A.J. John was a Travancorean christian freedom fighter, and statesman. He also served as the Chief Minister of the Union State of Travancore and Cochin from 1952 to 1954. He was born into a simple family as the third son of Joseph and Mary on July 18, 1893 at Thalayolaparambu. John acquired his primary education from the local school and finished his final schooling from Vaikom High School. After he completed his degree in Law from the Law College, Madras in the year 1919, he started his career as a lawyer.
He was awakened by the need of the time, the freedom struggle and immensely wanted to be a part of it. He was extremely moved by the consequences that India had to face under the British rule and decided to abandon his profession as a lawyer and a bright future, to entirely serve the nation. This was the turning point in John’s life. He was one of the leaders of the renowned, historic ‘Abstention Movement’ which was prevalent in Travancore for a period of time. It was an agitation against social injustice staged by the weaker sections and backward classes for proportionate representations in government service. He was one among the founder leaders of ‘the State Congress’ , a political organization which was originated in Travancore to fight for responsible government. After playing a greater role in the Independence struggle, he served as the speaker of the first Travancore Legislative Assembly in 1948. Other than being the Chief Minister of Travancore-Cochin , he also served as the Governor of Madras, Minister for Home, Food, Civil Supplies, and Forest in Panampally Govinda Menon Ministry from 1955-56.
After living a life dedicated to the betterment of our nation, he eventually died in 1957 while he was still serving as the Governor of Madras, due to a sudden illness. In remembrance of his patriotic life, a life-sized statue of his has been established at Pallikavala junction at his native village of Thalayolaparambu, Vaikom. “The late A.J. John was a fine gentleman among gentlemen and a great statesman among politicians. He stood for things which mattered best for the well being of the people. His simplicity , humanism, compassion and respect for good government and the rights of others impressed me”, these are the words of his acquaintance the late Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer. Even if he is forgotten in the present he will always be renowned for his religiously rich life and selfless services that he has offered for our country’s Independence.
Written by: Hima Thomas