அறிஞர் அண்ணாவின் கட்டுரைகள்


Like a slap on the cheeks, comes the news that the Centre has rejected the suggestion of the Madras government as regards the handloom industry. Ministers of our State make heroic statements on the floor of the Assembly, that they are not ‘stooges’ at all, and explain with an amount of even egotism, how their voice is heeded, their plea understood, then advocacy supported; they go to the length of saying that the talk about the colossal power of the Centre is to be given up, as it but reveals inferiority complex. Their statements are couched in a language similar to that employed by the bravado. And they are in a position to enjoy this luxury—for they are 150 while all the opposing groups could muster but fifty! Superiority in number in democracy infuses courage even to the week-kneed, and that is what is going on, whenever the Ministers of our State make their statements.

But from time to time the Centre administers the slap—and naturally the State government gets some amount of irritation. But the charming thought that somehow they could cajole the Centre, next time if not this time, acts as a soothing balm, and the Ministers again take up the role of the gladiators.

They do not seem to realise what an amount of harm they are doing by their defence of the North. They, we realise, have to stem the tide of national fervour that is now surging up in the South, not only to please their masters, but even to safeguard their position. They fondly hope to become the ‘favourites’ of Delhi, by their tirade against the D.M.K.

Faced with a public, which is becoming day by day, more and more vocal, the ministers of our State, are forced to offer solutions and schemes, and along with them an assurance, that their request to the Centre is after all a formal affair. But when they begin in right earnest to translate their pious promises into solid realities, they find the Centre rejecting their proposals. Where they expect a nod and a pat, they but get a denial and dismissal. They approach the Centre, exhibiting a sunny smile, only to receive sneer and a slap.

They make their sojourn to Delhi, with confidence, only to return back, wailing and whining. And the moment we point out this shameful state of affairs, they become petulant and peevish, and exhaust their anger, by showering the vilest abuses on those who champion the cause of the South.

Mr.Satish Chandra, Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industry, answering a question has stated that it was a fact that the Centre has rejected the Madras Government’s proposal as regards the handloom problem.

The Congress Government in Madras, in its anxiety to retain its hold over lakhs of handloom weavers, come forward from time to time to champion their cause. They could not allow the handloom weavers, to walk out of their fold, in despair and anger, for, besides being weavers, they happen also to be voters! Naturally the Congress leaders, especially ministers are anxious to cajole the weavers. Hence they begin pleading their cause, and even begin analysing the reasons for the crisis facing the handloom weavers.

They know, the analysis presented by the D.M.K., before the public.

So long as the mill-made textiles from the North compete with the handloom clothes, there would be chaos and crisis. The handloom weavers, are lakhs and lakhs in number, and they have no other alternative avocation. Unable to withstand the powerful competition from mill goods from the North, the handloom sector finds desolation threatening it.

A permanent solution could be found only when this competition is kept under control.

The mill goods from the North should not be allowed to glut the market here, to the detriment of the handloom goods.

But to achieve this, the State government has now no power.

So, only when the South becomes a Sovereign entity, this problem could be solved on a permanent basis.

For a pretty long time, the Congress party attempted to ridicule this analysis, and solution. They next tried to damn the proposal, as dangerous from the national point of view.

But, they were unable either to solve the problem, or formulate an alternative scheme for solving the problem. And they dare not look unconcerned.

They introduced certain palliatives; but the soothing effects were neither sufficient nor permanent.

So the Congress ministers had to fall in line, and state, that to safeguard the handloom sector, a radical solution should be found out. They then adopted the D.M.K., plan, clothing it of course in an attire of their own making. The Congress said that certain categories of textiles, like coloured sarees and bordered dhoties, should be reserved exclusively for the handloom sector.

This sounded sane and bold—and all parties rallied to offer their support to this scheme, when C.R.formulated it, in the shape of a resolution before the State legislature.

By presenting this scheme, the Congress leaders thought that they have once more established their kinship with the handloom weavers. But disappointment dogged them. Delhi refused to even consider the proposal.

Delhi dare not displease the mill magnates of the North—they were so liberal, especially during the elections. Those magnates had their emissaries, and agents, in every forum, legislature, and Congress. And the scheme was thrown out—though the sponsor, C.R. could claim to have got the support of all parties.

Had they but exhibited an iota of courage, the moment the centre refused to implement their proposal, the history of the handloom weavers would have been different.

But the Congress leaders of our State, had no stomach for the fight—no back-bone. They lisped out their displeasure, and were laughed at by Delhi.

The handloom sector should somehow be kept going—for, a total collapse in the sector would mean a crisis acute and awkward. Lakhs and lakhs of men and women would be thrown out of employment and that would be a menace, which even the politically arrogant, dare not ignore. So the Congress leaders, began to press for small mercies—and the rebate system was the outcome of these efforts.

As, Mr.Venkataraman, Minister for Industries and Labour, points out this week, this ‘rebate’ amount is very meagre, and even this was about to be stopped some months back; only the persistent efforts of the ministers saved the situation to some extent.

Meanwhile, the Textile Enquiry Committee recommended, a reduction in the volume of output in the handloom sector.

This, a new danger, an added danger, was stoutly opposed by the Madras Government, and they sent in their suggestion which was, the volume of production in the handloom sector should not be reduced; on the other hand the output from the mills should be cut down.

It is this proposal that has been rejected by the Centre.

The suggestion from Madras, was, it should be remembered, not total stoppage of importing into this State, mill made textiles; it was not even the C.R. formula, i.e. reservation of coloured sarees and bordered dhoties exclusively to the handloom sector; it was merely a request to reduce the output of mill goods—or to put it more correctly, it was a request to the central government not to reduce the output from the handloom sector.

Even this mild and moderate suggestion is being rejected by the Centre. And what are our ministers going to do? Would they raise their voice of protest? Certaining not! They have to conserve their entire energy to carry on a campaign of vilification against the D.M.K.
Would they at least refrain from assailing those, who would and could attempt to warn the Centre about their attitude towards those unfortunate handloom weavers? They can’t and won’t. They would rush on to denounce them, as antimaterialists, talking in terms of North and South.
“The interests of the handloom industry and those of the textile mills were conflicting. Whenever a concession was made to mill cloth like the reduction of excise duty, it adversely affected the handloom industry.

“Certain categories of production like coloured sarees and bordered dhoties should be reserved for the handloom industry.”

Would our readers like to know, who it is, who has explained the problem so ably? The clarity of thought we find in this explanation, emanates from that fearless and peerless Parliamentarian who has had the unique honour of presenting the State budget, for the eighth time, Hon’ble C.Subramaniam, unassailable, and unvanquished!

While serving under a different kind of master, C.R., this doughty warrior, beat the big drum, and promised easy and early victory.

Unwilling to embellish his statement, Mr.C.Subramaniam, has give a flat analysis, teen-agers would do well to emulate his method.

“That is why we have been pressing hard upon the Central government that the handloom industry should be protected because it is not only production that is necessary that we should give the necessary purchasing power to the people and that purchasing power can be given and may be increased only by providing employment to the people. More and more production without proper increase in the purchasing power of the people will result in a crisis and consequent glut in the market. That is why we have been pressing that the handloom industry should be protected and not allowed to be ruined. That is why in the case of he handloom industry we have tried our level best to stop the large scale flow of mill-made goods from the North which has resulted in the displacement from their normal avocations of lakhs and lakhs of our handloom weavers. No doubt the textile industry should be allowed to flourish if it would not result in the displacement of lakhs and lakhs of our handloom weavers, or if alternative employment could have been found for them. But that could not be. Our handloom industry is an ancient industry. Several lakhs of people in our State are engaged in that industry. We cannot allow them to be ruined. That is why we have fought hard and pressed for the complete reservation for the handloom weavers in the matter of production of dhoties and sarees.”

So spoke the Finance Minister, while perhaps his master, C.R., was bestowing his benign smile! That was on the 19th of December, 1953.

Not only was that scheme thrown to the dust bin, but even the milder and more moderate suggestion now made, has been rejected.

Object but to a single suggestion of his, on the floor of the Assembly, request him to change a comma or a colon, dispute anyone of his arguments, question the efficacy of his logic, we would find the finance minister fierce and final and a Niagara of scathing condemnation would pour forth. But watch him now—we would find a different kind of personality altogether—meek, apologetic, would be his answer, and the fearlessness would fritter away—for he is as conscious of the powers of Delhi, as he is of the acuteness of the problem of the handloom weavers. Poor souls, they could be cajoled into submission; not so these at Delhi, in their smile hangs so many charming possibilities, and their frown might mean a fall! Having risen to such heights, and by such patient politics, Mr.C.Subramaniam could not be expected to rise up in revolt unmindful of the consequence.

The Madras Government, would not have made the suggestion in any light-hearted manner. Only after weighing the pros and cons of the problem could they have arrived at that suggestion which has been rejected. Any democrat who has not become thick-skinned, would take it an affront to his self respect, and forthwith announce his intention to resign. But, not our finance minister—having amassed such a fine fund of knowledge in all branches, politics, economics, education, justice, morality and even art! How could he impoverish the country by his exit! He would remain at his post, eating his own words, and belching out bravados as against the D.M.K.

(Sub Editorial - 08-03-1959)