Indian National Congress

Lal Mohan Ghosh

President: 1849-1909 (Madras, 1903)

Lalmohan Ghosh was born in Krishnagar, West Bengal in 1849. After passing the Entrance examination in the first division Ghosh left for England in 1869 to qualify as a Barrister. He joined the Calcutta Bar in 1873.

An active patriot, Ghosh became a prominent member of the British Indian Association and visited England in 1879 to represent the grievances and demands of Indians to the British public. In July 1880, he served as a member of a committee which pleaded with Lord Harrington for the repeal of the Press Act and the Arms Act and for raising the upper limit of the age of eligibility for candidates competing at the Indian Civil Service examination.

Back in India, he took up cudgels against the obnoxious Ilbert Bill and castigated with scathing satire, the impudent and insulting remarks that one Mr Branson, a Barrister, had made on Indian women.

In India, Ghosh was always in the front rank of those who worked for a nation in the making. He was elected President of the Madras session (1903) of the Indian National Congress. Lalmohan Ghosh died in Calcutta on 18 October 1909.

Lalmohan Ghosh's social and political ideals were derived largely from the liberal humanism of Victorian England. He firmly believed in the necessity of Western education for Indians as a force to unite the people into one nation.

In his Presidential address at the Madras session of the Congress, he pleaded for compulsory primary education in the country. He never thought of a severance of relation between England and India, but he also believed that it was necessary to acquire by constitutional means, rights for Indians to the rule (of the British type) of law and justice, to free expression of opinion, to opportunities of trade and service, and to democratic legislative institutions. Lalmohan Ghosh's particular contribution to the national movement of India was his fearless and cogent criticism of the established authority.

“We have a sacred duty towards the poorer classes of our people. Those of us who have received the benefits of High Education are bound to do, whatever may be in our power, to extend the blessings of education, so far as may be, to the masses of our people. Let us remember the simple but eloquent words of late Mr John Bright that the nation in every country dwells in the cottage.”

From the Presidential Address - Lalmohan Ghosh I.N.C. Session, 1903, Madras