அறிஞர் அண்ணாவின் கட்டுரைகள்


"WEARY of body and troubled in mind, I sought escape from my surroundings, and journeyed to Kulu, in the inner valleys of the Himalayas."

I heard, Indra reading aloud!

"Indra! Is it how you are viewing this holiday?" I asked, a bit worried. For, Indra was having a place, in what is being termed as the 'ginger group' and I did not like her describing my stay at Kulu, in that way. Such an interpretation was most annoying.

"Papa! I am but reading the 'Discovery of India' aloud! It is there that you have written that way," explained Indra. She was right —it is there, my own remark.

What a coincidence — a curious one!

When war broke out, and there was a sort of crisis in conscience, I went to Kulu! And now, I am here!!

I do not really understand why this place is called the Valley of the gods. It is 'Man' —if you would excuse me for using a capital 'M' —it is 'Man' who needs such a beauty spot, not God! Man needs such ennobling influence from time to time — especially men like poor me, burdened with too many responsibilities, generating so much of hope.

Be it called the valley of the Gods or of Man, this is really a wonderful place. You might have noted, that I did not add, 'to live in' —yes! One cannot always find pleasure in looking at snow-capped mountains and fresh blossoms! They are delightful to look at, but not for all time. Sometimes the smoke from the chimney is delightful to look at, for it is from out of the abundance of that smoke, we get the needs of the modern age fulfilled. Ah! Modern Age!! How I wish I could be clear, and definite on this point. I am immensely pleased with the Modern Age — but that does not mean, I do not attach any importance to the past. The past was hoary—but past is past—we are now moving fast —too fast, some say — but I do not find the speed terrific. But there is this much to be said about the Modern Age — there is a sort of hurry-burry about it. And when one finds himself tormented by such a 'hurry-burry,' he feels that he should retire for some short period at least, to gaze at the majesty of nature, inhale the sweet fragrance, hear the refreshing motes of the birds!

Such a salubrious climate, drives off all sort of drowsiness, and the more one inhales the sweetness here, the stronger he becomes, physically, mentally. On viewing the grandeur of Nature, 'Man' is reminded of the smallness of his own stature! And yet, he is also reminded of the great, grand achievements to his credit. Having been thwarted almost — though not completely — in my attempts at inoculating a new spirit in the minds of those responsible for the governance of this vast country of ours, I have chosen this place for calm, cool, and detailed introspection. And I am told, that it was at this very place, that Manu the Law-giver spent his time, formulating his schemes. Indra reminds me, of my views, about Manu. In my 'Discovery of India', says Indra, I have written thus,
"The legal position of women, according to Manu, the earliest exponent of the law was definitely bad. They were always dependent on somebody—on the father, the husband or the son. They were treated in law, almost as chattels."

Manu gave a scheme for society, which is today condemned! Many interpretations could be —and actually are being given—to the caste system. In fact, I have given some very interesting interpretations. But when all is said and done, this caste system has been a sort of canker, eating into the very vitals of our body-politic. What an ingeneous, and immoral method—this caste system! And yet, one has to call Manu as a Maharishi! I have some strong words written about and against this caste system, though I cannot say how much influence it has exerted on the minds of the people. There is a sort of general opposition to the caste system. But it has not yet lost its hold. In fact, one of the disturbing features in the Congress camp is this casteism! Even some of my colleagues are not free from it. For, did not Dhebar—liberal-minded that he is —declare at Madras meeting that he hails from the Brahmin community? I do not know why he made that declaration. He was touring Tamil Nad, to inculcate a spirit of liberalism—and yet he is tempted to talk in terms of caste. This baneful system should be annihilated. Yes! The sooner the better!! 'But, how?' —Is the problem. In fact, when I speak against casteism, I find some of my colleagues smiling —and there is a sort of sarcasm! Probably they are challenging. 'Dare you destroy such an ancient system?'—they seem to interrogate. Not that anyone of them is defending that system. They are even louder on their condemnation—but when the practical question of how best to annihilate the caste system is take up, these same men come forward, with very curious arguments.

"In the context of society today the caste system and much that goes with it are wholly incompatible, reactionary, restrictive, and barriers to progress. There can be no equality in status and opportunity within its framework nor can there be political democracy and much less economic democracy."

These are strong words—written in all sincerity.

And these words would have inspired millions of young men and women—for my 'Discovery of India' has run to many editions. And yet, what has been the result? Having written so very convincingly about this pernicious system, what are the measures taken, for annihilating it? Just nothing! I am sorry, and a bit ashamed also. Why is it, I have been keeping mum over this? Is it fear or a sense of vacillation? I don't know. Perhaps, I thought that, to mention about the pernicious nature of the caste system, is enough! But how grievous has been the error! No Congress committee today is free from this canker. And the most shocking aspect of this problem is this; one does not know who the culprit is and who the Judge!
The other day, an M.P. from Madras State, was passing some sneering remarks about the Kamaraj Ministry. He was of course wrong in accusing Kamaraj of being caste-ridden! No! Kamarj can never be like that. But there seems to be some weight in that M.P.'s argument. He began a regular analysis of the composition of the Madras Cabinet, to prove, that Kamaraj, has carefully given a place to every vocal community, in his cabinet.

"Mr. Ramayya," says that M.P. "hails from the Kalla Community and Mr. Kakkan from the Pallar Community, Mr. Manickavel from the Padayachi Community!"

I argued naturally that, that may be a mere coincidence. But that adamant advocate swears that, that is not a coincidence! 'It is' says he, 'it is a contrivance, a cunning device!! 'And on that account, the Kamaraj Ministry' claims the complainant, 'is growing unpopular day by day.' But the reports I get from the Kamaraj Cabinet, is quite the contrary. I do not know why, those Congressmen who were noted for their nobility are today presenting arguments that are born either out of peevishness or jealousy!

There was another M.P., who had the audacity to tell me, another outrageous news! It can't be called strictly news —for, much of it was his own views—prejudice, I should say.

Mr. Morarji, is an honoured colleague of mine—and his entry in the Central Cabinet, has been hailed by many. But this M.P. says, to my face, that Morarji Bhai is secretly working for my downfall! "What rot!" I thundered forth, but undaunted, that Member of Parliament takes me into his confidence and says, "Panditji! Morarji is planning to tour the Big Countries—and he hopes to get a pat from Uncle Sam, a hug from Nikita, and he hopes to get a pat from MacMillan! And armed with such international influence, he is going to 'replace' you!!" What nonsensical thought! And yet with what vehemence he puts forward such arguments!

One may—and should — brush aside such fancies! But the other fact remains true! There is casteism! And it is not confined to the rank and file. In fact the rank and file seems to be not profited by this casteism in as rich a manner as the 'bosses'.

This should be put an end to. Else none could stop the dis-integration. Casteism should go!

"None disputes" argue my friends in the cabinet. But yet, they go on nourishing the system, by offering various interpretations. I should be more emphatic on this point—at least hereafter. As a matter of fact, I myself gave various interpretations about this caste system in the early chapters of the Discovery of India, but when I came to the concluding part, I had to be emphatic, definite, and even harsh. This is what I wrote:—
"Caste is the symbol and embodiment of this exclusiveness among the Hindus. It is sometimes said that the basic idea of caste might remain, but its subsequent harmful development and ramifications should go; that it should not depend on birth but on merit. This approach is irrelevant and merely confuses the issue.

"Caste has in the past not only led to the suppression of certain groups but to a separation of theoretical and scholastic learning from craftsmanship and a divorce of philosophy from actual life and its problems. It was an aristocratic approach based on traditionalism. This outlook has to change completely, for it is wholly opposed to Modern conditions and the democratic ideal."

Well, I have demanded through my 'Discovery' a radical and complete change! But what is it I find today! Caste is not annihilated—and casteism is found in the Congress camp itself. And who is to be blamed for the shockingly sorrowful state of affairs? Me? To some extent. To a great extent! I cannot escape from that responsibility. The trust millions and millions of my countrymen have placed in me, is a sacred one. Have I been true to that ideal? What efforts did I take to change that outlook? I am not happy, when I brood over that aspect of the problem. I have been far too much immersed in my global tours, my plans, and my atomic research centres, little realising that I, by my inaction, hesitation and vacillation, have allowed this caste system to pollute the purity in public life itself. In fact, there is much truth in the argument, that after the advent of freedom, the influence of caste has increased to an alarming proportion. As a matter of fact, some of the M.Ps. who met me, convinced me about this. They produced unassailable evidence—from the election list! Most of the selection of the Congress candidates was based on considerations of caste. Sickening! Indeed sickening!! But, those lists, though prepared at State Levels, came up for scrutiny before me, and there is my seal of approval. How is it, that at that time, I did not probe into the matter? Possibly I was, as a Congressman much more interested in the problem of winning the elections, rather than safeguarding an ideal. That was a grave mistake—and that has landed me and the organisation in difficulties, even dangers. And despite this 'mercenary method', I find today, defeat dogging the foot-steps of the Congress. Even the Kulu Valley becomes hot when I think about Deviculam.

What a Royal welcome they gave me at Kerala, and yet what a bitter lesson!! From Orissa comes, disgusting news! Rajasthan is no better. And I have to hang down my head in sorrow, at what has happened at the Tata's!

Of what use is this holiday—at the valley of the gods, if every day I get disturbing news!

Weary of body and troubled in mind!

Kulu has not given me, the much-needed comfort. Sure! The orchards and the flower gardens, the mountain path, the merry salutations of these innocent folks here, are sweet! And yet, the thought is tormenting!

"Daddy! There is already a rosy tinge on your cheeks" —comforts Indra! Dutiful!! Wants to offer me delights! Rosy indeed! Dear daughter! You know not that even Kulu has got its own limitation. To a troubled mind Kulu offers no panacea. I can get it only at Delhi—right from my desk. It is through work—planned work—that I can solve the riddles —not by merely trolling here. Kulu is the "Valley of the Gods' — true!! Gods allow men to grope in the darkness, take faulty steps, sin and get lost. Papa is not a God! He is human in the fullest sense of the term. And he is responsible for the destiny of millions of his countrymen. He can't, like the Gods, shift everything on to 'Karma'!! Let the Gods saunter in leisure here—we will have to go back—to work—to Delhi!

Do not think that I am carried away by what an impudent 'informer' told me about Morarji Bhai! No! I do not attach any importance at all to such rumours. But oppressing thought torment me — and the chirping of the birds, offer but temporary solace! I should tell my daughter — but should I? Unfortunately, Indra Gandhi has thought it fit to join the ginger group—so I should not lay bare my innermost thoughts even before Indra. So let me tell Indra, how healthy and happy I feel, how refreshing this holiday is, and how wonderful the bounties of nature are. Here is a feast for the eyes—nay for the souls, I should say! And yet, how depressing, how desolate I feel!!