Ravishankar Shukla
1st Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh
In office
26 January 1950 – 31 December 1956
Preceded byOffice Established
Succeeded byBhagwantrao Mandloi
Member of Constituent Assembly of India
In office
9 December 1946 – 25 January 1950
ConstituencyCentral Provinces and Berar
Personal details
Born(1877-08-02)2 August 1877
Saugor, Central Provinces, British India
(present-day Madhya Pradesh, India)
Died31 December 1956(1956-12-31) (aged 79)
New Delhi, India
Political partyIndian National Congress
SpouseShrimati Bhawani Devi Shukla
  • Indian independence activist
  • Politician

Ravishankar Shukla (2 August 1877 — 31 December 1956)[1] was a leader of the Indian National Congress, Indian independence movement activist, the Premier of the Central Provinces and Berar from 27 April 1946 to 25 January 1950, first Chief Minister of the reorganised Madhya Pradesh state from 1 November 1956 until his death on 31 December 1956, he was elected from Saraipali in Madhya Pradesh (now in Chhattisgarh). He also served as Member of Constituent Assembly of India from Central Provinces and Berar.[2]

Early life

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Born in a wealthy Kanyakubja Brahmin[3] family, his father and grandfather were rich and scholarly. His ancestors belonged to district Unnao from Uttar Pradesh.[4] His father, Pandit Jagganath Shukla, came of a family which had resisted British rulers for three generations and his mother, Tulsi Devi, was industrious and a capable manager. Young Ravishankar's earliest years were passed in a scholarly atmosphere heavily charged with Indian classics, Shri Ramcharit Manas and Gita. He was admitted to Sunderlal Guru's Pathshala in Saugor. It was one of the six Pathshalas established by the British in Central Provinces.

Ravishankar continued his schooling at Rajnandgaon and subsequently at Raipur High School. He then shifted to Jubbulpore and joined Robertson College (whose premises then were what is today the Model High School in front of the High Court of Jabalpur) and completed the Intermediate in the year 1895 aged 18 years. The same year he shifted to Nagpur and joined Hislop College for the graduation course.[5]

Early life and career (1897–1908)

When the 13th Congress session took place in 1897 in the nearby town of Amravati, one of his professors, Bhagirath Prasad, decided to attend it and took along with him his student Ravishankar Shukla to the Congress. This was the first contact between Pt. Shukla and the Congress. Pandit Shukla graduated in 1899, aged 22 years.[citation needed]

Ravishankar married Bhawani Devi, then sixteen years of age, in June 1902. Six months after their marriage, the plague epidemic spread in the town of Jubbulpore. It was here that Bhawani Devi fell a victim of the dreaded plague.[citation needed]

In 1904, he took along with him the Maharaja of Bastar to Congress session at Bombay, where he saw barrister Mahatma Gandhi for the first time, who had just arrived from South Africa.[citation needed]

In 1906 and the beginning of 1907, during his last days in Khairagarh, Pt. Shukla privately appeared for Law exams conducted by Calcutta University at Allahabad. After passing the exams, he came back to Rajnandgaon to start legal practice. Within a few years of starting his legal practice, Shukla was a great success as a pleader in the courts of Raipur.[citation needed]

Struggle for Indian independence (1909–1935)

Political apprenticeship

Raipur District Council and civil disobedience

Pandit Shukla had become a member of the Raipur District Council in 1921. He believed that through these local bodies the freedom struggle could best be fought. Alongside this he wanted to propagate education and an awakening for freedom among the masses. In 1922, the State Government handed over the management of schools to the District Council. Pandit Shukla established contacts with the teachers of these schools and to induce nationalism in them he organised teachers' conferences. There were 310 schools under the district council, and 900 teachers in these schools. Every year about 30,000 students were studying in these schools. These conventions of teachers worked to improve teaching methods, health, cleanliness, and patriotism. Pandit Shukla remained the president of Raipur District Council from 1927 to 1937. [citation needed]

In a meeting of State Congress Committee held at Raipur, Pandit Dwarika Prasad Mishra suggested to name Hindi speaking part of the Central Provinces and Berar as Mahakoshal. In the beginning of 1930 Pandit Shukla & Pt. D. P. Mishra along with Chief of Mahakoshal Congress Committee Seth Govind Das toured entire Central Provinces to propagate the importance of Satyagrah movement. Pandit Shukla developed a force of young man to extensively propagate the ideals of the satyagraha.[citation needed]

Pandit Shukla was arrested for his participation in Civil Disobedience Movement. Initially, he was kept in Jubbulpore Jail but was soon shifted to Seoni Jail.[citation needed]

In the beginning of 1931, Gandhi-Irwin pact took place. Accordingly, all political prisoners who were imprisoned during Civil Disobedience Movement were released from the jails. On 13 March, Pandit Shukla along with other political prisoners of the State was released from the jail.[citation needed]

While imprisoned Pandit Shukla was again elected president of Raipur District Council on 24 October 1930. Angered on this the State Government on 19 October 1930 by an extraordinary gazette took over the Raipur District Council for three years. The Government stopped all the patriotic programmes run by the District Council under Pandit Shukla. On 8 March 1934 the Council's work was again handed over to Pandit Shukla. He got all the programmes of the Council restarted which were closed by the Government.[citation needed]

To infuse national awakening in the State Pandit Shukla started a Weekly Hindi Magazine Mahakoshal from Nagpur in 1935. Next year this was shifted to Raipur from where it is now published as a prominent Daily.[citation needed]

The British authorities had formed the Central Provinces in 1861 by uniting the former State of Nagpur with the Territory of Saugor-Nerbudda. In doing so, they brought together the Marathi speaking people of the former and the Hindi speaking people of the latter. The two linguistic regions, which comprised the province, had distinctive societies and developed, in course of time, differing economies. [citation needed]

In 1919, Marathi Congressman dominated provincial politics from the capital city of Nagpur. But subsequently they started dividing. The non-Brahmins and Harijans formed parties in opposition to the Congress, and the Congress itself got divided into rival groups of Congressman and the supporters of Tilak. The Marathi Brahmin community which led the Marathi Congress since 1900, regarded Lokmanya Tilak as their political guru and, for reasons of ideology, as from their unwillingness to surrender political power, they resented Gandhiji's attempt to interfere in the politics of their region.[citation needed]

Provincial elections and aftermath

Architect of Madhya Pradesh

Shukla on a 1992 stamp of India

Pandit Shukla was a great administrator. He was one of the first nationalist leaders to realise the sufferings of the people in the states ruled by Indian Princes. In July 1946, Pandit Shukla pointedly observed that no princely state could prevail militarily against the army of independent India. Sardar Patel was overwhelmed to see smooth merger of princely states with the Indian Union in CP & Berar. During his Chief Ministership there was an all round development of Madhya Pradesh.

The introduction of various schemes, establishment of industries, commissioning of Bhilai Steel Plant and starting of many universities were amongst the great achievements. The state of Madhya Pradesh remained fully peaceful during his tenure. Shuklaji had played the leading role in the merger of states, particularly the merger of Hyderabad into the Union which Vallabhbhai Patel appreciated whole heartedly. In spite of being very religious minded, he was very liberal to other religions. He laid special emphasis on the upliftment of women. He was a staunch opponent of illiteracy, purdah and dowry system.[citation needed]

Personal life

He died on 31 December 1956, at the age of 79 at New Delhi and was survived by his wife, six sons (Pt. Ambika Charan Shukla, Pt. Bhagwati Charan Shukla, Pt. Ishwari Charan Shukla, Pt. Girija Charan Shukla, Pt. Shyama Charan Shukla and Pt. Vidya Charan Shukla) and three daughters. Pandit Shukla dominated the Indian political scene, not only before the ten years of his Premier and Chief Ministership, but for decades after his passing away.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ "Indian Autographs: Ravishankar Shukla".
  2. ^ "Constituent Assembly Members". Lok Sabha. Retrieved 30 November 2022.
  3. ^ State Governments, Society for study of (1972). Journal of the society for study of state governments.
  4. ^ Sharma, Subhash Chandra (2007). Pt. Ravi Shankar Shukla, Life and Times. Bhartiya Bhasha Peeth. p. 1.
  5. ^ University, Australian national (1971). Essay on Gandhian Politics. clarendon press.