Ansari : Professor! My car is at your disposal, if you
are just waiting for your Vauxal .... You are always
punctual, I know, and you have hardly ten minutes left
Prof. Pandu : Thank you sir, thank you very much indeed.
It is very kind of you. But I am not in need of either
my Vauxal or your car ...
Doctor Damu : But, have you forgotten about your engagement,
Prof. Pandu : Whatever may be the ailment I am subjected
to from time to time, Doctor, absent-mindedness is not
one of them. I am perfectly conscious of the fact referred
to by you. But there has been what I would call as a
eleventh-hour cancellation ...
Advocate Ansari : So you are not going to deliver the
lecture about "Jews, then and now," ...
Prof. Pandu : Yes, Sir! I thought that the theme would
ill-fit with the present trend ...
Doctor Damu : Oh! You are making a reference to the
flare-up in the Holy Land...
Prof. Pandu :Yes, and about its repercussions ...
Doctor Damu : It is indeed amazing ... the way in which
a distant event affects the course of events in other
Prof. Pandu : Indeed it is amazing. But, true! The world,
Sir, has been shrinking in size progressively so much
that countries considered to be distant have almost
become neighbours. The world has become small ... and
events in one place affect the course of events elsewhere...
Advocate Ansari : Our food-ships too I am told, are
Prof. Pandu : Sir, may I correct you a bit?...Neither
the food nor the ship is ours. The food is for us and
the ships belong to other countries.
Doctor Damu : Our professor takes always a peculiar
pleasure in details ...
Prof. Pandu : I wish very much Doctor! That you too
would look into details ... especially when patients
seek your help.... occasionally ...
Doctor Damu : Professor! I ignore your veiled taunt!
Occasionally you say, meaning of course by that, that
my practice is not lucrative ...! But you should remember
that I had a roaring practice, till two years ago, when
I retired ... voluntarily ...
Prof. Pandu : And with the best of intentions.... I
think you wanted to make way for others in your field
to come up and to the front-line ...
Advocate Ansari : That is a good thing. Congestion in
departments act as a damper to the second and third
line people. And in that connection I would say that
the raising of the age of retirement, to 58, is not
to be advocated.
Doctor Damu : But there are instances of extension of
service, or re-employment ...
Advocate Ansari : They are exceptions, not the rule
Prof. Pandu : But if exceptions become too many, then
the rule becomes meaningless and purposeless...
Doctor Damu : Just like the flare-up in the Arab world...
Prof. Pandu : Sir, I refuse to endorse your opinion
... I would not rush to offer opinion on a matter which
is by its very nature explosive.
Advocate Ansari : Just the opposite of the Government
of India's attitude I believe.
Doctor Damu : I think that the Government of India did
the right thing after all. Should we not support Nasser?
He is our respected friend and ally.
Prof. Pandu : Friend? True! But ally? I can't say! We
have had occasions to test that, and Nasser did not
give us the opportunity of having him as our ally. But
that is part of the old story. The Government of India,
in my opinion need not have been so hasty in making
observations or pronouncements.
Advocate Ansari : So, Professor! You do not want to
irritate America ... that is what you mean ...! They
say that the U.S.A. is not going to supply us food...
Prof. Pandu : Sir, I do not think that President Johnson
would stoop to become peevish or petulant. No! A mature
nation will never map out its policy on peevishness.
Irritation is understandable, but that I think, will
not lead America to forget its obligation to the needy
part of the world.
Doctor Damu : Talking about, obligations, Professor!
What do you think about Mr.Morarji Desai's contention
that it is not obligatory on his part to come to the
succour of Tamilnad as regards food subsidy ...
Prof. Pandu : If I have read correctly, Mr.Morarji did
not make any reference to obligations, at all. He was
merely pleading about his inability to comply with the
request of the C.M. of our state. But if the question
of obligation is to be considered, the Union Finance
Minister has no right to repudiate the obligatory principle.
Doctor Damu : Perhaps he does not like the idea of food
subsidy at all ...
Prof. Pandu : Food subsidy, Sir, becomes a necessity
sometimes; but no government would like to garb society
with subsidy and stipend for all time to come. Subsidy
is a gesture of our goodwill. It is a well-intentioned
palliative - not a diet. Mr.Morarji cannot find fault
with our government's policy of food subsidy himself
accomodating food subsidy and to the tune of a hundred
and eighty crores of rupees.
Doctor Damu : You are referring to the subsidy with
regard to wheat ... for the whole of India.
Prof. Pandu : That is obvious. And Sir! We in our State,
would have been benefited to the tune of at least ten
crores of rupees through this subsidy, had we been wheat-eaters.
Advocate Ansari : That is a very strong point. Our C.M.
ought to have pressed that point ...
Prof. Pandu : .... Not when he was pleading for a moratorium,
but only when the problem of food subsidy is taken up
Doctor Damu : Apart from actual famine, there is the
other problem, malnutrition. Most of the poor-folk have
not the means to have a full meal. No Vitamins. That
is why their energy is at such a low ebb.
Prof. Pandu : Doctor Damu is quite right in his diagnosis.
Always is - whenever he deals with problems. that reminds
me of a peculiar statistics I came across sometimes
ago. A western food statistician reports that in an
individual's life time he eats 30,000 eggs, 6000 loaves
of bread, 9000 pounds of potatoes, 8000 pounds of beef,
12 sheep, 15 pigs, 5 calves and 7000 pounds of fish.
Doctor Damu : And digests the whole lot. Digestion is
the most important thing ... the most salient point
Prof. Pandu : Yes, Sir! Quite true ... not only with
regard to food but also with regard to ideas.
Advocate Ansari : That's why sometimes our experts tell
us, that ill-digested plans have caused the economic
Prof. Pandu : We are told from time to time about the
havoc caused by such ills. Have you seen the report
about the Durgapur plant? Such a colossal waste ...!
Mr.Morarji instead of pleading about his inability to
help our C.M. should pay much attention to plug such
loopholes, stop the drain, and pile up enough money
to help the States.
Advocate Ansari : This ought to have been stressed by
Prof. Pandu : Why not by men like ourselves, as well?
As responsible citizens we should tell our masters to
mend their ways....
Doctor Damu : But that would lead us to the arena of
Prof. Pandu : And, Sir, no democrat should be afraid
to enter that domain ... it is his inherent right ...
his duty ... to see that the country is managed in a
proper manner... ! No democrat should think that the
whole affair would be managed by ministers alone. Everyone
has got a part to play, a duty to perform ...
Advocate Ansari : But most of the people are interested
only when something sensational happens...
Doctor Damu : ... Such as the Kairon affair, the Walcot
case or to mention the latest, the Hazari Report.
Prof. Pandu : What is the use Sir, about post-mortems...?
Doctor Damu : Why, that would help us to find out guidelines
for the future.
Prof. Pandu : .... provided the nation as a whole stands
up to condemn the state of affairs, and demands justice
Advocate Ansari : Justice and fairplay! Very costly
and very rare commodities, Professor!
Prof. Pandu : True, Sir! True! But of what use in this
democracy if we do not get justice enthroned and fairplay
Advocate Ansari : But people are easily led astray.
Clever people on the political arena give either interesting
interpretations or sweet promises.
Prof. Pandu : That is where, Sir, men like us are expected
to do our duty; tell the people facts, simple and unadulterated
Doctor Damu : Our C.M. has been issuing appeals to the
intellectuals to take active interest in public life
Prof. Pandu : To be more correct, the C.M. was asking
the educated to take interest in the problems of the
day - the issues that are confronting us...
Advocate Ansari : Perhaps he wants us to take up the
question of the Centre coming to the aid of the State
with regard to the food subsidy...
Prof. Pandu : Not that alone Sir! Did you notice the
C.M.'s remarks the other day at Madura ... when he inaugurated
the Milk Plant there ...? New Zealand, he stated has
contributed more than thirty lakhs of rupees for this
plant, and with the stipulation that this amount is
to be repaid...
Advocate Ansari : In easy instalments I suppose, spread
over a long number of years...
Prof. Pandu : Never cultivate this habit of jumping
to conclusions, Sir, especially in a court room! Had
you but allowed me to finish my sentence you would not
have tumbled into an error. The New Zealand government
has asked us to supply milk at subsidised rate to the
Advocate Ansari : In short. New Zealand has come to
our aid, to bear part of the loss we incur by selling
milk at cheaper rate ...
Prof. Pandu : You have explained the nobility of New
Zealand, in your own blunt, matter of fact way.
Doctor Damu : While distant New Zealand shows such a
kind heart, Delhi refuses to offer its helping hand;
refuses to bear even a part of the subsidy amount ....
Prof. Pandu : There are more appropriate terms Sir!
Then what you were able to muster.
Advocate Ansari : No argument advanced by the C.M. of
our State was able to convince Mr. Morarji. The C.M.
had to return empty-handed...
Prof. Pandu : Not empty-headed I am sure ....
Advocate Ansari : ...... meaning thereby that he has
returned, his head full of new ideas ...?
Prof. Pandu : Sir! I refuse to face your cross examination.
Doctor Damu : But there is a sizable section of society
talking today about the Centre-State relationship.
Prof. Pandu : A very necessary issue, Sir! And one,
unless solved intelligently, will become awkward, nasty
and even assume terrific proportions...
Advocate Ansari : Yes! We read the other day in the
papers that a part of Nigeria seceded...
Prof. Pandu : Political explosions have become quite
common on the African Continent. But here, sobriety
is the guiding principle, and the ruling party, the
DMK, has stated categorically that it has given up the
idea of secession.
Doctor Damu : But this talk about State-Centre relations?
Will this not lead to the old idea...?
Prof. Pandu : Not necessarily. In a way, the issue of
State-Centre relationship I would say, is the direct
result of our abdication of the idea of separatism.
Since we have decided to remain as part and parcel of
a single unified, indivisible country, we should arrange
the relationship between the units and the federal power,
in such a way as to avoid frictions and to cement the
unifying force. Never should we lull ourselves with
delightful sentiments alone. Ideals should be realised
by hard and sustained work, not by tall talks alone.
Advocate Ansari : But basically we are all one. For
instance when distant Bihar is hit by drought and famine,
we here are not unaffected.
Prof. Pandu : True! The other day, forgetting party
politics the former C.M. and the C.M. of today responded
to the invitation of the Sheriff of Madras and attended
a function in connection with the Bihar Famine Relief.
Doctor Damu : Reports about Bihar are heart-rending.
The Centre should come in a big way to help Bihar.
Advocate Ansari : Here too, the havoc caused by the
cyclone has been terrific. Touring the districts, along
with some friends, I found many tanks and roads damaged.
Doctor Damu : Should not the government repair these
tanks, before the monsoon sets in?
Advocate Ansari : They should. They would I am sure.
They have already prepared a fine and detailed plan
for augmenting food production and tank renovation forms
a part of the scheme.
Prof. Pandu : Mr. Ansari! You are referring to the 'Royappa
Plan'. I have heard a bit about it. It is fine, and
our C.M. I am told discussed about this too with the
Advocate Ansari : And the result? The usual 'No' I am
Prof. Pandu : The C.M. did not get what he wanted but
he has made people think about these problems. Even
the Centre cannot say that the State had no definite
Advocate Ansari : Whatever the grievance I do not think
that we should do anything that would affect the idea
of National Integration.
Prof. Pandu : A fine idea Sir! And a sweet one too.
But we should be exact about the full implications of
the term, National Integration. You know the story,
I think. A girl broke off her engagement and her girl
friend asked, why. Said she, "Rosie! He told me
that he was in the movie business and I was much enthused.
You know I am always thrilled by the very mention of
the Movie world. So charming; enchanting; paying; dazzling.
So when he told me he was in the movie business a bright
future unfolded itself before me. I found Stars with
their diamonds and dimples, the heroes with their gait
and glamour, so on and so forth. But the day after our
engagement, what do I find? My boy friend, my would
be 'groom' was driving a furniture van! Was not the
van moving?" Hence, he was to be classified as
one in the movie business, Sir! It is after all a story,
but there is a lesson to be learnt. One should be clear
and definite about the real and full meaning of the
Doctor Damu : Professor! Excuse me. That 'cough' you
are having is not to be ignored. You should consult
a chest clinic, at the earliest opportunity. I won't
allow that cough to remain - no - not for a day more.
Prof. Pandu : Thank you Doctor, thank you. I have had
consultations, but with no good result. I am tired and
sick of such consultations. You know the poem,
I am sick of gruel and dietetics
I am sick of pills and sicker of emetics
I am sick of pulses' tardiness or quickness
I am sick of blood, its thinness or its thickness
In short within a word I am sick of sickness.
Doctor Damu : That is despondency Professor! We should
drive it out quickly. And so may. I suggest, that we
should forthwith go to the picture house?
Advocate Ansari : And what is the picture today ...?
Doctor Damu : A hilarious comedy ... entitled "The
Prof. Pandu : You ... you ..... I have a mind to test
the strength of my walking stick .... run for your life
Advocate Ansari : Sixty! And yet so swift! Run, doctor!
(Home Rule - 18-6-1967)