Wednesday, November 09, 2005
He deserved more…
The year was 1943,the place, University College, Trivandrum. Republic of Travancore.The Divan Sir C.P.RamaSwamy was visiting. It was a very important occasion. The authorities had made elaborate arrangements. Everything was planned to the detail. The Divan must not get any bad notions.
Sir C.P arrived. And everything went smoothly, until he set out on the routine inspection tour. On his way to the economics block he stopped in front of a Grad class. Or rather he was stopped. A short, dark man wearing a jubbah (kurta) was teaching.
‘Who is he?’ the Divan asked the Principal.
‘It ‘s Narayanan, the University Gold Medallist and first Rank Holder, he is teaching on contract service
His convocation is scheduled next week..
The Divan went back.
Narayanan’s teaching career ended the next day. His offence? He was a Harijan. He excelled enough to teach those above him in the social hierarchy. He covered his torso with a Jubbah in front of an upper caste Divan. Narayanan boycotted the convocation in protest and packed his bags for Delhi.
Fate plays strange games.
Fifty-Four years later, Kocheril Raman Narayanan was sworn in as the 10th President of Free India.
The Republic of Travancore was now part of the Republic of India. And Sir C.P was chased out of Travancore by freedom fighters.
K.R Narayanan died yesterday.
K.R Narayanan was a soft-spoken man. After leaving Travancore,he won the TATA scholarship and went on to study at the London School of Economics. He was one of the favorite disciples of Lasky, the famed economist. On coming back he joined the Indian Foreign Service.
He worked in London.,Rangoon,Tokyo,Canberra and many other places. He was the Indian Ambassador in Thailand, Turkey and China.. Upon retirement he was appointed Vice Chancellor of the JNU, Delhi..After four years he became the Indian Ambassador in United States..
In 1984 he entered politics. He won from the Ottaplam Constituency in Kerala and became a union minister. He retained his seat in 1989 and 1991.In 1995 he accepted, Prime Minister V.P.Singh’s nomination and was elected as the Vice-President of India.
In 1997,Narayanan created history by becoming the first Dalit Indian President .He won the election with 95.5% of the Electoral College votes.
Narayanan showed that he was not a rubber stamp and exercised his powers as President to the Maximum. He sent back the cabinet recommendations to dismiss the Bihar and U.P assemblies twice. He was an apostle of democracy and never allowed anything undemocratic or autocratic to happen. He also dismissed the Loksabha two times during his tenure.
Narayanan took the boldest step of his life last year when he revealed that during the Godhra riots he had asked in writing to Prime Minister Vajpayee to deploy the army in Gujarat. Vajpayee dismissed his request and what followed was one of the goriest exhibitions of communal tension.
He broke tradition, when he became the First Indian President to cast his vote in an election. This was against the convention of Presidents and Governors not voting in any election. He showed that each man had the right to support his choice.
In spite of all his achievements and contributions he is still seen as a Dalit.His academic and administrative talents has been looked over. It was disappointing to see the Times of India put just a small box news about his death, along with a caricature of the former President. They could have at least carried his picture. The channel and web news services also relegated his death to a non-issue.Even Rediff has not given due importance to the news, of course they still have “Chat with the President” link posted yesterday. The death of a former President doesn’t seem to bother them. Most have mentioned only his Dalit credentials not his achievements and contributions. They just seemed to have forgotten him. Can we imagine the media doing this in the case of Sonia Gandhi? In case of Advani or Prakash Karat?
Narayanan was eons higher than any of them, he deserved a little more.