A meet with Mahatma Gandhi’s secretary
Last Saturday on 28th July, I had an opportunity to meet and interview with Shri. V.S.Kalyanam, the secretary of Mahatma Gandhi during the last few years of his life (1943-48). Mr.Kalyanam recalled his days with Gandhi and how he got into acquaintance with Mahatma incidentally. “It was all sudden for me when Gandhi was released from Pune prison and his subsequent visit to Mumbai in 1944; I was living in old Bombay… Letters were accumulated in Gandhi’s place for which no one gave attention and I sorted them out in order… Most of the Ashram dwellers were illiterate and impoverish looking for food, doing petty work just for food only…” I had some education and my little knowledge of English came in handy to exhibit my secretarial skill and it was a God-sent blessing that I was with Mahatma”, this 80 year old veteran Gandhian in a thunderous, firm voice.
In a question about current day’s political situation, he exhibited his typical view on the disappointing style of functioning of democracy and its pitfalls. In a vexed accent, “It has become all about money now… Politicians are being paid hugely for nothing. Truly service-oriented people are barred from today’s politics.”
Kalyanam lives a simple life just as another common man in an apartment in the heart of the Chennai city and does most of things on his own for his maintenance even at this old age. With some volunteering work and assistance by his friend, Mr.Kumar, he travel places in and around Tamilnadu spreading the message of Gandhi and his principles.
When asked about the need for LokPal, he said serenely that Anna Hazare’s claims have been diluted and getting compromised with the current, corrupt government. On the other hand, he hailed Baba RamDev, the Yoga Guru, as the noblest, self-less person in the world next to Mahatma Gandhi. “Today, only Baba Ram Dev is like Mahatma Gandhi and he is doing good to people with all the money he has got yet living a simpler life.”
Speaking all about current day’s dirty politics and commenting hardly on leaders, Kalyanam was surely a daring Gandhian of these days. “One who needs security has no right to live…” he quoted Mahatma Gandhi when he was questioned about the need for any security force or protection.
This one hour meeting with him gave an inspirational insight to me on the livings and methods of today’s Gandhians.