‘Gandhiji would have begun a revolution’

V. Kalyanam, who wasprivate secretary toMahatma Gandhi. Photo: K.K. Najeeb

V. Kalyanam, who wasprivate secretary toMahatma Gandhi. Photo: K.K. Najeeb  

The idea of Swachh Bharath, or Clean India, has not come a moment too soon, according to V. Kalyanam, who was private secretary to Mahatma Gandhi.

“No doubt, the intentions of Prime Minister Modi are in good faith, but what cannot be forgotten is the fact that Mahatma Gandhi could spread the message of cleanliness and simplicity more effectively because his style of preaching was through sheer practice,” the 93-year-old said.

A stickler for cleanliness, Mr. Kalyanam joined Gandhiji at the age of 21. “His sense of cleanliness and simplicity attracted me towards him,” he told The Hindu on the sidelines of an international seminar on “Gandhiji, Gram Swaraj and democratic decentralisation” organised by the Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA) at Mulangunnathukavu, near here, on Thursday.

“If Gandhiji was alive, he would have begun another revolution,” said Mr. Kalyanam, who was with Gandhiji during his last days.

“Gandhiji was extremely unhappy with the functioning of the Congress government after Independence. Corruption had begun immediately after. Gandhiji used to get at least 50 letters daily, and half of them were complaints about the functioning of the government,” he said.

Gandhiji had himself admitted that the British rule was the best. But he said even the best rule was no substitute for self-rule. “Gandhiji considered that the government which governs the least was the best government. Our leaders took it in the literal sense and stopped governing. Secondly, Gandhiji asked leaders to consider public property as their own. They took that remark too in its literal sense,” Mr. Kalyanam noted.

Even at his age, Mr. Kalyanam does his chores alone. He himself tends his garden at his house in T. Nagar in Chennai. He also cooks his food, cleans vessels and washes his clothes. And, he continues to clean the street in front of his house.

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2020 12:02:52 PM |

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