Thursday, April 17, 2008

TN Chief Secretary phone was bugged

TN Chief Secretary phone was bugged


Chennai, April 13: The top brass in the state intelligence wing of the Tamil Nadu police is not leaving any stone unturned to collect intelligence.According to records available with this newspaper, the sleuths had been overhearing even the state chief secretary’s telephonic conversations.

This newspaper is in possession of a transcript of conversation between Mr L.K. Tripathy, chief secretary, Tamil Nadu government, and Mr S.K. Upadhyay, additional director-general of police and director vigilance and anti-corruption.

This conversation, which took place when the Kodanad estate case came up for hearing in the Madras high court, was recorded by the state police intelligence and is one of the many such tapped telephone conversations between senior officials made available to this newspaper.

The chief secretary gives instruction to the DVAC director on how to go about the Kodanad estate probe.

Transcript of the conversation:

Chief secretary L.K. Tripathy: Hello.

DVAC director, ADGP, S.K. Upadhyay: Hello Sir, Upadhyay speaking sir.

CS: How are you?

ADGP: Everything going fine sir.

CS: Now two things. One, Kodanad case was coming up in the high court today, the other side vakil said that the approved plan may be available with the Karnataka court. I don’t think you have the …

ADGP: No, sir. We don’t have the approved plans. Definitely we don’t have.

CS: Please check it. Otherwise, we... you can give a statement. We can say no such approved plans were filed in the Karnataka court.

ADGP: Sir.

CS: Second thing… you will be interested. This is based on certain development. The former chief minister says that she joined the partnership (Kodanad estate) in the November of 2000. It is endorsed in the IT returns also. She says that she went out of the partnership... this is very very important… in March, April 2006. Just before the election. She again went into partnership in June 2006. This is on record. The value of her share should be around [Rs] 3.8 crore. Because that was the consideration amount, [Rs] 7.6 crore, when Radha Venkitachalam and others sold the property to Sasikala and others. Isn’t it? So this [Rs] 3.8 [crore] or plus should have been received from someone by Jayalalithaa…

ADGP: That can be presumed. But…

CS: No, no no. I am coming to that. How can you... it. I am only suggesting. Since she had said, temporarily the shares had been transferred. You can transfer only on consideration. The consideration value of Jayalalithaa’s part of share could be 3.8 crore plus. And there is a party who got that amount. That is not been registered anywhere. Again in June 2006, after the election she has got back the share. [Rs] 3.8 crore. If she has got back it means she has paid that money and got it back. There is a money transaction, which should have done through official sources.

ADGP: It is not known sir... But that can be one of the possibilities.

CS: No no. You have to find out. It is for you. Now it is case is ... part ... of your baby. So now it is should be proper for you to ask IT to give the details.

You can ask for Jayalalithaa’s account. It has come from Jayalalithaa’s account and gone to Jayalalithaa’s account from somebody. So we will know who is this someone.

ADGP: Sir, some times things which generate income shown in IT return. But it may not be mandatory to show such transaction, which do not generate income.

CS: Look at my logic. You are transferring a property. During that relevant period, she was a public servant. If you make a transaction worth [Rs] 4 crore, you have put it on a record somewhere. It should be by cheque or bank draft. And when you receiving back, you are paying some money. As per the laws of the country, all these cannot by cash. It has to by negotiable document... As a matter of fact. The value of the building is shown as around [Rs] 2 crore and her share could be 1 crore. So it becomes [Rs] 4.8 crore or roughly [Rs] 5 crore.

You will be within your right. Mull over it. And get back to me. You can ask for the income-tax statement pertaining to 2006-2007 for the Kodanad estate and the partners.

Kal tak ho jana chahiye (finish it by tomorrow). So that we have the information with us.

ADGP: Yes sir.


Also read the related stories in Deccan Chronicle ePaper as follows:

Deccan Chronicle epaper

Friday, April 11, 2008

AIADMK to contest seven seats in Karnataka

AIADMK to contest seven seats in Karnataka

Chennai (PTI): The much-speculated alliance between BJP and AIADMK for the coming assembly polls in Karnataka failed to materialise with AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa on Friday releasing a list of seven candidates to contest in Tamil-dominated areas of that state.

Her announcement to contest the seven seats in the 224- member assembly comes in the wake of reports of unwillingness of Karnataka BJP unit to allot more than two seats to her party.

The speculation about the alliance in Karnataka was triggered by remarks by leaders of the two parties for a tie-up in next Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu and its possible extension in the adjacent state.

As per the list announced by Jayalalithaa in a statement, AIADMK's Karnataka unit secretary K R Krishnaraj would seek his fortunes from Gandhi Nagar, M C Deiyavasahayam from Samrajpet, S K Ramasamy (Rajaji Nagar), V Pugazendhi (Shanti Nagar), A Aandraj (Kolar Gold fields), T Samraj (Pulikesi Nagar) and K Murthy (Sivaji Nagar).


Pratibha Patil maiden visit to IBSA Nations

President to begin her first foreign visit from April 12

April 11th, 2008 - 5:26 pm ICT by admin

New Delhi, Apr 11 (ANI): President Pratibha Devisingh Patil will embark on her maiden visit to Brazil, Mexico and Chile from April 12 to 25.

Her journey would start from Sao Paulo in Brazil where she is expected to reach on April 13 and will stay there till April16.

Patil, the first woman president of India, is expected to meet Brazilian President Lula da Silva, Mexican President Felipe De Jesus Calderon Hinojosa and President Michelle Bachelet of Chile during her 12-day visit to strengthen Indias growing trade ties with these countries.

Brazilian President Lula has expressed happiness that Indias first woman president has chosen his country for her first visit abroad.

She will meet a business delegation of the Federation of Industries of the State of Sao Paulo (FIESP) and the National Confederation of Industry (CNI). She will also address the Indian community there.

Her schedule also includes visit to Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia.

After Brazil she will visit Mexico City and Guadalajara province for four days.

She will arrive in Santiago on April 20 and would address students and academicians at the University of Chile.

Before coming back to India she will visit Cape Town, South Africa.

Patil will return to New Delhi on April 25. (ANI)


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Implications of the M.S. Gill precedent statecraft

Implications of the M.S. Gill precedent statecraft

Harish Khare

The former Chief Election Commissioner’s appointment as Minister cannot sit easily with serious students of constitutional correctness.

The appointment of M.S. Gill to the Union Council of Ministers represents, at best, a rather unorthodox choice and, at worst, a regrettable departure from the spirit of constitutional wholesomeness. It need be remembered that Dr. Gill was Chief Election Commissioner, a constitutional office carrying with it an obligation of neutrality and the expectation of detachment. The spirit of that obligation stands compromised.

As it is, Dr. Gill’s election to the Rajya Sabha as a Congress candidate earlier left an unhappy taste in the mouth of all those who take a conventional view of how the constitutional functionaries ought to function — in office and, equally important, after they demit the office. Now his appointment as a Minister cannot sit easily with serious students of constitutional correctness.

It is by no means being suggested that Dr. Gill lacks the qualifications or the enthusiasm or the attitude required of his new ministerial charge; nor is it implied that during his years in the Nirvachan Sadan, he acted in a way that was at odds with the requirements of his high constitutional office. But his acceptance of a ministerial job does advertise, in a rather grating tone, his current linkages and political leanings. And that ought to trouble the purist.

It may also be noted that a controversy has erupted around one of the current Election Commissioners, Navin Chawla. The Bharatiya Janata Party, the principal opposition party, has knocked at the door of the President and has also sought to inveigle the Supreme Court in its campaign against Mr. Chawla. It has sought his removal from the Commission on the baseless and specious charge that since he was “associated” with some Congress leaders before he began his Nirvachan Sadan innings he could not possibly be expected to remain unbiased and disinterested in performing his new constitutional role.

To be fair to Dr. Gill, he is not the first former Chief Election Commissioner to reveal his political colours. T.N. Seshan, who quite unexpectedly transformed an otherwise compliant Election Commission into a creative and vigorous watchdog constitutional body, disappointed his admirers when he became a Shiv Sena presidential candidate and subsequently allowed himself to be drafted in as a Congress candidate against L.K. Advani in the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency in 1999. But, then, one unhappy precedent cannot be a justification for another.

The M.S. Gill precedent and its implications go beyond one individual. The issue is one of an evolving equation between constitutional institutions and those who get to preside over them. The wholesomeness — or lack of it — of such an equation defines the depth of democratic institutions. As a polity we have travelled quite a distance from the old days of one party’s hegemonic dominance when every constitutional functionary was crowded out of his autonomous institutional space. In recent years, we have dramatically redefined the constitutional architecture, questioning any exercise of arbitrary power or abuse of authority. The President, the Supreme Court, the Election Commission, the Central Vigilance Commission, the National Human Rights Commission, a tenured Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation, among others, have combined — though independently of one another — to craft a new grammar of democratic accountability and political fairness. At times, these seemingly autonomous institutional islands tend to render an already fragile governing arrangement even more cumbersome and brittle. But the overall democratic balance-sheet gives us a happy bottom-line, affording welcome protection to citizens against an over-reaching state or a wayward political dispensation.

If this new institutional architecture of responsibility, restraints, and transparency has to establish itself as a creative and constructive arrangement, then it becomes incumbent to devise a healthy protocol for those who are called upon to man or woman these democratic institutions.

The strength and vitality of an institution depend on the ability, integrity and moral values of men and women who preside over it. By now, it is widely recognised by students of good governance that the first requirement is that the appointment to independent constitutional offices must be insulated against partisan considerations. High constitutional offices cannot be allowed to be packed with political or personal cronies. Once the appointment process is fire-walled against crude political preferences, the second battle zeroes in on ensuring that the constitutional functionary discharges his or her duties impartially and honestly. For instance, we frown upon any kind of social interaction between the judges and the bar or the political crowd. It is equally important that once they complete their term, these constitutional functionaries conduct themselves becomingly.

Understandably, the post-retirement behaviour of constitutional functionaries has increasingly come under close scrutiny. It is rather elementary. A government — and that means the ruling party of the day — can easily suborn a constitutional functionary by dangling the carrot of a post-retirement “accommodation.” In some cases, the expectation is written in stone. For instance, the Constitution specifically proscribes in Article 148(4) the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India from accepting any office under the Government of India or a State government “after he has ceased to hold his office.”

A somewhat similar principle is invoked in the case of the higher judiciary. Article 124(7) says Supreme Court judges, after retirement, shall not “plead or act in any court or before any authority within the territory of India.” As the judiciary has asserted itself aggressively against a weak executive and a stalemated legislature, democratic opinion has come to expect that once they leave the bench the judges would be able to resist the temptations any executive can offer. Conventions about post-retirement judicial behaviour are far from settled. A former Chief Justice, J.S. Verma, has asked for a debate on the post-bench activities of the judges.

An unsettled question

A key unsettled question is whether a constitutional functionary — a higher court judge or a Chief Election Commissioner — ought to be deemed to be permanently debarred from holding any political office even after he or she has finished batting. The Constitution is silent; but it stands to reason, common sense and fair play that even after retirement a constitutional functionary ought to refrain from blatant political partisanship.

Much to the disappointment of many jurists and constitutional experts, a sitting Chief Justice of India accepted in 1967 an invitation to become the opposition parties’ presidential candidate. Again, in the early 1980s, a judge of a High Court was given a Rajya Sabha seat within days of his resigning after he gave a verdict in favour of a Congress Chief Minister. Many constitutional purists found it amiss that T.N. Chaturvedi should have signed up as a BJP activist after his CAG tenure, especially when he had managed to embarrass the government politically on defence deals. Regrettably, it is now somewhat common for retired High Court judges to participate in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections as candidates.

There is an expectation of a certain kind of professional and personal conduct that will not distract or lower the reputation or esteem of a constitutional institution. How, for example, will we react if a former President were to decide to align himself formally with a BJP think-tank or become an adviser, say, to the Samajwadi Party president? There is nothing in the Constitution that bars a former President from forging partisan linkages. But then we do know there are no free lunches and no free political associations.

We live in an age of consuming political partisanship. We have settled for a political culture of accusation and political discourse of suspicion. Various constitutional functionaries are called upon to make difficult choices in this ambience of partisanship, keeping up the public faith that they have not been contaminated by the allurement of post-retirement arrangements.

Constitutional functionaries are like monks, making lifelong commitments of moral virtue and personal self-negation. Those who seek to serve the nation in high positions owe it to themselves — as also to the democratic expectation — to remain above the fray. Surely, there must be many ways of contributing to and enriching public life without cutting a deal with a political operative. At stake are the reputation, credibility and popular acceptability of these very institutions.

© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu


Monday, April 7, 2008

Botanical Garden: The right spot to relax

Botanical Garden: The right spot to relax

The Botanical Garden, situated in the heart of Pondicherry town, beckons people to chill out during the sweltering summer, says DEEPA H. RAMAKRISHNAN

BEAT THE HEAT At the Botanical Garden in Pondicherry PHOTO: T. Singaravelou

The other day, two people were heard talking about their friend who was unable to withstand the hot summer months every year. So sensitive was he to the heat that he invariably came down with a fever during summer. In fact, this had been his plight for the past 10 years. Every year, the man would actually have to be admitted to hospital sometime in April-May, because of uncontrollable fever. And it meant spending a few days in an air-conditioned room. But, this year, instead of sending him to hospital, his relatives decided to get him an air-conditioner!

Well, not all of us have large-hearted relatives like that and so to beat the heat, one has to explore various alternatives. For instance, visiting a place that is definitely several degrees cooler than the rest of Pondicherry. Though located in the heart of the town, it is an island of peace and quiet. Wonder where it is? Well, it is the 22-acre Botanical Garden, a green retreat, quite a contrast from the hot and polluted roads in the rest of the town. What better place could there be to chill out and that too at no cost. (There is no entrance fee.) And what does one do inside the garden? Take a nap, stroll about, listen to the birds (a rare thing in Pondicherry), enjoy the cool breeze and learn a thing or two about the trees and plants.

Educational experience

Yes, a visit to the 178-year-old garden is not just entertaining but also an educational experience. This has become possible after the Department of Agriculture started putting up signs all over with the botanical names, Tamil names and common names of the trees, plants and shrubs. It is, at present, in the process of putting up more signs that will inform visitors about the uses of each tree, the amount of oxygen it gives out and its medicinal value.

According to the Minister for Agriculture A. Namassivayam, it is the only botanical garden of its kind on the east coast of India. And it contains a mix of species from all over the country, both endangered and otherwise. At present, the authorities are in the third phase of reviving and conserving the garden, a process which involves creating new attractions such as parks for children, areas where herbs will be grown, a place for meditation, an aquatic garden and a rock garden which will be home to a variety of cacti.

According to sources in the Department of Agriculture, the garden is divided into 28 plots for the sake of convenience, each with a separate theme. Of the 28 plots, 16 are being developed as forest plots, and the rest into different parks. Since 2003, around 215 species have been added to the garden.

Through an Interpretation Centre which is in the process of being established, seeds will be given to other gardens and links maintained with other botanical gardens in the country. The Botanical Garden is already linked to the Royal Botanical Garden in Kolkata and Lal Bagh in Bangalore. It will soon have a documentation centre, a library and an eco exhibition for children, with touch and see models.

According to Deputy Director Harish Selvanathan: "Though it opens at 9 a.m., there are people who come here for morning walks. If more people come, a special jogging/walking path could be created."

History of garden

The garden was developed by the French settlement in Pondicherry in 1826. It was started as an experimental plot to ascertain the crops that could be cultivated in the region. Gradually, trees were planted. All credit goes to Perrottet who is largely responsible for transforming the place into a botanical garden in 1831. His memorial still exists inside the premises. In 1960, after the Transfer of Power from the French, the garden became the centre of horticultural development in Pondicherry.

As of 1978, the Government has been organising a flower show here to promote ornamental gardening in the Union Territory. However, the show has been shifted since outside the garden. After the devastating cyclone in 1999, the garden is being revamped in phases, based on the recommendations of an expert committee. It has a children's train, six fountains, a dancing fountain and rose, Japanese, rock and various other types of gardens.

© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu


Hogenakkal issue: Jaya blasts Karunanidhi

Hogenakkal issue: Jaya blasts Karunanidhi

S.Shivakumar, Merinews

06 April 2008, Sunday: AIADMK SUPREMO and former Tamilnadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa who maintained a studied silence when violence erupted on both sides of the Karnataka-Tamilnadu border over the Hogenakkal Integrated Water Supply Scheme, has now deigned to mouth a few words on the issue. She has opposed the Tamilnadu chief minister Karunanidhi’s decision to put the said scheme on hold. Probably she waited for a chink in Karunanidhi’s armour to reveal itself so she could pounce on him and Karunanidhi did not disappoint her either. He obliged her sooner than later by putting the Scheme on hold in deference to the wishes of the ‘Madam from Delhi’, thus playing into the hands of the ‘Madam from Chennai’.

Well, the Chennai Madam, Jayalalitha, charged Karunanidhi with surrendering the rights of Tamils under pressure from the Centre, instead of removing the stumbling blocks. Tamilnadu was under no obligation to seek a clearance from Karnataka for the project since Hogenakkal was part of the state. The scheme envisaged use of Cauvery water that flowed into Tamilnadu. When the Karnataka government was implementing the Bangalore drinking water scheme, why should Tamilnadu be prevented from implementing its own drinking water scheme? The surrender by Karunanidhi was uncalled for since Karnataka had no right to intervene in the project.

She reminded Karunanidhi that the Tamilnadu assembly adopted a resolution in support of the scheme earlier on, only to drop it subsequently. This was against established norms. The house should have been informed of it. The implementation of the project had been influenced by the ensuing assembly elections in Karnataka and that was not acceptable to the people of Tamilnadu. Karunanidhi had betrayed the people of Tamilnadu by linking the issue to the ensuing assembly polls in Karnataka. He had lost the moral right to continue as chief minister of Tamilnadu. Tamilnadu should have a government which was prepared to fight for its rights. The decision on the part of Karunanidhi amounted to a tacit admission on the part of the government of Tamilnadu that Karnataka had the right to decide on the fate of the project. Karunanidhi had granted a ‘non-existent’ right to Karnataka. She wondered whether Tamilnadu deserved such a chief minister. She wound up by saying that whether it was the dispute over the Cauvery waters or Mullaperiyar dam or the Palar row, the discussions held by the DMK government with the states concerned proved to be nothing but “empty talks.

There is some truth in what the Jayalalitha says. But she has left unsaid another distinct possibility if recent experience in Karnataka is anything to go by. What if the assembly elections in Karnataka throw up a fractured verdict? A brittle coalition government will come to power. The please-all government cannot afford to displease any of its partners. It will be preoccupied with more important issues like holding the belligerent coalition partners together so President’s rule and / or another election can be avoided. So the Karnataka government in such a case will plead its inability to accede to the Tamilnadu government’s request to give the go-ahead to the Hogenakkal Scheme. It may again ask the Tamilnadu government through the Madam from Delhi, Sonia Gandhi, to wait until a ‘stable’ popular government is in place. So the Tamilnadu government may be asked to wait until a popular and stable government assumes office in Karnataka – a big ‘and’ indeed!

Additionally, it was a popular Karnataka government that gave the go-ahead to the Hogenakkal scheme way back which the present regime in Karnataka refuses to honour. In the circumstances, can the Tamilnadu government attach any credence in future to the undertaking of a popular Karnataka government is the question.

Jayalalitha conveniently forgets that she was the chief minister of Tamilnadu for sometime, post-1998. Why did she not take up the dormant project then? As the PMK boss Ramadoss (father of the Union Health Minister) rightly says, if either the DMK or AIADMK which ruled the state post-1998 had implemented the scheme promptly, things would not have come to such a pass. A stitch in time saves nine and the Chennai Madam had better realise that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others.


Also read the related stories:

Karunanidhi’s allegation irks PMK

S Shivakumar, Merinews

07 April 2008, Monday: KARUNANIDHI HAS alleged that at a time when even the AIADMK and other opposition parties stood by the ruling DMK on the Hogenakkal issue, its own ally, the PMK, let it down. This has evoked a passionate response from the PMK’s founder-president Ramadoss, father of the Union Health minister, Anbumani. Ramadoss is surprised that Karunanidhi should have made such an allegation even after going through the statements issued by the AIADMK boss and other opposition leaders.

Ramadoss said he only wanted to know why the implementation of the Hogenakkal project, which was cleared by the governments of India and Karnataka way back in 1998 was delayed. Karunanidhi himself had admitted that in September 1998, the government of India had approved of the utilisation of 1.4 TMCFT of Cauvery water by the Tamilnadu government for the purpose.

Thus, it was a fact that the project, which had been fully and finally cleared, could not be implemented even in ten years. That did not amount to faultfinding on his part. According to the chief minister, the project was backburnered pending sanction of funds by a Japanese agency.

When the people of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri had been risking their health by consuming water with high-fluoride content, where was the necessity to wait until the Japanese funds arrived? A government with an annual budget of Rs 50,000 crores could have easily spared Rs 1,000 crores for the drinking water project and implemented it.

The 2006-07 budget of the Tamilnadu government had set aside Rs 671 crores for a project that envisaged provision of drinking water to the people of Ramanathapuram district from the river Cauvery. Work on the project would commence soon, according to a government announcement.

If provision of drinking water to the people of Ramanathapuram district was vital, was it not equally vital to provide drinking water to the people of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts who had been risking their health by consuming water with high-fluoride content for years? It was ironical to imply that the Hogenakkal project would be taken up only upon receipt of Japanese funds and until then the people of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri would have to grin and bear it.

The DMK government, which assumed office in 2006, had tabled three reports on the state’s finances so far. Each report disclosed that a sum of Rs 750 crores had been set aside for distribution, free of cost, of colour TVs. Thus Rs 2,250 crores had been set-aside so far for the free colour TV scheme. To provide water to the people of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri under the Hogenakkal Scheme, just half of the said outlay of Rs 2,250 was adequate.

In the circumstances, why the government of Tamilnadu should await funds from the Japanese agency? Ramadoss wondered what sin did the people of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri commit to warrant such a treatment. He also wondered why Karunanidhi should fault him when all he did was to call a spade a spade. A chief minister who claimed he would deliver on his promise now claimed that ‘one could expect quick decisions from a government but not hasty decisions’ (vide, ‘Krishna Steals a March on Deve Gowda’, dated April 6, 2008).

Ramadoss would not like to comment on Karunanidhi’s statement that the project was put on hold to ensure peace until a new government assumed office in Karnataka after the polls. But what was the guarantee that the government that assumed power in Karnataka after the polls would co-operate with Tamilnadu in the implementation of the Hogenakkal project? (vide, ‘Hogenakkal Issue: Jaya Blasts Karunanidhi!’ dated April, 6).

According to Ramadoss, a smug Krishna, once back in power, might take the issue to the Supreme Court, for all Karunanidhi knew. After all, Krishna pioneered the strategy of taking issues to the Supreme Court to buy time. Had Karunanidhi been assured that the Supreme Court would not be approached on the issue?


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Whether we solved the Poverty in India?

Dinamalar ePaper

Renovated Pondicherry Railway Station opening shortly

Renovated Pondicherry Railway Station opening shortly

Sunday April 6 2008 00:00 IST

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Subramania Bharati’s Letters: a treasure trove

Subramania Bharati’s Letters: a treasure trove

T.S. Subramanian

The Letters to the Editor the great Tamil poet contributed to The Hindu between 1904 and 1916 have a remarkable range

Social slaves can never really understand political liberty

Mr Tilak … has given all our thoughts, ideas and aspirations in a nutshell

Portrait of the poet taken at Bharatiyar Illam in Chennai

C. Subramania Bharati (1882 - 1921) is indisputably the greatest of modern Tamil poets. He was a precocious child, and his prodigious talent at verse earned him the title of Bharati even as a boy. He briefly taught Tamil at Madurai before joining the Swadesamitran. The nationalist Tamil daily was founded by G. Subramania Iyer, one of the founders of The Hindu.

The Swadeshi movement, which gathered momentum following the Partition of Bengal, drew Bharati deeper into nationalist politics. He attended the Calcutta Congress in 1906, where he met Sister Nivedita to whom he dedicated two early works in Tamil. Bharati edited the nationalist Tamil weekly, India, which articulated the militant Indian nationalism of Bal Gangadhar Tilak. He shared with The Hindu’s second founder, S. Kasturiranga Iyengar, who took over the newspaper in 1905, a deep admiration for the politics, sacrifices, and heroism of Tilak. The revolutionary poet had a flair for languages. He was proficient in Sanskrit, Telugu, English, and French. He wrote with felicity in English.

On December 27, 1904, The Hindu published a letter, “Mr. Sankaran Nair’s Pronouncement,” by C. Subramania Bharati in the ‘Letters to the Editor’ section. At the age of 22, he wrote his very first piece in English to appear in print. Research into the microfilms of The Hindu by A.R. Venkatachalapathy, Professor at the Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai, has brought to light Bharati’s Letters to the Editor. (See the report ‘Early views of nationalist-poet Subramania Bharati’ in The Hindu of March 30, 2008.) These 16 letters, two ‘open letters,’ and two articles are unknown even to Bharati scholars.

The letters and articles were written between 1904 and 1916. The writings have a remarkable range and a distinctive voice. They present the poet’s views on social reform; his admiration for Tilak; his criticism of Annie Besant and the Theosophical Society; his defence of Aurobindo; being hounded by spies and informers when he was in exile in French-ruled Pondicherry; his admiration for Serbian patriotism; and the wretched condition of indentured Indian labourers in South Africa.

Interestingly, these letters are not among the papers passed on to his step-brother C. Viswanathan, who brought much of Bharati’s writing in English to light. Considering this adds up to a little less than 150 pages, the recently discovered letters are a small treasure. With their intellectual intensity and breadth, they enrich and widen the understanding of the poet’s life and work.

“It is by no means surprising,” notes Dr. Venkatachalapathy, “that Bharati should write to The Hindu. The only career he pursued was that of a journalist and he obviously followed the pre-eminent English daily of the day closely.” In his Tamil prose, he frequently made references to this newspaper and often responded to the issues raised in it. Importantly, most of these letters were published at a time when many journals he was associated with were proscribed by the British and he had little access to other forums.

The poet was closely associated with many Swadeshi leaders in the south, including V.O. Chidambaram Pillai. When the British Raj clamped down on the Swadeshis, he took refuge in Pondicherry in 1908; Aurobindo and V.V.S. Iyer also sought shelter there later. In 1920, Bharati returned to Madras to rejoin Swadesamitran. He met Mahatma Gandhi and wrote an oft-quoted poem in praise of non-violence. But his last years were tragic and he died in semi-obscurity in September 1921.

The Hindu is proud to reproduce some of Bharati’s published letters:


[This is C. Subramania Bharati’s first letter to The Hindu; it was published on December 27, 1904. The poet defends C. Sankaran Nair’s views on social reform and political freedom. ]

To the Editor of The Hindu

Sir, - The intelligent and well-intentioned critic, Mr Plainspeaker, who discussed in Saturday’s Hindu, the memorable pronouncement of Mr Sankaran Nair’s on the necessity of Social Reform for bringing about political regeneration, has been a little misguided by those treacherous things, viz., words. Mr Plainspeaker waxed indignant at hearing of ‘those great principles of equality and brotherhood upon which the British Government is based.’

I understand, and respect the feelings of Mr Plainspeaker, aye, even as I respect the indignant feelings of the down-trodden [Dalit] when he hears that Hinduism proclaims (I quote Mr Plainspeaker) the ‘one-ness of life’ and the ‘brother-hood of man.’

‘Talk of the one-ness of life, the brother-hood of man’ exclaims the [Dalit], ‘when yonder Brahman, who would bow low to an Englishman as if to a god, believes that my very shadow would pollute him.’

I entirely agree with Mr Plainspeaker in his righteous protest against British-Indian regulations.

But all this does not in the least affect Mr Sankaran Nair’s position. What the eminent social reformer means to say is simply this: There can be no political emancipation without the feeling of nationality. There can be no feeling of nationality where the caste system is prevalent or, rather, say (as some hyper-critical men want us to believe that the caste system is present in all human communities) where the jati system is prevalent, the wonderful system which makes a [Dalit] philanthropist inferior to a Brahmin go-between.

Is it doubted in any quarter that, in England, a cobbler-boy with necessary merit finds his path clear to the Premiership?

And is it not treason in India to believe that a Sudra (not to speak of Panchama) with an unparalleled knowledge of Sanskrit scripture and with exceptional goodness and piety can ever aspire to the seat of Sringeri?

Why will people be so wilfully blind? Why do they refuse to find any difference between a mountain and a molehill? Where is Great Britain and alas! where is India?

The National Congress, I readily concede, has some of India’s best sons in its ranks and its aspirations are of the worthiest.

But does anybody seriously believe that a man who, in his stony heart, condemns a babe widow to perpetual misery might be worthy to be placed at the helm of a rising people? Impossible.

‘I do not think India will ever be called-and she ought not to be called-into the Councils of the Empire until we show we have fully and frankly accepted those great principles of equality and brother-hood upon which the British Government is based. The principles are utterly repugnant to the caste-system as understood and practised among us.’

So said Mr Sankaran Nair, and his words are worthy to be written in golden letters.

Without social reform our political reform is a dream, a myth, for social slaves can never really understand political liberty.

And unless and until our Social Conferences prove a success our National Congress is nothing but glare and dust.

C. SUBRAMANIA BHARATI of the Madras Social Reform Association


[Two years after this letter was published, the poet told the Mysore correspondent of The Hindu who met him in Pondicherry that he looked upon Bal Gangadhar Tilak as “the first Indian statesman of the age.” The letter shows the tactical position that he adopted vis-À-vis Britain and its allies when World War I broke out.]

To the Editor of The Hindu

Sir, — Mr Tilak’s letter to the Mahratta, reprinted in your issue of the 1st instant, is bound to have created an infinite variety of emotions in the minds of his foes and his friends, his detractors and admirers in the country.

All the same there is nothing new, nothing unexpected, nothing surprising in his words to us, the members of the constitutional Nationalist party of which he is the accredited leader. We have always been saying the same thing whenever there was any necessity to explain our attitude to the British Government in India.

The reason why we were not incessantly proclaiming it from house-tops has been, to put it frankly, our unwillingness to please those whose one aim seemed to be to misrepresent us. And again incessant explanations would hardly have left us any leisure for constructive propaganda. And God knows, too, that our revilers were too many and too noisy for us to attempt any explanations at all.

In the face of the present European crisis, however, the Nationalist party-every member of it- felt that our position should be made once for all clear to England and our enemies, her proconsuls and her agents, her critics and her friends, her flatterers and her mis-leaders.

And now our leader has spoken for us all in language unmistakable and clear, unmistakable may I hope, even to those who hailed his release from six years’ imprisonment with two special police stations placed on each side of his house in Poona!

I trust that England’s chief representatives in India and her Ministers at Home are not ignorant of the tremendous influence which Mr Tilak’s name and his words wield over the hearts of his many thousand followers in India. He has given all our thoughts, ideas and aspirations in a nut-shell. We want Home Rule. We advocate no violence. We shall always adopt peaceful and legal methods to achieve our object. In peace time we shall be uncompromising critics of England’s mistakes. But when trouble comes we shall unhesitatingly stand by her and, if necessary, defend her against her enemies. And to those who may thoughtlessly persecute us in England’s name we shall say: ‘Oh ye of little wisdom. It may be in your power to temporarily injure us in petty ways. But you can never crush us. For we are lovers of humanity and servants of God, the children of Righteousness and the peace that shall endure for ever.’


Pondicherry, September 2 [1914]

Mr G. Subramania Iyer- A Tribute

[As the Congress approached its annual session in Madras in December 1914, Bharati wrote a balanced assessment of G. Subramania Iyer, patriot, social reformer and one of the founders of The Hindu and later of Swadesamitran. Prior to the session, Mr. Iyer wrote a curtain raiser in New India, a daily run by Annie Besant. Bharati responded to that piece with this letter.]

To the Editor of The Hindu

Sir, — There is hope for Madras. For she has still some veteran leaders of the calibre of Mr G. Subramania Iyer.

Mr Iyer is a patriot of the orthodox type- that prosaic, yet noble type, midway between the fanatic and the funk. For the last three decades and more, this man has been unceasingly thinking and writing about his country, her wrongs and her hopes.

The dazzling brilliancy of genius, Mr Iyer certainly has not. The Gods have certainly not bestowed on him any of those of shining, semi-divine mental gifts.

But they have mercifully withheld from his composition the cheap and deceitful flashes, so painfully common amongst us in these latter days- the spurious, multi-coloured and short-lived flames of the political dilettante and charlatan.

He is not a star, nor a meteor, nor ignis fatuus. He is the unfailing sacrificial fire. A modest beacon-light over the troubled waters of Indian politics.

The Gods have given him plenty of suffering, as they give to every mortal on earth. Perhaps, the Gods decree more suffering to men who wish to help human evolution than to others.

But to G. Subramania Iyer, they have granted the strength to bear all the burden and heat of the day, never complaining, never despairing.

This man can endure; he can therefore build. He can suffer; he can therefore elevate.

Unaided, he has made Tamil Journalism a fact of the world, in spite of his very imperfect early training in Tamil literature.

Learn, says the Tamil aphorist, while you are yet young. In Mr G. Subramania Iyer’s youth he had wholly neglected his mother-tongue like most people in this country who claim to have been educated in English Schools.

But his mature patriotism had to realise, later on, that for the elevation of the Tamil race, the Tamil language would be not only the most rational but the indispensable medium.

‘Il faut de l’audace; encore de l’audace; toujours de l’audace.’ They win, who dare. Mr Iyer dared and he has succeeded in establishing a daily Tamil journal which, with all its faults, is the most useful newspaper in the Tamil country.

His whole political gospel can be summed up in these words: ‘Peaceful, but tireless and unceasing effort.’ Let us sweat ourselves into swaraj, he would seem to say.

Indian, Madrasi and Brahman. Mr Iyer is naturally averse to all troubles and vexing complications.

When strong winds are about, his policy is to bend. He bends, but he is not a reed.

He is the bending oak tree, the Suppliant Bhima. His recent contribution to the New India on the National Congress is vigorous, manly, sage and eminently useful.

His chief suggestions are:

1. That we unite all parties and make the Congress a real council of the people.

2. That the Congress be made less spectacular and more business-like.

3. That we demand a definite pledge from British Statesmen on the question of Indian Autonomy.

He has made other suggestions also but these three are the fundamental ones.

I wish Mr Iyer had dwelt at greater length on his idea of a permanent location for the Congress. Nor am I quite sure that his restriction of the number of delegates to a maximum of 500 will be to our advantage at present.

He might also have written more fully about the methods of election that he would like to see adopted. The election of delegates is one of the most urgent problems demanding the attention of our Congressmen and I am sorry to see that none of us has clear ideas on the subject. We want our best men for Congress work and we want that every Indian should feel that the Congressmen are his true representatives. The ways and means for achieving this double object will, I hope be fully discussed by our patriots at the ensuing sessions of the Congress.

But our greatest and most sacred work of the hour has been indicated by Mr Iyer in the concluding sentence of his remarkable article. The people does not realise its own strength and we must make it do so. This is the clarion call of the veteran patriot. May young India think with an affirmative response.


Pondicherry, December 2


[The poet’s criticism of Annie Besant and the Theosophical Society was fierce. He parodied them in an English pamphlet titled ‘The Fox with the Golden Tail.’ “Mr. Arabinda Ghose authorises me,” he notes, “to contradict on his behalf certain statements about him made by Mrs. Besant.” ]

To the Editor of The Hindu

Sir, — Mr Arabinda Ghose authorises me to contradict on his behalf certain statements about him made by Mrs Besant in her recent letter to the Christian Commonwealth which I have brought to his notice. These allegations are, without exception, inaccurate, misleading or entirely erroneous.

It is misleading to say in connection with an attempt to brand as ‘seditious’ and ‘extremist’, the opposition of social orthodoxy to Mrs Besant’s more recent developments - that orthodoxy gave Mr Arabinda Ghose as a leader of the advanced nationalist movement. A convinced Hindu in all matters of religious life and faith, Mr Ghose accepts in questions of social conduct the liberalism of Swami Vivekananda.

The assertion of his bitter hostility to the Central Hindu College, for any cause whatsoever, [is] entirely erroneous. He had always, on the contrary, a sincere sympathy and admiration for Mrs Besant’s works and for the college as an educational institution which he expressed clearly enough to Mrs Besant herself when he had an interview with her in Calcutta. His opposition at that time was directed against Mrs Besant’s now abandoned scheme of an officially recognised and, therefore, officially controlled University of India and especially for any attempt to include in it the Bengal National College as one of its feeders or centres.

The reason for his ‘hostility’, even as regards the University, is inaccurately stated. Mr Ghose never opposed the cooperation of Europeans and Indians from any feeling of racial fanaticism and hostility, but as a temporary necessity in order to deliver the Indian mind from long subservience and habituate it again to self-reliance and capacity for working out great objects, free from outside control, supervision or tutorship.

I may add that Mrs Besant’s idea that her present troubles are a martyrdom for her loyalty to the Sarkar and the extremists, as a party, are persecuting her out of political animosity is either a fiction or a self-delusion. She has forgotten apparently that some, at least, of the most prominent leaders of the movement and a well known Bengali scholar and politician often conspicuous on its platforms, were and still are, I believe earnest and convinced Theosophists.

The attitude of these leaders in the present controversy is not known to me but they have certainly not figured among her assailants nor has any ’great leaders’ of the advanced party interfered on either side in the Theosophical controversy. This legend will not hold and Mrs Besant must find some other bludgeon for prostrating her opponents and critics.



[Bharati wrote this Letter to the Editor before the annual session of the Congress in Madras in December 1914.]

To the Editor of The Hindu

Sir, — Party differences are inevitable in all politics.

Divergent interests as well as differences in character, intellectual perception and in temperament have made it impossible, in old countries and in all ages for any large Representative Assembly to be without parties holding opposite views on almost all vital questions.

But when men bring into political life the bitterness of religious sectarianism or the spirit which ordained the untouchable and unapproachable castes, well, they commit a political suicide; that is all.

Again, a deep-rooted respect for the laws of the realm will be incumbent on all the members of a Representative Assembly if at all, there is to be any stability and continuity in its activities.

But no Congress or Parliament can hope to live if its members-or any part of them- should be actuated by the constant fear of some extraneous agency and should make it their chief concern to be thinking as to how every single item of their proceedings might be received by that agency.

All servility, whether of an inherited or acquired character, must be definitely abandoned by men who aspire to guide the affairs of the nation.

Of course, it is essential that a Representative Assembly should live at peace with the powers that be. But it must be ‘peace with honour’.

And the authorities must equally be made to see that it is in their interest to live at peace with the Assembly.

Every citizen must be presumed to respect the laws of the state till the contrary is proved.

Otherwise, the assembly will be something like a harem full of mutual jealousies and recriminations.

It must also be borne in mind that the chief duty of a National Congress must be to uphold the nation-idea and try to realise it in every detail of the national life.

May our Congress be guided by these principles.


Pondicherry, November 28

(With research assistance from K. Rajendrababu, Chief Librarian, The Hindu.)

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