LAUNCHING THE OFFENSIVE
Dr.C.N.Annadurai, Council of States, Parliament of Indian Union, April 1962
Anna’s maiden speech at the Rajya Sabha was on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address to the Session of Parliament in April 1962. It was a scathing indictment of the Government of India, a clever caricature of its policies. For the first time, the echoes of resurgent neo-nationalism were heard at the Capital, heard as a convincing logical concept, from an accredited leader of a political party elected by the Legislators of that Party to represent them in the Rajya Sabha. The demand for a separate ‘Dravida Nadu’ comprising the four Southern States, was seriously and solemnly made in the Indian Parliament.
Anna had established his reputation as a most outstanding Tamil Speaker of his generation; but the Members of the Rajya Sabha were agreeably surprised to listen to his maiden speech delivered in English with eloquence, fluency, and conviction. Anna’s attempt was to persuade his colleagues in the Rajya Sabha to see reason and logic in his demand for a separate Dravida Nadu.
This maiden speech of Anna’s was so thought-provoking that the speakers who followed him discussed and analysed it far more than the President’s Address itself.
Revered Chairman, I thank you for having given men this opportunity to association myself with the observations made in this august assembly. Of course, I was a bit hesitant to take part in the discussions of this session because I thought that my method ought to be to listen and learn rather than talk and rake up controversies. But the very congenial atmosphere that I find here has emboldened me to join the rich chorus of praise that has been showered upon the President of this great country. I join the others in paying my tributes to the unstinted services of our President, though he is in failing health, and when I pay a tribute to Babu Rajendra Prasad, the President, I do not claim to have been a camp-follower of the President. I do not identify with the ideologies of the political party to which he is wedded. I was admiring the very able effort of the President from a vast distance. Perhaps that gives me strength as well as weakness. Weakness in the senses that I cannot have the same amount of warmth that others who have worked along with him would have claimed. Strength because the tribute I pay to the President is not to be construed as a dutiful partyman’s tribute to another partyman, but of one who having seen from a distance the unstinted service of the President, pays the tribute that is due to him. Therefore, Sir, while I express my respect, when I pay my tribute to the Hon. President I have to couple it unfortunately with a sense of disappointment with the Address that he has delivered. As students of constitutional history know, it is only the Government that is speaking through the President and therefore any remark, bitter or otherwise, which is stated about the Address, is not to be construed – and I am very confident it would not be construed as anything against the President. In spite of the President, the Government has failed to deliver the goods, as it were. Therefore, Sir, Members on the opposite side have certain sentiments to express about that.
I have had the benefit of having listened to a veritable discourse on planning by the Father of Planning, if I may call him so, the Hon. Mr. V.T. Krishnamachari. But on going through the President’s Address, I find that it reads more like the prospects of a company rather than a message of hope and ideals – prospects of a company because that company today seems to be in need of more and more members – prospects of a company because that company has been found to be needy. Therefore, Sir, throughout the speeches from the ruling party on the Address and the Motion of Thanks, I found a sort of jubilation, a sot of elation on their part “Oh, we have been elected by the people for three consecutive terms. Therefore, whatever we say is correct, whatever we do is correct and the smaller parties have no right to question our rights and our prerogatives.”
Sir, I may point out, that after having won a victory in the General Elections, any party has got the right to be jubilant. But may I, with your permission, point out to the ruling party, that it is not very astounding for a well-organised and well-founded party like the Congress to win the elections pitted as it is against opposition groups of varied interests and varied ideologies? May I point out, Sir, that the strength of the Congress does not lie in itself; the strength of the Congress lies in the weakness of the opposition parties. Therefore, instead of being jubilant over the victory, the ruling party should learn to be humble, magnanimous, liberal and democratic. Therefore, the very first thought, the very first sentiment that Members on this side were pleased to state, was about the corrupt practices in elections.
Sir, as the Members on this side spoke about the corrupt practices in the elections, the people of the ruling party rose to ask whether it could be proved. Sir, may I point out that if we were able to lay our hands on proofs, we could have dragged them into courts of law rather than come to this august assembly to present our sentiments? It is not always easy for parties placed at a disadvantage to produce proofs. We lay more emphasis on the philosophic side rather than the legal side of the matter. Did we not see some time ago, strictures from High Courts, that the ruling party – though it may be legal on their part to take donations from industrial firms, it is highly immoral – got their weapons from the armoury of the Tatas and the Birlas? They did not find it below their diginity even to go to the Mundhras for funds. Has the country forgotton from where their election fund was built up? Is it on this basis that the ruling party is jubilant? Perhaps, the ruling party Member might say that corrupt practices can be found in other political parties too. But as the premier political party of this vast sub-continent, is it not the duty of the Congress to set high traditions? I am reminded, Sir, of the saying of Sanskrit Pandits, “Yatha raja tatha prja”. Whatever traditions the Congress sets, other political parties may follow. I conveniently use the word “may” because “may” implies “may not” also. Therefore, our first point is that this election was not fair and free and the people’s will was not legitimately consulted. Therefore, if at least during the next elections the ruling party does not associate itself with the protagonists of free bonus, profiteers and permit-mongers, and as Mr Ganga Sharan Sinha stated the other day, If Members of the ruling party and the Cabinet resign at least six months before the general elections, I challenge Sir, the ruling party to come back to power. Therefore, the first ingredient that the President wants in his Address is that we should build up high democratic traditions by dissociating ourselves from the N.Sri Rama Reddy (Mysore : Is there any democratic precedent for this?
Chairman : He is asking whether there is any democratic precedent for resigning six months earlier.
Bhupesh Gupta (West Bengal) : There is hardly any precedent, Sir, to interrupt a maiden speech.
Of course, Sir, this is my maiden speech, I am not bashful of interruptions therefore, I like them.
The second point I want to make on the President’s Address is, that I understand that three cardinal principles are begin enunciated in the President’s Address – democracy, socialism and nationalism. As far as democracy is concerned, unless we have proportional representation coupled with a system of referendum initiated in a vast sub-continent like this, you cannot have any utility for democracy. I regret that the President in his address, has not given the shortcomings of democracy as it has been worked out for the past ten or fifteen years. I would request this House to consider the matter, whether it is not necessary and expedient now at least to have a free thinking on the tenets of democracy.
About socialism, Sir, the other day I found in this House a new meaning given to socialism. When my Hon. Friend, Sri Ramamurthi was telling the House about the big industrial concerns, the Tatas and Birlas, I found the Hon. Member giving an amazing interpretation of shares and profits. He was pleased to say that though crores and crores of rupees are gathered as profit, it does not go to the coffers of the individual capitalists like the Tatas and Birlas, but is being disbursed to the shareholders. Sir, if that is the economic interpretation, why do we have two sectors, public and private? If my Hon. Friend thinks that private is public, the private industries controlled by Tatas and Birlas are after all public, why make a differentitation between public and private? Sir, he was far off the mark when he said that these shares and profits were distributed and disbursed.
Sir, we have had Committees which have gone into the question and they have stated that powerful, industrial empires have been built up, monopolies have grown. I find that the Prime Minister of this country has stated that the question should be looked into. I understand that a Committee is working and they are going to find out how and where the amount of wealth produced by the two Plans has gone. Therefore, Sir, instead of arguing that socialism is to be of a different kind, give it some other name; why drag in the name of socialism and give your own interpretation to socialism? Socialism is not mere welfare, because socialism is something other than guaranteeing welfare. It works to create inequality. I am aware, according to Laksi, that equality is not identity of treatment, but affording equal opportunities for all. But in this country of ours, can we say that equal opportunities have been given, or are being given to all? What about the Scheduled Castes, what about the Backward, Classes?
Some time ago, I read in the papers that there was a conference at Hyderabad of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes wherein the Prime Minister and the Hon. Mr. Jagjivan Ram were present, not to present a united front but to give varied opinions. The Prime Minister was said to have stated there that distinctions like Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes were not to be allowed hereafter. Mr. Jagjivan Ram, naturally enough, rose to say that the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes needed patronage because they have been driven to the last rung of society. If two such stalwarts can hold different views and remain in the same party, is it any wonder, Sir, that there is difference in ideology between the ruling party and other parties? Therefore, the interpretation given to socialism and the implementation of socialism are not leading us towards socialism.
Here, I have to refer to what a great friend of India, an admirer of the Governemnt, the Ambassador of the United States of America and an economist, Dr Galbraith, says about our socialism. He has called it ‘post-office socialism’. Why does Professor Galbraith call it ‘post-office socialism’? He says that public enterprises should be run to maximize revenues, that is to say, profits, in a developing country like India. The idea is that the profits made should in turn be ploughed back into the unit, should be reinvested, and should be used for the good of the people. Just now we have been hearing the observations of the Hon. Member, Sri V.T. Krishnamachari. He was stating that in the public projects, whether they be irrigation projects or power projects or industrial projects, the returns are not up to the mark. I would say that much money has been sunk in the public sector. But neither have the targets been reached nor are the returns commensurate with the efforts taken or the sonnets sung about Sindri or Bhakra or other projects.
Sir, I would hasten to state that I must not be misconstrued to mean that I am against planning or against the public sector. I am all for planning and all for the public sector, but if in the public sector the return is so meager; if in the implementation of the public sector there is so much of wastage we have to examine it carefully. There are rumours about corruption. I am not in a position to present facts and figures, but the rumour is widespread that there is corruption and maladministration and other evils connected with the public sector. Therefore, I feel that the President should have stated in his Address, that in spite of having the vision of socialism, we are not moving towards that socialism.
The third point, which is a point that is very intimate so far as the party to which I have the honour to belong is concerned, is nationalism. Or to put it in a term which has become very current now, I would call it ‘national integration’. But, Sir, before coming to the point and to the nature or method to be followed for national integration, may I point out that to think about national integration fifteen years after independence, fifteen years after the working of a national government, is something which is against all that we have been thinking and doing all these years. Are we to take, Sir, that all the efforts of the national leaders all these years have not been fruitful? Why is it that we are forced today to speak or to chalk out methods, of national integration? We from the South, especially from Tamil Nadu, while we are sitting here, find the Hon. Members though they know English, speaking in Hindi and asking questions in Hindi and getting answers in Hindi. At the time I find a twinkle in their eye, as if to say “You people, unless you learn Hindi, you have to keep quiet!” Is that the way to national integration? Sir, may I, even at the expense of being misunderstood, point out that the very term “national integration” is a contradiction in terms” People integrated become a nation and if they become a nation, where is the necessity for integration? Therefore, that term ‘national integration’ shows the poverty of ideas which has been holding us up all this time. I would, therefore, say this : let use rethink. We have a Constitution, of course. Stalwarts of this country sat and devised the Constitution. But the time has come for a re-thinking, for a re0appraisal, for a re-valuation and for a re-interpretation of the word ‘nation’.
I claim Sir, to come from a country, a part in India now, but which I think is of a different stock, not necessarily antagonistic. I belong to the Dravidian stock. I am proud to call myself a Dravidian. That does not mean that I am against a Bengali or a Maharashtrian or a Gujarati. As Robert Burns has stated, “A man is a man for all that”. I say that I belong to the Dravidian stock and that is only because I consider that the Dravidians have got something concrete, something distinct, something different to offer to the nation at large. Therefore it is that we want self-determination.
After coming here, I must say that many times I have found great kindness in the Hon. Members. I did not expects so much kindness when I came here. I find that this kindness even makes me forget the animosities that had been created by certain Hindi speaking people. I would very much like to be one with you, I would very much like to be with you as one nation. But a wish is one thing and facts are another. We want one world, one government. But we forget national frontiers. The other day I found the Hon. Member Mr.Dayabhai Patel speak and when he spoke about Gujarat, there was such fire in his words and about such an industrially advanced State, Gujaraj,” and so on. Take my State of Madras. It is backward taking into consideration everything. You have here four steel plants. We have been crying hoarse for a decade and more for a steel plant, but what have they given us? They gave the portfolio to a new Minister, not the steel industry to us. Perhaps if the Hon. Subramaniam had not come here he might have been pressing for the steel industry from there. Is it diplomacy or prudence or political expediency? I don’t know which but you have brought him here and you are going to ask him to reply to the demand of the South. That is what the British were doing – divide and rule, barter and get money, marshall out figures and demolish arguments.
The fact that we want separation is not to be misconstrued as being antagonistic. Of course, I can understand the feelings that would very naturally arise in the minds of people in the northern area, whenever they think of partition. I know the terrible consequences of partition and I am deeply sympathetic towards them. But our separation is entirely different from the partition which has brought about Pakistan. I would even say that if sympathetic treatement is afforded, there need be no heat generated. There would not be any dire consequences. Fortunately, the South itself is a sort of a geographical unit. We call it the Deccan plateau or the peninsula. There will not be a large number of people migrating from this place to that. There will not be any refugee problem. I would ask you to very calmly bestow deep and sympathetic thought on the problem.
Joseph Mathen (Kerala) : And what will be the language of the Southern States?
Sir, the language and other details will be worked out by a Constituent Assembly. The position to-day is, whatever may be your reading of the situation, for whatever we do not get in the South, the masses are ready to lay the entire blame on the Indian Government. There will be very natural reasons for not opening certain industries there, but the moment we are denied a steel plant, the moment we are denied new railway lines, the moment we are denied an oil refinery, the man in the street in the South gets up and says, “This is the way of Delhi. This is the way of northern imperialism and unless you come out of that imperialism and unless you come out of that imperialism you are not going to make your country safe, sound, plentiful and progressive.” When I talk about separation, I represent the resurgent view of the South and as the illustrious person, Mira Behn, stated some time ago, the natural unity that we found when we were opposing the British is not to be construed as a permanent affair. The principle of separation or, to put it more explicitly, the principle of self-determination, has been accepted by leaders of international repute and more than that, by the Prime Ministers of this sub-continent of ours. During the days of the Pakistan controversy, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, speaking, if I remember correctly, on the Kapurthala grounds, stated categorically that they, the Congress, as an organization, would try to keep every unit within the Indian Union; but if any Indian unit decided to secede, the Congress would give its consent. Thus, the Congress has recognized the principle of self determination. I make this bold appeal to that liberal thought, to that democratic spirit. Despite the fact that he has become the Prime Minister, I think part of the old fire is still burning in his heart. Why don’t you give self-determination to peninsular India? After that, India will not be impoverished. I would say that decision would pave the way for raising the stature of India. I am inviting those people who want to keep India one and indivisible to make it a comity of nations instead of its being a medley of disgruntled units here and there.
Sir, whenever Members representing different units get up and plead for this project or that project, do they not to that extent forget that India is one and indivisible? Did not our Maharashtra Friends, when they wanted a Maharashtra State, forget that India was one and indivisible? Wash not the Bengali infuriated when Berubari was taken away and switched over to Pakistan? Was not Bihar infuriated over the claims of Orissa? Is it not a fact that animosity was created over language between Assam and Bengal? While I want that supreme Indian unity and idealogy, just to brush aside other things by saying that these are all regionalism, parochialism and the like, is to burke it. I would like this House to face this issue squarely and grant self-determination for that part of the country from which I come, the Dravidian part.
N.M. Lingam (Madras) : Why can’t self-determination be granted, following your logic, to all the States constituting the Union? That would be logical.
Well, my Hon. Friend can advocate that. I am pleading for separation of Dravida Nadu not because of any antagonism but because, if it is separated, it will become a small nation, compact, homogenous and united, wherein sections of people in the whole area can have a community of sentiment. Then we can make economic regeneration more effective and social regeneration more fruitful.
Sir, it was only ten days ago that I came to Delhi. I did not wander or saunter along all the avenues, but wherever I went, I found avenues, new roads, parks – they are to be found in New Delhi. Why is it, Sir, that it did not occur to the Indian Government that a single avenue be named after a Southerner?
Lakshmi Menon (The Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs) : There is the Thyagaraja Road. Does that mean that people of the South will have to be second rate citizens?
N. Sri Rama Reddy : There is the Thyagaraja Road named after the greate musician-saint.
An Hon. Member : What more do you want?
Sir, I am surprised at the advocacy of the Hon. Mr. Lingam. If he is satisfied with Sri Theagaraya – or is it the Theagaraja of Kirtana fame Road, if he is satisfied with that, I beg to submit that it is not enough for the South. Come to any southern town. You can saunter in Motilal Nehru Park; you can enter the Jawaharlal Nehru Reading Room; you can go to the Kamala Nehru Hospital.
N. Sri Rama Reddy : That shows integration.
You can motor through Abdul Kalam Azad Road. Why is it that such a thing is not found in this part of the country? And, sir, look at the sentiments of the Southerners. When I am pleading for the South it is only my southern friends who come and say, “Don’t plead; we are quite all right.” This is due to the fear complex instilled in the mind of representatives of the South, because if they plead for something, they are dubbed separatist and it may be taken that these people have joined the DMK and, therefore, their political future might be lost. That is why people get up and say, “Oh, you have got this road and that road,” Am I not aware of that? I am as fully aware of that as Members from the South of other political parties are. I am pleading for a national cause, not for parochialism, not for party principle. I want that this great State of ours should have self-determination, so that it can contribute it smite to the whole world, because, Sir, we have got a culture peculiar to us.
I am reminded, Sir, of your very scholarly statement made some time ago that India is united because Rama and Krishna are being worshipped and venerated from the Himalayas right up to Cape Comorin. So too is Jesus held in respect and veneration throughout the world. Yet you have nation-states in Europe and new and newer nation states are coming up in the world.
Therefore, I regret very much that the President has not stated anything about the neo-nationalism that is surging up in the South. Sir, I have stated that there are three tenets, democracy, socialism and nationalism. I would conclude by saying that democracy is distorted, socialism is emaciated and nationalism misinterpreted. I think in the coming years there will be a new sense of appreciation and the needs and philosophy of the south will be better understood, and self-determination accorded to Dravida Nad from where I have the honour to come.