Siddhartha Shankar Ray Indian politician (1920-2010)

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Siddhartha Shankar Ray
18th Indian Ambassador to the United States
In office
Prime MinisterP.V. Narasimha Rao
Preceded byAbid Hussain
Succeeded byNaresh Chandra
22nd Governor of Punjab
In office
2 April 1986 – 8 December 1989
Chief MinisterSurjit Singh Barnala
Preceded byShankar Dayal Sharma
Succeeded byNirmal Mukarji
5th Chief Minister of West Bengal
In office
19 March 1972 – 21 June 1977
GovernorAnthony Lancelot Dias
Preceded byPresident's rule
Succeeded byJyoti Basu
Minister of Education of India
In office
Prime MinisterIndira Gandhi
Preceded byV.K.R.V. Rao
Succeeded byS. Nurul Hasan
Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
In office
Preceded byChapala Kanta Bhattacharjee
Succeeded byMaya Ray
Member of Legislative Assembly for Chowringhee
In office
Preceded byDebi Prasad Chattopadhyay
Succeeded byAnil Chatterjee
Member of Legislative Assembly for Bhawanipore
In office
Preceded byMira Dutta Gupta
Succeeded byconstituency abolished
Personal details
Born(1920-10-20)20 October 1920
Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India
Died6 November 2010(2010-11-06) (aged 90)
Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Political partyIndian National Congress
Spouse(s)Maya Ray
Alma materPresidency College, Calcutta
Inner Temple (Barrister-at-Law)
ProfessionLawyer, Diplomat

Siddhartha Shankar Ray (20 October 1920 – 6 November 2010) was an Indian lawyer, diplomat and Indian National Congress politician from West Bengal. In his political career he held a number of offices, including Union Minister of Education (1971–72), Chief Minister of West Bengal (1972–77), Governor of Punjab (1986–89) and Indian Ambassador to the United States (1992–96). He was at one point the main troubleshooter for the Congress Party.[1][2][3][4][5][6]


Ray was born in an aristocratic Kayastha family. Ray's father, Sudhir Kumar Ray, was a well known barrister of Calcutta High Court and a member of the Indian National Congress and his mother Aparna Devi, was the elder daughter of the barrister and nationalist leader Chittaranjan Das and Basanti Devi grew up in England. Ray's sister is Justice Manjula Bose (1930–2016) who was a senior judge of the Calcutta High Court; along with Padma Khastagir, she was one of the first female judges of the Calcutta High Court. Ray was also related to Sudhi Ranjan Das, a former Chief Justice of India and Satish Ranjan Das, a former Advocate General of Bengal and a Law Member of the Viceroy's Executive Council.

Ray studied at, Mitra Institution, Bhowanipore Branch, Calcutta, Presidency College, Calcutta and University Law College, of the University of Calcutta. In college and university, he was active in both sports and politics. In 1941, he was elected as student Under-Secretary in the Calcutta University Institute Elections and was put in charge from time to time of various departments including Students' Aid Fund, Debates, Sports and Socials. He was also the Debate Secretary and later the General Secretary of the Calcutta University Law College Union. As a sportsman he captained the Presidency College cricket team. He was the captain of the team that won the Inter Collegiate cricket Championship in 1944. He had scored three double centuries and 1000 runs for three consecutive seasons. He was also a keen footballer in Calcutta playing for the Kalighat Club. He was a University Blue in this sport and represented the Calcutta University in inter-varsity matches. In 1939, he was the captain of the victorious Presidency College football team which won both the Elliot and Hardinge Birthday Shields. He was also interested in lawn tennis and table tennis.

Later Ray was called to the bar by the Honourable Society of Inner Temple, London, in 1947.[7] While in London he played cricket for the Indian Gymkhana Club.


Upon his return from England in 1946, Ray joined the Calcutta Bar as a junior of Justice Ramaprasad Mukherjee, who later became a Judge and Chief Justice (Acting) of the High Court of Calcutta. In 1954 he became one of the three junior Central Government counsels in Calcutta.

In 1957 he was elected to the Bhowanipore Assembly seat which he won by a large majority, becoming the youngest member of the West Bengal Cabinet under the leadership of Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy. He was appointed as Minister of Tribal Welfare and Law Department, West Bengal. In 1962, he was re-elected to the state's Legislative Assembly as an Independent Candidate. In 1966, he became the Union Cabinet Minister of Education & Youth Services for the Government of India. He was also the Union Cabinet Minister of West Bengal Affairs of the Government of India.

After the Congress won the General Election of 1972, he became the Chief Minister of West Bengal from March 19, 1972 to June 21, 1977. He took office shortly after the Bangladesh Liberation War, and his administration was faced with the massive problem of resettling over a million refugees in various parts of the state. The crackdown on Naxalites also took place during this period.[8]

Later, he had the distinction of serving as the Governor of Punjab from April 2, 1986 to December 8, 1989. When the Congress came back to power once again in Delhi in 1991, Ray was sent as India's Ambassador to the United States. He remained in the United States from 1992 to 1996. Prior to that, he was the Leader of Opposition in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly from 1991-1992.

Role in the emergency

Siddhartha Shankar Ray had a major role in the imposition of The Emergency from 1975 to 1977. He proposed to the prime minister Indira Gandhi to impose an "internal emergency" and also drafted a letter for the President to issue the proclamation and showed her how democratic freedom could be suspended while remaining within the ambit of the Constitution.[9][10]


During his retirement between 1996 and 2010, Ray returned to his law practice as a Barrister of the High Court of Calcutta.

Ray died of kidney failure on 6 November 2010 at the age of 90.[11]


A philanthropic society named "Siddhartha Shankar Ray Foundation" [12] was formed by Mr. Rajesh Chirimar in memory of Ray with the due consent of Maya Ray. The society engages in various social activities and will be celebrating the Birth Centenary Year of Shri Siddhartha Shankar Ray.


  1. ^ "National : S.S. Ray in hospital". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 28 March 2010. Archived from the original on 3 April 2010. Retrieved 30 March 2010.
  2. ^ "Welcome to Sri Chinmoy Library". Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 30 March 2010.
  3. ^ "Siddhartha Shankar Ray ill – Yahoo! India News". Archived from the original on 29 March 2010. Retrieved 30 March 2010.
  4. ^ "A Wily Survivor". Retrieved 30 March 2010.
  5. ^ "There Are More Anti-American Indians Than Anti-Indian Americans". Retrieved 30 March 2010.
  6. ^ "Ray recalls his fights, friendship with a great human being". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 18 January 2010. Archived from the original on 21 January 2010. Retrieved 29 March 2010.
  7. ^ Sengupta, Ranjana (25 September 1988). "A man of many faces". The Indian Express. p. 24. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  8. ^ Austin, Granville (1999). Working a Democratic Constitution - A History of the Indian Experience. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. p. 237. ISBN 0-19-565610-5.
  9. ^ Lt. Gen J.F.R. Jacob (2012). An Odyssey in War and Peace. 262: Roli Books Private Limited. p. 189. ISBN 9788174369338.CS1 maint: location (link)
  10. ^ Narayan, S (25 June 2020). "[Explained] Why Did Indira Gandhi Impose Emergency In 1975?". The Hans India.
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ "Siddhartha Shankar Ray Foundation". Retrieved 13 October 2019.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
V.K.R.V. Rao
Education Minister, Government of India
Succeeded by
S. Nurul Hasan
Preceded by
Ajoy Kumar Mukherjee
Chief Minister of West Bengal
Succeeded by
Jyoti Basu
Preceded by
Shankar Dayal Sharma
Governor of Punjab
Succeeded by
Nirmal Kumar Mukarji
Preceded by
Abid Hussain
Indian Ambassador to the United States
Succeeded by
Naresh Chandra
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