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At ease with law and literature

M. Ramakoti

Constitutional law is my pet subject. I often cross swords with opponents on various platforms fighting for justice and am the recipient of antagonism. Opposition has become the order of the day for me. But I thrive on it. Criticism doesn't perplex me. I continue to object to any kind of imposition. During Emergency, when there was utter darkness at noon, I was thoroughly upset with the knowledge of the consequences of such a fraud on the Constitution and the people and wrote an article on it in a leading English daily. These experiences also found their way as indignant literary expressions in my short stories like 'Guri', 'Beduru', 'Crookwak', etc. Sometimes the rebel in me got the better of my saner person and I had to run for cover and even went underground!''

In-depth knowledge of law is written across his face as he shares this information in a casual tone with this scribe.

Meet M. Ramakoti, who has been practising law for the past five decades in Visakhapatnam and is famous more for his perception of justice in every sphere.

A multi-faceted personality, well-informed on almost every subject under the sun, Mr. Ramakoti is well versed in Sanskrit, English and Telugu literature. Hailing from a Vaishnava Agraharam, Putta Konda, he adores Sri Ramanuja. ''Ours is a unique group of families, who have renounced caste identity of varnas like Brahmin, Kshatrya and Vaishya and embraced Visishtadvaita of Sri Ramanuja whose sole aim was to bring people into the mainstream of Indian heritage or Bharatiyata under one umbrella. This group of families is known as Trivarnika.''

A Vaishnavaite in the true sense of the word would have no caste-identity, Ramakoti says. ''My childhood was filled with Vedic chantings and the ecstatic renderings of the emotion-filled songs of the 'Divya Prabandham' (Tamil lore) of the Alwars by my mother and sister. There are 4,000 pasurams and my mother knew them all. I am the only one in my family who does not know Tamil. My parents disciplined me by their unique blend of utter devotion and strong commitment to the nation's Quit India movement. They were thick into both.''

Subjects like primal cause, source of universe and such interest him deeply. As literary activity, he is doing a comparitive study on the Valmiki Ramayana and its other versions.

``There is this story Varsheeyasi about an abandoned old woman who is convicted of a suicide attempt. Life has nothing to offer her - food, shelter, protection - nothing at all. Yet when she decides to die of her own freewill and fails in the bargain, law punishes her and pushes her back into a living of misery and condemnation. She is supposed to serve a society which in turn does not serve her even a decent meal! What a paradox!'' he exclaims.

Yes, when you read the story filled with the courtroom drama, deftly handled by him, you will recall the gripping hospital room argument of Richard Dreyfuss in the movie, 'Whose Life Is It Anyway?', on euthanasia.

While Varsheeyasi is a work of fiction, a real life legal battle was fought by RamaKoti for actress Sarita on the restitution of conjugal rights, where the court tried to send her back into a marriage which she didn't want. He quotes, ''It is like sending a bull into a china shop! Though I am a champion of women's rights, I wrote 'Crookwak' with Indira Gandhi in mind, condemning her Emergency behaviour. That is because I never considered her as a woman at all!'' He laughs. We laugh along remembering the oft-quoted statement, ''There are only two men in politics - Indira Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher.''

Ramakoti is constantly active, be it writing a study paper on 'Krishnuni Rajakeeya Aantarangam', or replying poetically to a literary criticism.

Much satisfaction came to him when his article on Babasaheb Ambedkar was read on AIR for 14 years continuously and later was published as 'Last Sigh' in the 'Listener' magazine.

The novel 'Jyothi', his first literary work spoke about a woman who studied law from a different angle and derived a personal justice of her own in life itself.

His professional achievements include a ten-year tenure as official receiver and liquidator connected to company law, serving as additional Government pleader and being in the prestigious position of the Bar Association president.

But he is more happy that accolades came his way in the literary field. 'Chakkani Raja Margam' and 'Sakatika' were stories that got him awards. His memory of a greatest literary event was sharing a writer's award on value-based literature with the famous Beena Devi duo, one of whom belongs to the legal profession, too. His patriotic and devotional songs are deep-felt expressions of his excellent upbringing.

Any hobbies?

``Yes, photography. It started as fun- learning in childhood. Now it has grown into a consuming passion for the past six years. When I traveled in Kulu and Manali, I discovered that Nature's beauty must be captured and preserved. I bought a good camera and now own equipment worth Rs.50,000. Now I click away landscapes , sea, hills, anything I fancy. I have been in Vizag since 1951 and so I have a special attachment to Vizag because of the sea. On the full moon night I sit and watch the light's reflections on water. It is like watching the Taj in full moonlight. My other emotional attachment to Vizag was my association with Sri Sri and Arudra, who hailed from here.

Though his parents belonged to a devotion-oriented culture, he asserts that his faith is not blind, but rational and scientific in approach.

Isn't this a must in legal profession - a rational thought process?


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