He was an Indian freedom fighter and member of the Indian National Congress from the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Known by his title of Andhra Ratna, Gopalakrishnayya was the first Andhra leader to become secretary of the All India Congress Committee.
Gopalakrishnayya was born in Penuganchiprolu in the Nandigama taluk of Krishna District in 1889 in a Brahmin family.His father, Kodandaramaswamy, was a school teacher but came from a family of landlords from Guntur and his mother Sitamma died soon after giving birth to him, her only child. Gopalkrishnayya’s father remarried but died when he was still young and he was raised by his uncle and grandmother.He did his schooling from the Bapatla Municipal High School and worked for a year at the Bapatla taluk office after completing his matriculation. In 1911 he chose go to the University of Edinburgh along with his childhood friend Sri Nadimpalli Narasimha Rao(Barrister of Guntur) where he lived for six years and earned a postgraduate degree in economics.
Gopalakrishnayya returned to Guntur in 1917 and worked as a teacher Government College at Rajahmundry and at the National College at Machilipatnam but he also became involved in Annie Besant’s Home Rule Movement. In 1919 he gave up his teaching career to become a full-time political activist.He attended the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress in 1920 where he was attracted to the idea of non-cooperation that the Congress endorsed.
Chirala anti-tax agitation
Gopalakrishnayya is perhaps best known for the anti-tax satyagraha he led in Chirala during the Non-Cooperation Movement. The satyagraha had its roots in the decision of the colonial government of the Madras Presidency to combine the villages of Chirala and Perala in Guntur district into a municipality. While the villages yielded an annual tax of revenue of ₹4000 per annum, their reclassification as a municipal area would yield the government a revenue of ₹40,000 per annum. The move was opposed by the residents as it would impose a greater tax burden on them. The government however chose to press ahead with its decision prompting the municipal council to resign en masse. In January 1921 the residents decided not to pay the taxes and the government in response clamped down by arresting, prosecuting and sentencing several of the protesters to imprisonment.
Gopalakrishnayya was diagnosed with advanced tuberculosis in 1926 and spent much of his last days in poverty and suffering. He died on 10 June 1928, aged 39.He is known by the title Andhra Ratna (or Jewel of Andhra).