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U. N. Dhebar

(1905 – 1977) – (Gujarart)

Uchharangrai Navalshankar Dhebar (Aged 72), born on 21 September 1905, was an Indian Independence activist who served as the Chief Minister of Saurashtra State from 1948 to 1954 and the President of the Indian National Congress from 1955 to 1959. Between 1938 and 1942, Dhebar led the Rajkot Satyagraha and actively participated in the Individual Satyagraha and Confederation Movement. For his role in the Indian independence movement, he was imprisoned thrice by the British colonial government. In 1973, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan award, India’s second-highest civilian honor.

In opposition to the Government of India Act 1935 and under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi, Dhebar gave up his legal career to join the Indian independence movement in 1936 in his hometown, Rajkot, in the Kathiawar State in Western India. He became the President of the Viramgam Taluka Congress Committee. In February 1937, the State Government of Saurashtra issued an order for the banishment of 14 workers who were members of the executive committee. With the backing of the Indian National Congress, Dhebar led a movement which resulted in the withdrawal of the order of banishment after multiple protest meetings and protest processions.

Gandhi was Dhebar’s biggest influence, with many of his ideas and qualities coming from Gandhi’s approach and philosophies. From giving up his legal career to joining politics to participating in multiple Satyagrahas, these major decisions in Dhebar’s life had been heavily influenced by Gandhi.

Two things that stood out most to Dhebar about Gandhi’s approach were his solution to the problem of poverty and the principle of trusteeship. Rather than capitalizing for political purposes on the problem of poverty, Gandhi employed some of the people. It did not give the person everything they want, but it did give hope to the person that they are being looked after. He did not want large-scale producers to think of setting up industries in the spheres where the traditional sector was doing its bit, simply out of motives of profit. He passed away on 11 March 1977.