For heaven’s sake, stop dithering

For heaven’s sake,  stop dithering

One of the most important plans of the Congress party, while fighting for Independence, was the division of the country into States on linguistic...

We are passing through a very disturbing phase both at the Centre and in the State. The continuing agitation in Seemandhra may widen the rift between the two regions

One of the most important plans of the Congress party, while fighting for Independence, was the division of the country into States on linguistic basis. An offshoot of that was the formation of ‘Association for Linguistic States’ as far back as early 1920s. Prof. Radha Kumudh Mukharji, professor of Lucknow University, was its president; its general secretary was Gummidala Subba Rao, a very close associate of Andhra Ratna Duggirala Gopala Krishnaiah of Chirala – Perala Ramadandu fame. Its office was located in Suryaraopet in Vijayawada from where Subba Rao used to publish his monthly magazine ‘Goshti’ and it was also the mouth piece of the linguistic States organization.

Subsequently, after attainment of Independence, this proposal was not seriously pursued by the Congress party as the country was plunged into great troubles soon after Partition and it was only with the self-immolation of Potti Sriramulu, even Nehru, who had till then termed it as a primitive idea, had to agree to the formation of Andhra State and later for appointing the Commission for States Reorganization on linguistic basis. It is all history and there is no point in talking about it now when the State is in great turmoil on that issue.

If it was not in pursuit of that policy of formation of linguistic States, some other method or reorganization of the country could have probably been taken up by our leaders on the lines of the USA and some other countries on a more scientific and rational basis and the problems which have cropped up now could have been avoided. It is all too far-fetched and, who knows, even then leaders like the present crop would have come up and created a still greater havoc than our present ones! Anyway, now we have learnt at a terrible cost that language cannot be the binding factor for keeping the State united in one piece.

Whatever the outcome, it will be prolonged suffering for the common man, whose lot remains the same, if not worse, when the leaders of both sides arrive at a solution, if at all. We are passing through a very disturbing phase both at the Centre and in the State. The continuing agitation in Seemandhra on a very unprecedented scale may widen the rift between the two regions and the animosity roused on both sides, as K Ramachandra Murthy pointed out in his ‘Thursday Thoughts’, might lead to a situation where even a small incident could have unforeseen repercussions. There is no time for dithering on the part of the authorities any longer.

Leaders, then and now

The news of the treatment meted out to two of the very able and honest officers of the IAS cadre in the recent past, Durga Nagpal and Khemka, brings to mind the views expressed by an outstanding officer of impeccable integrity and boldness holding fort at that time, T N Seshan, former chief election commissioner, in his very readable work, ‘The Degeneration of India’, are very relevant now and worthy of emulation by the present generation. In May 1957, as sub-collector at Dindigal, Tamil Nadu, he received a complaint against a village headman that he was not remitting to the Government repayment of loans to farmers to the tune of Rs 4000 for several weeks.

He ordered immediately on confirmation that he should be suspended and a charge sheet filed against him. He was informed that there might be a problem as his wife was president of Taluq Congress Committee. When he did not relent, pressures were brought on him to withdraw his order. Some days later, two Ministers from the State Cabinet when K Kamaraj was the Chief Minister, arrived at Dindigal. One of them was Kakkan, the revenue minister.

Seshan was asked to join the ministers in their car leaving his jeep behind. Then he was told by Kakkan that he was working against the Congress party and asked to withdraw the notice served on the headman. When he replied that he could do it only after he received a formal letter from Fort St. George, the seat of government. When he said that, Kakkan was furious and asked him to get down from the car in a God-forsaken place in hot sun and drove off.

A week later Kamaraj went there and summoned Seshan by name and asked him what had happened. Then he said, “Every time this happens to you, continue to stand up,” and then he turned to Kakkan, abused him and said, “Don’t you understand that when you do something like this to an officer, you are not only harming him you are damaging the very basis of government itself?”

Writing about this incident, Seshan said, “This was a man who had but little schooling. But he understood more than anyone else that there was a sensitive connection between the civil service and the political structure and one side could not ride roughshod over the other without inflicting a crippling blow to the entire system.”

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