Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum


                                      RAJAJI  -   GANDHIJI PRAISED HIM AS HIS CONSCIENCE KEEPER

Mr. C.Rajagopalachari (Rajaji), the first Governor General of independent India was a great patriot and an intellectual who could think beyond his time and express his views with clarity and courage of conviction.

As Rajaji’s birth anniversary falls on 10th December, one would wish that Narendra Modi  government would remember him on his birthday,  just as the government did so correctly in the case of Sardar  Vallabhai  Patel recently.  

Rajaji’s contribution to national cause in pre independent India was as significant as his contribution to the post independent  India.  Rajaji was so forthright and honest in expressing his views , that Gandhiji had no hesitation in applauding him as his conscience keeper.

After several decades of Rajaji’s passing away, as one would recall  his life ,what would be seen as most striking was Rajaji’s capacity to think  beyond  his  time  and his practical and pragmatic approach to everyone of the issues , whether it would concern India or the world.

As a student of Chemical Engineering in Annamalai University, I drafted a two page letter to Rajaji in 1960’s suggesting the need for  world  government  to ensure world harmony. When I showed the letter to one of my professors, he was surprised and asked me as to how I could suggest an idea to such a great thinker as Rajaji.  Nevertheless, in my youthful enthusiasm, I posted the letter to Rajaji and within three days, I got a postcard from Rajaji  written in his own handwriting saying “your suggestion is a good one”. From that day onwards, my respect for Rajaji went up sky high as he cared to reply  , to a half baked idea  to an unknown student like me.  From that day onwards, I made it a point to read carefully everyone of Rajaji’s writings and speeches.

On his birthday, it would be appropriate to briefly highlight  some of Rajaji’s great acts and views.

Rajaji’s salt satyagraha in Vedaranyam, Tamil Nadu was as significant and dignified  as that of Dandi march of Mahatma Gandhi. This salt satyagraha of Rajaji helped considerably in spreading the spirit and philosophy of  Gandhiji’  in southern part of the country at a  time  when communication was not  that extensive as it is today.  

In the cold war era, Rajaji advocated unilateral disarmament by  USA  and  travelled to USA to meet President Kennedy to advocate his idea. While Rajaji’s idea was not implemented, certainly it set the thoughts  rolling on such possibility , as one of the healthy ways of avoiding military conflict in the world.

Rajaji recognised the importance of free enterprise to promote  rapid  industrial and economic development in the country and disapproved Nehru’s vision of government sponsored centralised economy.  Rajaji had the courage to argue that there was nothing wrong in the concept of profit making by industries and commercial establishments , though at the same time  he  stressed the need for ethics and adhering to moral principles in management of private sectors.  Today, after experimenting with the  centralised economy  for several decades and realising the futility, the governments in India are resorting to building up private sector which was precisely what Rajaji advocated. By not accepting Rajaji’s views on the significance of  private enterprises  for several years until 1990s, the country has lost valuable time and opportunity.

With regard to Indo Pakistan relationships, Rajaji repeatedly said that the best way of maintaining cordial relationships between the two neighbours was to promote people to people cooperation on the basis of social, cultural and business relationships, which would pave way for building up appropriate climate that would force the governments  of both the countries to find peaceful and  long standing solution.  Even today, this suggestion of Rajaji appears to be the best way to build healthy relationship  between  India and Pakistan.

Rajaji’s  relations with leaders like Nehru, E.V.Ramaswamy  Naicker ( Periyar ) in Tamil Nadu and others with whom he crossed swords for  political reasons were extremely cordial on the personal front. When Nehru passed away, Rajaji grieved as to why he was still there when Nehru had gone. When Rajaji passed away, E.V.Ramaswamy Naicker came to the cremation ground in wheel chair at his ripe age and cried inconsolably. Such standards of personal relationships amongst  political leaders are becoming  a far cry these days.

Rajaji’s books in Tamil on Ramayana and Mahabharatha , written in simple style so that everyone can understand , will be read by the young and old for several generations to come.

Saga of Rajaji  cannot be fully told in a brief article but certainly the country should  discuss and debate  knowledgeably about the contribution of this great man to the pre and post independent India on his birthday at national level.


Nandini Voice For The Deprived

Twitter : @nsvchennai


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