Rajaji in 21st Century

While the World around me is gripped by the Deepawali spirit strangely I have been engrossed rereading Rajaji’s biography by his grandson Rajmohan Gandhi. Not strange that he makes as much sense today as he must have made in those days.

From Page 354 of the book:

‘A bold plan is what the Harijan community needs, a plan of equality and virile competition,’ not he says categorically, an extension of reservation. The Tamils are told,……….. that Chavan rhymes with jawan, not with Ravan; the lesson is called for, for some Tamil papers have made him Chaa- one. (Shades of Ra.one?)’

‘More frequently he supervised the nation’s manners:

The External Affairs Minister, Mr. M.C.Chagla, we are told replied, ‘Evidently Mr. Mody was saying this on the basis of his own weight.’ I must very regretfully say that this was cheap and in very bad taste. Mr. Chagla, a man of culture, should have resisted the temptation of referring to Mr. Mody’s well known personal impediment. The report says the House burst into ‘Applause,’ meaning, I suppose, laughter. The MPs should have expressed disapproval rather than cheering for his poor joke. (17.6.67)’  ( Nitin Gadkari? 😉 )

From Page 371 of the Book:

On an apparent bid by one of Indira’s sons for a licence to make a car:

When Volkswagen of Germany is ready to give small and cheap and; what is most important, good cars to those who want them in India, why should our Government not accept the proposal?….Adventures in the manufacture of small or big cars are not what the tax-payers’ money should be spent on.

I shall not believe the story about the Prime Minister’s son and the small car…until it is confirmed (Swarajya, 25.4.70 and 5.9.70) (And we know what happened..)

From Page 379 of the book:

Sadasivam, who almost daily spent some time with Rajaji, thought that the removal of the removal of the dry law had ‘cut Rajaji to the quick’. Shortly before his 93rd birthday, C.R. spoke of his parting duties to Sadasivam. “Have you lost the will to live?’ the latter asked directly. ‘No,’ answered Rajaji, ‘but there has to be a purpose for which one continues to live.’ But the depression was not permanent. ……. The endeavour pleased C. R., but he took care, in a Dear Reader para, to reject any implication that he had donehis life’s work:

The great fuss over Rajaji 93 seems to order me out of public scene with this December! But I do not propose to do this and terminate my life of protest, exceptionally long though it has been. We are not masters of our lives in length of days. But when I see the spreading abuses,…. I do not feel inclined to run away from the struggle for improving things, old, weak and incapacitated though I am. (13.11.1971). (Lessons for Advani?)

From Page 386 of the book..

The third quality was  daring. He had dared orthodoxy in Salem; then, defying the canons of commonsense  and security, he gave up his practice; he opposed the Raj when it was powerful, the Mahatma when all of India seemed to lie at his feet, Jawaharlal when Nehru was deemed unassailable and C.R. too old to do anything significant, and finally Nehru’s daughter, as secure as her father and as daring as Rajaji himself.

From Page 385 of the book..

In the copy someone gave C.R. of Johnson’s life of Alexander Pope, a little vertical stroke in Rajaji’s pen on the margin stands against a short sentence: ‘But let no man dream of influence beyond his life.’ ‘In twenty-five years time,’ he once said to Monica Felton, ‘people will be asking, “Who was Rajagopalachari? We never heard of him.” The possibility that frightens most of the great amused C.R.

The previous 600+ words do not weigh as much in my mind as the few words of the Author –  Rajmohan Gandhi that I deliberately held back from my first quote   (Page 354) : “But they have for long managed to admire him without listening to him.”

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One thought on “Rajaji in 21st Century

  1. I too was reading Rajaji’s bio by “I meet Rajaji” by Monica and another one on “Life and Mind of Rajaji” by CR N, Its really great to read his writings which are no less than very relevant still today.

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