When Tamil Nadu mobilised ₹6 crore for the NDF 50 years ago

The contribution was made by the State Government immediately after the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War

December 17, 2021 01:16 am | Updated 01:16 am IST - CHENNAI

Celebrating bravery:  Chief Minister M.K. Stalin pays tributes at the War Memorial in Chennai on Thursday.

Celebrating bravery: Chief Minister M.K. Stalin pays tributes at the War Memorial in Chennai on Thursday.

Chief Minister M.K. Stalin’s participation in the Swarnim Vijay Diwas event at the War Memorial on Thursday provided a sense of nostalgia to many about Tamil Nadu’s contribution of ₹6 crore to the National Defence Fund immediately after the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.

M. Karunanidhi, the father of Mr. Stalin, was the Chief Minister during the war. Exactly two weeks after the conflict’s completion, he handed over to then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in New Delhi a parcel of articles, worth ₹3.08 lakh, collected from the public by the State Defence Amenities Committee. The articles, transported to New Delhi through six trucks, were intended for the use of soldiers in forward areas and those undergoing treatment at hospitals, according to materials provided by The Hindu archives.

The handing over of the monetary contribution took place in May 1972, during Indira Gandhi’s visit to Chennai. A report published by The Hindu on May 22, 1972, stated that “the cheque for the amount was enclosed in a casket which carried a plate with the carving of the State’s emblem of temple tower.” It also said “Citizens, braving the hot winds that blew across the vast Island Grounds, where the function was held, listened with rapt attention to the Prime Minister’s emotional appeal for unity and determination to make India economically strong.”

On the occasion, Karunanidhi, according to the report, paid tributes to Indira Gandhi’s efforts to maintain peace and pointed out that nearly 200 servicemen from Tamil Nadu had laid down their lives for the country in the Indo-Pakistan war. He recalled how after the outbreak of hostilities, the State Government had constituted an all-party committee to mobilise Defence Fund collections. It had also organised a special raffle draw. It had planned to hand over ₹5.5 crore, but the collections touched the ₹6-crore mark.

Nearly four-and-a-half months ago (July 30), while honouring retired defence personnel who played a key role in the 1971 War and families of the personnel from Tamil Nadu at the Kalaivanar Arangam here, Mr. Stalin observed that the State’s financial contributions nearly 50 years ago constituted nearly one-fourth of the collections made all over the country, which were ₹25 crore.

The Chief Minister also recounted that in December 1962, Karunanidhi, as treasurer of the DMK, had organised the collection of ₹35,000 “in a few hours” at an event in the city for the Defence Fund. The purse was presented by DMK president C.N. Annadurai to then Chief Minister K. Kamaraj, Mr. Stalin added.

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