Surendranath Dwivedy - 11 February 1913

Surendranath Dwivedy

Surendranath Dwivedy was born on 11 February 1913 in the village Khandasahi under Salepur Police Station in the district of Cuttack, Orissa. He comes of a lower middle class Brahmin family. His father, Maguni Dwivedy, was an agriculturist. His mother’s name was Labh- mi Devi. Surendranath married in 1948, Gayatri Devi, daughter of Antaryani Panda, a well-known nationalist worker in Orissa.

Surendranath Dwivedy did not have much formal education, being drawn into politics quite early in life. While a student at the Ravenshaw Collegiate School, Cuttack, he joined the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930, which abruptly ended his formal education. Later on, however, in spite of his busy political life, he read extensively not only Oriya but also English and European literature. He was deeply influenced by the writings of Swami Vivekananda, Rabindra Nath Tagore, Romain Rolland, George Bernard Shaw, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, H. G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, Maxim Gorky, Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky. Besides numerous journalistic writings, he has written a book, ‘Asia on the Path of Socialism’, and has also translated into Oriya some of the writings of Jawaharlal Nehru.

His political initiation was during the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930, in which he courted imprisonment. He came into prominence at quite an early age. In the thirties he chose the Peasants front as his sphere of work, and was General Secretary of the Peasants’ Organisation in Orissa from 1933 to 1938. He was also active in the popular movement in the Princely States of Orissa from 1938 to the merger of the States in 1947. From 1940 to 1948 he was the General Secretary of the Pradesh Congress Committee and also a member of the All-India Congress Committee. He joined the Quit India Movement in 1942 and was one of the leaders of the movement in Orissa. He was arrested and sentenced to six years rigorous imprisonment.

After independence, because of differences with the Congress policy, Surendranath Dwivedy, like many other old workers of the Congress in different parts of India, left the organisation and joined the Praja Socialist Party. He was a member of the Rajya Sabha from 1957 to 1962 and of the Lok Sabha from 1962 to 1971. He was chosen leader of the PSP Party in the Lok Sabha. In 1963 he visited U.S.A. as a member of the Indian Parliamentary Delegation. He also visited a large number of countries in Asia and Europe.

Surendranath Dwivedy has been an active journalist for many years. He is the founder editor of the Krushaka, an Oriya weekly devoted to the cause of the uplift of the peasants. He has also contributed numerous articles to different papers on current political and economic problems. Besides these serious writings, he has also written a number of children’s books in Oriya which are very popular.

Surendranath Dwivedy is not interested in conventional religion, but he is greatly attached to the Ramakrishna Mission, mainly for the social service work which the Mission undertakes. He holds liberal views on social reform. He condemns the caste-system and has thrown away his own sacred thread, symbol of his Brahmin status. He is also opposed to untouchability and has fought hard for throwing open the Hindu temples to the Harijans.

(J. C. Rath) P. Mukherjee


Reference: DICTIONARY OF NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY – Vol 1 edited by S. P. Sen – Institute of Historical Studies – Calcutta - 1972

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