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The grassroots genius
From Kurmana Simhachalam to Prof KS Chalam, the rural lad has come a long way from a nondescript coastal village in the Srikakulam district, in his journey to the corridors of governance in the Indian society
From Kurmana Simhachalam to Prof. KS Chalam, the rural lad has come a long way from a non-descript coastal village in the Srikakulam district, in his journey to the corridors of governance in the Indian society.
This septuagenarian scholar, in his illustrious career, has acquired rare distinctions like being the founder Head of the first-of-its-kind Academic Staff College, among the Indian Universities, at Andhra University, Visakhapatnam. Prof. Chalam has brought a realistic perspective to the so-called reforms of the 1990s and nailed them head on for their one-sided role in promoting the crony capitalism and throwing open the Indian economy and trade to the neo-colonial mindset of the MNCs, whose depredatory strategies, starting from Bhopal, are still lessons to be learnt by this vibrant nation.
A champion social justice, he represented India in the forums of SAARC and other international platforms. Though held different positions as Vice-Chancellor, and Member, UPSC, Prof. Chalam remains a down to earth intellectual, adding a cutting edge to the otherwise dry deliberations on academia, media and public life. Kalingandhra remains a passion to him, with its ancient and hoary past from the times of Mahabharata, and the Maurya Asokan times, with the noble currents of Buddhism which left their indelible mark in the region.
In a world phase of democratic capitalism, observing the current tendency of the dominance of capitalism, and the weakening of democracy, Prof. Chalam raised pertinent questions about the superior status of Capitalist mode, which in its expansion and gains consolidation process, renders the nations and people drained and leaves them hapless in a hopeless chaos.
While technology makes the life easier for the urban millions happy with glitz and vrooms of the so-called smart-urban drive calling for smart cities etc, the Indian planning at the apex level, always talks less about the vast rural regions of the country.
Chalam questions this national callousness rightly and reminds us that at the risk of long-time peril only the political parties are resorting to the extreme dependence on technology and automation in every institution related to the public sphere, but at the same time, not taking care about the micro-accountability that should lead to a developmental macro at a national level.
The capitalism in the phase of automation now, impacting the life in its industrial phase from last two hundred years, has reached a stage of evaporation of jobs in every labour sector, and maximisation of profits to an ever-decreasing number of capitalist tycoons. Thinkers like Chalam, discussing the caste monolith in the country have made interesting observations. The political parties of the country are clearly responsible for the caste factor resurgence, dominance, and now complete manipulation.
Scholars like Chalam, with a social conscience have objected to the privatisation of education, neglect of hinterland development in Kalingandhra region. He stood steadfast in safeguarding the interests of the different livelihoods of the grassroots population.
Prof. Chalam is turning 70 this October 7, and with many books on social justice, education, to his credit, he remains a beacon on inspiration to the students, teachers and stakeholders in the academia, for universities remain the bedrock for different ways of thinking. A social observer, with economic modes as the tools of examination, he has a poet in himself too.
Way back he penned down a verse, entitled Pathapatnam, and this Pathapatnam is the place of his birth, in the Srikakulam District. Thinkers, writers, politicians, who believe and work for an egalitarian society are attending the ‘Chalam@70 Celebrations, at Visakhapatnam. Prof. Chalam is a product of Kalingandhra (Uttarandhra) and his efforts to build robust civic forums to raise positive ideas of society to inspire one and all.
At this hour the civil society wishes that best of his ideas will blossom, ensuring and reminding all those responsible about the universal credo “Bahujana hitaaya, bahujana sukhaayaa” greater good and greater comfort to the majority is achieved only through “In Harmonia, Progressio” to which Prof. KS Chalam is a lifesize epitome.
- The writer is a bi-lingual poet, translator, critic, columnist, and an orator.