Sastri ,V.S Srinivasa ( Rt.hon’ble ) (1869-1946)
|V. S. Srinivasa was born of very poor parents in Valangiaman, a village near Kumbakonam in the Madras Province, on 22 September 1869. His father was V. Sankaranarayana Sastri, a Sanskrit scholar and a Brahmin priest. His mother was Valambal Ammal. He was the third of their six children and the eldest of four sons. Under the pressure of the orthodoxy of his parents, he had to marry at the early age of fourteen, despite his being opposed to early marriages. His wife was Parvati Ammal, who bore him a son, V.S. Sankaran. She died in 1896 and Srinivasa married his second wife, Lakshmi Ammal, in 1898, who bore
him two daughters. She passed away in 1934.
Sastri was a brilliant student in school and college, stood either first or obtained a first class in all examinations and won prizes which paid for his higher education in Arts and in teacher-training. He was a student of the Native High School, Kumbakonam, whose good and efficient Headmaster, Rao Bahadur Appu Sastri, moudled his character his early life. He was a student of the Government College, Kumbakonam, and came under the efficient guidance of its British Principal, Mr. Bilderbeck.
Among the eminent public figures, whose friendship and opinions he valued, were Dr. Annie Besant, Sir C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar, Sir P.S. Sivaswami Aiyar, T. R. Venkatarama Sastri and V. Krishnaswami Aiyar, and, above all, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, the Founder of the Servants of India Society, whom he revered as his Master and whom he succeeded as the President of the Society.
He joined the Society in 1907 after resigning his very successful Headmastership of the reputed Hindu High School, Triplicane, Madras, and assisted Gokhale in his public work, and in particular, in his campaign in the Imperial Legislative Council and outside for free and compulsory primary education for Indian children.
He was the Secretary of the Madras session of the Indian National Congress in 1908 and took a very active part in formulating the Lucknow Pact between the Congress and the Muslim League which demanded “responsive” government for India under which the executive would be “irremovable” by a vote of the legislature but would be responsive to it. He published “The Congress-League Scheme” to explain and popularize it. He wrote also ‘Self-Government for India under the British Flag.’ in which he argued that India could attain her highest political goal within the British Empire.
The Rt. Hon. E. S. Montagu, as Secretary of State for India in the British Cabinet, announced on 20 August 1917, that “responsible” government of the British Parliamentary type was the goal of the British policy for India. Though Sastri personally preferred the “responsive” system, he supported, for practical reasons, the Montagu offer. When the Indian National Congress opposed it, he helped to found the National Liberal Federation in 1918 to support it and went to England and gave evidence before the Joint Select Committee of the British Parliament.
His evidence was unanimously hailed as the most cogent and effective. He was member of the Southborough Committee on franchise under the Montagu scheme, and co-operated unofficially with Montagu in finalizing the Government of India Act of 1919. when the Congress, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, adopted the policy of Non-Violent Non-Cooperation and boycott of the Montagu Constitution, Sastri opposed the policy as harmful to India.
He was member of the Round Table Conference between India and England in 1930 and 1931 to evolve a new Constitution for India. He was, however, not invited to its third session in 1932 by the Conservative Government of England which had succeeded the Labour Government.
Sastri was nominated to the Madras Legislative Council in 1913 and was elected by it to the Imperial Legislative Council in 1915. His speech in 1918 denouncing the repressive policy of the Government, which led to the Jallianwala Massacres, was considered the water-risk mark of the Council’s proceedings. He was elected to the Council of State of 1921 and promptly and successfully agitated for the repeal of the repressive laws.
In 1921 he was chosen as a delegate of the Government of India to the Imperial Conference, London. With the zealous support of Montagu and against the determined opposition of Gen. J. C. Smuts, Prime Minister of South Africa, he succeeded in securing the passage of his resolution that British subjects of Indian origin, lawfully settled in the British Dominions, should not be denied the political franchise. The Prime Ministers of Australia, New Zealand and Canada, who had the unique experience of pleading with the peoples of he Dominions to honour the commitment of their own Prime Ministers.
In 1922 Sastri attended the Limitation of Naval Armaments Conference in Washington, D.C, U.S.A, as the head of the Indian Delegation. He welcomed India’s advance in international prestige before national status was established.
|South Africa was excluded from Sastri’s tour in 1922. He was, however, a member of the Indian Delegation to the Round Table Conference between India and South Africa in 1926, which resulted in the Cape Town Agreement which committed the South African Government which committed the South African Government to shelve its Class Areas Bill intended to segregate Indians in that country and to uplift them so that they did not lag behind any other South African community. The success of the Conference was due largely to the personality and diplomacy of Sastri.
Sastri was pressed by the Governments of India and South Africa and Mahatma Gandhi to accept the office of the Agent of the Government of India in South Africa for one year to supervise the implementation of the Cape Town Agreement. Under unanimous pressure, he extended his stay by six months.
His task in South Africa was his greatest challenge and his greatest triumph. The British daily, the Natal Advertiser, described his stay in that country as the “brilliant reign of Sastri in South Africa”. He was a member of the Second Round Table Conference between India and South Africa in 1932, when the Cape Town Agreement was renewed with some changes. His last public reference to South Africa was his unusually strong criticism of the defense of apartheid by Gen. Smuts in the United Nations in 1946.
In 1923 Sastri campaigned in England for equal status for Indians in Kenya, then a British Crown Colony, and worked so strenuously that he fell ill with angina pectoris which handicapped him for rest of his life. In 1929 he was deputed to British East Africa to help local Indians present their case before the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, but his mission was sabotaged by the Colonial Secretary in London. In 1931 he gave evidence before the Joint Select Committee of British Parliament on Closer Union of the East African Colonies. In 1936 he was deputed by the Government of India to Malaya to enquire into the condition of Indian labour.
He delivered the Kamala Lectures on Indian Citizenship at the Calcutta University in 1926, spoke on Gokhale in 1935 and on the Status of Women in India in 1940 at the Mysore University and on Sir Pherozeshah Mehta in 1943 in Madras and on the Ramayana in 1944 in Madras, all of which he delivered ex tempore, except for a quotation here and there. In his lectures on the Ramayana, which was his Magnum Opus, he presented Rama, not as an avatar of God, but as a human person, of very noble character, but not without some human foibles.
He founded the Servant of India in 1918, as the weekly organ of the Servants of India Society to voice the views of the Indian Liberals, and was for some time its Editor and later contributed in it fairly regularly. In 1941 he wrote a series of articles in Tamil on some aspects of his life in the Swadesamitran of Madras.
He was made a member of the British Privy Council and received the Freedom of the City of London in 1921 and of the City of Edinburgh in 1931. He declined the offer of K.C.S.I but accepted membership of the British Order of Companion of Honour in 1928.
Sastri was not sure that independent India would remember, with gratitude, the British friends who, at the risk of alienating their British compatriots, strove for India’s political advance. He, therefore, collected the photographs of British friends, such as Charles Bradlaugh, Henry Fawcett, Montagu, Mr. and Mrs. H. S. L. Polak, Sir William Wedderburn and Allan Octavian Hume to adorn the Servants of India Societ’s Headquarters in Poona.
Sastri was influenced by the writings of Shakespeare, Edmund Burke, Sir Walter Scott, George Eliot, T.H. Huxley, Herbert Spencer, John Stuart Mill, Marcus Aurelius, Tolstoy, Thomas Hardy and Victor Hugo and, above all, by the Ramayana.
Sastri had a cross-bench mind; he took a judicial rather than an advocate’s view of problems; in fact, his friends often accused him of presenting his opponent’s case better than his own. He was soft-spoken and shy, and generous to a degree. He was an agnostic.
In 1921 Sastri attended the League of Nations, Geneva, as a member of the Indian Delegation, and in 1922 he attended the Limitation of Naval Armaments Conference in Washington D.C., U.S.A., as the head of the Indian Delegation. Though India was then only a British Dependency and was not entitled to a seat in imperial and international bodies, he seized the opportunity to advance India’s international standing, which would act as a lever to raise her national status.
In 1943 Sastri advocated that Mahatma Gandhi should attend the Peace Conference at the end of the Second World War and make the most effective contribution to world peace. In 1945 he strongly opposed M. A. Jinnah’s Two-nation Theory and his demand for the partition of India.
Sastri passed away on 17 April 1946. He was thus spared the sorrow which the partition of India, which he hated, would have caused nor did he share in the joy that the attainment of independence, which he always cherished, would have brought.
|Author : P. Kodanda Rao
|C E L B R A T I N G F R E E D O M
‘This is not India of my dreams’
Rohtak, August 14
“The India of my dreams is still far from what I and my colleagues of the freedom movement thought at that time. It appears that there is a need for another movement, but perhaps nobody has any knowledge of how to get out of the system that had engulfed us all,” says 97-year-old Teka Dhankhar of Karontha village in the district, when asked about the change he had aspired for after the freedom.
Freedom fighter Teka Dhankhar of Karontha village in Rohtak is distraught at the state of affairs in the country.
He said it appeared it was easy to fight the Britishers but not the native Indians, who had woven a murky nexus of corruption, nepotism and inefficiency at all levels and this is the biggest challenged facing the younger generation of the country which was at a cross-roads as tough hurdles stare them in the face if they visualise a country of their dreams. Awarded a Tamar Patra, Teka is among perhaps only a handful of the surviving freedom fighters who had been part of both the British army and the Azad Hind Fauj led by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
When asked what could be done to realise the dream, he quickly responded by saying it was now the youth and the children who would have to take the charge from those who think the country was safe in the present system.
Lalti Ram, 90, of Dubaldhan village of Jhajjar district, who was just 18 when he was recruited in British army at Ambala division in 1941, also claims a lot was to achieved before claiming the country was independent in the real sense. Population and poverty are still the main issues that are blots on the country, he feels.
Free country, but life of dignity a far cry, says HP freedom hero
Mandi, August 14
At the age of 92, freedom fighter Pt Gauri Shankar Prasad is a disillusioned man. The dream of a country where everyone can live with dignity still eludes him. Politicians furthering their own selfish agenda rather than serving the common man has left him disheartened.
A frail Pandit Prasad says, “India of the dreams of freedom fighters was one where every citizen could lead a dignified life and got enough food and opportunities to make him or her feel part of a free country.” Even after 67 years of independence, crores are struggling for food.
Born in 1920 at Mandi, Pandit Prasad went to Lahore to do his matriculation in 1935 where he came in contact with several leaders of the freedom struggle belonging to the Indian National Congress (INC). He joined Ayurveda College and spent many years there and took part in activities of the INC.
After he came back here Pandit Prasad joined the Praja Mandal movement in 1940-41, which aimed to include all princely states in the country. The movement led by Dr YS Parmar, who later became the first Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, rebelled against the then king of Mandi for which he was jailed for six months.
Though he was PWD minister in the Dr YS Parmar Cabinet, he joined social service and led the district unit of freedom fighters.
Like all other freedom fighters, Pandit Prasad is worried about the way corruption has entered public life. “Earlier we joined politics for social service, today most join it for their selfish interests only,” he says.
GenNext’s India: Financially stronger, culturally progressive
Ludhiana, August 14
A country that is strong economically and progressive culturally – that is the GenNext’s Dream India. Sukhmeet S Bhatia, a BA-LLB student of the Panjab University Regional Centre in Ludhiana, believes that the best message that the Independence Day conveys to us is that India is a united nation. “We are a free country. We can proudly say we are Indians. We are not the citizens of Punjab or Haryana; we are the citizens of India. Ours is the largest democracy,” he says with a tinge of pride.
Like many youths, he believes that globalisation is the need of the hour. “There is no point in restricting the entry of the MNCs,” Sukhmeet says.
Transparency in governance is important, feels this young undergraduate. Adopting the online mechanism in various government departments would help to bring in transparency. “The services of agents should be done away with,” he adds.
Educational reforms are imperative, he believes. The quota-system is fine at school level, but it is important to go by merit in higher education.
We need to adopt a pan-Indian approach to problems like droughts and floods, he says. “Instead of focusing on state-wise solutions, it is better to work out a solution that is collectively acceptable to all the states.”
Sukhmeet feels that stringent laws and their implementation are required to improve the socio-economic condition of women in India.
Though the stereotype of the Young India is that of the Westernised youths who cock a snook at the cultural values, this student of Law believes that preserving the Indian culture is a necessity. He is all for openness to new ideas, but this openness, he says, must be coupled with the willingness to preserve our culture.
‘One must be a rebel with a cause’
Amritsar, August 14
It’s a day when the entire country gets soaked in the patriotic fervor. While most of us like to wear patriotism on our sleeves – flags, tattoos, caps, clothes, accessories — there are some who prefer to take the subdued route. For the latter, Independence Day is not about shouting love for the country aloud, they believe in understanding the real meaning of freedom and getting inspired from it.
“Independence is something that has come to us after a lot of struggle. Freedom may have a different meaning for everyone. For me, the right way to celebrate Independence Day is to come forward to do our bit for our country,” says Chandan Nagi, a 21-year-old student of Computer Engineering in Amritsar.
Coming from a generation that considers the tag of rebellion as cool and funky, he believes just being a rebel is not enough. “One should be a rebel with a cause. I think true patriotism lies in contributing positively for society. I’d like to rebel against social evils and inequality,” he quips. Chandan is associated with an NGO Tamanna, which works for underprivileged kids.
Given a chance to run the country, he says: “I would ensure that no child in the country is uneducated and hungry.”
We are yet to achieve real freedom: Hisar students
Hisar, August 14
Independence Day has great significance for the youth here but they want India to be free from a host of age-old problems.
Seema Rana, student of a local girls college, said, “As citizen of a free country, I am a proud Indian. But real independence will come when we become a developed country. We suffer from poverty, corruption, bad infrastructure, poor health care and bad schooling. We have the potential to overcome these hurdles as there are no foreign rulers now. It will be a long-drawn battle, but we can do it. That is when we will be independent in the true sense”.
Another student, Surinder Phogat, pursuing a commerce course in a local college, said, “Now that we are masters of our own destiny, we should put an end to corruption and poverty. It is a pity factors like bad governance and corruption are dragging us back. We have only ourselves to blame. I appeal to the youth to do their best to take the nation forward. People like Mahatma Gandhi gave us freedom. It is our job now to break the shackles and move ahead”.
Graft, population blocking growth
Jalandhar, August 14
Corruption, population and social evils are the impediments in the growth of the country, says youth here. “The increasing population is eating into the resources and the benefits are not reaching the needy,’ says Vasu Sharma, a B-Tech student.
“Corruption is another big challenge. We need stringent laws to check the menace. Also, it is the duty of the government to provide time-bound justice to its citizens,” he says. — TNS
Punjab has ‘disgraced’ contribution of freedom fighters
Gagan K Teja/TNS
Patiala, August 14
While the entire nation is gearing up to celebrate the 66th Independence Day with pomp and show, the very people behind the independence of the country feel that they are a neglected lot. Freedom fighter IS Chawla from Patiala, who went behind the bars during the Quit India Movement in 1942, feels that Punjab has disgraced the contribution of the freedom fighters.
Septuagenarian IS Chawla from Patiala went behind the bars during the Quit India Movement in 1942
Born on December 17, 1924, Chawla was hardly 14 years’ old when he started dreaming about independent India and ways to turn this dream into reality. Inspired by various freedom fighters, he joined the stir and went behind bars at a tender age of 18.
Talking to The Tribune, Chawla says, “Though we did not join the freedom struggle for any monetary benefits, but it pains to see the way the Punjab Government is treating its freedom fighters.”
“When it comes to the pension amount being given to the freedom fighters, Punjab is certainly far behind the Central government and other states. While the Centre is giving a pension of Rs 14,100, Haryana Rs 15,000, Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh Rs 11,000; the Punjab Government is paying only Rs 5,000 to its freedom fighters,” he added.
Upset with the Punjab Government over the reduction of quota of freedom fighters from 2 per cent to 1 per cent and giving the other 1 per cent to the 1984 riot victims, Chawla said it was a cruel joke with freedom fighters and their families.
Expressing deep concern over the current scenario in the country, Chawla said this is not the country they had visualised. Chawla said, “With the prices of commodities touching skies and common people struggling to make ends meet, I don’t really know whether we should actually be called a progressive country.”
‘Younger generation doesn’t value freedom’
Dharamsala, August 14
Sarla Sharma, a veteran freedom fighter from Himachal, says that after Independence, India as a country has failed to develop a national character. While talking to The Tribune from her residence in the Yol cantonment, 6 km from Dharamsala, she said as freedom fighters their main aim was to oust the British empire and establish self-rule in India. However, it seems that after Independence the aspirations of freedom fighters have not been fulfilled.
“Though I do not know the reasons for this we have failed to control the situation after Independence.”
“The younger generation of the country does not value the freedom that was won after a lot of struggle,” she says
Politics needs purification, says INA freedom fighter
Kangra, August 14
An INA freedom fighter and associate of Netaji Subhash Chander Bose today expressed pain, anguish and disgust over the prevailing scam-ridden scenario in the country, just the reverse of what he had sacrificed his youth for. He gave a clarion call to the spiritual leadership to help bring the country out of the prevailing scenario.
Yudhbir Chand Katoch (R) being felicitated. Photo by writer
Yudhbir Chand Katoch, 90, an associate of Netaji Subhash Chander Bose and INA freedom fighter, in an interview with The Tribune here today, said India got freedom after people in thousands sacrificed themselves for it, but India has become a den of corruption and scams now. He said a large section of the present-day political leadership was allegedly corrupt, involved in scams and was destroying the national fabric of the country.
He said the poor of the country were the worst sufferers and people close to power were an advantaged section of the society.
Katoch remembered Netaji, a true believer of equality, as saying that every person living in India should have equal rights and should be at par with each other.
He said his vision of independent India, when he joined INA in 1941 at Rangoon and later fought for Indian freedom and languished in the jails of Rangoon, Jackat Gacha Ghat Calcutta and Multan, was India with no poverty, with every Indian having food, clothing and shelter besides justice to prevail for everyone.
Katoch, in reply to another question, said, “Our dream lies shattered and it is reverse of all we had dreamt of. It is now corruption and scams and an India that is bleeding.” With choked voice and eyes wet, Katoch said, “Dard Sehtay Rahay – Chhatpatatay Rahay- Aaeenay say sadaa choat khaatey rahay, Woh watan baich kar muskuratay rahay, hum watan kay leeye sar katatay rahay.”
He expressed shock at the present national scenario and said, “Why don’t I die before seeing all this corruption, nepotism and scams this country is witnessing? This is not the India I had fought against the British for.”
He said Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was an outstanding leader of the freedom movement and a revolutionary par excellence who took the struggle for independence beyond the Indian borders. He said the best tribute to that great Indian leader would be that Indian politics gets purified and a new generation of honest and patriotic leadership takes over to see India of Netaji’s dream.
He said, “I wish that a leader like Netaji should take birth on the sacred soil again to take out this great land out of the present traumatic situation.”
He said, “Looking at the way India is witnessing corruption and scams, the need is to get up again to save this country.”
Lyallpuri: Present times are disappointing
Ludhiana, August 14
Jagjit Singh Lyallpuri is five years short of a century. Looking back through the mists of time, he is quick to come to a conclusion: the present times are disappointing. It is a relatively mild statement that gradually picks up some heat when he elaborates on the “disappointing times”.
Jagjit Singh Lyallpuri
The dreams nurtured by freedom fighters have been lost, he says. The country’s social, economic and political conditions are bleak. The country is witnessing a systematic degradation of the lofty ideals that were once the driving force of the freedom fighters, he tells The Tribune.
“The concentration of wealth in a few hands has increased the disparity between the haves and the have-nots,” he adds. Lyallpuri feels that the worldview of those at the helm of affairs is warped. Even the basic needs like food, shelter, health and education remain neglected.
Unemployed youth, farmers committing suicide, rampant corruption, denial of the Fundamental Rights — India that the freedom fighters had visualised was never like this, he says. Schools are without teachers; government dispensaries are either without doctors or without medicines; altogether, a dismal scenario, feels Lyallpuri.
“In 1936, as a 19-year-old graduate, I joined the freedom movement. Like other freedom fighters, I was imprisoned. We had a dream that our country had to be freed from the foreign yoke. Unfortunately, even today many of us are still fighting for certain basic rights,” he says with a forceful conviction.
As a veteran Leftist, he observes that the Left is disunited. The other political parties have failed to deliver.
‘We now value only the land and rascals’
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, August 14
Mohan Singh Bammi is around 105 years and has seen Delhi grow. It has been a generational shift since Bammi, along with three others, wanted ‘revenge’ for the death of Bhagat Singh (1931) and were arrested for their activities.
Mohan Singh Bammi
On the 65th anniversary of Independence, Bammi is happy with the development the country has made, but says, “Our values have degraded.” A man who spent years in prisons in Multan and Sialkot during the British era, Bammi puts it in earthy Punjabi: “Sirf Zameen tee Kameen di keemat hai” (only the lands and the rascals are valued now).
“We have made great development, but have slipped in our thinking,” he says as he explains what pains him. “Wrong kind of people have captured power. All parties are the same. It’s only the Congress that can do some good,” says Bammi who is now the Vice Chairman of the Freedom Fighter Cell of the Congress-ruled Sheila Delhi Government.
“We are old people now. Only a few freedom fighters are alive”, he says when asked what kind of change can be ushered in. “I have seen times when there was no power supply in Delhi, the Rashtrapati Bhawan was being built and the Connaught Place was still under construction. Those days, there was no monetary value of lands,” he adds.
There was a twinkle in his eye as he narrated how he felt on seeing Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose. “Ranbir Singh (father of Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda), a member of the Constituent Assembly, was my jail-mate in Sialkot,” he recollected. “My life changed after Bhagat Singh’s sacrifice. We wanted revenge and we took it,” he added.
He had to fight for his due
Ambala, August 14
A freedom fighter Chhajju Ram (89), a resident of village Danipur of Ambala district, has had to knock the doors of Punjab and Haryana High Court for including his name to be included in the list of freedom fighters.
After a long court proceeding, around six months back, the court directed the state government to enter his name in the freedom fighter list.
Chhajju Ram was recruited as a sepoy in the British Army (TRG Battalion, 14 Punjab Regiment) in 1945. On the call of Subhas Chandra Bose, he had revolted against the British government. He was sentenced to one-year imprisonment. He was also dismissed from service for disobeying orders of his superiors. SS Danipur, an advocate and son of Chhajju Ram, said his father had applied for the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension in 1991. The Haryana Swatantrata Sainik Samman Samiti, in 2003, recommended that the state declare him a freedom fighter and grant him his due pension. However, the recommendation was turned down.
Later, a civil writ petition was filed in the High Court in 2009 which directed the state to grant Chhajju Ram the status of a freedom fighter and release his due pension. Chhajju Ram said, ”Although the pension scheme is a very small attempt to honour and acknowledge the sacrifices made by the unsung heroes of the freedom movement, in this way, they were highlighted in the society.”
Ideal India: It’s still miles to go, says the youth brigade
Earlier, the British exploited us and now our politicians are harassing the common man. Corruption has paralysed this country. The entire system has to be changed if we want to join the league of developed nations
Kavita, Khalsa College, Patiala
In our country whoever gets the reins of power tends to misuse it. The youth are desperate and directionless. They are supposed to be the country’s future. The government must create job avenues for them and channelise their energies.
Dilpreet Kaur, BEd college, Faridkot
Independent India still needs to work to curb women exploitation. We cannot be a great country till we learn to respect women and work to protect their dignity at home and at workplace. The wheels of justice need to move fast
Mansi, Mata Sundri College, New Delhi
We want a safe future. We should have facilities and opportunities on a par with our counterparts in the developed nations. I feel that the government believes more in holding formal functions on Independence Day than working on the ground. This mindset has to change.
— Sanjit Dhankar, Jat College, Rohtak
The youth should come forward to eradicate social evils. Poverty and corruption are the challenges before the nation. Education should be made free for all. So many children in far-off villages are still deprived of it.
— Shaun Sharma, student of engineering, Hamirpur