We all celebrate Teacher’s Day on 5th September to give our tribute to one of the most beloved teachers in India, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. We know him as an academician as well as the President of India. A very few people know that he had a carbon copy of himself who was equally talented and successful as a historian and as well as an author.
Born on 23rd April 1923
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan once said, “A life of joy and happiness is possible only on the basis of knowledge and science.”
“Baba, I have written a poem for you. Why don’t you have a look at it?”, asked a 15-year-old Gopal with a tinge of nervousness in his voice.
“Why are you nervous, Gopal? You always write so beautifully.”, responded his father.
“But I am not as good as you, Baba. You are perfect in everything you do. Whether it’s writing a book or leading the country, you are flawless at everything you do. I, too, want to become an author. Then I would write about you and Nehru Uncle.”, he said in an over-excited tone.
"Of course, Gopal. One day you will. I may or may not be there with you. But you will shine like a star and will make me proud." said his father, with a cheery tone.
“I promise you Baba, that one day I will achieve what I want, and you will be the one patting my back”, said Gopal in a confidence-laced voice.
These words made him push his limits and he became the person who was not only known by his father’s name but also known as the great historian and author who fulfilled his promise that he once made to his father.
Born on 23 April 1923 in Madras, he was the only son of S. Radhakrishnan and Sivakamu. Gopal was always inspired by his father’s simplicity and witty attitude. He loved to be in his father’s companionship to learn new things. Gopal always hoped of becoming a famous author and wanted to write a book on his father’s extraordinary life.
History was his first love. He was always interested to know more about the famous personalities of history. After completing his school education, he went on to pursue his career as a history student in Balliol College, Oxford, where he won the Curzon Prize. After earning his PhD from Balliol College from the then Viceroy, Lord Ripon, he came back to India.
As soon as he stepped to India, Gopal was appointed as a Director in the Ministry of External Affairs in 1950 wherein he had a close association with Jawaharlal Nehru. As soon as Gopal completed his tenure as a director, he finally got the opportunity to be an Indian History Reader at St. Antony’s College, Oxford in 1960. Finally placed in his dream job of being a History Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, he set up the Centre for Historical Studies in the institution. In the year 1970, he was appointed as the Chairman of the National Book Trust in New Delhi.
He also wrote many academic books and historical anthologies. But he was quite famous for his awe-inspiring books on the lives of his father, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and also on former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
A person full of life, with a life full of achievements, he not only had an extraordinaire persona but was an equally responsible son and a down to earth person. Gopal took his last breath on 20 April 1923 in Chennai due to renal failure. Not as famous as his father, but nothing less. Like father, like son!
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