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August 01, 2017 Tuesday 04:50:14 PM IST

Let Spirit of Freedom Prevail

Rajagiri Round Table

The evening of 14th July 2017 drew some of the debate buffs to Rajagiri School of Engineering and Technology in Kochi for the 26th Rajagiri Round Table (RRT) which  notified the topic for discourse as “It Is Time to Reconnect”. The intent of the choice of topic was to bridge the disconnect of the current generation with the authentic sources of  information regarding India’s fight for political freedom. The session was chaired by Dr. Varghese Panthalookaran who presented the topic, which as usual sparked a sprightly.


Dr. Varghese Panthalookaran : The 71st anniversary of Independence is very special as we have crossed 70 years. In the case of human beings, seventy years is supposed to be the average life span of humans. A generation which closely watched and worked for the dawn of Independence is all but gone. Stories about Independence direct from those who witnessed the rise of Independence are more appealing. Over the years, many an idol was broken. Gandhi, Nehru, Dr. Ambedkar, Patel, et al came under fire for various reasons. We have to make a historical search. Even the approach towards the mode of struggle was debated in those days. Some, like Subhash Chandra Bose, were for armed revolution while some others, like Gandhiji, were staunch supporters of nonviolence. When I was in Germany, a native gave me a present consisting of stamps issued by Nazi Germany in honour of Netaji. Europe has won the war on borders by defining European Union. They just made borders of individual

nations insignificant. May be India too has to explore such possibilities to define new Independence via Interdependence. Could we make our national border similarly insignificant by defining a Union of Indian Peninsula? Let us debate Indian Independence in a creative manner. Well, let me pass on the baton to Dr. Babu Joseph, former Vice Chancellor of Cochin University of Science and Technology, who was born in the pre-Independence days.


Dr. Babu Joseph: :I was barely seven when India attained Independence. The newspapers were full of news and photos the next day. Students were mobilised against the British and the Diwan of  Travancore. My father was a member of the Congress party and had studied at Maharaja’s College (University College at present), Thiruvananthapuram. My grandfather was a staunch supporter of Gandhi. My maternal uncle was also a Congress man who wore khaddar devotedly. He prescribed nonviolence as a means for struggle. To preserve the hard-won independence, political and public life should become much more disciplined, I think. Any political party that means business ought to have inner discipline first. Freedom Movement inculcated in the masses such a discipline in those days. Large congregations of people often moved together without causing violence or disorder. Similarly corruption should be wiped out in order to achieve progress. Scams and frauds are commonplace these days and even governments fall following such happenings. Modern youth should imbibe more social awareness and commitment to public causes to be able to appreciate freedom, I think.


Clintson Dominic: I have read Nehru’s autobiography and was highly impressed by it. The book is an eye opener and needs to be read by all, especially by the ruling class. He is said to have represented the upper class mentality in India. Motilal was motivating him to join the struggle. Even the elite were ready to join the mainstream as the charisma of Gandhi was so powerful. Under the current regime, secularism is on death bed, I think. Ideologies are gone from politics today. Money matters everywhere. I would only reluctantly join politics under the prevailing conditions.


Delma Joseph: When it comes to stirs, nonviolent ones are often overlooked. Moral values do not hold good. Tiananmen Square Protest in China is an example of utmost cruelty and callousness. Corruption is reigning supreme everywhere. It is ruining the country. Our progress is stalled by the canker of  corruption and the youth should fight it. I may take to politics even. My intention is to cleanse

the rotten system.


Das Mammen: Everyone wants instant result today. Non violence looks outdated in the present day world. Even governments pay no heed to Gandhian model agitations. The more the violence, the faster the redress of grievances! It is a deplorable political condition.


Prof. N. K. Vijayan: Civil disobedience and satyagraha are best examples for nonviolent resistance. Refusal to pay taxes is another. In the pre-Independence days people were united by one and the same goal. People had total and implicit faith and trust in the leaders. They led by example and were living examples as well. Post Independence, we are led by self interests. Our love for the country is shallow.

Nationalism has acquired an entirely different meaning. Voice of sagacity often gets drowned.


K. L. Mohana Varma: I was 11 when free India was born. Ninety per cent of Indians at that time believed that Subhash Chandra Bose was alive and many adored him as the one responsible for Independence. My father was a Gandhian. There was no power, no buses, and no chappals at the time of

Independence. Newspapers arrived only by 11 a.m. In Travancore, there was no fighting against the British. Native Brahmins never learned English. So Tamil Brahmins were brought in for governmental jobs. In 1951, there were four messes in a typical college canteen in Travancore. Two vegetarian and two

non-vegetarian messes – something which changed only later. The young generation today is all praise for India. They make no distinction on parochial lines. State borders are already made meaningless for the youth as they migrate to different places for studies and employment.


Arun Varghese: India has achieved spectacular progress in science and technology. There is no meaning in gloating over the past. The young generation looks forward to a bright future. We have to see the reality.

The RRT drew to a close well past the scheduled time of 6.30. Such was the vigour with which participants presented their opinions. With the words of gratitude uttered by Dr. Varghese anthalookaran, all bade goodbye wishing to see at the next RRT.