Gandhi on the AIR!
It was way back in 2004 when I was writing a series of articles on Gandhian principles in the regional language Tamil and sending them to All India Radio (AIR), Chennai to air a speech on them. After few weeks of sending papers on four or five different issues, I received a letter from AIR stating that they would require me to give a small speech on Subramania Shiva, one of the well known freedom fighter from my state (Tamilnadu, India) and it was also mentioned that it was in view of his birth centenary in the month of August.
I was very much upset about this offer and wanted to decline this offer on the grounds that the AIR officials had deliberately called me upon to speak on somebody else though I had send them the papers specific to Gandhiji. With little interest and knowledge about that freedom fighter S.Shiva, I had to prepare a paper on Shiva’s contribution to India’s independence which I consider as an insult to me and Gandhiji as well. Even though I respect the other leaders and freedom fighters, I like to adhere to the principle of working only on Gandhian principles.
Since I have dedicated my interest and work fully on Bapuji, and wanted to have my first AIR speech on Bapuji, I had really sought to take up this issue with them.
Hence I decided to go with my own plan. So, I did not prepare a speech on S.Shiva. On that afternoon, around 2’0 clock when I entered the station, actually there was none to look at my appointment with the Programme Director. Virtually, I was all left alone with out any proper reception and assistance. Since, that was my first visit to any AIR station, I took that opportunity to stray around the whole building to have a tourist-kind of look on things around while other visitors and staff were walking past me not caring about this stranger.
And, after an hour or so, I could catch hold of the Programme Director at his desk and showed him the letter sent by the AIR. I was telling him the whole background of my Gandhian studies and work for the nation and my detached interest in the other aspects. He was patiently listening to me sometimes but he seemed not to be yielding to my request to speak about Gandhi. Instead, he was talking about some bigwigs who are speaking through AIR and showed me a record book of assignments and schedule and how they stick to them. Finally, he said the scheduled speech on Shiva shall be rendered by some of their own staff as I did not come up with that.
Later I departed from his office hoping that a speech on Gandhi could be a mirage in this highly politicized AIR environment. The message here is “My firmness with Gandhian Ideal cost me a radio speech!” One could equate this with Sathyagraha (Firmness with the Truth).
I still wonder how the AIR, Chennai called upon me to speak on anything else that I do not request, know or want to.