To whose name will you append ‘Et Tu’ when the impending stabbing starts, Anna?

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  • Saturday, July 16, 2011
  • Not long ago, the sudden hunger strike of Anna Hazare seemed to galvanise India against corruption. The media painted the town red again when Baba Ramdev began his indefinite fast unto death which prematurely died within 24 hours of its birth apparently by the acts of New Delhi police.

    TSV Hari

    In a few more days, after the people in Mumbai and their other similar woebegone compatriots in other parts of this great nation India that is Bharat would forget that 3 bombs went off in the left and right ventricles of our financial capital and search for more strife to protest along with Anna Hazare and/or with Baba Ramdev over our favourite whipping rubber snake – corruption. Rubber? Snake?

    Well Anna Saheb has threatened to go on fast again August 16 onwards if things are not done to get the Lok Pal into such a shape that it shall be deemed par for the course.

    So the next protest’s periodicity has been stretched for another 30 days.That is the rubber, in case you are wondering.

    And for heaven’s sake do not blame me if you equate it with the slang usage of the word in the USA and its English equivalent that call it French Letters and get bludgeoned by the righteously indignant media that backs the anti-corruption crusade launched from Maharashtra’s Ralegaon Sidhdhi but visible mostly in cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengalooru, blah, blah.

    Not long ago, the sudden hunger strike of Anna Hazare seemed to galvanise India against corruption. The media painted the town red again when Baba Ramdev began his indefinite fast unto death which prematurely died within 24 hours of its birth apparently by the acts of New Delhi police. As miraculously as the Baba appeared on the horizon, he has all but disappeared before anyone could say black sheep even as the Congress has begun saying that he pulled wool over everyone’s eyes with several bags full of ill-gotten money.

    So, the major, massive victory seemingly won by Anna Hazare in May is being quickly turned into something else altogether after the Baba tried his hand and made a joke of himself or at least that is the impression one gets.

    On the one hand, now, the lawyers and judges on the Anna panel, Anna himself, other members and supporters et al are being opposed with some evidence or what seems like evidence. Tomorrow someone else, perhaps even Anna himself can be accused of wrongdoing. On the other, thanks to such efforts, penal laws might become tougher and toughest.

    One can even demand and manage to pass a law decreeing death penalty for someone stealing a loaf of bread or steal a trillion! But who will implement such a law? And surely Anna does not expect the present set up and system to punish someone so obviously corrupt like Sonia Gandhi, Karunanidhi, Raja, Suresh Kalmadi, Sharad Pawar...the Marans to name just a few...with the aid of the currently completely rotten system!

    There are, of course, many Indian thinkers who opine that Anna’s highly publicised exercise [we have conveniently forgotten the Baba who was courted by 5 ministers and countless politicians] was a major diversionary tactic organised by the powers that be to mislead the people of this great nation into yet another cul-de-sac that leads nowhere just as the Mumbai blasts were only meant divert attention from the scandals and their recoil reaction called cabinet reshuffle.

    And Anna, the cranial crew add, was part of it unwittingly just as Mahatma Gandhi was during the initial stages when he began his endeavour in India – being part of the British strategy to stymie the freedom struggle using the Indian National Congress – an organisation Of the British, By the British and For the British – as long as possible.

    Well, that somewhat constitutes the snake part.

    For the record, the Indian National Congress was begun by a person of British origin – Allan Octavian Hume.

    Whatever one might say about Hume, there are 4 things one should always remember.

    (1) Hume was always loyal to the Colonial Rulers,

    (2) Hume organised the native landowners and peasants against those who fought the British in 1857,

    (3) The Congress created by him spawned a forum for those protesting against the British yoke, and

    (4) The forum called The Indian National Congress served another purpose – identifying the patriotic Indians daring to act openly against the British – to be cruelly “drawn and quartered”.

    Such victims included “Lokmaanya Bal” Keshav Gangadhar Tilak [1856-1920], V.O. Chidambaram Pillai [1872-1936], Subramanya Shiva [1884-1925], Subramanya Bharati [1882-1921] and Aurobindo Ghosh [1892-1950] to name just a few.

    Tilak made the famous statement – “Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it!” Tilak was termed an ‘extremist’ jailed twice – the second time he was shunted to distant Mandalay [now in Burma] for 6 years.

    When he returned, there was not a single soul to receive him at the Railway station. The poor, physically weak 55-year-old Chitpavan Brahmin had to walk home carrying his paltry belongings.

    Incidentally, August 1 1920 – the day our Tilak passed away – was also the first day of the Non-Cooperation-Movement launched by Mahatma Gandhi. Over 2 lakh persons paid their last respects to Tilak when his mortal remains were cremated.

    Fittingly, the Mahatma was there.

    And Gandhiji said: Tilakji indeed is the Maker of Modern India! But the fact remains that Tilak had been completely sidelined by the British in his prime. One of the closest friends of Tilak who began the movement against the British was a man called Ganesh Agarkar.

    The organisation that caused the duo to part ways – incidentally was the Indian National Congress. Few remember Ganesh Agarkar today...and very few beyond the admiration society for a game called cricket may know another person with the same family name –called Ajit Balchandra Agarkar – now 33 years old.

    Though he plays for the Delhi Daredevils now with what can be termed “a decent income”, to merely say he has been sidelined in the national Test, One-Day and T20 teams would be an understatement. If it does matter, kindly remember the following:

    1. Agarkar broke Dennis Lillee’s world record for taking 50 wickets in the shortest span of time – from just 23 matches. The record stood for 11 years till Lankan Ajantha Mendis broke it.

    2. Agarkar holds the Indian record for scoring the fastest 50 in an ODI. He did that in 21 balls.

    3. Agarkar is the only one in the world to complete the tally of 200 ODI wickets and 1000 runs – in 133 matches. The record is yet to be broken.

    4. Agarkar scored an unbeaten Test century at Lord’s in 2002, batting at number eight – something that never happened before at least from the point of view of an Indian batsman!

    5. Agarkar played his last cricket Test in 2006.

    6. His final ODI and T20 international matches were in 2007!

    7. And Agarkar has NOT announced his retirement in any of the formats of the games.

    And like Ganesh Agarkar during the freedom struggle, Ajit Agarkar, to say the least, too has been sidelined. I will not go into the reasons the modern sidelining now.

    When compared to other less-endowed current players, Agarkar’s financial position can be easily termed – “penury”.

    The case of V.O. Chidambaram Pillai is even starker and crueller.

    Pillai created the Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company that purchased two vessels – SS Gaelia and SS Lawoe to ply between Tuticorin and Colombo on November 12 1906.

    The British monopoly company P & O Lines and its agents A&F Harvey began crushing SSNC by unfair means.

    P&O was hitherto overcharging the passengers to the extent of Re. 1 per ticket.

    Pillai halved it to its realistic level.

    To ruin Pillai, P&O began taking passengers free and fed them sumptuously during the trips. Upon disembarkation, they were given a free umbrella.

    Needless to add, SSNC greatly suffered and went bankrupt.

    Pillai gamely tried preventing the inevitable by selling most of his belongings and began a trade union movement in the Tirunelveli Coral Mills [incidentally then owned by A&F Harvey and now renamed Madura Coats].

    A&F Harvey managed to spread canards and got Pillai arrested on charges of sedition.

    Violence broke out in the region and it affected the lives of virtually everyone. Among the dead were a Hindu temple priest, a bakery owner, a Dalit and a Muslim in Tirunelveli.

    That became the alibi for sentencing Pillai to 2 life terms and shunted to Coimbatore prison – where he was not treated as a political prisoner and inhumanly tortured – forced to pull a manual seed crusher to produce oil – tied to a yoke instead of bulls.

    Whenever he fell down tired, he was whipped, made to get up and work again!

    The British had cancelled the legal licence of Pillai to practice law despite the fact that he had not transgressed any law as a lawyer.

    Undaunted, he continued to raise the legal issues through secret correspondence with the Madras High Court.

    Justice E.H. Wallace, who had sentenced him earlier, as Chief Justice was moved by his plight upon reading the letters. Wallace ordered the release of Pillai in 1912. Ever grateful for the act, Pillai named one of his sons – Walleshwaran! VOC Pillai emerged from prison – sad and forlorn. Not a soul was around to receive him. His close friend Subramanya Shiva had by then become afflicted by leprosy.Poet Bharati was in penury. Though his legal licence had been restored by Justice Wallace, Pillai continued to struggle and was heavily in debt. Sometimes he even had to sell his legal tomes to feed his family.

    Pillai died in 1936 – in the Tuticorin office of the Indian National Congress – an organisation he continued to believe and support despite having been ‘expelled’ from it in the past. And Tamil Nadu repaid this great hero thus:

    In 1967, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam – whose founders had demanded the continuation of British Rule in India during the freedom struggle and had begun their party as a secessionist outfit, defeated the Congress. Among those who lost the elections along with the greatest of Tamil Nadu Chief Ministers - K Kamaraj - was the offspring of VOC Arumugham Pillai. VOC Pillai’s son Walleshwaran, perhaps, is his only male offspring alive and is said to be living in Dindigul.

    [It had been my honour to regularly interact with one of Pillai’s grandsons – VOC Ilango. I used to see him live in a tenement in south Chennai – in quarters much worse than mine in the early 80’s! I was not shocked...for the nation had been ungrateful to his grandfather anyway!]

    Subramanya Bharati had accidentally become addicted to marijuana – to forget hunger. Under the influence of marijuana, Bharati tried befriending an elephant in the Parthasarathy Temple in Triplicane in central Chennai. The poor elephant did not know what it did and trampled the poet to death.

    Aurobindo gave up politics altogether and began an Ashram in Pondicherry. In 1909, after spending time in a British prison, Aurobindo remarked thus in Uttarpara [West Bengal]:

    “When I went to jail the whole country was alive with the cry of Bande Mataram... when I came out of jail I listened for that cry, but there was instead a silence... a hush had fallen on the country and men seemed bewildered”.

    The Congress, in my opinion, was created by the British rulers – to create an escape route for the colonial rulers when their time to run away arrived. The party has served such an agenda faithfully and continues to divide and rule India – just as the British did.

    It continues to cavort with anti-national organisations like the DMK and has electoral alliances with outfits like the VCK that hail Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s boss V Prabhakaran – the man who ordered the cold-blooded murder of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

    A plaque placed at the court that had convicted Tilak reads thus:

    The actions of Tilak have been justified as the right of every individual to fight for his country. Those two convictions [against him] have gone into oblivion -- oblivion reserved by history for all unworthy deeds.

    Undoubtedly, plagued with poverty and political isolation, persons like Tilak and Pillai had toned down their angry actions against the British since release from prison. But, the sparks lit by the Lokmaanya and Pillai truly burn in the hearts of Indians and the initial success achieved by Anna Saheb with the active support of the youth of this nation is a clear indication of that.

    And the intentions to drive wedges in such a unity created by the “Gandhian Hazare” with a clear intention of dividing and ruling by publicising statements of washed up actors, a rather obnoxious ochre-clad yoga teaching rowdy, politicians of easy virtue, lawyers with somewhat questionable antecedents and NGO activists who confuse more than act constructively are clear indications that those who corruptly rule India want the “presumably honourable intentions” of Hazare defeated just as the rulers of yore managed to demean and crush persons like Tilak, Pillai, Aurobindo, Bharati and others.

    And please remember...

    Mahatma Gandhi had wanted the Congress to be disbanded immediately after achieving independence because he felt that the party would be controlled by those who ‘encash’ the freedom struggle.

    And secondly, when the Mahatma Gandhi was about undo the partition by travelling to Pakistan...he was cruelly gunned down. For months, Nathuram Godse had looked far and wide to get a gun. Finally he was given the killer gun in Gwalior city by a person who ‘seemed to look like a white man’.

    Everyone today knows that Mohammad Ali Jinnah had a very few weeks to live – the time when Gandhiji was assassinated.

    So, if Gandhiji had succeeded in his quest of getting Jinnah back into India to annul the creation of Pakistan, India would have remained one, not fought those three wars and spent the money now being wasted in the name of defence on productive expenses.

    “If Jinnah succeeds as India’s PM, there would be no need for a Pakistan. And if he fails, none would dare to demand for it,” was the refrain of Gandhiji.

    British politicians managed to isolate Indian heroes like Tilak, Pillai, Aurobindo, Bharati and Shiva and decimate them politically, financially.

    Our politicians managed to get Gandhi killed.

    One only hopes that the clever cunning creatures that the politicians are – they do not succeed in hijacking Anna’s feeble movement by offering piffle.


    By the way, Hume was a celebrated birdwatcher.

    Some of the prominent ones ‘discovered’ by him are called:

    Persian Shearwater

    Short-tailed Tropic-bird

    Great White-bellied Heron

    Indian Sparrow-hawk

    Himalayan Griffon Vulture

    The other famous person with the same second name as Anna was cricketer Vijay Hazare...who led India to our first Test victory against England at Madras [now Chennai] by an innings and 8 runs.

    The match began on January 10 1960 the day King George VI died and ended January 15 1960. For those statistically minded - Anna was born Kisan Bapat Baburao Hazare on January 15 1940. Here is a list of other great events that happened on January 15.

    1. New Connecticut [called Vermont these days] declared its independence during the American Revolutionary War in 1777.

    2. In the seventies, Richard Nixon [the only one to be ingloriously removed from the Presidentship of the USA] announced the suspension of offensive military actions in North Vietnam on January 15.

    3. January 15 happens to be the date when the international community recognised the independence of two nations - Slovenia and Croatia.

    4. It also happens to be the birthday of Martin Luther King Junior who received the Nobel Peace Prize. Incidentally, he too was cruelly gunned down!

    Readers might be puzzled as to why I have attached so much importance to cricket. Well, Anna Saheb proved that issues dear to the hearts of the people will overshadow our greatest collective national obsession – cricket – a game left behind in India by the colonial British.

    And this happened despite having India won the World Cup hardly a week ago at home before Anna began his fast! So, will the next death anniversary of Tilak – August 20 become the Chauthaa of another neo struggle for freedom to shrug off the chains that curtail our growth vide corruption?

    Will Hazare also be one of the ‘Hazaar’ persons during the freedom struggle who began with a hurrah and ended with a howl?

    Perhaps we may know the answers by August 20 this year or the next or the next ones later...for corruption may never die, now, will it?

    Jai Hind!

    ( TSV Hari is a journalist with nearly 3 decades of experience in print as well as electronic media.)

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