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N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar
1882 - 1953

Early Life:

Gopalaswami Ayyangar was born in 1882 in Tanjore, Madras, and studied at the Wesley School and later at Presidency College, Madras. In 1905, he joined the Madras Civil Service and served in several posts including Deputy Collector and Member of the Board of Revenue.


Role in India’s Independence Movement:

His contribution to politics started with his appointment as the Prime Minister of Kashmir from 1937-1943. His tenure as a member of the Council of States lasted from 1943-1947 during which he was the Chairman of the ‘Committee for the Indianization of Army’.


Contribution to Constitution Making:

Ayyangar was a member of the Constituent Assembly and belonged to the thirteen-member Drafting Committee that was to draft Article 370 of the Constitution. He played a significant role in the shaping of this article, which granted considerable autonomy to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.


Later Contributions:

Post–independence, he served as a minister without any specific portfolio in Jawaharlal Nehru’s cabinet between 1947-48. In 1948, Ayyangar headed the delegation that represented India at the United Nations in the persistent dispute over Kashmir.


Under his leadership as the Minister for Railways and Transport from 1948 to 1952, the Indian Railways experienced remarkable growth and development in services and equipment. The regrouping of the Indian Railways into six zonal systems was his brainchild leading to the Railways reporting surplus earnings at this time.


The final post held by him was that of Defence Minister from 1952-1953. In 1952, during his tenure as Defence Minister, he was appointed India's representative in the ongoing negotiations and discussions on Kashmir at the Geneva talks.


Ayyangar died in Madras on February 10, 1953  at the age of 71.


Key Writings:

Ayyangar’s key publication was his 1949 report Reorganization of the Government Machinery, which  led to the formation of the Defence Committee, the Economic Committee, the Parliamentary and Legal Affairs Committee, and the Ad Hoc Administrative Organization Committee by the Central government.

  1. Member, Rules of Procedure Committee;
  2. Member, Order of Business Committee;
  3. Member, Functions Committee;
  4. Member, States Committee;
  5. Member, Union Powers Committee;
  6. Member, Union Constitution Committee;
  7. Member, Committee on Chief Commissioners Provinces; and
  8. Member, Drafting Committee.

  1. Gopalaswami Ayyangar explained the provision of the promulgation of ordinances by the President when the Parliament is in the recess to the Constituent Assembly. He also moved the provision of the establishment of the Supreme Court.
  2. He also participated in deliberations on the status and applicable of certain Articles in the Constitution to the state of Kashmir.
  3. He made important interventions while deliberating on the nature of a federation, and the power dynamic and its distribution between the centre and the state.
  4. His most important intervention was to elaborate on the status of Kashmir and suggested that Kashmir be called Jammu & Kashmir as he felt this name represented the state better.