அறிஞர் அண்ணாவின் கட்டுரைகள்


[Again we are being pestered by our Reporter!

He claims to have 'noted' the diary of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru—and refuses to answer the simple question, 'how?'

Says this scribe that Pandit Nehru has begun a 'Diary' as a result of the 'introspection'—and the reporter has the audacity to add that, that Diary was placed before him for inspection!

He insists that we would place this 'diary' before the public and assures us of continuation.

We know not how to brush aside his request—there is an amount of irresistible sincerity.

Hence we place what he claims to be the 'Diary' before our readers, for what it is worth.

We took the liberty of reshaping the caption. Our reporter captioned it as.
'Diary of a Democrat-cum-Dictator.']

Today, they all said is a Red-letter day — they always say something sweet in my presence—a sort of habit, I suppose. Anyhow I am happy. They were all also happy. Well, I was glad to find them all happy over this interview. They could have avoided the word ‘Red’ — they could have called it, ‘Green!’ Anyway, let there be no dispute over colour — though colour is important. I had a feeling — slight though — that I am being pushed away from partymen — a sort of vague fear, that I am being driven into the ‘Ivory tower’ got hold of me. Hence, my idea of meeting the M.P.s. — Saturday is being marked for this purpose.

There was talk—a sort of muffled talk I should say—that I am more and more becoming a sort of a recluse. Ordinarily, one should analyse such a situation, in a sort of philosophic way. Not that I swear by philosophy. We have too much of it already. But the philosophy of Dr. Radhakrishnan has got an ennobling effect.

I was thinking that the very fact, that I am not meeting the M.P.s., is proof positive that I am immersed in work. And when I say work, I do not say it with regret. I like work, immensely. And I like people working. Tremendous work is going on. I am not saying as much work is being turned out as ought to be — but much work. And being immersed in work, I find no time—sometimes the inclination too is wanting —to meet these people. They are a loveable set—though sometimes they utter words, I totally dislike.

I had the pleasure of allowing the first set to meet me. Well, it was a sort of refresher course. They had many nice things to say! Some of them put inconvenient questions too.

“Panditji!” says one M.P.—I remember his name, but in the public interest. I do not divulge it—you know I hate secrecy, but sometimes it becomes necessary— “Panditji! You caused a sort of terror creep into us, by your threat.”

“Threat? You think it a threat?’ I naturally asked—for, to call it a threat, is to miss the point altogether. And if an M.P. is possessed of such an illogicality, how could the party maintain strength?

“It is a threat! Sure!” persisted the M.P., and added that some of my colleagues were terribly afraid of what was in store for them, the moment I left them. Of course, I warned that enthusiast, that he should not try to drive a wedge!

“Need I?” — asks that outspoken man.

“Well! Friends! Let us get to work! Enough of this enthusiasm, eulogy and the like. Now tell me, what is wrong with the Congress? Is our ideology defective? Are our methods obsolete? What are your remedies? What do you want to know from me?” I began in right earnest.

“I venture not to talk about such subjects, Panditji! But I want, that you should not forget us all—we remain just outside the small circle—the inner circle. Our talents are unused. And to that extent, the country is deprived of some tangible benefit.” - said that M.P.—and several other nodded their approval.
“Well, friends” I began, with an amount of disgust, “well, already there is a complaint that we have too many ministers—in fact Feroze said scathingly enough that every seven M.P. is a minister—so you see, there is no possibility of utilising all of your talents. Anyhow, talent can be harnessed to other fields. There are may number to be found. The Community Project is any—colourful—rich — and if properly handled, is bound to change the very face of Bharath.

“Sure! Sure! The moment we go to our places, there is a swarm of applicants. They want, fertilisers, seeds, implements. We are able to supply only good literature on these, not the actuals!” complained another M.P.

“I understand the difficulty. I do not like the situation. No! But, there is this foreign exchange difficulty?” I explained.

“That explanation satisfies us, Panditji! But the people ask impertinent questions. This is the democratic age, as you know. And as staunch advocate of democracy, you are bound to welcome criticisms too. The people when told about the crisis in the foreign exchange, begin to ask us, why did we drift things to move along wrong lines?”—the M.P., was almost lecturing. I had to listen — for did I not myself arrange this! Another M.P., intervened—but only to have a dig at me.

“Panditji! At the A.I.C.C. you asked us all to be plain, outspoken. Is it not! Hence, I am placing all the facts. The people say, that, you have allowed. T.T.K. as commence minister, to ‘monkey’ with import licences!”

“Discussion is good, dear friends! But there should be decorum—decency in diction. I don’t mind your finding fault with T.T.K’s policy. But should you on that account call it, ‘monkeying.’ T.T.K. was our honoured colleague. I distinctly remember, most of you paying rich compliments to his ability, sagacity, integrity and sobriety. Now to term his work as ‘monkeying,’ is not fair.” — I had to warn them.

But they were in no mood to listen to warnings. Someone said, “Why, Panditiji! At times you do use forceful epithets. You called C.R., as a sort of crony!”

I was naturally annoyed. “My friend! Long, long before you ever had the chance of claiming friendship with C.R., I had him as my friend, guide, and philosopher. You should not misunderstand. I had no intention of insulting C.R. But, granting that I used hot words, or ugly epithets, should you contribute your quota? Well, that is the way of the unwise! I used to say ‘foolish’ — but since we are discussing the problem of decency in diction I carefully avoided the word, ‘fool’.”

Possibly this silenced him. But another M.P., began, in a different key. “You are correct Panditji! There is every need for maintaining decorum, and decency in diction. And more than that, we should control our temper.”

“Oh! All cannot to be as patient, as you are! Panditji! You know not our friend’s nature. There are many who abuse him—they call him, corrupt, job-hunting. In fact, there are any number of strikes in his factory. He is dubbed as Exploiter, a communalist. But he never gets enraged. He is able even to smile. But do you know Panditji what the people say? They do not admire him for this quality, but argue, that he cannot deny anyone of the charges; hence his silence.”

How very irritating his attitude was, I cannot state. He simply wanted to damn this M.P. in my presence.
“Oh! Accusations do not affect me at all. Why, the people—at least a section of them—say all sorts of disparaging things about our Panditji! Is his prestige lowered on that account? No! On the other hand. Panditji’s prestige has grown by leaps and bounds.”

I had to allow everyone of them to present his point of view.

“No other leader has achieved so much of popularity—world influence, as Panditji.”

"But, we should not place too much faith in flatterers."

"Leave aside the flatters; don't we have solid credits?"

"But, people nowadays get dazzled by the remarkable achievements of Nazzer."

"Even Russia, has given him a Royal welcome."

"And yet, he has the courage to say, that society in Russia differs from the Arab society."

"Nasser's tour of Russia was something in the shape of a triumph."

"He defied the British—taught them a lesson."

"Yes! Even Uncle Sam was taught a lesson."

"His greatest achievement is this U.A.R."

"Wonderful! He has become the unquestioned leader of the Arab world."

I cannot but become annoyed. Not that I disliked, their eulogy paid to one of my very close friends, Nasser. But it was bad politics. Nasser is Nasser because he has been allowed to give a go-bye to democracy. They should have pointed out this difference—fundamental difference. But what to do! Most of these M.P.s. are not bestowing their thought over all the trends. They are ready to pay homage to those on whom the lime-light falls. I wanted to tell them these facts. But would they relish that? No! They are not in a mood to relish such stuff. Somehow, they seem to think, that I have asked them to come and have a chat with me, just to strengthen my position. As a matter of fact, I wanted to meet them, so that they can get the benefit of my advice. They have misunderstood the whole scheme. Oh! They exhibit their petty minds. But even this has been of some help to me. From a talk with them, I understand, that there are as many groups in the Parliament as there are Ministers. What a sorry state of affairs! I should first attempt, to break these inner rings—these circles within circles! Democracy is endangered by such inner circles. Some of my colleagues have got leisure enough to have constant contact with some of these M.P.s. Of course, any minister has got vast opportunities of satisfying, of enticing, of helping! Why, even such an obnoxious man as this Mundhra, had the chance of getting the friendship of some of the top-men. I am always on the move! Hence I have no chance of getting around me, these M.P.s. So naturally, rings are formed! Well, if they are links in a chain, it is to be welcomed! Such links are to be even encouraged! But, when they become so many clogs in the wheel, well, the machinery won't work. That seems to be exactly the position. I have taken elaborate notes, from out of the talk. It seems to be—I may be a bit exaggerating—that what obtains today here, seems to be exactly like what was to be found in the Moghul Era. Of course, the pomp and pageantry, grandeur and glory, I immensely like. But the other aspect—secret conclaves, combines—all that sort of machinations that marred the Moghul Era—they are not to be encouraged. As these talks continue I propose to meet more of them—I would be in possession of all the facts—all the details—then I could act—and act I would certainly. I am neither old nor feeble. But before I get all the facts, I should suffer even some amount of impudence. Some of these men are impertinent. They think that I am attempting to draw strength from them. They are not able to understand my method. I allow them to have a talk—to their hearts' content—so that I might gather, all the facts about my colleagues, and those at State levels.

A beginning has been made. If only I could master patience, I would most certainly gather all the information I need. Saturday is going to be interesting, instructive. And the more they talk with me, the lesser the prospect of 'rings.' And if that is achieved, democracy is safe.

But, in the meantime, they are unleashing lot of impertinence.

One M.P. had the audacity to ask me, whether, I am growing up Indhra Gandhi for leadership! What impudence! Should they not, request me to train up Indhra for the task. Ungrateful people! They suspect! They are sarcastic. And they say that some of my colleagues are not happy over the fact, that Indra Gandhi is given a seat in some of the August bodies in the Congress party. And yet, these men compete with one another in flattering my daughter. I should inform Indhra to be on her guard.

It seems, that the new Finance Minister Mr. Moraji Desai, when he visited Madras, was almost insulted by the State Ministers—what can be done? One M.P., asks me, why I should not take Kamaraj to task. Easy enough! To take him to task, and lose a faithful servant! Do these people want me to dig my own decay?

There was another curious question, "Did you appoint the Deputy Minister, the Salem Man, without consulting Kamaraj?" What a mischievous question? These people exhibit a knack of creating all sorts of misunderstanding.

"We hear" says another M.P., "we hear that this time the Madras Finance Minister exhibited energy and independent spirit to an extent unknown before." What possibly can be the answer. May be he was strong in his remarks. That may be necessary for State consumption. But look at the attitude of this M.P. He attributes motive. My smile did not satisfy him. He asked me, if I knew the fact, that the strong attitude of the Madras Finance Minister, is because of the indirect influence exercised by the D.M.K., in that State?

I do not know where from these people get such false news—one M.P., asks me, whether I am going to ask Dhebar to resign, and ask Kamaraj to become the Congress President.

I am not worried about these questions—most of these are silly—but I shudder to think what sort of review these people would give, in their private talk, with their friends, about these 'Saturdays.' But I will have to take the risk — so long as it does not undermine the position. Till I detect any such danger, these Saturdays are to be continued. They are pregnant with possibilities. And I mean recording my impressions, about these Saturdays. The Diary of a Democrat, will be of immense benefit, — well for all.
I should of course admit that some of them are awed into silence when I narrated instances to disprove some of the unfair statements levelled to discredit me. One such statement is well known—that I have been too long in power. In fact when I first mooted that point, I was almost certain that some of my friends well-versed in current politics, would refute my argument by quoting instances of leaders holding on to power for a much longer period. But I am still to understand the reason why none of them came forward with such instances.

So when our discussion centred around this topic, I told them, that though there is some amount of truth in the statement that I have been in power for a fairly long period, there are instances to prove that there are some who have been in power for a much longer period. This hint, thought I, would be taken up, and these friends of mine would broadcast the same.

"Friends! Now one other point that we have to consider is this: has some sort of staleness set in, because of my remaining too long in power?" — I began, and to my surprise many of them wanted me to remain—the only change they needed was, that I should distribute my power, decentralise it, delegate it. In short they want me to remain as a titular head. Now this amounts almost to an insult. I was a bit enraged, hence told them that there are leaders who have been allowed to remain in power for a very long period.

"Perhaps most of you are aware of this: Dr. Salazar, Prime Minister of Portugal, celebrated last week, the 30th anniversary of his entry into the Portuguese government. He is nearing seventy and there is none to either dispute his authority or deride him for remaining in power for such a long period. I explained. My friends were audacious. They admitted the fact, but pointed out, that Dr. Salazar has done some wonderful things for his country. He took up office when there were distressing conditions. Government expenditure was heavy; wealthy Portuguese sent away their money abroad; there was a huge foreign liability; there was food imports on a large scale — these were the features. But Dr. Salazar the able economist that he is, showed remarkable skill in safely plotting Portugal's ship of state through all the storms.

It was with great difficulty that I was able to control my temper. These men have got the cheeks to say in my presence, that Dr. Salazar remains in power because of his achievements and they think, though they have not said it in so many words, that I cannot show any such record. So that is the opinion these men have got about me. No wonder they want me to remain in power, after delegating the same to them.

Anyway, it is better to know their innermost thoughts — they reveal many truths—hitherto unknown.