Biography of Dr. Varahagiri Venkata Giri (Dr. V.V. Giri)
Varahagiri Venkata Giri, popularly known as Dr. V.V. Giri was the second Andhra to become the President of India.
Varahagiri Venkata Giri was born on 10th day of August, 1894.
Varahagiri Venkata Giri had occupied different positions at the State level and also at the centre with distinction. He carved for himself a prominent niche in the trade union movement of the country. In all his actions he was inspired by a certain set of values and never cared to cling to positions of power and prestige.
In 1954, Varahagiri Venkata Giri did not hesitate to resign from his position as Minister for Labour, in the cabinet of Jawaharlal Nehru, over the bank award issue. Another trait of his character was undaunted courage. In 1969, at the age of 75 he plunged himself headlong to contest for the position of the President of India, in one of the most keenly contested elections and defeated a fellow Andhra Shri Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, and reached the highest position of the Country.
Shri Giri was born at Berhampore in the present Ganjam district of Orissa on 10 August 1894. He was the worthy son of a worthy father. His father Sri Jogaiah Pantulu, in response to the call of Gandhiji during the non co-operation movement resigned from his position as Public Prosecutor and took active part in the freedom struggle of the country and was elected to the Central Assembly in 1927.
Shri Giri studied up to Intermediate class at Khalli Kote College, Berhampore and then proceeded to Ireland for higher education. While a student at Ireland, he took keen interest in the ‘Sin Fien’ Movement of that country. The movement was launched for the Independence of Ireland from British rule. So Giri was extending from Ireland. He however was able to get his degree in Law from the National University of Dublin.
On his return, he set up his legal practice at Berhampore in 1916. Soon he was involved in the Home Rule agitation started by Mrs. Annie Besant. In 1921, he along with his father, Jogaiah Pantulu joined the Non-Cooperation Movement. For taking part in this movement he was imprisoned for a short time in 1921-22.
After his release from prison, he devoted his attention towards developing the trade union movement in the country on sound lines. In fact he was one of the few politicians who realized the importance of the trade union movement in the early period of our national struggle under Gandhiji. Along with his fellow Congress workers from different parts of the country he succeeded in forming the All India Trade Union Congress. He became its President in 1926 and 1942.
He was General Secretary of All India Railway men’s Federation for seven years and also it’s President for an equal number of years. He successfully conducted the strike of Bengal Nagpur Railway workers. As a result he becomes prominent throughout the country.
In 1927 he participated in the International Labor Conference at Geneva as the delegate of Indian workers. He also participated in the Round Table Conference of 1931 as the representative of workers. While in London, along with his father he made representations to the Secretary of State for India for the immediate formation of Andhra province and also opposed the transfer of Berhampore, Parlakimedi, Jeypore and other areas to the proposed Orissa province.
In 1936, when elections were held under the Government of India Act he contested the Madras Legislative Assembly from Bobbili as the Congress candidate. His opponent was the Rajah of Bobbili, the Premier of Madras and the Leader of the Justice Party. It will not be out of place to mention here that in this election Pandit Nehru was not allowed to address an election meeting of the Congress Party at Bobbili town. In spite of all these obstacles, Girl won the election with a thumping majority.
When the Congress formed the ministry under C. Rajagopalachari, Giri became Minister for Labor and Industries.
During the Quit India Movement, Giri was detained from August 1942 to 1946 in different prisons at Vellore, Nagpur etc.
He was again elected to the Madras Legislative Assembly in the elections of 1946 and was Minister for Labor in the Cabinet of Prakasam. From 1947 to 1951 he was High Commissioner for India in Ceylon Sri Lanka.
In the first General Elections of 1952, he was returned to the Lok Sabha from the Pathapatnam constituency of Srikakulam district. In 1952 he became Union Minister for Labor. As already mentioned he resigned from his position in 1954.
Before becoming the President of India in 1969, he served with distinction as the Governor of Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Mysore Karnataka. He was the Vice-President of India during the years 1967-69.
Giri laid down the office as the President of India after completing his five-year term of office on 23 August 1974. He was decorated with ‘Bharat Ratna’, the highest national honour, on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of the Indian Republic on 26 January 1975. He died at Madras on 23rd day of June 1980.