the landmark discovery of the Raman Effect, every year February 28 is celebrated as ‘National Science Day’.
1912 – The Last Maharaja of the princely state of Travencore, HH Maharaja Shri Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma was born. He is remembered for issuing the famous ‘Temple Entry Proclamation’ which abolished the ban on entry of low-caste people to Hindu temples in the State of Travencore.
After acceding his state to the Dominion of India he served as the ‘Rajpramukh’ of the Union of Cochin-Travencore until November 1, 1956 when Malayalam speaking regions of the union were merged with those in the neighbouring Madras State to create a separate state of Kerala.In 1991, the Governement of India issued a postal stamp commemorating reforms during the Maharaja’s rule.
1928 – The first Malayalam feature film ‘Vigathakumaran’ (The Lost Child) was released. The film was directed, produced, written by J.C. Daniel who also featured as the lead. The audiences did not receive the first show of this film very well and stones were pelted on the screen of Capitol Theatre, Trivandrum. The reason was the presence of a woman in the film. At that time, women were forbidden from acting and female characters were performed by males. Besides the depiction of the actress in the film, who belonged to a low-caste, as a Nair lady outraged the then orthodox society. The film bombed at the box office.
1938 – One of India’s largest educational trusts, the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan was founded by Dr. K.M. Munshi. Personalities like His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Pandit Nehru, JRD Tata, Mother Teresa, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Prince Charles have been the honorary members on its board.
1954 – Producer, director, singer, lyricist, screenwriter and one of the finest actors in Indian Cinema, Kamal Haasan was born. He started as a child artiste and first appeared in ‘Kalathur Kannamma’ which starred Gemini Ganesan. The film won the President’s Gold Medal. He got his first opportunity to play in the lead in K.Balachander’s ‘Apoorva Raagangal’. He won his first Filmfare Award for his performance in this movie. This film also bagged the National Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil. He forayed into Hindi Film Industry with ‘Ek Duje Ke Liye’. He was appreciated for his performance in Mani Ratnam’s ‘Nayagan'(1987) which features in Time Magazine’s list of best films of all time. Known for his versatility, Kamal Haasan essayed ten different characters in ‘Dasavathaaram’. He holds the record for most number of National Film Awards (four) and most number of Filmfare Awards (nineteen). In 1990, he was awarded the Padma Shri for his contribution to the field of Cinema.
1981- Indian film actress Anushka Shetty was born. Debuting in the 2005 Telugu movie Super, she made her mark in the Tamil and Telugu movie segment with the commercially successful Vikramarkadu. She garnered high critical acclaim for her acting in Arundhati, and even bagged two Filmfares, a Nandi and two CineMAA awards for her role in Vedam. Being one of South India’s most leading actress, her biggest success came opposite Suriya in Singam (2010).
2000 – Prominent Independence activist and statesman who played a decisive role in making India self-sufficient in food production, Chidambaram Subramaniam popularly known as ‘CS’ passed away. CS was an active member of the movement for Indian Independence. He participated in Civil Disobedience as well as the Quit India Movement and went to prison for his involvement. He was a part of the Constituent Assembly that framed the Constitution of India. However, he is remembered for designing India’s modern agricultural policy which led to the ‘Green Revolution’. During his tenure as the Minister for Food and Agriculture he undertook measures for the introduction of high-end methods that saw record-breaking production of wheat and also a significant increase in the output of crops. He established the National Agro Foundation in Chennai. In 1996, CS received the U Thant Peace Award and the Norman Borlaug Award while in 1998 he received the ‘Bharat Ratna’.
2006 – Legendary Test Cricketer and Skipper Pahlan Ratanji Umrigar better known as ‘Polly’ Umrigar passed away. He was the first Indian to score a double hundred in test cricket. With an attacking style of batting, Umrigar amassed 3,631 runs from 59 Test matches that he played for India at an average of 42.22. He played a significant role in India’s first ever test win when he made 130 runs N.O. batting at number 7. He regarded this innings as the best in his entire career. In 1955-56 season, he hammered the visiting Kiwi side for 223 runs in the test match played at Hyderabad as he registered India’s first individual double hundred in international cricket. He captained the national side for eight test matches played between 1955 and 1958. His association with cricket remained even after retirement as he shouldered responsibilities like managing the team that toured New Zealand, Australia and West Indies in the 70s, Chairman of the Selection Committee, Executive Secretary of BCCI and Secretary of the Mumbai Cricket Association. In 1962, he was honored with the Padma Shri.