Known and revered worldwide as Mahatma Gandhi, he advocated nonviolence (ahimsa) as the only path to victory.
India as we know it today would not have been, but for the efforts of selfless and courageous men and women who deemed it their life’s purpose to liberate the country from colonial rule and retain its sovereignty and heritage. Some of these leaders adopted moderate approaches of dialogue, protests and civil disobedience in their struggle for independence, while others wanted self-rule and were literally willing to lay down their lives fighting for it.
However, it cannot be denied that one and all, in their own ways, these freedom fighters were responsible for making India an independent country and helped realise the dream of Swaraj. Here are some of the great leaders to whom we owe our present status as an independent and sovereign republic.
The first Prime Minister of independent India, he was a staunch believer in democratic ideals and helped realize the vision of India as a democracy.
Considered one of the most influential revolutionaries of the Indian independence movement, he, along with Shivaraj Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar became the symbols of courage, action, and spiritedness for Indian youth.
Subhash Chandra Bose
Founder of the Indian National Army, he enlisted the help of Japan in regaining control of several Indian territories under the rule of the British.
Dr. Rajendra Prasad
The first President of the Republic of India, Prasad was one of the architects of the Constitution of India.
Lal Bahadur Shastri
The second Prime Minister of independent India was instrumental in pushing forward the Green Revolution, which made India a food surplus country.
He was one of the fierce patriots who believed in freedom at any cost and accomplished daring deeds in the course of his lifelong fight. He was also the mentor of Bhagat Singh, the famous Indian martyr.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
Known as the Iron man, he helped achieve the political integration of the princely states towards forming a unified independent India.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak
The first leader to boldly declare that complete selfgovernance (Swaraj) was the only position acceptable to him, Tilak was instrumental in inciting the desire for freedom in the Indian consciousness as well as saving Indian culture and heritage from insidious western influences.
Gopal Krishna Gokhale
He was one of the most learned men in India, and a leader of social and political reformists as well as a senior leader of the Indian National Congress. He was also a mentor to Mahatma Gandhi when the latter had returned from South Africa and was just beginning to actively participate in the Indian independence movement.
Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar
Widely known as the father of the Indian Constitution, he was also instrumental in improving the plight of the dalits, tribals, and other marginalized.
Bagha Jatin Mukherjee
One of the great leaders of the underground resistance, Jatin, along with other revolutionaries, participated in guerrilla warfare on British nationals along with sabotaging British properties, all to disarm the British might.
One of the earliest leaders to lay the foundation for India’s freedom struggle, Naoroji was a founder of the Indian National Congress.
Jhansi Ki Rani Lakshmibai
One of the leading figures of the Great Indian Mutiny of 1857, she rode into battle to save Gwalior Fort, the last bastion of the uprising, and died
Widely known as the initiator of the first war of independence, the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, Pandey fired at British officers to vent mass anger among the Sepoys at being made to chew off the pig fat-containing outer layer of the new gun cartridges the Sepoys were to use.
Tagore was a great writer and poet who stirred the emotions of the people and fired the spark of patriotism in them through his works. He is most famously known as the author of India’s national anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’.
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
Popularly known as ‘Veer’ Savarkar, he actively denounced British policy and boycotted British goods. He underwent imprisonment in the infamous Andamans prison.
A great statesman and scholar, ‘Rajaji’ as he was known, was close to Mahatma Gandhi. He practiced Gandhi’s ideology throughout his life and worked for the Congress party for more than half a century.
Shivaram Hari Rajguru
He was an Indian revolutionary from Maharashtra, known mainly for his involvement in the murder of a British police officer. He was a member of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army(HSRA), who wanted India to be freed from British rule by any means necessary.
Sukhdev was a famous Indian revolutionary who played a major role in the India’s struggle for Independence. Sukhdev Thapar was a member of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA), and organised revolutionary cells in Punjab and other areas of North India. A devoted leader, he even went on to educate the youth at the National College in Lahore.
Ram Prasad Bismil
Ram Prasad Bismil was an Indian revolutionary who participated in Mainpuri conspiracy of 1918, and the Kakori conspiracy of 1925, both against British Empire. As well as being a freedom fighter, he was also a patriotic poet and wrote in Hindi and Urdu using the pen names Ram, Agyat and Bismil. But, he became popular with the last name “Bismil” only.
Ramachandra Pandurang Tope was an Indian Maratha leader in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and one of its more renowned generals. He was a personal adherent of Nana Saheb of Bithur. He progressed with the Gwalior contingent after the British reoccupation of Kanpur and forced General Windham to retreat from Kanpur.
Lala Lajpat Rai
Lala Lajpat Rai was an Indian Punjabi author and politician who is chiefly remembered as a leader in the Indian fight for independence from the British Raj. He was popularly known as Punjab Kesari meaning The Lion of Punjab also known as “Sher-EPunjab” in Punjabi. He was part of the Lal Bal Pal trio. He was also associated with activities of Punjab National Bank and Lakshmi Insurance Company in their early stages. He sustained serious injuries by the police when leading a non-violent protest against the Simon Commission and died less than three weeks later.
He was an Indian revolutionary, best known for assassinating Michael O’Dwyer in March 1940 in what has been described as an avenging of the Jallianwalla Bagh Massacre. He is a prominent figure of the Indian independence struggle. He is also referred to as Shaheed-i-Azam Sardar Udham Singh.