அறிஞர் அண்ணாவின் கட்டுரைகள்


Some of those who evince keen interest in matters of public importance, have asked me to explain the D.M.K. Legislature Party's stand as regards the 'Ootty sessions'.

I find in the papers, that the Leader of the House along with the Leader of the Opposition has gone to Ootty to make an 'on the spot study'. That shows that the party in power and the opposition party feel that the matter is urgent and needs the quickest attention. It seems they surveyed the Aranmore Palace and other estates, besides certain Hotels and Cafes; various important suggestions, I understand, were made for improvements. Surely, when a democratic body charged with the responsibility of catering to the well-being of the people meets in session, the members should be afforded all the facilities necessary. And the whole retinue of officials accompanying them should be placed in suitable comfort and convenience.

Hence for making democracy interesting and cheerful, some amount of money is to be spent. The ruling party will not grudge it. Possibly, if such unimportant and commonplace schemes like slum clearance or providing tenements for the lower middle class are mooted out, the ruling party would move slowly, cautiously and almost at snail's pace. But this is a problem of 'making our masters merry'— and the ruling party would spare no effort, and would not be stingy,—and would accept all suggestions for improvements. The warmth with which this problem is being tackled and with such speed shows, how keen and enthusiastic the ruling party is, to hold the sessions at Ootty.

And it was left to the D.M.K. alone, to oppose this exodus, and that is why, I was not a member of that 'study team!'

Friends from Ootty, wrote to me last week, asking me, if and when I am going over there; for, so, they pointed out, they found in the papers the news, that the Leader of the House along with Leaders of Opposition parties intends going over to Ootty to make an 'on the spot study'.

Well, I did not get the rare privilege of accompanying the Leader of the House, and the reason is simple; I do not subscribe to the view of holding a session at Ootty.

Not that I have anything against Ootty. I know and have appreciated Ootty, for its scenic beauty and salubrious atmosphere and I have lot of friends too. The reason why I opposed this move, is based on no fancy or prejudice. I consider strongly that this exodus, is extravagant, unnecessary, and there is an odium attached to it. And I, along with millions of our countrymen was asked to view this exodus, as an 'arrogant waste', which the Whites introduced just to show off their superiority! They can't bear the heat of the summer; and to sit sweating, inhaling the hot air at Madras during the summer, would undermine not only their physic but also their mind. "Hence", argued the alien rulers, "it becomes imperative that we should find a cooler place for the summer sessions."
And these same Congress leaders, went from corner to corner denouncing this 'diabolical scheme', this 'extravagance' and this 'arrogance'.
"Look at the ways of the foreigners, while you the tillers and toilers sweat and labour, they exploit you in a thousand ways, and go to Ootty to enjoy! They would not die of sun-stroke if they remain at Madras during the summer. And if they find the summer so hot, why remain here at all! Why not go back to their own island, where to see the sun is a luxury and a treat! Begone Sirs, begone! This country is not meant for you. Its very summer kills you! Begone to your land of snow and chalk, mist and coal!"—I remember the late Mr.Satyamurthi wax eloquent in this strain. And I, along with millions in this land, was convinced of the basic truth underlying that argument, and it is this; "To argue that the summer sessions should be held at Ootty, because the heat at Madras would be oppressive, is to air a sort of political arrogance, which the people would not, could not and should not tolerate. When the whole lot of our people are bearing this 'heat', why should a few hundred people, find it oppressive and rush to the top of a hill?"

At least the Whites had some excuse—they came from a cool country—but to ape their ways, is ridiculous and to spend a good sum of money for the satisfaction of whims and fancies, is totally unjustifiable and certainly unmoral.

I hold very strongly this view, that this exodus is out and out a whim and fancy and so serves no useful purpose.

But, the rulers find it a bit delicate to present this point. They do not aruge, that the summer is unbearable and so they should be allowed to go up the hill and get comfort.

They are adepts in the art of side-tracking issues. Their greatest asset is their ingenuity. So they presented another reason altogether. "Think not, my countrymen, that our going to Ootty is the same as that of the Whites going to Ootty. They went to exhibit their superiority! We propose going there, in all humility and with a purpose—and the purpose is this; Ootty and the surrounding regions, would be improved by this exodus! So it is to confer comfort and improvement to those people in the region we intend going there, not for our own comfort or pleasure or pride."—So argued the rulers.

When this proposal was placed before the Business Advisory Committee and in the House itself, I, on behalf of the D.M.K., stoutly opposed that proposal. I even tried to persuade them to give up this idea, by pointing out, that public resentment against it, is strong.

And at one time I was made to understand that, they were not very keen on pressing the idea.

In fact the Leader of the House made a rather heroic statement in the House. He said, that the government was not very keen of holding the sessions at Ootty unless all the parties agreed to the proposal.

Hence I was surprised when again the proposal was brought forward, and I was shocked to find even the Communist party supporting the exodus. I reiterated my view—but my objection was overruled, for, all other parties formed a solid phalanx to floor the D.M.K.

It was later announced in the House, that they have decided to hold sessions at Ootty whenever necessary—with the Leader of the D.M.K. dissenting.

There was no clapping—and there was almost a sort of chill when that announcement was made. Probably many were taken aback, for, they were thinking that since the Leader of the House made a categorical statement that the government would not press this idea, unless all parties agreed, and since the D.M.K. stood against the exodus, there won't be any exodus. And perhaps, they were sorry to find out the ruling party, humbled, and eating its own word.

The Leader of the House need not have shown a sort of bravado the other day, by his statement, that there would be no Ootty session unless all parties agreed, and then tamely accept the idea, though the D.M.K. stood against it. He need not have played the 'saint' for such a long period. He could have taken this decision at the first sitting itself. Probably he thought that I would not press my objection, if time is allowed to pass. Meanwhile, perhaps they thought, they could educate me about the charms of a hill station and bring me round.

Persuasion, cajolery nor threat, could possibly make any sincere man change his view on a fundamental issue. And about this exodus, I have a very strong objection, and placed the same before them with all the sincerity at my command.

The other argument that Ootty would be improved by an exodus, is at the most, a bait.

There are hundred ways of improvement—and I for one do not think that a month's or two months' session would confer benefits and ensure improvements.

What the improvements are to be, can be seen, if one studies the report appearing in the papers: The 'study team', sauntered along the palatial building, the Aranmore, and then went to the 'Woodlands' and the 'Dasaprakash', to find out, if there would be enough accommodation for the members and the staff. That shows, what improvements Ootty is to get!

Ootty as the loveliest of the hill stations, could be made to hum with activity if the State government devotes its attention towards the art of tourism.

Probably there would be an immediate demand from the legislators, that since Ootty is costly, the daily allowance should be doubled or trebled.

We would probably find our legislators in wools and flannels, in sweaters and the like (barring perhaps Sardar Vedarathnam). We would possibly find our legislators and those who accompany them, sauntering on lawns and appreciating the lovely flowers. Ootty cannot hope to get 'improvements!' Ootty sessions would be interesting for the legislators!

If the State improves tourism, if certain industries like the raw film industry are organised, if horiculture is attended to, Ootty is bound to improve—and asking the legislature to meet there for a couple of months is not a fruitful way.

Another argument was mooted out by a friend of mine—of course, a legislator. He said that if we should hold the Assembly sessions not always in Madras but at different places, so that, there could be an intimate contact with the people. If such a view is accepted, well, why not hold the sessions at Tanjore? We have the Rajah's palace. It is becoming dilapidated— and after necessary improvements, we could have the sittings there—there where the Cholas and Pandyas held their sway, where Saraboji improved the fine arts!

Or, we have the Thirumalai Naickar Mahal at Madurai—a place of historic importance—a sitting there would be enough to remind us about our heritage. Why not one session at Kuttralam, where the murmur of the 'Aruvi' will be a sort of sweet music, and act as a balm to legislators?

No! That was not their object. The 'Whites' held their 'Durbar' at Ootty—and why not we?—that and nothing but that has taken hold or them, and the D.M.K. refuses to become an abettor in a crime. It is an insult to the people. It is an extra vagance.

In persisting in this scheme, even after making a statement on the floor of the House, that there would be no 'Ooty' unless all parties agreed, the ruling party has but given one more proof, that so long as the people are meek and submissive, holding on the fatalist view all through, the rulers could afford to be callous, and even arrogant. My only regret is that the other parties, and especially the Communist party, should lend support to this undemocratic and extravagant scheme of holding a session at Ootty.

The ruling party's decision to hold the Ootty session is not a stray incident, but a symptom of the metamorphosis that has so thoroughly taken place. The Congress is busy embracing all the 'castaway' ideas. What was termed 'bossim' by these same people during the British regime, is now being paraded with glee, but under a different name. The pomp, the pageantry and the paraphenalia—condemned by the Congress leaders during the alien rule, are today being maintained and defended. What became of the argument, that such expenses are extravagance, none knows.

"The Congress legislators in the twenties stubbornly refused year after year to vote for Governors and Viceroys, carpets, body-guards, bands and other perquisites of pomp and luxury. We should be shocked to be told now that the demands they voted down, not because they were opposed to pomp and luxury, but because they envied the British Governors and Viceroys who enjoyed these. The homage that hypocrisy pays to great ideals can go no further if Gandhiji's heirs disown their past and defend in the name of dignity all the extravagance they had once condemned."

I have given an extract from an editorial that appeared in 'Hindustan Standard' a nationalist daily.

But he be nationalist or a rationalist, these egoists refuse to listen to them. They decide, then consult, brush aside opinions, and finally announce. The Olymphian height wherein they are perched, makes them a bit dizzy. I am not surprised at their performances, and am mighty well satisfied that through such incidents, they stand exposed. But why the Communist party should lend its support to this exodus, is beyond my powers of comprehension. It is for the public to pronounce a judegement on such tactics.