Graft bothers Mahatma's personal secretary

“What would have happened if Mahatma Gandhi was not assassinated on January 30, 1948? The very next month he would have started a second revolution for Hindu-Muslim unity.” This was the comment of no less than Gandhiji's personal secretary, V. Kalyanam, who was here on Monday for Sarvodaya Day.

Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of a programme organised by Bangalore University, the nonagenarian shared several anecdotes in his relationship with Gandhiji. Mr. Kalyanam, incidentally, was with the Mahatma at the time of his assassination.

Gandhiji's diet

“Gandhiji survived on boiled rice and pumpkin as it was cheaper than other vegetables. He wanted to identity himself with the poor people in India,” he said. “He refused to drink cow's milk, because people told him cows were tortured to produce more milk. He drank goat milk as goats were not subjected to such kind of torture. He was particular about punctuality and if somebody came an hour late, he would say, ‘You have delayed India's Independence by an hour',” he said.

On the Mahatma's last moments, the nonagenarian said: “I was just a few inches behind him. The bullets missed me by inches. Somebody in the crowd may have said, ‘Hey Ram' or ‘Aiyo'. I don't know. But I don't think he said, ‘Hey Ram'.”

‘Blame Nehru'

Mr. Kalyanam blamed India's first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, for the rampant corruption today. “There is no doubt he was a man of integrity. He was as honest as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Like Dr. Singh, he too did not take action against the corrupt. So I can say they indirectly abetted corruption,” he said.

In fact, in November 1947, a Member of Parliament asked Pandit Nehru about the growing levels of corruption but Mr. Nehru said: “the honourable member should not make a fuss and bother about a little corruption here and there”. “But the MP retorted that a little corruption is like the early stages of pregnancy which keeps growing. And one can see what is happening now,” Mr. Kalyanam said.

“I have a remedy. Instead of jailing the corrupt, the Government should confiscate their wealth for public good and send them off to Andaman Islands. No one from their families should be allowed to enter politics for the next five years,” he said.

Mr. Kalyanam also expressed displeasure that the younger generation was not aware of the Mahatma and his ideals.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 6:55:56 AM |

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