Rajaji ( C.Rajagopalachari ) was born on 10th December ,1878 and passed away on 25th December, 1972.
In the month of December, on the occasion of the birth and death anniversary of Rajaji, as one remembers his life history that was marked by robust thinking, simple life style, principled approach to the issues and guidance for the nation, one can see that most of the far sighted thoughts of Rajaji are highly relevant to the present time.
Let us highlight some of the actions and thought process of Rajaji that have stood the best of time.
Conscience Keeper :
Rajaji had close friendship with Mahatma Gandhi that was marked by mutual respect.
While speaking about Rajaji, Mahatma Gandhi said that Rajaji was his conscience keeper. What can be greater tribute to Rajaji’s sagacity more than what Ganhiji said about him ?.
Gandhiji led a glorious life of activities that was guided by his conscience. When Gandhiji said that Rajaji was his conscience keeper, it reflected on Rajaji’s brilliant intellectual capability combined with ethical and moral force.
Inter caste marriage :
Several critics of Rajaji, then and now, in Tamil Nadu made castiest remarks about Rajaji in a motivated manner .
However, it has been seen that most of such critics and some politicians in Tamil Nadu pay only lip support for inter caste marriage, though they speak loudly about the need for it to eradicate casteism.
On the other hand, Rajaji gave his daughter in marriage to Gandhiji’s son, though Rajaji and Gandhiji belonged to different caste. In this process, Rajaji ensured greater respectability and approval for the inter caste marriages in the country.
India Pakistan relationship:
Due to several historical reasons, it appears that it is almost impossible task for India and Pakistan to live in peace and harmony.
Rajaji realized such situation immediately after independence and said that people to people relationship was the need of the day between India and Pakistan. He said that development of mutual good will and understanding between citizens in various walks of life in India and Pakistan would force the politicians in both the countries to strive for amity.
Even today, this Rajaji’s suggestion appears to be the only way for India and Pakistan to live without animosity in the long run.
Opposition to Hindi :
During the pre independent days, Rajaji strongly advocated that every person in Tamil Nadu should learn Hindi language.
However, after the independence, when central government took measures that amounted to imposition of Hindi in non Hindi speaking states, Rajaji took strong objection and started opposing imposition of Hindi very strongly. At the same time, Rajaji repeatedly pointed out that he did not hate Hindi language.
When central government realized that even Rajaji was opposing the imposition of Hindi, it reversed it’s policy.
Prohibition in Tamil Nadu :
Rajaji was a strong advocate of prohibition and wrote several articles and made speeches in support of prohibition.
Rajaji was shocked when the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Karunanidhi decided to lift prohibition to boost government ‘s income.
In spite of his ripe old age and inspite of the fact that Rajaji had the status of the former Governor General of India and in pouring rain, Rajaji went to Karunanidhi’s house and Rajaji appealed to Karunanidhi not to lift prohibition. However, Karunanidhi rejected Rajaji’s appeal and went ahead to lift prohibition.
Today, Tamil Nadu’s social fabric is severely disrupted, as large number of people have taken to liquor habit. Life of several women and many poor families have been shattered, as many menfolk have become liquor addicts.
Many people in Tamil Nadu think that Karunanidhi’s decision to life prohibition has become a curse for Tamil Nadu’s future and it’s social stability and progress. If Karunanidhi had listened to Rajaji’s appeal and refrained from lifting prohibition, perhaps Tamil Nadu would have emerged as model state for India.
Simple life style :
It is known that inspite of the lofty government positions he held , Rajaji used to wash his own clothes everyday.
Can we see today any politician or minister adopting such simple life style?
Population control :
Today, there is widespread concern in the country that level of population in India is increasing at alarming rate.
Inspite of several steps initiated by Government of India over the years, population growth could not be brought to acceptable level.
Rajaji anticipated this problem and said that population cannot be controlled by spreading contraceptive awareness amongst the people.
Rajaji said that with the spread of education and poverty eradication and better awareness of the issues involved, people themselves would realize the disadvantage of having large family and reduce the family size.
This is already happening in some parts of the country to some extent.
Political culture :
In the independent India, Rajaji and Nehru had serious difference of views with regard to economic development programme for the country.
While Nehru strongly believed in promoting public sector enterprises, Rajaji was of the view that without strengthening and encouraging private sector , Indian economy would not improve to the desirable level. As a matter of fact,Rajaji founded Swatantra party to spread his views and there were strong exchanges between Rajaji and Nehru on matters of economic approach.
However, their mutual respect and admiration remained intact reflecting the civilized political culture of both these leaders.
When Nehru passed away, Rajaji was devastated and paid tributes to Nehru stating that Nehru was “ Eleven years younger than me, eleven times more important for the nation and eleven hundred times more beloved of the nation”.
Economic programme :
Rajaji strongly advocated the promotion of private enterprises in a big way and said that private initiatives are much needed for industrial and economic growth. He also criticized Nehru’s economic policies as “permit license quota raj”
Today, it is seen that central and state governments in India are taking special care to encourage private sector and are adopting industrial economic policies almost similar to what Rajaji advocated.
Pride of Tamil Nadu :
Tamil Nadu has seen in the past great personalities with blemishless personal life and strongly committed to the cause of human welfare , disapproval of division of society on any ground and they had unflinching loyalty to the cause of India.
Such great personalities who hailed from Tamil Nadu in the pre independent days include Kamaraj, Bharathiar, V.O. Chidambaram, Periyar, Rajaji and others.
Periyar and Rajaji were often thought by people as political adversaries. However, it was known that Periyar consulted Rajaji on personal matters and both of them had healthy relationships, inspite of different political views.
When Rajaji passed away , in his ripe old age sitting in a wheel chair, Periyar went to the cremation ground and wept inconsolably.
Today, we see in Tamil Nadu some political leaders belonging to different parties even hate to meet or speak with each other. They need to learn from Rajaji and Periyar about political culture.
Nandini Voice for the Deprived
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